Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi Spoiler-filled Review

December 29, 2017

Top 10 List of Things I Hated About the Movie

 

10. Resistance Bombers - Worst. Spaceship. Ever. 

 

I think this is a good place to start because this happened early on and rubbed me the wrong way. First chink in the armor, if you will. I have to say, the Resistance bombers are the most idiotic vessel in the Star Wars universe. They move at about 5 miles per hour. Their payload of bombs is neatly stored in the underbelly of the ship making a nice, big target for First Order ships to blast. Oh, and a couple well-placed shots sets off a chain reaction of explosions throughout the bomb cargo hold that destroys the ship. Every single bomber except one was destroyed this way before they even reached the large dreadnought cruiser, even with an escort of A-wing and X-wing fighters. Now on to the bomb release system. The crew member in the bomb cargo hold has to press the button on a remote control to open the bay doors and drop the bombs. There is no control switch available to the pilot in the cockpit. Rose's sister had to climb below and do it manually after her bombardier died.

 

Seriously? You have the technology to travel through hyperspace, but you can't open the bomb doors from the cockpit? And now to the most egregious error of the entire scene with these pathetic bombers - the fact that they release bombs from a gravity fall system. Hello!!! You're in the vacuum of space for crying out loud! When the bomb doors open and the bombs are deployed, shouldn't they just float in place? How do they fall? Nice job there, Rian Johnson...an astrophysicist you are not! 

9. Lame Humor

Prank calling General Hux to open the film was odd. Prank call? Are there even phones in the galaxy? They use holo projections to communicate, so that makes the whole "I'll hold" bit useless and irrelevant. I guess it works if it distracts from the fact that a single X-wing fighter took out every gun on a capital First Order cruiser. Are they that weak? I remember a single star destroyer decimating the Rebel fleet over Scariff in Rogue One. What changed? Just the director, and Rian Johnson had to inflate Poe Dameron's status as an ace fighter pilot. Something that was completely unnecessary given the fact that we already witnessed his badassery in the battle over Takodana in Episode VII. Then there's Luke taking the lightsaber and tossing it over the cliff's edge. We waited 2 years to see what he would do or say after Rey hands him his old lightsaber on Ahch-to at the end of Episode VII. Just like waiting to see about Snoke's backstory or the origins of the First Order, that was another anticlimactic throw away piece of story telling from Rian Johnson. This doesn't paint the Hero of the Rebellion in a very good light, but I'll get to that a bit later on in this post. For the purpose of this point, it was not funny and it didn't fit the character. So much wasted time spent on the Ahch-to with throwaway scenes like this one. There were a couple other scenes on Ahch-to that were supposed to be funny - Chewbacca almost eating a roasted porg was mildly amusing, but then there's the Luke Skywalker green milk scene. I'm not sure if that was supposed to be funny or not but it was certainly awkward. I'm going to discuss that milky awkwardness in the next point though.

 

We then move on to the awakening of Fin on board the Mon Calamari cruiser. He walks around the ship with bacta squirting out of his see-through suit. A few scattered laughs in the theater, mostly from little kids and people who suffered head trauma. Aside from this not being the least bit funny, it's also ridiculous. Fin just had his spine severed by Kylo Ren's lightsaber on Starkiller base and he's walking around like nothing happened? And since Rey hands Luke the lightsaber at the end of Episode VII and Luke takes it from her and tosses it at the beginning of this movie, Fin has completely healed from his severed spine in about an hour and a half. Come on now.

 

There were so many other failed/forced attempts to make the audience laugh. There was the scene with Luke touching Rey's hand with the leaf scene as she tried to "feel the Force". This would fit better in a comedic kung fu movie, and is Rey that dumb that she actually thought she was feeling the Force? Face-palm worthy comedy from Rian Johnson. So much wasted time on these forced (excuse the pun) moments of humor that did absolutely nothing for the film. Lucas and Irvin Kershner mastered the subtle art of sci-fi moments of levity in A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. The "sorry about the mess", "you could use a good kiss", and "having trouble with your droid" scenes were perfect comedic relief while not distracting from the films. It's bad enough that the humor didn't work, but Rian Johnson just kept on trying and trying to force these lame bits of humor on the audience. From the alien trying to stuff tokens in BB-8, to Rey constantly torturing the caretakers of Ahch-to, he sure was persistent. And worst of all - they just don't fit the Star Wars universe! 

