Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Our Verdict

Following the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the Future of the Force writers share their verdict on Rian Johnson’s imaginative Episode VIII…

The Last Jedi, has been one of the most hotly anticipated Star Wars films of all time, and its arrival has seen a colossal return at the worldwide box office. Mark Hamill’s return as the iconic Luke Skywalker, ensured a bumper crop of revenue totalling well over $1 billion dollars since its release and is fast becoming one of the most lucrative films in the series.

However, there has been a disturbance in the Force.

Despite Rian Johnson’s exciting movie proving to be a hit with many Star Wars fans, there have been mutterings of discontent from pockets of disgruntled devotees, many of who have attacked the movie for eroding the principles of the Star Wars saga. From Leia using the Force to levitate through space, to Luke Skywalker’s sudden deviation from the hopeful path of the Jedi, nothing has been above scrutiny.

Considering this unexpected backlash, the Future of the Force team have decided to have their say…

Carl Roberts:

After multiple viewings and having time to digest what I’ve seen, I must admit that The Last Jedi is one of the best Star Wars films of all time. From the opening scrawl up to the end credits, the film had me hooked. Rian Johnson has crafted not only a great addition to the saga but an all-round fantastic science fiction film. It won’t change the genre, but it’s certainly changed Star Wars forever.

Mark Hamill has never been better as Luke Skywalker. He’s not the same hero we cheered many years ago, he’s now an older, weary loner, set in seeing his final days out in seclusion on his island. From being a reluctant hero many years ago to now a reluctant teacher, haunted by his failure with his nephew, Ben, Hamill has turned our favourite hero on his head, annoying us with his total ignorance and indifference to Rey to once again holding us in his heart. This Luke is burdened with being considered a legend. The weight of the galaxy’s expectations of him have taken their toll and now our reluctant hero waits for death. Like last year’s closing chapter of the Logan saga, our hero finally gets his wish. However, it’s not in battle and it’s not with sadness. Luke passes peacefully, staring yet again at the twin suns. This is the perfect ending for the character, one final joy that he has earned.

From the opening space battle, which I have to admit I cheered through, Rey’s training and force connection to Kylo Ren, the paths set before our new heroes, Leia finally using the Force, Admiral Holdo’s heroic sacrifice at light speed, the shock death (or did he?) of Snoke at the hands of his apprentice, the battle of Crait (and the best sequence in the film, The Falcon flying through the planet with John Williams’ score proudly accompanying it) and, of course, the best cameo ever to grace a Star Wars film and you’ve got a film for the ages. Where the Star Wars saga goes from here is anyone’s guess, but this film is a hard act to follow. The closing part of this trilogy (and the end of the Skywalker saga) needs to scale even bigger heights if it’s to even equal The Last Jedi.

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Stewart Gardiner:

Notes towards appreciating Rian Johnson’s Star Wars masterpiece The Last Jedi: Lose yourself in the story. Give up your heart to the characters. Savour the unexpected. Let’s talk about that last part.

The unexpected lies at the core of great of storytelling. Expectations should be upturned or else everyone would know the story in advance and there’d be no telling of the story. What would be the point? Stories are an audience-safe space for unexpected things to happen. In life the unexpected can be wonderful or awful and everything in between; one never knows what is coming and that can be terrifying, although it is nevertheless life. Audiences can experience through stories what they fear to experience in the everyday. Stories are also like mirrors (picture yourself as Rey staring at your multiple selves in the mirror cave), where human behaviour is reflected back at you.

Of course, some things in a long-form narrative are not entirely unexpected once the story has progressed beyond the beginning. Luke Skywalker’s self-imposed exile in The Last Jedi for example. Han Solo gave his account of Luke’s disappearance to Rey and Finn in The Force Awakens:

“He was training a new generation of Jedi. One boy, an apprentice, turned against him, destroyed it all. Luke felt responsible. He just walked away from everything.”

Han was of course close enough to events to make a pretty accurate assessment. That Rian Johnson takes the idea and explores it without fear is certainly bold, but it also feels inevitable to the sequel trilogy story. It’s that delicate balancing act that the greatest stories ever told must achieve: the unexpectedly inevitable. Like the moment where Han walks out on to that bridge in Starkiller Base; a story beat that rings true as soon as it is put in motion, because Han is trying to save his son.

