The Daily Gamecock

Head to Head: 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' was a disappointment

Rey (Daisy Ridley) in "Star Wars: The Last Jedi." (Lucasfilm Ltd./TNS)
Rey (Daisy Ridley) in "Star Wars: The Last Jedi." (Lucasfilm Ltd./TNS)


During the opening week of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi," and even still today, there has been an interesting and rare divide on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Since the film’s release, the critic score has remained in the 90s, labeling it as “fresh,” while the user score has consistently been in the 50s or below, or “rotten.”

Seeing these scores made me assume that “The Last Jedi” must have nailed the movie fundamentals of cinematography, pacing, plot and character development, garnering love from critics, while taking too many liberties with the Star Wars name and formula, creating backlash from fans.

Turns out, just about the exact opposite was true.

In my humble opinion, “The Last Jedi” is a poorly crafted film. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that 45 minutes to an hour could be completely cut with just about no impact on the plot, the majority of this coming from Finn and Rose’s casino side quest. 

This section brought the pace of the film to a screeching halt that it never truly recovered from. The opening of the movie actually worked pretty well for me, with the setup for a helpless chase through space coupled with growing discontent with the leadership in the Resistance. 

However, we then go straight to Finn and Rose bumbling around a CGI-filled casino, getting arrested for illegal parking and miraculously finding someone in their cell who can solve all of their problems. From the fake-looking visuals to the forced comedy and Finn and Rose’s wooden and unrealistic romance, truly nothing in this section came remotely close to working.

While yes, Disney completely missing the mark with Finn and his character development hurt and took up far too much of the film, this is something that could have probably been forgiven if it wasn’t for the plot holes, inconsistencies and just baffling choices made all throughout the film.

Arguably the biggest hole in the film’s plot and the one that drives me crazy is concerning Admiral Holdo. In case you forgot, Holdo is Laura Dern’s character who took over control of the Resistance after Leia’s force-induced Mary Poppin’s float through space (a moment that will, for me, go down as one of the worst moments in Star Wars history).

Throughout the story, we are made to like the straight-shooting and passionate Poe Dameron and by extension dislike and mistrust Holdo who is portrayed as an authoritarian leader who may have ulterior motives. This sets up the eventual twist that she actually had a plan to evacuate the rebels from the ship the whole time and just didn’t tell Poe about it. 

But wait, why didn’t she tell Poe about it?

Holdo keeping Poe in the dark about her plans makes absolutely zero sense. I could potentially buy her not sharing this information early on for fear of it leaking out, but when Poe is literally staging a full-on mutiny and pointing a gun at her face, it stops making any logical sense for her to not tell him he’s making a mistake. One of my least favorite writing devices in shows, movies, books, etc. is when the conflict of the story could be avoided if the good guys had just communicated with each other and this is an extreme example. Without exaggeration, if Holdo had actually told Poe what her plans were, nearly the entire plot of the movie wouldn’t have happened. 

In my opinion, that’s the sign of a weak plot.

These were some of the film’s most egregious problems, but honestly, my biggest disappointment is that it feels like there wasn’t any sort of grand direction or vision with this trilogy. In so many ways, it seems that Rian Johnson completely neglected the world and tone that Abrams set up in "The Force Awakens." 

Where Abrams put an emphasis on the practical effects that made the original trilogy so loved, Johnson reverted back to the heavy use of CGI that made the prequels so hated. Where Abrams set up mysterious characters like Snoke and the Knights of Ren, Johnson tore them down or completely neglected them. And while I actually like some of the lore decisions made in this film — like Rey’s parentage, Luke’s character change and even the surprise of Snoke’s death — none of it felt like a natural progression from what Abrams set up. Where the original trilogy had a vision for the three-part story being told, this trilogy seems like it’s being made up as it goes along, which is not what I want from this new wave of Star Wars.

It’s not a horrible movie and doesn’t deserve all of the hate it’s getting, but I also don’t think it earns some of its more extreme praise either. At the end of the day, “The Last Jedi” is a decent sci-fi/fantasy action movie with some fun moments, but with Star Wars being one of my all-time favorite series and with the sheer amount of money and resources Disney has at their disposal, I want something more.

For a different take on "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," see Brad Dountz' review.