How The Last Jedi could have been even better

Star Wars: The Last Jedi offers some spectacularly breathtaking highs, but that's not to say the movie doesn't have its share of problems. It's by no means a perfect film, but many of the most commonly criticized parts of The Last Jedi could have been fixed with a few small changes. Let's take a look back at some of the movie's weakest moments and imagine how they could have been even better. Spoilers ahead! 

Leia in space

In The Last Jedi, one major issue for some Star Wars fans was the way Leia used the Force to save herself when her ship's bridge was destroyed. It was clearly meant to be a powerful moment, but it ended up looking a little hokey. There's also no "official" canon to support Leia using the Force in this way. Given Carrie Fisher's untimely death in December 2016, some fans felt Leia should have died in this scene, providing an easy exit for her character. However, it's understandable that director Rian Johnson didn't want to cut any of Fisher's scenes in her final Star Wars movie.

Instead, a small rewrite for Kylo Ren might have fixed most of the problems with this scene. While piloting his TIE Silencer in an attack run on the Resistance flagship, Kylo was ultimately unable to pull the trigger on his mother. What if this moment of weakness extended a few moments longer? Kylo sees Leia sucked into the cold vacuum of space and impulsively reaches out, using the Force to save her. He then turns his fighter around, the anger and disgust with himself clear on his face. Fisher's original scene could have stayed, but instead it would look like she was reaching out for salvation—for herself and her son—instead of using the Force. This would have eliminated many of the criticisms about the scene, while also adding another layer of complexity and conflict to Kylo's character and his relationship with his mother.

The codebreaker

After learning of the First Order's hyperspace tracking module, Poe Dameron contacts Maz Kanata, who advises them to seek a master codebreaker at Canto Bight. Finn and Rose glimpse the man with the plum blossom pin at the casino, but are arrested before they can contact him. Instead, they coincidentally run into the codebreaker D.J. and put their trust in him—with predictably disastrous results. Their failure was necessary to drive the film's plot, but Kanata's cameo and her "master codebreaker" were unnecessary complications, while conveniently meeting D.J. in that prison cell was just lazy writing.

It would have been really great if Poe had called up retired General Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) for advice. With his reputation as a gambler and a scoundrel, Lando could recommend D.J. and the casino on Cantonica in a way that makes sense—especially if Lando warns Finn and Rose not to trust the codebreaker too far. They could have met D.J. at Canto Bight, made their escape in similar fashion, and D.J.'s inevitable betrayal would fit better, too. Even without Lando's involvement, making D.J. the original object of their mission to Canto Bight would have brought their plot to the exact same place, without the many complications or contrivances along the way.

Snoke who?

After the two-year hype buildup surrounding Snoke's identity and mysterious past, many Star Wars fans were unhappy about the how quickly the Supreme Leader was dispatched in The Last Jedi. While fans are generally fine with the way Snoke was killed, they wish the movie had at least given them some more hints about his history and rise to power. While it doesn't really matter now that he's dead, Star Wars fans are obsessive about things like this. Come on, Disney—throw us a bone.

A perfect opportunity to expand upon Snoke's history in The Last Jedi came up during the scene when he tortures Rey in front of Kylo. While good stories always "show, not tell," a little extra exposition sprinkled in while Snoke taunts Rey and Kylo may have helped a lot. Why is Kylo a foolish child? Why can't Snoke be defeated? We'd be a lot happier if the Supreme Leader had bragged a bit about his past accomplishments before Kylo sliced him in two.

Rose's heroics

When Finn was racing towards the First Order's massive "Superlaser Siege Cannon," it seemed likely that he was about to give his life to save his friends on Crait. As Finn's ski speeder began to disintegrate around him, Rose appeared out of nowhere and crashed her speeder into his—sending them both hurtling out of the cannon's damage path. She saved Finn, but she also cut his redemption arc short of its final destination. Astonishingly, Finn then somehow managed to drag Rose all the way back to the bunker without being blown sky-high by the First Order's AT-M6 Walkers. Talk about plot armor.

While we're glad they're alive, the emotional impact of Rose's heroics would have been much more powerful if she had died to save Finn. A shot of her holding her necklace as she swoops in to knock him out of the way would have been a great way to remind us of her sister Paige's sacrifice. The rest of their scene could play out as written, with Rose delivering her line about "saving what we love" and giving him a tender (and less cringey) kiss before dying. Adding her death to the plot would give more meaning to Finn's character development during The Last Jedi, and also serve as a permanent reminder to him to fight for the right reasons.

Bad punchlines

While the original Star Wars trilogy had plenty of goofy humor and witty moments, some fans felt that The Last Jedi was too flush with comedy—or that many jokes were awkwardly timed. At the beginning of the movie, Poe Dameron contacts Armitage Hux and begins to toy with the First Order General. The moment was purposefully meant to drag long—but Poe's use of the modern slang phrase "I'll hold" was definitely immersion-breaking. Poe even taunts Hux with a joke about his mother, which seems just a little too lowbrow for Star Wars. This scene could have worked better if Poe just pretended he couldn't hear Hux—and left the "yo mama" joke out of it.