Johnson pushes Star Wars in new directions while honouring what has gone before. JJ Abrams said he wished he could have directed Johnson’s screenplay and one can see why. The storytelling of The Last Jedi is fearless, thrilling, and profound. Johnson has made a Star Wars film as fresh and exciting as Star Wars ever was when you fell in love with it. In an age where IPs are often considered more important than the stories they contain, Star Wars still stands head and shoulders above the crowd. That galaxy far, far away may be a safe space for audiences to experience wonder, but it won’t thrive by telling stories that are themselves safe. We’re two thirds of the way through the sequel trilogy and playing it safe is clearly not the game plan. Leave that to the less adventurous.

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Megan Rickards:

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, where do I start?

It was amazing…ly alright. While there were many parts that I enjoyed, such as the back and forward between Poe and Hux in the beginning and mischievous Yoda showing up, there were also parts that I could have done without, such as the whole Canto Bight sequence and Leia legitimately flying through space. While for the former, one could say that it was put there to rhyme or rather call back to some scene in the original trilogy, for the latter, it was simply outrageous. Sure, Leia is powerful in the Force like her brother and we had seen Kanan Jarrus do the same thing in season three of Rebels “Visions and Voices”, but the situations were different.

First off, Kanan was not in the vacuum of space for nearly as long as Leia and secondly the way he flew was more of a last-ditch effort to save himself rather than Leia’s super hero like style. In short, while I did thoroughly enjoy the movie, it’s not one that I need to see twenty-five/thirty times over.

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Katarina Schultz:

The first time I saw The Last Jedi, I cried the whole way through. It was one of the most stressful movie-going experiences of all time. I came out with my face so swollen and my brain so fried that I couldn’t even tell you whether I liked it or not. The second time I saw it, I cried just the right amount to be able to process what I was seeing (I’m a movie crier, can you tell?). I can now say that I love this beautiful, chaotic film. It has a lot going on, sometimes too much, but at its core it’s a moving argument for letting go of the past while fighting tooth and nail for the future.

The real-life lessons don’t stop there; the film also insists that failure is a necessary and acceptable part of progress and muses on the power of myths and storytelling in delivering hope. It’s these messages that solidify my opinion of the film into a wildly positive one and earn its place on my list of movies that I watch when I need hope.

Brad Tracy:

I once heard unhappiness is the difference between expectations and reality. That being said, the first time I saw The Last Jedi I was unhappy with the film because my expectations for Star Wars films are so unrealistically high. Initially the length of the movie had me ecstatic – after all you can never get enough Star Wars – but while watching it seemed just to drag on endlessly. Wasn’t excited about Luke’s portrayal. Snoke’s fate was highly unfortunate. Canto Bight was simply unnecessary. It was quickly looking like TLJ was going to be near the bottom of my personal Star Wars ranking system, spots normally reserved for the prequels.

Then I saw it a second time. Then I saw it a third time, and a fourth. After five viewings, I finally think I understand what the writer and director was trying to convey. I now love this movie. For one who usually considers himself good with words, I am a bit at a loss why I like this movie so much. Some parts I truly loved. Others had my blood boiling. But I think therein lies the answer. Rian Johnson makes you experience the full spectrum of human emotions and that’s what a quality movie should be all about. And more than that, love it or hate it, I’ve never seen so much discussion following a Star Wars movie. With the prequels, it was like we knew what the outcome was going to be, so they did little to promote conversation. I imagine there hasn’t been this much dialogue since Empire Strikes Back where everyone was wondering if Darth Vader could really be Luke’s father. One thing is certain, The Last Jedi has ensured the Star Wars mythos will survive and thrive for years to come.

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Patty Hammond:

I really liked The Last Jedi! To me it is simply the most unexpected Star Wars Film since The Empire Strikes Back. Nothing went the way I envisioned or expected.

There were a lot of things that surprised me including:

-Luke’s attitude when Rey arrives
-Luke cutting himself off from The Force
-Rey and Kylo Ren’s interactions throughout the film
-The death of Snoke at the hands of Kylo Ren
-Leia visually using The Force to save herself from certain death
-Rey and Kylo fighting together
-Holdo’s maneuver to save the survivors of The Resistance
-Luke fighting Kylo Ren
-Yoda showing up

Based on all the events of The Last Jedi I have no idea at all what is going to happen in Episode IX and this is a good thing.

