This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Elliott’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
The biggest problem with turning Star Wars into a multi-media, multi-movie franchise beyond the original trilogy is that, especially compared to other Disney properties, the Star Wars universe is shockingly limited. You can hail The Force Awakens and Empire Strikes Back and A New Hope all you like but you have to admit that every Star Wars movie is bound to the intertextual imagery and concepts of stormtroopers, lightsabers, X-Wings, Light vs Dark side and so on and so forth. The key struggle behind the scenes in The Last Jedi was obviously Rian Johnson going to copious lengths to break the mould of Star Wars and subvert expectations at every turn and Kennedy, Kasdan and Disney trying to reign him in and stick to the basic character arcs that happen in these movies and this creates a jarring experience and a complete mess where nothing happens and we end up exactly where we started.
It’s true that The Last Jedi is less devoid of life that last year’s Rogue One but for a main trilogy movie Johnson has made a bland creation. Within its 152 minute runtime what do we learn about any of these characters that we didn’t know from previous films? Well we learn that Poe needs to stop taking control and follow a leader and that Finn shouldn’t sacrifice himself to win a war because love can save everyone. Wait- why did I watch this movie again? The main pull of Star Wars is the characters (as the stories are aggressively cookie-cutter) and their interactions and whilst Kylo Ren’s temptation offers some of the most heavy emotional weight of the film characters like Finn and Poe are non-characters that we know very little about aside from simple facts (ex-Stormtrooper, likes to blow things up) and whilst Rey is definitely still an interestingly written role I definitely thought she was phoning it in.
The comedy in the movie is one of the largest talking points and personally I found it poorly placed, the opening gag of Luke throwing away the lightsaber lacked the comedic timing to work and shows Rian Johnson’s desperate need to subvert your expectations even if it lets down the story and cliffhanger of the prior film. The structure was also very odd, Johnson and co decide to tell this movie for the second act cutting to and thro between Poe struggling with a new leader and starting a rebellion, Finn and Rose getting a master codebreaker and Rey trying to convert Kylo Ren and guess what? THEY ALL FAIL!
So at the end of the movie we have Kylo Ren leading the New Order trying to take down Rey with no Luke but Leia aging and struggling to cope. I’m sorry to dwell on this but this just felt like a detour where Johnson and Kasdan just suggested scenes which would be cool; case in point: the casino scene.
This scene matters not, it ends up with Finn and Rose in prison where they meet Benicio Del Toro but that could have happened anywhere. The scene’s visuals are cool but the tone is off, the dialogue is clunky and it just has random cutaway gags that aren’t funny and the character designs look more Valerian than Star Wars. Let me put it this way, remember that tentacled creature scene in the Millenium Falcon in The Force Awakens? Well imagine those kind of scenes repeated again and again with random unnecessary lines from Leia and C3PO and Chewbacca to please the fanboys. I think in terms of those elements Rich Evans summed it up better when he said that it felt like a Star Wars Saturday morning cartoon where it was just a mini (non-canon) adventure within this universe but a morning cartoon this is not- this a 350 million dollar production that fanboys have been banking on for two years and yeah they’ll be pleased by the Luke parts and R2D2 meeting him again etc. but underneath the surface The Last Jedi is shallow, meaningless and lacking in anything that makes an enjoyable sci-fi fantasy movie. I would say avoid it but you’ll see it anyway.