Or: At Midnight I Will Kill Rian Johnson With A Shovel (relax I'm not advocating murder, but if you don't get the reference this probably isn't for you.) On the anniversary of the release of The Last Jedi, I've finally been able to collate everything I hate about that movie into one post. Fair warning, this is going to be a long one. Seriously. It took me 15,000 words to deal with how bad this movie is.
We start a long time ago...
The first movie I can ever remember seeing was The Empire Strikes Back. I would have been about four years old at the time when my uncle sat me down with a worn VHS copy in lieu of a babysitter. It was a good idea on his part and Empire remains one of my favourite films of all time.
I fell in love with the Star Wars franchise. For a time I even had a complete collection of the Expanded Universe novels (through that same uncle) and they remain some of my favourite stories. You may sense a theme of remaining favourites.
Even now, especially now, I’ll occasionally pull one out and lose myself among Timothy Zahn’s exceptional imagining of the New Republic, or Aaron Allston’s gang of misfits, or Michael A Stackpole’s journey on the path of the Jedi.
I reminisce about a time when the most controversial plot point was the death of Chewbacca, when it took the destruction of an entire planet to kill him as he roared in defiance of death itself, a controversial end but a fitting one. I raged at the time, with the naivety of youth, thinking that was as bad as things could possibly get. At this point Rian Johnson was only 26 and just beginning his ascent to apostasy.
Given that I was born after the release of Return of the Jedi, I’ve been to every subsequent midnight premiere barring Rogue One (which I regret - I had work commitments and I felt a little burned by the mediocrity of The Force Awakens. Rogue One was fantastic though and in hindsight contributed to the excitement I felt for The Last Jedi and the depth of the fall).
It began with the Special Editions and some very patient parents. The Phantom Menace was a sleepover at a friend’s place near the cinema. Attack of the Clones saw me using my “P plates” for one of the very first times. I stood in line for hours for Revenge of the Sith among the costumed faithful.
I’ve never regretted it. The prequels get a lot of heat, not all of it undeserved. In my opinion they were good films that were poorly made. They were George Lucas’ vision exceeding his ability. But they were still Lucas’ vision.
For the most part they are incredibly well structured and the story, while perhaps clumsily told and with some some terrible dialogue in places, is still solid.
On a recent re-watch, and with the perspective of current films, they’re all fucking masterpieces.
I challenge you to watch The Phantom Menace again. If you can, try and ignore Anakin and the Gungans. Because they’re the only real problems with an otherwise incredibly well crafted film. If Anakin were a little older, and the Gungans less comical, things would have turned out quite differently.
But that’s a more in-depth post for another time.
When the new trilogy was announced I was giddy with excitement. When that first teaser trailer dropped I nearly had an aneurysm. This was an amazing time to be alive.
And when I walked out of that midnight premiere for The Force Awakens I was...disappointed but optimistic.
The Force Awakens was a weak film that promised a lot. For all of its flaws, and all of the rehashing of the original trilogy, it felt like it was really building to something. So while I might not have thoroughly enjoyed it, I didn’t hate it. I just felt like it was some required reading for the bigger, better next film. It was laying the foundation for The Last Jedi.
I honestly could not have been more excited for The Last Jedi. The newest chapter that was going to take all of the intrigue that JJ Abrams sprinkled through TFA and expand them into some dark, epic tale of action and drama. The trailer looked incredible. This was going to be nothing short of orgasmic. (Honestly, in hindsight, whoever made that trailer deserves an Oscar - to have to sit through that entire shitfest looking for two and a half minutes of useable footage, this person deserves a sainthood.)
Sure I hadn’t really heard of the director. I knew of him more than anything. I mean, Looper was...meh. He directed the highest rated episode of one of the most popular TV shows of all time, so he had that going for him. But he also directed the worst rated episode as well. That should have been the first warning sign.
Then there was that “your Snoke theory sucks” post. That should have been another, it was a huge red flag. But I, like many others, assumed that he actually had a theory himself. None of us thought that the director of a Star Wars film would intentionally fuck his fanbase in the arse - how could we?
But I’d thought less of Gareth Edwards due to Godzilla, and Rogue One was amazing, so I was optimistic about Rian Johnson. No, I won’t play it cool. I was excited. There was no way anyone could fuck this up.
