With Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker just under a week away, Star Wars fans and casual audiences are going to start watching or re-watching Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi. But for some Star Wars fans, The Rise of Skywalker is not on their must watch list. In large part, this is due to their strong dislike (loathing?) of The Last Jedi. For the other fans and casual audiences, this raises the question: why do Star Wars fans not like The Last Jedi?
Part of the confusion comes from how well The Last Jedi actually did in the box office in 2017. The Last Jedi earned over 517 million dollars and is the eighth highest grossing movie of all time.
On top of that, other (more) popular movie review sites gave The Last Jedi overall good ratings. IMBD gives The Last Jedi a 7.2 out of 10 stars. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 91%.
Still, many Star Wars fans (possibly former Star Wars fans or “classic” Star Wars fans) denounce, at times vehemently, The Last Jedi. For those confused about these fans’ reactions, here are some of the main reasons many Star Wars fans do not like The Last Jedi.
Before I begin, I should clarify a few things about my own relationship with Star Wars. I am a long standing fan who grew up with the original trilogy on VHS, merchandising, and expanded universe. I was not born yet when A New Hope came out and was barely 2 when Return of the Jedi came out.
Still, some of my first memories of watching any movie include times when I would watch Return of the Jedi at my grandmother’s house. I don’t remember even knowing the title at the time. I just enjoyed the movie.
Star Wars captivated me. I would play pretend that included the use of the Force and other Star Wars themes and vehicles. I would make Star Wars vehicles out of Legos decades before the first official Star Wars Lego set came out. And I would read any novelization of Star Wars I could find.
In other words, I was a Star Wars nerd.
I also lived through the travesty that some called the “prequels.” To be fair, Revenge of the Sith was actually pretty good. But Episodes I and II not only failed to live up to my hopes and expectations, they failed as overall movies.
But that’s OK. The prequels were not my story to write. I choose simply to only watch Revenge of the Sith, if I watch them at all. It does not take away from my childhood to learn that the prequel trilogy was pretty terrible.
The Last Jedi is certainly not my favorite Star Wars movie. It may rank above Episode I and II, but I don’t know if it does much better than that. For me, much of the plot felt forced and like The Empire Strikes Back played in reverse.
Unlike some fans, I have rewatched The Last Jedi now a few times. In part, this is to show my daughter Star Wars (its been one of the only ones on Netflix in quite some time and my other copies of the originals are all on VHS. That’s right, VHS, not DVD, not Blueray. V. H. S. For the younger readers, that is a video tape. It is a black rectangle that is placed inside of a device that is like a Blueray, only older and clunkier. These used to play movies a long, long time ago.). One thing I can say is that I appreciate the new trilogy contains role models for her in characters like Rey.*
*One minor update, I have started showing her the older Star Wars now with Disney Plus since they are all available to watch.
However, there are many potential reasons a Star Wars fan does not like The Last Jedi. Below are some of the potential reasons a Star Wars fan does not like The Last Jedi. Please note: these are all a matter of opinion. Your opinion may vary.
Why Star Wars fans do not like The Last Jedi
Bombers that had to be over target to work
For some unknown reason, a weapons dealer created a slow AF, directional based bomber unit to fight in space. I can accept they likely had a propulsion of some sort to “drop” them straight at their target.
But what’s bothersome is that they’d make a bombing system that required the craft to be directly over their target. Are you telling me an advanced civilization capable of all the hitting a target from parsecs away?
The bombers are the Star Wars equivalents to old World War II bombers that were slow, had to be over their target, and required a fighter escort. They even had a crew like a B-17 Flying Fortress would have had.
Fast forward in our galaxy to current times and stealth bombers can hit a target they are no where near. Missiles and projectiles have almost entirely replaced gravity based bombs.
We are no where near the technological level of Star Wars. Not to mention, any number of their laser weapons or missiles are shown to be massively more destructive… and effective.
What need would they have for slow moving bombers that have to be over their target? And more importantly, what numb-nuts designed those things?
Leia flies through space
You know the scene. An explosion in the bridge instantly kills most humanoids present and hurls Leia into space.
A few seconds later, her eyes pop open and she floats through space to return to her ship. She suffers a temporary period where she is in a coma.
Many older Star Wars fans hate this scene for two reasons:
- They believe Leia should have instantly died once she hit the vacuum of space or the explosion should have killed her
- Leia was never trained in how to use the force so how did she fly through space?
Similar to other fans, this scene bothers me, just not for those exact reasons. From everything I have read, it is possible to survive for about the length of time Leia did without dying or necessarily sustaining much bodily harm.
She would not have instantly froze (space is a vacuum, heat and cold don’t transfer easily in a vacuum).
It is more likely that air trapped in her lungs would have expanded rapidly damaging her lungs and possibly killing her. She would only lose consciousness after the amount of oxygen in her blood was depleted. If exposed to a star’s direct rays, she may also have suffered a massive sunburn.
