Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is not a particularly good film, and I’d like to explain why I think that. The Last Jedi sells itself on being different from what came before it, on breaking the mold of Star Wars. After all, the central threads of the plot are Luke’s realization that the old Jedi order has to be pulled up by its roots, being too complacent to prevent the rise of the Empire, and Poe being forced to understand that the space opera heroics that defined the previous Star Wars films are often costly and ineffective. Although expecting the latest film in probably the most famous and beloved franchise in the medium to defy the series conventions is probably ridiculous, I hoped, based on the theming of the first half of the movie, that there would be at least a modicum of subversive elements present.
Unfortunately, The Last Jedi is the epitome of a bog-standard Star Wars film: it is so utterly and completely conventional that I genuinely could not name a single surprising thing about it if I tried. The third-act “reversal” of audience expectations about Kylo Ren and Rey is so glaringly obvious from the minute that the two first speak to each other that all the time spent with Rey in-between feels like padding to put off the big reveal. The other main plot thread, concerning Finn and a new character, Rose, attempting to save the imperiled Rebel fleet from the First Order’s relentless pursuit, has only a shade more inventiveness to it. Rose is underdeveloped because she is never given enough screen time or characterization beyond her devotion to the Rebels and her burgeoning attraction to Finn. Finn is a wet dishrag of a character in this film, barely having anything to contribute to the plot or narrative, and instead is relegated mostly to comic relief (which is unfortunate, given Boyega’s talent as an actor). The climax of the film too, on a visually striking planet full of rich reds and deep whites which are almost distractingly beautiful, essentially undermines the criticism of the Jedi which was explicitly stated during Luke and Rey’s interactions, rendering that entire section of the film meaningless. In short, the second and third acts of The Last Jedi unfortunately turn what could’ve been an interesting experiment or departure for the series into a dull recapitulation of what we’ve already seen seven times over.