Few films in recent years have recieved such widespread critical acclaim, yet such polarising fan reactions as Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. Honestly, as an excited lifelong fan of Star Wars, I went in with an open mind after hearing some backlash, and wanted to try to evaluate the film's positives relative to its negatives... but things really didn't go well for the movie.
It was okay, but really not great... My issues with the film mainly relate to its epic action scenes, in which characters inexplicably keep surviving situations in which they are exposed to the vacuum of space as a result of massive ship explosions. By any realistic logic, all of the film's main characters should have died several times over according to basic physics.
Speaking of who should have died, Poe Dameron became unbearably unlikable in this film, with his disobedience getting nine ships full of good people killed, and even trying a coup d'etat against the Resistance because he isn't getting his way like a petty child with no foresight. His brash stupidity and arrogance would have made most superiors fire, arrest, or potentially even shoot him for his treachery, but they just stun him and talk about how badass he is. In real life, if nothing else, the friends of the people who he got killed would have punched him in the face.
Also, somehow Leia can survive being directly thrown into space and just end up in a ship's hospital facility, despite the fact that all of the air in her lungs should have been pulled out in the vacuum and her liquids should have frozen solid in the cold. She should have died but didn't, for no explained reason [#ForceExMachina].
Oh, and the set-up of this film seems like a retcon of the very premise of the previous film. For instance, how did the First Order, who had just lost their enormous planet-killer weapon and seemingly otherwise only had a few ships in the first film, suddenly overthrow the former republic in apparently only a matter of days, despite losing the enormous weapon they had as leverage against everyone else?
Luke Skywalker also felt like a completely different character in the flashbacks of this movie. How can a guy who for years refused to give up on the notion of curing his father of evil attack his student just because he felt some evil growing inside of him? That's like a complete 180 on everything Luke stood for in the original trilogy. As a result, the Luke I saw in this film wasn't the tragic, broken hero that they wanted me to see. It was an annoying self-righteous hypocrite, and why on Earth did he make a map in the previous movie so that people could find him and stick it in R2D2, the obvious place people looking for him would look, if he didn't want to be found? And if he wanted to "go there to die" as he claimed, why didn't he just commit suicide? What was with that stupid force cave weird mirror scene?
Also, the movie completely forgot to show us how Rey got from Snoke's throne room back into the Millennium Falcon ready for the final battle, when First Order soldiers would have been searching like crazy and there's no way in hell that the First Order would have let the Falcon get anywhere near Snoke's Star Dreadnought without stopping it. A hugely important scene is missing here!
Speaking of things that should have been seen, why on Earth would the Rebels take unshielded troop carriers which are incapable of light speed to a nearby diamond planet in plain view of the Dreadnought and all of the star destroyers attacking them, all of which are much faster? No self-respecting military commander would put all of their subordinates on such a suicide mission, especially when the planet they were going to was in plain view of the First Order.
Also, Rey's backstory, when revealed, was hideously underwhelming given all the hype, and seemingly contradicts the inclusion of a memory of Obi-Wan Kenobi's voice in the previous film. Captain Phasma was a waste of time. She barely did anything and died like a wimp. To make matters worse, she was the only character wearing metal armour, and thus she should have been electrocuted when she was fighting Finn, but the writers apparently completely forgot that metal conducts electricity (something every small child knows). With that said, her armour was able to deflect blasters, all of which makes me wonder why regular Stormtroopers don't have such an armour as it would be a great tactical advantage and significantly reduce casualties.
But hey, it's not like the First Order are intelligently-led. Snoke acts like a complete genius and a perfect mind reader but he can't even tell who Kylo thinks is his true enemy (it's almost like he can only read minds properly when it is convenient to the plot for him to do so!). To make matters worse, the fact that Rey supposedly saw Kylo's future as definitively turning to the light ruins any suspense or uncertainly about the outcome of the next movie.
Also, the very nature of the Force is completely retconned in this movie ONCE AGAIN. Sure, there was no mention of midichlorians this time, fortunately, but now it allows even barely-trained Jedi like Rey to move countless objects at once to save the other heroes, when even in the Episode II Yoda vs Dooku fight, force users as powerful as they could only move one object at a time. Suddenly, Rey and Luke are much more powerful than any of the Jedi masters in the prequel trilogy who were somehow taken out by small groups of clones. The Luke Force Projection vs Kylo scene was also stupid, given what they did with Luke afterwards. It would have made far more sense to simply have Luke fighting Kylo and be killed, but instead the movie saves Luke, only to then have him disappear and become one with the force. Force Ghost Yoda also looks nothing like the Force Ghosts that we see in the original trilogy: instead of being blue and translucent, he's opaque but with a weird blue glow around him for some reason. What was wrong with just being consistent with the other movies?
But that is not even close to the end of this movie's stupidity, since there's also a big, mostly pointless casino scene that just felt there to fill out a huge section of the run time without adding anything of importance to the plot. Then there's the wasted character of Snoke. Sure, he was acted amazingly by Andy Serkis, but none of the questions we had about him were answered, or look to be answered. I had also expected that the film would show that Finn had some force sensitivity, in order to explain how he was able to survive (and hold his own) fighting Kylo Ren in the last movie, but nope. That's just another plot hole! The film also seems to be setting up a Rey-Finn-Rose love triangle for the next movie, but leaving something like that to so late in the series means that it will be impossible to properly explore, and be needlessly tear-jerking, since that's all love triangles ever are.
Things I liked, however, are also abundant: despite the extremely disjointed, plot-hole filled and appalling script, the film did balance a surprising amount of well-executed comedy with a dark atmosphere and tone. The amount of detail that went into the ship and setting designs was impressive, as were the creature effects, which were a near-flawless mix of practical and CGI. The soundtrack was also probably the best of any Star Wars movie, and an enormous step-up from The Force Awakens. I also liked how the film dealt with the lack of necessity of groups like the Jedi and the Sith in order to keep the Force in balance, and it was great to see how Kylo acted and changed upon being given a much greater seat of authority, given his serious mental issues. The film was visually spectacular, thankfully dumping the awful lens-flares of the previous film in favour of some epic visual effects and truly stunning space battles. Parts of the film had a real sense of fun that was unexpected given the darker turns of the story. The film was undeniably well cast, and General Hux became quite entertaining as he transitioned from genocidal control freak to force-abused lackie.
Do these plus points outweigh the bad however? Only if you are incapable of critical thinking. 4/10, not recommended.