I went to the midnight premiere once again. My best friend and I booked our tickets well in advance. We planned our schedules around it. I wore the brand new Star Wars t-shirt and socks I’d received for my birthday the week before.
I’ve never worn them since.
The Last Jedi is the worst film I’ve ever seen.
Not just Star Wars. Not just sci-fi. It is the worst film I’ve ever seen. Absolutely everything about it is terrible. It has not a single redeeming quality. If I were to teach a course on screenwriting the only example I would use would be The Last Jedi. Just don’t do what Rian Johnson did and you’ll make a good movie.
As I said, I’ve been to all the midnight premieres bar one. Rogue One. That’s all of the prequels. For all of the flak that the prequel movies cop, I’d never seen anyone boo them.
People booed at the end of The Last Jedi.
The first heckle came about 30 minutes into the movie, when it was apparent that this wasn’t some buildup to a reveal, this wasn’t going to get any better. The person that heckled wasn’t shushed. The guy got a laugh. More followed. It wasn’t just encouraged, this was better than the actual film. I even indulged myself, and though over a decade of comedic experience was on my side, I didn't get the biggest laugh of the night. This movie gave the layman a chance to feel like a comedian.
When it finally ended, and I say finally because it’s the longest of the Star Wars films, feels even longer, and includes an entire thirty minute sequence that could be cut and not a single plot point or line of dialogue would need to be changed, when it finally ended the crowd were stunned. Shell-shocked.
I’m in no way exaggerating when I say that in that theatre of two hundred people - the hardcore fans of all shapes, sizes, ages and genders - not a single one of them looked happy.
The silence was surreal.
No one. Not a single person, again not exaggerating, not a single person uttered a word until they’d left the cinema.
It felt like a funeral. It was a funeral.
Rian Johnson had taken something that is literally sacred to a lot of people (Jedi is the most popular census choice for the irreligious after all) and he had fucked it to death in front of our eyes for two and a half hours.
It was torture. It was an execution.
There are a lot of people who like The Last Jedi. That’s fine. Tastes are subjective and, though it may appear otherwise, I'm not berating anyone who liked it. It's fine to enjoy bad movies. But it is a bad movie. It is a terrible movie. While taste may be subjective, The Last Jedi is objectively a bad film.
It is terribly, terribly constructed.
By that I mean that the story, the structure, the characters - all of them are poorly done. They are incorrectly executed. Mary-Sue’s, deus ex machina’s, extensive plot holes - if there’s a way you can incorrectly do something with a script then The Last Jedi did it.
I’ll forgive a film a couple of these. There’s a certain level of disbelief required with any film and I’m more generous with Star Wars than most. To bring it back to ESB, my favourite of the films, there are questions such as “why not use X-Wings against the walkers?” through to “what’s with the time difference while Luke is training on Dagobah?”.
I’ll ignore a couple. But in The Last Jedi it isn’t just a couple of points that you can smudge with vaseline on the lens of disbelief. It is literally hundreds. It is plot hole after plot hole and spackfilled with Rian Johnson’s heavy-handed metaphors.
As I said, it is objectively awful. It was made by someone who either doesn’t know anything about writing a screenplay or, more likely, someone who just wanted to watch the world burn. Because I truly believe it's impossible to accidentally make something this bad. It requires a combination of intention and malice. And Rian Johnson showed us he has both in spades when he held up that post-it note.
So to illustrate this point I re-watched the film. It took a while. It took me five attempts actually. There was only so much I could endure before I needed to take a break. It was actually painful for me to watch it.
I read through the script and believe me, that’s worse. If there’s anything worse than watching Rian Johnson fumble a film, it’s reading his notes while he does it.
And so, on the first anniversary of the day the music died, I present everything I found wrong with The Last Jedi. Plot holes, bad storytelling, bizarre choices, poor edits, it’s all here.
“The FIRST ORDER reigns”. How does the First Order reign? They were shown to be just starting their offensive at the end of The Force Awakens and then suffered a massive hit with the destruction of Starkiller Base, this movie is directly afterwards. Did they conquer the whole galaxy in the last seven minutes? TFA showed that their first shot was the destruction of the Hosnian System, the Republic’s capital. Somehow that means that the shadowy force that Leia has spent years trying to convince people actually existed just magically took over the entire Republic in less than an afternoon.
