So, I went to watch The Last Jedi last night, and I enjoyed it a lot. I’ve been planning something for a little while – I wanted to write my thoughts after the first watch, and then again after my second, to see how my opinion changes. Since I’ve already been invited to go see it again this Sunday, I thought this was the perfect time to do so.
Before I begin, be warned that there are major spoilers here, if the title didn’t give that away. I’m not going to explain the film entirely, just talk about key points. If you’ve seen the film, you know the plot. If you haven’t you probably shouldn’t be reading this. This is not really a review, more a summary of my thoughts. If you don’t want to know what happens, don’t read any further down! You have been warned!
So, the film opens with the remains of the Rebel fleet fleeing the first order – the Rebels achieve a somewhat victory, destroying a vast first order ‘Dreadnaught’, before warping out of the system. This was, as always, visually stunning. That’s something the new set of films has done perfectly, and TLJ has managed to keep it up, and perhaps even improve, in particular with the scenes in space. This movie relies so heavily on scenes offworld, and they nailed it.
We have a daring escapade by the rebels, setting the tone for the film – one of desperation. The fact that the rebellion against the first order is on its last legs is made really clear. And with a continuation of Rey meeting Luke from TFA, we have our two plotlines – the last Rebels running from the first order, and Rey trying to understand Luke’s refusal to cooperate.
What I’d like to do in this ‘review’ is focus on the things I didn’t quite like- believe me, they’re few and far between – and see if my opinion changes after the second watch. I’ll cover some of the stuff I really loved too (more than everything else, at least), but I suspect that won’t be subject to change.
So, most of what I disliked was in the scenes surrounding the Rebel’s escape. The first of these occurs after the fleet escapes the Dreadnaught, having warped into another system. They are immediately found by the First Order, who have worked out a way to track them through hyperspace. The ship comes under fire by TIE fighters, including Kylo Ren’s own. In the barrage, the bridge is destroyed, and Leia is blasted into space. This seems like it should be a death blow for everyone in the area, and indeed, everyone on the bridge is killed – except for one. After a few more scenes of chaos, we cut to Leia, slowly freezing in space – yet, she moves slightly. Her eyes open, and it’s clear she’s alive – her story is most definitely not over yet. She begins to ‘fly’, move through space – using the force, of course. She makes her way back to an outer door of the ship and is brought back inside, where she is immediately aided by a medic team. Now, this itself seems weird to me. It was a poignant moment, highlighting Kylo’s internal struggle, but it ultimately meant nothing. I understand why they chose for Leia to survive the events of the film – it allows her to be reunited with Luke once more – but threatening us with her death for no reason seems pointless, and serves to show how the film allows characters to get away with things with little to no consequence. This continues throughout, but I’ll get to that later. Besides all this, Leia’s movement through space looked quite odd – the way she was frozen made it really unnatural (imagine that, a flying human looking unnatural) and was one of the only points in the film where the fact that it was CG really showed up.
In Leia’s absence, the leader of another part of the fleet, Holdo, takes over as general. Her character begins as quite cliche, dismissing Poe as a ‘trigger-happy flyboy’. Her character really annoyed me – not in the way the film intended, as someone who had good intentions but was going about it the wrong way – in the fact that it seems her lines were quite lazily written. Everything she said was very generic.
However, she certainly redeems herself later on. I think, on a second watch, I’ll appreciate her far more, as I’ll already have a knowledge of where her character is headed.
In the climax of the film, Finn attempts to sacrifice himself, flying straight towards the First Order’s bunker busting weapons – only to be stopped at the last moment by his new friend Rose. After they crash, Finn races over to make sure she’s alright – and of course, she is. Well, she requires a little medical help, but she’s far from dead. Plenty of characters died in this film, but none who were importance. It annoyed me that there seemed to be almost no consequences for anyone at many points. Of course, they didn’t fall entirely into this trap, with two major deaths occurring (three if you count Akbar’s off screen death), but they threatened death at least twice to both Finn and Rose without ever actually going through with it.
Now for some points a little more positive. A lot of people are criticising the length of the film, in particular the ‘bloat’ caused to it by the casino scenes. Personally, I quite enjoyed them, and whilst they may have had little consequence to the plot, they set up the moral ambiguity caused by both the Rebels and the First Order buying weapons from the same people. I also think that the scenes were fun in their own right – the Rathtar scene from TFA was unnecessary, but I wouldn’t want it scrubbed from the film.
The journey through the casino also introduced us to the force sensitive children, who will likely become important in the future – if not in episode 9, at least in other sequels Disney has planned (although perhaps sequel baiting isn’t the best justification for another 20 minutes of runtime. My point about entertainment still stands though.)
The Last Jedi also has two of my favourite scenes from the entire saga – Every scene with Kylo and Rey in Snoke’s throne room was perfect – the death of Snoke, the fight with his guards, and when they came down to fighting each other. And Holdo’s sacrificial final move, which has been dubbed the ‘Hyperspace Kamikaze’, was stunning. I was in a huge cinema, and during this sequence, the only sound were the gasps from the audiences. It was dreamlike – there’s the realisation on Hux’s face and in your own mind, as Holdo turns the ship around, the trailed stars as she begins to jump, and then – Silence. Snoke’s vast ship is dashed against the dark canvas of space like shattered jewels. In that moment, I was there, floating in space, watching the chaos below. It was the perfectly crafted scene – even more surprising is the silence itself – it perfected it, which is odd, as it’s normally the John Williams soundtrack that does so.
I felt this film had a lot of flaws – the ones mentioned here are just what I see as its biggest mistakes – but also a lot of great moments too. The great moments certainly balance out the bad, enough for me to get a lot of enjoyment out of it – but at the same time, I’m conflicted – something that didn’t happen after I watched The Force Awakens or Rogue One. I’m sure a lot of my opinions will change on a second watch, now that I know what everything leads to.