By now we’ve pretty much all seen The Last Jedi. If you haven’t stop reading now because I am going to talk about a lot of major plot elements from the film.
Fans seem to be a bit disappointed and disillusioned by Rian Johnson‘s Episode VIII offering. Personally I found the film to be quite bad in it’s execution and plot points. Sure there are some cool moments, but they’re wedged between too much awful humor and terrible story elements. If you want to know my full thoughts on the film you can read my review here.
Since seeing the film I’ve thought about things I would have done to make it a better movie. For the sake of convenience I’m going to simply list 10 things I would have changed or included in The Last Jedi.
1) Replace DJ with Lando Calrissian
First off we can all agree that Benicio Del Toro is a great character actor. I was really looking forward to seeing him in The Last Jedi and what he would bring to the film. Unfortunately due to Rian Johnson’s writing the character of DJ was extremely lackluster and completely wasted in my opinion.
What I would have done is make the contact on Canto Bight Lando Calrissian. Many others have said this and I totally agree that it was a huge misstep on the part of Johnson and Lucasfilm to not include everyone’s favorite charming rogue.
I would have gotten rid of the scene with Maz Kanata and instead have Poe mention something about Leia telling him if they were ever in serious trouble to contact this person.
Once Finn and Rose got to Casino Royale – I mean Canto Bight – how awesome would it have been to reveal Lando running the show, or at the very least just there making moves and being as “Lando” as ever playing both sides and being able to get them aboard the Star Destroyer – or at the very least put them in contact with the person who could.
2) Give Luke Skywalker a Better Role
A lot of fans had issues with Luke‘s role in The Last Jedi, as did Mark Hamill himself initially. It really seemed like a wasted opportunity to just have him hang out on this island and be the old curmudgeon he was with no connection to The Force and a sob story about nearly killing Han & Leia’s kid.
Frankly it was a complete 180 of the character and while Luke didn’t necessarily have to be the same as he was at the end of Return of the Jedi it would have been better to have him vastly more interesting and engaged in the story than continually just wanting to die alone and away from everything.
There are a number of ways Luke could have been better in this film. From actually training Rey to having a better reason for being hidden away all these years.
Finding the Jedi texts, what if he found something in them that gave him some insight as to how The Force can be better used or manipulated, which would account for all of these new Force tricks we see in the film. It would have been vastly more interesting if Luke was training Rey in these techniques and that is what made the connection to her and Kylo rather than Snoke tricking them.
And Luke not going with her in the end and only appearing as an avatar really felt like a sucker punch. It erased the stakes of Luke actually confronting Ben after all these years and instead was just a dumb plot device to give the Resistance members time to escape.
And honestly I think it would have been better if Luke had died protecting his sister and the Resistance rather than just fading away on his island. It would have redeemed the character more so that him running away actually had a purpose and helped rather than hindered.
Luke could have still been reluctant to get involved, but at the end him deciding to go help his sister and Rey would have been a lot more interesting than what did happen.
3) Don’t Kill Snoke
Speaking of wasted opportunities, Rian Johnson was given this new character who was so powerful and evil that the best use he could think to do with him was to just kill him half way through the film? I found this lazy and made Snoke ultimately useless as a character.
Instead of killing him off why not let him continue to control things from a more “behind-the-scenes” vantage point. You could still keep him from being the sole focus of the film and continue to focus on Kylo Ren and Rey, or at the very least kill him off at the end with Kylo turning on him at the last minute. This would have been a much better use of Snoke.
Or let him live until the third movie where he could be a bigger focal point making his ultimate death more satisfying. Instead you robbed everyone of learning anything about the character’s backstory of where he came from, how he got so powerful, why he’s deformed and how he manipulated Ben. Apparently these things weren’t interesting enough to Rian Johnson so instead he just tossed the character aside in favor of what, a more original story? The throne room scene with Snoke is almost beat for beat a condensed version of the throne room scene in Jedi.
4) Give Chewbacca Something To Do
I know Chewie has always been more of a secondary character in Star Wars, but he’s always been an integral part of the story regardless. In this film he was used as the butt of many Porg jokes and did nothing else but fly the Millennium Falcon. He was a glorified chaperone for Rey. I think the coolest scene was when he kicked open Luke’s door, but beyond that he was just wasted.
It would have been a lot more interesting to have had Chewbacca return to the Resistance Fleet and take Finn & Rose to Canto Bight. You could have had him be there when they meet Lando as well and given him a lot more screen time and a more interesting storyline than he had. Hell, you could have had Chewie be the one who knows where Lando is and takes them there.
5) Not Another Hoth
What I don’t understand about Rian Johnson’s script is that he mentions wanting to not give us what we expect nor show us things we’ve already seen, but throughout the movie he does just that. Another one of these moments is the Crait battle where you have AT-ATs attacking a Rebel/Resistance base and small fighters defending it. You have a trench full of soldiers and a dire situation that leaves the Resistance in a predicament where they must escape before being destroyed.
There are so many other ideas for planets and locations that could have been used for this final battle. Instead we get another retread of something we’ve seen before but done in a way that’s a lot less interesting. I feel like the new AT-M6 Gorilla Walkers were added only to make fanboys cream their jeans. As big and powerful as they were they really didn’t do anything. It honestly felt like another wasted opportunity in a movie full of wasted opportunities.
