Filmmaker Rian Johnson recently looked back on Star Wars: The Last Jedi for its fifth anniversary. During a major interview with Empire, the Knives Out director reflected on his episode in the Skywalker Saga.
“I’m even more proud of it five years on,” he told Empire. “When I was up at bat, I really swung at the ball.” According to him, the movie is not just a Star Wars film - it's a movie about Star Wars, and what it means to fans (himself included)
“I think it’s impossible for any of us to approach Star Wars without thinking about it as a myth that we were raised with, and how that myth, that story, baked itself into us and affected us,” Johnson explained. “The ultimate intent was not to strip away – the intent was to get to the basic, fundamental power of myth. And ultimately I hope the film is an affirmation of the power of the myth of Star Wars in our lives.”
While reviews have been mostly positive for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, there's been a huge backlash online, many fans expressing how disappointed they are about the film.
In Rotten Tomatoes, you can see the great divide between fans and critics. While The Last Jedi's critics score is at 91%, the audience's score sits at 42%, the lowest among the Star Wars live-action films.
If you're wondering why some fans dislike Star Wars: The Last Jedi, here are the 13 biggest reasons why:
Porgs Have Nothing To Do With The Story
Porgs, the sea-bird creatures native to the planet of Ahch-To, have been the most divisive part of The Last Jedi since they were revealed at the film's first behind-the-scenes reel. Some love how cute they are, even inspiring some fan art and shirts right off the bat, while others think they're just some cheap marketing gimmick for the inevitable batch of merchandise.
While some fans enjoyed their presence since they're funny and cute, they absolutely have nothing to do with the film's plot. Many would compare them to the Ewoks in The Return of the Jedi but at least the Ewoks actually got involved in the battle vs. The Empire. You can take out the Porgs and the film's story won't change but hey, at least they made Chewie's scenes more entertaining, especially the ones in the Millennium Falcon chase scene.Advertisement
Wait, There's A Hidden Exit in The Resistance's Base in Crait After All?
During The Last Jedi's climactic battle in Crait, the Resistance members are faced with a huge problem: How are they going to escape the First Order after being trapped in a base? As the First Order prepares to fire a powerful cannon at the base's giant reinforced door, they made it clear that there's apparently no way out of the base, no other exit but the front, through that same reinforced door that the First Order is about to destroy.
Then right after Luke shows up to stall the First Order, POOF! There's an exit after all! Crait's crystal foxes lead them to an exit blocked by boulders. And of course, Rey makes it on time to clear their path and escape.
Although it's considered minor compared to other problems ranked higher in this list, some critics pointed out this flaw in the final act, calling it a result of lazy writing. Well, at least those crystal foxes are not as useless as the Porgs.
No BB-8 vs. BB-9E Showdown in The Final Version
BB-9E, the First Order's evil droid, showed up in a brief scene in The Last Jedi, but fans were expecting to see it have a showdown against BB-8. Sadly, BB-9E was only seen looking at BB-8's direction but they didn't actually face off. Maybe there's a deleted scene between the two droids. The clip revealed exclusively for Verizon's promo turned out to be just a promo spot, not an actual clip from the film, so that disappointed some fans a bit. BB-9E was pretty much The Last Jedi's equivalent to Captain Phasma in The Force Awakens. Overhyped prior to the film's release but so little screentime. Maybe it'll have a chance to shine in Episode IX, but for now, you can enjoy this Verizon spot:
Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren’s Weak Backstory
In The Last Jedi, Luke keeps blaming himself for training Kylo Ren in the past. They have an ongoing he-started-it dispute about whose fault this is. Some fans and critics thought this part of the story was ridiculous. Seeing a flashback of Luke Skywalker trying to kill a relative just looks pathetic, it’s a shallow reason to exile himself rather than help the Resistance save the galaxy. The film didn't even reveal how Supreme Leader Snoke influenced Kylo Ren. What about the Knights of Ren? I thought we were going to see them in this sequel? Maybe Episode IX will show them but at this point, why should fans care?Advertisement
Leia’s ‘Mary Poppins’ Moment
Right after the First Order attacked the Resistance ship where Leia was, Leia is seen floating in space but since she’s a Skywalker, she’s able to unconsciously move through space Mary Poppins-style to save herself. This is one of the most surprising scenes in the film, and I actually thought it was cool but some fans have expressed how much they hate that scene online. Some argue that there’s no way Leia could have used to Force since it takes mental concentration to use it but she was unconscious at that time. And some hate that scene because it just looked ridiculous. Nonetheless, Leia’s role is still more interesting in The Last Jedi compared to her role in The Force Awakens, but many would agree that the film failed to give the Skywalker siblings a proper sendoff.
