The following review may contain spoilers regarding Rian Johnson’s latest addition to the Star Wars Franchise.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors alone.
The Light Side
SITH HAS HIT THE FLOOR.
Evil is ascendant, as the Resistance begins to feel progressively outnumbered, and occasionally outmaneuvered by the First Order.
The film beautifully explores the conflict within Kylo that evetually turns him to the Dark Side. With Snoke at the helm, young impressionable Ben Solo has been effectively corrupted.
The Last Jedi brings with it a gust of fresh characters and rejuvenating themes through the intrepid, multi-faceted group that is the Resistance. Kylo Ren serves as a charismatic villain who models himself as the new Vader.
In arguably one of the biggest Star Wars plot twists, Kylo Ren proceeds to kill Snoke in a breathtaking show of petulant rage.
One of the most compelling arcs of the film is the directer’s enamouring skill of drawing parallels between young Been Solo and his notorious grandfather, Darth Vader.
The Last Jedi gives us the conflict of Ben Solo vs Kylo Ren in several key ways, but with an effective brevity. We see his personal connection to Rey (like Padmé for Anakin), the betrayal of a teacher who feared his power (Luke Skywalker, like Obi Wan), and the cultivation of his power by a dark force (Snoke, standing in for Palpatine).
Destiny shapes the Star Wars stories, but everyone still has a choice. The way The Last Jedi introduced Kylo Ren’s choices, and the pride that kept him from using the Force for good, cannot be overstated.
The Dark Side
A young, Force-sensitive person, who doesn’t know his/her parents yet, gets off/escapes a desert planet with two droids/a droid on the Millennium Falcon, the young person fights the Empire/First Order, the old warrior whom we thought would mentor him/her is killed, and eventually, a huge WMD is destroyed by the Rebels/Resistance.
This is an extremely broad outline (understatement) of Episodes IV and VII. The fact that The Force Awakens was wrapped up in this blanket of comforting, warm nostalgia is why it was so well received by the Star Wars fan base, while its successor can probably be summarised by Professor Mr. Skywalker:
“This is not going to go the way you think”.
I think it’s safe to say that based on the trailers for the movie, a lot of the fandom expected The Last Jedi to follow a blueprint similar to that of, or at least broadly resembling, The Empire Strikes Back: Another old warrior, who was at first reluctant, trains the Jedi-in-making protagonist in the ways of the Force by making them lift rocks and pebbles on a desolate planet while the rest of the characters fight a bunch Walkers, and in the meantime, the Jedi-in-making hero abandons the training and to rescue the others.
Now, while I’m happy that VIII didn’t follow a Star Wars blueprint, The Last Jedi does have some problems:
- What has happened to the humour?
Star Wars has always been funny, and a lot of the credit for that goes to Ewan McGregor’s portrayal of Obi-Wan, and Harrison Ford’s portrayal of Han. After watching The Force Awakens, it looked like this humour would be carried on through Rey, Poe, and Finn, but it seemed to have taken a turn for the worse in The Last Jedi.
The dialog sequence between Poe and General ‘Hugs’, and Luke throwing the lightsabre away were scenes that wouldn’t look out of place in a Marvel movie, but did in Star Wars. Even the judgemental caretaker fish nuns (I don’t know what they’re called) seemed a bit forced. Benicio del Torro’s DJ had so much more potential than what seemed to be budget Han. That being said though, Leia, Chewie, and the porgs kept some humour alive.
2. Three out of four members on the First Order top brass – Snoke, Phasma, and Hux. Let’s take it one at a time:
- The Force Awakes brought with it and air of mystery surrounding Supreme Leader Snoke. Who is he? (About that, there’s a fan theory suggesting that Mace Windu is Snoke). Where has he come from? How did he take over the First Order? It seems that Snoke’s only role was to complete Kylo Ren’s transition to the Dark Side. While that was an incredibly important aspect of the story line, if this was in only job, it now looks like his mysterious shroud was wasted.
- With her chrome armour and Patton style disciplinarian attitude, Phasma quickly became on the coolest characters of the Sequel Trilogy. I know she had to die, but I still think that she could have been given more screen time in The Last Jedi, and be killed by Finn IX. But then again, the twists of this movie were one of its strong points.
- Hux now looks like he’s a Ren’s puppet. This transition from foe to puppet took place in a matter of seconds, thanks to the classic Dark Side Force Choke.
After Carrie Fisher’s tragic death last December, the Star Wars team said that they wouldn’t make a CGI Leia in Episode IX, so we knew she had to die either in the movie, or in between VIII and IX. Floating away into the vastness of space seemed appropriate, until that spacewalk of hers got her back. J. J. Abrams is coming back as the director for Episode IX, and is going to have to handle her death very carefully.
- Canto Bight
The mission failed, and put Finn and Rose in a worse position than they were before. Maybe the entire point was to introduce us to the Force sensitive broom kid?
Here’s looking forward to Episode IX. As always, may the Force be with you.
Samar Dikshit and Ananya Roy for MTTN