SPOILERS GALORE – you have been warned.

The Last Jedi has finally reached our shores[1]. What did I think of it? It was fantastic. But you’d probably expect that of me. However, I had briefly noted a few unhappy responses fans on social media and I (probably) can see why. I have not delved into further online reviews (bar one) nor fan YouTube rants prior to writing this post, but will do it after. Probably.

The story picks up exactly where we left off in VII with the Resistance packing their backs hurriedly from D’Qar with a rightfully pissed First Order arriving in orbit to see the Resistance’s decimation, while Rey is handing over Luke Skywalker his old lightsaber by that cliff on Ahch-To. I had seen the trailers prior to this and whilst deep inside I knew that the trailer edits were likely misdirecting the die-hard fans, I was still a tad worried about having some inkling of the plot. However, it didn’t matter as the story that unfolded before my eyes was still somewhat unexpected, which had been alluded in the pre-release interviews. Great editing for the trailers, though.

The most beautiful X-wing about turn in SW film history.

The story
There is a lot to take in when you watch TLJ, compared to the original trilogy and VII – prolly reminiscent of III, but more evenly paced. Which could explain the original 3 hour length prior to Rian Johnson’s final 2.5 hour cut. Like ESB, there were two stories running parallel in VIII, not so much that TLJ was written in deference to aforesaid ESB, but having the two of the three main characters had two separate destinies from the start meant that it would be inevitable that people would feel that this may well be another Empire.

Two paths – one for Rey and one for Finn.

Apart from the story being told in TLJ, exposition pertaining to the overall arc also need to be told, adding to the increasing amount of content in the story. In this case – what really happened between Luke and Ben Solo/Kylo Ren? I felt that seeing Luke’s human weakness in revealing only part of the whole story about Ben/Kylo to Rey was fresh in Star Wars. You could argue this would be akin to Obi-Wan Kenobi’s “what I told you was true but from a certain point of view” dialogue in ROTJ but Kenobi did it to protect Luke, and not out of regret. Initially, I did wonder if the truth of that fateful event in Solo’s Jedi training quarters could possibly make Ben/Kylo realise it was all a mistake that resulted from Luke’s own fears, which in turn may result in him forgiving Luke, and, err… then we could like not make do with IX. But Luke’s fear was indeed real, as revealed in Kylo’s wanting to rid of everything but his ideal for what the universe should be like, with Rey by his side. So, as Rey rightly said, Luke didn’t fail Ben.

Kylo Ren facing Luke on Crait. He no emo, he crazy.

I might be wrong here but I wonder if TLJ not satisfactorily answering the many burning questions asked after VII were part of the reason of some fans being unhappy. Rey’s non-illustrious parentage was one, and more importantly, how do we learn who the hell is Snoke – now that he’s… croaked after being bisected by a lightsaber? For the latter, either some elements of Snoke’s origins may come to light in IX, if at all, or some author has already got a book deal in doing a back story. Nevertheless, looking at the concept that the use of the Force shouldn’t now be limited to the realm of the Jedi as an institution, as alluded by Luke’s statement that the Jedi should be no more, we could see that we already have Force-sensitive characters introduced in the current trilogy’s canon[2] – namely Rey, Snoke and to some extent, Maz Kanata. Perhaps we are to see newer characters using the Force in IX that are not Jedi, or if Rey will represent the first neo-Jedi bereft of all the outdated rules of, say, celibacy and ‘only use the Force for defence’.

Rey picking up Luke’s lightsaber during her self-directed combat training, before the porgs got to it.

All that said, we still do not know how Luke’s missing lightsaber from Bespin came to Maz’s possession. It’ll be interesting how this will be revealed, if at all, in IX. And if it’ll be as significant to the overall story arc, or just a matter-of-fact story like Rey being sold by her folks to Unkar Plutt for drinking money.

A fathier stampede on the streets of Dubrovni… I mean, Canto Bight.

Canto Bight. This is one part of the story I am somewhat ambivalent about. Seeing where it fitted into the story in TLJ made sense but I almost (I’ll explain) agree with the fans who felt whether if this part of the story was at all needed, because it did kinda have that ‘was that it?!’ feel to it. On the other hand, finding the solution to breach the defence of Snoke’s mega star destroyer in-house would probably mean we see only three planets in the story as opposed to four, and keeping Finn stuck in the Mon Calamari cruiser like Poe for like two thirds of the story.

Rose and Finn observing the cruelty involved in the world of fathier racing.

Although the story doesn’t necessarily need a 007-esque many-countries-around-the-world feel to it, Finn and Rose Tico’s mission to seek help would still require them to go out somewhere to do so. I still find it hard to believe that Finn, as an ex-regular stormtrooper, would know details to vital locations in bringing the best tech the First Order (remember Starkiller base?) down by just being on cleaning duties. If that was the case, you could just kidnap a stormtrooper from Mos Eisley, inject truth serum and make him spill the beans on everything.

