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My Fix For The Last Jedi

Posted on January 4th, 2018, by Michael Rountree

Visually, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is a sumptuous feast. There are scenes that will make any long-time Star Wars fan salivate. However, there are a number of flaws with the movie, so many missed opportunities (one thing about the Jedi is that they do not miss opportunities), tonal incongruities, and plot weaknesses. I won’t go into all of these here, since there are so many YouTube videos on the subject. I will just say that I left the theater in dismay, feeling let down by what I had hoped would have been a truly original and meaningful entry into the saga.

So this is my treatise on the things I would change, if I were to direct the re-make of this film. SPOILER WARNING! This article assumes that you have seen the film; do not read further if you don’t wish for things to be spoiled.


In the real film, the Empire has the Rebels on the run… er, rather, the First Order is in pursuit of the remnants of the Resistance fleet. Literally chasing them throughout the entire film. This is a heavy-handed echo of the overtones found in The Empire Strikes Back, but it borders on incredulity as a plot device; characters are free to jaunt away for side quests during this chase, and yet somehow the First Order is incapable of placing a ship somewhere up ahead where it can intercept them?

The theme of pursuit could be played out in an entirely different way. One common critique of this film is the lack of something meaningful for Fin’s character to do. What if, instead of tasking him with an ultimately pointless macguffin chase, we make him more central to the plot? Another criticism both of this film and of The Force Awakens is that Captain Phasma is a wasted villain. Let’s start our movie off with Phasma’s indignity and desire for revenge against FN-2187; she hires a bounty hunter (they have those in Star Wars, remember?) to track him down, and this is the pursuit that impels the movie.

Imagine, as an opening scene, an homage to the one in A New Hope… right after the narrative scroll vanishes, a chunk of something flies past, in the same direction. Then several other pieces of debris fly past, at various points, all moving from behind the viewer, because something behind us has exploded. Then, in comes the nose of a Star Destroyer, and its guns are firing, not forward but rather backwards, i.e. towards the camera. Then, we cut to reverse shot, and we can see that the guns are blasting apart incoming debris, to protect the ship; it is the First Order, escaping from the destruction of Starkiller Base. We see a shuttle fly up into the docking bay, much like the Tantive 4 did. All of this is telling us that the First Order survived, and reminds us just what they have survived, and just what burden of guilt Phasma must bear for her part in it.

Then we see Hux going into a tirade with all of his assembled storm trooper captains, noting how their base was infiltrated and bombs placed, and even worse, how the shield was dropped. He knows that it must have taken someone with security clearance, and demands to know who it might have been… allowing that not all personnel were present, since so many died. The camera keeps looking at Phasma’s non-reaction, as she wishes to hide her role, and this establishes why she resorts to private means of a bounty hunter to exact her revenge.

Over the course of the movie, her efforts can lend her some intelligence that sets her apart from her peers and enable the First Order to track down the Resistance to their cave on the salt planet, so we can still have the same finale (with some tweaks, of course).


The sequence with all the bombers versus the dreadnought is fine, but let it be the result of Phasma’s efforts to track down Fin. Then, let the outcome be the retreat of the Resistance forces, which is covered by the heroic sacrifice of Leia, who is the one to drive the light-speed wedge into the heart of the dreadnought. Kylo had her in his sights, but did not pull the trigger; he maybe even felt her intentions, but chose to ignore that insight. He is stunned when it actually happens, which is why he calls off the pursuit; his emotions are conflicted, as it should have been his own malevolent decision to end her life, rather than her choice to sacrifice it, and now he has no more way to purge the light from within.


Not much needs to change on the island, except that it needs to conclude with a dissatisfied Rey. She knows she needs more training, and Kylo has already offered such to her, while Luke is reluctant. I would like to see a segment of the movie wherein Rey has taken Kylo up on that offer, following the throne room coup. As they try to work together, it becomes more and more clear how incompatible they are, but at least initially they have some common purpose.

One minor thing is that I wouldn’t have Luke toss the light saber over his shoulder so dismissively. Instead, I would have him accept it from Rey, consider it, then hold it back out for her to take. She is confused, and then he just drops it with a “drop-the-mic” gesture, making it clear that he is done with it all.