“Supreme Leader Snoke now deploys his merciless legions to seize military control of the galaxy.” But you just said they already reign. As in one sentence ago. Do they control the galaxy or not? I feel like we’ve stumbled at the first hurdle here.
This Snoke guy gets mentioned a fair bit in the opening crawl, he must be an important character with an expansive back story discussing how he was able to build such a military force in private.
So we’ve established that the good guys are called the RESISTANCE, because that’s all in capitals. I’m glad that’s clear. That will save a lot of confusion later on.
Why does the Resistance need Luke to return to give them hope? They just blew up a fucking battleplanet without him. What’s he going to do that blowing up a planet didn’t? “Hey guys, you know how juiced we were after we blew up that planet that was also a system destroying superweapon? Yeah? Well it’s even better - Luke Fucking Skywalker is here!” “Cool! I mean I feel like we already did the heavy lifting, but is he going to kill unstoppable Dark Jedi douche who killed Han? “Kind of. He’s not going to kill him, but he will make him think he saw some dice that weren’t actually there and that will upset him a bit.”
“But the Resistance has been exposed.” How have the Resistance been exposed? You can’t just hand wave the first plot point. Remember the probe droid scene from the movie you’re trying to be?
Now we’re calling them the rebels. But we just established they were the RESISTANCE. It was in capital letters and everything. Oh well, I’m sure it was just one time.
Our brave heroes are now running away. But why? Given that the hyperspace tracking thing won’t be established for another 20 minutes or so, and not discovered by the Rebelistance until even after that, why are they evacuating? Do they just assume the First Order are going to gather a fleet and pick the one planet in trillions that the Rebelistance are hiding on? Or do they just move house after every operation? In A New Hope they had to leave considering the Death Star came to them, not the other way around. This seems like pointless busywork.
At this point you should remember that this film takes place immediately after The Force Awakens. They can be considered the same film. With that in mind, that’s 8 plot holes or impending plot holes before the movie has even started. This is all before the first scene even happens. Eight. I said I’d forgive a couple, we’re nearly into double digits just from the opening crawl. THE MOVIE TECHNICALLY HAS NOT STARTED YET.
“On the planet's surface, LIEUTENANT KAYDEL KO CONNIX and her tall colleague JONES oversee the frantic evacuation of the rebel base.” One person with no physical description but a ridiculously convoluted name, another person with the blandest name ever but an oddly specific description. This script was written by a lunatic.
The movie opens with a conversation between two Resistance officers discussing what to leave behind, while there is action in the background. The Jones is talking normally, Connix is yelling. Either they both yell or they both talk, it makes no sense for this to be happening. It’s disconcerting to watch.
“There’s still 30 pallets of cannon shells in C Bunker”. Everything we’ve seen so far is an energy based weapon. Are we going to see some kind of space version of the Black Pearl run out the long nines?
They see Star Destroyers appear in the sky, in low orbit. Ooh dramatic. We then cut to the space version of the same shot, shot-reverse-shot, clearly indicating that said destroyers are in high orbit and would not be visible from that range.
"FIRST ORDER OFFICER: We’ve caught them in the middle of their evacuation”. We can see that. Hux, who is standing right next to you, who you’re talking to, who is looking out the same window as you, can see that. You’re telling AND showing.
There is ominous music playing and a frantic evacuation as a sinister military force, who have just wiped out billions of people, approach with malicious intent. Clearly this is going to be a dark, serious movie.
“HUX: I have my orders from Supreme Leader Snoke himself”. Telling, not showing. By the way Hux speaks and the reaction of the crew, clearly this Snoke guy must be important. I'm sure he gets some major exposition later on.
“HUX: Tell Captain Canady to prime his dreadnought. Incinerate their base, destroy their transports and obliterate their fleet.” In that specific order, because otherwise the plot won’t work. Somebody who has risen to the rank of captain of a capital ship might target the fleeing ships first before the static ground base and this kind of competence would invalidate the rest of the film.
Why are the fighters not deployed? Every military engagement you’ve had, every spectacular defeat, has come from snubfighters. The Rebelistance is a predominantly snubfighter force. What possible reason could there be to not immediately deploy a fighter screen? It will become very apparent throughout this film just how much Rian Johnson goes out of his way to make the First Order incompetent so that his lackluster plot can work.
