Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a space opera film written and directed by Rian Johnson. It is the sequel to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It is also the eighth instalment in the episodic saga and the ninth instalment in the Star Wars franchise. The film stars Gwendoline Christie, Anthony Daniels, Benicio del Toro, Laura Dern, Domhnall Gleeson, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Kelly Marie Tran, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is set in the immediate aftermath of The Force Awakens. The Resistance is on the run after the annihilation of the New Republic by Starkiller Base. The Resistance did destroy Starkiller Base in retaliation. Nonetheless, The First Order has now begun its conquest to take control of the galaxy and crush The Resistance. The only hope for the galaxy is Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), the last Jedi. Rey (Daisy Ridley) seeks to learn from Luke. However, she struggles to convince a damaged, bitter Luke to overcome the past, teach her and save the galaxy.
My Knowledge and Expectation of Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story were my most anticipated films in the years they respectively came out. Hence, Star Wars: The Last Jedi was my most anticipated film of 2017. I think The Force Awakens and Rogue One are great films. They restored my faith in Lucasfilm after the dark days of the Prequels and the Special Editions.
In addition to Lucasfilm, my faith in Rian Johnson to deliver a great Star Wars film was through the roof. I loved his work on Looper and I expected a fresh, different take on Star Wars from him which is what I wanted. At the same time, I wanted The Last Jedi to still have the feel of a Star Wars film.
What I mean by that is the lived-in look of the Star Wars universe. This comes from using practical effects and filming at real locations. You know, the approach to filmmaking which was established in the Original Trilogy. I adored how The Force Awakens reintroduced us to the original feel of Star Wars. Rogue One then followed suit and I could not wait for more of this in The Last Jedi.
Obviously, I knew CGI was going to be used in The Last Jedi just as it was in The Force Awakens and Rogue One. I have no problem with that. As long as it is blended in well with the real locations and practical effects, I am cool with CGI being used. I never want an over-reliance on or overabundance of CGI in Star Wars. That is one of the many reasons why I do not like the Prequels. Thankfully, The Force Awakens and Rogue One had the right blend of practical and digital effects.
The Trailers Promised Us A Unique Star Wars Film
As long as The Last Jedi had that same lived-in feel that the Original Trilogy, The Force Awakens and Rogue One had then Rian Johnson could take the film in any direction he wanted to from a story perspective. This itself was guaranteed to happen. Looper is evidence of how original Rian Johnson is as a director and writer.
That is why I did not understand the view that this film would be a clone of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Just from the trailers for The Last Jedi, you could tell this would not be the case. The film looked different and original from a storytelling perspective which I loved and wanted to see.
Once the positive reaction for the film was coming out after its world premiere, every day felt like a week. I could not contain my excitement, especially when it came to the return of Luke Skywalker. To see Luke return to the big screen and get more insight into how he got to a state of mind where he wanted the Jedi to end fascinated me. Luke’s relationship with Rey looked interesting too.
Seeing the development of Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the final performance of Carrie Fisher as Leia also added to my anticipation. Certainly, Kylo Ren is a villain with a lot of depth and complexity. I wanted to see that developed more. Moreover, watching Carrie Fisher for the final time as Leia would stir a lot of emotions in me. Her passing was tragic and to see where Leia would go in The Last Jedi played on my mind.
Where I Expected/Hoped Star Wars: The Last Jedi Would Rank Amongst Other Star Wars Films
After hearing so many good things about The Last Jedi, I thought the film would be good. If The Last Jedi was better than The Force Awakens and Rogue One, then I would be delighted. Obviously, I never expect any Star Wars film to be better than the films in the Original Trilogy. The films in that trilogy are my Top 3 favourite Star Wars films.
For me, the Original Trilogy, in its original form, is as close to perfect as you can get. Yet, I know my view on the Original Trilogy is embedded in nostalgia. Hence, it is very difficult for any new Star Wars film to eclipse the films in the Original Trilogy. However, if The Last Jedi somehow managed to achieve the near impossible feat and crack into my Top 3 favourite Star Wars films, I would be over the moon.
Evidently, I had high hopes for The Last Jedi. As I said above, I wanted The Last Jedi to be different and original with its storytelling. Simultaneously, I wanted the film to still utilise real locations, practical sets and practical effects so it would have the same lived-in feel that I love in Star Wars. If this happened, then I was confident that I would, as a minimum, regard The Last Jedi as being a good film and a worthy sequel to The Force Awakens.
My Thoughts on Star Wars: The Last Jedi
As I am writing this, I have seen The Last Jedi twice. I needed a second viewing before writing my review. Truly, the film gives you a lot to process. For me, it was essential to see it a second time so I could let the film sink in. After my first viewing, I thought The Last Jedi was a great film. It was so great that I ranked the film above The Force Awakens and Rogue One without hesitation.
Still, I needed to see it a second time so I could watch the events that occur in The Last Jedi in a calm manner. I could then appreciate the film for what it was on a greater level. Indeed, shocking moments are plentiful in The Last Jedi. In your first viewing, the film takes a lot out of you. It eradicates any belief about how you thought the story would unfold but in the best possible way.