8. The Green Milk Incident

 

 Every item on this list describe annoyances I have with the 8th film of the Star Wars Saga. This is the one unique item on the list. It may be an annoyance, but it's actually a description of my disgust with a certain scene. A vomit-inducing level of disgust. True story, this was the point in the movie where I stopped eating popcorn or drinking soda. Seriously, 80% of the movie without a nibble or a sip.

 

 

While on the planet Ahch-to, Luke spends one morning having breakfast at the expense of the local fauna. A large fish that he spears actually looks like it would make some solid sashimi, but that's not the problem. To quench his thirst, he walks up to a creature listed in the creature database as a Thala-siren and begins to yank on one of its four teats to fill a water bottle with green milk. Then he gives Rey this creepy "got milk" look while he gulps it down. I think I speak for everyone when I say, WTF? Even the poor Thala-siren just kind of looks at Rey and shrugs. It's a cringe-worthy experience watching Luke milk that thing and then drink the milk. 

 

It really reminded me of that episode of Futurama where the Planet Express crew discovers that Fry's favorite soft drink, Slurm, is actually produced from a secretion of the anus of the Wormulon Queen. The only difference was that I laughed my ass off during that episode of Futurama, whereas watching Luke tug on those gnarly teats and guzzle green milk made me want to hurl into my popcorn bucket. 

7. Narrow Scope

 

In Episode VII, Starkiller base destroys planets in the Hosnian system that are the core of the New Republic government. So was that it? What about the rest of the galaxy? What is the extent of the First Order control? Is the entire Resistance force on those few starships that got wiped out in the slowest chase in film history? What's the state of the galaxy under the First Order's rise? We never get the slightest clue with the one exception of a planet of aristocrats who have become rich selling arms to both First Order and Resistance forces. I'm not sure about you, but The Force Awakens had me wondering about the origins of the First Order regime. How did they rise from the ashes of the Empire? Did they come to power in the galactic core or in the outer rim? How did they finance the construction of thousands of capital ships, fighters, transports and Starkiller base?

 

For all the issues of the prequel trilogy, we never had to wonder about how the central story affected the rest of the galaxy - whether it was moments inside the Senate of the Republic or dialogue from residents of planets like Naboo, Tattooine, Kamino, or Utapau - we always were clued in to how the battle between the Republic and the Separatists was affecting life on other worlds. It diminishes the threat of the First Order that we have zero understanding of the reach of their grasp over the galaxy or how other worlds outside of the ones they blasted in Episode VII view them. 

 

I read that Rian Johnson had over 100 sets built for this movie. A grand stage to tell a huge story, yet it feels smaller than every other Star Wars movie before it. The Force Awakens didn't do much better at informing us about these questions either, but at least it gave us the promise that they would be answered in the upcoming films as we learn more about Snoke's identity and his past and how he led the First Order to power in the galaxy. But nope, Rian Johnson just decided he'd rather scrap all that and focus on making the middle act of this trilogy a standalone film without a care for anything plot-related outside of this single movie. Who is Snoke, how did the First Order rise? Who cares, those key story questions just got unceremoniously swept aside by this film's director. Why should the audience invest in the heroes if there's limited information on the villains? Was Snoke the reincarnation of Darth Plagueis or Mace Windu? Doesn't matter now, but thanks for letting us waste two years of our lives wondering about the possibilities. We know Snoke is/was in command. We know Kylo Ren had anger issues and turned. We know that somewhere between the fall of the Empire after the battle of Endor and before the events of The Force Awakens, this huge organization rose to power and created the most powerful military force in the galaxy. But that's all we know. And after Rian Johnson decided that the questions weren't worth answering to drive his Episode VIII story, they've now been cast aside.

