Wednesday, December 27, 2017

My Thoughts On The Last Jedi

I caught "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" on a whim the other night. I had heard pretty much everything about the film before actually sitting down to see it, so I knew what to expect. There are a lot of passionate reviews both in favor and against this film and, knowing the plot going in, I still wasn't sure which side I'd come out on.

I'm not a die-hard Star Wars fan. I've seen all of the movies, but never read any of the books. I've tried to sit through the Clone Wars and Rebels tv series only to get bored before getting halfway through them. I liked playing with Star Wars toys as a kid, but found GI Joe to be superior (Kung-Fu grip for the win!). I am somewhat emotionally invested in the characters from the original trilogy, but I realize that there's a need for new blood in order for the franchise to move forward.

Without getting too spoiler-y, I'll say that I like that "The Last Jedi" takes some risks and isn't a total rehash like "The Force Awakens" was. Still, I wish that the plot threads that were left dangling in The Last Jedi were resolved in a more satisfying manner. Who is Snoke and where does he come from? Well, it doesn't matter now, because he's dead. How was Kylo Ren seduced to the Dark Side? Doesn't matter now because he's all in. What's the deal with the Knights of Ren? Doesn't matter now because Kylo Ren doesn't need them. It seems as if JJ Abrams gave us a ton of mysteries in "The Force Awakens" and wasn't sure how to resolve them, so Rian Johnson just dropped them when he took up "The Last Jedi". It results in some interesting and somewhat bold choices, which is new for a Star Wars film. I walked away from "The Last Jedi" liking it as a film on its own, but not necessarily liking it as a Star Wars film. And, after a few days of thought, I think I finally understand why.

When we see Luke Skywalker, instead of the triumphant hero from "Return of the Jedi", we get a hermit with a broken spirit who has turned his back on the Force. There are reasons behind his behavior, of course. He tells us that he sensed Snoke's evil influence growing within Kylo Ren, went to confront him, thought about murdering him for a brief second and was immediately ashamed. Kylo Ren retaliated, burned down the temple and killed any student who didn't follow him. It's a story that we're told in flashback, but THAT is the story I want. I want to see the Rebel Alliance trying to form a government and our heroes going from rebels to government officials while the Empire remains an diminished yet very real threat.  I want to see Han Solo trying to adapt to being a law abiding citizen. I want to see Princess Leia trying to live a life outside of public service (until she's called back in a la George Washington). I want to see Luke Skywalker passing on what he had learned to the next generation of Jedi while trying to correct where the order went wrong in Ep 1 - 3. I want to see the emergence of Snoke and his seduction of Ben Solo. Most of all, I want to see that gut wrenching choice Luke makes to kill his own nephew in order to prevent another Darth Vader. Right after that debacle would be a perfect time for Yoda's lecture on learning from our failures.

Unfortunately, we could never get that story because we went 30 years without telling it and time moved on for all of the actors involved. What we got instead was interesting, entertaining and very unexpected. But, where can the trilogy go from here? "The Last Jedi" feels like an ending, yet we still have one more episode to go.

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