A second viewing would allow me to watch the film knowing these moments are coming. I could just let the whole film envelop me in its quality. After my second viewing, I have come to a conclusion; I LOVE The Last Jedi. I absolutely love it. It is an outstanding Star Wars film. It was even better seeing the film for the second time because I could watch it without fear. Certainly, processing events when you know they are coming really improved my experience with the film on my second viewing.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi Is In My Top 3 Favourite Star Wars Films
In fact, seeing The Last Jedi for a second time led me to another essential truth. Remarkably, Rian Johnson has accomplished what I believed was a near impossible feat; The Last Jedi is one of my Top 3 favourite Star Wars films. In fact, I rank The Last Jedi as being second only to Star Wars: Return of the Jedi as my favourite Star Wars film. Yes, I prefer The Last Jedi to The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: A New Hope.
I understand if you are shocked by this statement. Still, it is just my opinion. No Star Wars film has emotionally impacted me this much since I watched Return of the Jedi for the first time as a child. This became apparent to me during my second viewing of the film. As I said, I needed a second viewing because I was somewhat in shock after my first experience with The Last Jedi.
Truly, The Last Jedi is a ballsy, unique film which, in a great way, left me stunned. Indeed, on my first viewing, my mouth was agape during certain moments in The Last Jedi. Some of the moments in this film rank amongst the best of the Star Wars franchise. I appreciated those shocking moments and the emotional moments of this film so much more during my second viewing.
You better believe that they are plentiful in The Last Jedi. Still, if a film does not have great acting from its cast, it will fail in its emotional moments. Thankfully, this is not the case with The Last Jedi. The performances are immaculate. Indeed, I would argue that no Star Wars film has ever had the quality of acting that is on show in The Last Jedi.
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker
Every single cast member brings their A-game to The Last Jedi. For me, the performance which shone above all the rest was given by Mark Hamill. Mark Hamill has never been better as Luke Skywalker. Never. The performance he gives in The Last Jedi is so layered and has so much nuance that I was captivated by him from beginning to end. I loved seeing how much Luke has changed since Return of the Jedi. Indeed, you see that Luke is bitter, broken and filled with regret at his failings.
To see how Luke became so broken and a shell of his former self was heart-breaking to see. Yet, it felt completely believable once you see why he became the way he was in The Last Jedi. Luke was no longer the impatient, naïve, good-willed farm-boy we saw in the Original Trilogy. Certainly, people change as they get older and traumatic events can drastically change someone’s beliefs and outlook on everything.
As we saw in The Last Jedi, Luke has been through a lot. Therefore, to see such a radically changed Luke Skywalker made complete sense to me. I was enthralled with the arc of Luke Skywalker in this film. Mark Hamill did a great job at portraying Luke in the way he was in The Last Jedi. The direction Rian Johnson took with Luke in The Last Jedi was outstanding. In fact, for me, it was perfect. I would not change one thing about it.
Luke and Rey
In addition to the way Luke Skywalker was handled and Mark Hamill’s brilliant individual performance as Luke in The Last Jedi, the scenes involving Luke and Rey were also fantastic. We have been waiting to see these two together since the end of The Force Awakens. For me. it delivered on every level. As you can imagine, Luke was not receptive to Rey. He wanted to divorce himself from the idea of training another Jedi.
Still, eventually Rey did learn from Luke but not through training as a Jedi. Instead, it was through Luke insisting that the Jedi had to end and why this should happen that Rey learned more about The Force and her role in the galaxy. Both Luke and Rey learnt from one another through interactions and events that were fascinating to watch. This is especially true when it related to the character who was at the core of their relationship; Kylo Ren.
Adam Driver as Kylo Ren
Adam Driver as Kylo Ren is quickly becoming one of my favourite things about this new Star Wars trilogy. For a character like Kylo Ren, it would be easy for a less talented actor to come across as whiny, annoying and unrelatable. Just look at Hayden Christensen’s awful performances as Anakin Skywalker in the Prequels. Although, that was not entirely his fault.
You need a good director to get the best performances out of your cast. Hayden did not have that with George Lucas. Adam Driver certainly has a great director in Rian Johnson to bring out the best possible performance from him. He is awesome as Kylo Ren. This character has so much complexity to him that you cannot help but be compelled whenever he is on screen.
Rey and Kylo Ren
This was particularly the case in his scenes with Rey. Aside from the great acting showcased by both Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley in their scenes together, those scenes also did something even more brilliant for The Last Jedi and the Star Wars franchise in general. Rey and Kylo Ren were separated by light years for the majority of the film. But, they were able to communicate with each other through The Force. It was unlike anything we have ever seen in a Star Wars film.
It was but one of a few ways that the mythology of The Force was brilliantly expanded upon in The Last Jedi. I thought the dynamic between Rey and Kylo Ren was one of the best things about The Last Jedi. Darkness rose and light met it. Their relationship had twists and turns, especially when it came to exploring the backstory of Kylo Ren’s betrayal of Luke. That event itself incorporated the use of flashbacks which I really liked. The relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren was well developed in The Last Jedi. I cannot wait to see more of this dynamic in Star Wars: Episode IX.
