Josh and Violet share their spoiler-free male vs. female perspective reviews of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, written and directed by Rian Johnson, starring Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, and many more!
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Violet’s Movie Review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi:
Star Wars: The Last Jedi debuted with massive numbers, as expected — $220 million domestically, which is the second largest opening ever (behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens with $247 million). Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, and Domhnall Gleeson, among others, returned to their respective roles, while we also saw the introduction of new characters played by Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern, and the relatively unknown Kelly Marie Tran. But it also debuted to massively polarized reviews. Although the critic reviews have been largely positive, currently at a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, fan reviews have not been so positive, with a 51% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. I feel like people have some really strong opinions about this movie, either shouting from the rooftops that they loved it, or telling anyone who will listen that they hated it.
Whenever I write a Star Wars review, I feel like I have to talk about my history with the franchise, to give readers a context of where I’m coming from. So I’ll start off with that. Growing up, I remember having an awareness of what Star Wars was, and I have vague memories of having seen the movies. But I didn’t own the VHS tapes, so they’re not movies that I watched over and over again and know by heart. I saw Episode I in high school when it was in theaters, and remembered it fairly well, but for all intents and purposes, other than Episode I, I hadn’t really seen the films to the point I could remember them until the last few years. (I know, blasphemy.) Therefore, I don’t really have the feelings of nostalgia that many Star Wars fans have, and feel like I’m more of an objective viewer than most.
That being said, before I get into what I thought about The Last Jedi, here’s a quick rundown of the plot. We pick up where we left off at the end of The Force Awakens, with Rey having tracked down Luke with the intention of bringing him back with her to help the Resistance fight back against the First Order. However, this turns out to be a task easier said than done. Meanwhile, the Resistance is trying to hold off the First Order’s attacks, and certain members set out on a daring plan to aid in their escape. Along the way, we learn why Luke is on this island, discover information about Rey’s parents, and find out more about Kylo Ren’s backstory, while others embark on their own adventure.
We were among the first to see The Last Jedi, having seen it at a 6:00pm showing on Thursday, December 14. At that point, the other reviews I had heard about were the positive critic reviews. When I walked out of the theater, I felt that I had liked it, but didn’t love it. I was surprised to hear how much Josh disliked it, but I could see where he was coming from. I, too, had some issues with a few of the story elements, though I was able to defend a couple of the things Josh pointed out that he disliked. On the other hand, I agreed with some of the things he disliked. Little did we know that about half the fan response would be as negative, and even more negative, than his initial reaction. But we felt that we needed to go back and see the movie a second time before we could properly review it, so we did.
After my second viewing, I came out of The Last Jedi liking it more than I did the first time. I felt like I understood certain things better than I had the first time around, and was able to appreciate it more. Plus there are some pretty epic scenes that I enjoyed watching again, especially a certain lightsaber scene (if you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about!) But should a good movie have to require repeat viewings to get you to like and understand it? In any case, it did have some great visuals, and as has come to be expected of Star Wars movies, an amazing score, with composer John Williams at the helm once again. Indeed, as part of our special “Opening Night Fan Event” screening, we were treated to a nice short prior to the movie highlighting John Williams’s contributions to the franchise over the past 40 years.
I still had some of the same issues with a few of the story elements though, even after the second viewing. Plus, in a couple of instances, certain acting bothered me even more than before. I looked for certain chemistry and still found it to be lacking in some cases, although in other cases I still saw the same chemistry that I had before. I still felt that the humor may have come off a bit strong for a Star Wars movie in some places, particularly the opening scene, where I almost felt like I was watching Spaceballs.
But overall, I enjoyed The Last Jedi and had a fun time watching it. The film used the Force in some new and exciting ways never seen before, as well as in familiar ways, which pave the way for some interesting developments in future Star Wars films. I also appreciate the continued use of females in positions of power, competent females who know how to be strong leaders and do what needs to be done, despite males thinking that they know better.
My rating: 7.75/10
Josh’s Movie Review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi:
It took me a while wrestling with Star Wars: The Last Jedi to determine what I thought of it. If I had written my review the night I saw the film, I would have lambasted the film. I really disliked the film the first time I saw it. I would go off on tirades with friends, Violet and co-workers about the problems I had with it. Then I saw the film a second time. After seeing it the second time and simmering on the film some more, I finally am ready to put some thoughts to paper (or digital paper I guess).
The Last Jedi is a stunning looking film for the most part. The various rebel and First Order ships look amazing. The various environments we see look pretty authentic. Disney certainly spared no expense on making the film look amazing. There is one scene in particular that is so amazing, it will probably be one of the most iconic scenes in the Star Wars universe going forward. Those who have seen the movie already probably know which scene I am talking about, it is that visually stunning. That is not to say that I didn’t have problems with the film in this regard though. To me, Star Wars is supposed to feel like a massive universe, filled with hundreds of various planets, but to me, the film felt like it took place in a fictional world, meaning I didn’t feel as though I was transported to the universe of Star Wars. When watching the original trilogy, or the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I feel like those are worlds that could exist. To me, The Last Jedi doesn’t have that same magic.
Acting was certainly top-notch for The Last Jedi as well. Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, and the rest of the cast all were excellent in their roles. Despite having issues with character decisions, it had nothing to do with the performances of the actors.
This brings me to my biggest problem with The Last Jedi. The problem I have with the film stems from The Force Awakens, indirectly. Fans critical of The Force Awakens were disappointed because the movie followed A New Hope fairly closely beat for beat. That fan response, to me, feels like it heavily influenced the making of The Last Jedi. What I mean by this is that The Last Jedi took me out of itself because the movie tried to make several “left turns” in it, which I felt were done intentionally to attempt to provide a “shock” factor to the audience. But when those actions are looked at from a story perspective, they either add nothing to the story, or even harm it. Unfortunately, it is hard to convey these ideas without spoilers, but it is a big part of why the film is not as good as I think it could be.
At the same time, there are several story points I thought were done really well. Seeing Rey struggle with her newfound abilities and how to develop them was very interesting. Seeing the conflict in other characters also moved the story forward in interesting and compelling ways. Despite my disagreeing with decisions made in The Last Jedi, there is still plenty that I want to see in this universe and how it will move forward.
So final judgment on this film is tough because of the fact I needed a second viewing of the film to reconcile the story points that really irked me the first time around. I also still struggle with how my expectations, pre-viewing assumptions, and future story points in the next films are affecting my thoughts on the film. Every Star Wars film has such a high bar to live up to, when considering how iconic the original trilogy is, and how awful the prequels are generally thought of. Every Star Wars film is critiqued for every little thing that a fan disagrees with, at a much higher degree than practically any other film does.
Having said that, I think several of the story elements in this film would bother me whether it was a Star Wars film or not, specifically because I can think of other films that make similar decisions and those films also have been very frustrating to me. Given that, I think the film would sit at about a 7 for me. It is certainly worth watching. We see some excellent moments one would expect in a Star Wars film—fun space dogfights, lightsaber battles, various planet atmospheres, Empire and Rebel clashes, and of course Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker.
I guess as to who should see this movie? That is a very difficult question to answer. Some Star Wars fans I know loved/really enjoyed the movie, others thought it was the worst Star Wars movie ever. So I guess my final recommendation would be to see the movie and make up your own mind, if you have any Star Wars interest at all!