The Last Jedi has come and gone, and we already know just how much it is dividing fans. Even here at LRM there is a battle occurring with Jammer leading one side of the argument and David leading the other. I have tried to stay fairly neutral so far as I wait to see the movie a second time. If one side is the dark and one the light, I guess I am the grey in the middle, for the moment.
I think that as a writer, one of my many flaws is that whenever I watch a movie, unless it is perfect, I always have ideas for what little things I would change about the script in order to improve the movie. I am not talking a complete rewrite here, more like a script doctor. I guess many fans do this, especially those who have a passion to write their own stories. I have written in the past alternate scripts for The Phantom Menace and The Matrix Reloaded, just for fun to post in discussion boards.
Ultimately here are the key points I would have changed in The Last Jedi, which for me, would have improved the film, whilst still keeping the basic outline of Rian Johnson’s vision. By making these changes, Rian Johnson would have also kept the fan base much happier, or at least given them far less to complain about.
The Slow Chase through Space
For me, it would have been far better to have had the Resistance running through several light speed jumps. Let me explain, and…I know that this makes it even more like Battlestar Galactica (and we know one or two of you hate it enough as is), but hey ho.
Have the Resistance discover the First Order can track them through hyper space, and have their fighters attack and the resistance defend, but they have to keep jumping to light speed for respite. They still have limited fuel and they can only stay in light speed for so long, every time they drop out of hyper space, the FO attack and the Resistance have to defend as best they can until they can spool up another jump. Each time the FO attack, the Resistance lose more and more defensive capabilities and ships.
Ultimately, it results in the same effect as we got, but it would be more exciting and the light speed moments would enable the quieter character moments. You could have Poe slowly losing all his fighter crews after each attack. You don’t have to have Leia be in a coma, and just get rid of Admiral Holdo. I would have had Finn be the one to have his ideas on what the resistance truly means changed as he initially tries to escape as we see in the movie, but ends up having to watch as the fleet is slowly destroyed. He could still have been involved with Rose, but all aboard the ship as she struggles to keep it running and he is assigned to help her. She could still discuss the many people profiteering from the constant war, she could have talked about Canto Bight even as being where she grew up, maybe even as a flashback to when she was a kid.
It could also have been the Resistance’s plan to arrive at Crait (the salt planet) as happened in the movie, but have it be a currently used Resistance base, somewhere that they could plan to make a final stand against the First Order with troops and ships already there.
I guess for me, the weakest part of the movie was the storyline of Canto Bight and the character of DJ. To me he was a pointless character in a pointless plot line and it would have allowed for less time on the planet. It would have also allowed for plenty of star battles and kept the locations down to only 2 different planets in the movie, Ach-To and Crait. I think this would have streamlined the movie, kept the pace even faster, and allowed Finn to have some time with Poe, because as things stand, those two have hardly shared any screen time together yet across both movies now.
Supreme Leader Snoke
I truly believe that Rian Johnson should have taken on the responsibility of explaining who Snoke was. I have heard many people compare Snoke to how little we knew of the Emperor in the OT, but for me there are very real differences. The Emperor we knew from the OT had used Darth Vader to aid him in hunting down and destroying the Jedi order and ultimately had persuaded Anakin Skywalker to join the Dark side of the Force. There was little mention of Sith and the Republic, but we did then get a mythology built up by the Prequel Trilogy which clearly defined a set of rules. One master, one apprentice. So where was this Snoke character 30 years prior, he must have been around for him to be so powerful with the Dark Side and surely that would have presented as much of a threat to Darth Sidious as the Jedi did?
With the extra time we have gained by cutting out Canto Bight, I would have had a scene where Rey questions Luke about who this Snoke is and Luke relays the information as best as he can from what he has discovered. He would surely have consulted with Yoda, Obi Wan or Anakin about this before the incident with Ben Solo which caused him to shut himself away from the Force?
