Thoughts on Star Wars: The Last Jedi

the last jedi

I’m not going to pretend this is actually a review of the movie because that would be kind of a lie. I’m not planning on being in any way objective or even looking at this movie in any kind of comprehensive fashion. And yet, I feel compelled to write about my experience viewing this movie (more the experience than the movie).

If that implies I disliked the movie, then I should probably make it clear that The Last Jedi was great fun to watch. As a block buster movie and the first cinema experience I’d had in months, I had a great time with this film. However, Star Wars is one of those franchises that comes up against a very special measuring stick and that is the nostalgia of the original trilogy as well as the lore and amazing universe created through so many novels (all now declared non-canon in order to kick this franchise back into motion in films without actually paying attention to any of the intricate story lines crafted).

The Last jedi2

I used to go to the cinema almost weekly when I lived less than a block from a shopping centre and it was literally a case of walking around the corner to go see a movie. I now live at a minimum 5 – 7 hours from a cinema (five if I just want to see any film and seven if I want to see something recent) so really it is only when I travel for family or work training that I actually get to see a movie anymore. I used to really enjoy the cinema experience and I still look forward to those chances I get to go to the movies. Yet recent movie going experiences have been somewhat flawed.

Firstly, I’m convinced they don’t even pretend to clean in the cinema anymore. Maybe a basic aisle sweep but the sheer amount of food and sticky (probably drink) patches in the carpet is disturbing to say the least. Maintenance in general of the seats, the curtains, the screen are lacking and I’ve been to a number of cinemas given I don’t live near any particular one, and they all have much the same issue.

For my Star Wars experience I had the overly tall guy wearing hat sitting in front of me. Which isn’t a problem. Tall people are allowed to go to the movies and the hat wearing inside might be obnoxious as a rule but isn’t exactly a criminal offence. No, the issue came that tall guy wanted to throw his arms in the air and toss his head about in critical scenes so despite having positioned myself on a bit of a lean so his head wasn’t obscuring much, either his hat or hands at times did cross through my field of vision and usually when I was trying to focus, and it broke the immersion I go to the cinema to experience. I’m just going to ignore that he and his friends also talked, cheered, applauded and generally enjoyed the film in their own way (which was lovely to see but kind of disruptive). I also talk in movies, particularly if it is a second viewing and I like that they were having fun. I just wish I’d been about two rows away from them.

Lastly, before I get onto the movie itself, what is going on with advertising? I get movie tie-ins and with Star Wars (now owned by Disney) I fully expected commercialisation and yet the sheer insanity of some of those ads and the desperation to forge a link between any and all products and Star Wars was just outright unnerving. I was left stunned before the trailers for other movies even started by the appalling nature of the sales pitches I’d just endured. You know, I get the Lego advertising given they are direct tie-in products, but why is hair trimmer in any way linked to the force? It was insanity on display and if anything made me note the brand-names as ones that are uninspired and happy to ride on any popular trends’ coat-tails rather than think of a way to actually appeal to an audience in their own right.

So that was the experience of being at the cinema, what was the movie like?

Well, if I were to write a check list of everything a Star Wars movie needs to be Star Wars and everything a modern block buster needs to be a commercial success than The Last Jedi would tick almost every box. It is a functional, fun movie with enough elements to clearly be associated with Star Wars, and follows along nicely from its predecessors.

It is also an incredibly generic movie with very few standout moments (with the exception of one of the best jumps to hyper-space mid-battle in a scene that nailed visuals, sound, and narrative purpose and I really, really think that it was a moment of true brilliance). However, you want action, a bit of romance, jokes being cracked in almost every scene whether they serve a purpose or not, explosions, plenty of scene changes, chameos (just keep piling in known characters, shove them in, doesn’t matter if they are needed), completely unnecessary fetch quests to  bloat the run time, etc, etc, this movie has ticked that box just for you, and every other movie goer because you wouldn’t want to leave anyone out by actually having a targeted audience and making a movie that felt in any way unique.

Again, not saying there is anything bad about this. Visually, The Last Jedi impresses. Despite its long run time, stuff keeps happening but it doesn’t suffer from being frantically rushing through scenes as it actually knows when to embrace a pause and have a moment (something most of the Transformers movies should have learned). The characters are interesting enough characters and I particularly liked Rose (then again, I was supposed to). What I felt let this movie down was an overall lack of identity and focus.

