With the blu-ray release of Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi on Tuesday, March 27th, I really wanted to dive into what I thought of the most recent chapter of the Star Wars universe.
Before jumping into this review, I feel it’s necessary to give a bit of background to give a clearer view of where I’m coming from. I want to go over what Star Wars has meant to me throughout my life, as well as what the release of The Force Awakens meant to me back in 2015. After that first section, we’ll jump into The Last Jedi.
A Young Padawan
When I look back on some of the details of my childhood, I remember two distinct early memories from around when I was six or seven years old.
The first, playing the original Legend of Zelda on and off with my dad and second, owning and constantly watching the THX mastered VHS pack of the Star Wars trilogy.
To say I was obsessed with Star Wars would be an understatement. I remember going on out of state vacations with those three VHS tapes so I could continue to watch them wherever we would go. My friends and I would have sleepovers and would try to get through all three movies in one night. They would usually last until around Jabba’s Palace, but I could never just stop watching there.
Outside of the movies, I was immersed in the novels, even at a young age. Back then, you would never get me to read any long form novel in school (thank you Sparknotes), but throw any of the ‘Tales From’ books in front of me, the ‘Bounty Hunter Wars Trilogy’ or ‘Shadows of the Empire’, and I would digest it immediately.
Shadows of the Empire was the first real Star Wars game I grew attached to.
Video games were no different. I was lucky enough to play Rebel Assault II on my family’s first Gateway computer in the mid-nineties. When I was still young and couldn’t afford a Nintendo 64, my godfather rented one for me from Blockbuster with Shadows of the Empire.
That was really the first time I felt truly immersed in the Star Wars universe. Taking down AT-AT’s on Hoth during the first mission is still ridiculously fun, and game creators know it because there’s always a Hoth mission thrown into games wherever they can manage it.
If that’s not good enough, I get to fight IG-88 and Boba Fett? I can endlessly fly around during the last mission against Xizor’s Skyhook shooting down ships in space? I think I need to write one of these solely for Star Wars video games.
Needless to say, Star Wars was ingrained in every form of entertainment in my life. To George Lucas’s credit, he allowed all of these different mediums because he wanted Star Wars to be alive outside of the movies. It fostered imagination and kept us wanting more.
This leads us into The Phantom Menace.
Prequels and the Dark Times
I had just turned 12 at the time of its release and distinctly remember standing in line opening night with my dad. We got into the theater and sat in the first row of the upper section so we had that bar in front of us to put our feet up on. I also remember feeling emotional seeing “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” flash up on the screen while people cheered.
Oddly enough, I don’t remember many of my first thoughts after seeing it. I doubt that I completely understood what was happening, but I know I loved Darth Maul, the music and even pod racing.
Back then, there wasn’t an abundance of information readily available with the exception of magazine articles or bits on TV. All I really knew at the time was that my other 12 year old friends liked it overall as well. And so life went on with Star Wars back in the forefront.
The animosity became more evident as time went on with the release of Attack of the Clones. I wasn’t able to attend opening night, but a friend and I went the next morning.
The memory I have of this viewing, was the movie ending and having a completely stereotypical ‘Star Wars Nerd’ guy (unkempt, big goofy glasses, greasy long hair pulled into a pony-tail, wearing a Star Wars shirt and hat), yell “IT SUCKED” at the top of his lungs and storm out of the theater as the credits rolled.
I was 18 when Revenge of the Sith came out, and even I was embarrassed by Darth Vader shouting “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO” at the end of the film. I’ll spare you my overall thoughts on the prequels because much better and more organized reviewers have expressed them already, though I admit, they aren’t as bad as people make them out to be.
During the period between Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens, Star Wars still had a pulse in my life, though it wasn’t very prominent. I went through college, relationships, moves, struggled to find my footing in a career and other boring adult things we are expected to do. The sense of wonder and excitement that Star Wars had fostered early on in my life was fading away.
A New Hope
Disney buying Lucasfilms and announcing a new trilogy in 2012 was a bit of a shock. Most of my friends hated the idea, citing that Disney would make Star Wars more for kids and ‘Disney-fy’ everything.
I could never get behind this line of thinking because Star Wars had always been kids movies to me, and Lucas has said since at Star Wars Celebration events that making movies for kids was his original intention. I’m sure part of this thinking lends to me being a young child when I first saw the movies. If I were an adult when the original Star Wars came out, maybe I would feel differently. And to be honest, I couldn’t imagine a scenario where Disney made a worse film than Attack of the Clones.
George Lucas signing over Star Wars to Disney CEO Bob Iger.
The first teaser comes out, and it’s fantastic. It gave us enough of the familiar with the Millennium Falcon, desert planet and R2, along with flashes of the new with BB-8, Finn, Rey and the cross-guard saber.
The best part of the teaser was that people were talking about Star Wars again. Who’s that guy in the stormtrooper armor? Why can you hear an Imperial Probe Droid? Who is narrating over the trailer? Is it Darth Plagueis? Why does that lightsaber have a cross guard? It was great, and built up the excitement for over a year until the movie’s release.
Waiting for The Force Awakens, I started having long, internal debates in my head, attempting to figure out why I was going through this emotional roller coaster with each teaser or trailer release. I started asking myself, why was Star Wars important to me as a child? Why is it important to me now?
My future wife will occasionally joke with me when I show more emotion over different lines of dialogue or scenes in Star Wars than stuff going on in our own lives. My usual go to is that I’ve had a longer relationship with Star Wars than her, which doesn’t amuse her. Even though I mean it as a joke to get a rise out of her, there is truth in what I’m saying.
I can’t help but tear up when Luke looks over the binary sunset, yearning for something more in his life, or shortly later when he sees his Aunt and Uncle brutally murdered. He looks away from them, and then forces himself to look back at their bodies, to remember what has happened to them, who was responsible and what he would have to do next.
Luke arrives back home after the murder of his Aunt and Uncle. He turns away, then forces himself to look back at their bodies.
These examples are visceral and applicable to everyday life. How many of you have looked out into the distance, contemplating your life’s true meaning? Are you doing enough? Are you satisfied with your path? I do all the time. When I re-watch A New Hope and get to the binary sunset scene, I’m on Tattooine. Luke is me, and I’m Luke.
In a way, Luke was my first role model. We see a nobody who has aspirations of something greater achieve those things through friendship, pain, self-sacrifice and ordeal. Although I may not have fully understood the real-life application of what Luke was going through when I was six or seven years old, the framework for my moral and ethic code was being built back then watching Luke and his journey.
Escapism is the other reason. I’ve always had a vivid imagination. I read books, play video games and watch movies to get sucked into other worlds and get immersed in the characters, story and overall world building.
