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Movie Review: “Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi

Theatrical Release: 12/15/2017

Theatrical Release: 12/15/2017

Synopsis

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has been found! Unfortunately, he is not the savior that Rey (Daisy Ridley) had hoped he would be. He is the last Jedi, and her only hope of becoming a Jedi and saving the galaxy, but he is broken. The guilt of having failed his nephew, now known as Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), has haunted him for too many years and the Jedi Master is unwilling to take on a new apprentice.

Meanwhile, Kylo Ren and Supreme Chancellor Snoke (Andy Serkis) have tracked down Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and the last fleet of the Resistance. With the First Order closing in, Finn (John Boyega) sets off on a desperate mission to ensure the survival of the Resistance. However, if the Resistance is to have any hope of defeating Kylo Ren and Supreme Chancellor Snoke, Rey must find a way to convince Luke Skywalker to train her and to rejoin the fight to save the galaxy from the grips of the dark side.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then awarded for each Pro and taken away for each Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points ranging from 0-10 allowing me to convey to you how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Luke Skywalker (+8pts)

Finn & Rose (-6pts)

Rey & Kylo Ren (+6pts)

Laura Dern (-4pts)

The Visuals & Star Wars Action (+8pts)

Snoke (-4pts)

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Pro: Luke Skywalker (+8pts)

It was so great to see this character again and this was easily Mark Hamill’s best performance in this role. If you have seen the original Star Wars movies, then you know that it is not exactly saying much to say that this was Mark Hamill’s best performance as Luke Skywalker. While he definitely over-acted during the original trilogy, I can honestly say that Mark Hamill was excellent in this movie. It was hard to imagine what could have possibly happened to this character that would have brought him to the mental state that he was in during the events of this story. This character is filled with regret, guilt, and pain, and Mark Hamill did a great job of bringing that to the screen in a captivating way.

This character also served as the medium to teach the audience fascinating new things about the force, and what force users were capable of. I do not want to get into any specifics because I do not want to spoil the film, but this movie introduced a number of new things that force users were capable of. Almost all of these new concepts came from Luke Skywalker and his storyline. I felt like they came organically, it made sense that we had not seen them before, and they got me really excited to see the possibilities that could come from these things in future movies.

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Con: Finn & Rose (-6pts)

This was the movie's biggest weakness, which was unfortunate considering I was a fan of Finn in the last movie. With Finn, we got the story of a defected storm trooper. He grew up on the wrong side of the war, which made his perspective one that I was excited to see the filmmakers continue to play with in this movie. This was a unique character for Star Wars, and I was excited to see his story, but the filmmakers really dropped the ball with him here. They did not explore anything that made the character unique. Instead of doing literally anything new or interesting with the character, the filmmakers sent him on a seemingly random side mission. The possibilities for this character were seemingly endless, but the filmmakers decided to send him on a generic, meaningless side quest that felt like a huge waste of what could have been a really interesting character.

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Pro: Rey & Kylo Ren (+6pts)

I very much enjoyed the relationship between these two characters, and they were communicating and interacting with one another throughout the duration of this movie. The way in which they did this, got old very quickly, as it repeatedly disrupted the pacing of the story, but it was effective at showing the connection and the similarities between the two characters. They were both young, they were both extremely powerful force users, and they both felt that they were abandoned by their respective parents at a young age. As a result of these similarities, the two characters saw a lot of themselves in one another.

Kylo Ren wanted Rey to join him on the dark side, and Rey was conflicted with this, as she was trying to pull him toward the light. That is really all I can say without getting into spoilers, but I enjoyed seeing the almost Yin Yang relationship between these two characters. They learned more about each other, and both went through quite a bit of growth as a result of this. While the method in which they communicated got old, I enjoyed both their individual and collective storylines. They both got great character development and I cannot wait to see more of them in the next installment of the franchise.

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Con: Laura Dern (-4pts)

I am honestly not sure why this character was in the film. Was the performance great? Not really, she was played by Laura Dern, but the character was given too little to do for there to be anything impressive about the performance. I am going to stay very vague here, but this character had unnecessary conflict with one of the film's protagonists, Poe Dameron. The character ended up being an antagonist of sorts, and there was absolutely no reason for it. Poe Dameron wanted to know what the Resistance’s next course of action was, while Laura Dern played a leader of the Resistance who did not want to disclose that information.