Thomas Storai:

I was mind-blown by The Last Jedi and that was the case from my first viewing of the movie. Rian Johnson has crafted an awesome piece of Star Wars and like George Lucas did with the Prequels, he wasn’t afraid to take risks, and all these risks paid off. This movie was full of twists and turns, keeping me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I think Luke’s line “This is not going to go the way you think” was the perfect summary of this movie in terms of how the story goes. And this line “Hope is like the sun, if you only believe in it when you can see it, you will never make it through the night” said by Holdo and Poe was more a summary of the theme of the movie.

Despite its dark tone, the movie was all about hope, about keeping hope alive and standing up against evil. There was also a lighter tone in many scenes of the movie with some nice humor. Johnson tested all our favorite main characters and they came out of this movie stronger than ever, plus he introduced us to some amazing new characters like Holdo, DJ and Rose! Luke got the farewell he deserved and Carrie Fisher’s final performance as Leia was simply wonderful, I couldn’t hold the tears seeing her one last time. I’m already at my sixth viewing and I’m still so impressed by what Johnson did.

At the end of this movie, the characters learned to let the past go and learned to look forward, just like the audience. That’s what Rian did with the saga, he let go of the past and set the road looking forward. It’s an exciting time to be a Star Wars fan and I can only say that I’m looking forward to seeing where J.J. Abrams will take Episode IX now!

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Darth Elvis:

I had been building Episode VIII up in my head for months prior to its release as I love Rian Johnson’s work. Opening night, I got the fear, what if I’ve built this up too much in my head and it turns out to be a disappointment. The dark side was looming in me. Was I disappointed? Hell no! This movie had me all shook up!

After multiple viewings, I can honestly say this is my new favourite film. The Last Jedi is beautifully crafted by Johnson, the cinematography is breath-taking and the score from the maestro; John Williams is outstanding. The performances from the entire cast are extremely strong, but Adam Driver I feel excels! It’s now or never, get your butts to the cinema and watch The Last Jedi 500 times! Hang Loose DE

Melissa Villy:

Let me start off by saying that I did not like The Force Awakens. Besides the fact that it was rehash of A New Hope, it just didn’t feel like Star Wars to me. There was just something about it that just didn’t click with me. However, I did like Rogue One. That being said, I really liked The Last Jedi. We finally got back to what the core of the story was about to me. The Rebels/Resistance fighting the good fight against the evil Empire/First Order. We had a space battle, and a uniquely new one at that, we had a land battle, some Jedi lore, new places and creatures, more Leia and Luke, but also the new characters starting to hold their own in this war that has been going on for, let’s face it, since Palpatine became Chancellor.

I truly thought this one got back to what Star Wars was. Plus, it had a great infusion of humor. I really love the tongue in cheek sarcastic wit type of humor, and this one brought its A game in that department. I thought a lot of the humor and jokes Finn tried in TFA were poorly timed and just overall bad, except for Han’s comment where he asked if there was a trash compactor to throw Phasma in.

Speaking of Phasma, I’m glad she got to fight this time. Gwendoline Christie is awesome in Game of Thrones and I was so happy she finally got to do something here, but then so very disappointed that she had an anticlimactic end falling to her death. I think she was very underused, not as much as the last time, but still. Unless, of course, she managed to survive again.

I loved the musical que callbacks to the original score. John Williams is truly a great composer. I also liked how there were a few moments that called back to the OT, but didn’t really copy it or rehash it the way TFA did. The way it was done here was more like paying homage or carrying on an overarching theme.

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Shay Spargo:

The Last Jedi has proven to be a tough movie for me to decide my thoughts on. Only now, a week after my viewing of it, am I able to really to get a good feel of my opinions on it, and I know it will take me many more viewings to figure out all my feelings. In the end, however, I’ve decided that I really love The Last Jedi. Although there are some things that I do take issue with, the good out weights the bad. One thing I’m a huge stickler for in an ongoing series is consistency and flow between the different installments, and it’s something that I’ve really worried about a lot when it comes to these “new Star Wars” stories we’re getting.

I wanted to know that the writers of the sequels would respect what had been established earlier in the series, and tie their new works into them so that we know undoubtedly that these “new” stories are just continuations of the original ones. This was done beautifully in The Last Jedi, and I couldn’t be happier with the efforts those at Lucasfilm seem to be making towards connectivity in the saga.

