Franchise Fred Review: The Last Jedi – The Force Mistaken

I am not particularly invested in the Star Wars franchise. I like the Original Trilogy but I did not grow up with an attachment to it so I know Franchise Fred’s is not the approval  they’re looking for.  Still, it should not be this hard to make a movie I like. It’s about people in space shooting lasers and fighting with swords made of pure light. Franchise Fred disapproves The Last Jedi.

Every moment where The Last Jedi almost takes a bold risk for the series, it undermines itself to maintain the status quo. To a certain degree, I get it. As a fan of other franchises, I don’t like it when they make big paradigm shifts just to be different. But when I love a franchise as much as Star Wars fans love this, I do want to see creative permutations.

So if you just want to see more space missions, The Last Jedi comes up with new ones. Perhaps if it were only trying to be an action movie, it would be entertaining enough. However, The Last Jedi really wants us to be as invested in Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac) and Kylo Ren’s (Adam Driver) stories as we were Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in the original trilogy. The amount of time The Last Jedi spends building up to character moments, only to have them back out of actual growth, weighs down the adventure.

Remember how Yoda fighting Count Dooku in Attack of the Clones blew everybody’s mind so much it made them forget that the preceding movie was Attack of the Clones. Now we’re used to seeing Yoda fight so it’s no longer enough to convince us that Attack of the Clones was good. The “Whoa” moments of The Last Jedi will eventually fade too and we’ll be left with the actual story of the movie.

There is less fan service by volume than The Force Awakens but the moments of fan service are much bigger. It’s not just seeing the Millennium Falcon emerge from the sand. Now it’s a major plot point hinging on the old thing.

I found the self-referential humor of The Force Awakens distractingly uncharacteristic for the series. Now I suppose it’s become characteristic and people like it. I still feel pulled out of a galaxy far, far away when they start to talk like modern day people. It’s going to date these movies hard once the slang changes in another decade or two. Slapstick is a little more universal. There’ve always been mishaps and pratfalls through time eternal.

There are some bright spots in The Last Jedi. Fans who have been waiting to see the further adventures of Luke Skywalker will be pleased to see him exhibit some moments of badass nonchalance. The red salt planet is a cool visual. Benicio del Toro has a fun character. But there are just as many empty spectacles. At one point there’s a green screen chase with the characters riding CGI creatures, so it’s not very engaging.

Perhaps The Last Jedi is intended for kids who have not seen thousands of movies with the same story before. That’s bogus because it’s obviously intended for 40-somethings who grew up with the originals too, but let’s stay on that track for a paragraph. Even if it’s only for the kids, it’s still kids who have seen eight other Star Wars movies before. I suppose as a kid I was never blessed to have a franchise nine movies deep to complain about. Those are champagne Franchise Fred problems, but I would have caught on by part three or four that all they’re doing is going back and forth with an empire and a rebellion over and over and over again. Even the most formulaic James Bond movies have a different maniac with a different plan to take over the world and James Bond has different gadgets to stop him.

The Last Jedi will teach kids that there are better solutions than flying off to war guns blazing. That is a valuable message. It just won’t teach them good narrative. Ultimately, it’s not a big deal if I don’t like a Star Wars movie. It would’ve been a pleasant surprise if I had, but I’m glad the people who live for Star Wars are happy. I’ve got my James Bond, Rocky, and Furious franchises.

Written by
Fred Topel also known as Franchise Fred has been an entertainment journalist since 1999 and specializes in writing about film, television and video games. Fred has written for several outlets including, CraveOnline, and Rotten Tomatoes among others. His favorite films include Toy Story 2, The Rock, Face/Off, True Lies, Labyrinth, The Big Hit, Michael Moore's The Big One, and Casablanca. We are very lucky and excited to have Fred as part of the We Live Entertainment team. Follow him on Twitter @FranchiseFred and @FredTopel

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  1. The new star wars are garbage compared to new hope and empire strikes back. sad they share the name.

  2. Oh my God! I completely agree with your review! Most of the time i was watching the movie I never felt it was a “star wars” movie, but then some elements came up and reminded me it was! I hate the disneyfication of the franchise( expect for rogue one which was very serious and could of been even more darker if only disney would of let it), I hate the stupid and childish humor and scene put into the movie, and the story in my opinion was pretty boring( especially the casino part). The characters were under developed and boring…

  3. If anyone is to be blamed, it’s Rian Johnson. Disney gave carte blanche to the directors to shape this as well as they can. He wrote and directed this.

    And this is what we get. A completely neutered story that by the end is back to square one. Star Wars always had humor in them and it works but in this one, it was clunkily executed and quite infantile.

  4. The sad thing is he was perfect to make a “dark” Movie kind like Empire strikes back, looper was such a good movie and then he makes this mess??
    The only time star wars forced us with humor is when they introduced Jar Jar, and we all know how that worked out.

  5. I also agree completely with you, especially on the distracting modern humor and language. Five minutes into it, I was shrinking down into my seat thinking, ‘oh no, not another Ragnarok!’ DX I am very, very disappointed in this movie, and I saw the original in 1977, as a teen. So…I remember when SW was good.

  6. “Every moment where The Last Jedi almost takes a bold risk for the series, it undermines itself to maintain the status quo”

    100% agree, I think in time it will come out that the director and/or authors wanted to use this movie to turn the whole franchise upside down, the breadcrumbs are all there in the first half of the movie, but someone intervened and turned it into a run of the mill star wars film.

    That’s why I was angry about this episode in particular. They actually set the stage to do something different yet ended up right back with the same old conflicts every single other installment explored.

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