I am a long-term fan of Star Wars but a long-term disliker of the cinema so like most other films I read the book and then watch the film. Obviously, I would have to have been living in a cave not to have seen the controversy surrounding the film. Star Wars and Sci-fi, in general, has always generated… passionate fans, and we only get mad about things we care about but I was amazed at the vitriol that seemed spew forth on the internet. But what do I think, where do I fall on the on the whole debate?
- Did I enjoy the film – Yes, more so than the Force Awakens. It had a better pace despite the Canto Bight part and the return of Luke added weight to the film.
- Leia and the Force – The Expanded Universe delved deeply into Leia’s exploration of the force and seemed more realistic and natural than what we were presented with in The Last Jedi. Her flight back into the ship following the explosion was poorly done and she did look like Mary Poppins rather than someone struggling in the vacuum of space.
- Admiral Holdo – Laura Dern is a good actress but she wasn’t given much to do in the film. We do not have enough screen time with the character to care for her and her situation, only those who have read the Leia book would have any feeling for the character, and in doing so would understand her motivations and actions. Instead, Holdo became a Leia light character that wasn’t necessary other than a sacrificial pawn to save the day. This is poor writing, a film shouldn’t rely on people doing homework before seeing the film.
- Canto Bight – Many disliked the Rose and Finn story. It was basically filler to add a change of pace to the main narrative. It works on one level and that is its wider view of the universe. Canto Bight reinforces the view that the New Republic had failed, how could such a place still exist in the new utopia? It gave us a look at one side of the galaxy that the resistance was trying to save, one that did not deserve saving.
- Poe Dammeron – Some felt Poes role was restricted and he acted out of character leading the mutiny, but to me, it fitted perfectly with the narrative of him becoming the leader Leia needed to take over. In the Force Awakens Poe was essentially removed from the command hierarchy so we never really saw how he responded to authority so he could have gone either way. He seemed arrogant and dismissive of Holdo and did not respect the chain of command, he got what he deserved; I doubt he would have disobeyed Leia or Ackbar giving the same orders. He had something specific against Holdo.
- Snoke – Many felt Snoke was a wasted character, we spent so much time in the Force Awakens wondering who he was that it was a let down to see his power and then be so impotently struck down, and I have to agree. Snoke’s death was a disappointment but he was only there as a plot device to bring Rey and Kylo Ren together to increase the drama of their relationship. Now, we don’t know the full story yet, we still have episode 9 to come and it might be that Snoke being the master manipulator he was eluded to be has manipulated the whole thing, but that remains to be seen.
- Now to the biggy – Luke and the Force – Many hated what the series of films have done to Luke. They feel he has been emasculated and that he wouldn’t have hidden away. I disagree. He learned to be a Jedi at the feet of Obi-wan and Yoda both of whom hid themselves away when the going got tough. He felt the awesome power and responsibility of being in charge of the Jedi and buckled. His failure with Ben made him realise that he himself was a greater risk and removed himself from the problem. Yes, he should have faced up to Kylo and tried to rectify his mistake but he gave in to his fear like Yoda did after fighting Palpatine. He needed time to at first wallow and then meditate on his actions. I liked grumpy Luke on Ach-to he gave the twist to Rey’s arrival. It was entertaining to see him reject Rey and make her work for his help. What I liked was the way in which Luke grew, like Yoda he taught Rey the basics and like Yoda stayed behind when Rey needed him but what was different was that following his talk with Yoda he didn’t make the same mistake and did act using his more enlightened view of the force. He stood up to Ren through the force, an amazingly powerful exhibition of the force to save the Resistance at the last moment one that cost him becoming one with the force, the fate of which is still not known.
So what do I think in conclusion? I had no major problem with the film, I enjoyed it end to end, it had problems, yes but I felt the good outweighed the bad. I am willing to see where the story is going before I make my final decision, roll on Episode 9 but whatever happens, in the immortal words of Taylor Swift – ‘Haters gonna hate’, and that will not change, whatever Disney do some will dislike and sometimes we need to put this in perspective.