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.
“LUKE: tomorrow at dawn. Three lessons. I will teach you the ways of the Jedi”. Three lessons? Is Luke selling Jedi training on the late night shopping channel? If Rey signs up now does she receive a free set of steak knives?
Luke clearly states that Rey’s training will begin ”tomorrow at dawn”. The sun is well and truly up when they start.
Leia is in the medical bay of the Raddus, and not on the ship that is a custom built medical facility, just like Finn. Why even bother having a medical frigate if the Raddus can do all of this? Why not use the medical frigate as a hyperspace battering ram and save everyone right now?
“D’ARCY: We’re the very last of the Resistance”. But you just said your whole plan is to send a signal to your allies. Are they not also Resistance? Who are you sending the message to then? Your allies in the Outer Rim? Are they not Resistance? Or do they not know that they’re the Resistance because they call themselves Rebels?
"The downtrodden and the oppressed know our symbol”. Do they? You don’t even have a fucking clue who you are.
“HOLDO: we are the spark that will ignite the fire that will restore the Republic” Heavy Handed Metaphor Score - 4
Let’s establish some needless secrecy and tension between Dameron and Holdo for absolutely no reason. Someone has obviously told Rhomboid Johnson that storytelling is all about conflict but forgot to mention how to do it. This friction only exists because the plot requires an element of conflict and can’t find one organically.
It’s at this point in the film that Finn, whose sole contribution so far has been space Charlie Chaplin, begins to repeat his character arc from TFA beat for beat.
Finn just has to tell Rose that he’s on a secret mission and everything is fine. But we need to create some tension here don’t we Remus Johnson? Better shoehorn that in.
“ROSE: Wow. You too. Good. But you are a hero. You left the First Order-what you did on the Starkiller Base. When we heard about it, my sister Paige said... "Rose, that's a real hero." "Know right from wrong.... "and don't run away from when it gets hard," she said. You know.” I’m glad Rose got to have a heart to heart with her sister about a guy they just heard of in the half an hour they had to evacuate the entire base because Rhesus Johnson has never seen a Star Wars movie, not even The Force Awakens.
“ROSE: I'm taking you to the bridge and turning you in for desertion.” He’s not deserting. He never joined the Resistance. He’s just a guy at this point.
“FINN: Who would know where the system breaker is on a star destroyer?” You, apparently, considering you have fully detailed schematics of this top-secret-built-in-the-Unknown-Regions-shouldn’t-possibly-exist-ship on your iPod.
Finn once again mentions that he was a janitor. While also being part of Kylo Ren’s personal advance guard beachhead assault force. I’ll give you partial credit for this one RJ, it’s JJ’s fuckup to begin with but you’re keeping the dream alive.
He also mentions that he used to mop the circuit breaker room for the super secret technology. Considering how the First Order have robots to iron the uniforms, how menial is that job? Is that why he defected?
Of course the First Order is only tracking them from one destroyer, why would you possibly have a redundancy? This wouldn’t be a problem if Finn didn’t mention how they’d just turn on another one in a different destroyer. It would make sense if it was only the really big advanced flagship that had the magic technology. But Rian Johnson goes out of his way to make the script not work.
“FINN: They’re Bio-haxaencrypted”. I’m not against psuedo-science babble in sci-fi films per se, but if you look at how many takes it took John Boyega to say this right you could have saved a day’s worth of filming.
Why is Maz taking the time in the middle of a firefight to pick up the phone? Also why is her “union dispute” more important than the apparent fate of the galaxy?
There’s only one guy in the galaxy who can slice this amazingly complex system for you. I can’t stress enough how he’s the most awesome person ever. He can do everything from slicing to piloting to shooting, and he wears a really distinctive and impractical piece of jewelry so you can spot him in a crowd. He also apparently spends every waking minute at the same craps table so you can easily find him. This is important for spies and criminals.
“REY: Master Skywalker we need you to bring the Jedi back because Kylo Ren is strong with the dark side of the Force” this sentence is just nonsense. Just in case you were wondering what was going on in the film because you’d dozed off. I saw it happen at opening night, this was about the point where loved ones gave up poking people back awake.
“LUKE:What do you know about the Force?” “REY: It's a power that Jedi have that lets them control people and make things float.” While this might not seem bad, just clunky dialogue, at this point the canon supplementary materials have tried to spread the idea that Rey somehow downloaded Kylo Ren’s training during her mind probe and that’s why she’s so good at Jedi stuff - as a way to try and mitigate her being such a Mary Sue character. But she also somehow didn’t download anything about what the Force actually is. Someone is telling fibs here.
“LUKE: You went straight to the dark, you didn’t even try to stop yourself” you mean like you did? Remember when Vader’s head exploded and it was your head inside? Regis Johnson has never seen a Star Wars movie before. I’m sure of it.
If you have shuttles you can send people off into hyperspace on for super secret missions, why not just send a few of those off with everyone in them?
Canto Bight is a terrible place filled with the worst people in the galaxy. We know this because Rose tells us. Exactly like that. It would be far too hard to show us or use some good storytelling techniques. No, Rose knows because she grew up in a place like this. Except instead of an independent colony it was a First Order world. And instead of a casino resort it was a mining colony. So apart from being completely different, it was exactly the same.
The two heroes get caught because they parked in a no stopping zone and got a ticket. They are placed under arrest for Parking Violation 27B/6. That’s in the actual movie. I should also point out that this exact thing happened in Spaceballs, the 1987 parody of Star Wars.
If only there were some precedent for maintaining anonymity on secret missions. Like when Qui-Gon was on a secret mission and he made a point of telling Ric Olie to set down on the outskirts of Mos Espa so they didn’t draw attention. A mechanic, a trained soldier and a robot combined don’t have this much common sense.
