WARNING: SO MANY SPOILERS!!!!
I had a long conversation with a friend of mine concerning the preciousness of Star Wars. It’s no secret that Star Wars fanboys have held these films to a higher regard than just about any film series of all time. Recently, we’ve seen this at a toxic level as, while the film has garnered praise from critics and casual fans seem to enjoy it as well, the more die-hard fans seem to be a little more than upset about the film.
What is it about these films? There are probably a number of reasons, one of the most important reason being that the original films came about during most (if not all) of these rabid fans’ childhoods. We get it: these films had a major impact on the lives of a generation and its appeal to a wider audience made the rewatchability last through the last 40 years as these people grew up.
Maybe the idea of these films being special is tied to the fact that these were so ahead of its time, primarily in a filmmaking/marketing aspect. In a time when most movies are one-offs, these movies came out with three films from 1976 to 1982, a perfect amount of time for people to grow in love with them. Nowadays, it’s expected that any film that can make an incredible amount of money would garner at least two sequels. Hell, The Divergent series made three movies and I don’t know anyone that’s ever seen one.
Make no mistake, I love the original trilogy and I consider myself a Star Wars fan, but I never pretended they were anything more than an action figure delivery system. These films have always been a way to capitalize on the public interest and make as much money as possible. And that’s okay; they’re still extraordinary works of crowd-pleasing adventures, despite the attempt to maximize profits.
I think the problem is that people just expect them to be more than this. Perhaps it’s because their own tastes have changed; maybe these people have to admit to themselves that they’ve outgrown these movies. It’s okay to live in a world that you accept that something you once loved is no longer trying to curry your favor. It can be a tough pill to swallow, but even Stan Marsh had to grow up.
Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is a lot of things to a lot of people. An incredible disappointment, a refreshing addition to the canon, a complete destruction of your childhood, and all the rest of the hyperbolic bullshit that the internet thrives on. To me, the 8th film in the Skywalker Saga is as fun as any film in the series, while being a flawed film. Regardless of how the film holds up under a microscope, I can’t deny how entertained I was, and while I can admit the problems within the film, they don’t take away from how much I enjoyed it.
The Last Jedi, more or less, takes place immediately after the events of The Force Awakens. At the open of the film, Finn is still unconscious from his battle with Kylo Ren, Rey has just arrived on Luke’s hideaway island planet, and Poe is leading a charge against the First Order. Much like The Empire Strikes Back, the film separates our main characters, giving them each their own storyline to fulfill, while the main A plot seems to simply be the fight between the First Order and the Resistance.
First, let’s talk about the good of the film. There’s a lot of things I liked about it; the shining part of this film, to me, is the relationship between Kylo Ren and Rey. Both actors are pretty fantastic in this movie and they both take steps forward from The Force Awakens. I was a fan of Adam Driver’s performance in The Force Awakens and I think he’s even better here. He’s easily the most interesting character that this series has created since the original films and his conflicted performance is the best of the film. For Rey, Daisy Ridley delivers a wonderful performance as well. It’s really hard not to like her in this role, and the push and pull between her and Kylo Ren is the dynamic relationship that carries this film throughout.
I also love how the film spits in the face of how we know Star Wars films are supposed to go. I don’t mean this as a complete troll-job, but I just like how freeing this move is. Everyone expected that the big reveal would be that Rey is somehow connected to the Skywalker clan. Instead, her background is insignificant. The reason that she has a connection to the Force is simply because she is who she is. It has nothing to do with her family; it’s just her. This allows for so much more storytelling that has nothing to do with the Skywalkers, which is a good thing, as that bloodline seems to be on its last legs.
Plot-wise, there is an interesting theme that flows throughout, and that is the fact that the failures are sometimes just as important as the victories, and failure plays an important role in this film to every character. Every single character faces a failure in this film; some of them learn from them and some of them double-down on past mistakes. Regardless, this is a film that most characters do not get what they initially wanted and it’s an interesting choice of storytelling to me.
Additionally, there are some wonderful moments in this film. I loved the fight scene where Kylo Ren and Rey take on Snoke’s guards; it reminded me of the fight between in the Bride and the Crazy 88’s in Kill Bill Vol. 1. I liked the nice cameo of Yoda and was surprised by the appearance of Benecio Del Toro (was he announced in the cast list?) And that hyperspace kamikaze scene… goddamn I loved it.
This is not a perfect film, by any means. There are a few things that I didn’t buy. For one, most people point to the flying Leia scene and I don’t disagree. It’s just an odd moment. However, while I didn’t like this moment in and of itself, the fact that Carrie Fisher is allowed to have her final moment with Mark Hamill makes me forgive this choice. Maybe they appealed to my feels, but I’ll allow it.
I also wasn’t the biggest fan of the casino scene. It just felt a little too much like a James Bond subplot and too much of a misdirection. I kind of like the idea that there are other people in this universe that the main characters never meet (Justin Theroux’s master codebreaker), but this part eats up a lot of time for something that could have resolved itself in a simpler manner.
The Last Jedi is not a perfect film, but it is, to me, and incredibly entertaining movie. It manages to shed the restraints the rest of the films has put on it and manages to make itself an incredibly original entry into this series. I can’t tell you if you’re going to like this movie, but for me, I was incredibly entertained.