The whole having to go to the Casino to find a code breaker to get onboard the ship segment was entirely filler. It was a desire to have a cool city and aliens and a chance to throw in a chase sequence and it was all good fun and yet if we just cut all of that out and send Finn and Rose directly to the ship nothing in the main story changes. At all. That’s entirely depressing that all of that was for nothing other than building up Rose’s character so we cared later on about her, a few laughs and a show off about how they can recreate the feel of the Cantina Bar again.

The Luke and Rei thing just went on too long. I won’t train you or anyone. I will train you. Oh, wait, you are going to the dark, I won’t train you. Back and forth and back and forth seemingly without any real direction. And then the cave sequence which of course is similar to Luke’s experience but with less payoff in Rei’s case. This scene is drawn out and achieves little.

And a final criticism was the language. Where the original series gives us insults like ‘scruffy looking Nerfherder’ here we just get ‘Rebel Scum’ spat out in increasingly over the top tones and some fairly modern slang being dropped into the Star Wars universe. The fit isn’t exactly a match made in heaven though I can see how this won’t bother most viewers particularly those new to the franchise. For me though, it seemed like the script didn’t have enough courage just to go full geek and decided it wanted to be more main stream.

But dissecting Star Wars scene by scene is not something I should really encourage. Even the original trilogy doesn’t end up looking that great when you subject it to that kind of scrutiny. Star Wars was always more of a sensation and a feeling than a quality story, and for the most part The Last Jedi managed to not step on those feelings even if it didn’t quite reignite them.

Overall, a perfectly serviceable continuation and at least this trilogy is shaping up better than the prequels. I might even rewatch these ones one day rather than pretending they didn’t intrude on a franchise I loved.

Thanks for reading.

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Karandi James.


19 thoughts on “Thoughts on Star Wars: The Last Jedi

  1. I agree with you about the Rose/Finn mission. If you cut everything they are in from them leaving the ship, to them crash landing on Crait, it would probably make a slightly better and shorter Star Wars movie with less plot holes. In my view, the whole thing was designed to give Finn something to do. I just wish they had ditched the Casino world and instead invested the resources in a great land battle on Crait. Now that would Star Wars.

    In general, I had no problem with any of the Jedi stuff. Certainly no worse than the borefest in the middle of ESB.

  2. It was a pretty fun movie overall. I like how it ended (especially Luke’s part which called out to his humble beginning). I did find the entire code-breaker hunting thing a bit weird. It didn’t sit too well with the rest of the story and seemed to break the flow of things. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Wow, 5-7 hours?! That’s quite a ways. Fortunately, the theater I go to most often now was just remodeled to match the other theater in town (plus, it was bought out by a bigger chain), so no issues with cleanliness or uncomfortableness or anything.

    Personally, as a non-Star Wars fan, I felt disappointed by TLJ versus TFA. Like you, I didn’t care for the Finn/Rose subplot. The whole movie felt like nothing but a setup for the next one. It didn’t really stand alone, and even in a series, movies should still be able to be enjoyed by themselves.

  4. Well, you know my thoughts on this movie already (lol😂). First off, I’m very glad that you enjoyed the film. I really hoped you would, and I mean that in a very sincere way, despite myself hating it. I have now had almost a week to think about all of this, and in trying to give everything a place in my head after my rant post. That said, my feelings for it haven’t changed. I have had time to work out some issues, and describe in a better way why I feel so strongly about this without going into full rant mode again. I might, depending on his much time I have in the upcoming days, write a post about it called The Last Jedi:Aftermath. I still feel bad about my rant post as it is not who I am and it also felt like a disservice to my readers. So in writing that post (again hoping I have time for it), I hope to make my thoughts for it more clear and in a better way explain as to why I felt so strongly about it.
    I’m sorry about your cinema experience by the way. The commercials are certainly annoying these days, but I have to say that the cinemas themselves in Holland are really nice. My favorite cinema in Holland is about a 10 minute drive by train from my home. It really has great seats as well, and now matter how tall somebody is you never have problems with it because of the way the seats are positioned. So if you are ever in Holland and want to go the movies: go to the city of Arnhem 😊
    As usual this was a great post: loved the way you did not go into full review mode but also made it about the experience itself which was really cool 😀