Great Pacing Meant That I Was Hooked From Beginning To End
The scenes with Rey and Kylo Ren were evenly spaced out throughout the film. This was a factor amongst many which gave The Last Jedi such great momentum. For me, the pacing in The Last Jedi was fantastic. The film flew by. This is some achievement given how it is the longest ever Star Wars film at two-and-a-half hours. For me, length is never an issue with a film when it comes to how engaged you are.
It is pacing and whether a film has unnecessary scenes which can make a film boring. This was where a film such as Silence suffered because that film drags. The Last Jedi never drags. Every storyline either served the progression of the story, led to important character development or both. From the beginning, the film grips you and never lets you go. In fact, not since A New Hope has a Star Wars film given me this feeling.
Indeed, The Last Jedi starts with The Resistance fleeing D’Qar and a confrontation ensues with The First Order. Inevitably, this leads to a great space battle that throws you right into the action. Moreover, it does a great job at making you feel the desperation of the situation The Resistance is in. You do not know how this confrontation will play out on your first viewing. I was on the edge of my seat because of this reality. You feel every loss The Resistance suffers and one in particular is very emotional, particularly when you find out how it connects to Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran).
Rose Tico was one of the new characters that was introduced to us in The Last Jedi. She was a maintenance worker aboard The Raddus, Leia’s flagship (Nice link to Admiral Raddus in Rogue One). Once she meets Finn (John Boyega), she gets thrust into the conflict that took her sister’s life. Out of all the new characters introduced in The Last Jedi, she was my favourite.
I liked Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern) a lot too. Certainly, reading Claudia Grey’s Leia: Princess of Alderaan helped in that regard. This is because you get some great insight into her character and the relationship she established with Leia. I also thought DJ (Benecio del Toro) served a vital role when it came to Finn’s character development. Still, Rose was my favourite new character.
This is probably because she gets the most screen time out of all the new characters in The Last Jedi. Consequently, we get to know more about her and connect to her in the process. Kelly Marie Tran gives a great performance as Rose, especially when you consider that, similar to Daisy Ridley in The Force Awakens, this was her first role in a major film.
Rose and Finn
I also thought that Rose and Finn had a good relationship in the film. I bought the relationship they had, particularly when it came to the romantic side because it was all one way. Clearly, it is evident that Finn likes Rey while Rose likes Finn. Rose makes that evident at one moment in The Last Jedi.
She was a fan-girl of Finn from the beginning so it made sense that she liked him. It also made sense that Finn was confused about that when the moment occurs. That moment also has a brilliant line given by Rose about how the way to win is fighting for what you love which was very uplifting in a situation devoid of hope.
The Comedy and Cinematography
The first time that Rose and Finn met was one of the many brilliant comedic moments in The Last Jedi. I loved the comedy in the film. I was laughing out loud throughout, especially when it was at the expense of General Hux (Domnhall Gleeson). I also loved the Porgs and the comedic role they had in the film. Aside from being incredibly cute, they were used in the right amount during the film. The Porgs never annoyed me and their interactions with Chewbacca were hilarious. I give a lot of credit to the script Rian Johnson wrote in regards to how great the comedy was in The Last Jedi.
Another aspect of The Last Jedi which delivered in spades was the cinematography. The imagery in The Last Jedi is some of the best I have ever seen in a Star Wars film. Of course, the shot of The Raddus going to hyperspace to destroy the First Order ships who had been pursuing The Resistance was breathtakingly stunning. I was mesmerised by the way it looked in addition to how sound, or a lack thereof, was used to make this moment an all-time great one for the Star Wars franchise. I had never seen anything like it in a film and I doubt I ever will again.
The Themes of Star Wars: The Last Jedi
From a visual standpoint, The Last Jedi was brilliant. Nonetheless, a lot of the richer qualities of the film came from its themes. Certainly, the themes that were showcased gave The Last Jedi a lot depth and provided some great character development.
Duty and Leadership
For one, the arc of Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) in the film showcased the themes of duty and leadership. This was in regards to Poe’s role in The Resistance. We see Poe as the hot-headed fighter pilot who makes rash decisions without thinking of the wider consequences. Leia reprimands him for this because she knew that Poe had to be the leader The Resistance needed at that time. Throughout The Last Jedi, Poe tries to give The Resistance a fighting chance.
However, he just makes matters worse. He failed in his attempts to help and lacked the trust in his superiors to know what they were doing. Clearly, this would be hard to take for someone as confident in their own ability as Poe. Yet, by the end of The Last Jedi, he finally takes up the mantle as the leader The Resistance and Leia needs him to be. He learns what it means to be a leader.
This is going to be vital in the fight against The First Order in Episode IX. Poe had to go through what he did in The Last Jedi to ensure The Resistance can be the spark of hope the galaxy needs. Because of this, I really liked how Poe was fleshed out in The Last Jedi. In fact, I find it to be one of the more underrated aspects of the film.
The arc of Finn in The Last Jedi is also not being appreciated in the way it should be. Indeed, Finn went through a lot of soul searching in The Last Jedi. For me, the theme that was most prevalent in his arc of the film was morality. In The Force Awakens, we see that Finn wants to get away from the First Order and protect Rey. Nothing more, nothing less.