Star Wars fosters imagination from the opening line; “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” You’re being told that these events happened sometime in history and somewhere else in the galaxy. Being someone who absolutely doesn’t believe we are alone in the universe, it’s fun to think about events like this happening relatively nearby.
The Force Awakens
The buildup to The Force Awakens felt like an event in and of itself. Disney planned out teasers, trailers and toy releases masterfully to keep people like me talking about Star Wars. I ran out and grabbed way too many toys on Force Friday, but it all added to my excitement.
I was feeling so invigorating by all of the new Star Wars talk that I talked my future wife into going to a marathon Star Wars run leading up to The Force Awakens. It would start with The Phantom menace at 3:00am and end with The Force Awakens at 7:00pm. We arrived somewhere in the middle of Attack of the Clones and it was a blast. This would be my first time seeing the entire original trilogy on a large movie screen.
We couldn’t find any official start times for the marathon so we went back to the theater and one of the guys had this in their pocket.
After Return of the Jedi ended, there was a small break before The Force Awakens started. We grabbed some food and I remember telling the future wife that I just wanted the movie to be fun.
I can go into full detail at some point, but I felt I got what I wanted. I do have some issues with The Force Awakens, namely it being an overall re-telling of A New Hope instead of something completely fresh, but I loved the characters, humor, setting and flow.
I don’t have any regrets saying that I went to see it seven times; some in IMAX, some in IMAX 3D, some regular screens. I enjoyed the film and I enjoyed being in a room full of Star Wars fans again. Being introverted and not into the typical ‘guy stuff’ can be isolating. It was a nice reminder that there are others out there who might be going through similar things as I am, or knows how much something like a film series can do for someone fumbling through life.
At our second viewing the Saturday after release, I remember sitting next to a woman who was there alone. She was visiting from Europe and didn’t want to wait until going back home to watch Star Wars.
I saw her pump her fist in excitement when the Resistance shows up to fight the First Order at Maz Kanata’s, cheering them on to herself in the theater. I love seeing things like that. I have my own history, story and relationship with Star Wars, and I’m sure that woman in the theater has her own unique story that she can tell as well.
Most importantly, it was fun seeing kids in the theaters having that same sense of wonder on their faces that I had years before. It makes me even more excited to have kids and introduce them to all of this.
2015 Force Friday haul. Yea, I know. No regrets.
Over the course of the next two years, I was excited for The Last Jedi, but felt I wasn’t as consumed as I was for The Force Awakens. We got Rogue One in between trilogy movies which definitely tempered some of the excitement and I was just going through a lot in my personal life that I had to think about.
I still watched Disney celebration live, and saw The Last Jedi’s trailer for the first time with everyone else. I still pre purchased two showings the second after tickets went on sale, and still endlessly theorized in my head what it meant for the Jedi to end, but it was different. Star Wars was back into the forefront of our lives which is great and fun, but it also means the next Star Wars is only a short time away. We’ll talk more about this at the end of the review.
you’ll be able to surmise by now that I’m a huge Star Wars fan. I love the story, characters, imagination and endless possibilities. I don’t think any of the Star Wars films are perfect, but I don’t really need them to be. As I get older, I’m finding that I need different things out of Star Wars films.
Going into The Force Awakens, I had the feeling that I just wanted the movie to be fun, and I felt I got that. With my chief criticism of The Force Awakens being that it was very much a re-telling of A New Hope, I was curious with how they would handle The Last Jedi. I felt that if it was a re-telling of The Empire Strikes Back, Episodes VII – IX as a trilogy, would ultimately fall flat for me.
As I get older and read more books, watch more movies and am exposed to more experiences, I’m starting to value things differently than in the past. Playing video games, I may have wanted super cool badass edgy realistic graphics when I was 12, but now I appreciate something that’s unique and stands out for having its own identity.
With The Last Jedi, I wanted to be surprised. I wanted to see new things in Star Wars. I’m getting bored of the Rebellion vs. the Empire (and subsequently the Resistance vs. the First Order).
I knew going in that the groundwork had been laid for the Resistance vs. the First Order to continue, but we were also facing down another Jedi training session as well as a parental reveal for Rey, just like in The Empire Strikes Back.
Also, while I appreciate the idea of the Jedi and Sith in Star Wars; being cyclical and the balance of neither side being able to completely wipe out the other, there’s also the side of me that wants something else to be introduced and throw a wrench into that formula.
Because I won’t be going through a play by play of every scene in the film, you should probably check it out before reading on. However, I will be going over major plotlines, characters, choices and everything between regarding The Last Jedi.
The Best Pilot in the Resistance
One of the things that I have enjoyed the most about Poe is his reputation for being a great pilot. This was attempted once before in this series, “I’ll try spinning, that’s a good trick!”, but it fell flat for me overall. Anakin does end up doing some more impressive stuff in Revenge of the Sith, but it didn’t feel next-tier amazing.
Poe is decked out in legendaries as far as I’m concerned. We see Poe show off three different moments in The Force Awakens to back up the claims that he’s the best pilot in the Resistance.
- We see him say that he can fly anything, backed by him jumping into a TIE Fighter and escaping to Jakku.
- We have a great sequence on Takodana where Poe takes down multiple TIE Fighters in one smooth sequence.
- Poe leads the other Resistance fighters into the new trench run and shuts down Starkiller base’s oscillator.
Poe facing down the Dreadnought alone.
This is carried on immediately as we get into The Last Jedi. As a single fighter against multiple Star Destroyers and the ‘fleet killer’ Dreadnought, he uses the same wit that we witnessed in his interactions with Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens with General Hux here. Poe stalls, blasts off towards the Dreadnought and gives us the great shot of Hux looking out of the bridge and seeing explosions pop up across the Dreadnought’s surface.
This is capped off again with Poe destroying the last cannon on the Dreadnought. He throws down the E-brake (do X-Wings have E-brakes?) and does this quick move to get behind two TIE Fighters that had been chasing him.
This is a perfect example of showing us instead of telling. At the same time, we are continuing characters traits that we witnessed from The Force Awakens. I’m invested in Poe and I completely believe that he’s the best pilot in the Resistance.
Poe, Leia and Holdo
One of my favorite lines in the film comes from Leia after what Poe believes is a successful mission in destroying the Dreadnought. She slaps Poe, demotes him and openly criticizes his decision to keep attacking the Dreadnought. Poe rebuttals by saying that “There were heroes on that mission”, to which Leia responds “Dead heroes, no leaders.”
We know what Leia wants, and Leia already knows that Poe has what it takes to take command of the Resistance; she just needs Poe to realize it. I feel like a lot of this story line taps into my management experience. You just know that someone has that something inside of them; you just need to figure out how to pull it out and get them to realize it themselves.