He could simply explain to Rey that Snoke was the former master of Darth Sidious, defeated and destroyed by Sidious (So he thought) who went on to claim dominion over the Sith. Snoke was able to transfer his spirit into another life form, using up that persons life force until the body was too badly damaged and decayed that he had to find a new host (Remember that Palp’s says he learned how to cheat death?). While the Emperor was rising to power, Snoke was in hiding trying to re establish himself in the unknown regions of space, but he was too afraid to take on the might of the Empire, especially with Darth Vader as an apprentice to his former pupil.
However, when Sidious and Vader perished, it allowed him an opportunity to take the remnants of the Empire and form them into the First Order. Hearing of the existence of Ben Solo, Snoke thought that the grandson of Darth Vader would make a perfect apprentice for him. Snoke could sense the darkness growing in Solo and Luke felt powerless to stop it. The conflict between Ben and Luke could have been shown more as Luke progressed towards the point he almost turned to the darkside himself to prevent Ben from becoming a new Darth Vader. Rian Johnson is right that Snoke revealing who he was to Rey when in his throne room would have been silly. But not to Luke. Luke could easily have explained all this as he tells Rey about the night Ben turned completely and why he blames himself.
It practically writes itself in a similar way to how Ben explains things to Luke in Return of the Jedi for me.
It would also leave the possibility of Snoke returning in a new body in episode 9, should JJ wish that to happen? If not, it doesn’t really matter as once again Snoke/Plaguis has been destroyed by his own apprentice and lost all his power, it is not Snoke’s story. Again though, I think fans would be quite satisfied with Snoke and his death, had they simply filmed one scene of Luke explaining what he knows to Rey.
Leia’s Force Powers
One thing and one thing alone here, I don’t like Superman Leia. Now don’t get me wrong, if anything I think both JJ Abrams and Rian Johnson should have shown Leia use the Force more than they did. It has always felt weird to me that for several years after Return of The Jedi, Luke wouldn’t have trained, or just taught Leia a few things about the Force.
Maybe she rejected the Jedi life and stopped her training? The point is that although I was happy to see Leia use the Force, I was not that happy with how it was done. What would have been far more dramatic IMO, would be for Leia to rescue several of the crew who were blasted out to space rather than she herself. If Rian was determined to have her in the Coma for Poe’s development, he could have had the strain of the event take her strength from her. Although I’d argue that Admiral Holdo and Leia’s roles could have been merged into one as I said above.
Rey (AKA Mary Sue)
All I’d be looking for here as a fan would be an explanation as to why she is so powerful. Snoke hints at why by saying that he suspected the light side would rise against Ben, he just expected it to be Luke Skywalker. All they would have to do is have Luke explain that he doesn’t understand why she is so strong for someone so untrained and then have Snoke explain it in a little more detail, after all, Luke has shut himself off from the Force, Snoke has not. Or have Ben Solo explain it to her after the parent thing, that Snoke said the Force finds balance, that a light side as strong as him would emerge to challenge him, but it doesn’t have to be that way if she joins him etc etc. It would be a very small change and hardly affect Rian’s vision at all, but it would satisfy one of the fans biggest complaints from both movies, that of Rey being a Mary Sue. I don’t need to know the minute details and it leaves it open for JJ to explore if he wishes in 9. It still boils down to The Force did it, but we have accepted that explanation many times before.
Of course we could go into much more detail if we were properly doctoring the script. But these are all changes which would have helped the overall movie go from average to great In my opinion. I do feel like this is all in keeping with the tone Johnson went for, which I am not going to argue about here, it’s been done to death already.
It’s also the reason why despite me leaning more towards liking the movie now, it will never be as good as I think it could have been had Johnson had someone to just take another quick pass before he shot it. I know some fans want the entire thing changed, but for me it just needed one or two small tweaks to really propel it to another level.
As always let us know what you think of this in the comments, perhaps you hate what I propose here, perhaps you agree, just remember that these are just my personal musings and the movie we got is the only movie we are ever going to get.