Let’s get right to it: you either love Star Wars: The Last Jedi or you can’t stand it. I happen to fall into the former category (which you may or may not know). I know there are plenty of reasons why people do not like this movie (I’ve seen the tumblr posts, thank you, Pinterest). However, I want to take some time to explain why I think that Star Wars: The Last Jedi really is what Katie Walsh from Detroit Free Press calls, “everything you could want and more from a Star Wars film.”
Why the New Star Wars Movies Fit into the Franchise
As you know from my 3 Reasons Why the New Star Wars Movies are Important post, I never really *got* Star Wars until recently. The new Star Wars movies really opened up my eyes to the Star Wars world, including (and especially) The Last Jedi. Why? Let’s run through some reasons real quick:
- Diverse representation. Everyone has a place in the Star Wars world, from racially and culturally diverse characters to female characters. I love seeing all of these different groups represented on the screen. I especially love seeing a female Jedi.
- Hope. Yes, the original movies were all about hope, but, to me, the continuation of “hope” as a central topic in the new movies hammers in its importance. No matter what generation you’re a part of – the generation growing up under the Imperial Empire or the generation growing up under the First Order – there are always going to be challenges, but there is always hope. Hope does not belong to a single era. Hope endures.
- Carrying on a legacy. I love that Star Wars is something that, like hope, does not belong to a single era. The Star Wars franchise is a story about family, hope, and good versus evil and overcoming obstacles. Seeing these topics carried out in the new generation of movies encourages me that the generations are not as separate as some might believe. Like the new Star Wars movies, we build upon the foundations set before us.
- Character development. Character development is probably the number one aspect I look for in a good story. The characters in the new Star Wars movies are just so round and developed that I LOVE THEM ALL. Rey, the orphan of Jakku who finally gets the courage to leave her home and pursue a destiny outside of her family. Finn, who discards the life he was brought up in for a friend, then continues on his path because he learns to believe in something bigger. Kylo Ren, the villain forced onto that path by his family’s choices. Not to mention, we get to see how Luke, Leia, and Han have developed since the original trilogy.
Why Star Wars: The Last Jedi Works
Okay, now that we’ve covered why the new movies in general fit into the Star Wars franchise (at least in my opinion), let’s get to the real reason we’re here: to discuss why The Last Jedi works. Feel free to respond to me in the comments, whether you agree or disagree. (I love a good debate! I just ask that you respect my opinions, and I will respect yours.)
The plots and subplots work together
I’ll admit, there is a bit of a break in cohesiveness considering that Rey and the rest of the characters are all moving in different circles this movie. However, they are all working towards the same goal: saving the Resistance and taking down the First Order. They all have their own roles. Rey has to convince Master “go-away-leave-me-alone” Luke to come back to face down the First Order. Finn and Rose have to sneak on board the First Order’s ship to help the Resistance escape. Poe has to make sure that the Resistance fleet survives.
All of these characters are working towards the goal of saving the Resistance so they can challenge the First Order. They just happen to be engaged in different tasks. Let’s consider how all of these separate elements come together in the end.
- Poe learns a valuable lesson in humility and leadership when Holdo’s plan is finally executed.
- Finn and Rose fail, and the First Order learns of Holdo’s plan and begins destroying the escape pods.
- Rey returns to save the Resistance, both in the aerial attack and when they are stuck in the cave (which requires her to use the skills she learned while with Luke).
- Luke finally agrees to face down the First Order, using the Force projection seen throughout the movie.
Do the various subplots feel like different movies at times? Yes. But all of these subplots culminate into a single plot, and the movie is brought full circle in the end. The Resistance, though severely broken, escapes and the First Order receives some heavy hits.
I also think that it’s important to note that all of these subplots teach us something about hope. Everybody had failed at their particular tasks. Rey originally failed to convince Luke to come back, and then she failed to turn Kylo Ren/Ben Solo. Finn and Rose failed to help the Resistance escape. (In fact, Finn and Rose are the reason the First Order learns Holdo’s plan.) Poe failed to stop Holdo (and look past his own pride). Still, despite these failures, these characters continue on. They picked themselves back up and are ready to start again. We will see how they have succeeded in episode IX.
Disclaimer: I recognize that there are several loose ends even by the end of the movie. However, I believe episode IX will tie up some of these loose ends. Stay tuned!
The characters are well developed, believable, and relatable
I obviously cannot cover all of the characters in The Last Jedi, but I will try to address the characters I hear the most complaints about.
