OK, a quick five-minute listing of thoughts on The Last Jedi, which I saw last night. Spoiler alert!

Conclusion first: The Last Jedi was very good. I had a few problems with it, but overall it was very entertaining, very well shot, had a decent story, and was worth two-and-a-half hours of my time.

What I liked most: Man, was the movie action packed. The natural comparison is going to be with The Empire Strikes Back. In Empire there were long segments that moved the story forward but lacked action. Here Rian Johnson did a lot of chopping those longer scenes into smaller segments then going back-and-forth to avoid any moments that dragged. It seemed like every five minutes or so here came another action sequence.

And the action sequences were pretty epic. The opening space battle. Rey’s training. The escapades on the casino planet. Rey and Kylo Ren’s battle, which, let’s be honest, isn’t just one of the greatest scenes in the entire franchise but is one of the all-time great action sequences. The final moments of the space battle in which Laura Dern’s character does something amazing that was shot in a brilliant manner. The resulting battle on the First Order ship. And then the final battle scene. It was all the goodness of the end of Rogue One without the 90 minutes of waiting to get there.[1]

Also glad that Carrie Fisher filmed all of her parts before her death. I was kind of surprised at what a big role she played in the movie. Watching her scenes did make me a little sad.

Favorite line: Finn, upon the arrival of the Millennium Falcon to the scene of the final battle, “They HATE that ship!”

Things that were problematic: Leia drifting in space for awhile then using the Force to revive herself and float back into her crippled ship. I mean, come on. Last Jedi isn’t as beholden to the original trilogy as The Force Awakens was, but I still thought there were too many moments that were call backs to the movies of 1977–83. Sometimes they were little, subtle things, but I don’t think those are necessary at this point. And I found the final minutes rather Spielberg-ian. The surviving resistance group, small enough to all fit comfortably in the Falcon, all hugging and celebrating? Come on, they just got totally wiped out. That should be a somber moment. Yeah, yeah, I know. They carry the spark of hope that will bring about the downfall of the First Order. But that felt way too light to me. And then the closing scene, with the little kids playing felt cheesy to me. Again, I get the point: hope is sprinkled around the galaxy and in episode IX it will bloom. Still, I didn’t like it.

Still can’t believe Harrison Ford only signed on for one movie and they had to kill of Han.

That said, I don’t have any big problems with the movie. My brother-in-law and I both avoided reviews and spoilers, but were aware of this “backlash” against the movie. Afterward we were both confused about why people would be upset about the movie. It’s not perfect, but to say it’s a failure is dumb.

I read an article this morning that suggested some of that disappointment came from people who had invested too much time in parsing out details from the trailers, what Rian Johnson and actors said before the movies release, etc. and bought into theories that were based purely on speculation. One of the big points seemed to be the reveal of Rey’s parents. Some folks are disappointed and let down by who they are. But their hopes were based entirely on rumors and Internet gossip. I don’t see how you can be pissed about that when there was no concrete reason to expect that outcome to be different.

Oh well. I enjoy the Star Wars movies but I’m not like super into them. I’ll get the BluRay for L when it is released and watch it again with her then. But then I’ll probably not think about it much until episode IX is about to be released. I’ll be interested to see where that episode goes with Rian Johnson not being involved at all. I think Last Jedi is better than Force Awakens. What happens when JJ Abrams re-takes the reins for episode IX?

OK, so that was more like 15 minutes.

  1. And I loved Rogue One. But it does take awhile to get to the really good stuff.  ↩