So Leia would have had time to return to the ship.
I also can concede the point that maybe Leia did do some training in the force. Moving objects with the mind seems like one of the first lessons Jedi teach. Why couldn’t she move herself?
Maybe Leia learned how to move objects (herself included) with her mind.
My problem with this scene are the following points:
- How did Leia survive the explosion of the bridge without a scratch on her? How the hell did she not explode when the bridge was taken out? Or catch a large piece of shrapnel with her chest?
- How did they get her back in safely? The door she went through was not an outer hatch. If they even could open it due to the pressure difference, the vacuum would suck them all back into space as the pressure equalized.
- If the plot required her to be unconscious (which it did as one of Poe’s driving actions came from not trusting Leia’s number 2), why not just have her sustain an injury from the shock of the bridge exploding? She could have been on her on her way there when <boom!> uh oh, the bridge is gone and Leia is hurled back into a bulkhead.
The explosion of the bridge does not take out the main cruiser
I don’t see this one circulate much, but it bothers me so I’ll mention it. In every other Star Wars film, taking out the bridge cripples and ultimately allows for the destruction of even the largest ships.
By all accounts, both Leia and her ship should have died or been close to death when the TIE fighter destroyed the bridge. Essentially, it should have become crippled, stopped moving, and become an easy target to pick off.
Perhaps one of the advancements made since the other Start Wars films is back up bridges. I mean, its a pretty big design flaw to have the Achilles heel of all these ships so easy to find and destroy. You’d think they’d bury them deep inside the ship, since, you know, technology could allow it.
But then again, the Empire is not exactly known for its stellar engineering. Each one of its super weapons had a major weak spot after all.
Fuel is a central plot point
Fuel, or more precisely lack of fuel, is a central driver of the plot. The Resistance fleet is running on fumes and can’t jump to hyper space since the First Order can track them. The concept of fuel does not sit well with many fans as there is limited precedence for it.
Fuel is really only mentioned in a few spots. In Episode I, Qui-Gon mentions needing fuel and parts to make it back to Coruscant. Also, fuel plays a critical part in some Star Wars Rebels episodes. And there may be more I’m unaware of such as in more recent books. And most recently, to almost retroactively prove the point, Mando on the Mandolorian mentions the need for fuel.
Otherwise, power for the fleets is not really discussed. And though I am no expert on advanced energy sources, I always assumed that Star Wars fleets ran on advanced, renewable energy. In other words, more or less unlimited power unless damaged.
That theory makes a hell of a lot more sense. Could you imagine filling up a Star Destroyer? What about the Super Star Destroyer?
Or hell, what would it take to fill up the Death Star? I’d imagine that thing would be the Star Wars equivalent to a Hummer getting two light years to the gallon. And how many refueling stations would the Death Star possibly have to choose from?
In other words, fuel issues seems unlikely in the Star Wars universe and meant as a way to drive plots when desired. Such as in the Last Jedi, when the plot dictated it needed to.
Why did the First Order stop their assault on the Resistance fleet?
I know the lame reason given. The First Order fighters were out of range of the protection of the main fleet.
Slow AF capital ships offer virtually no protection for fast moving fighters. The First Order literally witnessed that no more than 2 or so hours ago when their beloved Dreadnought was taken down by a fast moving fighter and dumb AF bombers.
Their fighters protected the fleet. Not the other way around. The First Order fighters could have taken the whole Resistance fleet out in less than an hour, but no, they couldn’t “risk it.”
Meanwhile, in The Empire Strikes Back, Vader risks his entire fleet in the pursuit of the Falcon through an asteroid field. And, he ends up losing at least one Star Destroyer, several fighters, and at least one other captain who he kills for failing him.
And that is also ignoring the fact that they could have set up a blockade. How hard would it have been to send a force directly out in front of the Resistance fleet and then tear them to shreds?
Not hard. Pretty sure Johnson just wanted room to push his message about arms dealers as described below.
The subplot felt unnecessary and like an agenda
There is a time and place for both morals and political statements. Star Wars films contain both. But in most, they are an undertones and not super important to the plot.
The Last Jedi has an utterly pointless escapade with Finn and his new BFF Rose to go find a master code breaker. And the subplot felt forced.
It also felt like an obvious attempt to say how evil arms dealers (or super rich people playing both sides of the conflict) are because <spoiler alert> they sell to both sides.
My big question is: how did this revelation impact the plot? Is the Resistance going to boycott their arms manufacturers?
And more importantly, who in the weapons industry hurt you Rian Johnson? Show me on the doll where they hurt you.
A much better movie that handles the same topic well is Iron Man. The main difference is that the revelation that Stark Industries sells to both sides is a plausible, crucial to the plot revelation that sets the stage for the creation of Iron Man. It also drives Tony Stark to become something more and better.
