“The Last Jedi” is the Best Star Wars Film Since 1980


Judging by the box-office returns, I’m guessing that some of you went to see The Last Jedi this past weekend. I’ve got some thoughts on the film, and will divulge them in a moment – although know that they come with FULL SPOILERS for the entire film. You’ve been warned…

A lot was riding on Episode VIII of the star-spanning franchise, perhaps even more so than its numerical predecessor. The Force Awakens proved that Star Wars could be compellingly adapted for a modern audience (and alleviated much of the ill will that had dogged the series since the prequels), but it was also deeply and inextricably linked to the original trilogy, and to the very first Star Wars film in particular. The Last Jedi, though, has the challenge of moving things in a new and wholly uncharted direction, all while keeping the spirit of the franchise which spawned it.

Perhaps not surprisingly, reactions to the latest chapter in the series have been mixed. Some viewers are praising it to the heavens, others trashing it as a betrayal of the Star Wars ethos.

While I understand the points made by both sides, I can safely say that I fall into the former category. I found The Last Jedi to be a spectacular film – perhaps the best Star Wars entry outside of The Empire Strikes Back.

As both writer and director, Rian Johnson has a lot to contend with, building off multiple characters and stories that JJ Abrams established in the previous installment. And for the most part, he succeeds marvelously. The Last Jedi is bigger, darker, and more gripping than its predecessor, with a greater emphasis on character development and humor and a lesser focus on franchise nostalgia.

In Rey, the producers strive to create the new Luke Skywalker, a young scavenger turned unlikely galactic hero. The seeds were planted in The Force Awakens, and began bearing fruit in the film’s final scene, as Rey came face-to-face with her spiritual predecessor. Student meets teacher. One generation passes to another.

Except The Last Jedi doesn’t make it that simple. Here, we learn that Luke has become a recluse not out of any noble or spiritual sense, but because he has lost faith in the entire Jedi Order. The darkness he saw in Kylo Ren – the same darkness that eclipsed Anakin all those years ago – could easily be replicated again, and again. What future does the Jedi have if it sows so many bad seeds within its own ranks?

Luke’s depiction in The Last Jedi may not seem of a complete piece with his character in the original trilogy, but it’s precisely this contrast – he’s gone from a burgeoning young hero to a pessimistic old hermit – that makes his scenes with Rey so compelling. Luke needs Rey’s voice of reason – her hopeful spirit in the face of overwhelming odds – to bring him out of his rut. He can learn much from her, perhaps even more than she from him.

And what of Rey herself? Her battle with Kylo Ren at the end of The Force Awakens pegged her as more powerful than she seemed, but also threatened to turn her into an idealistic Mary Sue. Who was this woman, we wondered, and how can she so effortlessly wield a lightsaber?

The Last Jedi seemingly resolves the issue, in part by toying with the idea that Rey will find herself inextricably drawn to the dark side. More notably, however, the film saddles Rey with a long-awaited backstory. After two years of theorizing – is she Luke’s daughter? Leia’s daughter? Chewbacca’s sister? (Okay, I was probably the only one with that theory) – we finally have our answer. But it’s an answer that has clearly polarized fans.

On the one hand, I can certainly understand how the revelation that Rey has no familial connection with the elder Star Wars cast can be anticlimactic, particularly how much hay was made about her supposed connection in The Force Awakens. (And I strongly suspect this development was not originally in the cards, only coming to fruition when Abrams handed the reins to Johnson.) But at the same time, I fully applaud this development. Separating Rey from the Solos and Skywalkers distinguishes her as a fresh face in the Star Wars lineup, and expands the potential of the Force beyond a chosen few. (Something the franchise had to do in order to keep Luke from becoming, as the title suggested, the last of the Jedis.) It may have made sense to biologically connect Rey to the previous generation of Star Wars heroes, but setting her apart makes her a more intriguing and unique character. (It also works as a nice rebuttal to the dreaded midichlorians, proving once and for all that the Force is not linked with biology.)

