by Brian Lucear
I’ll sum this up early: The Last Jedi is not Empire Strikes Back. It is not the definitive Star Wars film that many hoped for it to be.
That doesn’t mean it’s a bad movie.
The movie thrusts us right back into the action of the space opera from where The Force Awakens leaves us. All the characters are pretty much in the same place they were since the ending of episode VII, and that gives director Rian Johnson free reign to play around with the different character arcs for the next two and a half hours.
There’s a very apparent theme in this film: failure is inevitable. Do not become too attached to your expectations. They will be defied.
If the main complaint with Force Awakens was that it was more of the same, Last Jedi’s complaints come from it being too different, too daring. At times, it pays off. But not all the time.
I liked this film, especially when it focused on series villain Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), who is arguably the most layered villain of the Star Wars franchise. The Last Jedi further complexes and layers the character, and leaves him a place that will be interesting in the next installment.
My main gripe with the film is that it tries too hard to turn into a Marvel-style adventure film, especially with the addition of an unnecessary and insufferable subplot involving Finn and new character Rose. This subplot really brings the movie to a stand-still during the second act, and Rose might be the most annoying character in this new trilogy (but she’s nowhere near Jar-Jar level annoying, so we should count our blessings). Disney’s influence stems from that character every time she enters the scene.
At times the movie feels like Rian Johnson is sending a tongue-in-cheek message to the Star Wars fandom. When you spend two years mentally creating your own movie, you’re bound to be disappointed by what you actually get. In short, The Last Jedi’s backlash is a product of a hype that was just entirely too large for its own good. And while some of his choices are questionable (even Mark Hamill thinks so), Rian Johnson should be praised for being daring enough to tell his story and take an old series into a new direction.