Deconstruction of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

Dominic Cokinis

The Context


“Star Wars: The Last Jedi (TLJ)” has either been critically acclaimed by critics for taking “daring risks in directing and storytelling” and for “[giving] us a breathtaking visual spectacle,” or blasted for creating new questions and problems, while not answering any previous ones since “Star Wars: The Force Awakens (TFA).” These two conflicting ideologies of the flim tore the fanbase apart, dividing it into two separate sides. 


The Characters

Now, Finn had a really good foundational exposition in TFA; a defective stormtrooper learns how horrific the First Order really is, turns away to the light side, and journeys toward a path of becoming a Jedi. This is a really good foundation to build upon for a new character introduction into the Star Wars universe, since we haven’t seen this done in film. Unfortunately,  the fans got baited into thinking this when the TFA trailer first dropped in 2015, displaying Finn wielding a lightsaber against Kylo Ren. Instead, we got a Finn who was another comedic relief character, only existing to get a mere laugh out of the audience, while downplaying the character and his purpose in the TFA and TLJ. Take for example the scene when Finn decides to flee the fight via escape pod. Another character, named Rose Tico, soon discovers what his intentions really are and easily overcomes Finn by knocking him back unconscious, in a goofy fashion. A few minutes later, Finn is tied up by Rose and begs her to release him and help him shut down the light speed tracking device on the leading First Order ship, The Supremacy. This scene alone degrades his ever shallow character development by displaying him as a coward who is also constantly in need of someone’s help, which downplays him as an established leader/hero in the film. Sadly, Finn’s character lacks the direction needed to push him into becoming a compelling character that audiences can relate to and enjoy. Instead, he is portrayed to be this goofy, clumsy, comedic relief of a character, who constantly needs to be rescued by the other characters around him. 


The Star Wars Universe

I’m all for expanding the uses and explanation of The Force, but when some new Force ability is introduced, there needs to be an explanation for why the technique should have a place in the Star Wars universe. The introduction of a new ability will bring forth many questions from the audience in order to better understand how the technique works and how it plays a part in the universe. TLJ decided to introduce, essentially, a Force Skype Call/Bond. This ability allows both users, in this case Kylo Ren and Rey, to be in each other’s environments in real time. The environment depends on whose perspective you are looking at. When Luke stumbles upon Rey Force Skype-Calling Kylo in his hut, he recoils in shock that Kylo is sitting right next to Rey, even though Kylo is on his ship at that moment in time. Kylo can still interact with the environment as well. This technique raises questions like, “Why couldn’t Kylo just Force Skype-Call Luke to find his location?” or “What is even the purpose of this technique?” or “How does one initiate this interaction?” Answers and explanations are rarely given, and when they are, it’s through the context of outside resources and not the film. It’s an interesting idea that could be introduced, but should it? This new force ability is basically as pointless as it can get, with no actual relevance in the Star Wars universe, while furthering the already devalued and overuse of the Force as a crutch tool for the sake of the plot. 


The Conclusion 

I can easily turn this review into a 10 page long deep-dive analysis on the film if I really wanted to. This film is an endless, untapped oil reservoir of flaws, illogical decisions, and lack of relevance to the core of the Star Wars story. It is very unfortunate and sad to see how poorly written and poorly executed the characters and the film was, regarding its storytelling and place in the Star Wars universe. This film fails to recapture the feeling of an actual Star Wars film created with passion and instead we are given a film devoid of life. This film also tries to recapture moments from “The Empire Strikes Back” while implementing new characters and ideas, but fails in execution, which in turn, makes this film a watered down version of what it could have been.