Joel’s review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

It’s finally here – Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017).

The wait is over.

We saw the film opening weekend, and I’m still digesting the film. The film takes place immediately after the events of The Force AwakensImmediately after. Rey has met Master Skywalker on Ahch-To, and the Resistance is escaping the planet of D’Qar before the First Order fleet shows up to wipe them out.

The film is primarily set in two locations and themes – 1) Rey trying to convince Luke to train her in the ways of the Jedi and return to the Resistance, and 2) the Resistance attempting to outrun and escape the First Order fleet chasing after them. There is a side plot where Finn and another Resistance character Rose are attempting to find and enlist the help of a slicer (hacker), but I found that side plot to be minor and kinda boring.

Of the two main plots, I found the Rey / Luke portion to be more interesting. Our original hero Luke has certainly fallen into terrible despair. After the destruction of his fledgling New Jedi Order, he’s full of doubt and loathing about himself, and sees the vicious cycle of Light and Dark to be terrible. I can understand this, because if you read the various Star Wars comic books, games, and other content from the Expanded Universe (“Legacy”), you would also be appalled to find that yet another fascist organization (The First Order) has arisen, there are Dark Side users leading it, and some of Luke’s own former pupils have joined it. Wow, I’d be depressed too.

There are a number of fans who have issues with the film, primarily that director Rian Johnson has jettisoned some of the mysteries that J.J. Abrams introduced in Episode VII, as well as not having Luke be some grand titan who comes back to wipe out the First Order and save the day. Instead, we’re forced to watch our childhood hero be…. less than heroic. He’s depressed. He’s exiled himself to a lonely planet so that he can die.  It’s tough. Rian Johnson actually causes a number of fake outs throughout the film with the purpose of throwing away the clichés and tropes and hackneyed plot turns that you would expect. And I appreciated that. This wasn’t going to be a successful and engaging story if it followed the story beats of Empire Strikes Back. And if it followed some elements or twisted them slightly, then it would just as bad (in my eyes) as Star Trek Into Darkness. As an artist, I respected Rian Johnson and the entire creative team for not being afraid to throw away a lot of the old stuff, and blaze a new path.

As the audience, you have no idea what could happen in Episode IX. None. That’s exciting.

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