    1. Sometimes you have to rant. I try to avoid hitting the rant button on my posts but some things (Hand Shakers definitely comes to mind) deserve it. And this movie is built on the legacy of a trilogy people LOVE. That by itself brings high emotions to the table.
      I really enjoyed reading your thoughts (though skipped the spoiler part so may need to get back and read it now) because it helped me go in with a more neutral expectation for this film. If I’d gone in having read nothing but rave reviews I may have been furious given how many things are actually wrong with the film.
      I’ve always wondered why they don’t just organise the chairs in theatres so everyone can see and why there are ‘good’ seats and ‘bad’ seats. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to charge everyone the same amount and then have some people looking at the screen on a weird angle or from behind someone tall. It is all just very strange.

      1. Thanks for these kind words. This review (and the movie lol) have been seriously bugging me all week. It’s because it’s so not me I think that’s why it’s bothering me so much. But you are also right at the same time: it’s exactly the reason why I went into full tantrum mode: it’s my love for this franchise and the way they handled it. That’s why I just have to get a better post out to explain in a better way why I disliked it so much. But now I am rambling lol, sorry about that 😅
        Well, I of course don’t know about the theatres over on your end, but at the cinema where I go to, all the seats are good, and organised in a way that everyone can also see. Even if there is a tall person in front of you, it doesn’t matter.
        But thanks again for your comment. This has actually made me feel a bit better about my post 😊

  5. Personally I feel like I won’t even watch The Last Jedi after hearing about it plus episode 7 kind of killed this trilogy for me. Compared to the expanded universe the plot and characters are looking like hot garbage.

    1. The characters aren’t too bad. The plot is overly bloated. The original trilogy didn’t exactly have the plot of a mastermind. It was pretty basic really and yet they managed to make it a fun ride.
      Still, given the original trilogy is so fun, do we need a sequel trilogy? Probably not. Much like we didn’t need CG creatures and added scenes dumped into the original.

      1. Compared to some of the other characters in the franchise they’re kind of meh. It’s been a pattern especially since Disney brought Star Wars. I’m kind of in the middle on the OG trilogy, I could care less about the visual things in the movie. I’m more of a lore, character, & story kinda guy. I don’t think there was a need for a sequel with all new characters because they already had that built up.

        My judgement of the series comes from me comparing it to the stories that it replaced and so far it’s not doing too good.

  6. I live in a small town where the theatres are all owned by the same guy, and he makes sure they are cleaned properly. Sometimes the floors are a little sticky, but they do clean up mostly well. There is no random here, and running into the same people again is possible, or likely. So you can’t afford to be a jerk in public, and people remember you. This forces a better standard of behavior, and higher quality work ethic at all levels. In suburbs and cities, where random rudeness factors in, and minimum wage for the employees demotivates work ethic, I’m not surprised that theaters suck.

    I think that ticket prices are too high, and movies are too carefully marketed to demographics to call them art anymore. The few “art films” are also marketed too carefully, just a different demographic bit of snobbery, and tend to be really preachy. The result is what drove me to anime, and I found that less annoying than most American movies and TV programs. I rarely find a movie I like being made anymore. I’ve written off Hollywood as racist, sexist, and exploitive. I saw the original star wars when I was 7 years old, in one of the test theaters a week before it opened everywhere else. It was amazing, and became a favorite. The first two films made (New Hope and Empire) were wonderful films. Unfortunately, the second trilogy were mostly cartoons with really bad acting and terrible distracting failures in direction and story. I eventually watched Force Awakens and honestly… it was worse than Phantom Menace. I found more interesting bits in menace than Awakens, with the sole interesting bits of Awakens being that one chase scene through the crashed imperial ship ruins, and the rest being like a B-movie with slightly better effects that will probably be regular TV in a couple years. As an original fan of the original movies, the way they’ve turned from an all-ages fun series into a kiddie movie cartoon for under 15’s… Star Wars is kind of ruined. Even the actual cartoons are better than the movies, for stories and voice acting. Ironic, right? I think that bad directors, sexual assaults of actors, and green screens are hurting production.

