We’ve already got a spoiler-free review for you to check out, as well as an open reader discussion thread, but what did we all think of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, in all our spoilery glory, now that it’s in theaters?
**WARNING: FULL SPOILERS BELOW.**
We’ve all been dying to see this movie since The Force Awakens left us hanging on a literal cliff, so naturally, we’ve all got a lot of strong opinions about likes and dislikes, both big and small, in a movie that wrapped up a surprising amount of threads from its predecessor. We’re all still processing and discussing amongst ourselves, but here are some of our initial thoughts directly after seeing the movie:
I liked the character growth on display with our new trio of main characters: Poe learning what it means to be a leader, rather than a reckless hero; Finn learning to stick around and sacrifice himself for the cause, rather than continuing to try to run away with Rey (even as he was ultimately saved from his actions by someone who maybe learned to be a little selfish from him in return); and Rey learning to be her own hero despite being “nobody,” rather than assuming Luke Skywalker is the only way to save everyone because he’s “somebody.”
I liked how the movie leaned into ongoing discussion about the morality of the Star Wars universe and pointed out the failing of “both sides” arguments (both real and fictional) with Benicio Del Toro’s character. Yes, it’s important to admit that “both sides” have flaws, and that violence has consequences, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be able to distinguish between the good guys and the bad.
– Leia finally getting to use some Force powers, which she never makes a big deal out of.
– Characters touching on the idea of how the space war economy actually works without getting as bogged down in politics as the prequels did.
– R2 playing Leia’s original message from A New Hope.
– Holdo talking about how Leia inspired her. This conversation both uplifted and crushed me.
– Comments about Poe being a trigger-happy flyboy eventually culminating in Leia agreeing that she likes him. When Holdo first called him that, I was dying for her to mention that it’s probably why Leia likes him, and she eventually came through.
– Rey coming from nothing to be a hero.
– Kylo being an evil sh*t who tries to neg Rey into joining the dark side, and getting denied. I am not into any Kylo/Rey stuff or any “Kylo is actually a good guy, trying to tear down the destructive Jedi/Sith cycle” theories, and I would’ve been disappointed if he suddenly turned over a new leaf.
– The humor. I always liked the personality and humor in Star Wars, and I was happy to have several full-on laughs during this movie, especially when Hux barks identical orders right after Kylo, who then looks at him like “wyd?”
– Luke whining at an inscrutable Yoda. This is everything to me.
– The movie leaning into Luke’s past as a mediocre Jedi. For all the references people have made to Luke’s quick learning when talking about Rey’s abilities in The Force Awakens, he was never really all that great at being a Jedi in the OT. His best use of his Jedi powers was a little bit of a guiding hand from the Force while he was aiming at the Death Star exhaust port in A New Hope.
He wasn’t able to raise his X-Wing out of Yoda’s swamp. He was easily defeated by Vader in The Empire Strikes Back. He may have beaten Vader in Return of the Jedi, but Palpatine would have killed him without breaking a sweat if the fight were on ability alone, and it would’ve been for nothing. In the end, he was only able to win because he could appeal to his father’s emotions. In The Last Jedi, he’s come to terms with the fact that his family lineage and affinity for the Force don’t automatically make him the one person who can save the galaxy, and I love that.
– Snoke’s role disappointed me. It’s OK that he was dispatched quickly and didn’t get some grand reveal as an incredibly meaningful part of the Star Wars universe, but if that was going to be the case, his death should have been a shocking turn. Instead, it was made abundantly clear what Kylo Ren was about to do, which took any remaining impact of the character, as well as his most pivotal scene, entirely out of the movie.
– The Force communication. The entire reason for Rey and Kylo Ren to need to communicate face-to-face through the Force is to set up Luke pulling off the same trick on a grander scale later on, since everything that passed between Rey and Kylo could just as easily have happened with Kylo trying to put ideas into Rey’s mind from afar every time she tries to connect to the Force for her training. (And that probably would’ve been a less distracting way to go about it, like Luke seeing his friends in danger while he trained with Yoda on Dagobah.)