Later, fans were shocked after seeing the way Luke reacted to Rey giving him back his father's lightsaber: by tossing it carelessly over his shoulder. Because this moment had been so eagerly anticipated, Luke's surprising reaction rubbed many fans the wrong way. A playful Yoda trolled Luke in The Empire Strikes Back, but seeing Luke act so irreverently towards Anakin's lightsaber seemed out of character. Even after we learn about Luke's internal turmoil, the scene still doesn't quite fit. It would have been better (and more consistent with his state of mind) if Luke had simply dropped the lightsaber on the ground and walked away. This could have achieved the same shocking effect—for Rey and for audiences—without turning the important moment into a joke.

Holdo's motivations

One of the most-discussed (and criticized) plotlines in The Last Jedi involves the conflict between Poe Dameron and Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo. In retrospect, it makes sense that the Resistance's interim leader didn't tell the insubordinate and impulsive Poe about her plans. Amilyn didn't know how the First Order was tracking them, and Poe had just proven at D'Qar that he couldn't be completely trusted. However, the pair's scenes are only shown from Poe's perspective—which unfairly makes Holdo seem arrogant and evasive.

It would have been nice to see the Vice Admiral's point of view, to help explain her motivations and thoughts to the audience while still keeping Poe in the dark. Adding just a single scene like this would have helped the movie's plot significantly. Imagine Amilyn sitting alone at Leia's bedside, quietly telling her unconscious childhood friend about her worries and her plan to save the Resistance from total annihilation. Seeing Holdo's inner thoughts wouldn't have changed Poe's mutiny plotline, but it would have made Amilyn Holdo a more sympathetic and identifiable character—and made her heroic death more emotionally impactful for audiences.

A broken man

In The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker is strikingly different from the young idealistic Jedi of the original trilogy—raising lots of questions for Star Wars fans. How did he go from optimistic Jedi Master to the broken and haunted hermit he is today? Luke believed even Darth Vader was capable of redemption, so why didn't he feel the same about young Ben Solo? How could Luke actually consider murdering his nephew in cold blood? What caused him to decide that it was time for the Jedi Order to end forever?  

A shocking flashback scene explains to some extent, but the "why" behind Luke's personality shift remains woefully unexplored. We really needed some additional exposition or scenes to help us bridge that gap. Maybe Snoke was using the Force to subtly influence both Ben and Luke—edging Skywalker ever closer to fear and despair. Perhaps something else pushed the Jedi Master over the brink. Whatever the reason, some extra details in the plot would have definitely helped audiences better understand and come to terms with Luke's failure and downfall.

BB-8's body count

We love BB-8, but it seems like Rian Johnson really struggled to find things for the quirky little droid to do in The Last Jedi. While much of BB-8's plot works, there were definitely some shoehorned contrivances and missed opportunities along the way. Instead of teaming up with a stranger like D.J., it would have made more sense for the loyal and skittish droid to stay close to Finn and Rose at the casino. This would present some problems during their space-horse escape, but that's part of the fun. Another high point was seeing BB-8 masquerading as a MSE "Mouse" droid—complete with mimicked beeps. However, we really were hoping for more interaction between BB-8 and its First Order counterpart, BB-9E.

Finally, BB-8's "coin gun" was a harmless and fun addition to the movie, but Johnson went too far by having the astromech droid kill First Order soldiers. BB-8 is programmed for repair and flight navigation, not battle. In BB-8's comic book appearances, the droid has never killed anyone and occasionally uses only non-lethal force to help Poe. Even if you accept that this ball-shaped droid could actually climb into an AT-ST, watching cute little BB-8 actually kill people was shocking. Instead, we wish D.J. had gotten another scene after getting his money, where the anarchist surreptitiously catches BB-8's attention and nods towards the walkers. This would set the stage for BB-8 to create a diversion for Rose and Finn's escape—but one that doesn't involve murdering anybody.

Timeline questions

One common question Star Wars fans have had about The Last Jedi is how exactly the plot between Rey and the rest of the characters matches up (or doesn't). Approximately 18 hours pass during the First Order's pursuit of the Resistance fleet, but it seems like Rey spends several nights on Ahch-To. This means either Rey's skill with the Force dramatically increases in just 18 hours, or the timelines don't quite mesh.

This may be a minor sticking point, but it would have been nice to better understand how much time has passed for Rey since she bade Leia farewell on D'Qar. This could been fixed by giving Leia or Finn an extra line or two, like "She's only been gone two days, be patient," or "She left three weeks ago, and she's still not back. Why shouldn't I worry?" Either way, it would be great if we actually knew how much time Rey spent with Luke—which might help account for her astonishing skill boost during the course of the film.