Despite high-tech CGI, witty dialogue, ‘Star Wars: the Last Jedi’ falls flat for lack of villains

The 2017 promo poster for ‘Star Wars: the Last Jedi.'”

This review of “Star Wars: the Last Jedi” will be broken into two halves: non-spoiler and spoiler.



A short, short time ago in a theater far, far away, in El Dorado Hills, a sophomore sat down to watch the newest installment in the wildly popular “Star Wars” series. Despite generally being bored with the seventh movie, “The Force Awakens,” I had incredibly high hopes for this new movie.

These hopes were quickly dashed.

In no way did I hate “The Last Jedi.” Overall, it was a decent experience. But the real problem is that one expects more from such a monumental franchise.

The movie has the flashy visuals and beautiful settings but lacks other assets. My main gripe with the film is that the villains are never really terrifying.

There are next to no points in the film where the villains, Kylo Ren, Snoke and Phasma, pose a serious threat to the characters’ lives. Sadly, the scenes where the characters are in danger are easily resolved with their indestructible plot armor.

The only way the villains really “endanger” the protagonists is by having a really big ship show up and/or a really big gun. It’s happened so many times it’s practically a meme.

Another glaring problem is the entire code-breaker subplot (which will be touched on more in the spoiler section.) In it, two of our heroes, Fin and Rose, have to visit a casino to find an expert code breaker, who helps them break into the First Order ship following them. That was a good 45 minutes of the movie that in no way affected the rest of the story. Nothing comes out of this little adventure.

It isn’t all bad, though; the worlds are absorbing, and the dialogue is both interesting and funny in parts. A lot of time and money was put into making these alien worlds feel real, and that was money well spent. All the worlds in the film, from the casino resort to the salt deserts, look fabulous.

My favorite parts of any “Star Wars” film, the space battles, are also pretty good. The movie even opens with one. Though short, it delivers some awesome sci-fi combat. The moment the gigantic new First Order ship jumped in, I almost started screaming. I love monumental star ships fighting.

Weirdly, it’s also not a shut-off movie where you can just watch the cool visuals. It’s way too long for that. Some scenes even drag a little bit.

Overall, if you like “Star Wars” and like seeing the light side beat the dark side, you’ll enjoy this film. Just make sure you’re not expecting the greatest “Star Wars” film to date.


Now for the spoilers!

Here marks the spoilers section. This will contain heavy spoilers. So if you haven’t seen the movie, turn back now!

Now to go a little more in depth into the villain problem: the antagonists were not scary and never really posed a threat.

Captain Phasma, the chrome stormtrooper, does get more screen time than the last movie, but that doesn’t mean a lot. She doesn’t really play much of a role at all in the plot, and despite having a cool-ish fight scene with Fin, doesn’t do anything substantial.

Her minor role is especially surprising since the creators of the film even made a big deal about how she was going to be a new villain in the new trilogy, like Director Krennic from Rogue One. Krennic, from “Rogue One: a Star Wars Story,” is also an underused villain.

Furthermore, did they really have to kill Phasma off? Did the writers just realize she’s a useless character and decide they’d be better off without her? The world will never know.

Another great question that will never be answered is who is Snoke? For those not in the know, Snoke is the big bad Sith Lord; he trained Kylo Ren. The first movie gave us the impression he was supposed to be just like Emperor Palpatine. However, he is killed off in the worst way. Isn’t Snoke supposed to be the big bad villain Sith Lord? How’d he get tricked so easily? Furthermore, what does he even do? All he does is sit there and use force lightning once. How am I supposed to think this guy poses a real threat?

The only half-decent villain is Kylo Ren, except for when he changes sides a few times. He doesn’t seem terribly consistent with his beliefs and actions. He’s just doing whatever his extreme teenage angst is telling him to.

The line “I bet you are” pretty much sums up the overwhelming angst inside of him. I’d bet all the angst in the Country Day middle school added together couldn’t even come close to Ren’s.

In addition, he’s not particularly bright, especially when he’s played like a fiddle at the end. He wasn’t a terrifying villain, but he was semi-interesting because his angst made him somewhat funny.

Now to the infamous code-breaker subplot. Why does this exist? It is, at the very least, a good 45 minutes of the film, and nothing happens. All it sets up is the semi-romance between Rose and Fin, and the idea of a gray area between the black-and-white morality scale. The code-breaker talks about how munitions sellers are selling to both sides. Later on, the code-breaker Fin and Rose find even switches sides quite a bit in front of them. But this idea is, sadly enough, thrown straight out the window by the end of the film.

Even though throughout the film the idea of a gray area on the moral scale is brought up multiple times, the end of the film just forgets all of it and simplifies the force to two sides, light and dark. This is the film’s greatest weakness. Even though it fights hard to make you believe there’s no definite good or bad, it just reverts to the good versus evil schtick at the end.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is in no way the worst in the canon of Star Wars movies, but it is nowhere near the top.

I was definitely disappointed.

—By Spencer Scott

Print Friendly, PDF & Email