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'The Last Jedi'
‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ was a disappointment. It’s not as bad as some claim, but it’s a disappointment nonetheless. The film was well directed, and it had a great score and some fantastic special effects. It was also refreshingly ballsy and had some awesome moments. Unfortunately, it was let down by a poor screenplay. In turn, this screenplay significantly damaged three key parts of the film. These three issues were characterisation, pacing, and theme.
Characterisation- Going into ‘The Last Jed’, there were two characters whose development I was interested in. These were Kylo Ren and Finn.
For most of ‘The Last Jedi’, Finn’s arc was enjoyable, if a little self-indulgent. However, at the end of the film, when he was going to sacrifice himself for the resistance, it all made sense. He had learned that it wasn’t just about helping Rey. It was bigger than the two of them. It was about beating the first order.
Then, right on cue Rose came in and ruined his arc. (Remember Rose, she will be back later). When she stopped him from sacrificing himself, she switched a poignant moment on the reality of war for a cheesy line and a kiss more forced than Trump’s politics.
Kylo Ren’s arc had similar issues. For most of the film, his arc was the best part. Each scene with him added more layers. From not being able to kill Leia to trying to form an alliance with Rey. Then he killed Snoke. Surprisingly, I loved this. It annoyed me that Snoke died so quickly, but as a moment for Kylo Ren, it was brilliant. It was when Rey refused to join him, however, when his arc fell down the Death Star’s trash compactor.
After this, all his split dark/light personality evaporated, and he became the most one dimensional, boring villain in ‘Star Wars’. I find this lack of depth disturbing.
Pacing- I can understand how the pacing in this film was weak because there was so much going on but Rian Johnson really ignited a lightsaber in his foot here. I think most people will agree that the worst part of ‘The Last Jedi’ was the Cantobite subplot. It has no place in the overall plot and messes with the film’s theme. The only real purpose of this subplot is to develop Rose’s character. (Told you she’d be back)
I have no problem with her character. Other than her line at the end of the film that made Ewoks cry, she’s well-written, with good motivations and layers. However, when you spend a third of your film on a subplot that has no impact on the overall plot, the dark side wins. I cannot understand why Rian Johnson felt the need to put such an inconsequential character at the forefront of his film.
Theme-The theme of this film is change. Rian Johnson wanted to change the formula of the ‘Star Wars’ films. I commend him for trying. However, do or do not there is no try. There are a lot of lines in the script that are clearly Rian Johnson voicing his opinion and what he wants out of ‘Star Wars’ going forward. ”Let the past die, kill it if you have to”. However, the film does not do enough with this theme.
It’s clear Rian Johnson is sick of the old formula of the small group of rebels with one Jedi in training against the evil empire with one big bad. He is sick of the past. Once again, I commend Rian Johnson for trying but the film ends with a small group of rebels with one Jedi in training against the evil empire with one big bad. Instead of killing the past, he resurrected it exactly as it was. What’s worse is Rian Johnson had the perfect opportunity to create the change he so yearned for.
After Kylo Ren kills Snoke, he offers Rey the chance to join him. It is clear that she considers it, but she refuses. Why! Why did she refuse? This was his chance to let the past die, to give us a new exciting future for the franchise. The past didn’t die, it was revived and Kylo Ren had become Darth Vader 2.0. No one will ever replicate Darth Vader and no one should try.
I am very confident that “The Last Jedi’s” script was an early draft because it had good moments, but it needed a lot of work. It had the kind of issues you notice and fix in revisions. I, like many of you reading this am an aspiring writer, so I know what I’m talking about. If Rian Johnson had just spent a few more months on this script, he would have seen that Kylo Ren and Finn’s arcs needed better endings. That Rey should have joined Kylo Ren to really “let the past die” and bring change to the franchise and to give the film a strong theme.
Finally, he would have noticed that while Rose was well- written, she did not warrant the level of attention she received. There was no need to take her out of the film completely, just remove the Cantobite subplot and give her attention in some other way, perhaps a conversation with Finn. Let this film be a lesson. Never rush a story, no matter how far into it you are. No amount of fantastic visual effects, amazing music or directorial talent can save a rushed story. Thanks for reading, and may the force be with you always.