Premiere Date: December 15, 2017
Directed by: Rian Johnson
Not Spoiler Free!
This has been pretty difficult for me to write. Star Wars and I have a lot of history. For starters, I am not an objective viewer… at all. I have been obsessed with the Star Wars universe since I was 9 years old and my father took me to theater for the re-release. I have a very vivid memory of finding myself on the literal edge of my seat as the credits rolled. I remember bouncing around my mom as I talked all about the movie. Essentially, my life had changed. If it’s a Star Wars movie, I’m going to love it because its more of the universe I grew to love so much. I mean, let’s be honest here there are some movies, that I love more than others, but we’re not here to talk about those movies.
Now that that’s all out of the way, The Last Jedi has become one of the most polarizing films of the franchise. I’ve seen a lot of fans, those who weathered the prequel years, now finally throw in the towel. I’ve seen some criticism that I agree with and a lot that I do not.
I really enjoyed The Last Jedi. It basically turns all the familiar Star Wars tropes on its head and says NOPE we’re doing things differently. I mean Luke Skywalker says as much in the trailer “This is not going to go the way you think.” I would even say the one of the central themes of the film is “that was then, this is now.” As a friend even pointed out, the title of The Last Jedi doesn’t even follow the same naming conventions of the previous trilogies.
Much of the criticism I read about The Force Awakens was that it hit too many similar plot points as A New Hope. The Last Jedi hits similar plot points similar to ESB and ROTJ but yet things go in the opposite direction. The outcomes are far from being the same. In some cases with a big ole middle finger. Want to know how these new characters connect to the past? Fuck you, that’s how.
The Last Jedi is asking us to expand on what we think of when we think about Star Wars. There’s no longer one overwhelming Big Bad, instead it’s something almost worse. He wasn’t seduced by the dark side, he chose it.
Now, this may be an unpopular opinion, but I believe that Rey and Ben Solo are two sides of the same coin. They are the balance between light and dark sides of the force. They are similar in their power but different in every other way imaginable. They are on different, yet parallel paths. We’ve been talking about bringing balance to the force since the very beginning and this is finally what I think it’s supposed to look like.
Side Note: Please do not tell me about your Reylo theories and comments. #nhft
Ben Solo isn’t Anakin. He’s not a boy boy who struggled with his powers and was seduced to the dark side by someone he trusted. We may not know how Snoke and Ben found each other, maybe that comes later but Ben was already headed in that direction before he came into his life. This makes him less sympathetic character than even Anakin at his darkest moments. It makes many question if he should be allowed a redemption arc in the end, he is a Skywalker after all.
While I had hoped that it would have been Luke to usher in the new era of the Jedi, it is his training which will insure their survival. Luke didn’t fail, he taught Rey what he could and it is up to her to remember his teachings. That sometimes you have to look to the future and not everything that came before is better. Just because he didn’t have too much time with her, she’ll still remember his teachings. Yoda didn’t have that much time with Luke before he ran off to save his friends from Cloud City.
For one, I think it speaks volumes that Rey was able to look into the darkness and come back out the other side stronger in her convictions is a testament to her strength. The Jedi were always too afraid of it and were constantly trying to push it away. Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away as made extremely clear in the prequels.
The side adventures with Rose and Finn was honestly so wonderful. Both of these characters are so important to the story even if their mission was not successful. These are the everyday people affected by this war. Rose is willing to give up her life for the Rebellion. Its finally a face to all those making the rebellion possible. Those who until Rogue One were unsung heroes. I look forward to seeing Rose play a more pivotal role in Episode IX.
Carrie Fisher. I will probably always miss her and seeing her on screen one last time really special.
If you made it through that rambling mess… well I commend you. When it comes to Star Wars, I have a lot of feelings and a lot of them conflict. Star Wars has been a huge part of my life for 20 years and let’s just say that comes with a lot of baggage.