Rey’s expanded screentime and deeper characterization comes at the expense of some supporting players (notably Finn, who doesn’t leave quite the impression he did last time, some fun interactions with Rose notwithstanding), but it deepens the overall story, particularly anytime she shares a scene – physically or even just mentally – with Kylo Ren. Like Rey, Kylo develops very well from the previous film, as we spend time wondering if he will ultimately break free of the dark side. Rey and Kylo’s parallel inner conflicts reach a head in the film’s third act, as – in one of the most emotionally liberating scenes the Star Wars franchise has yet delivered – Rey and Kylo team up to face off against Snoke’s guards.

Alas, the partnership is not to be, as Rey and Kylo are ultimately drawn to the respective good and evil roles that the previous film planted for them. Rey becomes a true Jedi, while Kylo becomes the new Big Bad (in an unanticipated but welcome replacement of Snoke, who wasn’t all that interesting a character to begin with). These roles seemed predestined based on the previous film, but the journeys which the characters take to meet them make their development feel earned.

It may sound as though I’m being too kind to The Last Jedi. And indeed, I won’t deny that the film has its share of flaws. Finn, as I’ve already indicated, feels underused, and apart from his battle with Captain Phasma, very little of his actions here feel like emotional follow-through from The Force Awakens. (I’m also of a mind that he probably should have died in his climactic cannon-run, to give the film’s sense of loss an added punch, but the producers are likely hesitant to kill off what they perceive to be such an integral character.)

Another character poorly served is Laura Dern’s Holdo, who wobbles uncomfortably between ally and antagonist for much of the film. She and Poe clash nicely, but her character rubs off too much as a cardboard authority figure (even as, in some respects, she arguably has the moral high ground over Poe). Holdo’s heroic sacrifice makes for one of the film’s best visuals, but also leaves us feeling like her character has gone unplumbed.

My other issues with the film are largely technical (the pacing in the first half seems lengthier on the Rey side than in the Fin/Rose segments), or else are influenced by the film’s obvious merchandising plugs (the Porgs and BB-9E were both heavily marketed in recent months, yet barely appear in the film itself). They are ultimately overshadowed by the overall experience, where strong characters and dazzling effects kept me riveted for much of the film’s two-and-a-half-hour running time.

There are aspects to The Last Jedi which leave me skeptical of the trilogy’s conclusion. Killing Snoke was a daring move, but Kylo Ren will need to provide a true sense of menace in Episode IX to pay it off. I’m also concerned that Abrams (returning to the director’s chair for the next installment) will try and alter Rey’s backstory by revealing a familial connection all along, “fixing” something that Johnson never broke. And of course, the tragic death of Carrie Fisher has undoubtedly changed plans for the series, as Leia was very likely poised to play a key role in Episode IX.

Whether these concerns are legitimate remains to be seen. For the moment, however, it’s worth sitting back and enjoying The Last Jedi for the thrilling visual and emotional spectacle that it is. I’ve had concerns about the direction of the franchise ever since Disney got their hands on it, and have worried that the studio may oversaturate the market with Star Wars films until the well runs dry. That may still yet happen, but there are ways in which the franchise can remain strong and sturdy. Thanks to The Last Jedi, I have new hope.


12 thoughts on ““The Last Jedi” is the Best Star Wars Film Since 1980”

  1. Awesome review. I saw it on Monday and I think I´ fall into a middle category. I liked it a lot but I also found it riddled with flaws. The Rey/Kylo Ren storyline was very good and I loved it all but unfortunately, the rest of the storylines felt short. That was my main issue: too many ideas, too many stories they wanted to tell but they didn´´´t give them time to breathe, to develop. Also, Finn and Rose were very poor and dragged the movie a bit. The casino part was unnecessary.
    I found it very uneven and without a clear focus. Also, Poe, Leia, Holdo, even Luke were underused.

    PS – It´s been a long time since I´ ´ve seen the originals but why are people outraged at the fact that the Force can now belong to another, without it being a Skywalker? That last scene with the boy was actually moving. And a response to Rey´s “Is this all we have left of the Rebellion?”. As long as there´´´´s someone willing to fight, to believe in something else, there is always hope, a spark of rebellion.

    PS2 – Please, review Rogue One. I found it to be a pleasant surprise.