Kylo Ren took a handful of Luke’s students. Where are they? Are they the Knights of Ren? Are we going to ever see them? Will you ever mention it again?
“LUKE: At the height of their powers, they allowed Darth Sidious to rise, create the Empire, and wipe them out. It was a Jedi Master who was responsible for the training and creation of Darth Vader.” Did Obi-Wan do something to you in the intervening 30 years? I thought you liked this guy? You were pretty close with all the Force ghost skyping you were doing, now you're shitting on the guy because you've turned off your Force wi-fi?
The medical cruiser is now dead because it ran out of fuel. In space, where conservation of momentum isn’t a thing even though Poe established it was a thing. Like I said before not a problem if you say it’s shield fuel or something, but for some reason it tumbles around like a drunk mule. Like they used to last of the fuel to set the course to “wacky”.
The captain of that cruiser stays on the ship, for some unknown reason. Even if it didn’t have an autopilot, which is unlikely, then it certainly didn’t even need a pilot to continue on a straight course. Maybe if they’d turned it around to ram the Supremacy? Maybe even at...dare I say...lightspeed?
Said captain refers to the group of which he is a major part as the rebels. Are they the Resistance or the Rebels? Make the call.
Finn and Rose: We’re on a super secret mission. So it’s important to talk about it really loudly all the time so everyone can hear about it.
There’s apparently only one code breaker in the galaxy who is good enough to crack into Snoke's flagship. Oh, and this guy you randomly meet in a prison cell can do it too.
R2-D2 gets a lot of heat for all of his little components. But it’s really important that your astromech droid comes with a function for shooting coins, you never know when that will come in handy.
At this point I wouldn’t have blinked if BB-8 randomly shot gold coins because the rest of the movie doesn’t give a fuck about anything, but they did go to a lot of trouble to show a drunk leprechaun using him as a poker machine.
“We’re with the Resistance. Look, I have a secret ring that I got out of a cereal box that proves my Resistanceness. You’re only 10 years old so you wouldn’t know the symbol of the Rebels, which ceased to be 20 years before you were born, but is also the symbol of the Resistance, who we also are, we use both names interchangeably, anyway can you help us free the space camels?”
Wooooo camel stampede through the evil casino of evilness! Take that 1 percent!
We’ve lost the two criminals in this long grass. Unfortunately our flying car with laser cannons doesn’t have anything more advanced than a flashlight to search with.
“FINN: It was worth it, though. To tear up that town, make 'em hurt. ROSE: (to space camel) Go. Now, it's worth it” 400 of your allies are about to die but it’s all ok because you temporarily saved some camels. It’s actually some good that we establish Rose’s fucked up priorities, because it becomes relevant later.
Rey is adamant Kylo Ren cannot be redeemed right up until she sees him without a shirt on. This is an empowering film for women after all.
Kylo Ren has a scar from where Rey cut him with the lightsaber, but no scar from where he was shot with Chewie’s bowcaster - a weapon TFA went to great pains to show was quite powerful.
We went past nitpicking a long time ago so…why are you wearing your pants so high up your waist Kylo?
Luke, contrary to all evidence of his character to date, apparently tried to murder Ben Solo in his sleep. We’re not told why he has such a departure from his well established character over the course of three films, we’re just told to accept it without question. Critics will call this an amazing breath of fresh air for the series.
“Let the past die, kill it if you have to” Heavy Handed Metaphor Score - 4
Force ghosts can summon lightning. Did you know that? I can’t imagine that ever having been useful previously such as in fights against Sith Lords or such.
Luke goes to burn the tree. Yoda burns the tree. Luke tries to save everything in the tree he was just about to burn because Yoda decided to burn it. Yoda cackles like a pyromaniac. This is all normal.
“YODA: We are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters”. This is oblique, even by your standards. Heavy Handed Metaphor Score - 5
Yoda does a big speech about the importance of failure. Which would be relevant if Rey were a well developed character who ever encountered failure instead of instantly winning everything. Maybe it's the film trying to apologise for itself.
Finn only just figured out that the shady hobo in tattered clothes that he met in a prison cell doesn’t actually own the luxury spaceship he’s travelling in.
“Good guys, bad guys, made up words” DJ. Heavy Handed Metaphor Score - 6
“PEAVEY: That was the last of their support ships”. At this stage I’ve actually been convinced that a support officer would need to help Hux count to four.
“Hope is like the sun. If you only believe in it when you can see it you’ll never make it through the night.” You just know he had a wank after he wrote this one. Heavy Handed Metaphor Score - 7
“POE: Tell us we have a plan” “HOLDO: Ok sure, here’s the plan. It makes sense that you should know it since even though you were demoted you're still one of the most senior officers we have left and you have a reputation for doing stupid, impulsive things. It makes sense to tell you. Now nobody needs to do anything stupid.” There, I just invalidated your whole movie.
Ooh Hackerman is going to slice into the most advanced ship in the galaxy. How will they visually demonstrate programming in the Star Wars universe? Oh he uses a...lockpick...to...text it? I guess?
The film from here on out mentions “cloaking” a lot. It never actually tells you what that means though. From what I’ve gleaned, cloaking means saying that you’ve cloaked and suddenly everyone has to pretend they didn’t see you.
We’re entering a particularly tense part of the movie here. The do or die infiltration of the First Order superdestroyer. Everything hinges on this moment. That’s why we have A WACKY PULLBACK REVEAL. Ah the “iron” joke. Hilarious. This movie is now actually a direct parody of the franchise it’s a part of. It is now roasting its own existence. It is appallingly bad on a meta level.
