Star Wars: The Last Jedi achieves the near impossible task of making the wretched prequels look like beautifully written masterpieces and George Lucas’ dialogue seem brilliant. It’s unmitigated crap from the very get-go.
After the obligatory text crawl, this 152-minute agony-fest leaps right into General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) pacing his bridge as he closes in on the Resistance base. Apparently, Mr. Gleeson thought he was in a theater-in-the-park production of The Pirates of Penzance. I expected him to burst into a rendition of “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General” at any moment. And then things started to go downhill fast.
It would take a novel to detail all this movie’s sins, so, for the sake of readability, I will limit myself to the most egregious infractions.
Adam Driver, reprising his role as Kylo Ren, once again fails to be even slightly menacing. There’s just no way to take this guy seriously as a Big Bad, no matter how many force powers he throws around. Even so, he comes off better than most by simply managing to be an actual character. No one else in the film accomplishes this. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Leia (the late Carrie Fisher), Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac), and vapid newcomer Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) are all soulless puppets, blandly performing their assigned tasks and reciting seemingly endless speeches. Rey (Daisy Ridley), supposedly the main protagonist, is little more than a piece of uninteresting scenery. The worst failing in this department is Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). He has zero character development and zero backstory. Without so much as a hint about who he is or where he came from, he becomes nothing more than a stock bad guy figuratively twirling his mustache and cackling as he ties Rey to the railroad tracks.
Remember how awful the writing was in those cheesy sci-fi movies of the late 70s and 80s? Well, Star Wars: The Last Jedi was even worse. Director/writer Rian Johnson must have gotten a mighty good deal on bulk-priced deus ex machina. Leia and Luke manifest EXTREME force powers that they never showed any indication of having, possibly barely justified in Luke’s case, given the outcome. Escape routes magically appear. Allies miraculously appear repeatedly at just the right moment. BB8 deserves a special shout out as he assumes the role of Swiss army knife, all purpose plot device for whatever the writers need at any given moment. He must be equipped with highly advanced internal space-warping technology, because his body literally could not hold all the attachments and other items he pulls out over the course of the film. Rey becoming an uber-Jedi after almost no training was barely noticeable with all the other silliness going on.
Since it’s a Disney film, it was necessary to pack in as much opportunity for merchandising as possible. Benicio Del Toro appears in an extended cameo as plot device #6 to qualify as an action figure. Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) shows up just long enough to pick up the idiot ball and make sure a couple of the protagonists live. C-3PO and R2-D2 put in appearances. Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o) pops in for 30 seconds to hand out a quest. Even as a force ghost, Yoda (Frank Oz) apparently can’t get enough of busting Luke’s chops, so he’s there, too. Chewbacca sits in the Millennium Falcon and growls every so often. Cash bonanza for Evil BB8. They already have the BB8 molds, so all they have to do is put on a new paint job. And there’s a whole bunch of gratuitous new critters.
Action sequences were formulaic, tensionless, predictable, and, quite frankly, boring for the most part. Bunch of ships blew up a bunch of other ships. Unnamed resistance forces got blown up with regularity, but no matter. There was absolutely no emotional connection with any of them, they respawned as fast as mooks in video games, and there were always plenty more. There wasn’t a whole lot of light saber fighting in Last Jedi, but given the abysmal fight choreography, that’s probably just as well.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi was poorly conceived and badly written. The dialogue was atrocious, and the acting was worse. There really isn’t anything good to say about it. I reserve ratings of “1” for movies so awful that I consider clawing my eyes out to make them stop. (Sucker Punch was a 1, in case you were wondering what it takes.) This movie didn’t quite sink to that level, but it was close.
Overall rating: 2/10