I have previously laid out what I consider problems with The Last Jedi in my Critique of the movie. However, I would like to zero in on a particular set of problems – moviemaking and storytelling.
In The Last Jedi, General Leia Organa is blown out of a battle-cruiser, only to survive the vacuum of space and fly back, ala Mary Poppins, to the cruiser. This is a major moviemaking error, and is a serious storytelling misstep.
The Moviemaking Error:
Having already shot most of her scenes, Carrie Fisher passed away on December 27, 2016 – nearly one year before the release of The Last Jedi. By keeping the Leia Organa character alive, the production crew is now forced to:
1. CGI and vocally imitate Leia in any subsequent movie, or
2. Replace her with another actor, or
3. Kill the character off screen, with no potential for a tribute or final word.
None of these options will be happily received. They have written in guaranteed disappointment. All the while, they had a wonderful opportunity. With a little editing, and maybe a touch of CGI, they could have yielded a far superior set-up for the next film in the sequence. The battle-cruiser blowout could have been a poignant passing away of a significant warrior during battle, and a moment for a fitting tribute to Ms. Fisher.
The Storytelling Error:
None of the major characters experience growth in The Last Jedi. Moreover, what a Jedi is has become confused and conflicted. While Darth Vader carried some light in him, it took his son, Luke, to expose it. This is Luke’s driving force – the ability to see the light side in those who have it. He did not see it in the Emperor.
In The Last Jedi, Luke is conflicted over Kylo. He sees only the dark side in him, though Luke has hope, so he stays his hand.
Here is where the writers / producers missed a golden opportunity. During the space battle, Leia should have died. Cut to Luke training Rey. Luke suddenly slumps, feeling a tremor in the force – not the silencing of a million souls, but the loss of a single, significant soul. Luke shortly learns from Chewie, via communique with the Alliance, that Leia has passed.
This would be the ultimate motivation for getting Luke involved with the fight, to stop hiding and rejoin the Rebel Alliance. Moreover, he knows he cannot face Kylo. His old fears would well up. If he kills Kylo, given his past, his journey to the dark side would be complete. Instead, he takes Rey more firmly under his wing. She must be ready, for she must face Kylo – her brother.
This provides growth and change for characters within The Last Jedi. It sets up serious battles and confrontations for the next installment. It eliminates concerns with re-creating Leia, while providing Luke with a seriously deep motivating force. Furthermore, it balances the Skywalker story arc. Where Luke battled over the dark and light of his father, Rey would have to battle over the light and dark of her brother, who seeks to rule The First Order, and also battle over her own dark and light as she would have the knowledge her brother had killed her father.
I content they plan to establish that Rey and Kylo are brother and sister, which still allows for some of the aforementioned turmoil. However, they will have to spend part of the next movie resolving the technical problems of the Leia character. They have eliminated the possibility of Luke’s physical involvement, not to mention having reduced the Rebel Alliance to a group so small they cannot put together a football team. Moreover, they have clouded what it means to be Jedi and the concepts of good and evil, of punishment and redemption, and totally missed the Skywalker story arc.