Finn disguises BB-8 by putting a bin on him. Is anyone in the First Order not going to recognise a bin? Oh our bins are robots now and moving towards the top-secret room of mystery. Nothing to see here.
Apparently BB-8 also does not have any kind of sensors that work from inside this bin and crashes into everything, for hilarious comic effect. But also don’t forget this is a dark and gritty movie about sacrifice and loss.
Poe Dameron, Resistance Hero and Great Strategist, continues to ask questions over the intercom throughout the entire infiltration mission that everyone’s life depends on, forcing the people on said infiltration mission to answer him and risk blowing their cover.
The hyperspace tracker, the most amazing piece of technology on the First Order flagship, technology so advanced that it shouldn’t exist, lies behind a door that is totally unguarded.
I thought they were going after the circuit breaker for the tracker instead of the tracker itself. That was the plan. But the new dialogue says otherwise. “The tracker is right behind this door”. Everything in this movie relies on you instantly forgetting everything that has come before it.
This door to the super secret cave of magic mystery can also be hotwired with a necklace that one of the main characters happened to have that is the exact size and alloy needed to close the circuit on this door. What are the odds?
Leia and Holdo have spent the entire film telling Dameron that being a hotheaded troublemaker is a problem, now they’re both admiring him for being a troublemaker. “That one’s a troublemaker, I like him”. You have to be trolling Rian. It is utterly impossible to make anything this bad by accident.
“Your Snoke theory sucks”. Does it Rian? Or did someone guess what you were going to do and you had a tantrum? At least I had a Snoke theory. The big bad guy is dead now because reasons.
This deserves two points. Rian Johnson is deliberately giving the middle finger to the fans and telling them to go fuck themselves for daring to be excited about the film he’s making. The guy is an absolute fucking turd of a human. Fuck you to fans score - 2
“HOLDO: For the transports to escape someone needs to stay behind and pilot the cruiser” - why? Literally everything is a fucking robot. We just saw that the ironing boards are robots.
We just established that the transport ships are unarmed and unshielded, but they somehow have cloaking devices? I’m now convinced that “cloaking” is just something you say. It’s a meaningless nonsense phrase.
Oh we’re heading to a heavily armoured base with a transmitter powerful enough to contact allies are we? That’s what we were doing the whole time? Wouldn’t that information have saved 45 minutes of wasted film and a ridiculous casino sequence?
“Godspeed…rebels”- Holdo. Are you rebels or Resistance?
The First Order still hasn’t figured out where the Resisty were headed, even though they’re almost at the planet. What makes it worse is that Boba Fett actually did this in ESB, so there’s a precedent that isn't being followed. Critics will call this a breath of fresh air.
So the plan was that Holdo knew the big ships were being tracked but they weren’t expecting smaller ships. But there’s a planet there with a base on it. Which surely someone would go and take a look at, at some point. And why wouldn’t they be able to see the smaller ships? They’re quite visible out the front window that everyone is looking out all the time. I can’t even begin to get my head around how fucking stupid this is. The whole plan was to sneak dozens of smaller craft, in the hope that no one would notice, down to a planet that they hoped no one would notice, into a base that they hoped no one would notice and then the First Order would continue to chase the cruiser with no one on it until they blew it up. At which point they’d probably realise there was no one on it and go back to the planet they’ve probably noticed by now. The whole plan was that they were just going to…go away?
This whole plan is the same as Dr Grant hiding from the T-Rex in Jurassic Park and Laura Dern should know better.
Finn and Rose are taken to meet Hux and face execution in the hangar for some unknown reason. Why is everyone in the hangar? Of all the places to drag them, why the hangar? Not the prison, not the throne room, not the bridge, no we need them to be in a place where they can make their heroic escape.
“We ran a decloaking scan” then what the fuck is the fucking point of a cloaking system?
“Full speed to planetfall” at this point it’s safe to assume that Rian Johnson doesn’t know what speed is.
Yet another mixup between Resistance and Rebels.
Rey meeting with Snoke. The focus of the entire movie, what this film and the previous one have been building up to this whole time. Hero meets big bad villain. We’ve established just how strong Rey is, but Rey is helpless in his grasp. Snoke is that powerful. And he’s going to torture and turn Rey. Then he’s going to kill her friends. This is an incredibly dark moment of the film, the equivalent of Darth Vader hovering over Luke on Bespin combined with Palpatine’s taunts in the Death Star throne room. Of course now is a great time to randomly smash cut to BB-8 running into a wall for comic effect. Wackidy-schmackidy-doo!
“SNOKE: I warned my young apprentice that as he grew stronger his equal in the light would rise. Skywalker I assumed”. But Skywalker isn’t rising. He’s already a thing. He’s the most powerful Jedi ever. This is a really dumb thing to say. “I warned Hulu that as it grew stronger as a streaming service, Netflix would rise to meet it”. I shudder to think about the expression of delight on Rubik Johnson’s face as he typed this.
Rey reaches for the lightsaber in a parallel of Luke in Return of the Jedi. Oh no, Snoke uses the Force to bonk her on the back of the head. Hilarious. Comedy! What if Palpatine, as he was taunting Luke with the deaths of his friends and allies, farted really loudly?
The Vader subplot is brought up again, only to be discarded once again. Oh you wacky guy Rian.
Snoke: “I sense someone will cut someone else with a lightsaber. Someone called Rey or Ren, it’s a three letter “R” name, I’m sure of it. They’re going to turn it on their true enemy. I’m going to emphasise the word true. Ah! Curse my ambiguously worded vision!”
The cut clearly pierces Snoke in the middle, Ren then pulls the lightsaber towards himself, but Snoke’s corpse collapses as if bisected.
The incredibly impractical weapons wielded by Snoke’s guard include daggers that combine to form a larger dagger, a whip, multiple guys with polearms made from fluorescent tubes who must have missed fun weapon day and NO ONE WITH A GUN!
