Note: Spoilers throughout this article.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been out for a few weeks now to mixed reviews. Most people I know disliked the film. My brother is pretty ambivalent about it, which I guess I understand. I have less understanding for the people who outright dislike it. Adam Savage’s podcast “Still Untitled” had a wonderful review of the film. I’ll try not repeat him too much, but I believe it was there that I did hear someone say, “Star Wars was always a children’s film”. I like that.
Let me start with what I disliked. First, foremost, and eternally: The Pod Racer Scene. ”What pod racer scene?” I can hear you asking through the aether. The Pod Racer Scene. The pointless, cutesy chase scene in the middle of the movie because someone decided that a jail break wasn’t enough action. It did nothing for the movie and the run time certainly didn’t need it. The second thing was the conflict generated by the fleet only having 18 hours of fuel. I understand the role that ticking clocks can have in generating tension in film. This scenario just didn’t make sense. I’m willing to forgive the question about where the rest of the Imp- First Order fleet was. I can even explain away the inability to micro jump. 18 hours doesn’t seem nearly enough time for Finn and Rose to go find this computer guy and bring him back. I know hyper speed is faster than warp drive, it just doesn’t seem reasonable that they could have ever expected to fulfill the mission and get back.
Now lets leave the negativity behind.
I thought The Last Jedi was a stunningly beautiful film. In particular, having the star cruiser hyper speed through Snoke’s command ship was amazing to watch. Rian Johnson’s decision to cut audio was inspired. Imp- First Order crafts have never had such a sense of depth as when Finn and Rose infiltrated it. Similarly, Snoke’s chamber provided a intimidating, alien environment that echoed the intensity of the Luke and Vader duel in the Cloud City Carbonite Chamber in Empire.
Johnson’s writing powered the saga forward by ignoring as much of the J.J. Abrams setup as they possibly could. Revealing Rey’s parentage to be completely unimportant was the best possible outcome, any other decision would have been seen as servicing some strange corner of the fandom (though, maybe if we didn’t spend so much time obsessing about it, the writers could just write).
The execution of Snoke by Kylo Ren set up the concluding film nicely while paying off two more plot points. The first being the identity of Snoke. Once again, not everything needs to be something else. He didn’t need to be a previous Sith Lord. All he had to be was evil: Mission Accomplished! Finally, where are the Knights of Ren? What are the Knights of Ren? They’re just gone now. No need to even bring them up.