All right, it’s been a bit since The Last Jedi dropped, but just in case you haven’t had the chance to see the latest Star Wars film…
I want to begin by saying that I loved this film, but even the best movies aren’t without their flaws. I’d like to point out what I see as some of the best choices made in VIII, and the places where they may have missed the mark. Feel free to sound off in the comments below where you agree/disagree!
With the passing of Carrie Fisher, and the inherent difficulty in handling a legendary character like Princess Leia, it was a monumental task to bring her back in a way that honors the character, and keeps her compelling. In my mind, they nailed it.
Fisher gave a nuanced, wonderful performance, equal parts warrior and regal.
Her teaching moments with Poe were especially well done, whether leading him in soft conversation, or stunning him with a blaster the moment se revived from her coma.
The Super-Leia Scene
Now don’t get me wrong, I love that they highlighted more of Leia’s Force abilities. I even think her ability to save herself by pulling herself back to the blast door was a good choice.
But man, did they drag it out.
In actuality, it’s the difference of a few seconds, but the very pregnant pause around her floating in space, and the drawn out sequence of her flying through space missed the emotional mark. That, coupled with the late Fisher’s actual passing made this scene feel like a cheap shot.
Bringing Back Yoda
The scene featuring the legendary Yoda was easily my favorite of the entire film. Using an actual puppet, and allowing the great Frank Oz to breathe life in to the character again, was so, so good. Not to mention, the writing was completely on-point, and felt exactly right for the wise Jedi Master, leading his student through one more lesson.
I can’t overstate enough how good the choices in that scene were. It was worth the admission price alone.
It really pains me to say, because I love that puppets and practical effects took a prominent role in this film. Most of the puppet moments were tasteful, and expertly handled. But a few, specifically in the casino scene and on the island, did not read well.
The true magic of a well-done puppet is that they feel real in a way CG currently can’t, and can be acted through by skilled puppeteers. Some of the puppets, however, seemed to just have “flappy mouth syndrome” where they just kinda move the mouth while sounds are coming out. It removes you from the moment, and reminds you that you are looking at something fake.
Also, I won’t even bring up Luke’s milking scene.
…it didn’t need to make eye contact with Rey during…
The biggest fear I had with Disney taking the reigns of Star Wars was that they would be afraid of taking risk, for fear of offending any part of their audience (and subsequently cutting in to their overhead). But man, did they prove me wrong when they took out the assumed big bad of the trilogy halfway through the second film! Such a good, unexpected choice, which completely changes the direction of the story.
In the same breath of complimenting them on taking out characters early, I feel they cut down Captain Phasma too early, and rather unceremoniously all things considered. Gwendoline Christie is an amazing actress, and I felt like there was a lot more they could have done with her.
I know it’s a bit broad, but I really appreciate the restraint used when including important details, often revealing major plot points well ahead of their reveal. For example, did you catch the Luke didn’t leave footprints when walking on Krait, revealing that he wasn’t actually there? Or how about the shadow of the boy at the end, clearly showing him holding something very lightsaber-shaped? By not putting a big, blinking arrow pointing to these things, the audience is allowed to discover them for themselves, which is so much more rewarding.
Big, Blinking Arrows
As well as they did some subtle choices, others were hammered in and spelled out so hard that it was difficult not to roll my eyes. The repeated “nature beating industry” themes were relevant (riding the creatures out of the casino, the crystal foxes leading away from the First Order threat, etc.), but very unsubtle.
In that same vein, similar to the critique of Leia’s flying referenced earlier, the dialogue leading up to Snoke’s death was spelled out so clear that I’m amazed no one called him out on exposition-ing. Choices like this undercut the intelligence of the audience, and take away the joy of the moment. Think how much more effective the Snoke death scene would have been if he had just said “Kill her,” and Kylo instead killed him?
Guys, the choices made for Luke Skywalker were so, so good! Hamill handled this complex character amazingly well, and made what could have been a joke in to an amazingly powerful performance. Every beat, from the choice to throw the lightsaber the moment he got it in his hands, to the hesitation to burn down the Jedi tree, to the heartbreaking scene saying goodbye to Leia on Krait, it was a near-flawless performance.
Even moments of levity, which are easy to mess up with a serious character, still read well. As objectively silly as it was for Luke to brush off his shoulder after being pummeled by the First Order on Krait, I still made an audible squeal of enjoyment.
So good. So. Good.
I- I’ve Got Nothing
I mean, maybe the unnecessary pole-vault to a precarious cliff’s edge to fish? The milking scene again? Really, I’m digging here.
He just did so good, you guys.
Now, there’s a whole lot of movie I didn’t even touch (Poe’s amazing interaction with Hux at the top of the film, Finn and Rose, the non-necessity of BB-9e for anything other than toy sales), so let us know the good and bad we missed below
And, until IX gets here, may the Force be with us all!
To watch the full reactions and review from the Geeks Corner crew on the night of the premiere (and you’ll want to!), be sure to press play below!