Rey has just rushed here after spending a day with Luke, where she lost a lightsaber battle to a rock. She is then somehow able to beat Luke, albeit out of practice, and now not only does she handily defeat Snoke’s highly trained personal guard who have presumably been specifically trained to combat Force users, she also saves Kylo Ren, an extremely powerful and trained Jedi and duelist himself. This is why Rey is such a bad character. There’s never any try/fail cycle. She just keeps comfortably winning at everything.
That guy just got thrown into a blender and chunks of him went everywhere. Oh my god this movie is dark. It’s not like someone got bonked on the head with a lightsaber 3 minutes ago.
The Empire/First Order - no safety rails on anything for at least 40 years.
At no point in this massive fight in the throne room of the Supreme Leader did nobody hit a panic button or radio for help or anything.
15 - number of transports that explode before Holdo decides to do something. Half of the transports. Until this point she’s just standing there watching everyone die with a slightly pensive look on her face, which is also probably just Laura Dern's resting face.
Also she’s standing at the window. She’s not piloting the cruiser that apparently needs piloting.
Oh DJ, curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal.
Radar Johnson originally wanted DJ’s character to be Lando Calrissian. Because why not have two characters who completely betray their character arcs from the original films?
“PHASMA: Execution by blaster is too good for them. Let’s make this hurt.” With a decapitation. From a lightning axe. Yes, that looks like it will hurt for the millisecond it takes to cut their heads off.
We need strong, interesting female characters. What about Captain Phasma, are you going to delve into what could potentially be the next Boba Fett? Fuck no, she’s not an RJ original character so I’ll just have her say some generic villain lines and then she’ll fall into a pit, never to be seen again. Why? So that Finn can have a melee duel with a First Order character to symbolise how far he’s come, at roughly the same point in the film that he had a melee duel with a First Order character in TFA to symbolise how far he’d come.
How the fuck would Kylo Ren know who Rey’s parents were? She appeared on their radar roughly a day ago and is from a backwards planet that probably doesn’t take an annual census. What the fuck kind of background check did he run? Hey First Order guys, while we’re recovering from the destruction of our battle planet and also conquering the galaxy I need you to run a background check on everyone in the galaxy named Rey. No I don’t have a last name.
Oh, the Force tells him. Of course. Why not? (This is the official line, I’d have gone with him lying to Rey because he’s, you know, a bad guy, but whatever. We’re past that.) Fuck you to fans score - 3.
Anakin’s lightsaber splits right down the middle. Not at any of the structural joins. Heavy Handed Metaphor Score - I don’t even know anymore.
“POE: Come on, give it full thrusters. Full speed! COVA NELL: I am, sir.” Everyone is blowing up, just checking to make sure you haven’t accidentally left the park brake on.
A competent First Order would have deployed fighters by now to massacre the unarmed transports. But we’re well past that.
A character we’ve been given no reason to like and have been encouraged to hate for the whole film is suddenly sacrificing herself and it’s supposed to mean something. Instead of using someone with an actual character where this would mean something, like Akbar, this is supposed to have the same effect. Too bad you shoved him out a window and had someone make an offhanded comment about his death instead of giving a beloved character any respect. Much more important that you shoehorn in your own creation because you hate playing in someone else’s sandbox.
Imagine that scene though. Akbar piloting the cruiser into the Supremacy. Hux says “what is this?” Peavey responds with “it’s a trap!” as Akbar rams into them. That’s what a fucking satisfying conclusion looks like Reboot Johnson.
Hyperspace ramming. There’s no way this invalidates absolutely every Star Wars movie ever made. Federation ship? Ram it at light speed. Death Star? Ram it at light speed. “Two fighters against a Star Destroyer?” oh, no, my bad, it only takes one to ram it at lightspeed.
To put in perspective just how fucking dumb this is, imagine Saving Private Ryan. As Tom Hanks is dying and shooting the tank with his pistol, he discovers that shooting a tank with a pistol causes all Germans in a hundred mile radius to die of a stroke. It’s an astonishingly effective tactic and you’d be amazed that nobody had ever thought to try it before, considering how many wars had been fought against the Germans throughout history and the likelihood that someone, at some point, would have to have tried this. Now multiply all the wars that humans have fought with guns involving both tanks and Germans and multiply that by the fact that hyperspace has existed for thousands of years in a galaxy of billions of planets, in a universe that has WARS in the title and you want us to believe that no one, not one person ever, has tried this before? You’re a fucking imbecile Johnson.
This sacrifice, by the way, is apparently a good thing. How do we know what a good sacrifice or a bad sacrifice is? Rian Johnson makes it up on the fly. The earlier one, with the bombers, that was bad because of reasons. But this one is good because of reasons. What a bold new direction this film is going in.
“Rebel scum”. What’s the Rebel/Resistance count at now?
“KYLO REN: We know where she's going. Get all our forces down to that Resistance base. Let's finish this” Oh you finally figured that out did you? How many hours of them crawling towards a habitable planet with something that looks like a base on it did it take for you to clue in?
“They’re coming, shut the door” why not do that when you get there? Wouldn’t that be the first thing you did? Or did you need a dramatic moment for Finn and Rose to make their entry, even though they were presumed dead?
That half-destroyed flaming shuttle coming for us is obviously some sort of trap. Open fire.
Why are they expending small arms fire at a crashed shuttle with a hull impervious to small arms fire?
Apparently we’re the Resistance again
So this base in the middle of nowhere that hasn’t been used in 30 years has a shield generator that can withstand planetary bombardment, but the main base of operations you just evacuated didn’t? And this one has a nigh-impenetrable door? Why not use this one instead?