Leia gets a lot of moments during The Last Jedi where you can feel her reflecting on past decisions and the loss she’s endured.
The same applies as we get into the meat of Poe’s arc throughout the rest of the film. Vice Admiral Holdo is presented as being a reputable figure in the Resistance; as evident when Poe is surprised that this is the same Holdo from a previous, notable battle.
At some point throughout her command of the remaining Resistance fighters, Holdo comes up with the plan that we eventually see in the film. She has located an old Rebel base that has the ability to send out a distress signal to allies across the Outer Rim. She orders the refueling of Resistance transports, allowing them to escape and survive to fight another day.
Much criticism in this story line comes from the fact that Holdo doesn’t tell Poe what her plan is. I think the management experience in me is again jumping through, but overall I don’t see much of an issue with the way things panned out.
Holdo accurately describes Poe at this point in the series during their first meeting. She reminds him that his decisions led to the Resistance losing their entire bombing fleet and calls him a trigger happy fly boy that’s impulsive and dangerous. Honestly, I wouldn’t want to tell this guy anything either if I were in charge of a few hundred lives.
The only time this starts to fall apart is Poe’s mutiny. At the same time, what are Holdo’s options? If she tells Poe the plan, Finn and Rose are still aboard the Supremacy. Does she now risk resources and the entire plan for them? Poe’s immaturity and lack of leadership ability forces Holdo to act the way she does.
Things start to finally click with Poe during the Battle of Crait. Realizing that they can’t win the battle, he wants everyone to pull back to fight another day. It’s a clear change from the opening scene of the film and indication that he’s learned a major lesson that Leia was trying to get across; winning and surviving are very different.
I think the real test for this arc will come in Episode IX. Poe should feel the weight of his mistakes in The Last Jedi. He needs to understand that it is his fault that hundreds of Resistance members didn’t survive and that he almost single handily caused their destruction..
If they give Poe this regret, while shaping him even more as the leader of the Resistance, it will work. If they ignore this development for Poe from The Last Jedi, it makes his actions mean much less and his arc falls apart.
I definitely have some mixed feelings about this storyline in the general sense, but probably not for similar reasons as others you may have heard. I need to start off with Finn, one of the four main characters of this sequel trilogy. His character progression is just, off, especially compared to Rey, Poe and Kylo Ren.
Most Star Wars fans seemed excited at the idea of one of our main characters in Episodes VII – IX being a deserting Stormtrooper. That’s new, interesting and more importantly, can set up a myriad of possibilities with the story arc across the three films. Instead, it seems to be rarely touched on in any meaningful way.
The Force Awakens did a decent job in making Finn feel cast aside after leaving The First Order. You have random Stormtroopers coming up to him in the battlefield and calling him a traitor. On top of that, you have Kylo Ren screaming it at the top of his lungs after he flings your friend into a tree.
Finn about to wake up for the first time since his encounter with Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens.
The Last Jedi didn’t really know what to do with Finn. Rey is off with Luke and forming a space bond with Kylo Ren, leaving Finn with the Resistance. It’s sweet that he cares about Rey and I can get behind that, but he starts off trying to abandon his friends, again. This time it was to protect Rey, but the initial story beat repeats itself from The Force Awakens.
Putting Finn in situations where he is surrounded by the First Order is a good idea, but you need to build on that tension, make those situations uncomfortable for him but also drive the point home that he is sacrificing a life of torture and agony if he gets caught for the cause he believes in.
They try to do that later with putting him on the Supremacy, but there isn’t enough there. It feels like they are captured right after getting on board. It also doesn’t help that we are cutting between those scenes and scenes involving Rey, Kylo Ren and Snoke, which was infinitely more captivating.
Finn’s attempted sacrifice at the end of the film was also more character development for Poe in my eyes. Poe was learning from his previous folly in the opening sequence of and having nearly his entire crew die. Finn didn’t want to follow his orders, paralleling Poe from earlier. It felt more frustrating and forced than natural.
Rose and the Failed Side Quest
Overall, I don’t mind Rose as a character in this film. She’s a regular citizen who had her home world stripped of ore to fuel the First Order’s war machine. She and her sister Paige got fed up and joined the Resistance. I’d say that’s as noble a cause as any in the Star Wars universe to become a part of the fight and contribute.
I do struggle to see what her presence accomplishes though. She brings up questions of slavery within the galaxy as well as the rich getting richer off the war between the Resistance and the First Order which can be an interesting plot to explore in a film of its own, but doesn’t fit as a side plot here.
Finn and Rose trying to hunt down the code breaker in Canto Bight.
My main question is what does she do for Finn’s character progression? I think the most interesting dialogue from this plot line come from Benicio Del Toro’s DJ character when revealing that the Resistance can be portrayed as the bad guys just as the First Order. I especially liked DJ saying to Finn not to join either side as a piece of advice.
Finn and Rose’s story culminates with Finn wanting to sacrifice himself and Rose saving him. It’s a fine moment for Rose because at the beginning of the film, she revels in meeting Finn, but gets disappointed in his desertion attempt. She builds up trust with him over the film and begins to have feelings. I guess that’s fine, but she doesn’t really provide much development for the characters she is around.
The Canto Bight section is hit or miss for me. I have different ideas for what it could have been when I speak on Captain Phasma later on, but the whole idea that they get arrested due to leaving their ship on the beach just doesn’t work for me and took me out of the plot for that moment. The actual casino, paired with John Williams great score, feels natural and fantastical. It’s obvious that this is Rian Johnson’s take on Mos Eisley’s Cantina, just as J.J. Abrams did on Takodana, but that’s okay. It’s different enough to allow it to stand on its own legs.
I might get skewered for this, but when they first show the track outside of the casino, I actually got excited at the idea of it being pod racing. For all of Episode I’s fault’s, the actual pod race was fun to watch, and still is for me today. As I write this I can still hear the chugging of Sebulba’s pod racer in my head.
A major complaint that I’ve heard is that the entire story line just doesn’t matter in the long run. Finn and Rose get caught, and they most certainly don’t save the day. However, I’m sure many of you out there were expecting the mission to be successful before they even arrive on Canto Bight. It’s a predictable turn of events, especially in a movie like this. I really don’t hate that Rian turned the trope on its head and switched things up.
Canto Bight casino; a real, large practical set with hundreds of costumes and creatures scattered throughout.
But again, I feel like this aids Poe’s character more than Finn. Poe sent Rose and Finn off on this mission because he didn’t trust Holdo and her judgment and it’s ultimately his fault that the Resistance was even in that position on Crait in the first place.