I’ve heard people call Rey too “emotional” in this movie. Let’s consider her situation. She’s an orphan who has spent her entire life on Jakku waiting for her family to return. All of a sudden, she’s thrust into the middle of the struggle between light and dark. Her whole life is turned upside down. She was taken prisoner and tortured. Her only friend was almost killed (and she doesn’t know if he’s going to live). Everyone has a breaking point, and Rey has reached hers. However, Rey being “emotional” does not make her weak. She’s still going strong despite all of these things and she follows the pull of the Force towards an unclear destiny to become a Jedi. Being emotional does not make her a weak character – it makes her believable and relatable.
Luke is another character I hear complaints about, mostly because Mark Hamill expressed some concerns about this version of Luke. We have to consider what his life has been like up to this point. This is the character who saved the galaxy and Darth Vader. After his success, though, it seems that Luke experienced failure after failure. He finally agreed to start a Jedi training temple, and half of his students end up dying at the hands of his nephew. He failed to save his sister’s son. The galaxy he saved is falling apart. He had Yoda and Kenobi as masters for only a short period of time, and neither taught him how to handle failure. Personally, I don’t think Luke has done anything I wouldn’t have done in his situation. Luke is not infallible and he has reached his breaking point. Luke is human, not a legend.
I think Kylo Ren is my favorite character (and not just because I have a thing for handsome brooding types). Kylo Ren was shown as the villain in The Force Awakens. Now, in The Last Jedi, and we learn how he became this villainous character. Leia, scared of the darkness inside him, sent him off to train with Luke. Han was often an absent father. Luke almost killed Ben when he realized how dark Ben was. Snoke was the only one who seemed to accept Ben for what he was, and yet we see how Snoke manipulates and abuses him. However, we also know that despite Snoke training, Kylo is not completely dark. As Rey says, Kylo Ren is conflicted. Who of us has not experienced internal conflict? Adam Driver brings so much life to this conflicted character that Kylo Ren is one of the most believable characters to me.
I highly recommend reading the novelization of The Last Jedi by Jason Fry because it only adds to the character development. The Last Jedi novelization adds a lot of characterization to Rose, another character who gets a lot of criticism. The book also gives insight to General Hux, Phasma, and even Snoke.
The Last Jedi builds on the Star Wars world
I’ve heard people say that The Last Jedi doesn’t feel like a Star Wars movie. But what is a Star Wars movie? Star Wars breaks genre walls and combines different genres into a sort of Frankenstein monster-esque final product. In other words, Star Wars does not fit a specific mold. Saying “this here is what a Star Wars movie is” is kind of ridiculous.
The Last Jedi contains everything a Star Wars movie should have: the battle between light and dark, overcoming the odds and preserving the spark of hope, wild and fantastical worlds, and characters that make us believe in ourselves.
The Last Jedi lets us see more of the universe, which is always exciting. Canto Bight is a beautiful world full of so many fantastical creatures unique the the Star Wars world. It also has a dark side, though, which rings true with our world: beautiful things can often cover up an ugly under belly. Crait is probably one of my favorite worlds. I mean, you can’t beat that stunning visualization. And Ach-To not only gives us another glimpse of the vast world of Star Wars, it also builds upon the Jedi lore. (I do hope that there will be more of the lore in episode IX, since Rey has the sacred Jedi texts.)
We learn more about the Force, the balance between light and dark. We get to see the Jedi from a different angle, thanks to Luke. I can’t wait to see what else we get to learn from episode IX.
And there you have it! My three reasons why Star Wars: The Last Jedi works. Granted, I know there are people out there who make a living off of analyzing Star Wars movies, and I’m not going to discredit anything they have to say. But I do want to take a moment to say that as an average Star Wars fan, The Last Jedi works for me.
Continuing the Story with SOLO: A Star Wars Story
Board the Millennium Falcon and journey to a galaxy far, far away in SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY, an all-new adventure with the most beloved scoundrel in the galaxy. Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo befriends his mighty future copilot Chewbacca and meets the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian, in a journey that will set the course of one of the Star Wars saga’s most unlikely heroes.
The new Star Wars trilogy has made me really excited for SOLO: A Star Wars Story. After all, Han Solo is the father of my favorite character. We know what Han has been up to in the original movies, The Force Awakens, and the time leading up to The Force Awakens. What we do not know, however, is how Han Solo became Han Solo.
I cannot wait to see how Han Solo became the man we know and love. I am also anxious to see if knowing more about Han Solo will help us understand Ben Solo/Kylo Ren better.
The film stars Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Paul Bettany.
See SOLO: A Star Wars Story everywhere May 25th! Check out the trailer below.
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SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY opens in theatres everywhere on May 25th!