    1. I think the outrage stems less from the fact that the Force is being used by non-Skywalkers (which we did see occur at several points in the original trilogy) and more from the fact that TFA built up Rey as being a possible Skywalker, or at least connected to the family lineage. But like I said in the review, I think the revelation works very well.

      I may review Rogue One (which I quite enjoyed, albeit not as much as the other new films) and some other Star Wars films eventually. We’ll see where the new year takes us.


      1. It was built up for Rey to be a Skywalker or a member of some other family by the fans based on the flashbacks Rey saw in TFA, which don’t really gel with what is ‘revealed’ in this film.

        Personally, I don’t see how Kylo Ren could even know who Rey’s parents were. He certainly didn’t know who the hell she was in TFA. I view this as Ren trying to make her see her family background as irrelevant, as he also views his. Rian Johnson made this issue far too meta by essentially trolling fans over all the questions in TFA that this film simply doesn’t answer. It dodges all of the important things fans want at least paid lip service and instead chose to focus more on wacky hijinks on a casino planet, which didn’t even need to be in the film.


  2. Yeah, but fans are tricky to handle. I mean, some I know praise it to no end and seem to be oblivious to any flaws it might have.
    But I gotta be honest: I was left with little enthusiasm to watch the next one.


  3. Great review. I’m one of those praising The Last Jedi for the masterpiece it is.

    I like the twist with Rey. Like you said, it makes the character special by not linking her to the Solos and Skywalkers. For a moment, I thought they were going to have her revealed as Kylo Ren’s long-lost sister. Look forward to how Rey’s journey unfolds in the next installment.

    I personally didn’t have a problem with how Finn was used in the movie. The way I see it, it was an important part of his overall arc. In The Force Awakens, Finn overcame his cowardice due to Rey’s influence. In the Last Jedi, he had to learn to step up on his own without Rey. He also needed to realize he was part of something bigger which Rose helped him open his eyes to.


    1. I just wish they had found a way to make Finn more self-reliant without shunting him off to the side, into a not-very-SW-like subplot. Maybe spend less time with the space-horses and more time building tension between him and the also-underused Captain Phasma.

      But we’ll see if and how Episode IX rounds out his arc.


  4. Keep getting ‘duplicate comment detected’ even though that comment hasn’t actually shown up. It’s a good job I copied it elsewhere before trying to post. This interface is very frustrating at times.


    1. It’s probably best to log in before commenting. I leave the no-login option open for convenience, but the programming occasionally mistakes legitimate comments for spam. (Which I can recover, if you notify me.)


  5. I found The Last Jedi to be a very competently done film and a very enjoyable watch. It isn’t a masterpiece though and there are very clear flaws that bring it down, even out of being one of the top films of the year. The previous entry Rogue One felt a far tighter story without needing meandering subplots that serve only to bloat out the runtime.
    The film’s strengths lie in the Rey/Luke and Rey/Ren interactions, which are interesting enough on their own. Rey explores both sides of the Force while trying to convince Luke to help and all of their scenes were very powerful. I also found the ‘Force bridging’ scenes between her and Ren very effective. These scenes move Rey and Ren’s personal plot arcs forward while the external plot moves little, and this makes the character choices feel very natural. When Rey finally decides to try and reach out to Ren, you felt like this was a very natural character decision for her. That said I felt it was simply unlike Luke to believe Ren was lost – he managed to redeem Darth Vader, but can’t be motivated to do the same for his nephew?
    The battle scenes (in particular the two that bookend the film) are suitably impressive, though it was Rey and Ren’s personal battle with Snoke’s guard that was the standout action piece for me. Their scenes on Snoke’s ship drew together both characters’ arcs and in the end both again made decisions that felt natural, without pulling more ‘fooled you!’ moments that would really have spoiled the tone. There was enough of that what with Snoke’s moustache-twirling that the Force bridging was really him all along…a ‘muhahaha!’ wouldn’t have been out of place here, and that’s not a good thing.
    The weaknesses aren’t legion, but they are significant. Finn’s sidequest turns out to be utterly redundant and seems to be an excuse to get Prequels-style comic relief into a film that really does not need it. Finn was slightly bumbling but ultimately heroic in TFA and this really doesn’t further his arc beyond a ‘sidekick’ schtick that teams him up with a wet-blanket character in Rose. Not that I dislike this character but she simply isn’t a good foil for the type of character Finn is – that’s why Rey/Finn were such a perfect team-up in the previous film! It does however make a good effort at showing that Finn can get things done himself. This sideplot wasn’t helped by the Del Toro character – his betrayal was telegraphed the moment he came onscreen and he added nothing to the plot. I really don’t know why they couldn’t have written a more interesting character here that actually helped them, allowing more time for the scenes on Snoke’s ship. It was good to see Captain Phasma used more here, but the character still seems thrown into these films for no real reason other than to create another fan-elevated favourite in the same vein as Boba Fett.
    Laura Dern’s character also seemed to only be antagonistic because it furthered the plot and created something for Poe Dameron to do – I’m not sure why in this case the Poe and Finn characters weren’t the ones teaming up, it would’ve been a nice follow-on from their early scenes in TFA and a way to continue their partnership. Those two really work well on screen together and sadly have more chemistry than Finn/Rose. In a way, the Dameron character could’ve been better served overall as a possible female love interest for Finn rather than introducing a brand-new character here. Dameron ends up committing mutiny for the sole reason that the Admiral simply did not want to tell them what Leia’s plan was. What possible reason does she have to keep this such a secret that it ends up provoking armed mutiny on the only ship the Resistance has left?