But with Luke dying at the end anyway, there was no reason for him not to actually show up in person and purposefully go down, Obi-Wan-style. The entire idea of people being projected in other places through the Force was unnecessary, which makes it an odd choice considering how jarring it was.
– I liked what the subplots brought to the story and characters, if not the plot, but they could’ve been edited down for sure.
– Worst use of Gwendoline Christie ever. I’m glad Finn fought Phasma rather than a random stormtrooper this time (and yes, I know there’s a novel that explains why that stormtrooper was meaningful), but she was still underutilized to a frustrating degree.
Y’all got a big dose of what I thought with my review, but now that the porg is out of the bag I can finally talk some specifics. Overall, my reaction was positive and quite emotional, which surprised me. The times when I cried openly during this film are as follows: Leia Force-flying back to the ship; R2 playing Leia’s original message for Obi-Wan; Luke and Leia’s reunion, and Luke handing over the Han’s Millennium Falcon decoration; Luke and the two goddamned suns in the end taking us all the way back to Tatooine and the beginning.
Here are some of the things that made me cranky about the movie that I still can’t shake, however:
– It’s much too long. It doesn’t need to be this long. There was a lot of wasted time in some parts, and others too rushed. There were at least 2,456 climactic show-downs saved at the last moment by some kind of deus ex machina (droid ex machina?).
– It’s hard not to find the Finn/Rose subplot almost completely superfluous. I love them, deeply, and in another Star Wars movie, it would be cool to go to an alien casino and free some space horses in a wild ride. But with so much at stake in other areas of the galaxy, it just felt for me like all the air went out whenever we returned to this plot. Also, it’s built on incredibly shaky ground: they end up not even taking the tracker out, the entire point of the whole escapade, and Finn and Rose end up in a high-security prison where they meet Benicio because they parked their shuttle in the wrong place? What?
– It’s also hard not to see Finn/Rose as a setup for an angsty sort of triangle with Rey in the next movie, that also neatly leaves room for Rey to hook up with Kylo Ren. I hate everything about this: love triangles, and Rey hooking up with Kylo Ren. Let Finn have two girlfriends and a boyfriend.
– Reylo. I honestly thought all of the trailer noise about Rey and Kylo was just misdirection. I expected them to have perhaps one climactic scene together. Instead, the entire film is them Force-skyping each other back and forth, and Rey sending herself in a pod straight to Kylo Ren has to be one of the stupidest moves in any Star Wars movie, ever. The implications of romance for a heroine and a man who has killed his father and participated in multiple genocides does not sit well with me. I liked their dynamic overall, and their tension—let them have an uneasy friendship since they do share quite a lot, power-wise—but keep your goddamned shirt on, Driver. The squick was strong here.
These gripes aside, I still felt very moved by The Last Jedi, and appreciated its surprises and willingness to go where we did not expect it to go, and its beauty and lovely attention to detail. And I’m teary-eyed every time I think of Luke Skywalker and those double suns, even four days after seeing the movie. I think that image just might be with me forever.
Every time I watch a Star Was film, I’m pulled into the universe of it—the nobility of it and the bravery of it. They’re my favorite war movies, and I know it wasn’t great, but Rogue One made me cry. Anyway, when it comes to The Last Jedi, I think my opinions are in line with Dan and Kaila. I loved all the Leia stuff, and I enjoyed the fact that Rey was just a nobody who had this gift. I think we got so wrapped up in the “bloodline” that we forgot that Anakin was also a nobody from nowhere once. He began the Skywalker legacy by chance and weird prophecy. Now, Rey can make her own legacy.
Also, moral of the story: trust your female leaders, especially when they have more experience and rank than you, ffs.
– Snoke was a snore. Good, we don’t need Palpatine 2.0. Let Kylo Ren rise to be the irredeemable toxic man-child he is. May his black clothes forever have lint.
– Leia using the force and being the hope.
