Hold On To Your Lightsabers
This article may contain spoilers. Star Wars, as a legacy, has a solid idea. It brings good against evil, in a series of epic battles. The two sides exist in an endless war. The Star War’s universe of movies represents great technological strides in cinema. In the same way, they symbolize hope for our society going forward. This same hope drives positive change in these movies. In Star Wars, the force, an unknown power that binds all life, influences all aspects of the films in the name of balance. This idea extends outside of the cinema. In an article, from the Guardian, by Alice Ross, a group, known as Temple of the Jedi Order, in the United Kingdom, almost became a charitable organization just last year. Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi upsets me. It is the same feeling I got watching James Mangold’s Logan. They are movies you want. Nevertheless, the perspectives on the movies can put you off. Logan as a movie, in my opinion, gets to be the only real Wolverine film in a series, but it is at the end of the story. This is after paying money for X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Wolverine, Fox’s previous movies. Before, there was a hope for a better movie, and a more comic-like Wolverine. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a Star Wars movie. However, in my opinion, it takes a direction that serves the actors, director, and company, but not necessarily all of the fans. Allow me to explain.
The Last Jedi Borrows
Luke Skywalker, though in a more dramatic scene, is similar to Obi Wan Kenobi, and Yoda, in Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Supreme Leader Snoke’s near rise mimics Darth Sidious’ shift to power. Poe Dameron carries shades of Han Solo. The rebellion, in a dark place, moves into a positive and hopeful direction by the end of the film. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is not exactly a rehash. It is a piece of complex art, you can accept, or not. It has components that you can point to and admire forever. Other parts of the piece you can look past and ignore, because they do not call to you. I am in the camp, for now, as not being able to accept Star Wars: The Last Jedi, just yet. Luke’s turn to kill Kylo Ren does not seem far-fetched. You can link it to Obi-Wan’s reaction to the end of Anakin Skywalker, and rise of Darth Vader. Captain Phasma’s existence almost copies Boba Fett’s existence in the first Star Wars’ trilogy. Supreme Leader Snoke’s purpose elevates and descends in almost the same way as Emperor Palpatine, for Christ’s sake. Kylo Ren, while Adam Driver’s portrayal of this character is solid, and fun, is a continuation of a dark, Anakin Skywalker, without the severe damage. The difference is he may get to redeem himself sooner. This movie, and so far set of movies, borrows so much, in my opinion, but repurposes it. The difference is you see more history unfold. Poe Dameron learns, the hard way, to become a leader. Kylo Ren runs a galactic army. He rules the galaxy, as long as he knows his place. Rey exists as a Jedi, but has to find her purpose. For me, this movie, and new series, is a dichotomy.
The New Direction of the Force
I have an investment in George Lucas’ first films, as a fan. I know I have a bias. In a sense, the weight of those films, the first of their kind, carry importance. I was not able to see it as a kid in theaters. I actually saw it on television, first. This was an awesome experience. Star Wars: The Force Awakens did not resonate with me. It is the first cannon Star Wars film I did not want in my collection. It just seems like a movie, now, that calls back to the past, in order to drive individuals to the movie theater, because it has the name “Star Wars” on it. That is good for people who did not see the first Star Wars. That seems to be my problem. The dilemma, I believe, is this movie is for children, and new comers. In some way, this is a call to the past, for a specific group. It seems like a way to relate, the past experiences, in the present to new comers. How many children could relate to Kylo Ren. What teens, and even young adults, could mimic similar behaviors? How many others visit Star Wars films, but may feel overwhelmed? This series could be a good place to start? Now, back to the rant. Enter Kylo Ren, in a similar way to Darth Vader in Star Wars: A New Hope. He deals out fear. People die. Instead of a search for rebel plans, Kylo Ren searches for the location of Luke Skywalker. The movies differ when Finn, played by John Boyega, breaks his soldier programming. He decides to help a rebel pilot, Poe Dameron, escape the clutches of the First Order. An adventure, and a rebel plot, begins to undo the First Order’s, in the role the Empire, plans. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a clear indication of a new direction with an attitude of “whether you like it, or not.” That is fine, but it does also mean you can lose viewers at the movie theaters.