The First Order's Remaining Leaders Are Weak Threats
Now that Supreme Leader Snoke is dead, it’s up to Kylo Ren and General Hux to lead the First Order to wipe out the Resistance and the Jedi. Sure, the First Order may be winning in the ongoing war against the Resistance but it looks like Kylo Ren and General Hux are too easy to take down. Since The Last Jedi will lead up to the final film of the trilogy with Episode IX, it feels like the stakes are not as high and the antagonists are not problematic enough. Compare that to Darth Vader’s presence by the end of Empire Strikes Back. Yep, Kylo Ren and Hux are tiny threats compared to him. They don't even get along, so they're probably going to turn on each other in the sequel. It’s just hard to picture how these villains will emerge victorious in Episode IX. The Last Jedi feels more like a finale than a middle act, and that's not good for the saga. J.J. Abrams will have an epic challenge to make Episode IX win back the hearts of fans.
Why Didn’t the First Order Fleet Destroy the Resistance Ships Right Away?
In The Last Jedi, General Hux and his Star Destroyers have to chase General Leia and the escape Resistance fleet. This is considered to be the slowest chase scene in a Star Wars film ever, as the First Order just wait for the Resistance to run out of gas while firing at them every once in a while. The First Order has massive battle cruisers with laser cannons and other secret weaponry, and yet they only ping the Resistance one laser blast at a time.
A common complaint among those who disliked The Last Jedi was its slapstick humor and starting the film off with an atypical joke. Seeing Luke toss away the lightsaber after Rey hands it to him seemed like a bad joke that just didn’t fit his character.
Kyle Smith of The National Review summed it up best in his review: “Why is Luke, previously the most earnest guy in the galaxy, letting loose with acerbic wisecracks? When Rey hands Luke her precious lightsaber, he tosses it over his shoulder like an empty can of Dr. Pepper. He mocks it as a 'laser sword,' while Rey, asked to explain the Force, calls it a 'power . . . that makes things float.' The tone here is similar to that of the self-aware jocularity of the progressively less successful 2009–2016 Star Trek series, whose concept is apparently being ditched in favor of an R-rated reboot overseen by Quentin Tarantino. You can go with self-mockery if you want, but it amounts to burning your seed corn to warm your hands. Get a cheap laugh poking fun at the mythology and its power won’t be there when you need it."
What about Domhnall Gleeson's punching bag Hux? While some see its comedy as consistent with the franchise's legacy of wise-cracks, some thought the jokes were too contemporary and forced. Director Rian Johnson saw this criticism coming. Speaking to Vanity Fair during the film's L.A. premiere, he said:
"I knew [the movie] was going to get darker in some spots just because of what we had to do. It was really important to me, to, at the very outset, make a bold statement of, we’re going to have fun here also. Relax, you can laugh with it also, this isn’t just going to be a dirge. . . . That was the one thing I was most nervous about. . .You can never know until you put it in front of a big crowd of strangers is if the jokes play or not. So I was very relieved when we got the laughs. Oh, that very first scene. That was really the one that was just, I was holding my girlfriend’s hand very tightly when that came up. Then I relaxed when the audience got it and started rolling with it. It’s so important to me because that sets the tone and the expectation that, oh, O.K. there are going to be laughs in this movie."
Why Didn't Vice Admiral Holdo Just Tell Poe About Her Plan from the Beginning?
While The Resistance is trying to survive the slow chase in space, there's much ado about Poe (Oscar Isaac) taking issue with Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern) after she assumes command of the Resistance in Leia's absence. It seems that Holdo's plan is to just keep going along until all her ships run out of fuel, and it made us think that she's a traitor and the reason why the First Order was able to track the Resistance ships. Of course, Poe would be concerned about her leadership but it turns out that she actually has a plan --to secretly evacuate everyone in the shuttlecraft that would lead them to an abandoned Rebel base on the mineral planet Crait. So why doesn't she reveal to Poe about her plan rather than lead him to an eventual mutiny?
And was Holdo's suicidal hyperspace moment necessary? Couldn't she just set the ship on autopilot and use an escape pod herself?
This part of the film is just dumb.
Rey's Parents Are Just Nobodies
The true identity of Rey's parents is one of the biggest mysteries J.J. Abrams brought up in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and there's a bunch of theories surrounding that. Fans were excited to know the truth in The Last Jedi, especially after Rian Johnson said that the answer will be revealed in the film, but to many, the answer is difficult to swallow. The revelation that Rey's parents are "nobodies", junkers who sold their daughter for alcohol money, was disappointing for many fans who expected a lot more.
Some fans believe that Kylo Ren's story about Rey's parents isn't true and that we'll find out who they really are in Episode IX. With Abrams returning in that film, who knows? Maybe he'll provide a more satisfying revelation.
J.J. Abrams did a great job setting up the mysteries in The Force Awakens, and it looks like Rian Johnson took the lazy way out when it comes to providing answers to those mysteries. Some fans felt fooled after seeing The Last Jedi. The theorists waited for a couple of years only to find out that those questions never mattered. As if Johnson just threw away what J.J. Abrams built.