 

So what now? Will JJ Abrams go back in Episode IX and fill these plot holes? If so, it's a waste of time if you ask me. You don't wait til the final act of a story to give the audience basic information about your central threat. Will the director now have to waste screen time filling in a backstory on the First Order? If that backstory involves Snoke or his ascendance at all, then what's the point? That fool's dead! Why go back and tell his story if he's been Darth Mauled in the previous episode? Short-sighted story telling from Rian Johnson and not caring about the larger story arc outside of his single episode. Selfish and idiotic in the larger Star Wars picture. Well, hell - at least he'll help Disney make money with all the Snoke and First Order origin books and video games. Bravo! 

6. Slow motion chase scene.

 

The Last Jedi revolves around a chase scene. This is no ordinary chase scene; in fact, this is the most unique chase scene in the history of cinema. Imagine a garden snail chasing a Galapagos tortoise. That was about three quarters of the movie, as the First Order fleet follows slowly behind the remaining Resistance ships, weakly shooting single shots that bounce off their rear deflector shields while waiting for them to run out of gas. No, seriously, the First Order, who has a strangle hold on the entire galaxy and planned the destruction of the Republic had the brilliant plan to wait for them to run out of gas. With hundreds or even thousands of star destroyers at its disposal, why not have them flank or cut them off or even send in that enormous squadron of TIE fighters to shoot up the last three Resistance cruisers? Nah, we're gonna tail 'em and wait til their gas meter hits Elvis. 

5. Vice Admiral Holdo - Worst Strategist Ever

 

Why in the world did Vice Admiral Holdo not tell Poe or the other Resistance officers about her plan to escape the Mon Cal cruiser on cloaked transports? This concealment of the plan led to a side quest by Finn and Rose on the planet Cantonica to find a master code breaker who could help them hack their way through First Order security and disable the tracking system. If Holdo had just filled everyone in on the plan that side quest would be unnecessary. The movie was too long and this entire sub plot on Canto Bight was completely forgettable. What's worse is that the impostor code breaker ends up giving up Finn and Rose and queuing the First Order in on the Resistance plan to cloak the transports to escape their final cruiser to the planet Krait.  Whether it was a power trip or just stupidity, Holdo's cloak and dagger management strategy not only added a useless 20 minutes to the film as Finn and Rose hang out in a casino, it also resulted in her secret plan to escape on cloaked transports getting exposed when DJ sells them out.

 

This is bad, but it gets even worse. As the First Order verifies the intel DJ gave them about the escaping Resistance, we learn that about 30 cloaked vessel left the cruiser and headed for Krait. Holdo sits on the bridge of the Raddus and watches while the First Order shoots down the majority of their ships before she finally decides to do something. She could have covered them by blocking the path of fire to the transports, but she just sits there. After Hux has destroyed 24 transports (we know this because only 6 transports are shown flying to Krait after the scene), she finally decides to jump to hyperspace and destroy most of the First Order fleet. So my question is, if she had already decided to sacrifice herself by staying behind on the Raddus, why did she wait til 80% of the Resistance ships were blown to smithereens before finally completing the sacrifice? Once they started shooting down transports she should have kamikazeed Snoke's cruiser. Oh man, Holdo's actions must have caused Mon Mothma, Jan Dodona, Crix Madine and Carlist Rieeken to turn over in their graves!

4. Flying Leia

 

Not much to say here other than what the hell? As if it wasn't ridiculous enough that she survived the explosion of the entire bridge from tie fighter blasts, and then somehow stays alive in the freezing vacuum of space, she then flies back to the Raddus and lets herself back in before falling into a 20 minute coma. Let me repeat that, Leia flew through space.  

 

 This was bad on a number of levels but let's start with the most obvious foul here - Leia goes Kal El and flies through space. What. The. Force. No other Jedi could fly, so why give this ability to someone who had shown zero Force sensitivity in the previous 7 saga films? Dumb!

 

Now on to the other problem of the continuity problem her little Peter Pan moment has caused the story. Carrie Fisher, may she rest in peace, is gone. Having her go out in this scene would have been a fitting end to her character. She would have gone down fighting, she had a brief mind meld which caused her rotten, little son to not pull the trigger, and her death could have been the weight that tipped the scales and made Luke decide to come to their rescue on Krait. So now what? Disney already promised no CGI Leia in Episode IX so how will they explain her absence? A line in the opening crawl? Another actor playing her role (didn't work with Dumbledore, remember?) in the next film? 