This thread caps off with the kiss. It’s definitely awkward, but I viewed it as Finn not really expecting it. The romance always felt one sided with this pairing. Rose is introduced to us fawning over Finn and calling him a hero whereas Finn is largely just worried about Rey. I don’t know how this will be explored in Episode IX, but it really feels like it just doesn’t matter that much.
Rey From Nowhere
Rey has been a polarizing character amongst Star Wars fans since for the past few years. This mostly stems from accusations of her being a ‘Mary Sue’ who is good at everything. In The Force Awakens, we see her fly ships she’s never flown before, use various force powers and stand toe to toe with Kylo Ren at the end of the film.
Rey on Ahch-To. Still holding out for a staff-saber from her in Episode IX.
Many held their breath to see what they would offer in The Last Jedi. If Rey was a secret Skywalker or Kenobi, the quick ability to master these force powers would explain itself. That doesn’t happen, which I’ll get into shortly.
During the throne room scene, Snoke tells Rey that “Darkness rises and light to meet it. I warned my young apprentice that as he grew stronger, his equal in the light would rise.” He assumes this is Luke, but it turns out to be Rey.
This balance is an essential aspect of the Star Wars universe. In Episodes I-III, we see the Jedi at their height of power, controlling many aspects of the galaxy and having the respect of the Senate as a whole. Darth Sidious comes and burns their Jedi Order to the ground, shifting the advantage to the Sith for a few decades. In Episodes IV – VI, Luke rises to challenge the Empire, ridding the galaxy of Darth Sidious and Darth Vader.
During the years since Return of the Jedi, Kylo Ren and Snoke rise in power, shifting the balance once more, giving way to Rey. The shifting balance in Star Wars is core to the story; you don’t have Star Wars without it.
The ship flying, I can give you though. They could have had a line thrown into The Force Awakens that she had done some supply runs for Unkar Plutt or something and that would have been fine to justify her flying ability.
In The Force Awakens, Rey’s parents are hinted at quite a bit. She brings them up multiple times throughout the film and we even see her as a child screaming as she stares up at them after leaving her with Unkar Plutt.
Going into The Last Jedi, there was a flurry of speculation on who Rey’s parents are; ranging from her being a Palpatine to a Kenobi. Regardless of whom, considering that she is strong with the Force and seemingly receiving some sort of past training, they must be prominent figures in the lore. This turns out not to be true.
In The Last Jedi, if Kylo Ren is to be believed, Rey’s parents were junk dealers on Jakku that sold her off for drinking money to Unkar Plutt. When looking at Rian Johnson’s decision regarding her parentage, there are a few things to look at and consider.
The first point is to consider the balance that I note above. I’m not saying that I fully agree with how quickly she becomes all-powerful and knowledgeable, especially without the background of maybe being one of the students at Luke’s temple, or secretly planted and trained by Palpatine as a child, but when talking about the Force and the balance, it’s believable to me.
I’ve heard interviews with Rian regarding the Rey parentage question as well. He mentions going through the list of possible familial connections that she can have. What if we make her an heir to Obi-Wan, how does that affect her and propel her forward in the story? Obi-Wan doesn’t mean anything to her, it’s just a fun fact for us viewers and gives us a justification for how strong she is with the Force.
Rey feeling the pull to the dark.
Revealing a mirror image of Rey to herself in the mirror scene is much more powerful. She’s been spending her entire life waiting for her parents and finding answers, but in reality, the answer was that her parents don’t matter and she needs to believe in herself. That impacts her character more than any set of parents that the Star Wars story team could have given her.
I hope that J.J. Abrams doesn’t walk back Rey’s parentage reveal in Episode IX. Part of the overall message from The Last Jedi is that you don’t have to be a Skywalker or apart of royal lineage to play a role and make an impact in this galaxy’s story.
Rian hammers this down with ‘broom kid’ at the end as well. He’s a Force user that’s been inspired by Finn and Rose’s actions on Canto Bight. For him, his feeling of being nothing, a slave, just got a burst of life. It signals change within the Star Wars galaxy once again.
In the past, a chief complaint I’ve always heard of the overall saga is that it’s very limited in scope. We follow one small set of characters circling the Skywalker family when we have an entire galaxy of planets, species and creatures to explore. Rey’s parental reveal lays the ground work for more stories being told.
The Son of Darkness
I thoroughly enjoy what they did with Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens. We’ve had that foreboding, tough, scary badass in Darth Vader; I don’t want it again. The biggest mistake Disney could have done with the villains in Episodes VII – IX was attempting to re-create Darth Vader.
In The Force Awakens, we’re introduced to Kylo Ren with him ordering the death of a village, killing someone he knows from his past and displaying his knowledge of the Force in a way we haven’t seen before by stopping Poe’s blaster shot. He’s confident, sure of himself and powerful.
Kylo Ren before Snoke alludes to him being a child in a mask.
Throughout The Force Awakens, we watch him slowly come undone, each event picking away at him even more until he’s completely broken by Rey at the end of the film.
As a side note; during the end of their fight in The Force Awakens, I was saying repeatedly in my head for Rey not to kill Kylo Ren, and was relieved when they were split apart. I think that one of the prequels biggest mistakes was killing Darth Maul in Episode I.
Obi-Wan sees his master cut down in front of his eyes by a Sith lord. Imagine Maul getting away after this? What it does to Obi-Wan internally, as a person and a Jedi. Revenge isn’t the Jedi way, how does he cope with that?
I kept thinking how much more interesting it would have been for Obi-Wan to be hunting down Darth Maul in Episode II instead of Jango Fett and building up their rivalry even more. Leading into Revenge of the Sith, have Obi-Wans obsession rub off on Anakin as seeking revenge to further his journey to the Dark Side. Hell, have Obi-Wan and Anakin capture Maul, only to have Anakin slay him instead of Dooku, creating more of a rift between the two. They could have done so much more there, but anyway.
Kylo Ren is Luke Skywalker, but unhinged and unpredictable. He’s born into this royal Jedi lineage and feels that pressure. He knows who Darth Vader is and had Snoke prodding at him in some form as he went through his most influential years. He wakes up one night to see his Uncle, Jedi Luke Skywalker, prepared to strike him down in his sleep. He turns on his legacy, the Jedi and his family. It’s tragic.
We don’t see specifically what he went through despite the one flashback, but he goes from thinking his Uncle wants to kill him, to a master that constantly doubts him and puts him down. There’s a lot more to Kylo Ren than a ‘spoiled brat who has tantrums’.
Supreme Leader Snoke
Supreme Leader Snoke is very interesting to me. In a lot of cases, I can fall on one side or another when it comes to some of the choices made in The Last Jedi, or series in general. For Snoke, I’m teetering in the middle, never fully committing to falling off in either direction.
