Monday Morning Movie Review: Portly’s Top Ten Worst Films: #1: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

Two weeks ago I started the review of my #2 pick, 2019’s The Rise of Skywalker, noting that the pick “probably is a bit of a giveaway as to my Number 1 pick.”

If that didn’t give it away, here’s the big reveal:  my #1 pick to end Portly’s Top Ten Worst Films list is 2017’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

The Rise of Skywalker was at least an attempt to right the severe wrongs of this film, which almost singlehandedly undid the entire legacy of the original Star Wars trilogy.  If you took all of the worst of identity politics and feel-good foolishness from the last decade and shoved it into a blender with Luke Skywalker, this piece of filmic garbage is the rainbow-colored sludge that would result.

Seriously, almost everything about The Last Jedi appears to be calculated to tick off as many diversity checkboxes as possible, while simultaneously ticking off as many fans as possible.  It has it all:  a purple-haired female admiral who stridently engineers the worst retreat in military history; an overbearing, tiresome, SJW maintenance worker, constantly preaching about injustice; an overpowered Mary Sue who never faces any real adversity; an emasculated Luke Skywalker, bitterly drinking green milk on a distant planet; ineffectual male leads, neutered by an anti-male script; and Princess Leia flying through outer space.

The film is tedious and joyless, sucking the fun out of Star Wars and turning it into a two-and-a-half-hour struggle session for social justice.

When I first saw The Last Jedi in the theater, I thought it was okay—very much the reaction I had to The Rise of Skywalker.  Sure, Rose Tico—the aforementioned tiresome maintenance worker—was strident and annoying, and Admiral Holdo—the purple-haired lady—was a terrible and vindictive leader, but there was still some fun planet hopping and the like.

But then the theater-induced haze of artificially-buttered popcorn and gallon-sized cups of Diet Coke dissipated, and I was left with a queasy, uncertain feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Rian Johnson directed The Last Jedi, which had the Internet all atwitter speculation about how he would “subvert expectations” with the film.  I liked Knives Out (2019), a fun and twisty mystery from the pie-faced director.  That was a great example of “subverting expectations” in a genre where it makes sense—mysteries are supposed to subvert our expectations.  After all, red herrings are a feature of the genre.

In a Star Wars film, however, that subversion should only go so far.  Sure, some fun surprises and twists are inevitable.  That does not, however, mean dismantling everything that made the original trilogy enjoyable, and undoing all character development from the original trio of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia.  Granted, J.J. Abrams turned Han Solo from a reformed rogue back into an aging recidivist, so the damage was already being done before Johnson showed up.  But then he took Luke Skywalker—a character who so believed in the Light Side of the Force, he managed to convert Darth Vader back to the Light—and made him a bitter recluse who attempted to murder his own nephew.

Wouldn’t Luke Skywalker have tried to save Kylo Ren (his nephew) when he noticed the troubled lad turning to the Dark Side?  Instead, it’s revealed that Luke tried to murder the boy in his sleep.

Luke, who went through a great deal of tragedy in the original films—tragedy that made him a better, stronger person by the end of the last film—somehow can’t manage to mentor a troubled youngster.  He also destroys the ancient Jedi texts on the urging of no other than Yoda (well, at least Yoda’s ghost), who speciously argues that they are meaningless gibberish that no one ever reads anymore, so they aren’t of any value to anyone.  It’s as if Rian Johnson is saying, “Here is what we think of your canon and your original trilogy—we have something new and better that doesn’t need them anymore.”

Luke does get to make the ultimate sacrifice near the end of the film, using his Force powers to save the Resistance and fade away into Jedi ghostliness.  Sacrifice, however, is old-school, as none of the new, “cool” characters are allowed to sacrifice for their friends.  Sure, audiences cheered when Admiral Holdo rammed her blockade runner straight into a Star Destroyer, but that was probably more because she was finally out of the picture.

Even the Big Bad—Supreme Leader Snoke—just turns out to be a meaningless figure, struck down in a scene that is admittedly cool, but also incredibly unsatisfying.  We learn nothing about this terrifying figure, and he’s brought down instantly when Kylo Ren pulls some Sith trickery.  It’s a cool scene, but, again, it’s meaningless:  we know nothing about this villain, and his death doesn’t matter to us.  It is shocking—it “subverts expectations”—and I remember gasping when it happened, but then I was thinking, “Wait a minute… that’s it?”

This entire film wrote the sequel trilogy into a corner—they kill off Luke, for example, but Princess Leia, who was already dead in real life (Carrie Fisher passed away during the filming), lives into the next film!—one from which J.J. Abrams had to yank the the finale, with mixed results.  It also marked the beginning of the social justice era of Star Wars and Disney, an era in which, sadly, we still reside.

Character arcs, character development, sensible plotting, meaningful sacrifices, realistic struggles—all of these went out the window in The Last Jedi.  With it went any credibility Star Wars had left.

For fans, that’s a hard blow to take.

4 thoughts on “Monday Morning Movie Review: Portly’s Top Ten Worst Films: #1: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

  1. Cheers mate. You must be feeling slightly relieved at having finished this list?

    I never intended to watch this film. I remember the originals, which I can just about cope with, and that’s how it will stay. I have no interest in watching Wokery destroy legacy films and characters.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Good stuff. 🙂

        I have my number 10 but have not yet started to write it. In the meantime, I’m going to have to watch a load of movies to decide the rest. Apart from one, which in my mind is the most perfect movie I’ve ever seen.

        We seemed to avoid each other’s choices in this list but it wouldn’t surprise me if some of your favourites are also some of mine – apart from 10 which will be hit and miss for some.

        Like

  2. By the way, a Twitter user (Robert Wilkinson) posted a Star Wars related joke this morning:

    ‘What does a Jedi’s broken roof do?

    Leak Skywater.’

    Like

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