When you see what the plan ends up being, you will feel like the whole conflict was nothing more than lazy writing. The plan ended up being a fairly simple one, but there was absolutely no reason why Poe Dameron needed to be kept in the dark. In fact, it seemed like it would have been the better decision to tell him. The result was that it felt like the conflict between the two characters was just a lazy attempt at forcing drama and giving Poe Dameron something to do. It was as if the filmmakers had a plot, but realized they had forgotten about Finn and Poe. Rather than tweak the plot to integrate these characters into the story, the filmmakers came up with lazy side storylines to give something for them to do while Rey was training with Luke.

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Pro: The Visuals & Star Wars Action (+8pts)

This movie was not perfect, but the action, visuals, and visual effects were excellent. The sets were absolutely gorgeous and beautifully shot, and the new planets were fascinating. We saw more of Luke Skywalker‘s island getaway of Ahch-To, which was definitely an interesting place that looked great on screen. Then there was the unique salt planet of Crait, which was another interesting new planet. The new versions of the AT-ATs (for example) looked tactical, more practical, and more menacing. Sure these things looked intimidating before, but this film made them look even more dangerous and efficient (and actually stable).

Then there was the action, which was as exciting as you would expect it to be. If you are a fan of classic Star Wars action, then rest assured knowing that this film had it. There were some great dogfights featuring classic Star Wars ships, there was a very entertaining light saber sequence involving Rey and Kylo Ren, and there was so much more. The movie was visually excellent, and this complimented the epic action in a way that made this movie the spectacle that you would expect from a new Star Wars movie. The movie had significant plot related problems, but the action and the visuals were awesome to see on the big screen.

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Con: Snoke (-4pts)

Snoke was severely underwhelming in this movie. He was barely in the last one, but the trailers suggested that we see a lot more of him here. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Sure, the Emperor was barely in episodes IV and V, but his presence was definitely felt throughout those movies.

Much like episodes IV and V (where Darth Vader was the real villain), Kylo Ren was the real villain here. That was fine, and I thought Kylo Ren’s story was a decent one, but it felt like the filmmakers did not want to tackle the mystery that was Snoke. The questions regarding who he was and what he was capable of never really got answered. The filmmakers just sort of stopped caring about the character, and I found that to be pretty disappointing.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: B- (83pts)

This movie has received a lot of hate, but I think most of it is unwarranted. I agree with most of the issues that I have seen people hating on this movie for, but I disagree with the severity of these issues. Laura Dern's character stank of lazy writing, and made it evident that the filmmakers had no idea what to do with Poe Dameron, but that they wanted to force him in this movie anyway. Finn's storyline, felt irrelevant and gave me the same impression that I got regarding Poe Dameron. Finally there was Snoke, a very underdeveloped antagonist that could have been so much more than he was. I agree with all of those issues, but I do not think they were as severe as many of the film's haters would have you believe, and I do not think the movie was without its strengths.

I liked seeing Luke Skywalker again, and I found his story, as well as the performance from Mark Hamill, to be very compelling. The filmmakers, through Luke Skywalker, introduced some pretty significant new things regarding the force, which left me excited to see how the filmmakers would use these things in future movies. Then there was the storyline between Rey and Kylo Ren, two characters who had many similarities, and shared a connection as a result of that. I enjoyed seeing their relationship with one another evolve, and it left me excited to see what future movies would have in store for these two characters and their relationship with one another. Was this movie perfect? No, I honestly do not think any of the Star Wars movies have been without their share of issues, but I really enjoy them nonetheless, and this movie was no different.

Best of the Star Wars Franchise

RankMoviePoints

1

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

95pts

2

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi

93pts

3

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope

92pts

4

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens

90pts

5

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

89pts

6

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

87pts

7

Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker

86pts

8

Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi

83pts

9

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

79pts

10

Solo: A Star Wars Story

78pts

11

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

77pts