5. Rewriting Star Wars History
There are several moments that happen in The Last Jedi that make it seem as though the makers of this film are completely new to the Star Wars’ Universe, or at the least they have decided to ignore things that have already been fully established. This can also be related to the fact that a lot of fans have complained of The Last Jedi being too non-canonical.
For example, The Last Jedi introduces The First Order’s new hyperspace tracking technology. This is then hailed as a major advancement. However, is everyone forgetting that Darth Vader tracked Princess Leia’s ship in A New Hope after it jumped to hyperspace? There is also mention of the same technology in Rogue One when Jyn Erso comes across files on ‘hyperspace tracking navigational systems.’ Thus it seems strange that this technology is greeted as a surprise.
There is also the appearance of Yoda, and his newfound abilities. Yoda appears to Luke as a Force ghost, and then summons lightning to set fire to the original Jedi temple. Where did Yoda’s post-mortem Jedi powers come from? And even if we can get on board with these powers, why does Yoda use them for this purpose? With Yoda’s intentions feeling somewhat strange and unclear, it is another part of Star Wars’ History that feels like it has been tinkered with.
There may be some breath-taking moments where you exclaim “I never would have guessed that *insert character name* could do that!” But then you quickly realise that that’s because Johnson is making it all up as he goes along.
6. Misuse of humour
Star Wars has always made use of humour, whether this is in the use of comedic characters or in zany one liners. There have been some uses of humour in past films which haven’t always been overly well received (Jar Jar Binks anyone?) but The Last Jedi seems to have completely divided fans on its use of humour and comedic relief.
The humour is apparent from the outset with Poe Dameron cracking the first joke within minutes, and The Last Jedi asks fans to go with it. For those who do, they may feel that the humour is consistent with the franchise’s history of wisecracks. However for those who don’t, every joke lands with an awkward clang.
Unfortunately for Rian Johnson, a large majority of people were in the latter. This is a criticism that Johnson was ready to defend, and he admitted that he wasn’t sure how well the humour would play out. On the matter he said, “That was the one thing I was most nervous about.” All well and good then? Well no, not exactly. If Johnson knew that the humour might not play out, why include it?
7. The Force of Repetition
The Force Awakens had its own share of criticism to defend on this point, which was – hang on, isn’t The Force Awakens just a rehash of A New Hope? But even with that argument against it, The Force Awakens had enough narrative differences to feel fresh.
So, with that in mind no one could accuse The Last Jedi of being a rehash of any previous film. A plot where someone has to sneak into somewhere to steal something, in a race against time. Noble rebels with all the odds against them and reliant on one crazy move by one lone pilot…
Actually when you pause to consider it, The Last Jedi is the most repetitive Star Wars film of them all. It takes plot points and elements from almost every previous film and mashes them together in a film which ends up with mismatched tones and characters.
8. Rian Johnson struggles with structure
Broken down into pieces and separate scenes and The Last Jedi is fantastic. However when you put all the scenes back together again, The Last Jedi is a flawed mess. Tension is built up and escalated, only to then peter out and lose momentum. There are subplots that take you out of the scenes you actually care about, and ruin the overall pace of the film. For example, Finn and Rose’s casino outing which overall feels pretty pointless.
Rey’s Jedi training is an integral part of The Last Jedi, and something that fans were really looking forward to seeing. That part of the film should feel like an epic build up that results in an emotional and inspirational payoff for the audience. Yet it doesn’t really. The Last Jedi is too busy pulling your attention to another character, that you don’t have time to focus on any one person for long enough to form an attachment.
Johnson, who is probably best known for Brick and Looper, is used to using a more free and sprawling structure. And you can tell that a more contained structure is not where he excels. Sometimes you need to tell one important story, rather than ten minor ones.
Author Bio: Cara McWilliam-Richardson is a writer with a passion for films and filmmaking. She has written several screenplays, and is currently working on her first novel. Her favourite genre to write is fantasy and science fiction.