It’s great the the First Order has miniaturised Death Star tech, a “battering ram cannon”, which is only useful in this exact, specific situation where your enemy is entrenched in a cliffside with an armoured door. That must come up a lot.
We need to get in there and kill those 20 or so people who survived, we don’t have time for a siege even though we’ve conquered the galaxy, maybe, we’re still hazy on that point.
“FINN: Come on. We have allies. People believe in Leia. They'll get our message, they'll come. But we have to buy time. We gotta take out that cannon.” You’ve been part of this for slightly over a day, most of which you spent unconscious. What are you talking about?
I’m glad they included a random scene of someone eating the dirt and telling us that this is salt, not snow, so it’s totally not Hoth and is a Rebus Johnson Original Creation™
Oh yeah that guy who eats the salt? He’s credited as “Salty”. It’s all about the little details.
Get Space Kenny Rogers, a character we’ve never seen before or will ever again, out there to stand up and show the First Order that you’re not afraid. That’ll scare them off.
Finn, a guy with no piloting experience but a lot of time as a foot-soldier, is placed in a speeder that he can’t fly and not with the foot-soldiers.
Poe commands them to “keep tight”. Keeping tight has, through the entire course of the film, led to nothing but trouble. But why start making good decisions now?
Hux sends all fighters against the Falcon. There are dozens of them and the Resistance clearly has something planned with the skimmers. Why not some of the fighters? Why not leave one to pick off the ground skimmers? Oh yeah, “they hate that ship”. It’s a good thing we’ve spent a lot of time showing how incompetent Hux is or this would never make sense.
“She drew them off” while not entirely unfounded, Finn is still making a leap that Rey is actually on the Falcon.
Rey, having been rejected by Luke, tortured by Snoke, tried and failed to return Ben to the light side and seen him become the new Emperor, is now joyously laughing and commenting about how much she enjoys murdering people with a gun turret - which she is also good at using without previously establishing any skill.
“KYLO REN: All firepower on those speeders. ARMITAGE HUX: Concentrate all fire on the speeders“ If only you hadn’t just given the opposite order for no reason.
“It’s a suicide run”. It always was. That’s the point. Thank fuck Poe Dameron wasn’t in charge of Yavin or Endor.
How is Finn’s sacrifice different to Holdo’s sacrifice? Why is that one good but this one bad? It’s another Rian Johnson Arbitrary Plot Device™
Whatever the cockpit of Finn’s skimmer is made from they need to make everything out of that. His skimmer is melting everywhere else, the 10 meter thick door is melting all the way through, but he’s still fine for his hero moment.
Of course what is the point of all of a door when there are multiple tunnels into the mine that the troopers can run through? I mean they can’t get the ludicrously oversized walkers in there, but the guy with the Force and the lightsaber could probably do some damage maybe?
Rose retreats with everyone else when given the order by Poe. Finn pushes his speeder to maximum acceleration to ram the cannon. Rose somehow circles back and intercepts Finn with extra magic afterburners powered by love.
“I saved you”. No you doomed everyone. Well done. And still lippy about it. Love is what wins wars? No it’s big guns and troops. “Not fighting what we hate, but saving what we love”. More heavy handed symbolism.
Did we establish some sort of relationship between these two characters while I wasn’t looking? Did they bang on the way back from Canto Bight or did this come out of nowhere?
If a speeder is 7.33 meters in length then Finn and Rose crash at least 500 meters from the tunnel entrance, and just in front of the First Order. He drags her back that distance without anyone challenging him or opening fire. Power of love baby, not even the First Order can fuck with that.
"The galaxy has lost all its hope. The spark is out." Luke returns. Heavy Handed Metaphor score - a million?
Rose is dying. The Resistance is doomed, there’s no way out. We’re at the lowest ebb. Everything is bleak. Somber music plays. Time for some trademark Hux slapstick comedy to lighten the mood!
“ARMITAGE HUX: Supreme Leader, don't get distracted, our goal....” Wow, it only took this long for Hux to have a semi-reasonable thought.
Also, presumably, Finn dragged Rose through the massive storm of fire directed at Luke, although there was no sign of this during the wide shot and no trail in the salt to indicate his path. Salt trails are extremely important, as Reave Johnson will go to great lengths to make clear.
Luke probably shouldn’t have stopped for that haircut.
There is no way a Porg is capable of flight
“KYLO REN: Bring me down to him. Keep the door covered and don't advance until I say.” Kylo Ren has taken over as chief idiot of the First Order, giving bad tactical decisions that make absolutely no sense. If only it were possible for Force people to fight other Force people while troops take an objective, where have I seen that before? Oh yeah, the Duel of the Fates where Padmé and her troops don’t politely wait until the duel is over and instead go and do their fucking jobs.
“POE: No, no. We are the spark that'll light the fire that will burn the First Order down.” Hey it’s that metaphor we keep using!
Luke’s heroic sacrifice is arbitrarily good. THE JOHNSON HAS DECREED!
“POE: Skywalker's doing this so we can survive. There's gotta be a way out of this mine. Hell, how did he get in here?” He’s a magical space wizard, that’s how. Also the director has gone to extraordinary lengths to show that he didn’t actually sneak in. Force ex machina to the rescue.
What exactly was the plan here? You wanted to wait for the First Order to get bored and go away, but that didn’t work. Now you’re sending a distress call to your “allies”. Do those allies have a massive fleet of capital ships? Because it looks like you need a massive fleet of capital ships. I don’t see how a couple of smugglers and a Force powered chimney sweep are going to help you out here.
“POE: Follow me” “LEIA: What are you looking at me for?” Because you’re the general, this is your show, and Dameron is a captain now because you demoted him and you told nobody to listen to him. That might be why.
