When “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens” released in December of 2015, it was met with warm reception from both critics and fans alike. And while some fans were insistent that it was too reminiscent of “A New Hope,” most came away from the theater satisfied that Disney had, in fact, done their job. After the nearly-unforgivable mess that was the prequel trilogy, “The Force Awakens” was indeed a breath of fresh air. It had memorable characters, a heavy dose of nostalgia, and a serviceable plotline.

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A hard lesson learned

Critics loved “Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi,” hailing it as one of the best in the saga. But fans didn’t see it that way. Director Rian Johnson’s project was hit with a wave of negative reactions. Many went so far as to say that it ruined the franchise altogether. The reason? It was too different. It subverted expectations and did things that no other "Star Wars" film had done yet.

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While “The Last Jedi” is not a perfect film, it is far from the worst. Luke’s characterization was handled well, and while some believe that it went against what his character stood for, those people fail to recognize what trauma and continuous failure do to a person. After all, though Luke was a Jedi, he was also human. Unfortunately, no one saw it that way, and “The Last Jedi” continued to draw the ire of fans everywhere.

Pacing issues and troubling decisions

“The Last Jedi” suffers from severe pacing issues. This is largely attributed to the Canto Bight scenes with Rose and Finn. Their little adventure forced the film to a screeching halt and led to an inconsequential conclusion that made more than a few question as to why they were included in the first place. Certainly, they detailed war in a different light, but neither of the pair seemed to grow or develop much, and Finn was treated more like a side character as opposed to the substantial figure he was in episode VII.

Add to this the controversial scene with what’s been dubbed as “Superman Leia” and one can definitely see why fans were angry. There were a couple missteps in this movie that could have been easily avoided. But speculation leads to the belief that some of the choices were on the behalf of producers overstepping their bounds.

Beautifully flawed

The camera work in the film is second-to-none. Long continuous takes with wide angles made action setpieces breathtaking.

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The special effects are rendered well and the production design is stunning. But all this pales in comparison to how sound is utilized. There are a couple scenes where sound gives way to silence, which only furthers the desired emotional impact. That being said, Rian Johnson could have gone that extra step to really punch us viewers in the gut, so to speak. The dynamic between Kylo Ren and Rey is carefully crafted.

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The scenes where they were together or interacting were definitely the best parts of the whole. Some sublime characterization happens here. All of these things push toward a phenomenal lightsaber battle that is by far the best anyone will see in the series for quite some time.

Hope in hopelessness

There’s very little hope in “The Last Jedi”, aside from the ending. But what Rian Johnson has created should go down to be one of the better installments of the Star Wars phenomena. It deserved better. It deserved a chance to be analyzed for what it was, instead of what fans thought it should have been. It steered away from the traditional formula and gave us something fresh. That gives me some excitement for what lies in store, and since Rian Johnson is at the helm for three more movies, who knows what’s next? And that’s not a bad thing.

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