3. First Order: The Keystone Cops of the Galaxy

 

Okay so I've covered some of the First Order's incompetence already - the slow motion chase scene, and Hux getting Crank Yankered by Poe Dameron. But there were much more egregious instances of how crappy the First Order is as the main villain organization. Let's start with Captain Phasma. She's this super badass leader of the First Order. She's got this killer chrome armor that not only looks sweet as hell, but is also impenetrable to laser blasts. The source material tells us she is a master of both hand-to-hand combat and ranged weapons. We got teased about her skills in The Force Awakens. Although Han and Rey get the jump on her and throw her down a garbage shoot, we got to look forward to her coming back with a vengeance in the second act. We get about 2 minutes of screen time for the Captain as she orders Finn and Rose to be...wait for it...beheaded by laser axes. Seriously? Rian Johnson did you forget her character was Captain Phasma and not Lady Brienne of Tarth?

 

Then she get's her chrome dome caved in by a Finn cheap shot and falls (to her death?) into the flaming wreckage of First Order ship. That's it?! And speaking of Lady Brienne, why in the hell did they bother to pay millions of dollars to Gwendolyn Christie when you see about a quarter of her face for about 5 seconds before she (dies?) falls into the flames. If that's the end of her character, then you could have gotten that performance from the craft service lady in the studio. Why hire a phenomenal actress like Christie and not use her for more than a handful of lines and a grand total of maybe 10 minutes between the two films? Again, I bet this was something JJ Abrams had set up for the next directors to build on and Rian Johnson decided to trash the character like he did with the others - Snoke and Rey's parents (more on them in a bit). 

 

There was also opening scene where Hux only realizes after Poe destroyed nearly every cannon on the ship that he should've scrambled tie-fighters sooner - "five bloody minutes ago" according to one of Hux's subordinate officers (see, even the scrubs knew they should've been ready for that). It was also Hux who watched for a good half minute while Vice Admiral Holdo swung the Resistance cruiser in a full 180 degree turn before hyperspacing up their asses. You actually thought she was making a run for it? Seriously? If Holdo had any brains in her head, she would have told Poe and the others about the cloaked transports, and then when they launched the transports, have the big cruiser jump to hyperspace to draw the First Order away from the escaping ships. If she wanted to sacrifice herself, she could have been the one to stay and make the jump to lightspeed (since apparently there's no technology for autopilot or droid piloting...WTF?). But this part is supposed to be about First Order incompetence, so let me get back on track. So what about the biggest example of First Order idiocy? The Supreme Leader - not the emo one who took over about two thirds into the movie - the one who was built up to be the most powerful Force user in the galaxy. The (person?) who was responsible for building the First Order from the ashes of the Empire into the supreme power in the galaxy...who in his own words can "see his mind, can see his every intent". Apparently not. This is the type of Force mind trick that I can see working on a stormtrooper or some cantina patron, but to trick the most powerful being in the galaxy? Get the hell outta here! So obviously, Rian Johnson didn't like the direction JJ Abrams was leading the story with Snoke so he decided to trash it (this seems like a recurring theme for The Last Jedi). That would be fine if we were talking about some mini-series or a Star Trek movie where there are like 13 movies (14th in production) directed by like 104 (seriously, if you include the tv series) different people, but there are only 9 parts of the Skywalker Saga. If one of the parts doesn't match with the others, the rest of the story suffers. But back to Snoke...he's a wasted character. He got defeated by the equivalent of a Jedi parlor trick and his body guards were the only ones we got to see in action (a cool fight, but a major letdown). We all looked forward to seeing Snoke in action. Just as original trilogy fans were dying to see Palpatine in action and were rewarded in Episode III, we were deprived of that reward with Snoke. Instead we got a lame leader who bit the bullet too soon. Fans were teased about this awesome organization, The First Order, and they turned out to be a bunch of idiots who lost to a defenseless Resistance force of 3 total ships. Granted, the good guys usually overcome big odds to win the day, but this was the second act of a trilogy and we were waiting for some First Order ass kicking as things look dire for our protagonists. Now I wouldn't be surprised to see Episode IX just have Leia (CG Leia) fly into the First Order fleet with a lightsaber and take them all out by hand. Maybe Jarjar Binks can help her. 

