WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Last Jedi
There’s no denying that Star Wars: The Last Jedi. has surprised the fans – but for some, the most shocking moments have been the most disappointing. That the reason that The Last Jedi has the worst audience scores of any movie in the Star Wars series, according to aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes. Movies taking this many many risks and twists are guaranteed to divide the fan base, but there’s a case to be made that the biggest disappointments in The Last Jedi have The Force Awakens to thank, not just moviegoers ‘getting their hopes up.’
Only time will tell exactly how The Last Jedi is received and remembered – and may influence, or be influenced by Rian Johnson’s coming Star Wars trilogy. But to make sure that disappointed fans have their cases heard, and those angrily defending the movie can see their stance, we’re running down the most divisive decisions.
These may not be bad decisions in the larger Star Wars story, but these Last Jedi moments are certainly not what a lot of fans were hoping to see.
10. Snoke’s True Identity is… Never Explored or Resolved
When The Force Awakens revealed that the fallen son of Han Solo and Leia Organa wouldn’t be the ‘big bad,’ speculation went wild. And when the Supreme Leader of the new First Order made his debut, every fan wanted to know: who is Snoke? This wielder of the Dark Side couldn’t be a Sith, unless the history books were wrong. So how did a Force User grow to such a position of power, and corrupt Ben Solo as his own apprentice? When The Force Awakens concluded with Snoke ordering Kylo Ren to meet him personally to “complete his training,” everyone understood that his biggest role in the story was about to begin.
Or so we all thought. In the end, The Last Jedi didn’t reveal anything about Snoke, other than the fact that he wears a piece of Darth Vader’s castle in his ring. Some will applaud the makers of the new films for subverting expectations and making Kylo Ren the villain. But with The Last Jedi reenacting the finale of Return of the Jedi to a surprising degree, it’s hard to feel like Snoke was ever fully realized. And when other movie villains are derided for being underdeveloped, it doesn’t seem right to give Snoke a pass.
9. Rey is The Daughter of… Nobody
When you start your movie saga with a random boy on a desolate world who ends up being the most important person in the galaxy, you set a precedent. When the prequels reveal that the boy’s father had the exact same origin, you establish a formula. And when The Force Awakens begins the cycle for a third time, fans know to ask the question: who are REY’s parents? Fantastic theories soon took root, with Rey being Luke’s wayward daughter the most obvious – and Rey being Obi-wan’s grand-daughter the most intriguing. Finally, The Last Jedi revealed Rey’s parents were actually… nobody of any cosmic significance whatsoever. Terrible parents, as it turns out.
Again, we’re not criticizing the idea of Rey being an everyday person. But there’s no question that the fans hoping to see Rey’s true lineage be Skywalker, Kenobi, or some other great legacy name were let down. Now begins the challenge of re-defining Rey’s Force Awakens vision without assuming she has any family link at all. There’s still a chance Kylo Ren was lying about Rey’s parents in an effort to get her on his side. But if that’s the coming reveal, the filmmakers may end up disappointing the fans who actually prefer a change from the past.
8. Luke Doesn’t Care About The Skywalker Lightsaber
No matter which of the new Episodes you enjoy more, director J.J. Abrams led up to The Force Awakens‘ final moment with masterful suspense. As Rey traveled to Luke Skywalker’s place of self-imposed exile with Chewie, R2, and the Falcon, and mounted the summit of the Ahch-To island, the audience dared to hope. And when the brown cloak of Luke Skywalker appeared, the Jedi turned and removed his hood, every fan was as stunned as Rey. Holding out Anakin’s lightsaber, the look of recognition and dread on Luke’s face was obvious. Roll credits, leave fans everywhere waiting to see what happens next.
It was an excruciating tease, but The Last Jedi made good on the promise, beginning in that very moment. Actually, re-filming that moment so that it made a bit more sense when Luke took hold of the lightsaber… and tossed it carelessly over his shoulder for a laugh. The reveal was that this was not the Luke Skywalker anybody hoped to find, which informs the rest of the story. But perhaps that first tease was too potent, too promising, meaning years of patience would be subverted instead of rewarded.
7. The Knights of Ren Still Don’t Matter?
Before the world knew that Han Solo and Leia Organa’s son had been a) born, and b) corrupted by the Dark Side, the exact threats facing the Resistance and Jedi were unknown. The introduction of Kylo Ren showed him to be a monster, but it was only when he took a knee before Supreme Leader Snoke that he was revealed as Han Solo’s son. And even worse, that he was not a lone Force wielding soldier of the First Order. He was commander of the fearsome-sounding “Knights of Ren.” A new order of Force-using knights seemed like a serious threat for whoever would challenge the First Order. And when they seemed to appear in Rey’s vision, the anticipation was palpable.
Little did we know then that another movie later… the Knights of Ren wouldn’t even be addressed. Technically they seem to have been mentioned during Luke’s account of Ben Solo’s fall to the Dark Side, taking Luke’s Jedi students as the Knights of Ren and slaughtering the rest. But with so little acknowledgment of what sounded like a key group, we have to wonder if this subplot has been abandoned entirely.
6. The Resistance Heroes Make Everything Worse
The final moments of The Force Awakens made it obvious that the next movie would put Rey in the spotlight. The major plot points of The Last Jedi focus on Rey, Luke, Kylo Ren, and Snoke – but there are several more characters in play. Not to worry fans, since every one of them has a life-or-death, incredibly important mission to accomplish for the survival of the Resistance. Except… none of it actually accomplishes anything. Finn heads off to find a codebreaker capable of slicing into the First Order fleet tracking the Resistance (and teams up with Rose in the process). While Poe remains behind to lead a mutiny, removing the cowardly and incompetent Admiral Holdo who’s leading the Resistance to ruin instead of taking action.
