The Force Awakens appeared to be a deliberate effort to get us right back into the traditional Star Wars world; an action adventure romp for kids with lots of sci-fi elements and old characters to appeal to the adult fans. With The Last Jedi, under the charge of new writer/director Rian Johnson, we seem to have taken a step away from the former, and the biggest complaint I have about the new film is that it's just not very fun. I know that the middle film is traditionally the darker one, but is this an adventure romp or not? It has the scenes there to make it happen, but they just seem a bit too serious. This is a tonal problem that runs throughout the film, and it feels like maybe it's just not sure what it is.
This is echoed in the storyline itself, which gets carved up into a few separate strands. Rey goes off to do some training with Luke, who has now become an Obi-Wan figure. We also see the development of her connection with Kylo Ren. This storyline is easily the most engaging, and the one with all the decent emotional stuff. Mark Hamill is the highlight of the whole film and his character journey is just perfect, with a solid performance to hold it together. Rey and Kylo Ren go to all kinds of extremes but we do at least get a sense of resolution as well as still leaving something for the next film. For a middle film of a trilogy, it is fair to say this didn't just feel like filler.
But if you want filler, let me introduce to Finn and Rose, who go on a galactic trip to find what ends up being a McGuffin. This is definitely supposed to be the action romp part of the film, and I suppose it's there to offset some of the heavy emotional stuff. Unfortunately, it just feels half baked in both design and execution. There is a crowbarred in emotional subplot and we still haven't had any decent pay off from Finn being a former stormtrooper. The fact that everything they do turns out to be completely pointless is a testament to how valuable this story element was to the film. The one good thing we get out of it is Benicio del Toro, who I can only presume will return in the next film as his character wasn't given a proper ending.
Also filling up bits of the saggy mid-section in a film that was inevitably half an hour too long, we have Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron. This time around, the hot-headed pilot is going around piloting things and being hot-headed. This is the story line that is supposed to provide us with the immediate high stakes of this particular film; the good guys are in a pickle and need to escape. It's also the most frustrating storyline, as it falls into Hollywood bullshit plotting of false motivations and easily solvable confusions that need to be maintained to fill the runtime.
Overall, you're getting what you go for, I suppose. And maybe that was the worst crime of all. After at least seven Star Wars films, this all felt a little bit too... Star Wars. We've seen it all before and now it's just getting samey. The script is well structured and combine the separate stories well but a few too elements are lacking a punch.
This is a competent film but it's lacking a personality that could make it interesting; 6/10