Going back in time, Episode 1: The Phantom Menace was received with mixed reception. The film gave us many iconic additions to Star Wars canon, including Jedi councils, desert battles with cloaked figures wielding double-edged light sabers, pod races, and full-scale invasions into the peaceful planet of Naboo. Yet haters detested the arduous racing sequences, the underwater-dwelling Gungans, and director George Lucas’ overuse of CGI. Over time, fans and critics alike have grown more accepting of it. One may not be able to claim the same with the latest Star Wars film.
In attempt to become its own ‘independent’ film, Star Wars: The Last Jedi missed many opportunities to be a great movie like its predecessor. The Force Awakens managed to recapture some of the magic of the original trilogy, seeing Kylo Ren channel one of the greatest Sith Lords ever, Darth Vader, watching Han and Chewie re-board the Millennium Falcon, and learning of the legend of Master Skywalker kind of plunged audiences into the thrilling sort of adventures we’d known as kids. Even J. J. Abrams was accepted for his brilliant take on an old classic after all the speculation that the Star Trek director wouldn’t be able to deliver.
One cannot deny that the hype surrounding The Last Jedi did get everyone excited. Teasers showed new ships flying over a salt-covered earth, Finn battling with an old enemy, the purported ‘ending of the Jedi,’ and what looked like Rey’s seduction to the dark side of the force. But seeing the film in full is a different beast altogether. Mark Hamill reprises his most famous role and does a great job of lending his creative energy to bring us the aged Jedi master who carries the pain of the past, while Carrie Fischer also surprises in a post-humous role as General Organa. Star factor aside, along with some very cool effects, there is so much this film gets wrong that the negative attributes counterbalance all the goodness.
The lacklustre and forced performances of its main cast, including John Boyega, Adam Driver and Oscar Issac are off-putting after they did so well in the previous film. A weird battle involving Kylo, Rey and Snoke, General Organa flying like Superman, and BB-8 hijacking a massive craft all by himself are just some of the moments that make you wonder if the director was being serious. That, and how they ultimately decided the fate of Luke Skywalker, is one of the most disappointing aspects of The Last Jedi.
There is some on-point comic relief and flashy good moments, but one can’t help thinking this entire endeavour was a missed opportunity to create something truly wonderful. Fans can only hope George Lucas and J.J. Abrams will be allowed more creative input in future, and, in the same vein as James Cameron seeks to do with the next Terminator film, disengage with everything that happens after Episode VII. J.K.A. Short.
‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ is in cinemas now.