No, I am not referring to whatever the writers were trying to do with Rey and Kylo…
The Star Wars saga has struck back in theaters with Star Wars Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (TLJ)! This film has been hyped up almost as much as its predecessor Episode VII – The Force Awakens (TFA) and for good reason! Fans of the franchise were pumped for this film due to director Rian Johnson’s promises of a darker tone and influence from the series’ magnum opus The Empire Strikes Back (ESB).
Does TLJ deliver on those fronts? Is it a worthy addition to the Star Wars universe (or, *nudge nudge*, galaxy)? Are some of the questions from TFA answered in this installment? Does TLJ actually have influences from ESB? Are the performances great? Is this movie even good?
Johnson’s addition to the series we all know and love is certainly an achievement in filmmaking and is definitely worth your money to go see in theaters. I genuinely believe this is the greatest film in the series since ESB. However, this film is not perfect, not by a long shot. Are the visual effects great? Yes. Is the writing, for the most part, well done? Yes—everyone in my theater cracked up laughing many times throughout. Is the plot more focused than TFA’s? Yes, absolutely. Are all of the characters used effectively? Sadly, no; and this is the glaring problem with this movie.
So, Finn’s back! He has made a full recovery and is prepared to help with the Resistance however he can. He’s still the same funny, awkward former-stormtrooper as before, so his character, as an individual, remains intact. This may vex those who are bothered by a black male character being almost entirely comic relief, however. Also, meet Rose! She’s…a…Resistance member! Oh yeah, her sister also dies in this movie’s opening space battle (those scenes never get old); so there’s the pity you should have for her! Yeah, she’s arguably the weakest character in the entire film.
From reviews for this movie I have seen so far, many complained about Rey, complained about Luke, complained about Leia, complained about Han’s death from the previous movie. But, I haven’t heard many people talk about this…romance between Finn and Rose. So, let’s set it up. After Finn is finished recovering from his injuries, he embarks on a secret mission to disable the First Order’s advanced tracking device, which could potentially give the Order leverage over the Resistance. By accident, he comes into contact with Rose, who is in a lot of emotional distress from her sister’s recent sacrifice. After a series of misunderstandings and a cringe-worthy taser scene, our two future-lovebirds (and BB-8, who is still great) go on this quest together.
Okay, the scenes between these characters, overall, were actually not bad. This is because there are some genuinely entertaining action scenes involving them. There is a prison escape scene in this film that was honestly one of the most fun parts of the film for me. A scene late in the film, where they are soon to be executed by the Order and then escape, was also another one of my favorites.
Fortunately, there aren’t too many romantic parts between Finn and Rose during their scenes. This is somewhat of a double-edged sword, as it leads to a lack of chemistry between the two and makes the later romantic parts even more awkward. I truly believe that the pair would’ve fared better as just friends. This also mars some of the tension built up in TFA. It is ambiguous whether or not Finn had romantic feelings for Rey (it was pretty damn obvious), and in TLJ Rey tells Chewie to relay some message to Finn that the latter recites but is never translated. Did she want him to tell Finn something along the lines of, “I love you?” Well, I guess we’ll never know now. I think the few fans that shipped Rey and Finn, such as myself, will be very disappointed with this writing decision.
Now let’s talk about the kiss scene! It was, unfortunately, very underwhelming. Along with the lack of chemistry between the pair, it was extremely predictable. Finn, using a dilapidated speeder, is ready to sacrifice himself to crash into and destroy The First Order’s main weapon to prevent it from obliterating the Resistance’s (formerly the Rebel Alliance’s) new and tentative fortress on the salt planet Crait. For a second, it seems that Finn is seriously going to give his life to protect the friends and partners that he made just by fighting for a cause he believes in. As much as I like Finn as a character, I wouldn’t mind if he had a heroic death. I guess it’s my fault that I didn’t expect Rose to emerge at the last second to crash into Finn’s speeder and save his life. This leads to her being severely injured, but still having enough energy to share a kiss with our favorite stormtrooper, thus galvanizing their pairing, before fainting and being taken away for medical attention.
What are my thoughts on the pairing of Finn and Rose? Well, I actually believe that they could have been a good pair as friends. Their action scenes were exhilarating and offered comic relief from the darker elements of the main plot. At the end of the day, the pairing itself wasn’t the problem so much as the forced romance was. There was no chemistry developed between them, so the kiss during the movie’s climax was, at best, eye-roll-worthy and did not add much to the plot or even the characters individually. Simply put, it was unnecessary.
The writing flaws with that pairing aside, I implore everyone to go see the movie (and hopefully you did if you’re reading this)! Finn and Rose’s scenes only take up about twenty-five minutes of the film overall, plus they have those fun moments as mentioned earlier. I honestly had more of a problem with the other “romance” featured in this film, but that’s not relevant at the moment. The attempt to develop most of the characters in this installment, for the most part, worked very well, but the writers clearly had their slip-ups. Hopefully, in the final installment of this trilogy, there will be more focus on certain characters as well as explanations for some of their actions.
I am stoked for Episode IX and can’t wait to see more our heroes face off against the First Order for the final time.