In Defence of Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi may not be perfect, but is it the disaster that it is being blown up to be?

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is quickly becoming one of the biggest film controversies of the modern age. The film has managed to cause an enormous rift in its fanbase. There appears to be no middle ground between love and loathing.

Personally, I love the film. I have gone to seen it twice and my opinion has not changed. I thought that Rian Johnson delivered a bold new take on the Star Wars saga and it really blew me away.

Not to say I am blind to the criticisms that have been being fired off regarding The Last Jedi, I am well aware of some of the problems that the film has. I just think that it is being blown way out of proportion.

Here I will be defending some of the criticisms against The Last Jedi, as well as highlighting some of my favourite parts of the film. As usual, we will be diving into spoiler territory here, so PLEASE watch the film before reading any further!

Luke Skywalker’s character arc was human and understandable.

A massive shot that has been fired at the writing for The Last Jedi is that Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker had been completely ruined for this movie. The apparent epitome of the light being reduced to a cowering, murderous hermit.

But to be honest, I loved the direction his character took in this film. I felt that he had been humanised to a new degree and I was able to understand his motives very clearly.

I knew when watching The Force Awakens that he wouldn’t have hidden himself away on Ahch-To without a good reason. The isolation from his family, his friends and the whole “saving the world” situation had to be due to something huge.

Luke feeling very afraid of Rey's similarities to Kylo Ren
Luke feeling very afraid of Rey’s similarities to Kylo Ren – IMDB

Luke’s lie to Rey about when Kylo burned down his training temple, as well as the subsequent revelation that Luke had almost killed him, was a shock to us all.

But then I thought about it a lot harder. Throughout The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, we see Luke struggle with his feelings. He is capable of using the Force choke ability – a traditionally dark side power.

The Emperor exploits his weakness, driving him to anger. He tries to murder Palpatine but is stopped by Vader. He then engages in one of the most passionate and rage-fuelled fights in the Star Wars saga.

We have seen Luke’s humanity and weakness to his own emotions. He describes his desire to kill young Ben as but a fleeting one, and motivated by preventing his potential catastrophic turn to the dark.

Luke is ashamed as exiles himself as a consequence for this one moment, and I truly believe that he would. He is more scared of himself than anything else now. I loved this arc of The Last Jedi and how much it humanised Luke.

The new Force powers were interesting and entertaining.

Another critique of The Last Jedi is that the new Force powers showcased in the film were strange and not in line with what we know. This is one of those criticisms that I can’t help but be amused by.

For one thing, we are discussing a MAGICAL ENERGY here. Something that we, even externally, cannot understanding the limits and restrictions on. It can evolve and change in amazing ways and I think this is what The Last Jedi did.

I have commonly seen the complaint that the new Force powers we have seen have not followed the history set by the Extended Universe. You know, that cough cough NOT CANON cough cough series set after the Original Trilogy.

I’m not knocking the EU, they are amazing stories and I love the directions they take. And though I may not be ecstatic that they have been removed from the official canon, they have been.

Rey begins her training in the mystical ways of the Force
Rey begins her training in the mystical ways of the Force – IMDB

Force abilities have been updated and new ones created with every Star Wars movie. And now The Last Jedi has branched out even further to flight and astral projection. I loved the projection power throughout the film and the way it is set up for Luke’s final confrontation on Crait.

I do agree that the Leia scene felt a little off in the visual sense (Guardians of the Galaxy vibes anyone?). But her use of the Force to me was a great narrative punch.

We knew that she was strong in the Force since the days of the Original Trilogy. We know that a lot of time has passed since Return of the Jedi and that she could only get stronger from there. I love the fact that her first ON-SCREEN use of her power was to save her life and keep hope for the Resistance.

The revelation of Rey’s heritage is great for her character.

As a fanbase, we have become so indoctrinated to the idea that people can only be special if they are related to someone special. Rian Johnson knew this, and completely subverted the expectation and threw us for a loop. And I loved it.

There have been plenty of powerful Force wielders in the Star Wars saga that were so of their own doing. So we know that power is not always connected to bloodline.

And while many feel that The Force Awakens was narratively building to who her parents were to explain her power, I feel more that it was a personal story of her trying to figure out her place. She doesn’t know why she’s involved or has this power, and she’s scared.

Rey hones her skills on Ahch To
Rey hones her skills on Ahch To – IMDB

Rey’s journey continues in The Last Jedi as she tries to find her place. As Kylo points out, she already knew on some level that they threw her away. But she is desperate to find out that she’s wrong. She wants to know that she is special.

In a way, she has the same desire as the audience. She thinks that if her parents were important, that explains why she has a place here and has to continue their legacy. It would give her purpose and answers.

But the fact that she comes from nothing means that she has a choice. She has no familial obligation to fight in someone else’s war, she only has to do what she feels is right. And I feel that this is a much more interesting turn for her character to take now that she is the last of the Jedi standing.

While flawed, The Last Jedi is a great narrative addition to the franchise.

There are still problems in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but I honestly think it was great. The narrative choices were bold and daring, and I really loved them.

Granted, this is the opinion of someone younger who grew up as the prequels were released, but I was still raised on Star Wars and have loved the franchise for many years.

I do recognise that while some of the choices for the film have merit to me, they were not executed perfectly. I love how surprising the death of Supreme Leader Snoke was and how well it plays to Kylo’s narrative, but I do wish we knew more about him and the rise of the First Order.

Finn and Rose’s story was interesting in how it developed Rose and also pointed out that not every Resistance plan is going to work, but I share the concerns about Rose’s character and sudden romance subplot.

A blood-boiling Kylo Ren ready to fight
A blood-boiling Kylo Ren ready to fight – IMDB

And yes, the green milk. I did have questions about how Luke kept nourished on the island, and I knew that the blue milk previously seen in previous films had to come from somewhere. But it was jarring and uncomfortable. Leave it at the spear-fishing scene, that was actually awesome.

So yeah, those are my thoughts on why I loved The Last Jedi and why it will be one of my favourite Star Wars movies. I thought it was great and loved the narrative choices it made.

But you don’t have to take the opinion of one whose favourite episode was Revenge of the Sith (for similar reasons to this, plus the cinema experience of that film blew my child mind, so sue me). Everyone is entitled to their own opinions.

Feel free to check out why others at Digital Fox weren’t fans of The Last Jedi.

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