I can appreciate that the subplot was designed to give Finn greater purpose, but it felt very forced. “Ohhhhh, I see! Rich people are bad! Thank you new BFF Rose! You opened my eyes! I can now be a hero!” – Finn (not an actual quote, but more or less what happens).
Luke’s character is out of character
When fans last saw Luke in Return of the Jedi, he was an annoyingly optimistic man who was confident there was still “good” in Vader. More so, he was confident that he could save him. And of course, Luke managed to squeeze a death bed confession and conversion out of Vader right before his father died.
In other words, he was right. And, more importantly, he succeeded in his mission.
He made the most feared and hated man in the galaxy turn from bad to good. There should be no task he didn’t believe he could accomplish.
Fast forward to the sketchy events with Kylo Ren. Luke has now transformed from an optimistic and driven person into a pessimistic, fearful man who is willing to kill his nephew over a vision of a possible future.
Who hurt you Luke? Show me on the doll where the bad men hurt you.
Needless to say, this made little sense to many Star Wars fans who would have liked to see a sage, but badass, older version of Luke ready to help train the next new hope. Very similar to Obi Wan or Yoda.
Instead they got a character who shared the name with one they loved. A bitter, old man who now drinks milk directly from a lactating alien creature and who is convinced the Jedi just need to die. These are concepts foreign to many older Star Wars fans. And they weren’t welcomed with open arms.
No adequate ending to previous generation heroes
Luke, Han, Lando, Leia, Chewie… None of them have satisfying continuations of their stories or decent conclusions in the new trilogy or The Last Jedi.
Luke has a bit part where he is barely recognizable to fans. Han returned to smuggling and lost his love interested in Leia. Both died, either on screen in the Force Awakens or off screen (Rest in peace Leia), before being reunited to go on one final adventure.
Lando has not made an appearance yet but is slated to appear in the Rise of Skywalker.
Chewie is still a copilot and Leia is still a general. Talk about a glass ceiling. Poor Chewie and Leia are both stuck in the same jobs now for 30 plus years.
Frankly, these films are probably 20 to 30 years too late to do a proper ending for the original gang.
But many fans felt robbed out of not seeing them all on one final adventure. Or seeing that what they did in Return of the Jedi meant something.
The suppression of a heroics doesn’t sit right
Another central theme throughout The Last Jedi is that heroic acts are bad. Like Luke’s character change, this is a major change from what the Rebellion of the previous trilogy was all about.
Imagine if these events didn’t happen in previous films because leadership didn’t want to risk lives or show someone there is more to leadership than taking a risk:
- assault on the first Death Star and trench runs
- battle of Hoth
- stealing plans for second Death Star
- assault on the second Death Star and Endor
- destroying the super Star Destroyer at the battle of Endor (pilot literally commits suicide to take it out)
- assault on Star Killer base
But in The Last Jedi, similar acts of heroism are condemned. Most of the movie shows Poe’s superiors reminding him that you can’t solve all problems with blowing stuff up in an X-Wing.
That’s odd. Literally every other major Rebellion or Resistance victory involved exactly that.
Also, if they are so unwilling to risk lives, why did they leave a captain on board each of the Resistance ships as they ran out of gas? Really? For a group so obsessed with not wasting lives, not one of them thought that autopilot would be a good option?
The question of lineage
From practically the opening scene in The Force Awakens fans have made guesses as to what Rey’s back story is.
Is she a Skywalker? Did they hide her to protect her from Kylo Ren? Is she the daughter of the Emperor or some other notable villain or hero?
Most fans assumed she’d have to be a Skywalker. Why? Because it fits with the Star Wars narrative up to this point.
Much to their disappointment, Rey turns out to be no one special. She is an outcast. A literally no one. But one who can rise to greatness. Just like the random stable boy on the casino planet who can yield the force.
So the greater theme that anyone can rise to greatness (not a fully terrible idea) is lost to the ravenous need to see Rey be a Skywalker or have some greater significance.
The Last Jedi certainly has its flaws. Many are open to interpretation. Though it may not be my preferred Star Wars movie, it is certainly not the worst. I literally cannot sit through Episode I listening to “meesah Jar Jar Binks” for the entire 2 or so hours. I would only want to watch for the lightsaber battle at the end.
Does The Last Jedi deserve so much hate? Probably not. Each Star Wars film, if we are to be fully honest, have some glaring flaws and/or features fans don’t like (Jar Jar, Ewoks, stale acting, etc.).
For another thoughtful perspective on The Last Jedi, you can check out this article.
I’m hopeful that The Rise of Skywalker will bring a successful conclusion to the saga and open the door to new possibilities… even if those new possibilities do not fully line up with my own desires for the film.