“In the destroyer's bridge pit, a beautiful yet stern monitor eyes a red X shape on her radar screen, her surroundings lit red for ideal visibility during battlefield conditions.” What the fuck are you talking about? That’s in the script - word for word. Every female character has some description of their beauty, it’s creepy. I guess the Force is Female and all that.
“Sir there’s a Resistance ship approaching, guns and shields in attack mode”. Then why aren’t you shooting it/deploying the fighters?
Hux refers to the Resistance as the Rebels. This confusion will not let up for another two and a half hours. "Rebels" works coming from Hux because he might be using it as a pejorative, but then none of the rest of the script makes sense so maybe I’m giving too much credit here. Regardless, we’re establishing early on that nobody has a fucking clue what the Resistance are called.
There’s an Invader Zim sketch that has this exact problem and they end up calling themselves “The Resisty”, Johnson has accidentally made it into an entire Star Wars film.
“A single light fighter?” Ah yes, arrogant incredulity. You mean the exact type of single light fighter that blew up the Death Star? And 20 minutes ago Starkiller Base? That kind? You see it’s important that Hux is an idiot, because otherwise this whole movie won’t work.
It’s too bad that no one will figure out hyperspace ramming until after this battle, we could have ended the whole invasion right now.
The prank call. Fuck me. Why? Why is the leader of the First Order military indulging this fucking stupidity? Just hang up. We’re going in hard on the “everyone is an idiot” angle.
“I believe he’s tooling with you sir” oh god. I should point out that no one in the cinema laughed here. Maybe because it wasn’t funny, probably because the tone of this movie so far has been that it’s a tense evacuation with a lot of lives at risk and comedy really isn’t appropriate right now.
And we have a “yo mama” joke. Apparently “a long time ago” means 1995.
This is a comedy then? I was wrong. I’ll re-adjust my headspace to take into account that this is a lighthearted romp and not the dark drama I was expecting.
The script at this point literally says “EXT Space Day”. As if there’s a day and night in space.
“He’s going for the dreadnought”, Hux:“He’s insane” - deploy the fucking fighters you idiots.
“Which we should have done 5 minutes ago” so you’re acknowledging that this stupidity is only to make the plot work?
Tense battle scene. Frantic action, Poe Dameron has his serious face on. Lives are on the line, stakes are high. This is a serious movie, not a comedy. I'll adjust my emotions once again.
“Wipe that nervous expression off your face”. It’s funny because C3PO only has one expression. We’re back to comedy.
Apparently the weapons system of an X-Wing can be rebooted by a robot headbutting them. Like a space Fonz.
What is the reasoning behind Dameron’s s-foils opening and closing like Flappy Bird? It’s not like previous films have established that one should “lock s-foils in attack position”.
“We need to take out that last cannon or our bombers are toast” so one cannon can take out ALL of your bombers. They sound like shit bombers. Oh yeah, they are shit bombers. Maybe they could approach from a direction where there isn’t that particular cannon? This is space, it has all three dimensions available.
“BB-8 chirps as with inventiveness born of desperation, he has lowered the elevator he used to assume his station in the droid socket halfway, which requires that he erases three improper-operation alerts from the X-wing ship, and rolls into the cavity of the fuselage, as close to the short in the junction box as possible. His arm retracts into his body. Then, he uses the welding arm to swing the head out and down, like a man doffing his hat, shrieking. It smashes into the sparking junction box, primary photoreceptor swirling with electronic feedback.” This is honestly how Ronin Johnson wrote the script. He wants BB-8 to be a robot neckbeard.
The most advanced Star Destroyer/dreadnought in the First Order fleet and they don’t have a scanner screen or holographic display, they have a periscope that only one person can use at a time.
“Are the auto-cannons primed?” Exactly what about them is “auto”? They’re manually targeted and clearly not automatic in the constant fire sense of the term.
“TALLIE: Bombers keep that tight formation” why? They're all highly explosive and that would make them an easier target. That’s the formation that gets everyone killed. You offer no tactical reason for this stupidity.
“PILOT 6: (over intercom) Vector at attack speed.” unlike the aforementioned “lock s-foils in attack position”, something that makes sense because X-wings have s-foils and they’re going in to attack something, this is just throwing sciency/military sounding words around.
The Resistance fighters wait until the enemy TIE’s are right on them until they open fire. They literally see them coming, remark on them coming, but wait to open fire. Why?
“CANADY: recharge the auto-cannons, target their cruiser” maybe should have targeted that one first huh champ? The one that can escape instead of being a building.
