Star Wars: The Last Jedi Isn’t Poorly Rated Because Of Bigots, It’s Just A Bad Movie
The battle over political correctness has reached a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Controversy erupted when people started noticing that while Star Wars: The Last Jedi was approved of by 96% of top movie critics on Rotten Tomatoes, only 51% of fans said that they liked the movie. The media reported that the discrepancy was due to alt-right trolls (the alt-right and Russia are the liberal gods of mischief — responsible for everything from hacking elections to misplaced keys). However, Fandango quickly released a press release stating that its user scores were accurate and there was no coordinated attack — fans just hated the movie.
If you listen to the media, the Star Wars backlash is coming from racists who hate diversity. And while it is true that much of the controversy stems from the fact that the cast looks like the backdrop of a Hillary campaign rally, this analysis is pretty shallow. Take for instance the alleged outrage over the casting of a black storm trooper. Most of the outrage wasn’t that there was a black actor in Star Wars, but that casting a goofy, affable black guy as a storm trooper made little sense in the Star Wars universe. It’s like they made Randall from This Is Us a storm trooper. Are we to believe that in between methodically executing groups of families, Finn and the rest of the storm troopers are just discussing how sweaty and nervous they get before talking to girls (again, before they summarily execute them)?
This is just one of many odd narrative choices that the new Star Wars movies have made. If you take a step back and listen to the criticism of the recent trilogy, you quickly realize that maybe it isn’t that fanboys hate the new Star Wars because of the diversity, but that the critics only pretend to like it because of the “(happily) diverse characters.”
Who is right? Well if you look at the scenes from the movie (spoilers ahead), it may become pretty clear:
- The Last Jedi opens with an evil armada holding fire against a single ship because of a joke about being on “hold.” Not only was the joke not funny, but Star Wars was better before we learned that the heroes of the Star Wars universe apparently also spend their day waiting on the phone. Like, did Luke spend the period before Return of the Jedi waiting on hold with Aetna trying to see if his insurance covered his robotic hand?
- Disney created adorable Porgs, whose friendship with Chewbacca would be cute if not for the fact that he ate their family member right in front of them. When George Lucas tried to endear viewers to the Ewoks, C3PO never smiled at them as he flipped their mother’s carcass over on the barbecue.
- Finn meets some random girl, who like the rest of our new gang of heroes, could not do one pull up if her life depended on it. The two of them end up on a planet that is some combination of a casino and a Sandals resort. This plot line provides us with the level of philosophy usually reserved for a college student with a man-bun (people, like, profit off of war, man!) Not only does their adventure add nothing to the story, the battle taking place off-screen is devalued when you learn the rest of the people in the galaxy are just playing video poker and collecting space buffet coupons. This puts the trilogy’s most confusing question front and center: what the hell is going on between the Resistance and the First Order? Is it a galaxy-wide war? A battle? A dispute? At this point you could tell me that these movies are just about a family feud over unwashed dishes and I would believe you.
- Searching for a code breaker, Finn and the random girl end up in jail, where they randomly find a different code breaker. Somehow we had spent 19 hours in Star Wars movies never seeing or hearing about code breakers, and now two minutes later there is an extra code breaker in their jail cell (where he is also imprisoned — despite the fact that he is a codebreaker who can break out of the jail at any time…)
- The main plot of the movie is a “slow speed” chase that literally lasts for days with no urgency. A purple haired woman basically tells Poe that their plan is to just coast and die, and Poe makes the wrong (?) decision to try and take action as the purple haired woman panics and reads “My Pet Goat.”
- When convenient, it is revealed that the purple haired woman had a plan along, but decided not to share it with her hysterical crew, because that’s what the plot called for at the time. Then she becomes doubly a hero when she kamikazes a giant spaceship at light speed, which renders every other decision ever made in Star Wars idiotic. Why did past characters even bother with Death Star plans or bombing runs? Just drive a ship through the other ship and you automatically win.
- The force is no longer a mystical power defined by balance, it is magic that is as strong as the plot needs it to be at any moment. Snoke is powerful enough to create a Snapchat story between Rey and Kylo Ren, but then is simultaneously not powerful enough to see a lightsaber turning to kill him in his own room. Kylo Ren has the greatest raw force Luke had ever seen, but he was beaten by a 100 pound girl who had no training. Luke was able to project himself across the galaxy for exactly enough time as everyone needed to escape, but then he died, because, yeah.
- When an interesting plot twist finally develops when Rey and Kylo team up, it is over in 10 seconds — and then the movie abandons it and puts it back in the box with the other conveniently forgotten Star Wars items like Jar Jar Binks and Leia kissing her brother.
- The climax of the movie is a ripoff of the Helm’s Deep battle from Lord of the Rings, if instead of an epic battle, the good guys just drove weaponless space go-karts towards enormous warships with no plan. Once Finn actually comes up with a plan (the newly found genius strategy of smashing ships into other ships), his new awkward girlfriend stops him, because, toy sales?
One explanation for why movie critics loved The Last Jedi is that movie critics, for whatever reason, love all Marvel/Disney blockbusters — which is a fundamental change from how big action movies were traditionally viewed by critics. If you look at a fan-favorite blockbuster from the 90’s like Independence Day, only 60% of critics had a positive review. Audiences loved Armageddon, but it was approved of by just 26% of top critics. These movies defined the 90’s, yet critics told everyone not to see them. That elitism is what separated critics from fans — they were supposed to have more refined taste than the typical audience member.
Yet now every critic loves every dumb blockbuster no matter how similarly dumb it is. There are seventeen (17!) Marvel movies rated higher than Independence Day, as if people are going to remember Ant-Man saying… whatever the hell Ant-Man says….more than Will Smith shouting “Welcome to Earth!” In 2017 alone, the first Wonder Woman movie, the third Thor movie, and the approximately 90th Spider-man movie were all approved of by more than 9 out of 10 critics. That’s the equivalent of a food critic going to every Carl’s Jr. location and awarding each one a Michelin star.
The discrepancy of the Star Wars rating is not a product of Russian bots, 4chan trolls, or fanboys. It is a product of whatever sea-change has taken place that has caused professional movie critics to implore movie goers to see yet another X-Men movie. The fans can admit that The Last Jedi was not a good movie. The question is — why can’t critics?