– All of the BB-8. Honestly, as great and adorable as the porgs were, BB-8 has them beat. The friendship with Poe is also adorable. “Where’s my droid?!” Bless.
– With Holdo, I was very happy that she was a competent and intelligent leader who had a long game plan. As for people who are like, “Well why didn’t she tell Poe?” Why should she? He looked at her and instantly didn’t believe she had what it took, so why should she tell someone who was just previously shown to disobey direct orders from Leia that led to the deaths of multiple bombers?
– Rey being of common stock like the rest of us. I think it makes sense that she, like many orphans, wants to believe that she has some secret lineage that makes her more special. It’s more powerful to say that we make ourselves special than saying that we are born special.
– Everything Luke Skywalker. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I’m in love with Luke. The entire ending conflict with Kylo was perfect because Kylo is a scrub in the truest form of the word, and Luke owned his punk a$$.
– The Rey and Kylo battle sequence was legit cool and probably one of the most violent scenes in a Star Wars movie. It’s a lucky thing people don’t bleed from lightsaber cuts.
– I’m a Never Reylo, so that shirtless scene was a hard pass. Save the intimate hand-touching scenes for Jane Austen and period dramas. It almost felt like Rey wanted to save Ben to prove something to Luke, but if Luke Skywalker thinks you’re a lost cause, then there you go. Let’s remember that Vader’s redemption came from him choosing family over darkness. Kylo you goofed.
– That Finn/Rose’s storyline was just one giant McGuffin. I enjoyed that we got some great sequences with two dope POC characters, but every time they cut back to them, I was like “okay, but what is the point?” Not to mention the whole thing just undermined Holdo, who was right the whole time, so good job breaking it, hero.
– If there’s a Finn/Rose/Rey love triangle, I am going to lose my mind. Yes, everyone loves Finn, but that just means polyamory, not triangles.
I loved this movie. I loved all four movies that made up this movie. I cried and I laughed a ton, and I was disappointed that the rest of the audience was a quiet one, because I had the urge to clap and cheer a number of times. That said, it definitely had that “middle installment” feel to it. Here are my thoughts:
– Everything about Leia! Her Force-floating, her space jewelry, the fact that after she tased Poe, she took the time to get dressed and do her elaborate rolled hairdo before boarding the transport ship.
– Everything about Holdo—from Poe realizing how wrong he was to underestimate her to that shot of her hitting lightspeed, she was perfect. (Also, that turtleneck.)
– Rey’s parentage reveal. While I would have been happy with a Kenobi connection, I’m glad she exists without an “explanation.” Where does she get her immense power from? From herself, that’s where.
– Hollywood, please put Kelly Marie Tran in literally everything.
– LUKE’S SHOULDER BRUSH AT BEN’S BIG GUN SHOW. I died laughing.
– Adding my voice to the anti-Reylo crowd.
– Ditto the Finn/Rose romance. And if there is a love triangle between them and Rey in the next movie I will burn this whole place to the ground. Just let them be friends! Let theirs be a relationship of mutual respect and deep friendship. If anyone’s gonna do kissing at each other, it’s got to be Finn and Poe.
– Snoke is boring as hell.
– It was far too long, and way overstuffed. When Justin Theroux is making cameos in a Star Wars movie, the stunt casting has officially gone too far.
I have to say that, where Luke is concerned, this film ends perfectly, and that one big image of Rey “moving rocks” made her My Queen.
Now, I’ll nit-pick for a tiny second only to say that sometimes the film tries too hard to be funny, and not all the bits land. There are definitely some clunky one-liners and awkward/corny jokes that fall flat, but you won’t care, because there’s so much other stuff you’ll be paying attention to.
I love that the Rey/Kylo relationship is so much more complicated than mere “good” and “evil.” When Supreme Leader Snoke connected the two of them via the Force, I loved that neither of them backed away from the connection. I loved that despite believing him to be a “monster,” Rey has hope that he can change and is willing to pursue him for the Resistance. I love that Kylo seems to genuinely respect Rey’s abilities, despite thinking her misguided. The scene where they, for one brief, shining moment, fight together, I was exhilarated.
