(SPOILER ALERT! DO NOT READ UNTIL YOU HAVE SEEN THE FILM)
It shouldn’t matter. I know it shouldn’t matter. I’m an adult. A grown man. A father. But, for reasons I can’t quite understand, it does matter. Really matters. Star Wars was, and still remains, an incredible film. When I saw it as a child I was mesmerised. My disbelief was well and truly suspended and I was taken to that galaxy far, far away. I loved The Empire Strikes Back and most of Return of The Jedi. When my children were old enough, we sat down together and watched them. (In truth, they were perhaps a little too young but I couldn’t wait). Their enjoyment matched my own. I’m not going to mention the prequels as…. well…. I don’t need to. Suffice to say my kids enjoyed them when they were around 8 and, to be fair, that was the target audience.
The Force Awakens had its flaws. Many of them. The main one being that if you hadn’t ever seen the original Star Wars then this was a remix made for you. However, I enjoyed it. Not as much as Rogue One, but I enjoyed it. And The Force Awakens was at least a Star Wars film – albeit sometimes too close a copy.
But…. But…. The Last Jedi is NOT a Star Wars film. It’s just not. As a stand-alone film apropos to nothing, it’s fine. An action adventure film. In fact many of my friends loved it – but they were the ones who then added the caveat “I’m not even a Star Wars fan!” And that’s the problem. This is not a film for Star Wars fans. When Rey gives Luke the Lightsaber and he throws it away…. well that’s a great analogy of what the writer/director has done with this film. Oh and he should NEVER have been allowed to both write and direct. One or the other. Or in retrospect, neither.
At times this felt like a parody of Star Wars, albeit an unfunny one. It took elements of previous films and simply mocked them.
As a scriptwriter one of the things of which I’m always aware is “Whose story is it?” Whose journey are we meant to follow?” In this mess of a film I had no idea.
Characters we had never seen before were introduced and we were immediately meant to care about them. Like Laura Dern’s character, Admiral Holdo – who is one of four characters who either tried or succeeds in killing themselves to save others. That’s four times in the same film!
Oh, and that embarrassing exchange with Holdo and Leia of “No, YOU say ‘may the force be with you’” is the screen equivalent of “No, you hang up first”
The sub plot of finding the Code Breaker was so laboured and crow-barred it felt like a completely different film. In fact there were so many scenes like this you actually forgot who was meant to be where or why. Characters just appeared in various scenes giving no sense to the timeline at all.
Of course there were some great scenes and unexpected twists, like the fight with Rey and Kylo Ren – although why the Guards were performing ballet poses in the background like extras in a Madonna video is beyond me. And the Luke mind projection was a good surprise. But these scenes were few and far between.
And whilst some characters did improve: Kylo Ren and Rey for example, other characters like Finn - who was so good in The Force Awakens - was completely wasted here. And don’t get me started on Captain Phasma.
However, I could forgive a lot of this, well some of it, if it hadn’t been for one scene. One scene that simply showed the contempt this film had for its audience. Flying Leia. Flying. Leia.
In fact, I can’t write any more. That image has now come back into my head and I want to lie down and sob.
Of course, all this said, I am looking forward to Episode IX. If I were to write it I would open with Leia’s funeral and a backstory of what happened. But what do I know?
Our main characters have all but gone – some sadly in real life – and perhaps that’s something I should now just accept. That childhood memory, that love and excitement has now perhaps passed away too and it’s time for me to move on.
May the force be with you.