Why are you not using torpedoes? Why are there space bombs, which have no reason to work in zero gravity? Of course, magnets. Why are they round? Missile technology has been present in universe for some time and has proven to be very effective, especially at being able to shoot them from a distance.
Bombs in The Phantom Menace: two take out a Federation starbase. Bombs in Attack of the Clones: one seismic charge blows up almost an entire asteroid field. Bombers in Rogue One: three take down a Star Destroyer with torpedoes and make it back out again. Bombs in AHN: two take out the Death Star Bombs in ESB: one per asteroid Bombs in ROTJ: two take out another Death Star In the 30 years since it now takes a million bombs and a whole squadron of casualties to do the same job. Progress!
One of the bombs has “Han says hi” written on it in Aurebesh. It’s nice that in the 20 minutes since Han died, in the midst of a frantic evacuation, someone took the time to write on one of the hundreds of bombs so no one could see it.
Remember when everyone roasted George Lucas for putting his love of car racing in a Star Wars movie? You’re all giving a handjob to a remake of Memphis Belle.
In an advanced society where literally everything is a robot the best system they can think of to drop bombs is to have someone push a button on a remote control with no backup system.
Oh look the tight formation that they were told to fly ended up killing everyone because they were in so tight. Another order given just because the plot needs that level of stupidity to function.
Again, space drama, high technology but the turret guns have iron sights. Because Memphis Belle had iron sights.
If only those bombers had guns on the front, where the TIEs attacked from, instead of just facing behind, where any sensible TIE would stay away from. Who designed these things?
These “Starfortresses” have hyperdrives. Why not just spin one up to lightspeed and ram the dreadnought?
The bomber crews have oxygen masks for some reason, despite the life control present and the other types of ship not needing them. They look like the ones in Memphis Belle, that’s probably why.
It only takes one bomber to destroy a dreadnought, the most massive ship in the fleet outside of Snoke’s flag and something that is apparently, according to Dameron, a “fleet killer” and a target of considerable value. It seems like they should have spaced these bombers out one per Star Destroyer. Instead of clumping them all up so they all accidentally committed fratricide. Oops.
The fate of the entire Resistance rests on me dropping these bombs in the split second before the dreadnought fires. Better take a moment to clutch at Chekov’s medallion.
Gosh wasn’t Memphis Belle a good film though? A solid 79% on Rotten Tomatoes audience score. 45% for this remake though.
The Resistance...Rebels...Resisty, clearly the supposed underdog in this story, has a holographic display in real time of the dreadnought being destroyed - showing that there is no need for a periscope. The good guys have bright and cheery displays, the bad guys have dark, red periscopes. Roid Johnson is subtle like that.
Also, although we’ve firmly established that everything happens because the plot needs it to, why are the Resisty the undergunned, under-provisioned underdogs? Wouldn’t the rest of the galaxy feel threatened by the system destroying evil empire and jump in the fight, giving them the resources they need to fight the First Order? There’d be no shortage of volunteers. That’s what an actual new direction looks like Rianna.
Leia watches the deaths of the majority of her fighter force. This weighs heavily on her as she sighs in resignation. They’ve won, but at what cost? This is obviously a serious movie. Unless the next scene happens to have some over the top comedy.
Ah, there it is. 12mins38sec: Hux pratfall number 1. We’re not only establishing the military leader of the First Order as horribly incompetent, he’s also a slapstick buffoon. By the way, 60 flaws in less than 13 minutes. That is impressive.
By this point in ESB two high ranking Imperial officers were executed for doing much less than this. Ozzel for dropping out of lightspeed too early and making the inevitable victory slightly harder and Needa taking the fall for being fooled by one of the most cunning characters in the galaxy. But the Empire didn’t tolerate weakness. That’s because the film didn’t require the Empire to be bumbling morons for the plot to work. Snoke settles for using Hux like a fidget spinner and then it’s business as usual.
“HUX: we have them tied on the end of a string”. Does Snoke not know about the hyperspace tracking? The most advanced technology in the First Order, something that is supposedly impossible, the reason you were able to track the Resistance back to D’Qar (apparently, they don’t really address this at any point, I’m making a leap here) and Snoke doesn’t know about it? Or are you just saying that because you need to tell, not show?