Luke Skywalker Gets Force-Ghosted
Mark Hamill's performance in Star Wars: The Last Jedi is brilliant, but many fans didn't like how the film approached his character. It's clear that Rian Johnson wanted to do something entirely new with the character and not just rehash what had come before, but in avoiding that trap, it seems that Johnson failed to meet what fans hoped for in regards to Luke. Sure, he was able to successfully stall the First Order by manifesting a Force projection of himself across the galaxy but that's about it. Rey's training with him was weak. Luke doesn't pull a Star Destroyer out of orbing using the Force, he doesn't fight in a spectacular lightsaber duel...hell, he didn't even leave Ahch-To. He just died quietly, vanishing while looking at the binary suns setting on the horizon.
Even Mark Hamill himself disagreed with Rian Johnson's take on Luke. He told Vanity Fair back in May: “I at one point had to say to Rian, ‘I pretty much fundamentally disagree with every choice you’ve made for this character. Now, having said that, I have gotten it off my chest, and my job now is to take what you’ve created and do my best to realize your vision.’”
Back in June, Hamill walked back those remarks telling Variety that he "got in trouble" for how "inartfully phrased" that statement was. “What I was, was surprised at how he saw Luke. And it took me a while to get around to his way of thinking, but once I was there it was a thrilling experience. I hope it will be for the audience too.”
And right before The Last Jedi premiere, Hamill was still expressing doubt on Johnson's characterization of Luke. “‘It’s time for the Jedi to end?‘ Are you kidding me?” Hamill said, reiterating what he told Mashable: “I’m just saying, what could have happened between the last time we saw him and now for him to be that way? Even if it was the worst thing in the world, I said to [Johnson], ‘Jedis don't give up.‘”
While Rian Johnson recently said that Luke's demise was necessary to give focus to the new characters, Hamill is still throwing doubt about Johnson's take: “Well, I’m still in denial,” Hamill joked. “I just think he transported somewhere else.”
That Canto Bight Subplot With Finn and Rose
While the Resistance fleet is trapped in a slow chase with the First Order, led by General Hux (Domnhall Gleeson) and Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), Finn (John Boyega) and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) go on a side mission to find a master hacker in Canto Bight, the Abu Dhabi/Las Vegas/Golden Saucer version of the galaxy far, far away. This controversial subplot has been criticized for having little impact on the film's plot, but that's not the only reason why some believe that the Canto Bight plot was unnecessary. There also seems to be a lack of emotional growth in Finn and Rose's quest. Several characters go on inner journeys in The Last Jedi and come out the other side changed in some way, and Finn is definitely not one of them. That's why the kissing scene between the two characters in Crait felt somewhat forced.
It seems that Rian Johnson just decided to include a Cloud City-like scene in the film without giving it much significance to the whole story. The Cantina Bight plot featured a spectacular chase sequence with llama creatures and a glitzy setting of the wealthy who profit by selling weapons to the First Order and the Resistance, but it also had some dumb moments. Did they really get jailed for a parking violation? Did BB_8 really overcome an enemy with a fusillade of poker chips? Of all the jail mates Finn and Rose had, they had the one they exactly needed to escape, Benicio del Toro's character, DJ. And how did Finn and Rose even manage to escape the space chase undetected and make it on time?
Sure, this side mission gave Finn more purpose to the story. His role in The Last Jedi would probably be more boring without it, and Canto Bight is an interesting new world introduced in the Star Wars lore, but the film could exist without it.
Supreme Leader Snoke is Dead!
One of the film's biggest surprises comes when Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) dies at the hands of his apprentice Kylo Ren. When faced with the prospect of murdering Rey, at Snoke's command, the former Ben Solo instead decides to plant a lightsaber blade right into his master's side.
Fans have spent two years since The Force Awakens theorizing about Snoke's mysterious origin. Was he a descendant of Emperor Palpatine? Was he Darth Plagueis, Palpatine's master? Was he Ezra Bridger from the Rebels animated series, all deformed and grown-up? How did he become so powerful in the Force and end up being the leader of the First Order? A lot of the fan theories actually made more sense than what happened, but some would argue that when the original trilogy first came out, fans didn't know a lot about the Emperor. We learned more about his backstory in the prequel trilogy, so why is this a big deal?
Fans aren't just upset about Snoke's surprising death and his lack of backstory but also how he was killed. Snoke is proven to be way more powerful than Rey or Kylo Ren. He can do Force Lightning -an advanced technique that Kylo Ren can't do. If Snoke is truly the Master of the Force, how did he not notice the danger of Rey's lightsaber? Seeing him die that way is truly disappointing. At least give him a cool battle sequence against Luke or Rey before dying just like that.
It's just sad seeing everything J.J. Abrams built in The Force Awakens reduce to ashes in the sequel as if Johnson didn't care about them. Imagine if Voldermort in the Harry Potter franchise was ultimately killed by Severus Snape, and Harry Potter never had the chance to shine. That's pretty much Snoke's death.
I'm sure many of you would disagree with the reasons I've listed above but it's clear that these are common complaints that made The Last Jedi mediocre.