“I will have killed the last Jedi”. Which is the name of the film…
The hair, the outfit, Anakin’s lightsaber, the slow motion close up of Luke’s foot sliding on the salt. The fact that you had an entire sequence on a salt covered planet just for this one shot. This is a ludicrously long and convoluted setup to show that you’re so clever in presaging that Luke was never actually there. If you had put this level of effort into any other portion of the film…
Does anyone know if they’re called the Rebels or the Resistance? Kylo says Resistance. Luke says Rebels. Can we settle on Resisty?
Luke Skywalker, Jedi Master, uses an incredible amount of the Force to send a projection across the galaxy to duel Kylo Ren. The effort is so taxing that he’s dying from doing it. But it’s incredibly important that he holds out just a little bit longer to maintain a projection of the dice that Han Solo used to hang in the Falcon just to piss off Kylo Ren.
“D’ARCY: when we get to the Outer Rim I have a contact there”. Your contacts just told you to go fuck yourselves. What changed in the last 23 seconds?
Also the official documentation for the film specifies that Crait is in the Outer Rim. This is like saying “after we flee Brisbane , when we get to Queensland I have a contact there”.
Luke’s mechanical arm disappears along with him, or it would have pinned down his robe. Even though that doesn’t make any sense, we went through that looking glass a long time ago.
Rey closes the door on Ren. What’s the Heavy Handed Metaphor score up to?
Chuck in another Resistance/Rebel mixup to close out the film.
“REY: How do we build a Rebellion from this? LEIA: (puts her hand on Rey's and smiles) We have everything we need.” What the fuck just happened? You’re at exactly the same point in the story as when A New Hope started. You’ve just nullified every film in between. Worse even, as the previous Rebellion had more people than could fit on a freighter. This is the worst that everything has ever been.
The kids are telling the story of the Battle of Crait. Which was a resounding defeat for the rebels, Resistance, whoever. Luke Skywalker died. Roughly 90% of the Resisty, over 350 people, died with him. Now you’re spinning this into a win? Are you Trump? And how did you hear about this? Did the Falcon run back to Canto Bight because the Resisty was so well received there last time so you could give them the script for a puppet show?
I’m pretty sure if you can telekinetically summon a broom you can escape from a slave situation run by people who couldn’t stop a sudden breakout of camels.
248. Two hundred and forty-eight. That is 1.63 flaws per minute. Like I said, you don't accidentally make something this bad.
It isn’t just incompatible with The Force Awakens, or even the previous Star Wars films, there are numerous times when this movie directly contradicts itself. How can you place the hopes of an entire series of films in the hands of a man who cannot maintain continuity from scene to scene? It breaks continuity multiple times in the opening crawl.
Rian Johnson needed this movie to be about two characters - Rey and Ren. To that end they’re the only ones who are allowed to be competent. Everyone else is reduced to being an idiot to make these shoehorned plot points work. It relies on everyone making the dumbest move possible so that Rey and Ren can do their thing.
Rey was a problematic character to begin with and Johnson just made it worse. In storytelling there is something known as the “try/fail” cycle. For a character to grow they need to be challenged and sometimes they need to fail that challenge, in order for them to be motivated to grow and overcome and for that growth to be believable. Rey has none of that at all. If Rey wants something she gets it. If she tries something she’s good at it. When she has to inevitably confront Kylo Ren in the next film, which is something that Johnson has railroaded the script into with his lack of vision, there is no dramatic tension. The first time she picked up a lightsaber she beat him. The second time she had a fight she saved him, while warding off a half-dozen of Snoke’s elite troops. She wins at everything.
So when she confronts Kylo Ren where is the dramatic tension supposed to come from? She has become exponentially more powerful with every scene, by the time Episode IX rolls around she’ll basically be Thanos without the Infinity Gauntlet. What if Luke had beaten Vader on Bespin. Beaten him soundly? How much does that change the tone of Return of the Jedi?
People don’t hate Rey because she’s a woman, and they don’t hate Daisy Ridley for playing her. They hate Rey because she’s a poorly written character and, in my personal estimation, she was written poorly because both JJ Abrams and Rian Johnson were too scared to write her well. Because a good character needs to fail and they didn’t want to make a woman seem weak, even for a moment. That’s what chauvinism actually looks like - being condescending to a character because she’s a woman.
Finn serves no purpose in this film. At all. If you cut all of scenes out the movie does not change in any way. In The Force Awakens his character arc was about him finding purpose. At the start all he wanted was to run away from everything, then he discovers friendship; then, after a hand-to-hand battle with a member of his old order, he realises that there is more to life than selfishness and that sometimes you have to fight for what’s right - a moment he achieves when he grabs the lightsaber and takes on Kylo Ren, someone he has no chance of surviving against, to save his friend and save the galaxy.
The Last Jedi opens with Finn wanting to run away from everything. Then, after discovering a friend he realises that there is more to life than selfishness and sometimes you have to fight for what’s right. He then enters hand-to-hand combat with a member of his old order and he realises that sometimes you have to sacrifice everything for the greater good - something he tries to do at the end of the film but is thwarted by an idiot.
Rose also serves no purpose in this film other that to facilitate Rian Johnson’s ridiculous space casino subplot. She tells you that certain people are bad, because she says so, then she complains for a while and finally dooms everyone because she fell in love with a guy she met a day ago and never really established a relationship with. If you cut her out of the film entirely nothing would change.