Ominous foreshadowing about how the Rebelistance’s costly victory might all be for nothing as they think they’re safe, but the First Order is about to ambush them. Dramatic. Dark. This is obviously a dark and serious movie.
Finn bangs his head while wearing a jacuzzi suit. Slapstick is funny. We’re back to comedy.
Finn falls down. Slapstick is funny. This is the "darkest and grittiest Star Wars film’s" third pratfall so far. So edge, much dark.
Finn got messed up pretty badly in TFA, which was moments ago. They got back a couple of hours ago and immediately rushed him into life support. He was placed into an emergency coma. Then instead of taking him to the dedicated medical ship that is specifically mentioned as being a dedicated medical ship, they put him on the Raddus because he needed to be there for plot reasons. Fuck logic.
Luke throws the lightsaber away. A moment fans have been waiting for for 2 years and he throws it away. Yay for comedy and subverting expectations. Heavy handed symbolism score: 1 Fuck you to fans score:1
"REY: I’m from the Resistance, your sister Leia sent me”. Does Luke not know Leia is his sister? He may be confused about the Resistance part though, because no one seems to know if they’re the Resistance or the Rebels.
“LUKE: How did you find me?” You left a fucking map. THE LAST MOVIE WAS SPECIFICALLY ABOUT THE MAP YOU LEFT!
Snoke’s last scene in TFA is saying he will complete Kylo Ren’s training. His first scene in this is expressing his disappointment in Ren for doing the thing he told him to do and wondering whether to continue his training.
“REY: there’s no light left within Kylo Ren, he’s only getting stronger”. You learnt about the Force twenty minutes ago from a guy who wasn’t a Jedi and used to think it was a "hokey religion", now you’re an expert on the Light and Dark sides and how strong Kylo Ren is and will be?
“REY: the First Order will control all the major systems within weeks”. But the opening crawl said that the First Order already does? But then it also said that they didn’t. I don’t know what to believe anymore.
Luke betrays his entire character arc from the original trilogy and decides to let two impossibly powerful Dark Jedi run around because he’s a little bit sad. A guy who refused to give up on his father, a guy who had done some pretty heinous shit like murdering children and blowing up planets, Luke was ready to die instead of kill him because he believed in redemption. His current plan is “let the incredibly powerful Dark Jedi get even more powerful and take over the galaxy, even though I’m literally the only person capable of stopping them, I’ll just hang out here like an angry hobo. I’m sure everything will turn out fine”.
Luke seems really cut up about the death of his best friend at the hands of his nephew and former padawan. Oh wait, no he doesn’t. He makes a brief comment about it and goes off in search of unpasteurised space manatee milk.
At this point I’m reasonably convinced that Rian Johnson has never watched a Star Wars film before.
It is really disturbing watching Luke milk a space manatee. Ruin Johnson then adds to it by having Luke give a hearty nod and a smile like he’d just shotgunned a Solo (the thirst quenching soft-drink, not his best friend whose murder he doesn’t care about). The worst is that the space manatee nods to the audience with a seedy look like it just got a wristy. Comedy comes in threes.
The original Jedi texts are leather bound books. Never mind we’ve established that laser swords and space travel have existed for at least three thousand years, and presumably the Star Wars equivalent of a Kindle has existed in this time, these are handwritten in a moleskin. I'm sure there's some beat poetry in there.
“LUKE: (regarding Rey being from Jakku) Alright that’s pretty much nowhere”. There’s nothing wrong with this line. It works quite well. It’s in context, in character and is a well placed moment of levity in an otherwise emotional and dark sequence. It’s a good execution of bathos. I mention this because it’s the ONLY time in the film, despite dozens of attempts, where this kind of thing actually works. Which makes it even worse. It shows that Rhino Johnson is capable of writing something decent, but chooses not to.
“LEIA: We need to find a new base.” “D’ARCY: One with enough power to send a signal to our allies”. So you jumped blindly and just happened to find such a base? Oh, you didn’t. Why not just say you were headed here to begin with? Oh yeah, because the whole plot hinges on Poe not knowing about this base.
About the power to send a signal thing. What the fuck are you talking about? Poe and Finn communicate through hyperspace on a commlink the size of a pen. Did anyone else read this script before you filmed it Riri?
Leia orders the ships to turn around and engage the entire fleet with their 4 much smaller ships. Then when they are predictably decimated by a much larger force she gives the opposite order, now with a lot less people. This is more establishing the actual theme of the movie: doing something really stupid for no reason.
