The Reel Deal: ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’
Movie reviews by: D-Rock
I recently saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi for the third time, yes, third time, in the theater. The Last Jedi is the ninth entry in the Star Wars film series and perhaps the most divisive. Since its release, I’ve heard some people call it one of the best films in the series, whereas other fans have called it the worst Star Wars film ever made. That’s a pretty bold statement considering this series includes films such as the much derided Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
So, having now seen this film multiple times, and spent almost every waking moment outside of that thinking about the film, I figured it was time to put some of my thoughts online like everyone else. I should warn you, the rest of this blog contains major spoilers from the film, so, proceed with caution. Although, honestly, if you haven’t seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi by now…
WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH YOU???!!!
Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell at you. I’m a very passionate man, obviously; and there’s nothing in this world I’m more passionate about than film. Anyone who knows me can confirm this. Anyways, let’s continue. So, when it was first announced that Rian Johnson would be directing Episode VIII of the Star Wars saga, I immediately screamed with excitement, because Rian, along with J.J. Abrams were on my dream list of potential Star Wars directors. I couldn’t believe it. It felt like Kathleen Kennedy had a window into my very soul (or brain, you know what I mean). I dreamed of J.J. directing a Star Wars film ever since his take on Star Trek was released back in 2009. I’ve been a fan of Rian Johnson since he made his feature film debut in 2005 with Brick. 2012’s Looper proved he could make great science fiction, and showcased that he truly was a visionary director. I feel like “visionary” is kind of just, thrown around these days, but with Rian, visionary is pretty accurate.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi picks up with the Resistance rushing to escape their base before the First Order can show up and wipe them out, and immediately gives some comedic relief that some fans found off-putting, but I enjoyed it because it reminded of the type of humor we’d seen from the likes of characters such as Han Solo in the original trilogy. This opening sequence then went on to give us one of the tensest scenes in the film that includes a resistance pilot making the ultimate sacrifice in service of her mission. It’s the first of many emotional scenes in the film, and it’s absolutely incredible! Later on, the film transitioned to find Rey exactly where we left her at the end of The Force Awakens, meeting Luke Skywalker with his blue lightsaber, which had been missing since the infamous climax of The Empire Strikes Back.
For two years, fans have been waiting for Luke’s response to his unexpected visitor. I think it’s safe to say we were all expecting some poignant emotional speech of gratitude from him. Instead, he chucked the lightsaber over his shoulders and walked off, without saying a single word to Rey. This very moment tells us immediately this film is not going to be what we expect. The Force Awakens gave us something very familiar. The Last Jedi, however, was going to be very, very different.
Over the course of the film, we saw a Luke Skywalker who had changed incredibly from the one we knew in the original films, which irked many fans who went in expecting the same old Luke. Weirdly, the course of 30 years, and some pretty traumatic events changed who he was a person… The film also went on answer the main question fans have been theorizing about for the last two years…Who are Rey’s parents?
Guess what, they’re nobody. She’s not a Skywalker, or a Kenobi, or Wedge’s daughter, or whatever other ridiculous theory fans came up. She’s nobody, and that’s the point. This revelation pissed off a lot of fans, whereas, I absolutely loved it! So many stories today, whether they be in films, television, books, etc are all based around the idea of the chosen one. Star Wars itself used this trope in its first couple trilogies. Other major franchises such as Harry Potter, The Matrix, etc. use it as well. People love it. Hell, I love it! The idea of prophecy, and destiny, and a fate that’s foretold years, or even centuries in advance is incredibly exciting. It has this awesome mystical aura about it that feels downright spiritual, or even religious. I feel like it’s even comforting, because it makes us feel like we’re not alone, that someone, or something, is watching over us and assuring us that there’s a purpose for everything, and that it’s all going to work out in the end, because it’s meant to be, right?
Well, as exciting as the idea of the chosen one is, how about mixing it up, just for the sake of variety? The idea that our main hero really is nobody, rather than some predestined hero is so exciting and refreshing because it means anybody can be a hero. The chosen one tell us that greatness and heroism is already decided. Rey being nobody tells us that making a difference and conquering evil, no matter how big or small is in anyone’s hands. Anyone who wants to step up and make a positive change can do so based on their sheer will. I think this is an incredibly powerful idea, and oh so relevant in today’s society.
I’ve read a lot of speculation that this is all just a red herring and that Episode IX will reveal that Rey really does descend from some great lineage. Honestly, I really don’t believe this will happen, because it would ruin the whole message this film has delivered to us about heroism. Of course I realize that J.J. Abrams is a different kind of storyteller than Rian Johnson is. In fact it’s J.J.’s style of storytelling and his love for the so-called “Mystery Box” in The Force Awakens that led fans to believe that the identity of Rey’s parents is a key plot point. Rian indeed went on to make it important; by not making it important; if that makes sense… I just hope that J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio respect the decisions Rian Johnson made with The Last Jedi, and choose not to alter them in Episode IX just for shock value.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a different kind of Star Wars film. While The Force Awakens gave us the perfect amount of familiar to bridge the time gap and reel us back into the franchise we love so dearly, The Last Jedi evolved to show us the potential for what the series can become. Star Wars is one of the most beloved pop culture icons of all time, and in order to stay that way, it’s important for it to continue to evolve and stay fresh for generations to come. I love Star Wars: The Last Jedi , and I sincerely hope you do too.