Last Jedi was indeed disappointing, but not unexpectedly so due to the preceding goofiness of Force Awakens. Disney seems quite content to “phone it in” when it comes to the writing of the new episodes for their space opera cash cow. This was apparent the moment they decided to begin filming before the entire trilogy had been written, much less put it in the hands of multiple directors. They–of all companies–should know that it takes the singular vision and leadership of an individual to competently helm a project or series of this magnitude. Handing off the middle-section of the trilogy to a relative nobody in comparison to JJ Abrams produced the expected effect–Rian Johnson set out to reinvent the wheel and prove that he was not just a stand-in. This wrought continuity errors galore, and–in his desperate scramble for originality and the confounding of expectations–what many fans believe to be a desecration of Lucas’ original vision.
While some attribute this to insidious SJW sabotage on Rian’s part, I chalk it up to mere temptation. This episode needed a humble servant of the fandom wholly devoted to helping Force Awakens make sense (how did the First Order crop up? who is Snoke? Knights of Ren? Rey’s heritage? the lightsaber’s journey to Maz? etc). Instead, we got a would-be innovator who tried to fix what wasn’t broken and neglect what was. Rian wanted to leave his mark on Star Wars, and he succeeded…by breaking the fundamental rules of its universe. With hyperspace kamikaze able to deal with any space threat, force-sensitive but untrained individuals surviving certain death with sudden godlike utilization of the force, and force ghosts capable of summoning down actual lightning, all future struggles and victories or defeats are rendered equally asinine. It’s as though Peter Jackson prematurely played the giant eagles card in his Lord of the Rings series, nullifying the world’s immersion by allowing the audience to ask, why all this journeying when the eagles can just go drop the ring in Mt Doom?
I have a feeling this barrage of deus ex machina will be studied in the future as a textbook example of why every story universe, no matter how fantastical, needs to maintain some realism and avoid easy ways out. Rian’s writing has assured that we will never again see a moment as emotionally powerful as Luke Skywalker’s final, successful attempt to save Vader from himself. That moment was powerful because it felt (no matter how unlikely) that he might actually die. Whereas, in Disney’s Star Wars, it’s painfully evident that no character is in real danger until their merchandise stops selling.