He is not fully committed to The Resistance and that continues into The Last Jedi. However, the journey he goes on in this film exposed him to the morality of war. A conversation he has with DJ after escaping from Canto Bight is key to this. It exposed him to the reality that those who profit from war and suffering in the galaxy do not care which side they supply weapons too. This shocks Finn to his core and makes him question everything he knew. His exposure to greed and corruption makes him think about the larger picture, not just his own situation.
What Finn learns in his time on Canto Bight and with DJ was the catalyst for Finn to eventually choose a side in this war instead of running away. He is now fully committed to The Resistance and this was important for his growth as a character. I noticed this more on my second viewing. Consequently, I appreciated the stuff on Canto Bight to a greater degree than I did on my first viewing.
While Rose and Finn’s accomplishments on Canto Bight were all for nothing when it came to helping The Resistance, it emphasised the theme of failure. I loved how prevalent this theme was in the film. In fact, I would argue that this is the main theme of The Last Jedi. Let us get this clear; The Resistance unequivocally failed in The Last Jedi.
On almost every level, everything they tried in order to escape from The First Order did not work. On a side note, I will say that the way The First Order tracked down The Resistance reminded me of an episode of Battlestar Galactica called ‘33’. While I have very mixed feelings on that television series, that episode is absolutely brilliant. It is one of the best episodes in that series and I liked how The Last Jedi was influenced by that particular episode of Battlestar Galactica.
Just like the way in which the Cylons mercilessly hunted the remnants of humanity in ‘33’, The Resistance were ruthlessly pursued by The First Order in The Last Jedi. Indeed, it got to a stage where The Resistance was on its last legs on Crait, desperate to survive. When it came to the theme of failure, I found its prevalence in The Last Jedi to be very similar to The Empire Strikes Back. That is another Star Wars film where are heroes fail throughout the film. Failure was an important lesson for the Rebel Alliance and it will be an important lesson for The Resistance. Indeed, we learn more from our failings than our successes.
This is something which Yoda explained to Luke in The Last Jedi. Yes, Yoda makes an appearance in The Last Jedi. For me, it was one of the best scenes in the film. The way Yoda was used in this film was absolutely brilliant. Even now, Yoda provided guidance for Luke as he helps Luke get to a stage where he can accept his failures and learn from them. Yoda provided a lot of wisdom while still having the same charm he had in the Original Trilogy.
The voice for Yoda was perfect. Frank Oz came back to voice Yoda and he sounded exactly like he did in the Original Trilogy. I will admit, on my first viewing, I was taken aback by the initial look of Yoda. On a first look, it did seem different. However, it got better as the scene progressed. Moreover, once I found out that the original moulds of Yoda from the Original Trilogy were used to create the puppet for The Last Jedi, it made the scene even better on my second viewing. On my second viewing, I appreciated how close Yoda’s look was to his look in the Original Trilogy.
The Flaws of Star Wars: The Last Jedi
As you can see, I have a lot of love for The Last Jedi. Still, no film is perfect. Every film has flaws. Even the Original Trilogy has elements that I can nit-pick. The Last Jedi is no different and I do have some minor problems with the film. Firstly, Canto Bight. Now, as I mentioned above, I appreciated the stuff on Canto Bight a lot more than I did on my first viewing because of what it does for the character development of Finn.
Moreover, while it eventually has no impact on the main story in The Last Jedi, it showcased the theme of failure in a great way. I have seen people hate on Canto Bight because it has no impact on the main storyline. I do not understand why. If you hate the fact that some storylines do not succeed, you should hate a lot of The Empire Strikes Back. The decisions that the characters make in that film fail. As a consequence, the characters and the storylines in that film do not reach their desired conclusion.
The Rebel Alliance tries to successfully fight the Empire on Hoth? They fail, the Rebel Alliance gets crushed and are on the retreat. Luke learns to be a Jedi from Yoda? He consistently fails in his training and leaves before it is finished. Han Solo and Leia go to Cloud City for help and to get the Millennium Falcon fixed? They fail, Lando betrays them and they get captured and tortured by Darth Vader. Luke goes to rescue Han and Leia on Cloud City? He fails, he has his hand cut off by Darth Vader who turns out to be his father. Both The Last Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back are about failure.
Certain storylines in those films are eventually all for nothing. Yet, the beauty of this is that this pushes the characters forward as well as the overall narrative being told in their respective trilogies. Canto Bight did this for me. However, I do feel as though they could have done things better with that storyline. Firstly, the weakest scene in The Last Jedi happens on Canto Bight. This is when Finn and Rose escape by freeing the Falthiers and ride them through the casino and surrounding town areas. The Falthiers are horse-like creatures and the use of them in this escape scene was very CGI heavy.
In fact, too much CGI was used for my liking. This was a shame as a lot of the film is very practical effect heavy. Indeed, the Falthiers themselves were practical when they were poking their heads out at the stables in an earlier scene. But, CGI was clearly used when they were escaping with Finn and Rose. That particular scene did not work for me. A better way could have been found for Rose and Finn to escape the casino while, at the same time, wrecking the place and hurting the rich in the process. That was a specific scene on Canto Bight which could have been executed better.
