Looking Back at 2010s Films: Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)

3 Oct

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By Tanner Smith

Ohh boy, I’m getting nervous writing this one now.

Continuing my series of Looking Back at 2010s Films…before I start this one, here’s my favorite bit from the Nostalgia Critic review of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”:

YODA: You must let go of the past and create a future of new challenges and ideas.
(pause)
LUKE: You do know you’re talking to “Star Wars” fans, right?
YODA: Bite my ass, they can!

I’m nervous to bring up “The Last Jedi” to people after the INSANE backlash it’s gotten since its original release. Those who hate this flick act like director Rian Johnson killed their dogs!

Yeah, this “Star Wars” film is…very divisive, to say the least. Some appreciate the film’s action and tone and deviation from traditional “Star Wars”…others saw it as too progressive, inconsistent, unfair to fan theories, insignificant (in terms of Rey’s parents), had underdeveloped characters (like Snoke), a betrayal Luke Skywalker’s character from the original trilogy, and…just too different for them to accept.

If I recall correctly, there was even a petition to redo Episode VIII entirely….yeah I’m sure that’ll happen, right after they redo “Game of Thrones” season 8.

Well, I love “The Last Jedi”…or…parts of “The Last Jedi,” anyway.

OK. *cracks knuckles* Let’s do this…

The thing is, we’re not going to get the old “Star Wars” again. We already had the old “Star Wars.” Hell, we still have the old “Star Wars” to watch whenever we want. Even “The Force Awakens,” which used the old formula, used it to pave the way for the NEW “Star Wars.” New ideas. New challenges. New questions. New answers. New characters. This is “Star Wars” taking risks with the old “Star Wars” ways, and I applaud Disney for that.

(If only they’d taken those same chances for the Han Solo movie, but that’s another post for another time.)

The character of Rey represents exactly that. She learned in the previous movie that she’s Force-sensitive and she wants to learn more about it. But not only did she learn more than she anticipated, but she also learned that there is so much more that could be done with it. And she’s not going to learn from it from reading the old scrolls/texts that explain the Jedi’s ways of The Force, because she also learned what Luke Skywalker learned the hard way long ago–that the Force has more possibilities than the Jedi ever even found use for.

So, who are we to say that the Force can’t do this/that? Think of all the things we’d miss out on.

People complain about Luke Skywalker turning his back on the Jedi and closing himself off from the Force and becoming so damn “cynical.” (Even Mark Hamill himself argued with director Johnson about it.) Well…yeah. This is years later. As with Han Solo in “The Force Awakens,” we see times have changed with Luke Skywalker in “The Last Jedi.” He’s seen things, felt things, been a part of something he thought would benefit people–of course he’d be bitter.

Why doesn’t this bother me? Because he directly acknowledges the decisions made by the Jedi in the prequels as the ultimate wrong choices. No kidding–they’re the ones responsible for Anakin becoming Darth Vader in the first place! Luke is someone who wants to do the right thing and is uncertain anymore about what it is, especially when there are other influences that can make things better or worse. Hell, he even thought of KILLING his student because of how strong he was with the Force! And because he couldn’t handle the pressure, he went into exile, and not for reasons as simple as why Yoda went into exile.

People complain about Rey coming from “nothing”–fans expected her to be Luke’s daughter or related to some other character. I was hoping they wouldn’t go in that direction, so I was pleased they didn’t. She’s just someone new who could either bring balance back to the Force or aid the First Order in completely taking over…or being totally neutral, which, again, would be something new. What matters is that she knows her past doesn’t matter and it’s what she does next that truly matters. And Luke realizes it too. And you could also argue Kylo Ren does too.

Everything involving Rey, Luke, and Kylo Ren in this movie, I absolutely love. The story moves forward with each of these three characters, and it brings the new challenges/ideas to life in ways I’m glad I didn’t expect. I also liked Poe Dameron’s arc. This is a brash, over-confident heroic type who learns that being stealthy and knowing when to run to fight another day is usually the best option rather than just jump into things and risk lives……BUT (and this is a big “but”) couldn’t Leia and/or Admiral Holdo have at least told him they were planning a stealthier approach in escaping the First Order’s clutches? They had to risk a mutiny that Poe was leading in order to teach him this lesson??

I’m going on a huge ramble here…I guess it all just comes down to whether or not it works for you. And this works for me…for the most part. Speaking of which, what parts don’t I like about “The Last Jedi?”

-The subplot about Finn and a new character named Rose doesn’t do a thing for me after rewatching the film. That’s not to say Rose is a bad character (especially not bad enough for actress Kelly Marie Tran to receive online attacks….seriously, some people need to grow the hell up); she’s spunky enough to catch interest. At first, I thought their journey to a casino was interesting because we could see how the wealthy live in this galaxy. But nowadays, I skip through it to get back to the good stuff with Rey and Luke and whatnot. It’s a shame, because Finn is an interesting character–there’s a lot for him to do, and I hope “The Rise of Skywalker” gives him much to do.
-Leia using the Force to shoot herself back to the ship after being thrust into space…yeah, I can’t really defend that either.
-Laura Den as Holdo. I love Laura Dern, but she doesn’t have the right amount of commanding power to make the character work.
-The Porgs…actually, I can’t hate the Porgs all that much; it’s not like “Star Wars” hasn’t tried even more desperate attempts to sell toys in the past.

That’s really all I have in terms of things I don’t like about “The Last Jedi.” Not explaining who Supreme Leader Snoke is, especially after revealing that he’s the one who drew Ben Solo to become Kylo Ren, doesn’t bother me as much…though maybe I’m under the impression that it’ll be explained at least slightly in “The Rise of Skywalker.”

“The Last Jedi” has SO much more going for it than so many fans are willing to accept, and I really like it because of that.

I know fans are also ticked off that this sequel trilogy doesn’t adapt any of the “Star Wars” books…that at least is more understandable to me than the other reasons they’re upset about it.

But then again, I also liked the “Game of Thrones” finale, so what do I know?

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