When Snoke was introduced in The Force Awakens, like everyone else, I had a lot of questions. Who is he? How did he come to be in charge of the First Order? How is he Kylo Ren’s master? Is he a Sith? Again, like others, I thought they would address these questions in The Last Jedi.
What is answered, is that Snoke is a powerful Force user, who isn’t necessarily a Sith, that was able to inject enough doubt into Kylo Ren during his training to become a Jedi. This planted doubt acted as the catalyst that propelled Kylo Ren towards the Dark Side.
I enjoyed questioning this scene from The Force Awakens and asking myself if there were now giants in Star Wars.
From Snoke’s perspective, he has to be feeling pretty cocky about the whole thing. He stole away Darth Vader’s grandson from Luke Skywalker, left him broken in the process and effectively ended the Jedi until The Force Awakens spawned Rey. Some other powerful Sith was pretty cocky as well, which we’ll get into shortly.
I feel that Snoke’s death is going to be a controversial topic for years to come among Star Wars fans, but for me it’s justified and laid out within this film. I want to look at a few different things; what we know about the Sith or dark side users already, Snoke and Kylo Ren’s relationship and what Yoda says to Luke as they are watching the tree burn on Ahch-To.
First, we need to talk about Emperor Palpatine. There are parallels between how each of this characters conduct themselves. As I just said, they are both cocky and believe themselves to be untouchable due to their command of the Force. They also both underestimated their apprentice.
Before moving further into this, I want to go over the Sith’s ‘Rule of Two’, which is still canon because it was mentioned in The Clone Wars the animated series. For those that aren’t hardcore geeks, the Rule of Two means that the Sith, unlike the Jedi, only have two at any given time; master and apprentice. The idea behind this is concentrated knowledge and power. The apprentice learns everything they can from their master, kills them, allowing them to become the master and find an apprentice of their own to continue the cycle. The master, in theory, has the knowledge of all the past Sith Lords during the Rule of Two era, making each new master more powerful than the last.
Palpatine knows this, and still underestimated his apprentice, Darth Vader. He believed that Anakin Skywalker was his true and powerful heir. When he was cut down and de-limbed by Obi-Wan, Anakin Skywalker, the apprentice Palpatine thought he was getting, was ultimately destroyed. He basically settles for Darth Vader.
Throughout the original trilogy, the Emperor is focused on getting Luke to turn to the Dark Side. It’s not to form a merry band of Sith and abolish the Rule of Two, it’s to replace Darth Vader. He never felt that Vader was a threat to his rule, never believed that Vader would usurp him as the master and grew complacent. His over confidence was his weakness after all.
I enjoy Snoke’s design in that he’s not the default brooding, black-cloaked villain. Andy Serkis is amazing as well.
Secondly, the scenes we see between Snoke and Kylo Ren throughout The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi are anything but nurturing. Snoke berates Kylo and even gives off the impression that he would replace him with Rey if she proved to be more powerful. Even Kylo Ren knows this when he admits to Vaders helmet that Snoke senses his pull to the light.
Snoke calls Kylo Ren powerful, but doubts his intentions; even humiliates him when he scoffs at a mere scavenger resisting Kylo Ren’s Force abilities in The Force Awakens. Kylo Ren gets dismissed by his master, not unlike Luke seemingly dismissed him in the flashbacks we see.
The last piece of this puzzle, is Yoda’s speech to Luke, which happens right before the throne room scene with Kylo Ren, Rey and Snoke.
Yoda tells Luke:
“Pass on what you have learned.” Strength, mastery, hmm…but weakness, folly, failure, also. Yes: failure, most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is. Luke, we are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters.”
Supreme Leader Snoke, for all of his power, ability and knowledge, did not learn from Palpatine’s weakness and failure. Instead, he repeats them by not believing in his apprentice and looking beyond him and his intentions. He never felt vulnerable, never felt at risk and never felt that he could fail. His over confidence was his undoing.
When I think of Snoke, his demise and the decision to kill him, I tried looking at it from a different perspective. If Snoke survived The Last Jedi, we are all looking for some sort of battle at the end of the upcoming Episode IX, leading to his death with involvement from Kylo Ren, Rey, Luke or a different combination of the three. How is that any different than the end of Return of the Jedi? We would all be saying that it was a re-hash, as we did with The Force Awakens.
We can have Snoke go in the beginning of Episode IX, but wait, they did that for Dooku and everyone would be upset that Snoke was built up for nothing through three movies. Snoke’s purpose was to build Kylo Ren’s and influence his decision making. Rian Johnson had a feeling of where he wanted Kylo Ren to end up and went for it. I don’t have an issue with that considering I feel that Kylo Ren is the most compelling character in the new trilogy.
Rey and Kylo Ren’s fight against the Praetorian Guards is one of the coolest scenes in Star Wars. One aspect I really love about the new trilogy, is how visceral lightsabers feel, and it’s exemplified here during this scene.
However, I do believe we should have gotten some sort of indication of where Snoke came from and how he came to be in charge of the ridiculously powerful First Order; not to mention having a system killing weapon exponentially bigger than either Death Star.
In some of the books we’ve gotten since Disney took over, we have hints of Palpatine having other plans around Jakku and the Outer Rim. We could have had one conversation in either of these movies explaining that Palpatine had planned for a legacy past death and implanted agents such as Snoke, in key locations around the galaxy, or something else; anything else.
I remember reading comments after The Last Jedi was released specifically being disappointed that Snoke wasn’t Darth Plagueis. I feel that this is one of those niche complaints. We did get a Darth Plagueis mention by Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith, but the book that chronicles Plagueis’s life by James Luceno, isn’t even canon anymore. And frankly, having Plagueis alive diminishes part of what Palpatine did to rise to power in my eyes.
We’ll likely get some sort of novel chronicling the origin of Snoke in the future, which is fine for Star Wars fans, but things like games, books and comics can’t be an excuse used in these main saga films.
Watching the end of The Force Awakens, as Rey gets into the Millennium Falcon with Chewie and R2, I was expecting them to close off the film with that classic shot of hyperspace. To my surprise, they didn’t. The Falcon arrives on Ahch-To and Rey walks her final steps to find Luke.
During the short meeting between Rey and Luke, we see Rey grab the lightsaber and reach out to Luke. He looks at it, but doesn’t reach out. The amount of acting that Mark Hamill manages to pull out without saying a word is impressive. You can see a damaged Luke, broken, full of anguish and unsure of himself just in those short moments we have with him.