Poe, the loveable rogue from The Force Awakens, is back. But if you loved him for being a wisecracking fighter ace who used his humour to get him through some dark situations then you’re sure in for a surprise when we take away his fighter and make him depressed through the whole film. He does at least have a character arc though. At the start he’s seen making rash and impulsive decisions that, while accomplishing their objective, result in many casualties. At the end of the film he’s making rash and impulsive decisions - OUT OF NECESSITY THIS TIME, THAT’S IMPORTANT OK, IT'S DIFFERENT THIS TIME - that result in many casualties but DON’T accomplish their objective. What a storyteller.
Armitage Hux, the face of a true believer in the First Order and their military leader. In this film he’s a whiny imbecile at best and at worst the frequent butt of slapstick gags. The entire trilogy is now sorely lacking in legitimate antagonists and threats and you turned one of them into Carrot Top.
Holdo? I’m not exactly sure what her function is. Instead of telling people that there’s a plan she maintains secrecy for no apparent reason and just tells them to have hope. When they lose hope because they’re not aware of a plan she doubles down. She allows a mutiny to happen, which jeopardises her plan, directly placing Finn and Rose in danger and indirectly endangering the entire Rebelistance because she’s too dumb to tell anyone her dumb plan and Poe is too dumb to figure it out. But everything is OK because she does an about face at the end and it turns out she was a nice person all along. Then she watches hundreds of her comrades get murdered for a while before she does anything about it. All of this means we’re supposed to care about her character apparently.
Captain Phasma, the cold-hearted badass in chrome armour who obviously had an amazing backstory and incredible potential as a much needed antagonist going forward? Yeah she dies ignominiously when she falls into a flaming pit after Finn says a line from an 80’s action movie. She has less screen time than the space camels. (Yes I know they’re called fathiers). Strong female characters, that’s what Lucasfilm and Disney bring you.
Leia does nothing in this movie. Oh but she’s the strong female lead - shut up. Leia in the Original Trilogy was a fucking badass who made things happen. In ANH she led her own rescue, in ESB she was the last to evacuate Echo Base and in ROTJ she strangled a crime lord to death, led a crucial commando mission, befriended a native tribe without the need for a translator and then started one-shotting stormtroopers while nursing a blaster wound.
In The Last Jedi her scenes are, in order: disagree, make a bad joke, look mournfully at a screen, sigh, disagree, give bad tactical advice, sigh, give bad tactical advice, fly through space like Mary Poppins, give bad tactical advice, sigh, give a bad joke, laugh mournfully, look mournfully out a window, sigh, look mournfully out of a hangar bay, laugh mournfully, sigh, make a bad joke, look mournfully into the middle distance and, finally, try to act reassuring while looking mournful and sighing. Way to send Carrie out, what a legacy.
Luke is...well he fucked Luke up as bad as you can possibly fuck up a character. I’d need another 20 pages just on how poorly Luke was handled. As a quick summary, somewhere in the intervening 30 years between ROTJ and TLJ Luke turned his back on everything, forgot everything he learned and did a complete 180 on his entire character arc from the most beloved movie trilogy of all time. Why did he do this? Because he saw that his teenage nephew was having some emotional issues and naturally decided to murder him, turning him into an incredibly powerful Dark Lord. Then instead of dealing with that, as the only person capable of dealing with that, he ran away to leave everyone else to clean up that mess, because he’s obviously never gone out of his way to save someone from the Dark Side before.
Eat a fucking dick Johnson.
The only interesting character in the entire film is Kylo Ren. Ben Solo is a genuinely conflicted character who is wrestling with the light and dark aspects of his heritage. He has done great evil, and it has torn at him. He wants to be good and that also tears him apart. His path is not set, something we’ve never truly seen in a Star Wars film before. An evil character actively looking for redemption who cannot escape the grasp of a more powerful dark figure. But now, because Rian Johnson wanted to throw both middle fingers up at the fans, there’s only one possible outcome for Kylo Ren. He confronts Rey and loses.
Instead of them teaming up to take Snoke, or Rey joining Snoke while he turns back or any other interesting plot device, there’s now only one inevitable conclusion. Johnson has written the next film into a corner because he couldn’t stand the thought of someone finding him predictable. It’s the Tragedy of Darth Johnson the Dickhead - he couldn’t stand the thought of not being original and in his desperate attempts for originality he created the most cliched scenario imaginable. Ironic.
Don’t worry, I’m not hurting Rian’s feelings here - he’s never seen a Star Wars movie before and wouldn’t get the reference.
Every character is an idiot. Every plot point relies on those idiots doing the dumbest thing they can think of at any given moment in order for some plot to happen. It’s like a ten-way Three Stooges sketch that’s set in space and drags on for two and a half hours.
What’s more, it has left the next film in such a hole I don’t even know where you’d start to fix it. I fix scripts for a living and I don’t even know where you’d start. For fun I’ve written spec scripts for this, for Kenobi, for a Fett movie - just to keep the pen moving - and I don’t have a clue how you’d even begin to fix this nonsense. It went nowhere and added nothing.
My side business is script punchup. It’s a common process for virtually everything you see on screen or television to go through a process called “punchup” or script doctoring. Where people look over the script and highlight flaws and areas of improvement - you cut, tweak, move and polish because nothing ever comes out fully formed.
I’ve had the same thing done to me and it hurt. A lot. Whole segments that I love to death had to be cut for the sake of the show and it’s depressing. But it needs to be done. In The Last Jedi it obviously wasn’t done.
I picked up over a hundred plot flaws in my first viewing (at midnight no less) and more than doubled it on actually reading the script. It is clear that nobody but Rian Johnson ever looked at that script before it went into production, and for a $200m movie, a $4 billion franchise and 41 years of history that is fucking terrifying.
What hurts the most is not just that this film is an objective nonsense, and a subjective steaming pile of shit - even though it is. What hurts the most is that between this, the lacklustre The Force Awakens and the nonsensical gibberish that was Solo, we’ve lost a lot of very good Star Wars stories.