The third act of the movie reveals, in no uncertain terms, that every one of The Last Jedi’s heroes made the situation worse. Finn and Rose seek a codebreaker – who flips on them and gets hundreds of Resistance members killed – to give their comrades an escape they weren’t going to take. Elsewhere, Poe commits mutiny because Admiral Holdo decides not to tell him they’re making a tactical retreat. It makes for action and lessons learned, but falls short of the previous film’s story drawing many people towards a common goal.
5. Leia’s First Use of The Force is… Unexpected
When Yoda aid that “there was another” hope for the Jedi, and the Skywalkers in the Star Wars universe, it had yet to even be revealed that Luke and Leia were brother and sister. And in Return of the Jedi, it seemed a fitting conclusion that where their father had fallen to the Dark Side, he left behind not one, but two children to serve the light with the power of the Force. In the Extended Universe of novels and comics that followed, Leia put her Force sensitivity to use in a secondary role. She was a politician first, who relied on the Force to warn her of trouble, and connect her to those she loved. In the movies… not so much.
The Force Awakens leaped forward three decades to find Leia on a similar path, but using the Force even less. Until the moment that the bridge of the Raddus is destroyed, killing and launching the Resistance leadership into space. Did every fan want Leia to survive? Of course. Did every fan want Leia to use the Force to do it? Absolutely. Did every fan want Leia to thaw out, and glide magically through the vacuum of space, hand outstretched, back to an airlock? Let’s just say that… probably wouldn’t have been everyone’s first choice.
4. The First (Boring) Jedi Texts
The world didn’t know just who Luke Skywalker turned out to be in the years since Return of the Jedi, so nobody knew just what to expect when Rey first came to his exile island. Audiences saw an old, greying Jedi in his signature robes who wanted nothing more than to be left alone. When the marketing for The Last Jedi revealed that Luke had sought out the history of the Jedi, tracing all the way back to the very first Jedi temple, it was assumed he had gained the wisdom of those teachings along the way. The most important being the books held on a small shelf inside an ancient tree: the first teachings of the Jedi Order.
Fans could only imagine what lay within them… and will have to keep on imagining. Because as Luke reveals to Yoda when he sets fire to the tree from beyond the veil of the Force, he never even read them. It’s a good joke, and fits with the rest of the film’s subversive, lighthearted sense of humor. But it’s an incredible disappointment to learn that Luke didn’t actually seek the knowledge in them, and as a result, didn’t actually teach Rey much about the Force, either. Assuming Luke stashed them in the Falcon so Rey could read them on her own, he at least recognized that Rey cared to learn more than he did.
3. Captain Phasma Never Got Her Own Story
Nobody needs to be sold on the appeal of a massive Stormtrooper in polished chrome armor, which is why Captain Phasma was such an easy sell as the new head of the First Order’s Stormtroopers. But there’s such a thing as selling a character too much before release. Because for all the excitement over the character, and actress Gwendoline Christie bringing her to life, The Force Awakens hardly gave enough screen time to Phasma to call her a “supporting character.” Naturally, everyone assumed that would change for the second film in the new trilogy.
Which makes it all the more disappointing when Captain Phasma returns to destroy Finn and Rose’s plans in the final act of The Last Jedi. Not uncover and foil them herself, since that’s not her job. When Finn and Rose are rescued by BB-8, leading to a true showdown, Phasma is finally robbed of any impact on the story at all. Finn gets to one-up her after doing so in the previous movie, leaving her to die by falling to her death into a fire on the ship. We think, anyway. She probably died. Definitely dead.
2. The Crait Battle Wasn’t a Battle at All
A movie sequence doesn’t have to bad bad to be less than what was hoped for – and prove that marketing a film without raising expectations too high isn’t an exact science. The best example in Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the final showdown on the planet Crait. With the Resistance’s plot uncovered, the First Order deploys its new AT-M6s to the surface to smash through the one wall between them and victory. Knowing the odds are long, Poe Dameron and his allies pull the obsolete, grimy Skimmers out of storage to make one final stand behind the stick. Technology isn’t on their sides, but a cornered animal is most dangerous.
The visuals of the red crystals kicked up behind the formation are some of the most iconic, and sure to define the film’s aesthetic for all time. Which makes it even more disappointing that the battle consists of… well, not much, at least in terms of actual combat or action. The entire set-piece involves the Skimmers driving straight at a drill they fail to actually reach – with the Millennium Falcon luring literally every single TIE fighter away so every pilot can survive. Cool visuals, but in hindsight Poe’s first flight should have been enjoyed as THE battle.
1. The Final Scene
There is no question that given the themes of The Last Jedi, the IDEA of the final scene fits perfectly. The movie spends its runtime exploring the themes of the legacy of the Jedi, the ignorance of them thinking they alone had mastery of The Force, and the truth that a “nobody” could become the most important person in the galaxy. To leap from the film’s conclusion – the victory and death of Luke Skywalker – to a group of previously seen street kids telling tales of his glory breaks the fourth wall. And to watch as one of these cast-offs of society wields the Force with ease, and looks to the stars above, is the essence of Star Wars and fantasy as a whole. That it’s a moment witnessed only by us, the audience, makes it all the more powerful.
That’s the idea, at least. Unfortunately, that description most likely suggests small moments of cosmic significance – and filmed as such. Instead, the final scene is filmed as the most important, most wondrous, and most spotlight-ed moment of the film so far. As likely to feel like a commercial for Disneyworld as it is a soaring finale, it won’t read as it’s meant to for many.
Which of these underwhelming twists did YOU take exception to? Any on this list that you think don’t belong? Make your defense (or further criticisms) in the comments.
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