Star Wars: The Last Jedi picks up right where Star Wars: The Force Awakens left off and gives us a lot of the old mixed with a lot of the new. We get to see Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa, interacting with the likes of Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren and Poe Dameron. There are new worlds explored. There's a whole lot of the Force being used. Exploration of the Jedi order and mythology, as the title implies. And lightsabers. Lots of lightsabers. It may not be a perfect movie, but it does a lot of things right.
Director Rian Johnson was brought on board to take over for J.J. Abrams, who ushered the franchise back into the world with The Force Awakens. Bringing in a fresh, smart perspective, he's proven he knows how to craft a good sci-fi movie, and that turned out to be a very good move. Not only because it's going to make Disney and Lucasfilm a lot of money, but because fans are treated to a lot of great things as a result. When compared to Rogue One, there's a lot to love here. So, here are all of the ways that Star Wars: The Last Jedi is better than Rogue One.
Last Jedi has a clear vision.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a good movie, but the massive reshoots needed in order to get the movie ready for the big screen are quite well known at this point. Tony Gilroy was hired to come in and helped Gareth Edwards shoot new scenes and reshoot other scenes to get the final product we have today. In as much as it is a good movie, there is a lingering sense that the movie doesn't have as clear and distinct of a vision as Star Wars: The Last Jedi does. Despite any personal feelings toward either movie, Rian Johnson clearly has a vision that was executed flawlessly in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. He made the movie he wanted to make and the movie he set out to make. There's a clear vision to it through and through. Hence, Lucasfilm seemed to be very happy with his work. This is, without a doubt, one of the best things about Star Wars 8.
The Force is utilized better.
With characters like Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), the Force was explored in Rogue One, despite the fact that there were no actual Jedi in it, with Darth Vader only appearing in a few, key scenes. However, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is absolutely loaded down with revelations about the Force. Rian Johnson doesn't just show us what's familiar. He gives us a lot of Force-wielding and a lot of Jedi action, while expanding upon our deeper understanding of the Force. Surprisingly, after seven episodic Star Wars movies, the deeper ideas of the Force and the Jedi hadn't really been explored on screen. This is an absolute pillar of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and the movie is better off for it. In fact, future Star Wars movies, in general, will be better off for it, as the Force playbook has been opened up quite a bit. This adds to Star Wars lore in the best possible way.
Last Jedi has a better main villain.
There is no better villain than Darth Vader in the history of cinema. Period. So Rogue One gets an immediate bonus point for having him in the movie. Especially with that epic scene at the end. However, he's hardly the main villain of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. That honor belongs to Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), who does a fine job with what he's given. The problem is, he's not given a lot to do. It's one of the frustrating parts of that movie, without a doubt. Star Wars: The Last Jedi, on the other hand, has both Snoke and Kylo Ren. Not only were they one of the best parts of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but because we get to dive very deep into their characters in this latest chapter, it makes them much stronger villains. Literally. And with Kylo Ren, his character arc is not at all something predictable. It's easily one of the more interesting parts of The Last Jedi and Ben Solo's fascinating villainous turn, which keeps you guessing the entire time, makes him far and away a better villain than Orson Krennic could ever hope to be.
There are more familiar characters.
Rogue One proved that a Star Wars movie can totally work without relying on familiar characters to drive the story. The movie largely deals with an ensemble of characters never before introduced to us in a galaxy far, far away. It works. But there's just nothing like seeing Luke Skywalker with a lightsaber in his hand. There's nothing like seeing Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa commanding the Resistance in the way that only she can. Also, in this movie Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo Ren are familiar to us, since we got to know them in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That makes the journey we take with these characters more special and, for Star Wars fans who have been waiting for more than 30 years to see some of the things we get to see in The Last Jedi, it's impossible for a movie like Rogue One to hope to compete with the advantage familiar characters provide.
It's part of the Skywalker saga
Yes, Rogue One did give us the first ever standalone Star Wars movie and that's something that will allow Lucasfilm to explore all kinds of stories moving forward in a galaxy far, far away. That said, there's still something so comforting and special about movies in the Star Wars saga. Star Wars is more than a series of movies to a great many people and seeing this story still evolving after more than four decades is something truly special. Especially in the case of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, given some of the things we get to see. Mark Hamill gives quite possibly his best performance to date as Luke Skywalker, this is the last time we're ever going to see Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa and we got Frank Oz back as Yoda. These are things that simply can't happen in a standalone Star Wars story and have an impact that can't be matched. There's a lot of weight, emotionally and narratively speaking, to a movie in the Skywalker saga. Rogue One could never have hoped to compete with that sort of thing. At least not on an emotional level.
The Last Jedi uses nostalgia right.
Hollywood has become a nostalgia machine. Everything that is old, the industry is trying to make new again, if only to give audiences a familiar feeling and use that feeling to get butts in seats. Often times, this nostalgia doesn't really work. Think of the new Ghostbusters, for example. However, Rian Johnson brilliantly uses nostalgia to make Star Wars: The Last Jedi a better movie. Yoda just doesn't show up to remind people that Yoda exists. He shows up at a crucial time to help guide Luke Skywalker, which has been his most important role in the saga. Luke doesn't just use his lightsaber to remind us that he has a lightsaber. He only ignites it for important and compelling story reasons. Legacy characters don't just show up as a nod to the audience. Just look at what they did to Admiral Ackbar. Johnson takes the familiar, uses it in a nostalgic way, but makes that nostalgia work for the story. This is the best way to eat member berries, people.