Back to the post-throne room alliance: Kylo is lying to Rey about no longer pursuing the resistance. He’s using Phasma’s channels to track them down. All of this comes to a head when Fin finally finds Rey, at the same time that Phasma is seeking an audience with Kylo. You set up a tense scene in which Kylo and Rey are still pretending to get along, but their consciences are tweaked by their devil-angel companion characters of Phasma and Fin. Rey is reminded of her friendship and loyalty to the Resistance (perhaps she didn’t even know of the severity of their situation until Phasma comes to report), and Kylo is finally given his opportunity to strike. Much like in The Force Awakens, the ground metaphorically splits between the two sides. Phasma sees her prey come directly to her, and it is her fight with Fin which reignites Rey’s fight with Kylo.

Fin prevails over Phasma, and then convinces Rey to try again with Skywalker.


Rey and Chewie go back on the Falcon to collect Skywalker, after having learned from the Phasma-Fin fight where the Resistance is and how low their numbers are. Luke’s motivation is that Kylo is determined to mop them up, to quash the old conflicts, and Luke just wants a chance to set things right somehow. Chewie rethinking his porg meal should be here, after he has had a chance to be influenced by Rose’s attitudes (see below).


The whole casino parking ticket thing just doesn’t belong, at all. Instead, what we need are some scenes of Fin dealing with the pursuit of bounty hunters. One possibility is that Rose could even be introduced as one of those bounty hunters; she has infiltrated the Resistance to get to him. But before she can act, Fin takes her at face value as a member of the Resistance, and maybe during the early battle, he does something to save her life. She sees what a good man he is, and decides the bounty isn’t worth more than the blood debt she owes him. Later, during the Finale battle while Luke is buying time, she returns the favor by dragging Fin back to base. Fin went through with his plan to batter the ram with his own sidecar (she doesn’t intercept him and prevent it), but of course the impact of smashing half his mono-ski into the weapon has left him unconscious, so Rose collects him. We get at least one establishing shot showing the drag back in the foreground with Luke and the twisted AT-AT heads in the background.

Rose can still be the vegan/animal rights voice in the show; through small bits of dialogue here and there she can begin to have influence on Fin and then others. The payoff is when Chewie rethinks eating the porg. We don’t need any more than this, just a sprinkling of humor.


Luke steps out to face an entire firing line of AT-AT walkers. This is so amazingly cool that it almost rescues the movie… except that it doesn’t really happen. We need for this encounter to be genuine, so that it can be full of meaning. Instead of just walking out to center stage and calling attention to himself as the only target in sight, let him go out while all the other fighters are trying their best to get to the ram cannon. He scores a couple of kills in fantastic ways before they even take notice of him – maybe for one he uses the force to squeeze the legs together in the same way that they would be if bound by a tow cable, and maybe another he just force-pushes over to have it topple like a domino into the next adjacent walker. Then one aims its guns, fires, and with his light saber swirling he deflects that blast such that it strikes the ram cannon (doing little damage but still, making a point).

Now, before another shot can be fired, Luke uses the force to push the head up at an awkward angle, and as other AT-ATs turn towards his light saber, he does the same to them, ruining all of their aim. Eventually there is the AT-AT carrying Kylo Ren, and he contends with his former teacher to level its aim out. Luke is struggling mightily to hold all of these machines in check, and Kylo is strong enough to release some of them, then more and more.

Luke recalls his own voice saying that it is time for the Jedi to end, along with other sorts of flashbacks to when he was in “conversation” with Yoda while contemplating burning down the tree and the books. The music swells, as Luke is choosing to lose this fight. Kylo orders that all guns be trained on that man, and the barrage begins. This has been intercut with the effecting of escape, as Rey and the Falcon deal with the back door; Luke has bought them time with his sacrifice. Rey cries while she lifts the rocks out of the way, because she remembers Luke’s words about how it’s not all about moving rocks, and she feels his decision even though she cannot see the barrage. When the smoke clears, there is a ghostly Luke who watches the Falcon fly off.

Kylo can see the ghostly Luke, then looks down and quietly orders the ram cannon to fire. It blasts in, but there is no glory in Kylo’s entrance to the emptied base, nothing like Vader’s insertion into the Tantive 4. Storm troopers scour the base, and Hux asks what this was all for. Kylo finds the dice token that Luke has left behind; the force pulls him directly to it. “This,” Kylo answers, and he takes the dice back, leaving perplexed looks on the face of Hux and others.




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