When the scene continues, after two years of anticipation for Luke Skywalker, he throws the lightsaber behind him and walks away. Of all the scenarios I played in my head, this was most definitely not one of them. Even today, watching it again, I’m not really sure about the decision. It’s not so much that he doesn’t accept the lightsaber, it’s how comically he tosses it. I think that we could have received the same effect by him struggling as we see in The Force Awakens, dropping it and walking away.
Luke getting ready to toss aside half the fan base.
Hints of Luke’s character in this film are seen even before we go into the theaters for the first time. Along with his reaction to seeing the lightsaber at the end of The Force Awakens, we get moments in The Last Jedi trailer of Luke saying the Jedi should end. This was an indication to viewers that we wouldn’t be seeing the Luke Skywalker of old.
Our old Luke Skywalker is still there though; we just see it in small moments throughout The Last Jedi. Luke going aboard the Falcon and greeting R2-D2 is one of those moments. The entire interaction is great and Luke seems to pierce through that shroud that he’s built over the years alone on Ahch-To. I’d also say that messing with Rey on the rock during the first lesson is another moment. Luke is having fun, and I enjoyed seeing that.
When I hear criticisms of Luke in this film and how they completely changed his character, well, the character of Luke Skywalker went through something life-changing.
Just as we see Kylo Ren feeling broken and cast aside by his Uncle, we see Luke living with the guilt of what he had done. Those few seconds of weakness had caused the deaths of many, and that has weighed Luke down to the point to where he closes off the Force from himself. Luke no longer trusts himself, is scared of what he had created in Kylo Ren and is scared of doing more harm.
This mistrust in himself that he feels also destroys the idea of Luke Skywalker as an inspiration to the galaxy. He doesn’t see himself as the spark, he’s a failure, the galaxy just doesn’t know that part. They continue to deify him as they did the Jedi of old.
I really enjoy this moment with Luke after he floats himself to the ground with the Force. Rey makes one last attempt for Luke to take responsibility for what he means in this galaxy, just to have him turn away.
I’m older now. There have been many sweeping changes in my sense of self over just the past few years, let alone decades, and that’s without going through something catastrophic as Luke had regarding the turning of Ben Solo. To expect Luke to be that same person isn’t realistic. I don’t feel this change to Luke’s character that many fans do, I feel his evolution.
Luke from Episodes IV – VI gave me inspiration with his sense of adventure, friendship, hope and bravery. The Luke from The Last Jedi gives me lessons on failure, how to overcome it and reconcile with past mistakes in order to move forward.
The last thing I wanted to see was Luke dying. This is my hero, your hero, growing up as a kid and into young adulthood. But we knew it was coming, whether in The Last Jedi or Episode IX. Once I conceded to that thought, I wanted it to be on his terms, not Kylo Ren’s.
If we put Luke physically onto Crait, what were we to expect? Kylo Ren cutting down Luke would have felt cheap. Luke besting Kylo Ren without a true fight, despite the fact that he is now self proclaimed Supreme Leader is demoralizing to Kylo Ren and may make him more unstable and unpredictable in Episode IX.
Luke got to choose his death, peacefully, after embracing his myth and understanding that Luke Skywalker is a symbol for hope in the galaxy.
Now that we’ve gotten through the main characters, I want to talk more about some of the Force powers introduced in The Last Jedi. We’ll touch on Leia, Yoda and the Force connection between Kylo Ren and Rey.
1) Leia’s Spacewalk: I think that going into The Last Jedi, we knew we were going to lose General Leia due to Carrie Fisher’s passing. Early on in the film, we have Kylo Ren with the Resistance flagship in his sites and he refuses to fire and kill his mother as he had done with his father.
Leia feeling the pull of the Force as she begins to head back to the Resistance freighter.
Instead, other First Order fighters do indeed fire on the bridge, sending General Leia, Admiral Ackbar and others into space.
Watching in theaters, I was okay about how it played out. We get some arc development for Kylo Ren by not killing his mother. The impact on him will be interesting to see play out over the rest of the film and the Resistance will be in disarray.
Leia opens her eyes, channels the Force and floats back to the Resistance ship. Now, I think on the spectrum of Star Wars fans accepting new things, I’m more near “I’m okay with it, it’s just Star Wars” than most, and even I was trying to figure out what had just happened. This was my single ‘jump the shark’ moment that I knew was going to be tough to get past.
Leaving the theater, I kept thinking about it. On one hand, I love the idea of seeing Leia use Force powers. Besides communicating with Luke at the end of The Empire Strikes Back, we really haven’t gotten anything from her considering how powerful her father, brother and son are with the Force. On the other hand, surviving floating through space?
I tried thinking of it from a different light. I’m not really sure we know the physics of space in Star Wars. We know that if something similar happens to you or I, we freeze and it’s instant death. Have we seen anything like that in Star Wars? I’m really not sure.
General Grievous fires himself out into space and is able to be mobile, Darth Vader and a squad of Stormtroopers stand right at the ramp of a Rebel ship, watching the Tantive IV fly away in Rogue One and the Resistance bomber techs have open space right below them and survive just fine in The Last Jedi, well, the open space part anyway. Maybe there’s something to that, making the spacewalk less ridiculous.
The one detail that I think bothered me the most didn’t even have to do with Leia’s Force power. When she floats back to the door with all of the Resistance fighters, the door clearly opens and she comes through to receive medical assistance. The way they cut this, is to see Leia closing the door behind her. Wasn’t space on the other side of that door? Wouldn’t everyone had been sucked out if she opened the door? Did she use the Force to stop that from happening too?
A few months later as I write this and re-watch The Last Jedi, I think they could have handled the scene in a similar way without it seeming out of left field.
One example I can think of is if the scene plays out as it did in the film up to the bridge getting hit. Instead of the bridge completely blowing apart, Leia struggles to use the Force to hold the bridge together as everyone escapes out through the door. She gets through the door as well, with everything blasting away behind her. She’s exhausted and near death from expelling that amount of energy, like Luke later on, and the rest of the film plays out as it does.
One aspect I did like about the whole thing was that no one brings it up again. It might seem just like a plot device to others, but for me, it felt like the Resistance had seen things like this before from Leia and they weren’t as surprised by her power. I don’t know if it was intentional, but that aspect really worked for me.
2) Yoda’s Force Ghost: When Yoda appears as a Force ghost to Luke after Rey leaves to confront Kylo Ren, we get that great interaction between the two. As their scene plays out, Luke shies away from burning the ancient tree and sacred Jedi texts. This causes Yoda to summon lightning to burn the tree.
Yoda teaching Luke a valuable lesson about failure, learning to accept it and learn from it.
I didn’t see that this was a controversial decision until reading viewer impressions afterwards, but they do have a point; this is the first time we see a Force ghost manipulate matter from the afterlife in a Star Wars film.
