Hello everyone, and welcome to the first post of 2018! Last week I wrote a brief review for the newest addition to the Skywalker Saga: “Star Wars Episode VII: The Last Jedi.” Those of you who read that past will know that I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. However, despite the fact that “The Last Jedi” currently has the third highest rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it has received extremely low ratings from many fans. This week, I would like to address some of the criticisms I have heard from those who have had negative things to say about this movie. I will start by saying that the level of negativity coming from a lot of fans has really disappointed me. The amount of hate and meanness being thrown around the Internet especially bothers me since it comes from a fandom of a series all about fighting against evil and darkness. My challenge to the Star Wars fan community for 2018: do better. Second, I should say that there is no accounting for taste, some people might just not like this movie, and that’s okay. This is just my response to many of the points that people have been telling me or that I have seen on the Internet that do not make any sense to me. With that, I will warn that there will be spoilers for “The Last Jedi,” so read at your own risk!
Point #1: “The Last Jedi” was a bad movie.
It is one thing to say that you don’t like a movie, that is your opinion, but to say a movie is bad is something different. For example: I do not care for the movie “Jaws.” I do not enjoy it and have fallen asleep every time I watch it, but I still know that it’s a good movie. “The Last Jedi” has consistently been praised by film critics whose job it is to determine whether or not a movie is good. So, despite whether or not you didn’t like the movie, I think it’s safe to say that it’s still a good movie.
Point #2: “The Last Jedi” ruined Luke Skywalker
I’m pretty sure the people who say this never watched the original trilogy. Luke Skywalker is my second favorite Star Wars character (after Obi-Wan Kenobi), but throughout the serious he fluctuates between whiny, stubborn, and just plain dumb. In “The Last Jedi,” Luke has been dealing with his ultimate failing for the past decade or so. Of course the man is going to be grumpy! The whole movie was spent using Luke to show the audience the failing of the Jedi Order, a failing that he, ultimately, also suffered: hubris. After training Ben Solo for a number of years, Luke began to sense darkness forming in his pupil. So, Luke went to confront him about it, thinking that since he was “Luke Skywalker, hero of the Rebellion” that he would be well-equipped enough to handle it. After searching Ben’s emotions, he immediately panicked, and ignited his lightsaber in a momentary fight-or-flight response. He immediately regretted it, as Ben woke to find Luke standing over him with his lightsaber turned on. While we can assume Ben had already begun his descent to the dark side, this pushed him over the edge. What I love about all that backstory is that it showed that even our heroes can have flaws. Luke left himself open to the dark side (fear) for just a moment, and that moment had major consequences. Despite becoming a Jedi Master, even Luke was not an all-powerful god, and that makes him a better and more interesting character. Although, I could have gone without the angry Thala-siren milking scene.
Point #3: If Rey isn’t a Skywalker than the entire Star Wars saga is useless.
This makes no sense to me. Kylo Ren is still a “Skywalker,” and he’s still extremely powerful. The Skywalker blood is still very important to the plot, he’s just not the protagonist.
Point #4: Rey’s not a Skywalker, so I guess just anyone can be a Jedi, huh?
I have had this brought up so many times and each time my response is the same: yep. Let’s look back at the Jedi Order: one of their main rules was that the Jedi were not allowed to have children, so every Jedi we know of is the child of non-Jedi parents. This includes Anakin Skywalker who did not even have a father (yes, I know, this was part of the “Chosen One” prophecy, but still). Luke Skywalker is literally the only character we know of who had a Force-sensitive parent. So yes, Rey can still be Force-sensitive without have Force-sensitive parents, and so can the broom kid from the closing scene. Also, if people can stop dumping on broom kid that would be great.
Point #5: They should have developed Snoke more.
This is not a terrible point, but it is not a good enough point to ruin the movie. Let’s look at the Emperor. We did not learn his name in the movies until “The Phantom Menace.” I mean, they never mention his first name in the movies at all! I think we will eventually learn more about Snoke, but I think it’s very possible that his story will be found in either comics or novels. I think the way they killed off Snoke in “The Last Jedi” was really good in that it was totally unexpected. I love “The Force Awakens,” but that movie set up a scenario that was almost exactly like the original trilogy. The way they handled Snoke in “The Last Jedi” showed a departure from the expected story line and opens up more options for how this trilogy can end. Also, if you want a hint a who Snoke might be, I suggest reading the Aftermath trilogy, where I believe/speculate that they give hints at who he might be.
Point #6: There wasn’t enough character development.
This is simply false. At the end of the movie: Rey had determined she didn’t need a teacher and began to take steps towards finding her own place in the galaxy; Kylo Ren destroyed everything about his past and became the ruler of the First Order; Finn decided that the entire galaxy was worth saving, not just his small group of friends; Poe learned that sometimes the best strategy is surviving, not risking the lives of the entire squadron for small rewards; Rose went from not being a Star Wars character to being a Star Wars character. There was plenty of development!
Point #7: So Rey can just use the Force without any training?
Yep. In the novel Heir to the Jedi, someone points out to Luke that one’s use of the Force is really only limited by one’s ability to envision the outcome. For example, Luke couldn’t life the X-Wing because he had already determined it was impossible. After knowing this, let’s compare Rey and Luke’s upbringing: Luke was raised in a galaxy where talking about the Force was considered taboo, and so he never really learned about it until he left Tatooine with Obi-Wan. Conversely, Rey grew up in a world where the adventures of Luke Skywalker were legendary. She had probably heard tales of Luke using the Force to do amazing feats, and as such, she was better able to envision using the Force than Luke was. Also, Luke was able to use the Force to a pretty good extent with minimal training, so it isn’t crazy to assume that Rey can use the Force by just believing in herself.
Point #8: The humor didn’t feel like Star Wars humor.
I don’t know what this means. There is a lot of different types of humor throughout Star wars movies (let’s not forget that Jar Jar Binks is an example of “Star Wars humor”). I will agree that some of the humor did not really fit at certain times (I wasn’t a huge fan of Luke throwing the lightsaber over his shoulder in contempt), but I do think that based on “The Force Awakens” and extended canon material, that the humor was at least true to the characters.
There are plenty more points that I have heard, but I have heard these eight points over and over again. I hope that some of my explanations change some minds, but unfortunately I doubt they will. As for next week, I am going to continue my “The Last Jedi” theme with an update post about fan theories, and the dangers of being too committed to them. Until then, thanks for reading, and may the Force be with you!