I liked The Force Awakens, though I wished it hadn’t followed the plot of A New Hope so closely. I was a little worried, then, that The Last Jedi would similarly mimic the main beats of The Empire Strikes Back. While there are definitely some nods to the Battle of Hoth, Yoda teaching Luke, and Vader’s “join me” speech, this does feel like a truer sequel than a remake. I’m conflicted if I would call it a “good” sequel, though. There’s a lot of time spent spinning its wheels. Most of the movie takes place in only two locations: Luke’s island and a rebel ship. And the people in both locations don’t really have much to do while they wait for the plot countdown.
To break up the feet-dragging, the movie does send Finn on a ridiculous side quest to find some hacker dude. It’s the most pointless and random adventure, though. This was when The Last Jedi started channeling the prequels, knowingly or not. In fact, the whole movie reminded me a little too much of Episodes 1-3. Gaudy set design, goofy animals, out-of-place humor, suddenly overpowered droids… Seriously, BB-8 was doing the kind of wacky shtick that R2 was doing in the prequels. I kinda… don’t like BB-8 anymore. Sadly, that’s true for most of the new characters. Finn, Poe, Snoke, and Phasma (again!) are pretty much wasted here.
I still don’t know how I feel about Rey, either. She’s too powerful, and I never feel like she’s in danger. She does start to develop a pretty interesting connection to Kylo Ren, though. I was really hoping they would have explored that more. Kylo is a deeply troubled character, and it’s so hard to tell (but in a good way) what side of the Force he’s on. But with Rey, it’s like they’re too scared to push her into the same gray area, so by the end, it’s back to the status quo of clearly good versus clearly evil. I was ready for the new Star Wars movies to start taking some real risks, but it seems like they played it safe again. Oh well, at least the action sequences were pretty cool!