Yoda being able to do this was an easy sell for me. Obi-Wan supports this twice in A New Hope. First, by saying “The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.” to Luke. Second, in his duel with Darth Vader in A New Hope by saying “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.”
Yoda being able to manipulate or compel the lightning strike tells me that after death, he’s now bound with the energy field of the galaxy. He’s also not any other Jedi. Yoda is presumably one of few Jedi that are even able to project as a Force ghost, and the only Jedi we’ve seen manipulate matter through being a Force ghost. I feel that right now, it’s fine, although there may be a point to where we need rules established for it.
3) The Force Connection: A major Force power that we see in The Last Jedi involves Rey and Kylo Ren being able to communicate across the galaxy. When it first happens, they are both unsure of why it was happening to them, and we later find that Snoke was stoking the flames as a way to get Rey to the Supremacy.
The connection they have with each other allows them to build a relationship beyond the typical hero vs. villain dynamic. They get to know each other and see what makes the opposite tick in ways that we could never have seen between Luke and Vader.
I especially like that after Snoke’s death, their connection remained. The last attempt that Kylo Ren makes to connect with Rey on Crait, leads to him being completely shut down. Kylo Ren no longer has either master, his father nor his equal at the end of The Last Jedi.
The real payoff for this will come in Episode IX and whether or not they continue connecting and communicating. We are poised for an eventual showdown between the two. Getting more interaction before that battle would increase the stakes.
I do feel that we haven’t seen everything the Force can do yet, and that should be okay. The original trilogy had a very limited scope of the Force. It really just fell into manipulating minds, floating objects and Force ghosts. The Force Awakens introduced a few powers such as Kylo Ren being able to stop Poe’s blaster bolt and even induce sleep onto Rey. I don’t recall these being a big deal to the fans. Maybe they weren’t as off the cuff as what Leia, Luke, Rey or Kylo Ren display in The Last Jedi?
For me, things like Luke’s astral projection or the connection between Rey and Kylo Ren are new and interesting. There may be a point that the Force needs to be reeled in because it definitely widens the scope for fans of what the rules of the Force are, but I like where we are at right now.
One aspect I don’t believe was touched on enough after the release of The Force Awakens was John Williams’ score. It was largely described as, well, John Williams being John Williams. Not that it’s a bad thing, but I feel that he accomplished some key things with that score. Most importantly, he established leitmotifs, or themes, for Kylo Ren, Rey and the Resistance, which to me, are all fantastic and sound like they belong in Star Wars.
Kylo Ren’s theme has slow build up to a loud cluster of piercing notes, symbolizing the short fuse that we see him harbor throughout the film. Rey’s theme uses softer tones and is filled with adventure, hope and wonder, symbolic of who she is. And just as the Imperial March made you fear the Darth Vader and the Empire, the March of the Resistance puts you right on the front lines with the Resistance; fighting with them, cheering for them, and maybe pumping your fist too.
The other brilliant aspect about the score for The Force Awakens, is that the Force theme isn’t played in full until Rey is face to face with Luke. It’s teased throughout the film with Rey, but never gets fully formed until meeting Luke during the final scene. It’s reminiscent of what Howard Shore did with The Lord of the Rings, albeit on a much smaller scale.
That being said, I feel as if The Force Awakens score was a good building block for John Williams. I do feel that it can meander in the middle during Act II of the film, but as soon as The March of the Resistance kicks in on Takodana, you’re nudged right back into the action and it continues throughout to the end of the film.
Because of his work in The Force Awakens, I believe John Williams has created the best Star Wars score since The Empire Strikes Back, in The Last Jedi.
I’ve always felt that the best movie scores are those that you can listen to, and perfectly picture the film in your head as you listen along. The Last Jedi’s score does that for me. Over the course of the past few months, I’ve listened to the score a few dozen times and despite only seeing The Last Jedi twice in theaters, the score is able to vividly paint each scene for me as I listen along.
I won’t go through a track by track analysis, but the following are the major points I want to touch on that continue to stick out for me while listening.
Despite negative feelings that people may have, including me, on Rose and Finn’s development throughout the story, the music associated with them all sounds great. More specifically, Canto Bight’s casino theme is one of my favorite tracks in the film. It’s whimsical, without feeling too out there, even for Star Wars, and stays grounded with the imagery shown during the casino reveal in the film.
The Battle of Crait features the beginning of the film’s climax and interweaves all of the themes we’ve heard thus far into one track. It’s exciting going from the amped up Resistance themes, transition into Rey’s theme as she and Chewie swoop in with the Falcon, then having it jump into the old Tie Fighter Attack theme from A New Hope. It’s all really satisfying for me and takes me along for the ride every time.
The entire Battle of Crait sequence really featured how visuals and music can go hand in hand to elevate what’s happening on screen.
I feel that The Last Jedi does a better job of interweaving old themes into the new music as well with the aforementioned Tie Fighter Attack, Yoda’s theme as Luke goes to destroy the ancient tree and Leia’s theme throughout.
Particularly, I remember watching Luke walk up to Leia at the end of the film, just…frothing, waiting for Leia’s theme to kick in. And when it does, it feels like you just hit the game winning shot in a basketball game.
Despite the music playing an integral role, silence is also featured. Each of the scenes involving Rey and Kylo Ren connecting through the Force are silent. It feels as if the air has been sucked out of the room with Rey and Kylo Ren being the only focus. It adds to the weight of what the characters are going through.
We also get a moment of silence as Admiral Holdo goes lightspeed through the First Order’s fleet. Added with the incredible visuals, the silence, followed by a sound effect reminiscent of Jango Fett’s depth charge’s from Attack of the Clones, gives you the feel of a gun firing from the distance, that eventually catch up to us watching.
Few Other Topics
1) Broom Kid: I’ve seen a lot of controversy over broom kid since opening night, and I have to say I don’t understand what the big deal is. You expect the credits to roll after Falcon jumps into hyperspace, yes, but that doesn’t deter from the message the scene expounds on.
‘Broom Kid’ staring off into space, inspired by the actions of Luke Skywalker.
The entire film, and even in The Force Awakens, Luke Skywalker is built up as this legendary figure for hope in the galaxy. Throughout The Last Jedi, this is brought up multiple times; by Luke as an extreme negative and Rey as a positive.
Watching this again after release, it looks like the three kids are re-enacting what had just happened with Luke on Crait. He faced down the entire First Order with his laser sword and made them look like fools. If one man can do it, why not the rest of us? It’s every David vs. Goliath story in history.
The last shots include broom kid using the force to grab the broom, look off into space and hold his broom like a lightsaber. He’s inspired by the legend that is Luke Skywalker. The seeds have been planted for him to make a difference in the fight later on.