 

2. Rian Johnson FU Salute to Star Wars Fans

 

So I've covered a lot of the things this director did to ruin this film, but I'll expand here a bit more. There's a reason Episode VII was set up the way it was. I didn't love The Force Awakens (I rank it somewhere between The Phantom Menace and Return of the Jedi), but JJ Abrams set up the story in a way that would be played out over the final two films. Big questions such as why Luke was secluded on Ahch-to, where did the First Order come from, who is Snoke and what's his origin, and who are Rey's parents were so heavily discussed by fans of the franchise after Episode VII. So what does Rian Johnson do? He decides to burn it all down and trash those major plot reveals and mysteries.

 

Let's start with the very first one - at the end of Episode VII Rey hands Luke his old lightsaber. As he gazes at it, the movie ends. Everything in the movie has led to that meeting of Luke and Rey. We waited and debated for two years about what Luke would do and say in Episode VIII and after all that waiting he throws his lightsaber over the cliff. Go to hell, Rian Johnson! That's not what Luke would do (but more on that in the final point). How about the big mystery JJ Abrams established in The Force Awakens regarding Rey's parentage? Was Luke her dad? Was she Leia's daughter? Or maybe Obi-Wan's granddaughter? Did Darth Vader father another child who was Rey's mother or father? Nope, nope, nope, nope and nope. Turns out her parents were some space hillbillies who sold her to a junk dealer on Jakku for some Galactic beer. No, seriously - Rey's parents sold her for drinking money. 

So maybe Kylo Ren was lying, but he tells Rey, "you already know the answer" and she sure looks like that's the real story. What a crock of shit! Seriously, it would have been better to just never reveal their identity than to make them nobodies who needed to get drunk. And I've heard some people argue that it's cool because Anakin also came from nothing - oh shut up! Yes, Anakin came from nothing, but two things - first, we are told right off the bat in Episode I that he was conceived by the Force (that's Shmi's story and she's sticking to it, damnit!) so case closed! And second, they didn't spend a whole film building up the mystery of who Anakin's parents were. If Phantom Menace had a flashback where Anakin watched his parents ditch him on Tatooine and then explained in Episode II that his parents were nerf herders who traded him for some Corellian spice (galactic crack), fans would lose their damn minds...so please take that argument and shove it up your exhaust port!

 

I've already talked about the disappointment of Snoke's character story and also the First Order origins, so I don't need to say anything more on those points. So here's another plot point from JJ Abrams that Rian Johnson just decided, "nah." In The Force Awakens, Rey finds Luke's old lightsaber in the basement of Maz Kanata's castle/bar/hotel/whatever. How did she get it? We waited to find out in Episode VIII but Rian old boy didn't like this part of the story so he trashed it (again). But because Lupita Nyong'o was under contract with Disney for the three films, they had to fit her in somehow. Did we get just a little scene explaining the lightsaber? No we got Maz in a short firefight with unseen enemies and setting up the ridiculous side quest to Canto Bight. Rian Johnson, you jackass. I hated that sub plot so much. That whole quest with Finn, Rose and DJ (DJ, seriously? go to hell, Disney) was complete garbage. They'll cash in when the orphan and fathier (those stupid space horses) toys hit the shelves. Disney had to plug it's animal rights cause during the movie. 