  6. Another problem the film has is that it uses ‘Resistance’ and ‘Rebels’ interchangeably. I suspect this could be deliberate, but it comes across as the writers forgetting their terminology and simply putting in whatever popped into their brain. Just because there are not-Rebels (Resistance) and not-Empire (First Order) in these films doesn’t mean you can insult the viewers’ intelligence and not even bother proof-reading your own script.
    I also have issue with Johnson’s discarding of Snoke and Ren’s casual ‘reveal’ of who Rey’s parents were. Snoke provoked much speculation by fans and it is to be honest a slap in their face to kill off this character without even paying lip service to who the hell he actually was. In addition I find it unlikely that Kylo Ren knows anything about Rey’s true parentage – this was never even hinted at in TFA (he had no idea who Rey was in that film) and this film follows immediately after. It is more likely Ren was using this to encourage Rey to leave her past behind in a furthering of that theme from TFA and a reveal of sorts could still be in the cards for Rey. So while I like all of the character moments for and between these two characters, the backstory hinted at in TFA is rendered moot simply because Johnson wanted to be meta and troll the SW fans who had been obsessing over it. This felt like a real sour note in the film, a metaphorical middle finger from the director to all those expecting these elements to at least have some surrounding lip service paid to them.
    Finally, the twist with Luke seems to have been unearned and is simply another ‘fooled you!’ moment. This won’t reflect favourably as people go back and rewatch this film. Luke perhaps deserved his own Kenobi moment, sacrificing himself to allow Rey to understand the dangers of the Force and avoid making the same mistakes he did without having to sacrifice all of the good the Jedi ever brought to the galaxy. The director seemed pathologically afraid of moving Luke off his isolated planet and into the story – even when his own sister’s life was at stake plus the fate of both his nephew and pupil. Luke must have fallen far indeed to think nothing of letting all those people die without even attempting to come out of hiding. It shows that this Luke is incredibly cynical and really did desire to die alone.
    Overall, the film was of decent quality. It has many moments and scenes that bring it up above TFA but several others that make it worse than its predecessor, so I don’t think the film supports a statement as large as ‘best SW film since 1980’. Some set pieces could – perhaps – become as iconic as the speeder bike chase, Luke’s duels with Vader or the battles to destroy both Death Stars, but neither these nor the excellent character work for Rey and Finn can elevate the film too far because of the strange and at times illogical story decisions that were made here. So while I liked The Last Jedi, there was really not enough to put it alongside The Empire Strikes Back in terms of quality. Instead, it will sit alongside all of the other non-Prequel Star Wars films that contain plenty good things and some bad.