I also really must hand it to Rian Johnson and his team for what they’ve achieved with the characters. I came out of The Force Awakens quite literally hating Kylo Ren’s guts. And now, while hardly even noticing it happened, I’ve come to see him as a somewhat sympathetic character. Sometime, while I was sitting in that darkened theater I came to really resonate with this villain, and only now am I realizing that it even happened. I don’t know how, but this movie has made me go from seeing Kylo as a bratty kid to a lost, lonely, but terrifyingly monster-like human being. That is something truly amazing, and yet another reason why this movie is such a phenomenal addition to the Star Wars saga.

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Phil Roberts:

When the Disney/Lucasfilm promotional rollercoaster campaign erupted into life for Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, excitement levels skyrocketed. With the fans appetite truly roused by Gareth Edwards’ sublime Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, all eyes were on the director to deliver a sensational movie, and deliver he did.

From the moment the Star Wars logo exploded across the screen we knew we were in for a superb Star Wars movie. The incredible opening sequence was fun, action packed and surprisingly funny, not a trait I would associate with Star Wars, but it worked like a charm in The Last Jedi. Watching Poe Dameron learn the cruellest of lessons and mature into a seasoned Resistance leader is a joy to behold and adds some much-needed gravitas to a character who was originally fated to be killed off midway through The Force Awakens.

The set pieces came thick and fast and afforded the fans one hell of a ride, a ride that gave us the high of Leia, finally using the force and the lowest point where we lost saga stalwart, Admiral Ackbar to First Order fighter attack.

The tortured, reluctant incarnation of Luke Skywalker we were introduced to in The Last Jedi was a surprise, but a welcome one. The filmmakers’ revelation that Skywalker’s journey essentially ended with the redemption of his father in the finale of Return of the Jedi, ordained a totally new role for Mark Hamill’s legendary character and Johnson delivered that in spades. Many fans were blindsided by this uncharacteristic change, especially when Hamill himself admitted to wholeheartedly disagreeing with Rian Johnson’s interpretation of the character. Nevertheless, this only served to accentuate the notion that even the franchises greatest stars are capable of being surprised by a well-conceived and contemporary script.

Carrie Fisher’s swansong as Leia Organa was handled perfectly and afforded the character an action packed send off more in tune with the characters roots than a sombre tribute to her legacy. And, it was glorious to see Leia back to her best and taking command of the Resistance forces once again.

The only detraction to the movie was the restrictive roles afforded to series legends, Chewbacca, R2-D2 and the Millennium Falcon. Their lack of screen time was painful. I had expected to see them all in a more profound role, playing an instrumental part in the narrative but the reintroduction of Jedi Master Yoda countered my disappointment. Compounding their segregation, I was baffled by the disrespect Rey afforded Chewie whilst flying the Falcon. The mighty Wookiee has been flying the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy for more than four decades, but after piloting the famous freighter just once…she supersedes him as Captain?

I don’t think so!

But, my frustration swiftly melted away during the battle of Crait. The Millennium Falcon’s explosive arrival that saved Rose from certain death was a masterstroke, one that resulted in my favourite scene of the entire movie. Nothing beats the Millennium Falcon outmanoeuvring a squadron of pursuing TIE fighters through a confined space, but when that is accompanied by an explosive blast of the Star Wars theme, even the most demanding of fans are reverted to their childhood. Nostalgia aside, and the sequence is a thrill ride plucked straight out of the original trilogy and serves as a reminder of George Lucas’ extraordinary vision.

In short, The Last Jedi is bold step towards a dynamic landscape change whilst upholding the essence of the original concept of George Lucas’ vision. Did Rian Johnson play it safe, no. Did he betray the essence of the Star Wars legacy, no. What he did, was to construct a contemporary Star Wars movie for future generations whilst paying homage to the sublime stories that first introduced us to our beloved galaxy far, far away…

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Your Choice:

The Last Jedi has certainly got the fans talking, and there have been some fantastically balanced opinions from the team, but do you agree with us?

Drop us a line and share your opinions with us…

May The Force Be With You

Phil Roberts

Co-Editor-In-Chief and Daily Content Manager for thefutureoftheforce.com • Star Wars Mega Fan • Novel Writer • Writer for @CineNationShow • Cineworld Unlimited Member • Movie Lover • Lover of all things Marvel and DC, Star Trek, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Universal Monsters, Ray Harryhausen and Batman 1966 • Husband to @Cool2Zoe & Cool Dad!

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