Daisy Ridley’s Finish
Rey as a character is awesome. The only thing that really draws me to this movie is her actions, in a final film. Daisy Ridley, as a product of Westminster, London, portrays a complex female character well. She is very capable. Rey is independent and powerful, but must deal with her past before she can get to her best self. Ridley’s example seems to reflect in John Boyega, as Finn. Even Oscar Issac’s character takes a step up as Poe Dameron takes an awesome turn in Star Was: The Last Jedi. Adam Driver is Anakin-like in this movie, but his acting chops are solid, as well. As a whole, the movie has great actors. The visuals in this film are great, and sometimes good. The problem is the direction of the end of a franchise. Let us follow the Star Wars film saga up to this point. The Jedi discover Anakin Skywalker. He is force sensitive. While older, a Jedi master, Qui-Gonn Jinn, wants him to learn the ways of the Jedi. Qui-Gonn, in his death, passes this on to his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi, to complete. Obi-Wan teaches Anakin, now older, to be a Jedi. At the same time, he gains knowledge from a Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. Anakin takes to Palpatine’s teaching more. It leads him to turn on the Jedi. He helps them to their downfall. During his personal collapse, he becomes Darth Vader and helps to spread the influence of Palpatine’s empire. He has children. The children grow. One becomes a princess that leads a rebellion that battles Vader’s, and now Emperor Palpatine’s, influence to end the Empire. The other becomes a powerful Jedi, Luke Skywalker, that ends the Sith. Years later, Kylo Ren continues, under a powerful, military force, The First Order and Supreme Leader Snoke, the business of Darth Vader. He wishes to end Luke Skywalker. His actions awaken a storm trooper. The storm trooper turns on the First Order and helps a rebel pilot. The pilot leads the storm trooper, Finn, to Rey. Rey discovers she can be one of the hopes for the Rebellion against the First Order.
What Happens Now?
A true rebellion can now happen in the last film against the First Order. The stories of rebellion now circulate across the galaxy. Would you want to see it? The biggest concern I had at the end of this movie is there are no stakes. Why would I want to see it? The end of this movie leaves open what could happen in the ninth film of this series. It could be a musical. It might be a dream sequence. I have no idea what is going to happen. The concern is Star Wars: The Force Awakens had this end. What is going to happen? Now, Star Wars: The Last Jedi has a similar end. The problem is neither of these films has anything new to add to Star Wars. The content in Star Wars does not necessarily have to be brand new. It just has to be a little more cohesive, and less past-driven. In these movies, the machinations are different. The story is the same. The point is still to get you to the theater. I do not wish to see a similar story play out, again. Who cares about possible speculation of a ninth movie? The objective seems to be to get to a new trilogy of films. That is where it is going it feels like. What seems clear is the makers of Star Wars want it to be less legendary. The Force Awakens and Last Jedi seem to ground the mythology of Star Wars, by George Lucas. It is as clear as Kylo Ren’s destruction of his helmet. It is a call to see Star Wars as something else. That is fine. However, do not take the Star out of the Wars, or vice versa.
Just like anyone else, I wanted to emrbace Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I enjoyed much of it. My biggest concern is I do not think it is going anywhere. I can say I am a former film student. I have some experience viewing movies. That does not matter. This movie, in my opinion, does a better job marketing Star Wars than being “it”. The Force Awakens seems to mimic this same idea. The feud between Kylo Ren, and the character Rey seems moot. It is two people, on the same level, but with different ideas on how to approach change. In some sense, the objective might be for Kylo Ren to turn good. It might be at the cost of Rey’s turn to evil. A war is going to take place. Does it matter, though? George Lucas’s films had moments of levity, horror, action, drama, etcetera for a reason in different parts of the film. Star Wars: The Last Jedi was a science fiction piece, with Star Wars on it, which was okay. The Force Awakens was okay. This, however, is supposed to be the end of Star Wars as a saga. Some scenes have to pop. Character arcs have to push through three sets of films. As an example,they can end Finn’s character arc in this series. His reason for being in these films seems pointless. His focus is on Rey. We know that. I once speculated either he was a Jedi, or his good turn was false. He might serve some evil purpose. He now knows he must be a rebel at the end of this movie. What the heck? He acts like a rebel at the start of this movie. Why is he important to the story overall? It is not clear yet. It might say it in the next film, though.
Rest in Peace Misses Carrie Fisher. You will be missed.