When the then Expanded Universe was kicked off by Timothy Zahn there was a golden age of epic Star Wars tales. This collective of authors wove tales of post-ROTJ Star Wars of such flair and elan that would make Rian Johnson weep if he had a shred of introspection about him. Not only did these authors demonstrate not just a willingness to respect the boundaries placed on them by the source material, they thrived under these conditions.
They took the elements they were given, stood on the shoulders of giants and wrote great stories with incredible ideas.
Admiral Thrawn, for example. The real one, not the bowdlerised version in Rebels. A villain who was so smart and competent he was seemingly invincible. He found flaws in his opponents by studying what art they liked, giving him an insight into their psychology. Instead of just yelling what was happening in front of him.
Thrawn’s first mate, Pellaeon. A loyal servant of the Empire, but also a deeply conflicted figure. A good man on the wrong side and his exploration of what Obi-Wan might have called “a certain point of view”.
Mara Jade. A Force powered assassin trained by the Emperor himself to kill Luke Skywalker. Over dozens of novels we see them go from the enemy of my enemy, to grudging allies, to friends, to - in one incredible and unforgettable scene - soulmates.
Jaina Solo. Pilot, Jedi, Mandalorian warrior trained by Boba Fett himself. Who has to reluctantly kill her twin brother after he falls to the Dark Side and declares himself Emperor.
Jacen Solo, whose fall is so believable and tragic - and logical - that his death has a real emotional impact.
Wedge Antilles, the only man with two Death Star patches, and his efforts to mould the next generation of the defenders of the New Republic.
Corran Horn. Mirax Terrik. “Face” Loran. Ton Phanan. Prince Xizor.
Ann Crispin’s Han Solo origin story that actually made him the believable jaded thug with a deeply buried heart of gold we met at the start of A New Hope, instead of the caricature in Solo.
Luke Skywalker, Jedi Master. Who fell to the Dark Side and came back. Who trained a new generation of Jedi. Who redeemed some and failed others and never stopped trying. Who never stopped believing. Who had his wife murdered by his nephew AND STILL TRIED TO SAVE HIM.
These are the stories we lost when the new films rendered them "Legends". Good stories. Now buried under a deluge of half-arsed bullshit.
These storytellers, real storytellers, show the true depths of The Last Jedi’s failure. These people took the universe that George Lucas created, and with love and care, built upon it. They grew it. They didn’t burn it to the ground in a tantrum of raging ego.
Johnson was a terrible choice for this film. His back catalogue is small and sketchy, and his ability to write is on par with most fan-fiction, but moreover he has never been shy about his views regarding filmmaking. He has a desperate need to be seen as an auteur, as some kind of genre defining creative genius and he views controversy as an endorsement of his philosophy. He’s said himself that the sign of a great movie is an equal amount of people loving and hating it. That isn’t a promising proposal.
However the worst part is that he is clearly unwilling to work within the confines of an artistic universe that someone else has created. You can see him chafe at any external ideas - everything must be driven by his own ego.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this attitude - art is driven by ego. But it demands that you work exclusively with your own intellectual property. Rian Johnson is incapable of doing this. He can’t bring himself to play with other people’s toys and if he can’t have things his way he’s quite willing to break them all to prove a point.
The fact that no one picked up on this before the movie is shocking, but what is inexcusable is that nobody stopped him during it. The whole script feels like a first draft that had no external input. Daisy Ridley and Mark Hamill were rumoured to have questioned the tyrant but were swiftly brought into line and by that point, it’s too late.
Stephen King’s first rule of writing is “kill your darlings” - you need to make hard choices for the good of the story. The Last Jedi is nothing but darlings. It’s 152 minutes of Rian Johnson masturbating and throwing his faeces on the people who enjoy art that he didn’t create.
I know a thing or two about being an egotist who is unwilling to compromise. It’s how I approach my comedy - my way or the highway. That’s how Rian Johnson approaches film. But it’s also the same reason that I only do my own shows - I’m not going to drag down everyone’s night because I’m unwilling to compromise, I don’t put myself in that position.
This has hurt my career, but it seems to have launched Rian Johnson’s. Perhaps my magnanimous approach is the incorrect one?
Finally I think it’s time for the concept of the writer/director to die. Sometimes it works well, but more often you get a jack of all trades and a master of none. Writing and directing are specialist talents. If you can do both, great. Good for you, shine on you genius. But it shouldn’t be expected.
Take a look at the top movies of all time on IMDB. The Godfather wasn’t written by Coppola. The Shawshank Redemption wasn’t written by Darabont. Schindler’s List wasn’t written by Spielberg.
I’m a writer. I know how to write. I’m not a director, if I were asked to direct a film I wouldn’t have a fucking clue what I was doing. Rian Johnson found himself in a similar situation and he was found wanting.
By all means you’re free to like The Last Jedi if you want to. It did have...you know I can’t even think of anything to use as an olive branch here. Please don’t try and tell me it’s a good movie. It isn’t. It is an objectively bad film and I’ve just provided 27 pages of evidence to prove it. If you feel you can rebut that, then by all means let’s dance, but perhaps Occam’s Razor here is to admit that it’s a piece of shit.
Episode IX releases some time next year. At the time of writing that release date is up in the air, because JJ Abrams is having trouble figuring out just how to deal with the absolute fucking mess he was left with and for once I don’t blame him. There is no fixing this. Rian Johnson has done what nothing has managed to do before - ruin Star Wars. Possibly forever. Whatever the next film does won’t be able to mend the damage that’s been caused, the best it can hope for will be to staunch the bleeding.
And for the first time ever, I won’t be seeing it.
If you made it this far, well done. May the Force be with you.