1. Ruining Luke Skywalker's character 

 

Han Solo was the ultimate cool character. Darth Vader was the ultimate bad guy. Boba Fett became a fan favorite. But make no mistake, the original trilogy was the story of Luke Skywalker. Whether you found him to be whiny or annoying, you can't deny that he saved the galaxy and in the process destroyed the ultimate evil (Emperor Palpatine) and redeemed the goodness in his father, Anakin Skywalker. He also made out with his sister and levitated rocks with a puppet - how freakin' cool is that? Focus, focus damn it!!! The main point here is that Luke Skywalker overcame unbelievable odds to destroy the Empire and save his friends and family. He resisted the temptation by both Darth Vader and the Emperor to join them and rule the galaxy, and then he had the strength of character to throw down his weapon and sacrifice himself rather than complete the job of killing his father who he had just wounded. It was this final act of sacrifice that finally changed his father's heart and made him toss the Emperor down the big hole (shaft?). So fast forward to The Last Jedi and that hero of the Republic that we came to know in the original trilogy is gone, gone, gone. He's on Ahch-to just waiting to die. Are you kidding me? If that's the case, just sit on your lightsaber or fly your X-wing into a supernova. You'd think if he wanted to die, he could become one with the Force somehow and just adios himself, but what did he do instead? He went to a Jedi temple, made a map and gave part of it to R2-D2, and drank a whole bunch of green milk. That sounds more like the kid who threatens to run away and then draws a map to the tree house and sticks it on the refrigerator before he "runs away".  I really hate Rian Johnson. 

 

And now on to the biggest offense of the whole movie - the flashbacks with Kylo Ren, AKA Ben Solo. So we are supposed to believe that the hero of the Republic, the guy who resisted the temptation of the most evil man in the galaxy and saved his father's soul, was on the verge of killing the sleeping son of his sister and best friend? He later explains to Rey that he only considered it for a fleeting moment, but WTF? He was in his bedroom standing over him with an ignited lisghtsaber. I don't think Boba Fett would kill a kid in his sleep, let alone his own nephew. This makes zero sense. This to me was worse than the Ewoks, Jarjar Binks, Han shot second, TPM Yoda, Christmas Special and the porgs all rolled into one.

The impression this gives me is that Rian Johnson was not a Star Wars fan as a kid. Otherwise why would he destroy the character? I've gone on ad nauseam about how Rian Johnson dismantled the story that JJ Abrams established in The Force Awakens, but it's much deeper and far worse than that. He has also destroyed everything that made the original trilogy great by turning Luke Skywalker into the Frank "Lumpy" Cross of a galaxy far, far away. If that reference is a bit dated for you, that's Walt Kowalski or Karl Fredrickson for any readers under the age of 15. I'm not saying Luke was portrayed as a grumpy, old man but I was waiting for him to yell at Rey to get off his damn lawn. 

 

Even writing down my gripes about Luke has put me in a foul mood and I'm going to end this before depression sets in. Time to run to the keezer and pour a nice, cold beer to calm my nerves. Thanks for reading this entry, I know it was a bit long, and a lot sarcastic, but I was very sad with the latest Star Wars film. It's the only movie I have ever watched only once in the theater, although I will possibly watch it again this week (I'm a bit of a masochist). Also, I haven't given the film credit where it is due. In short, it's a beautiful movie. The Star Wars-verse has never "looked" this good. A perfect blend of CG and practical effects, no CG human faces, and amazing sets really bring the movie to life - seriously, it looks amazing (but then again, so does Kim Kardashian). Carrie Fisher was fantastic in her final silver screen performance. Mark Hammill, despite the fact that he (like me) fundamentally disagreed with every decision Rian Johnson made for the character of Luke Skywalker, stole the show. I have knocked him a lot in the past for his lack of acting skills. He is a genius voice actor, but I haven't been very impressed with his acting on the big screen, beloved original trilogy included ("THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE!!!"). But he was phenomenal in this film and that only made me even more disappointed that his acting skills were wasted on a dumpster fire of a script like this.

 

It's pretty obvious that Disney should have involved George Lucas in the process. Even if he wasn't directing, they should have let him consult. It's his story and even though he sold it for $4B (damn you, Disney!!!), he could have helped bridge the gap between the first two trilogies and the new one. In closing, I've loved everything Star Wars since I was a toddler. It was a massive part of my childhood, as well as my adult life. This isn't some slam job on a movie I didn't like. It's never pained me more to write a scathing review of something. I would love nothing more than to write glowing reviews of the film, but it stunk and I won't betray my feelings (that's how you do it, Luke!) for the original trilogy by sugarcoating what is at its core, a terrible film. Dear JJ Abrams, please salvage this trilogy...you're our only hope. 

 

 

 

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