Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi ★★★½

This second instalment of Disney’s new trilogy is more enjoyable than the first. “The Force Awakens” was nothing but a repackaging of “Star Wars: A New Hope” with new characters and locations replacing their 1977 predecessors. At least “The Last Jedi” shows some originality in scriptwriting and offers a few interesting twists.

It’s very clever how the plot toys with the audience’s expectations. Just when the audience expects Rey (reprised by Daisy Ridley) to redeem Kylo Ren (reprised by Adam Driver) from the dark side, the plot takes another twist. Just when everyone expects Supreme Leader Snoke to play a bigger role in this film, he turns out to be disappointingly underwhelming. The finale confrontation between Kylo Ren and Luke Skywalker masks an incredible Jedi trick which stuns the audience. Not to mention Force powers now can be found in every Tom, Dick and Harry – no longer a Skywalker birthright!

There’re just two big issues with this film. Firstly, the sub-plot / budding romance involving Finn (reprised by John Boyega) and Rose (played by Kelly Marie Tran) is completely unnecessary and takes up valuable screen time which could’ve been better invested in deepening the main plot. This couple are neither charismatic, interesting nor attractive to capture the audience’s attention. Their sub-plot feels like a contrived Disney attempt to impose screen “diversity” by allocating more screen time to characters played by coloured minorities.

Which brings me to the Finn character. As the new trilogy develops, he feels more and more irrelevant. When his character was first introduced, there was a sense that he was being groomed as the new Han Solo replacement. But now that Rey and Kylo Ren have consolidated their roles as the main stars of the new trilogy, Finn feels completely irrelevant. Erase Finn from this movie and the audience wouldn’t feel anything missing. The same can be said for Captain Phasma (reprised by Gwendoline Christie) and General Hux (reprised by Domhnall Gleeson). Ask yourself what have the duo contributed to affecting the overall storyline so far, given their high commanding status in the First Order. Nothing! Both characters are bumbling fools who should’ve been executed by High Command for their continued incompetence! It feels like the film producers created many new characters to cast their friends and industry celebrities, instead of thinking through about the evolution of their respective character arcs!

Secondly, the depiction of Luke Skywalker in the new trilogy is so disappointing and unbelievable! If Luke had disappeared in search of ancient Jedi knowledge, the audience can at least accept it as being consistent with the lore. But instead, Luke becomes a grumpy coward who went into hiding to escape his guilt is so face palm-esque! Compare the Luke Skywalker the audience saw at the end of “Return of the Jedi” and the Luke Skywalker in this movie. The audience really have a hard time trying to reconcile this is the same character they’ve loved! If Disney really wanted to erase the old ‘legacy’ characters to start afresh with younger ones, the movie producers could’ve done an Obi-Wan on him, protecting Rey from Kylo Ren, early in the movie. Let him become a Force ghost to guide Rey for the rest of the film. At least his heroic image remains immortalized in memory. Instead, the audience now has to live with the memory of his cowardice, insecurity and murderous intent, no thanks to the script! And this is supposed to be canon lore!

Moreover, the treatment of the Snoke character leaves so many questions unanswered. Snoke’s origin, source of power, rise to dictatorial power after the Empire’s collapse, will remain a permanent mystery. So much potential squandered away when the storyline was building him up as a big bad to rival Palpatine!

Furthermore, when is the Resistance going to end? When will the scriptwriters stop using the Empire and its remnants (First Order or whatever name) as the perennial enemy? As far as the audience is concerned, after the events of “Return of the Jedi”, the new Republic would’ve been reconstituted as the Galactic Government, with military superiority to wipe out the Empire’s remnants! Even if the First Order destroyed the Republic government hierarchy, it could’ve been rebuilt easily with the majority support of liberated planets. I cannot, for the love of God, understand how the good guys remain as a resistance movement at a military disadvantage, THIRTY YEARS!!! after the demise of Palpatine, Darth Vader and the Galactic Empire! Why can’t Disney’s scriptwriters show some creativity and make the New Republic face new threats from the Sith, space pirates or extra-dimensional aliens????

Acting-wise, the prize has to go to Bernicio Del Toro for his cameo role as a space hacker. In his limited screen time, he provided more entertainment, nonchalant coolness and savviness than any of the main characters.

In conclusion, while I enjoyed the film and consider it better than “The Force Awakens”, the movies of the new trilogy are still inferior to Geroge Lucas’ TWO (yes, I include the prequel) trilogies in terms of storyline. At the start of this new trilogy, the film producers were too eager to retain fan nostalgia by tying their movie tightly to old familiar characters and bogey threats to ensure ‘continuity’. When they realized the old actors were no longer interested to continue (Carrie Fisher dead, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill not interested), they decided to kill off the old characters and start on a clean slate. But so few of their new characters are properly developed. Outside of Rey and Kylo Ren, who else impresses? How does Snoke, Captain Phasma, General Hux, Maz Kanata, Finn or Poe Cameron compared to Palpatine, Boba Fett, Jabba the Hutt, Lando Calrissian, Count Dooku or General Grevious? Don’t mention Darth Vader, because Kylo Ren can’t even hold a candle to Anakin Skywalker at his most evil!!! I do have to recommend this movie though, because it’s the only Star Wars flick we’ve got at the moment and is an improvement over the previous effort.

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