  7. I walked into the Last Jedi the same as I do every Star Wars movie that has come out in my lifetime, with a sense of undeniable glee. Like so many others touched by this universe, Star Wars has always been a welcome escape into the fantastical. A universe of beings with problems not unlike our own, and a story that has been passed down from father to son over many generations. While watching the film, I laughed, I shed tears, I gasped in awe, I shook my head in dismay, and came out of the theater at the end thoroughly spent. In hindsight, I consider the film a legitimate experience if nothing else. As a fan of the series, I was moved to places I didn’t think was possible. As a filmgoer, I was transported and enjoyed most every minute of the film as this form of escapism I have yearned for at every Star Wars screening. As an adult with his own set of opinions and feelings on what makes a good picture, there were things I did not like about the film. I don’t believe that will stop me from buying the film when it comes out on blu-ray however. I should also note that I have adored this blog for quite some time. So in an effort to leave my own stamp on the comment section, I hope you will allow me to dive into what I thought of the film.

    For a moment I would like to address the detractors of not just The Last Jedi itself, but the newest era of Star Wars films. Here’s how I see it. I believe what we have in the original Star Wars trilogy is a perfect and succinct story in and of itself, and perhaps that shouldn’t be touched per se in the way the newest movies have taken them. I at least see the original trilogy as that, an original. Something that had a beginning and end, and just keep it at that. I suppose I’m looking at things here a little more in a vocabulary route, but it’s the way I see it. The original trilogy is it’s own individual thing, just as the prequel trilogy and this sequel trilogy are their own individual elements, all under the umbrella of the Star Wars Universe. You can watch every movie of each of the three trilogies in their own pocket, and enjoy them that way too.I for one find each trilogy to be their own piece of the larger puzzle. I am fine with my ideas of Star Wars being challenged in different storylines and interpretations, because if I don’t necessarily like where a certain film has taken me, I have a comfortable blanket in a collection or library of the Star Wars universe I can return to.

    With that taken care of, lets dive into the film. Firstly, I’d like to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Johnson’s version of the Last Jedi, enough to see it three times. The film isn’t perfect by any means, but I didn’t have any of the vitriol some other Star Wars fans have been having with the film since it came out. Being a writer and a storyteller myself, I did have some thoughts of how I would change the story to make it more of my own vision. So, bearing in mind what Rian Johnson were presented with, here is what I would personally change or fix about The Last Jedi.

    * The beginning bombing sequence is very fun, but establishment of major characters during this sequence could have been done better. I would have liked to add a scene of the rebels prepping to fly off against the Dreadnaught. Poe can be his dashing fun self and jump into his black X-Wing with BB-8. After this segment with Poe, we set up a small scene between Rose and her sister Page. In The Last Jedi, we only know of Page and Rose’s sibling relationship because of a weird medallion that is never fully explained, and you can include that in this scene if you want to bring the two of them together by material means, but I felt we needed to see the two interact together. The scene could maybe consist of Page, the older sister, laughing about how she will definitely return after the attack in a cocky, (almost Han Solo) type of way, and Rose can be the more humble of the two and is more concerned that the Resistance just won a huge battle against Starkiller base and that she feels they need to focus on running. The two part on hopeful terms but this ends up being self fulfilling when Page eventually sacrifices herself in the attack. Rose is understandably distraught and vows to do whatever she can to avenge her sisters death. We can also agree that Rose is terribly underused for Kelly Marie Tran’s very decent acting abilities. But as a fan herself, I’m sure Kelly was just happy to be there. I wish she didn’t turn into the personification of the “fangirl” character that we are introduced to with her interaction with Poe. 

    * The First Order chase sequence / fuel shortage / tracking through hyperspace can occur as written, however I would have added a sequence where Admiral Ackbar, Holdo, Leia, and maybe a few other important leaders of the Resistance can have a scene where they think they are safe and begin to formulate a new plan for a new Resistance base. Not only does this give more screen time to a fantastic Laura Dern, but also gives Ackbar another scene to be, well, Ackbar before, inevitably, the First Order somehow has found them.