BB-8 and Phasma
Another flaw of The Last Jedi is that BB-8 was a bit better in The Force Awakens than he was in The Last Jedi. I did like BB-8 in The Last Jedi. Yet, a scene on Canto Bight where he effectively uses a coin gun on a prison guard was silly. I understand that this was for kids. Still, it is another scene on Canto Bight that could have been executed better. Apart from that scene, BB-8 was great. However, it did put a dampener on how much I enjoyed BB-8 in this film compared to The Force Awakens.
Another flaw of The Last Jedi which I consider to be one of the most disappointing aspects of the film was Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie). Before I saw The Last Jedi, I read Phasma. This was a canonical Star Wars novel written by Delilah S. Dawson. I loved that novel. I learned so much more about Phasma and how much of a ruthless badass she is. This made it all the more painful that her role in The Last Jedi was so minimal and underwhelming.
Like The Force Awakens, Phasma was a waste in this film. This sucked if you read the book before seeing The Last Jedi. While I liked the fact that she had a fight scene with Finn this time, it was negated when you see that she apparently dies. True, we did not see her die but it is heavily suggested. She could re-appear in Episode IX. If she does, then I pray that her role is bigger. If not, then I am resigned to the fact that, for me, she is just another Boba Fett; a character with a cool look that has a very limited role in the films.
My Thoughts on Some Star Wars Fans’ Negative Reaction To Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Still, the flaws in the film are minor. They did not take away from my love for The Last Jedi. However, not everyone feels the same way I do. Like The Force Awakens, some people do not like The Last Jedi. Actually, some hate it so much that a petition was created to remove the film from Star Wars canon. Clearly, some people did not react positively to some of the events that happened in The Last Jedi.
This film takes chances and takes the characters in directions that people did not expect. And that is the problem; expectations. I truly believe that most of the backlash towards the film is down to some Star Wars fans’ expectations and predictions not coming true. Consequently, they are acting like crybabies. They wasted two years of their life speculating about what would happen to such a degree that they thought they had the whole plot of the film mapped out in their heads.
This is a terrible thing to do. You will be unable to separate expectations from what actually happens in the film. Hence, even if the film is fantastic, you will not be happy because your ideas about what would happen did not come to pass. Most of the criticism I have seen directed toward the film appears to be purely driven by the fact that some fans are butthurt that their predictions for what would happen in The Last Jedi did not come true.
You have to leave your expectations at the door when going to see a film. You must go in with an open mind. I do not believe that every Star Wars fan did this. For me, this is a key reason why some fans have had such a negative reaction to The Last Jedi.
I want to focus on elements of The Last Jedi that angered some fans. Then, I want to give my reasons as to why they worked for me. Firstly, Rey. For two years, I have suffered through ridiculous fan fiction and theories about Rey and her parents. Even though The Force Awakens makes it abundantly clear that Rey’s parents are not important, some fans ignored this. Everything had to be connected for them. Speculation about Rey’s parentage was unstoppable based on a foundation that was never established in The Force Awakens.
Some fans clung on to this ridiculous belief that Rey’s parentage was important. In The Last Jedi, it is revealed that Rey knew all along who her parents were; no one. She comes from nothing. I adore this reveal. For one, it expands the universe. We have a character who is not connected to any previous Star Wars character. Moreover, it proves that Rey is a hero not because of some bloodline or prophecy. She is a hero because of her actions.
Additionally, it proves that heroes can come from anywhere at any time. That is a very inspirational message for The Last Jedi to portray through both Rey and its final scene. In the final scene of the film, we see a child slave from Canto Bight use The Force to pick up a broom. He then looks at the stars with defiance. This shows that The Force is always sowing the seeds to achieve balance. The Light Side of The Force will always be there through Force-sensitive users like Rey and the child slave, i.e. Broom Kid, to provide balance to The Dark Side. I thought this was a beautiful sentiment. Moreover, it shows that the story of Star Wars is bigger than the Skywalkers.
Some Star Wars fans must accept this. Moving away from the Skywalkers is the only way the franchise can survive and flourish. This is especially the case now that Kylo Ren is the last person alive with Skywalker lineage. Indeed, Luke Skywalker meets his end in The Last Jedi. Before I talk about his death, we must talk about the backlash towards Luke in The Last Jedi.
I have seen some Star Wars fans argue that this film is a betrayal to the character of Luke. According to them, Luke would never want the Jedi to end. He would fight The First Order. He would not seclude himself from the galaxy and detach himself from The Force after a tragic event. I mean, when has a Jedi ever refused to fight again and go into hiding after failing and allowing The Dark Side to rise? Oh yeah, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda did exactly that after the rise of the Empire!
Some Star Wars fans seem to forget that Jedi have done this when things go wrong. This is just one of the many ways that their logic about Luke Skywalker comes crashing down. For me, the logic they have stems from a belief that Luke would be the same person he was in the Original Trilogy. Jesus Christ, thirty years have passed between Return of the Jedi and The Last Jedi!
Not thirty days, not thirty weeks, thirty years. People change over thirty years of life. No one stays the same person during this span of time. Anyone who thinks the opposite is deluding themselves and, consequently, deluding themselves that Luke would be the same idealistic, good-willed person in The Last Jedi as he was in the Original Trilogy.