The Last Jedi doesn't have a Death Star.
If there's one and only one thing that we never need to see in a Star Wars movie again, it's Jar Jar Binks. But just behind the most hated Gungan in the galaxy on that list is the Death Star. Or some version of a Death Star with a different name. We're looking at you, Starkiller Base. The Star Wars universe is massive and yet, so many of the movies have relied on the Death Star as a plot device. If not a central one, it even appears as a minor element, like in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. The entire plot of Rogue One relies on the Death Star and tells a story fans have wanted to see told for a very long time. That said, it is so unbelievably refreshing to have Star Wars: The Last Jedi not actually feature a Death Star. The closest we get is that canon at the end that uses some version of the Death Star cannon technology. So there's a name drop, but we don't have to deal with another version of the planet-killing weapon.
John Williams' Score.
Michael Giacchino is one of the finest composers working in the business today. If you don't believe it, just check out his IMDB page. So why not have him be the first man to score a Star Wars movie not named John Williams? That was the thinking when he was brought on board, sort of last-minute, to score Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. All due respect to Mr. Giacchino, but the score in Rogue One doesn't quite feel like a Star Wars score. John Williams is, in many ways, the heart and soul of the Star Wars franchise and listening to the score in Star Wars: The Last Jedi makes that very clear. He won't be able to do these movies forever, but we need to enjoy it while we can. This score in The Last Jedi really makes it feel like a Star Wars movie. So much so that you might not have even thought about it while watching the movie. But that speaks to what Williams brings to the table. He knows what he's doing with these movies and this unquestionably gives The Last Jedi a point over Rogue One.
The Last Jedi has Better Character Development.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has a lot of characters worth loving. The problem is, this band of Rebels has to be assembled so quickly and the mission has to start in order to keep the plot moving, leaving very little time for character development. Gareth Edwards does what he can, but the time constraint does get in the way of truly fleshing out these characters. Rian Johnson, however, has the benefit of playing with characters we're already familiar with and, with that, is able to give some incredibly satisfying character development in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Specifically, looking at a character like Kylo Ren, Johnson is able to very satisfyingly take his character in new, exciting directions. Luke is also a character who, despite being a pillar of the franchise from the very beginning, gets to head in brave, new directions in this movie. Top to bottom, this is a movie about character and, as a result, the character development is hands down way better. Rogue One was never meant to be a movie hinged on intimately developing characters, but The Last Jedi wins out in this respect as a result.
The new aliens are way better in The Last Jedi.
Can you name one truly cool alien that was introduced in Rogue One? Are there really any people out there who loved Bor Gullet? Rogue One has a lot of strengths, but introducing us to new, exciting aliens wasn't one of them. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is loaded with cool, new alien creatures all across the galaxy. The Porgs are just part of that equation, but it's worth mentioning that the cute little birds didn't become the new Ewoks. Porgs are great. You should love Porgs. But there's also the space horses, know as a fathiers, which are truly fantastic. Even many of the new aliens in the background of The Last Jedi seemed to be more noteworthy and compelling than those featured in Rogue One. Rian Johnson really did right by Star Wars fans in this respect.
There's never a dull moment in The Last Jedi.
Even if you don't love Star Wars: The Last Jedi in every respect, it's hard to accuse the movie of being boring. From the very beginning, the movie puts its foot on the gas pedal and doesn't let up. Even the more quiet moments in the movie are filled with intrigue and gorgeous imagery. Rogue One has plenty of great action, but there's definitely a sense that we're all waiting for the third act, which is straight-up the best kind of Star Wars one can hope for, but especially on repeat viewings, this shows. While Star Wars: The Last Jedi will surely evolve for viewers, as these movies do, on repeat viewings, it's doubtful you'll find a dull moment.
The Last Jedi Doesn't have weird CGI humans
Yes, Grand Moff Tarkin is a character that, in some way, needed to be in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Yes, given the way the movie ends, we needed to feel Leia's presence in some way, but even a year removed, those CGI human characters feel pretty strange. The technology just isn't all the way there yet and both Tarkin and Leia are quite jarring. They're clearly CGI human characters and they stand out like a sore thumb. Maybe Rian Johnson is lucky that he didn't have to include any characters played by actors who are no longer with us, but the fact that Star Wars: The Last Jedi doesn't have any of these CGI human characters is a big plus. Those elements of Rogue One are going to age very poorly and, one of the best things about Star Wars movies, the good ones at least, is their ageless quality. Star Wars: The Last Jedi feels more in line with that in some ways. CGI Tarkin is going to make that movie feel painfully dated, especially once that technology improves. Ultimately, comparing Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars: The Last Jedi is like comparing apples to oranges, in many ways. They're about as opposite as movies can be within the Star Wars universe. However, since they're the two movies that came out closest to one another, comparisons are going to be made. And sure, in some ways, Rogue One is probably a better movie than The Last Jedi. However, in these ways, Lucasfilm really got it right and improved over the first standalone Star Wars movie. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is out now.