REVIEW: The Last Jedi will split fanbase like the Force

By Ryan Simmons
December 15, 2017 - 1:28pm Updated: December 15, 2017 - 5:02pm

This movie is very likely to split the Star Wars fandom in two: those who hate it and those who love it.

While Force Awakens was able to simply deliver on your expectations and cash in on good reviews by giving audiences something familiar, Last Jedi was tasked with the more difficult chore of taking this beloved franchise in new directions. Unfortunately, I think some of these directions might feel like mis-steps to some fans.

The one thing this movie did super well was actually to play against those very expectations they relied on in the last installment. Where Force Awakens leans into them to give you a comfortable, easily digestible story, Last Jedi actually plays tricks with what you think is going to happen. They lead you down what feels like a familiar path a few times, only to totally subvert your expectations. One criticism you could easily make of the Star Wars franchise is that it’s been quite a while since they attempted to surprise audiences and they at least take a shot at it here.

Where I think the fissure in the fandom will happen is with some of the character choices. This is quite clearly now a story about just a few main characters, as a lot of the supporting cast were revealed to simply be set pieces in that tale. Some folks may have been expecting fully fleshed out story lines for many of the supporting characters, and those fans are probably going to leave disappointed. The choices made here are largely to push the Kylo, Rey, Finn and Poe story lines ahead. All other considerations are secondary.

This also applies to the older characters. Luke and Leia play very heavily in this episode, but again… this isn’t their story. There are some great moments where Luke particularly gets to shine, but I don’t think all fans are going to be excited about where they take the character. Again, he’s mostly just a vessel for Rey’s evolution, much like Obi Wan was to him. He still has a part to play, but he’s not the Luke you remember and he’s not the main character by a long stretch.

They also take the Universe in a few new directions, mostly in this installment having to do with the Jedi lore. Force powers get a bit of an upgrade here and they do border on full on super powers now. I feel that might put some fans off too. There’s also an Avengers-style focus on dropping funny lines into the middle of the action and during my viewing they landed at about a 50 per cent laugh rate with the audience, so I’d say the new comedic focus is decidedly hit or miss. Lastly, one of the major story threads does get to be a touch repetitive by the end.

So while I’d love to be able to give you a definitive review on Last Jedi, I genuinely don’t know how you will feel about it… mostly because I still don’t know how I feel about it. I think it’s safe to say that “uneven” is a good description. I do think this one will reward rewatches more than Force Awakens for hardcore fans (which grows stale fast due to its familiar narrative) but I don’t believe Last Jedi is as universally enjoyable.

I think the one definitive thing you can say is that this is going to be a movie Star Wars fans argue over until the end of time… so you might as well see it and pick your side.

Updated order of favourite Star Wars movies:

Empire

New Hope

Force Awakens

Return of the Jedi

Rogue One

Last Jedi

Revenge of the Sith

Phantom Menace

Attack of the Clones

RDC instructor's work featured at Calgary Art Gallery

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