A trend I’ve noticed in moviegoers today is a refusal to be adequately entertained. I don’t mean that certain audiences don’t respect films, or that they aren’t enjoying them enough, rather I find that the grading system for films is broken. All too often people will say, you love it – or you hate it. I wholeheartedly disagree. Sometimes a movie has some things you don’t enjoy, and about an hour and a half of some of the best Star Wars you’ve ever seen. Please note, if you haven’t seen the film just yet this review is incredibly spoiler-heavy.
Ever since Disney handed over the reigns to Rian Johnson the movie was expected to be a divisive one. To me, that meant that he was taking risks. One issue I found with The Last Jedi’s predecessor, The Force Awakens, was that it didn’t take enough risks, for the most part everything ends in that film the way it began. But The Last Jedi subverted audience expectation in many key ways. Did it always work? No, absolutely not. The scene in which Leia uses the force to get back to the Resistance ship stands out for most as rigid and somewhat unbelievable in a supposedly serious moment.
The score also left something to be desired for me. It felt as if it was an echo of John Williams’ original works in the series. The Force Theme, ringing out when Rey would begin to understand her place in the universe, or when Luke would lecture her on the mystery of the force, and when Leia would use the force — it felt less like a creative spicing of the soundtrack, dotting it with nods to the original score. But rather, as though it may’ve been like a checklist, with Williams simply placing the proper theme for the proper character.
Initially upon seeing the film, I felt as though the newest entry to the series, Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico (played by Kelly Marie Tran) was out of place, but on later viewings though, the film uses this character to swing home its central theme. It’s okay to fail, moreover it’s necessary. What this film may lack in consistency of quality, with some scenes wildly more popular than others, it makes up for in its consistent message. Everyone, from the outset of the film decides to accomplish something, none succeed.
Rey seeks Luke Skywalker to teach her the ways of the force and make her a Jedi, but instead she discovers that he is the reason behind Kylo Ren. Snoke wants Rey and Luke dead, he is killed by his own student. Luke wants to make Rey give up on the force and she becomes the Last Jedi.
On the resistance side of things, Leia and Holdo try to teach Poe a lesson in humility. He is too cocky and proud and because of that they have suffered casualties. But by leaving him out of the planning process he dooms their secondary plan and nearly gets the entire resistance killed.
This theme of failure is further echoed through Yoda’s speech to Luke. That failure about all else is the best mentor. Where not to tread, is a much greater signpost than where one has already gone.
When I mentioned that this film has the best hour and a half of Star Wars I had ever seen, I meant it. Every scene with Rey, Luke and Kylo Ren in it was a culmination of not only acting prowess in Mark Hamill’s case but the world of Star Wars being built. For the first time on the screen, we have Luke Skywalker definitively explain that the force is as much a religion as Christianity, all the while providing proof of its existence and passing the torch.
The standout moment of the entire film in my eyes is Luke’s last. He is back on Ach To (the island he trains Rey on). He has exerted himself past the point of no return and looks out to the horizon. In my head I could hear Yoda’s words to him earlier in the film, “always looking to the Horizon, Young Skywalker.” The two suns setting feels like a perfect mirror to Luke’s introduction to the series with the now famous binary sunset on Tatooine. This shot was Luke on the left side of the frame, looking out to the horizon with wonder. This newest shot, had him on the right accepting all he had seen with solemnity and peace of mind.
The film overall had its bumps and bruises, and didn’t accomplish everything it set out to do. However, maybe we, as moviegoers can accept that for what it is and enjoy it all the same.