    1. Nice that your theatre is well kept.
      I’m definitely finding a sense that all genres of movie are starting to take on very specific and generic characteristics with the same kinds of humour and ideas being rehashed over and over again. While in its own way that is fine, it just seems no one is really willing to do anything different (probably the same reason we get sequels, spin-offs and prequels of the same titles over and over again rather than one of the million other stories out there actually getting funding to be made into a movie). And it is the appeal to all mentality rather than make a film the way it should be made.
      Still, going to have to disagree with you about Phantom Menace. I hated that film. It doesn’t fit the aesthetics of Star Wars at all and I just couldn’t get invested in Anakin’s story because we already knew the ending.

      1. I think the root problem in Hollywood is that its run on cocaine and hookers as its primary fuel. Not stories. Writers are particularly abused there and most have abandoned Hollywood entirely, going to self publishing through Amazon, and selling rights to video games, which pays 10-100x more than movie rights. Seriously, they do. The movie industry is living in the past, and video games understand stories better, and has adapted to interactive storytelling far better. We watch Anime because even though there are tropes, they aren’t the same dozen (or hundred) that Hollywood uses in every single film.

        Phantom Menace was a terrible movie, but its still better than Force Awakens, and I’ve avoided Rogue One because Awakens was worse than Menace. Reputation matters, and Star Wars is kiddie movies now, not scifi. I get much better writing and plots from Clone Wars TV show, despite it being a children’s anime with a relatively low budget. Ironic, right? Menace is more memorable and visually interesting in some scenes, like the pod race, than the few scenes in Awakens, like the improved death star, around 60 seconds of rendered space lasers. The original star wars bible was supposed to have a series of space laser weapons because… well George Lucas was a one-trick pony. That was his thing. He didn’t have anything else. All his plots culminated with space lasers, originally. Thus only the first two films really mattered. Space Laser moon (New Hope) and emo-dad (Empire). That’s the whole plot, in those two films, the rest are repeats. James Bond has similar problems, with rich industrialist billionaires trying to destroy the world for extra power, or guy with white cat trying to trick the world powers into war so they can profit from the power gap, often invoving theft of some kind of communications technology or secret from a spy/mole. That’s because Iain Fleming only had a couple missions, one of them From Russia With Love, which was a true story from his career, and the billionaire industrialist version was a poke at the robber barons running Britain through corruption. Again, examples of limited plotlines getting twisted with variations to try and convince pepople to buy tickets. If you only saw From Russia With Love and Goldfinger and maybe Thunderball, that’s all you’d need to see from the series. Goldeneye is a space laser, and a remake of Diamonds Are Forever, which is a remake of Dr. No and You Only Live Twice, also having space weapons. Limited plots, names changed, many of the same locations despite this.
        The upside of all this is actually new plots are very popular when they turn up, and that’s some do well, even if they’re stolen from less successful stories. The Potter series was stolen from Worst Witch, without credit. Lack of lawsuit suggests the original author was paid off. Someday that will be common knowledge. Rowling’s lawyers tried to sue the Greek govt over trademarking centaurs. They actually wanted to make centaurs trademarked for Rowling, despite them being in public domain for 2500 years. The arrogance! They also deny all mention of this fact, which I remember when it happened in the mid-90’s. It was in the news then. Cheers, and Merry Xmas.

  7. Though I genuinely enjoyed Episode VIII and what it brought to the proverbial table, I see what you mean about the Casino detour (interesting to label it with video game terminology; a fetch quest it most certainly was). Still, it’s nice to know that whatever people’s opinions, we can all agree that hyperspace scene was awesome.

    1. I think even if you hated the movie from start to finish, you would have a hard time arguing that the hyperspace scene wasn’t amazing. Even out of the Star Wars context, that scene was fantastic.

  8. Theaters suck here, too. I went to a 3D showing, but they accidentilly showed it in 2D, so after about ten minutes of waiting for it to switch over, I had to go out and complain so they’d start it over in 3D.

    1. That’s just lame. I remember one movie I saw where the projector wasn’t lined up with the screen properly so about thirty centimetres of the projection was hitting the ceiling. We sat through the trailer hoping someone would notice and fix it. Movie started ad yep, had to go out and point out that they weren’t projecting to the screen. They didn’t restart but I did get a couple of dollars off my next movie ticket (rolling eyes).

      1. When I saw Inglorious Basterds back in 2009, it was doing that thing where it’s not lined up properly, so the top fifth of the screen was on the bottom. I didn’t say anything at first because I thought it was just one of Tarantino’s quirks.

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