I can see Finn.

And how can I forget Captain “chrome dome” Phasma. We were hoping to see more of her in TLJ, and indeed she does more in this one with that fight scene with Finn, although her screen time was unfortunately prolly just as long as VII. I wonder in what incarnation she’ll be in when IX comes out, provided she survived that fall after the fight.

The comic relief
Too many laughs, some critics were saying, although I actually enjoyed them in this one. I do have to admit there were prolly a bit more laughs in this one compared to other episodes in the trilogies.

Porg co-pilot.

Those involving the porgs are a given – the kind of fun you’d get in the scenes with the like of the ewoks on ROTJ. Although, I fear that the bit where Hux was given a dressing down by Snoke after being humiliated by the dreadnought’s destruction and Poe Dameron’s “tooling” via the intercom on the star destroyer’s bridge was almost approaching the heights of Spaceballs. I didn’t mind the comic relief during Rey’s training, though. However, in TLJ, funny Luke is very, very Mark Hamill, if you know what he is like on talk shows or Star Wars celebration.

The surprises
Yoda. ’nuff said. And since he gave the green light to Luke to end it, that’s fine by me.

The future?
Another criticism of some fans of TLJ was where Johnson had brought the story to. I have to admit, the development in Rey’s and Kylo’s stories have gone pretty much further than I thought although the Resistance vs First Order aspect of the story is prolly just about right. Now, we only have IX left to deal with what happens next. I cannot imagine that IX will be told from the point immediately from where TLJ ends as it wouldn’t work if an end involving restoration of peace in the galaxy is needed by the end of this new trilogy. I’d imagine IX would be set, at the very most perhaps, a couple of years after TLJ as it would be more interesting if by then. Chronologically, in film time, the release of IX is four years after that of VII. And if this four years is translated into the time taken for the current trilogy’s story to unfold, we could see how much Rey/Kylo will have grown with the force (Rey’s got all the books she needed), how will Kylo lead the First Order, and how much the Resistance have increased its strength (it didn’t seem they could regroup as there was no response to their SOS on Crait, and the metaphoric ending of TLJ showed that any semblance of a rebellion to the First Order could well be a fledgling one).

Would Lucasfilm consider doing an LOTR two-parter of the final instalment? Or, more realistically, do a Clone Wars-like concept[3] in between TLJ and IX? Although it needs to be said, the later CGI animated Clone Wars (not the Tartarkovsky ones) was done after ROTS, and that could still work as having Clone Wars-styled microfillers don’t necessarily have to have any bearing to the overall story arc.

This being Carrie’s last ever film brings a poignancy to the whole film.

Back to IX, another point would be Leia Organa. Due to the untimely passing of Carrie Fisher, I wonder how the writers of IX are going to omit her character in the final story. To me, Leia’s death somewhere along the storyline between TLJ and IX may well be the only option, which would strengthen the need for IX to happen a few years after TLJ. And speaking of deaths, Luke’s passing to the ethereal realms of the Force may not mean the end of Hamill’s involvement in the franchise. I’d welcome IX containing Hamill with a Force ghost cameo then.

Now, where’s that training remote.

I thought this was a good story. I can see where Johnson had taken some risks with it, but I don’t think he messed up what George Lucas had in mind with the main characters of the franchise[4]. With regards to complaints to how Johnson wrote TLJ, I’d like to ask if any of you had seen Wookieepedia? There is nothing wrong with the wiki concept but I had several glimpses of its convoluted content describing the expanded universe which for the most part had been relegated (ooooo!) to, *koff*… Legends. If the the then expanded universe is filled with Skywalker’s nephews, second cousins twice removed etc, I personally feel the writers at Lucasfilm can do what they want[5].

I am looking forward to see what will be revealed in IX. In the meantime, it’s time to await delivery of my TLJ books, orchestral soundtrack and porgs from Amazon. And to complete that Bandai Millennium Falcon I bought in Tōkyō before IX is out!

[1]A day later than the France and before the US and Japan.
[2]I am that fan that does mainly movies, and not much of the extended universe (except for the non-film Lucasfilm releases and Zahn’s three books). Although, I am aware there is a plethora of beings that are both Force-sensitive and non-Jedi out there.
[3]A live action series by Disney is being planned although there are no full details of it yet, and whether or not it is related to the events in TLJ, if at all!
[4]Lucas had said that the story included a third and final trilogy years ago, and we all knew that in the early 80s. However, he’d call it a day with just two trilogies after doing ROTS. However, this was what he originally came up with for the final trilogy – have a read.
[5]Within reason, of course. Good luck, JJ Abrams and Chris Terrio.