6) Kill Leia
Leia should have been the one to die in this film, not Luke. There were plenty of moments that she could have been killed off – and in fact she was. The scene where she is blown in to space and is still alive and uses the Force to pull herself back to the ship was cringe-worthy. It was a really odd fake-out, especially considering Carrie Fisher‘s real-life passing, and it felt a little morbid and disrespectful in a way. I know her death happened after the movie had been filmed, but if anything they should have left it out and instead just had her injured rather than pull what fans are dubbing as Leia’s “Mary Poppins” moment. Between this and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 I wonder if there is some clause somewhere that states every new Disney owned franchise has to visually or audibly reference Mary Poppins at some point.
I digress, having Leia sacrifice herself to save the Resistance would have been a lot more interesting and powerful than her surviving until the next film only to most likely be killed off in the opening crawl.
Honestly Laura Dern‘s character should have been Leia and Leia should have jumped the ship through the Star Destroyer in one last valiant, heroic effort to protect the Resistance. Instead we get another throwaway character who adds nothing to the story except for a cool visual shot.
7) Less Humor
Let’s be honest, this Star Wars film has some of the dumbest and corniest lines and actions in the entire saga. The jokes in this film are out of place, out of context and ultimately unfunny. From Luke milking a sea cow creature to Poe “trolling” Hux, it makes for some truly awful moments in the film that rival the prequels in their eye-roll inducing stupidity.
Don’t get me wrong, humor is vital in a Star Wars film, but what works is subtle humor, not over-the-top, slapsticky self-aware guffaws. Rogue One honestly got it right with the humor while The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi all too often evoke a gag reflex with their in-your-face jokes that just aren’t that funny.
8) Make Poe Dameron Less Annoying
I didn’t particularly like Poe Dameron in The Force Awakens and I really don’t like him in The Last Jedi. He’s an annoying character that tries too hard to be the Han Solo of the new trilogy but fails miserably. He is not a likeable character and he makes stupid decisions and has some of the worst dialogue of any character in the films.
I would have turned him down quite a bit and given him a more stoic and rigid style instead of being the hot-shot pilot with the big-mouth that acts before he thinks. You can still achieve a similar vibe without giving Poe such a cardboard facade that comes across as predictable and annoying as every stereotype we’ve seen in the past. Give him some depth for crying out loud. He could be a great character if he actually did something more than just be good at blowing stuff up.
9) Cut Out The Tailgating Plot
If you don’t understand the reference, I’m talking about the plot in which the Resistance is just barely keeping ahead of the First Order in one of the most boring story elements of the entire movie. If running out of gas is your hero’s biggest concern you have a problem with your story. Aside from the absurdity of this, it’s just plain boring. The tracking of ships through hyperspace may have seemed like a good idea, but in reality it makes things too convenient for the bad guys and makes for a weak plot device.
There are tons of other ideas they could have thought to put the fleet in danger. You could have had them jump to Crait in the first place as a staging ground for regrouping and they get there and the First Order is already there waiting for them so they have to abandon ship and high tail it down to the planet to escape. Of course this would then remove the need for the Canto Bight diversion – although I’m not sure that would have been a bad thing.
And the Dreadnought with the giant laser cannons used for bombarding the planet surface was just overkill. Star Destroyers have plenty of firepower to bombard a planet or destroy a star cruiser for that matter. Adding this giant monstrosity that has to be defeated by bombers was so convoluted and arbitrary that it felt ultimately uninspired. They talk about this being the longest Star Wars movie ever made, but it was only so long because it was bloated with so much useless crap.
10) Get Rid of Luke’s Assassination Attempt of Ben Solo
This really bothered me. First of all Luke supposedly sees the darkness in Ben and sees what he will eventually do. One can assume this means everything that has happened and will happen, thus making Luke responsible for Han’s death by not acting to stop it. So he has this fleeting urge to kill Ben but then has an instant change of heart. So as Luke is standing over Ben with his lightsaber activated Ben thinks Luke is trying to kill him – which technically he was.
So Ben retaliates and then goes on some killing spree? It seemed like a really contrived plot line and made Luke look like a weak fool. You have this Jedi who risked his life to turn Vader back to the good side by facing Vader and the Emperor alone and yet this boy scares him enough to warrant him killing him in his sleep? The whole thing sounds ridiculous. And this is the reason Luke retreats to this island? Instead of realizing the mistake he’s made he doesn’t try to go after Ben and at least talk to him, he just runs and hides?
It’s just another aspect of Luke’s character assassination that Rian Johnson committed on one of Star Wars’ most beloved characters. And why? Because he wanted to do something different and unexpected?
Ben’s betrayal could have been a lot simpler and more effective by simply being convinced by Snoke to put an end to the Jedi once and for all. This is also a far more fascinating story than what we’ve got with this new trilogy. For whatever reason Disney thought it would be best to kill off all of the old characters to pass the torch to the next generation in a way that is simply dumb.
Overall this movie could have been – and should have been – saved in pre-production. It’s strange that a director with so few films under his belt and a handful of TV episodes would be hired to both write and direct such an important film in the Star Wars saga/franchise. While I had high hopes for Rian Johnson he’s proven that he doesn’t really understand Star Wars – and if he does he obviously just doesn’t give a fuck.