The Last Jedi was released on the 14th of December 2017 and within hours of its release fans started to flood review sites with negative reviews. It is possibly the most divisive Star Wars film of all time, and has been the subject of much backlash.
The Last Jedi had a lot to live up to, and anticipation and hopes were sky high for the film. When many felt that these expectations had not been met, director Rian Johnson was put to task defending his creative decisions.
Ironically the film has been met with overwhelming approval from critics, and unsurprisingly The Last Jedi has just gone past the one billion dollar mark at the box office. So why this massive divide? And why has The Last Jedi suffered such a backlash? This article looks at some of the reasons that audiences have been disappointed with The Last Jedi. Expect major spoilers from the outset and throughout.
1. Plot holes so big you could fly a Star Destroyer through them
Not every plot point in a film has to be so plain and obvious that the audience barely needs to bother paying attention, but on the flip side, an audience shouldn’t have to have to be left scratching their heads and trying to justify what just happened on screen because it doesn’t quite make sense in the context of the film.
In terms of The Last Jedi, fans definitely had issues with what they perceived to be various plot holes. There are even whole pages of the internet dedicated to the fact. Some plot holes include; the glossing over of the importance of the rebel ring and where exactly it came from, what happened to the rest of Luke’s students, and why Holdo thought that her plan was purely on a need to know basis. But the following are the two plot points that stood out the most:
Starting with possibly the most frustrating plot hole – what was the point behind Luke’s map? Set up in The Force Awakens, we are led to believe that Luke left behind a map in order to find him if a worst case scenario was to happen. The map plays a significant part in The Force Awakens, and one of the key scenes shows The Resistance viewing the map together.
However, in The Last Jedi, Luke quickly makes it abundantly clear that he had no intention or desire to ever be found. In fact he even says to Rey, “How did you find me? You think that I came to the most unfindable place in the galaxy for no reason at all? I came to this island to die.” Erm, Luke the map? That’s how Rey found you. It seems like a very strange thing for him to say. In a counter argument that Luke didn’t actually make the map, who did? And how did everyone know that Luke would be hiding there? For such an important plot point, it either doesn’t make any sense or at the least isn’t adequately explained.
Another plot hole relates to the big finale, when Luke appears on Crait and faces down The First Order. Kylo Ren is an incredibly powerful wielder of the Force and by all accounts an opponent to be reckoned with. With that in mind, throughout the entirety of his battle with Luke – how does he not realise that Luke is a Force projection? Luke was holding his blue lightsaber that had just been cut in half as if it was new, and he looked considerably younger. It had also been established that if you walk on the salty surface of Crait then you will leave behind footprints, which Force projection Luke didn’t do.
The argument is that Kylo Ren is blinded by rage, but that seems a pretty weak argument based on the fact that didn’t Ren just give Rey a bit of a lecture on letting go of the past? Plus from a narrative point of view, it grates slightly that the big villain is able to be so easily tricked when he has been set up as an innate source of power.
2. Mishandling of central characters
The brilliant characters of the Star Wars’ Verse are one of the reasons that Star Wars has stood the test of time. And that’s why it’s so incredibly frustrating that The Last Jedi has critically mishandled some of the best ones.
Luke Skywalker: There was something that felt inherently wrong about making Luke a potential murderer. Even if it was just a fleeting thought and his intentions were admirable, it just didn’t ring true that Luke would try and ‘off’ one of his students. Aside from that, grumpy cynic Luke was a bit of a shock to fans. Sure make him downcast or withdrawn, but Last Jedi’s Luke didn’t feel like the Luke we’d all come to know and love.
Finally, Luke’s death left fans feeling cheated. For a start it was slightly unclear why and how exactly Luke died. He dies on Ahch-To after the battle, but from what? Stress? Exhaustion? One thing is clear – Luke didn’t deserve to go out like that. And it seems as though Mark Hamil had similar concerns, telling director Rian Johnson that he “fundamentally disagreed” with the choices he’d made for the character of Luke.
Finn and Rey: One of the great things about The Force Awakens was the great friendship and camaraderie between Rey and Finn. It looked like something that would be built upon in the next instalment and was an aspect that fans were looking forward to seeing developing. So what did The Last Jedi do? Completely ignore that and keep them apart for almost the entire film. Separate from that, Finn had been a massive part of The Force Awakens. But in The Last Jedi, his role feels parred down and not as central.
Meanwhile, Rey is the centre of a crucial plot point that turns out to be a red herring. This is in regards to the identity of her parents. A lot had been made of who they might be, and this has been hinted at several times. When it is revealed that her parents are nobodies and just selfish people who abandoned her, the whole narrative surrounding that falls flat. Perhaps this is just misdirection for a bigger reveal in the next film, but if it is then it feels like it’s been handled poorly.
3. The slowest chase in cinema history
A large portion of The Last Jedi is dedicated to the low speed ‘chase’ of The First Order pursuing The Resistance ship. But The First Order didn’t have fuel issues that we know of, so why didn’t they just jump into hyperspace and back out again to overtake The Resistance? General Hux could have sent Star Destroyers ahead of The Resistance to flank them.
Just because The Resistance has the means to keep out of range of the Star Destroyer’s canons, it still doesn’t mean they can outrun them. So why didn’t General Hux send out any of the hundreds of TIE fighters he has at his disposal? They could have attacked The Resistance and slowed them down enough so that they were within range of the Star Destroyer’s canons. Failing that, why didn’t The Resistance pull the kamikaze move off earlier with one of their smaller ships? It could have saved a lot of later casualties.
A chase sequence should be fast paced, exciting and have you on the edge of your seat. This chase sequence felt like dragged out, and based on an iffy concept at best.
4. What is going on with the villains?
For a film which predominantly deals with the battle between good and evil (or the light side versus the dark side), it is vitally important that the villains and heroes in the film are dealt with properly, and are strong characters. In The Last Jedi, we can consider there to a multitude of villains.
There is obviously anyone involved in The First Order, including bigger characters such as General Hux and Captain Phasma. But in terms of the main villains, we would consider there to be two – Kylo Ren and Supreme Leader Snoke. Kylo Ren is a divisive character. He has elements of brilliance about him, as well as weaker characteristics. But whatever your thoughts on him, he has a strong identity and he continues to develop and grow. And it is clear that his story is only beginning.
When it comes to Supreme Leader Snoke, things aren’t quite so clear. Yet another plot point that was built up in The Force Awakens and then ignored – who the hell is Snoke?! Before we are given any real clues about his identity, he is killed off. The other problem is his death itself, which seems conveniently easy given his power and ability. And just like that, the ultimate villain of the film is no more.
On a quick side note, Captain Phasma also met an unsatisfactory ending. Although at least with Captain Phasma we never saw a body, another Boba Fett perhaps?!