I Believe That Luke Is Right About The Jedi
In the Original Trilogy, we see Luke as someone who idolises the Jedi. That idolisation is gone now because he sees the Jedi Order for what it is; outdated. It was brilliant to see Luke call out the flaws and failings of the Jedi Order. This is in regards to the hypocrisy of the Jedi Order and how, in the past, they believed they had some kind of patent on The Force. It was as though they thought they could be the only harbingers of The Light Side. Luke is right to call this as it is; vanity.
The Force moves through all living things. The Light Side is all around us, not just with the Jedi. To say that only those part of a religious order can be the only ones capable of doing good through The Light Side of The Force is wrong. Balance in The Force is not achieved this way. The failure of the Jedi to see this was a factor in its consistent failings and eventual downfall.
Luke was right to see the Jedi Order as outdated. Still, it now has a chance to evolve with Rey. This goes back to what Yoda told Luke about Jedi Masters and their apprentices; “we are what they grow beyond”. This was another beautiful sentiment in The Last Jedi. It also renewed Luke’s desire to save the galaxy and provide hope one last time.
Luke Is The Catalyst For Ben Solo’s Turn To The Dark Side
Still, before he did this, Luke had to overcome his demons. I loved how The Last Jedi portrayed Luke as a broken man. A man whose failings deeply affected his outlook on everything. Luke Skywalker is a flawed person, not a legend. This is something acknowledged by Luke whose legendary status and commitment to the Jedi led to his ultimate failure. Indeed, Luke was the catalyst for Ben Solo to turn to The Dark Side and become Kylo Ren.
Throughout The Last Jedi, we see flashbacks offering different perspectives of how Ben turned to The Dark Side. In the end, we finally learn the truth. We see Luke is very affected when, through The Force, he realises that darkness is consuming Ben. He has a moment of weakness where he contemplates killing Ben. In essence, this will stop the atrocities Ben will commit in the future as an agent of evil. However, Luke knows that killing Ben is not the Jedi way. Instead, it is the quick and easy path; a path to The Dark Side. He immediately stops himself but the damage is done.
Ben sees Luke standing over him, lightsaber in hand, and thinks the worst. At that moment, all Luke sees in Ben’s eyes is a scared pupil whose master failed him, not darkness. Luke feels great shame about his actions. This proves that, even though Ben Solo was already being turned by Snoke, Luke’s moment of weakness is the catalyst for Ben to fully turn to The Dark Side. Luke is distraught about how he failed Leia and Han’s son, his own nephew. This would break anyone’s spirit. Therefore, for me, it is easy to see how Luke became so regretful and bitter.
Luke’s Moment of Weakness Makes Sense
I have seen the argument that Luke would never consider killing Ben Solo. Really? You think the person who briefly considered killing Darth Vader, his own father, in Return of the Jedi would not briefly consider killing someone who could become another Darth Vader? Guess what, he would. It is within Luke to do this. He is a flawed individual. It makes complete sense why Luke would have this moment of weakness.
The last thing Luke would have wanted was for the past to repeat itself. He would do anything to make sure that the evil he thought was defeated could never rise again. You would do the same. That is why Luke briefly considered killing Ben. He saw the darkness within Ben and the atrocities he would commit across the galaxy as Kylo Ren. Yet, Luke stops himself from doing this. He knows that killing Ben leads down a path to The Dark Side. Still, in letting go of that willingness to make sure Ben does not commit these evil acts by killing him, Luke proves to be the facilitator for The Dark Side to rise once again.
From a certain point of view, it was Luke’s own doing and commitment to the Jedi way that initiated a resurgence of everything he thought he defeated decades ago. It is clear why Luke would be ashamed, bitter and unwilling to teach Rey the Jedi principles. It is because those principles always seem to fail and lead to history repeating itself. Luke himself said that the deeds and history of the Jedi is one of failure. This realisation came from his own failure with Ben. That experience crippled his faith in the Jedi way, Again, the theme of failure is prevalent and drives Luke’s arc in The Last Jedi.
Luke and Leia
Failure was also a focal point of his conversation with Yoda. For me, that conversation is critical in making Luke decide to help The Resistance on Crait. The Resistance were about to be wiped out by The First Order on Crait. However, Luke turns up at the last minute to make up for his past failures, save The Resistance and provide a spark of hope in the galaxy one last time. Consequently, he is reunited with Leia. Luke’s scene with Leia is extremely emotional. Of course, seeing Luke and Leia together after being years apart was a great moment.
Their conversation was one of many touching moments in The Last Jedi. Others include Luke’s reunion with R2-D2 on Ahch-To as well as Luke’s death which I promise I will discuss soon. Before I do this, I have to talk about how the death of Carrie Fisher made Leia’s reunion with Luke as emotional as it was. Luke tells Leia that “no one is ever really gone”. Clearly, whether it was intentional or not, the line has a double meaning.
Within the context of The Last Jedi, Luke is referencing Han Solo. Indeed, he gives Han’s dice, which he found on the Millennium Falcon, to Leia to symbolise this. From that perspective, that moment is emotional enough. However, that line also has meaning when it comes to the passing of Carrie Fisher. When you factor this into the scene, it makes it incredibly sad and moving. Moreover, it perfectly sets up one of the most incredible moments in Star Wars history.