The First Order has obviously learned from the last time when they didn’t deploy fighters, now they deploy Kylo Ren and 3 other TIEs for a total of 4 fighters, against what is potentially an entire Resistance fighter contingent. Full credit to the Resistance though, at least they scramble fighters. Or try to.
“LEIA: pull out of range of the destroyers and the fighters will pull back.” Why would they though? Your opening scene was all about how effective fighters are against capital ships without a fighter screen. The rest of the movies are quite pointed about how effective fighters are against capital ships without a fighter screen. The fighters actually have every reason to press the advantage, as was also previously demonstrated. What does the First Order care about casualties?
Hux: “we can’t cover you from this distance, return to the fleet”. But you weren’t providing any cover at all. The shots were clearly impacting the shields. Just because the plot needs it to, one of the capital ships suddenly becomes effective at shooting the fighters. And then Ren returns to the fleet, because the plot needs him to.
The Last Jedi is all about strong female protagonists. Kathleen Kennedy even had t-shirts printed up saying “The Force Is Female”. That’s why the fighter ace Tallie Lintra, Dameron’s second in command and heavily featured in the marketing, just got blown up after roughly 30 seconds of screen time.
Speaking of Poe: "Hey you remember Poe Dameron from The Force Awakens?" "Yeah, I love that guy. He’s all cocky and confident and a great pilot who does cool shit in an X-Wing. Does he have a big part in this film?" "Yes he does!" "That’s awesome. I can’t wait to see him do more cocky X-Wing pilot stuff." "Oh god no, he doesn’t do that. We take away his X-Wing and make him sulk for two hours. "
Competent General: Ok, where did we just chase the Rebels to? Are there any habitable systems nearby? Anything that could be used as a base or may have been a base in the past? Let’s look around and gather intelligence. Alright our records say we’re in the Crait system and there’s an old mining base there that the Resisty are heading towards, shall we send one of our dozens of ships ahead to scout it out during this long and tedious standoff? Of course not. The First Order has no such competent general. If the First Order are given any sense of competence or intelligence none of this story will work.
Seriously, nobody looks out the window at all? They’re in the Crait system. The Battle of Crait that happens later is in the day time. Day time means there is a sun. But there’s no sun during the chase because that doesn’t fit in with Roomba Johnson’s heavy-handed metaphors of darkness. Heavy Handed Metaphor Score - 2
Why do all of the ships move at the same speed? No reason given. Peavey acknowledges that the Resistance ships are faster and lighter yet he neglects to mention that by logical extension they presumably pull away from the First Order. It’s a good thing this discrepancy is never mentioned again and they never get further in front. This would interfere with the artificially created tension.
They make a point of burning fuel in space, as if Newton never existed in this universe. Look I know physics and Star Wars have never really been good bunk buddies but at least have a single line of dialogue about how they need fuel to keep the shields up or something. Make an effort. Also since Poe did his cool little u-turn trick at the start of the movie we’ve established that conservation of momentum is a thing that exists, they just turn it off when it doesn’t suit the plot.
Remember iconic character and beloved fan favourite Admiral Gial Akbar? Yeah he’s dead. I didn’t even notice it until it was pointed out later in the film. You’d think it would be a big deal, but it was more important to show Leia having Force-not-dying-in-vacuum-and-being-able-to-fly-like-Mary-Poppins powers even though she’s never been mentioned or seen having trained as a Jedi in any capacity.
As Leia does her Superman entrance she cuts through the hologram of the Supremacy. Foreshadowing! Heavy Handed Metaphor Score - 3
“SNOKE: The mighty Kylo Ren. When I found you... I saw what all masters live to see. Raw, untamed power. And beyond that, something truly special. The potential of your bloodline. A new Vader.” I acknowledge your story arc from the previous film where you’re trying to emulate Vader. Now let’s never speak of it again. In fact, why don’t you get rid of the thing that makes you resemble the guy I’m trying to get you to be?
Remember that Kylo Ren was obsessed with finishing the legacy of his grandfather in TFA, to the point of rescuing his burned helmet from Endor? Well he changed his mind about the past in roughly 20 seconds of introspection after Snoke makes fun of his helmet.
Remember the Knights of Ren, the elite group that Kylo Ren leads? Johnson clearly hopes you don’t.