I may have been the last self-described nerd on the planet to see Stars Wars Episode VIII, The Last Jedi. Though I considered going to see it in the theater, after the disappointment of The Force Awakens, I wasn’t hopeful. I also made the mistake of reading too many reviews, most of which were negative. I like to make up my own mind, however, so when it became available from Netflix’ DVD service, I put it in the queue. The question is, was it as bad as people said it was?
The answer is yes, for the most part. My expectations were so low that I was dreading seeing it, though I did enjoy it somewhat. Or rather, Arlys and I enjoyed mocking it. That probably means we’re bad people, judging from what the entertainment press has been saying.
Like many old-school fans, I found the way Last Jedi attacked and rejected the old Star Wars mythos to be not just insulting, but puzzling. So while I expected to get a two-hour dose of “social justice” propaganda, it wasn’t very effective. At least Rey, despite being a Mary Sue who learned the force effortlessly, does show respect for Luke and the Jedi traditions. Luke is the one who’s lost his marbles. Though the story gives us flashbacks that purport to explain it, they’re a pretty lame excuse. Yoda’s brief appearance is far worse. He (or rather his ghost) is not the wise and serene Jedi master we’ve grown to love. He’s downright sinister, a destroyer of ancient knowledge.
Then there were those two nincompoops, Finn and Rose. I hate to add to the dog-pile of negativity, but Rose was an annoyance at best and Finn was a total waste (a Storm Trooper defector should be anything but boring.) They might have been good for comic relief if their parts had been funny. Their characters are incompetent dolts, jeopardizing a critical mission with their impulsiveness and bringing back the wrong guy. After all that, the Resistance still puts both of them into the pilot seats of the salt fliers. (That’s what I’m calling that bizarre craft, for lack of a better name. What’s the reason for that long stick that drags on the ground?) Of course, the Terrible Twosome botch this battle as well.
But the clincher was the incomprehensible storyline, which seems to stem not from any sort of post-modernist agenda but from lazy storytelling. The actions of the Resistance make no sense. They keep their best pilot, Poe Dameron (the only heroic character in the movie) out of the loop, causing him to take matters into his own hands. Yet when the brass put down his mutiny he barely gets a slap on the wrist. The long-distance “romance” between Rey and Kylo is painfully dumb. Luke’s battle as a force ghost is ludicrous. Finally, having Leia survive being blasted into space is nothing short of retarded.
If there was anything good to this movie, it was the new merchandising critters. The Porgs were painfully cute and the Crystal Foxes quite cool. Even the Yoda-horses (as Arlys christened them) were interesting. Most of the actors seemed to be doing their best despite the terrible script (Except for Laura Dern, I’m sorry to say. She was the most non-military vice-admiral I’ve ever seen.)
I wish I could say that this movie is so bad it’s good and is destined to become some kind of cult classic. But it’s just plain bad. I give it one 1 star out of 5.