When Luke appears on Crait, you notice something different. He looks younger, his hair is different, his beard is trimmed. Still, you think nothing of it. It is only when Luke faces down The First Order and Kylo Ren that you realise the truth; Luke is not physically on Crait. Indeed, Luke is still on Ahch-To but he is projecting himself through The Force to appear on Crait. He is using a Force power never seen in a Star Wars film.
Again, it is another way The Last Jedi deepens the mythology and mystery of The Force. The mystery of The Force is one of the many elements I love about the Original Trilogy. The Last Jedi continues to expand the mystery of The Force through the power of Force projection that Luke showed. The communication that occurred between Kylo Ren and Rey and the power that Yoda showed as a Force ghost to destroy the tree on Ahch-To are also examples of this.
I have no problem with how The Force was expanded upon in The Last Jedi. It added to the mystery of The Force which is how it was always explored in the Original Trilogy. The Force always evolves, new powers are discovered and it becomes more mysterious in the process. I always want this to happen. We have to remember that, at its core, Star Wars is more fantasy than science fiction. Not everything needs to be explained.
Moreover, when it came to Yoda influencing the real world, we must remember Obi-Wan’s line in A New Hope; “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine”. I think we saw that very clearly in The Last Jedi when it came to Yoda. In theory, anyone complaining about the new Force powers which were introduced in The Last Jedi should have hated the fact that Emperor Palpatine uses Force Lightning in Return of the Jedi. That came out of nowhere and it was not explained. Yet, no one cared.
Luke’s Heroic End
Therefore, the way The Force was expanded and still left mysterious in The Last Jedi should not matter now. Moreover, Luke makes up for everything by using the greatest use of Force power we have ever seen. It was an awesome moment. He became the hero the galaxy needed one last time. He bought The Resistance enough time to escape. By doing this, he died with purpose.
The death of Luke is something that did not surprise me. For one, as Kylo Ren said to Rey, the effort to use Force projection would kill her. It would take a severe toll on anyone, even someone as powerful as Luke. The other reason why Luke’s death was not a surprise is due to the purpose of this sequel trilogy. This whole trilogy is about letting go of the old and bringing in the new. That includes Luke. Still, that reality did not make seeing Luke become one with The Force less sad. However, dying as a symbol of hope for the galaxy, as a hero, was a fitting end for the character.
It was even more fitting when you see that Luke dies while looking at the setting of Ahch-To’s twin suns. The boy on Tatooine who gazed at Tatooine’s twin suns in A New Hope with wonder and a desire to be more dies looking at Ahch-To’s twin suns with purpose and fulfilment. Despite his ups and downs, Luke’s final act means that his legendary status in the galaxy is now eternal. For me, that is the best way Luke could have died. As you can tell, I loved the way Luke Skywalker was used in The Last Jedi.
Snoke was another character in The Last Jedi who was used brilliantly. He was very menacing and the scenes he had with Kylo Ren and Rey in his throne room were awesome. Still, again, I have seen some backlash. This is in relation to the fact that Snoke died at the hands of Kylo Ren. On my first viewing, I was stunned that this happened but I loved it. Weirdly, some people were furious that Snoke died without any backstory being given too him.
Again, this stems from some Star Wars fans becoming too attached to their precious Snoke theories. I mean, come on, they were completely stupid. Was he a clone of The Emperor? Was he Mace Windu? (Yes, idiotic enough as that does sound, that was a theory). Some fans expected detailed answers to be spoon-fed to them when it came to Snoke’s backstory.
Again, Why Is This A Big Deal?
I do not get this backlash about Snoke dying. The people upset about Snoke dying are forgetting this simple fact; we never knew anything about Emperor Palpatine in the Original Trilogy. He was just a powerful, evil bad guy. Just like Snoke was. Also, guess what? The Emperor died! Just like Snoke! Remember? The backstory to Palpatine came later. I am confident that the backstory to Snoke will be revealed in the future. Whether it is in a book or perhaps Rian Johnson’s new Star Wars trilogy, it will come.
For me, I contest that we got just as much time with Snoke as we did with The Emperor in the Original Trilogy. That is why I do not get the anger when it comes to Snoke’s demise. Patience is needed for the answers to this character. Again, not everything needs to be explained all at once. Besides, why would you keep Snoke around when you have a more compelling and complex villain in Kylo Ren?
Like the reveal of Rey being no one, the death of Snoke and withholding of answers about him was another slap in the face to the idiotic fan speculation I have had to suffer through since The Force Awakens. I could not love this any more than I already do. I have discussed the problems some had with Rey, Luke, The Force and Snoke in The Last Jedi. Other things in The Last Jedi have also attracted criticism that I do not necessarily agree with. For instance, I have seen the argument that, if Luke did not want to be found, why did he create a map?
Luke Did Not Create The Map!
Well, Luke did not create the map. The map to Luke which everyone craved in The Force Awakens was created out of old records salvaged from the Empire’s archives. Indeed, after the fall of the Jedi, the Empire searched for thousands of Jedi temples located across the galaxy. They eventually found the locations of the first Jedi temples like the one on Ahch-To. From the archives, The First Order was able to acquire most of the map to these Jedi temples.
