The Last Jedi is a great movie — according to movie critics. However, if you ask most “real” people (who don’t write behind websites that are backed by major corporations), the movie is a huge disappointment. Benjamin Kerstein of The Federalist describes why the movie is so bad.
“Poorly written, badly directed, lazily acted, and bombastically grating in both sound and image. It is, put bluntly, the worst Star Wars film since George Lucas’ own unfortunate prequels.”
This author hopes Kerstein still has a job after his honest review. He probably has since some research shows The Federalist has nothing to do with Disney or their PR machine. But as an opinion piece by this author a couple weeks back pointed out, other news outlets possibly do.
Of course, many people screaming out about “bad acting,” bad directing,” bad special effects,” etc. are just screaming out cliche criticisms of The Last Jedi. But it’s not difficult to get more specific. One of the movie’s major problems is that it tries way too hard to be a movie for social justice warriors whose feelings are more important than a good plot. This isn’t to say that social justice in this day and age isn’t important, but the way it’s pushed in The Last Jedi drains the film and almost makes a mockery out of social justice itself.
This is seen the most in the character Rey (Daisy Ridley), who magically succeeds at everything she tries. After all, she receives only three minutes of training in what the Force is before suddenly turning into an expert. She’s smart. She’s beautiful. She’s incredibly powerful. Rey will kick your butt. She doesn’t have any flaws except being vulnerable (which isn’t considered much of a flaw these days). Her character is so “perfect” that she becomes like a cartoon character in a novel for 13-year-old students. Rey becomes a parody of feminism rather than positively representing feminism itself. She certainly isn’t Wonder Woman, who was such a genuine bada** that audiences didn’t question her authenticity.
Then, there’s the cheap and watered-down dialogue. A specific example, as News.com.au points out, is when Luke Skywalker talks about how “woke” and “angry” he is to Obi-Wan Kenobi. Yes, we know he had a difficult childhood. Yes, we know how sad it is that his uncle Owen and aunt Beru are gone. But did there need to be a five- (at least that’s what it feels like) minute dialogue about Skywalker’s “feelings”?
Do we need to talk about the plot? Luke Skywalker’s final scene has been the most criticized, but there are other problems in the movie. Finn and Rose’s mission to Canto Bright is probably the worst — it is completely pointless and feels like enhanced movie filler. What about Princess Leia turning into Mary Poppins? Perhaps more ridiculous is Yoda showing up only as a Force ghost. It’s quite possible that director Rian Johnson really did aim this one at the Disney kiddies.
All said, The Last Jedi is easily the most disappointing movie since 2003’s Gigli, the movie that lost millions, wrecked Jennifer Lopez’s film career, and turned a respected director (Martin Brest) into a vilified has-been. It would take Ben Affleck a couple years to recover, and as The Daily Beast notes, Affleck claimed the film took an emotional toll on his life. The biggest difference between Gigli and The Last Jedi is that the latter made a lot of money. But at what cost? The backlash against The Last Jedi is big enough to completely torpedo the reputation of the Star Wars series.
Yes, there are people who are unnecessarily bothered by The Last Jedi. Is there really anything wrong with racial diversity? While it’s true that some films, such as the recent Ghostbusters, forced racial diversity in a way that made the movie seem inauthentic, The Last Jedi doesn’t. Furthermore, what is wrong if most of the heroes are portrayed by women or racial minorities? Some of the criticism of The Last Jedi is based on attitudes from the alt-right, but the majority of the film’s millions of critics are spot-on with their critiques.
It can certainly be said that director Rian Johnson succeeded in mixing all the diverse characters in a unifying way. One doesn’t walk out of the film remembering the different ethnicities of the characters. Unfortunately, however, they walk out feeling bad that such talented actors and actresses wasted their time on this poorly executed film.