And no, I don’t believe this is an actual character in Episode IX or Rian Johnson’s new trilogy; he’s just a kid with the force that now has new inspiration.
2) Maz Kanata: I liked Maz in The Force Awakens. There was mystery in her and I thought there would be more to tell, specifically why she has Luke’s lightsaber. Instead of diving more into her history and seeing what answers she may have, we get what seems similar to an in-movie trailer for Battlefront. It’s out of place and just served as a plot device for Finn and Rose to head to Canto Bight.
3) Hux and His String: The general idea of this is interesting. It hasn’t been possible to track ships through light speed, but the First Order has now figured it out. That’s fine. The explanation for it just doesn’t work. Finn basically says to Rose that yea, the First Order can do this now, then we reach the conclusion that only the lead ship in a fleet can track their ship. I want to get behind this aspect of the story line, but it’s just not explained properly.
I felt the same way about how they passively wave off the layout of the Star Wars universe in this sequel trilogy. Hux has one speech where he mentions the Republic and the Resistance, but it’s never explicitly explained as to why that’s now the layout of the galaxy.
There needed to be a few lines of dialogue somewhere explaining that the Republic de-militarized their army after seeing the destruction of the Empire, causing the First Order to rise up unchecked, and spawning the Resistance to quell that uprising.
Even the idea of the lead ship having the tracking device; is that because you need an especially powerful ship to have that tracking ability? Can Star Destroyers have the ability as well? For being the main plot point, this could have been explained further.
4) Captain Phasma: Man, I really bought into the hype of the chrome Stormtrooper armor leading up to The Force Awakens. I enjoy the idea of the Stormtroopers having ranks and commanders. Pair that with Gwendolin Christie, you’ve got gold, or chrome.
Gwendoline Christie does a great job making Phasma look like this massive force, we just don’t get any real depth with her character.
I don’t think anyone really knows what to do with Phasma, and I don’t understand that. Throughout the original trilogy, Han always had his own antagonists along with Luke’s Darth Vader/The Emperor. A New Hope had Greedo and mentions of Jabba, The Empire Strikes Back provided Boba Fett and Return of the Jedi gave us Jabba the first showing of Jabba on screen. Yes, the first time.
With Finn being a First Order deserter, Captain Phasma seems like an easy foil to mend their storylines. Instead of Finn facing off against the mythic TR-8R outside of Maz Kanata’s, why couldn’t that have been Phasma? It would have built their rivalry and gave us more emotional depth to be invested in.
In The Last Jedi, you can make a few tweaks to the story to have Phasma track down Finn and Rose for revenge instead of just Canto Bight police officers. Have Phasma survive the fight aboard The Supremacy and give us a climatic resolution of their beef in Episode IX.
5) Lack of a Lightsaber Battle: I honestly didn’t notice this until people started bringing it up. There are three instances of multiple lightsabers being used in the same scene; flashbacks to Luke/Ben, the throne room battle with Rey/Kylo Ren and the final battle between Luke and Kylo Ren.
Luke and Kylo Ren’s showdown at the end of The Last Jedi.
When I was originally thinking about this point, I looked back at the other lightsaber battles in the trilogy. The one aspect of these battles that sticks out to me, is emotion. The final duel between Luke and Darth Vader at the end of Return of the Jedi is my favorite lightsaber battle. One reason for this is the massive buildup over three films, culminating to that one point, but the other is how emotionally-driven Luke is.
Vader talks about failing to turn Luke to the Dark Side, and cites that maybe Leia will. This sends Luke into a Dark Side filled emotional rage. We get those great shots of Luke overpowering Vader with John Williams fantastic score behind it. Luke’s all black outfit, now has a torn section of grey showing. He tapped into the Dark Side to overpower Vader, but was able to come back to the Light and throw down his arms. There’s so much going on there, in the guise of a climatic lightsaber battle. To me, the lightsabers were just an added bonus to everything else going on in that scene.
In The Last Jedi, the final battle between Luke and Kylo Ren, had a similar effect. Lightsabers are cool, yes, but they aren’t the point of the confrontation. Luke is antagonizing Kylo Ren into a prolonged battle, giving his friends time to escape. He knows that he is expelling this immense amount of energy that we see him struggle to maintain. Kylo is blinded by his anger so much that he doesn’t realize that Luke is using the same lightsaber that Kylo and Rey just destroyed themselves moments ago.
Luke gets his opportunity to apologize to his nephew, giving him a sense of peace while also filling Kylo Ren with more anger. When Kylo Ren realizes what Luke is doing, he has that moment of understanding that once again, he has been manipulated by one of his master’s and that maybe he isn’t as powerful as he thinks.
Lightsabers should be a back drop to a scene, not the focus. One of my biggest complaints about the prequels is the careless use of lightsabers. They pop up everywhere to the point of them losing their effect. Overall, I believe Episodes VII and VIII have done a great job with them, and I hope it continues into Episode IX.
6) Episode IX: I share some of the feeling that others had at the end of The Last Jedi in that it sort of felt like a conclusion. There’s obviously a lot they can do with Rey, Kylo Ren and the Resistance, but there isn’t a real lead in to the next film like The Force Awakens or The Empire Strikes Back had. It felt a bit strange and makes me feel more strongly that they should have had a rough outline of character arcs and story before moving forward with the sequel trilogy.
Phew, I’ve said a lot here. But I feel like everything can be boiled down to a few final thoughts.
It’s okay to dislike The Last Jedi, and it’s okay to enjoy it. We as fans have had three decades to mull over what we each believe the fates of Han, Luke and Leia should be after Return of the Jedi. None of those ideas are wrong, especially to each individual fan. With The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, we have one vision of millions being portrayed on screen. I feel that the decisions made in this movie that have now become quite decisive, show how dedicated the fans are to this universe and how we want everything in it to be something that we love unconditionally.
The important thought that I’ve had with these new films, is asking myself what do I personally need from them? I’ve been able to answer that question for each of the released films so far, each including things that I don’t agree with or like. I’ve written part of my story here, but every Star Wars fan has their own story and ways that Star Wars has impacted their lives. It’s okay to be passionate about those things and come to conclusions that don’t match with others.
If you want to talk about anything in this review, something I missed, or something you think I’ve gotten totally wrong, send me a message here. If I get questions, I’ll make another post in the future where I answer them as best I can.
In the near future, I’ll write a post detailing a few of my thoughts on Episode IX as well as predictions. I’m sure I’ll have an opinion on Solo when it comes out this May as well. See you around, next time.
If you want to check out more, head to I Wasn’t Prepared For This.