Preparing for The Rise of Skywalker – Part X: The Last Jedi
Let me start my review of The Last Jedi with this: I really like it. To me as a life long Star Wars fan, a film enthusiast and a fandom researcher, this is one of the better in the franchise. With three years of film school and too many years as a freelancer in the film and television industry behind me, I could dive in deep, but then we’d stay here for a while. Besides, you’ll find lots of love, lots of hate and even more conflict around this film elsewhere on the internet.
No Star Wars film, not even the often discussed prequels, divided the fandom as much as The Last Jedi. This film has inspired both love and hate, and put the spotlight on some of the murkiest and ugliest parts of the Star Wars fandom.
Being a middle part of a trilogy, the tradition is to keep this chapter much darker then the one before it. And Rian Johnson doesn’t skimp on the darkness. The film is downright grim, with the main theme centering around failure.
And boy, do the characters fail in The Last Jedi. But as Yoda says, the greatest teacher, failure is.
Where The Force Awakens was a kind of homage and reflection of the first Star Wars film, The Last Jedi is something completely different. This is a film about tearing down your own assumptions and destroying your heroes, or at least our own idolization of them. Forget your expectations from this point, as this is a story about seeing your heroes fail. And it made many fans very angry.
And the source of all that anger? It might come from the fact that The Last Jedi goes deeper into the personalities in the story, and explores our beloved heroic archetypes from different angles. Hubris, as many of the characters show, leads to failure. But failure leads to knowledge, and knowledge leads to katarsis.
The Last Jedi is a terrific film. It is often uncomfortable, especially where it challenges our expectations and shows us that it might never be such a good idea to meet our heroes on a bad day.
It also feels very different. Rian Johnson’s writing and direction is very noticable here. It feels closer, more personal.
The story itself is a simple one: our heroes must escape after destroying Starkiller Base in previous film. Meanwhile, Rey is finding her teacher, an important step on her hero’s journey.
But where the film shines, is in the deeper characterizations. This is not so much a rollercoaster ride as many of the other Star Wars films are, but rather an exploration of character.
You might love it, or hate it, but either way, I’m guessing that you won’t soon forget it.