    * We can have our Kylo Ren scene where he hesitates before firing on the bridge, however the two Tie fighters still blast torpedoes and destroy It for him. Having Leia notice him through the Force can occur, but instead of the bridge being utterly destroyed, it is just heavily damaged. The main view port of the bridge is beginning to weaken, threatening all of the injured on the bridge to be blown into the vacuum of space. Holdo and Ackbar are pinned under some broken panels of the ship. Leia is miraculously unharmed, but is cut off from the main entrance to the bridge, which is the means for her own escape. As the view screen begins to crack and weaken more, Leia, in a last ditch heroic effort to save her friends, realizes her own power for the first time and uses the force to lift the wreckage off of Ackbar and Holdo, allowing them to escape. She shares a last, loving and longing look at Holdo, Ackbar, and maybe even Poe, before the view screen breaks and launches her into space, giving Leia the type of heroes end that she deserved. Holdo, Ackbar, and the remaining bridge crew go to a secondary meeting room to discuss their options/next move. 

    * Finn awakens at this point and is confronted with worrying feelings about Rey. His interaction with Poe can be fully clothed, (and not in an awkwardly leaking Michelin Man outfit), and somber in tone, as he is concerned with comforting Poe, who is distraught over Leia’s death. Wanting to do his part, Finn joins the remaining leaders of the Resistance in Ackbar and Holdo as they discuss their next move. 

    * The First Order can track the Resistance ships through hyperspace via a tracking device as it is written. It is also a callback to A New Hope, when Governor Tarkin installed the same type of device within the Millennium Falcon. The trick is, no one knows exactly where the tracker is within the fleet. The main task for Finn/Rose/Poe going forwars will be investigating the Resistances remaining ships to find the tracking device instead of the Canto Bight sequence, which we can all agree was pretty much garbage. It streamlines and simplifies the movies many threads and gives it far more focus than jumping about to several different star systems.

    * The Resistance ships are faster and lighter, so they can stay out of range of the large guns of the First Order ships, but not for very long. This was touched on very briefly in the finished film, and I would have liked to have a scene explaining this further to the audience. Perhaps it could be a chance for Rose to show her mechanical prowess and ship knowhow. 

    * To harass the Resistance ships, the First Order can launch a few fighter squadrons that the Resistance have to try and defend against with the very few remaining fighter ships of their own. This is where we can have Poe really come into his own as a leader, which will inevitably help set up his eventual command of the Resistance in Episode 9. 

    * Finn, because of his apparent extensive knowledge of First Order technology shown by his idea of destroying the Ocilator in The Force Awakens, is the main “codebreaker” who can identify what the device looks like. While Finn can find the tracker, he doesn’t know how to disable it. This is where Rose can volunteer and with some luck and her own computer skills being as savvy as they are, finds the location of the tracker. 

    * The tracker is stationed in a very heavily damaged part of the main capital ship and Rose doesn’t quite know how to get to it. This is where we can have Benicio Del Toro’s character in DJ, who in my version is an alliance mechanic with a drug problem instead of a weird stuttering dude who’s laying about in prison, come in and also volunteer to help. 

    * Holdo and Ackbar then come up with a contingency plan to covertly sneak the personnel of the Resistance away from the cruisers, searching nearby star maps where they eventually find an old rebel base on the planet Craite. 

    * The rest of this portion of the story is Finn, Rose, and DJ move through harrowing parts of the half destroyed Resistance main ship to find the device and disable it. All the while Poe is primarily patrolling and fighting First Order ships in space, losing pilots on both sides until there is only a handful of Resistance craft left. This brings more and more damage on the surface of Poe’s character as he continues to lose pilots to First Order Tie Fighters, and maybe more seriously, flight and dogfighting errors they make through exhaustion.

    * Finn/Rose/DJ find the device after some dangerous maneuvering in heavily damaged portions of the ship, but also find that even if they destroy it, the resistance ships have expended enough of their fuel to not be able to jump to hyperspace. This leads to Holdo and Ackbar’s contingency taking effect.

    * Ackbar decides to do the old sea captain “go down with the ship” and gives the reins of the Resistance leadership to Holdo. As a last ditch effort to mask the escape craft heading to Craite, Ackbar rams Snoke’s main cruiser and heavily damages it. We however know his sacrifice is somewhat for naught, as Hux notices the escape craft heading for Craite. 

    While all this is happening, the Rey/Luke storyline can play out somewhat similarly as it did in the original film, however with a few additions.