However, the vital part of that map was in the possession of Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow). Moreover, R2-D2 had downloaded most of the Empire’s archives on the Death Star. This included the map to the Jedi temples which he could recover by going into low power mode. R2 was able to sort through the plethora of information contained in the Empire’s archives. By doing this, he created his own incomplete version of the map. Hence, as we saw in The Force Awakens, when you combined Lor San Tekka’s piece of the map with R2-D2’s incomplete copy of the map, The Resistance were able to find Ahch-To and Luke with it.
So, let me make this pretty clear; Luke NEVER wanted to be found. This is why you see his shock when he sees Rey on Ahch-To with his old lightsaber at the end of The Force Awakens. This belief that Luke created the map is utterly false. In turn, this renders the complaints some people had about this aspect of The Last Jedi to be completely unfounded. The map’s existence was possible due to the desire of The First Order and The Resistance to find Luke. Luke had no part in its creation and The Force Awakens made that clear.
Leia In Space
Honestly, when it comes to the issue of the map and Rey’s parentage, I wonder whether some Star Wars fans were paying any attention to what was said in The Force Awakens. That film clearly states that Rey’s parents are no one of significance and the map was not Luke’s doing. Something that was clear for all of us to see in The Last Jedi was, after the bridge of The Raddus is destroyed, Leia uses The Force to guide her back to the ship.
I was completely fine with this happening. She is Force-sensitive and she is in the vacuum of space. Hence, she can use The Force to give her the slightest bit of momentum which, in space, will send her back to The Raddus with ease. If the issue is with the way it looked when she sent herself back to The Raddus, then I would understand as that may not be for everyone. Still, if she used two hands, this would make her look like Superman. Reaching out through The Force with one hand was the only thing to do that would not look completely stupid.
How Will Leia Be Dealt With In Episode IX?
The thing that could be debated is how she survived in space. I put that down to The Force. Moreover, we have seen people survive in space before in Star Wars so that did not bother me. Besides, we see that the whole experience had an incredible toll on Leia. She is effectively in a coma for a lot of The Last Jedi. It would not surprise me if Episode IX uses this as a way to deal with Leia. Indeed, due to the death of Carrie Fisher, the character of Leia in Episode IX has become a big issue.
If Leia is to die off-screen between the events of The Last Jedi and Episode IX, then perhaps it could be down to after-effects from her time in the vacuum of space. It left her in a critical condition of health in The Last Jedi and it may have had more of an impact than we know. I am curious to see how Leia is handled in Episode IX. However, whatever it may be, I have confidence in J. J. Abrams, who will direct Episode IX, to pay tribute to Carrie Fisher and Leia in a fitting way.
Final Thoughts on Star Wars: The Last Jedi
For now, let us just appreciate The Last Jedi. I love this film. It truly is a special addition to the Star Wars franchise. I do have minor issues with the film which I have explained. Still, they do not take away from the overall brilliance of The Last Jedi. Apart from those minor flaws, I loved everything else and have explained my reasoning as to why the problems some people had with the film were not a problem for me.
Moreover, I gave my opinion as to where I believe those problems stem from. Firstly, it was from some fans clinging on to beliefs of what certain characters, such as Luke, would be like based on the past. The past is the past. People change over the years, even Luke. Secondly, some of the fans’ problems originate from clinging too much to their theories and expectations of what would happen in The Last Jedi. This itself derived from not paying attention to what was said in The Force Awakens and believing The Force Awakens established mysteries which was simply not the case.
I will not regurgitate all the things I loved about The Last Jedi. You already know what I loved if you read the review in its entirety. Well done if you did because it is long. Still, I had a lot to say about The Last Jedi!
The Star Wars Community
I have one final thing to say though. If fan speculation and theories are the lifeblood of the Star Wars community, then it is rotten to its core if it leads to a place where some Star Wars fans are unable to let their expectations go when walking in to see a Star Wars film. I hope a consequence of The Last Jedi is that it will make all fans go into future Star Wars films with an open mind about what will happen.
Of course, you can have expectations when it comes to the overall quality of a film. I will not begrudge anyone for that. However, expectation about what you think will happen in any film should be left at the door. I managed to do this and it made my experience with The Last Jedi all the better for it. I appreciated the overall brilliant execution of the events in the film.
Mapping out an entire film in your head and being resolute in your belief that the film will be bad if it does not go the way you want it to is setting you up for massive disappointment. Please, do not do this in the future. It is no surprise that the majority of Star Wars fans liked The Last Jedi more on their second viewing. They appreciated the film for what it was, not what it was supposed to be in their eyes.
As I previously said, I loved the film more on my second viewing. I went from a position of thinking The Last Jedi was a great film that was better than The Force Awakens and Rogue One to a position where it is my second favourite Star Wars film ever made.
Due to how much I loved The Last Jedi, I cannot wait to see what Episode IX brings us. Still, before then, we have Solo: A Star Wars Story to anticipate. Yet, as I said, speculate on quality, not events, with that film. That goes for all future Star Wars films. That way, your likelihood of disappointment will be lessened. This is especially true if the quality of future Star Wars films will be at its current level. Let us hope that this is the case. If it is, then the future of Star Wars is bright. Very bright.