It was feeling like everyone else in the world had seen this movie already except me, but I finally made it out to the theater today and watched The Last Jedi, the latest installment in the Star Wars saga. My thoughts…well, let’s review the plot first. I know I was happy to discover what it was since the trailers revealed few details (obviously spoilers are forthcoming).
According to the opening crawl, the Republic is no more. The First Order has crushed it completely; Leia’s band of resistance fighters is the only thing left of order and democracy. And Kylo Ren is leading the charge in a desperate attempt to prove to Snoke that he has what it takes to follow in Vader’s footsteps (apparently Snoke is conveniently forgetting the Vader destroyed the Emperor and returned to the light side). Poe, a freshly-recovered Finn, and their new friend Rose work on a scheme that will let them disable the First Order’s lightspeed tracker and allow the rest of the Resistance to escape unharmed. Meanwhile, Rey tries to persuade Luke to return to his sister’s side and aid her in their fight against the First Order. But as we heard Luke ominously warn in the trailer, “This is not going to go the way you think,” and he was right on all fronts. The best laid plans go horribly awry; Kylo Ren finds the strength to murder Snoke and claim leadership of the First Order, and Rey, who has searched for the truth for so long, finds it a bitter pill to swallow.
Is it true that Rey’s parents were nobodies, just junk dealers who sold her for drinking money? Who knows. We don’t know how much we can trust Kylo at this point; he clearly has his own motives. But something tells me Rey’s story isn’t over yet.
As for Luke–why was it necessary to kill him, Rian Johnson!? Why!? It was bad enough we lost Han in The Force Awakens, but now Luke is gone, too! Plus Carrie Fisher is dead, so no more Leia. Why are you taking away all of the happy endings? Is this your way of trying to make your own characters look better? If so, you needed a better tactic.
Not going to lie, the movie felt way too long. Part of the problem was the whole sub-plot of Finn and Rose trying to find a codebreaker. That felt like enough material to be its own movie.
I still can’t take Kylo Ren seriously as a villain. If he didn’t look like a big, sad puppy all of the time, he would probably be very effective. But Snoke was correct when he called Kylo “a child in a mask”, and unless he does some serious growing-up in Episode IX, I think that’s all he’ll ever be. The same may be true for Rey as well–in Empire Strikes Back, I felt that Luke had at least learned humility after his confrontation with Vader. With Rey, I don’t get the impression she’s learned anything after her encounters with Snoke and Kylo. Luke’s lessons were vital to his maturity in Return of the Jedi. Will Rey show the same maturity? I certainly hope so. While she’s not as impulsive as Kylo, she still does not control her emotions very well and is too easily swayed by the dark side. Perhaps she’ll read those Jedi texts she rescued from the tree and gain some useful knowledge.
I will say this for The Last Jedi–it wasn’t a carbon copy of an earlier movie. It was its own thing, and I liked that. I just would have preferred it if it had had a little more of a hopeful feel to it.