    * Personally, one of the main problems that I have with Rey is that we never see her learn these skills that make her so competent. While I don’t necessarily believe the “Rey is a Mary Sue” argument by some people, I do find it irksome that her success does not seem as earned as it could be. The reason why we connected so much with Luke in the original trilogy was because of his faults and failures, and we soared with him when he eventually learned to be the Jedi we knew and loved. Rey has seemingly earned her stripes by simply being strong in The Force, and that isn’t good enough for me as a viewer. I want to see her fail, become angry and stubborn as she continues to try and harness this force that awakened within her in the previous film. An interesting addition could be that when she finds the old Jedi texts, we have a scene or two of her studying ferociously over them trying to understand what they could mean to her.

 We can even have a scene where Luke berates her for this, only to have his own ideals at this time rebuked by the hope in Rey’s ideology. This back and forth would lead to a very important scene that I felt was missing in the original film. After a moment with master Yoda, who at this point can have his speech about having hope in a new pupil and that failure is sometimes the only way we can learn, Luke takes out his old lightsaber and begins teaching Rey. A montage of her meditating on the rock/practicing her lightsaber techniques/as well as physical training can occur and parallel Luke’s own study with Yoda. 

    * The Rey/Kylo force connection can occur during this time and can remain pretty unchanged, however there comes a point during her training the Luke finds out about the Rey/Kylo connection, and seeing as Rey is at Kylo’s level of power after just a few days of training, decides to stop training her. This played out to middling effect in the finished film, and I just didn’t feel as much narrative weight during that period than I would with a Luke Skywalker that wants to train Rey, and fails once again at doing so when he finds the connection. 

    This brings me to one of the biggest changes I would make for the film.

    * Instead of Luke’s personal failure in thinking, even for a split second, that he’ll kill Ben Solo because of the dark side within him, which in my version will come a little later, he instead fails at seeing the progress and eventual complete corruption of Kylo by Snoke. It begins as a montage of the viewers seeing Kylo Ren go from a young, happy student with a natural ability to feel and use The Force, to finding he is more powerful then the other students and begins to become arrogant, much like his grandfather did before him. His anger begins to grow through very light strokes of Snoke’s masterful manipulation, and eventually leads him to using this dark side power to beat some of Luke’s other pupils in Lightsaber training. 

There can even be a scene of him hurting another student badly, and this is where Luke realizes and sees Kylo revel in his abuse of power. This is where Luke, just like in the film, begins to covertly investigate Kylo to see if he is turning to the Dark Side. Luke eventually peers deep enough into The Force to sense the incredible dark side power residing within Ben, (but this is really Snoke and his influences the entire time. He has the moment of failure when he turns on the lightsaber to kill Kylo in his sleep, and it gives Kylo the final nudge he needs after all of the manipulating by Snoke to turn against the Jedi. 

    * Rey and Luke can have their confrontation that resolves in Rey being disillusioned with Luke. She ultimately believes that Kylo can be turned back to the light side, and goes off to confront him and Snoke. Luke stays behind, defeated that he has once again failed another one of his pupils. In that moment of defeat, Luke goes to destroy the Jedi tree and the texts. He has his encounter with Yoda and the rest of the island story can occur as in the original film, although Yoda’s teachings of failure can truly be brought to the surface than before in my version. 

    The Rey/Kylo/Snoke arc can remain largely unchanged about Snoke’s capital ship. Snoke can die by Kylo’s hand and Kylo can become the new Supreme Leader of the First Order, but the fight scene within this moment in the film is very different than the one we got. For me, this particular combat seems far too short to be noteworthy. Within the momentum of the film, the battle is supposed to be this big moment where we see Kylo and Rey unleash against some baddies, but in the end it’s barely over 2 minutes of the finished film. There are eight praetorian guards that I can count, (that are supposedly good fighters since they are protecting a powerful political figure in Snoke), yet half of them fall in the first 20-30 seconds. Maybe it’s because Rey’s lightsaber skills don’t feel like they’ve been earned either. Sure we can assume she’s had some form of training with the staff back on Jakku, but other than that she just becomes super good at fighting with a sword because, I assume, she’s just THAT strong in The Force. This would be remedied with the lightsaber training that would have occurred in my version of the film.

