My take on the movie. Spoilers below the picture.
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI REVIEW
A Movie Can Still Be Good Even If Your Predictions And Expectations Were Wrong
I'll start this off by saying I loved the movie, and it's most likely my favorite Star Wars movie. I felt it had moments and shots that could be as iconic as some of the best of the original trilogy: Luke walking out alone to face off against a massive First Order force, Rose saving Finn, Leia USING THE FORCE, Rey and Kylo back to back, YODA, and more. It kept you guessing the entire time, and upended your expectations in such a way that by the end, you truly have no idea what will happen next. This isn't a movie where the good guys pull off an incredible feat against the odds and beat the bad guys with minimal consequence, and I think that alone is enough to make it stand out among most of the Hollywood action blockbusters of late.
Perhaps that is why despite having 90% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, only 49% of audiences who bothered to rate it said they liked it. Let's look at some of the negative reviews to see why people didn't like it. These are all going to be from Rotten Tomatoes. It's mostly me ranting because I'm not good at writing things concisely. (tl;dr at the end)
STOP. Any review containing "SJW" "Progressive" "Liberal" "Agenda" "Bribed" "Paid Off Critics" "Disney Greed" is almost certainly invalid. That guy almost certainly comments on Vice articles on Facebook and says "Nobody mentioned race here. You're the only person who mentioned it. I'm not racist." If you watch this movie and walk away saying it has a "SJW agenda" and then when someone says you're wrong and your response to that is "I'm not racist or sexist," then what are you? What made you feel that the movie had an agenda? What is your definition of racism and sexism? If you feel that a man having a bad plan and a woman having a better plan = liberal agenda, you're definitely a sexist. If you feel that a woman of color occupying a lead roll in a Hollywood blockbuster = a liberal agenda, you're definitely a racist. Your criticism is not valid. I'm spending a lot of time on this because I'm having a hard time finding a bad review that doesn't mention one of those words or complains that it's "TOO POLITICAL" as if Star Wars wasn't always about a group of rebels fighting against a fascist empire that exterminates aliens.
This is another one of the biggest complaints I see, but I rarely see it fleshed out. My best guess is that people expected Luke to be a larger than life hero who faced off against the First Order alone and defeats them single-handedly. OH WAIT, HE DID. He just didn't do it in the way YOU wanted (which I assume is him flying around like Yoda cutting walkers in half).
I can only imagine that people who didn't like Luke's arc also don't support people who don't believe PTSD is a real thing. It makes complete sense that a teacher who has been propped up as a legend that ends up failing and watching his nephew kill the rest of his students and destroying everything he had built would take it pretty hard. I'd probably also become a recluse and shut myself off from people if that happened to me. I'd feel like I let down my friends and family. Watching him overcome that (with the help of Yoda which was a great scene btw) was meaningful, and in the end he shows us that he's powerful enough to project himself across the galaxy and face off against Kylo Ren and the First Order, totally fakes them out, and saves the day.
"Movie Make Joke. I No Like Joke or Laugh. 1/2 Star For Movie." FTFY
Star Wars movies have always contained jokes, including the original trilogy. Most movies have throwaway jokes in them. It turns out a movie can have a little humor and deserve more than 1/2 Star.
~See Luke Rant~
Poe is a hotshot pilot who is always trying to be a hero. He screws up not once, but twice ad makes him largely responsible for hundreds of deaths that could have been avoided if he hadn't tried to save the day. By the end of the movie, he's learned that sometimes it's wiser to take a minute and listen to other people and think before acting because it can save lives.
Rey (who isn't a Mary Sue, you sexist) actually learns what the force is and how to better control it. She also sees a physical manifestation of the dark side of the force an is tempted by it. She experiences an emotional connection with the primary antagonist and feels conflicted about how to deal with him. She ends up learning she was mistaken to believe she had the power to change him. She learns about her parents and has to deal with the fact that they abandoned her and are of no consequence to her story.
Rose loses her sister and then meets someone she regards as a hero, only to have her expectations let down. We learn that she was used as slave laborer by the First Order, and has a significant motivation for fighting against them. By the end, we see her become a hero herself by saving Finn from a pointless sacrifice and drops a great line while doing it.
Finn does seem to experience less character growth than the others and perhaps learns a similar lesson as Poe's. There's also the moment when DJ points out that the arms dealer they took the ship from profits from the bad guys... and the good, as well as Rose pointing out that Canto Bight, a city he seemed enthralled with was actually almost entirely built around pleasing war profiteers.
The subplots do lead somewhere: failure, which was important for character development. Just because every person doesn't succeed in their quest doesn't mean that plot line should be cut.
"I didn't really like Episode VII because it was really just a rehash. They shouldn't have killed off Snoke. Cool guy. Definitely not the Emperor"
Yeah. I'm glad they killed him. Do we really need another wrinkly old guy who can shoot lightning out of his fingers whose sole motivation in "Rule the Galaxy!!!!!" No. I don't understand how you can like Snoke as a villain and dislike the rest of the characters because you weren't paying attention and think that they're poorly developed. Like?????
I could go on and on but I'll stop here.
- Snoke was a bad villain without motivation beyond "Rule the galaxy because I want to." Good riddance.
- "Rey is a Mary Sue. The OT was way better." Luke, a nobody, turns out to be an ace pilot that destroys the Death Star with his first shot and then learns to fight offscreen. If you don't believe that Rey is capable of the exact same things, I'd love to hear your definition of sexism.
- There was lots of character development, you just weren't paying attention.
- Star Wars has never been devoid of jokes. A movie can still be good even if some jokes don't land
- If you think the writing is bad and then say the prequels were better... like, idk dude... are you trolling?
- "SJWs aRe DeStRoYiNg AmErIcA." Go away.
- "Luke sucked." You'd probably be upset too if everything you worked for in life was murdered and burned before your eyes, and it was your family member that did it.
- "I hate Porgs." Do you hate all cute things? Do you hate levity in general?
It's not a perfect movie. There are some weird bits like how the heck did Finn manage to drag Rose that far across the field of battle without anyone shooting them? But besides those problems with technicalities, it's a great movie that eschews our traditional expectations of what victory can and should look like. It upended our expectations of heroism, changing what constitutes a hero and who can be one in the Star Wars universe. I think because it resembled something different from what we've seen and expect from Star Wars, critics loved it, and fans also loved it. The people who gave it 1 star are largely basing their bad reviews on either straight racism and sexism (my own unscientific examination of several bad reviews that contained some version of "SJW trash" showed that their account no longer existed, and I actually only found one other account that still existed, but had only reviewed this movie).
It's fair to not like a movie for a lot of reasons. This was a pretty long movie, and there was definitely some stuff that could have been cut. I think the user ratings of this movie are a great example of how polarized our world has become. Instead of giving legitimate and well thought out criticism and then giving it like 3 out of 5 stars, people give a one line review without really paying attention to the movie and give it 1 star. It's kind of like watching the news but only paying attention every 5 minutes and hearing 30 seconds of someone talking and then tuning out again. You're probably not going to have a coherent view of what's going on, but you're still going to argue about what you saw on the news and vote based on that too. Don't be that person.