The performances from Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, and Mark Hamill were amazing. It’s clear that Ridley has grown into her role, and her performance as Rey has become much more confident and powerful. Driver strikes a perfect balance between genuine menace and petulant child, all while delivering just the right touch of vulnerability to make his interactions with Rey believable and grounded. And I’ll just go ahead and say it: it’s so nice to watch Hamill play a version of Luke that is not annoying and whiny. Luke was always my least favorite part of Star Wars, but this older, more thoroughly-tested Luke is so much more interesting than that other guy. Hamill absolutely nailed it.
So, what about the other characters?
Leia. Leia. Leia. Yes, watching Carrie Fisher might make you cry, especially since some of the plot involving her parallels real-life events. However, she will do more than make you cry. She will inspire the hell out of you in this one badass scene wherein it’s proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is the Skywalker that is strongest in the Force. OK, maybe she and Luke are equal after all the events of this film are taken into account, but this is definitely the most we’ve ever seen her actively use her connection to the Force, and it is unbelievably epic.
Her relationship with Poe is awesome, and I love watching him learn how to be a leader from two women: Leia and Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern). This film is also the story of Poe Dameron becoming a leader in the resistance and learning how to do more than just blow things up.
Rose Tico, played by Kelly Marie Tran, absolutely lights up the screen every time she’s on it. I would argue that watching the introduction of this wonderful new character is worth the price of admission all by itself. The first time we meet Rose, she’s crying over the loss of her sister, a Resistance fighter. So, right away, Tran pulls us in with her depth and vulnerability. She continues to dazzle throughout with humor, sweetness, toughness, and brilliance.
Then there’s the issue of her relationship with Finn. I love watching them as a team, and normally her catching feelings for Finn would piss me right off. But she’s such a great character, that it doesn’t take away from how nuanced she is.
Watching Finn defeat Captain Phasma was pretty major. The Force Awakens was all about Finn having the courage to leave the First Order and devote himself to the Resistance in the first place. In this film, Finn closes that loop by defeating the woman most responsible for his subjugation. It’s hugely powerful.
However, I did feel some disappointment about Captain Phasma: I was disappointed that she was killed in this film after having been put to such little use. Now, perhaps she’s not dead. We saw her fall into a huge fireball, so it’s likely, but who knows? She could come back as some kind of disfigured monster hell-bent on revenge. That said, in The Force Awakens, I got the feeling that there was more to the story of her and Finn than met the eye. She seemed to favor him, and try to protect him from The First Order’s punishment a couple of times, leading me to believe that she was especially on his side for some reason. To see her simply reduced to the “muscle” chasing after him, and existing solely to give Finn his one moment of heroism was disappointing indeed.
Despite that, the film answers some criticisms some had about The Force Awakens. Thought Rey was a “Mary Sue” because she was competent? Her raw strength is addressed in this film, as is the fact that Kylo’s particular weaknesses allowed her to have the upper hand when she might not have otherwise. Didn’t like the fact that Chewie and Leia didn’t hug at the end of The Force Awakens? Get ready for their moment in this film. Sometimes, when something bugs you about a film, the answer is just to wait. They’re getting to it later in the story. Let them tell it to you, rather than trying to tell it yourself.
In other news, porgs are adorable, and BB-8 is so much more badass than we may have given him credit for.
What I love most about Star Wars: The Last Jedi is that it moves the franchise in a direction that I’ve been talking about and waiting for forever. The realm of “average people.” It’s basically the beginning of the answer to this TMS post. The film is exciting, unexpected, and full of moral and ethical questions that you’ll leave the theater talking about. It’s clear in this film that the story of Star Wars is changing—it reminds me a bit of the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when she awakens the slayer potential in girls all over the world—and the possibilities of where it could go from here are absolutely thrilling.
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