    The variety of the praetorian weapons also feels slightly weird. I count two “swords”, two weird staff weapons, a whip, and two other staffs that turn into swords. Why don’t these guys have blasters? Why doesn’t one of them stab Rey in the back while she’s tied up in one of their whip weapons? And what the heck is with that weird throw of Rey’s lightsaber to Ren’s hand that just perfectly ends up being turned on into a guards head? Why doesn’t Kylo Ren use ANY of the force powers we saw in TFA? Why doesn’t Rey? It all just seems like missed opportunities for some badass Star Wars action.

    After the battle, Hux informs new Supreme Leader Kylo of the resistance retreat to Craite and the Hothesque battle can occur, with some possibly major changes.

    * Holdo is the one leading the Resistance since Ackbar’s heroic stand, and tells the remaining forces she’s got to set up what little defenses they can for a last stand. She can even grab a blaster herself and mirror a young Princess Leia, who never shied away from a fight. 

    * Instead of the weird skiffs the resistance use that serve very little purpose other than being target practice, they instead find and use some old junky Snow Speeders. Why Snow Speeders? Because parallels are fun to have in a Star Wars film and it would have been nice to see Snow Speeders again. Let me have my fun. 

    * Rose is the one to go on the suicide run of the large First Order laser weapon instead of Finn. Finn is the one to save her, but instead of their shoehorned and forced romance that is entirely unnecessary to the plot of the film, he just drags her unconscious body back to the old Rebel base. Before he can get there, Captain Phasma and a bunch of stormtroopers surround and capture them, and this is where we leave Finn and Rose’s characters until Episode 9. Captain Phasma’s fate was one of the plot points I heartedly abhorred, as I felt there was so much villainous potential for Phasma that, sadly, was simply discarded after the briefest of fights with Finn. 

    The ending of the film is relatively unchanged. Luke an Kylo can have their standoff and battle as the remaining Resistance fighters flee the scene, and Luke can die on the shoes of Ahch-To. In the original film, I did not have as big a problem with Luke’s fate like others vehemently decried against. Like Harrison Ford and unfortunately Carrie Fisher before him, Hamill is not a spry young fellow. I’m sure he simply wanted to come back for a single picture before handing the torch off to the newer cast. I find his end to be rather poetic and well deserved, even if he was a bit too crotchety in the final film. In this version, that fate is a little more earned and the old, more optimistic Luke can leave to the netherworld of the Force with a little more optimism.

    So as my film closes, we have a scene of Rey, the Last Jedi, meeting Holdo and Poe for the first time. When wondering about Finn and why he isn’t present, Poe can say he saw them being taken away by the First Order. In this last scene we can have a final Force conversation with Rey and Kylo. The new Supreme Leader boasts that he will take everything Rey cares about from her, just like everything was taken away from him by Luke as a boy. We see him finally take in and succumb to all of the anger and hatred that fuels his power in the dark side, and this manifests itself in his eyes transforming into those of a Sith Lord, much like Anakin’s did in Revenge of the Sith. He cuts off their connection by telling Rey that she will truly be the last Jedi he is to kill before he takes over the galaxy. Rey, having gone through a tremendous amount of personal growth, is unafraid of Kylo’s threats. She tells him she trusts in the Force, and that it will guide her to the light. She also says she pities him, jabbing home Luke’s “I’ll see you around, kid” quip as an homage to both Han and Luke. Then, as Rey boards the Millennium Falcon, she senses something behind her. Luke, in his force ghost form, gives her a smile and a nod before disappearing. The Falcon soars into the atmosphere of Craite before jumping to lightspeed, leaving our characters in a place not unlike the others at the end of Empire. The Galaxy is a dark place and in a dark time. Hope, however, remains to the true who stand in the way of the dark.


    Now I have no clue as to if the above film would have been better to those watching it. As I stated before, I certainly enjoyed Rian Johnson’s take on The Last Jedi, and as much as I like my own version, I’m no director. I’m sure there were unforeseen constrictions that Disney put on Johnson while making the film. All I know is that Star Wars will continue to be a force for good in my life, and while the newer films fill me with a sense of dread as well as a sense of ever expanding wonder, I will continue to escape to a galaxy far, far away until the binary suns set.

    Thanks for reading. 


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