Star Wars: The Last Jedi came out a little over a week ago. I’ve seen it twice now, and listened to a dozen different podcasts talking about it. It seems like it’s getting a lot of shade, but you know what, I loved it! Here’s some rambling thoughts about why.
I expected this move to echo Empire, the same way that Force Awakens echoed A New Hope, and in a lot of ways it did. The movie starts with our ragtag heroes trying to escape as jackbooted oppressors try to stop them. A temporary victory buys enough time for our heroes to escape to an opulent world with dark undertones while our Force user hangs out with a curmudgeonly Master who has no interest in training them. When they do decide to train them, there’s a focus on the idea of balance, with a trippy force hallucination scene where our hero sees something new in themselves. In the end, the Force using hero hopes to sway the Apprentice of the Dark Side, who in turn tries to sway the hero with a revelation about the heroes family.
The difference between The Last Jedi and Force Awakens, to me, is that TLJ echoes it’s history without feeling like it’s repeating it. When Rey saw Luke’s X-Wing under the water, I rolled my eyes at the thought of getting another “size matters not” scene, but they did a great job of making Luke’s training distinct from Yoda’s. After all, he’s a broken character at this point, so he has no interest in repeating what came before. That idea, of letting the past be, is echoed in Kylo Ren, and is one of the driving themes of the flick. With that idea, I’m really curious to see how Rey’s stealing of the Jedi texts is going to come back around, and why Yoda prevented Luke from finding out she’d stolen them.
It’s not all shiny, though, there were some things that felt a bit off to me. Leia’s Force pull through space doesn’t conceptually bother me, but the execution was really strange. The Casino planet sequence felt super long the first time through, but when I knew it wasn’t coming it didn’t stick out too much. The Vice-Admiral not telling Poe (or anyone?) what the plan was felt very imperial to me (the Rebellion doesn’t strike me as so rigged in terms of “need-to-know” command structure), and could have been resolved with one line indicating that the higher-ups suspected they were being tracked through hyperspace because of a spy on board. Finally, my biggest disappointment was that Benecio Del Toro’s character wasn’t Lando Calrissian. I know letting the past go is important, but I thought meeting Lando as a true prisoner on the world of excess this time around, instead of a prisoner in his own home like he was in Empire, would have been a really cool way to bring him back.
Anyway, it’s a great movie! I know there’s things that could be better about it, but I think that’s true of all of the Star Wars movies. I’m excited to have another piece to make my re-watches even longer!