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

Updated on December 6, 2019
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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 | Source

Synopsis

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has been found! Unfortunately, he is not the savior that Rey (Daisy Ridley) 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 he is now 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

The Pros
The Cons
Luke Skywalker (+8pts)
Finn & Rose (-6pts)
Rey & Kylo Ren (+6pts)
Laura Dern (-4pts)
The Visuals & Star Wars Action (+8pts)
Snoke (-4pts)
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.
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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 yet, in the role. If you have seen the original Star Wars films (which you definitely should) you will know that it is not exactly saying much to say that this is Mark Hamill’s best performance in this role. Watching those films now really brings out the heavy over-acting from Luke Skywalker, but the 1970s were a different time. I can honestly say that Mark Hamill was excellent in this film. It is hard to imagine what could have happened to this character that would make him believe that the Jedi need to end, but Mark Hamill made this very believable. This character is filled with regret, guilt, and pain which are all evident in Mark Hamill’s performance.

I loved seeing Luke Skywalker again on screen because of his truly compelling internal struggle, but this character served a much greater purpose for this film and the rest of the franchise. This character served as the medium to teach the audience fascinating new concepts regarding the force. It was surprising, considering that this was the eighth episodic movie in the franchise, but we actually learn a lot about the force in this film. I do not want to get into any specifics because I do not want to spoil the film, but this film made a lot of implications regarding the force and what Jedi are capable of. Almost all of these new concepts come to the screen via Luke Skywalker and his storyline. They come organically, are fascinating, and left me very excited for the possibilities of future installments of the franchise.

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Con: Finn & Rose (-6pts)

This was, in my opinion, the film’s biggest weakness, which was unfortunate considering I was a fan of Finn since Star Wars: The Force Awakens. With Finn, we got the story of a defected storm trooper who joined the resistance after seeing the darker side of what the First Order was capable of. This is a character who grew up in the First Order, thinking they were the good guys. There was so much that could have been done with this character in this next chapter of the Star Wars franchise. The filmmakers could have shown the guilt and the weight that came with the realization that he was working for the ”bad guys” for so long. They could have played into his feud with Captain Phasma. They also could have made this character feel like an outcast in the Resistance. Unfortunately, this film did none of those things.

The filmmakers clearly struggled with finding something for Finn to do in this film. They did not explore anything that makes the character unique. This is the first major protagonist that has lived the life of a storm trooper yet the filmmakers went nowhere interesting with the character here. The only hint at Finn‘s past life was his knowledge of the layout of a random First Order base. That was it. Instead of doing anything new or unique with the character (which would have been so easy to do), this film sent Finn on a seemingly random mission that felt like a spinoff short story. There were so many unique storylines that could have been told regarding this character. The possibilities were seemingly endless with that respect, but the filmmakers gave a generic and boring storyline that did not focus on any of the character’s unique traits.

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Pro: Rey & Kylo Ren (+6pts)

I very much enjoyed the relationship between these two characters. Keep in mind, that by “relationship”, I am simply referring to their interactions with each other, and am in no way suggesting any blood relation or romance. You will have to see the film to learn more of these characters. They are communicating and interacting with one another throughout the duration of this film. The way in which they do this, gets old very quickly as it repeatedly disrupts the film’s pacing, but it was effective at showing the connection and similarities between the two characters. They are both young, both extremely powerful force users, and they both feel that they were abandoned by their respective parents at a young age. As a result of these similarities, the two characters see a lot of themselves in one another.

Kylo Ren, wants Rey to join him on the dark side, and Rey is conflicted with this, as she is being pulled more toward the light, but that is all I will say about where these character’s heads are at in the beginning of the film. What I can safely say, without getting into spoilers, is that I enjoyed seeing the almost Yin Yang relationship between these two characters. They learn more about each other, and both go through quite a bit of growth as a result of this. While the method in which they communicate gets old quickly, their individual and collective storylines are huge strengths for this film. They both get great character development and I cannot wait to see more of them in the next installment of the franchise. This movie had some significant issues, but I am truly excited to see what the future has in store for these two characters.

Source

Con: Laura Dern (-4pts)

I am honestly not sure why this character was in the film. Was the performance great? Not really, she is played by Laura Dern, but the character was too useless and was given too little to do. I am going to stay very vague here, but this character had unnecessary conflict with one of the film's protagonists, Poe Dameron. Is this character a villain? Not at all, but she definitely came across as one and there was no reason for it. Her and Poe Dameron were arguing over ”the plan”. 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” is a fairly simple one. This is fine, because (more often than not) simple plans work the best. My problem is that the writers clearly realized that Poe Dameron had nothing to do in this movie. Thus, the filmmakers forced tension between Laura Dern’s character and Poe Dameron. The whole thing felt unnatural and unnecessary, so it just did not work for me.

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

This movie is 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 see more of Luke Skywalker‘s island, on Ahch-To, which is an absolutely stunning setting. Then there was the unique salt planet of Crait. Crait and Ahch-To have drastically different climates, but both appear wonderfully on screen. The ships and the creatures also looked fantastic in this film. All the creatures and ships appear on screen with a very real and very clean quality, and the design concepts were unique. 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. The new AT-ATs looked stable, which left me curious to see if the old trick of tripping them would still work.

The sets were gorgeous and the visual effects were unique and of high quality, but what about the action? The action in this film was phenomenal. If you are a fan of classic Star Wars action, then rest assured knowing that this film has it. There were some great dogfight (classic Star Wars space battles) sequences, a very entertaining light saber sequence involving Rey and Kylo Ren, and so much more.

Source

Con: Snoke (-4pts)

Snoke was severely underwhelming in this film. He was barely in the last film, and the trailers suggested that we see a lot more of him in this one. Unfortunately, the scenes of him in the trailers were almost all of his scenes in this movie. Sure, The Emperor was barely in episodes IV and V, but his presence was definitely felt throughout the entire movies. Much like episodes IV and V (where Darth Vader was the real villain), Kylo Ren is the real villain of this film. That is fine, and I thought Kylo Ren’s story was well developed, but I wish we had learned more of Snoke along the way. The questions regarding who he is and what is capable of, unfortunately, never got answered in this story.

I am not one of those fans who believe that he has to be tied to a character we have seen before. However, Snoke is a very old character who has been through some serious battles (evident by his face). I do not think we needed to learn Snoke’s entire story, but a taste of where this character has been would have given a lot more to get excited about going forward. Instead, the filmmakers kept him entirely shrouded in mystery which made the character feel like an afterthought. The lack of development, gave me the impression that the filmmakers did not know or had not decided on what Snoke should have been. Maybe they will correct this character in the future, but he was definitely one of the weaknesses of Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi.

Grading Scale

Grade
Category
Points
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
Source

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, wildly, 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 they wanted to force him in this movie anyway. Finn's storyline, felt irrelevant and gave me the same impression that I got from Poe Dameron, meaning that I thought the filmmakers had no idea what to do with Finn either. 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 movie, 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. These characters have many similarities, and they share a connection as a result of that. I enjoyed seeing their relationship with one another evolve, and I enjoyed the Yin Yang dynamic between the two characters, which 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

Rank
Movie
Points
1
Star Wars: Episod V - The Empire Strikes Back
95pts
2
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope
92pts
3
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
89pts
4
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
87pts
5
Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi
83pts
6
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones
79pts
7
Solo: A Star Wars Story
78pts
8
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace
77pts

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