Star Wars fans are upset about The Last Jedi… I mean really upset… like, upset enough to sign a petition to have Disney strike Episode VIII from the Star Wars canon. A petition that has accumulated more than 52,000 signatures in about a week. That’s a lot of upset fans.
But it’s not just a random assortment of signatories that are upset. I can’t visit any of my favorite YouTube channels without seeing videos of Major Blunders or Unanswered Questions. And don’t get me started about Facebook. There’s so many strongly held opinions about the latest film on social media, you’d think it was an election year and we were debating a candidate’s positions. Lucky for you readers, I have a Political Science degree, so I’ll try to be diplomatic about talking why fans are so upset.
Now, before we go any further, in the interest of full disclosure, I feel that I should tell you that I did not like The Last Jedi. But that’s fine, I worked at Blockbuster Video for five years, I know everyone has different tastes. I would never tell a customer not to rent a movie just because I didn’t like it. But I would try to caution a customer about a movie through what other customers have said about a film.
So, let’s run down the list of why fans are so upset about The Last Jedi. Spoiler alert.
First off, the aforementioned petition revolves around how Luke Skywalker was portrayed. Many fans assert that this movie destroys his legacy and his portrayal in this film isn’t true to his character. I also stumbled across another petition, this one with four thousand signatures, calling for director Rian Johnson’s removal from the Star Wars franchise because of his weak plot and characters.
Most YouTube lists and internet articles seem upset about questions raised in The Force Awakens that weren’t answered in The Last Jedi. Questions like: Who was Snoke? What happened to the Knights of Ren? What about the Force flashbacks that Rey experienced when holding Luke’s lightsaber? Who are Rey’s parents, really? Could she still be related, perhaps distantly, to a Kenobi, Skywalker or Palpatine? What’s the story behind Luke’s lightsaber that Maz says is, “A good question. For another time?” How did Kylo Ren get Darth Vader’s mask?
Unfortunately, director Rian Johnson takes that list of questions from the first film and metaphorically crumbles it up and tosses it over his shoulder, like Luke did with his lightsaber. This brings me to another aspect of the film that fans are upset about — the humor.
Many commentators and writers describe it as “flat,” “weak,” “cringe-worthy” and “forced” (pun intended?). In any case, many viewers feel that the humor in this film creates a disconnect between other films in the franchise. Its brand was drastically different and had characters behaving in a way they wouldn’t otherwise. One YouTuber compared this type of humor to humor commonly found in the Marvel films of the MCU. For instance, two characters will be having a serious conversation and then one of them will make a completely random comment that makes for a chuckle, but undermines any sort of dramatic effect or buildup.
Choice of humor aside, it seems that many fans take issue with many story elements put forth by screenwriter/director Rian Johnson.
Some issues concern the incongruent timeline. For example, at the end of Episode VII, Snoke informs Kylo to report to him for further training, but we never see this training or an inkling that it took place. General Hux is similarly ordered to report back, but at the beginning of Episode VIII he’s in full pursuit of the rebels. Also, how could Finn recover so quickly, and without cybernetic implants, after getting his spine severed by Kylo’s lightsaber? Most fans also seem to be fuzzy on how long Rey was on the island, when it seems it’s occurring at the same time as the space chase, but that doesn’t seem feasible.
This is all without getting into the controversial choices of “Marry Poppins in space,” Rey’s “training” or the under-utilization of Captain Phasma.
Finally, most fans seem frustrated by many new questions and potential plot holes raised by this film: Why didn’t the First Order have some of its Star Destroyers intercept the rebels from a different angel? Why didn’t Admiral Holdo tell Poe her plan, especially when tensions escalated? What was with the dark place and the mirror that Rey found on the island? Why did Finn and Rose need to find a code breaker, when throughout the franchise we’ve seen droids break through codes? Why did Rose free all the animals but not the slave children?
Why did Rose knock Finn’s craft out of the way during the final battle? By “saving” a hero who she had a crush on, she was dooming every other rebel still in the facility. She had no way of knowing that Luke would save them. How did Finn pull her body all the way back to the good guys, when they crashed right in front of the bad guys? How?
While watching the film in theaters, I had many of these same questions that upset many fans. Perhaps the slow pacing in the second and third acts gave me too much time to examine the movie’s plot holes. In either case, it took something away from a franchise film I was going into prepared to enjoy.