Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been in theaters for over a week now and the results are surprisingly split down the middle. Fans and critics are at odds, proving to make this one of the most divisive movies of the franchise’s long history. The debate has been going strong since opening night, and there does not seem to be an end in sight. The writers of TMStash.com are similarly split when it comes to final thoughts on this controversial release. Here is what they are saying:
Let the past die. These words echo with strong meaning and symbolism as the masses debate over whether Star Wars: The Last Jedi was the spark that both the trilogy and future of the franchise needed or if it just made mockery of a childhood love. Many fans are outraged, critics are delighted, and Mark Hamill is telling anyone who will listen that it was not George Lucas’ Luke Skywalker.
Critics have strong reason to be applauding. Fans are by all means right when they complain that this is not the Star Wars they grew up with. And yes Mark, this is not George Lucas’ Luke Skywalker but it is no longer George Lucas’ franchise either. This is a new adventure that is meant to pilot the series forward and in the process doing what? Letting the past die. Director Rian Johnson did everything to convey this message, short of breaking the fourth and saying, “Hey we are taking the franchise a new direction”.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi definitely borrowed themes from Empire Strike Back which is causing it to accumulate some of the similar negative comparisons that The Force Awakens received. (Everyone must remember that imitation is the best form of flattery and a Hollywood tradition). The best way to summarize borrowed themes would be to say this film condensed the feel of The Empire Strikes Back with Return of the Jedi.
However, this film took some big risks. Risks that may be rubbing people the wrong way. Namely wrapping up the Luke Skywalker, Supreme Leader Snoke and Rey’s lineage story lines in ways that no one expected. But that is exactly what this franchise needs to start fresh. The reality is Star Wars has remained almost stagnant since the 70’s/80’s, regardless of if it was poorly done prequels, repetitive book series or even a recycled JJ Abrahams debut. It is time to let the past die and look to the future and Rian Johnson realizes that and he did a great job creating that spark by killing some of the most over used Star Wars tropes.
I’m old enough that I constantly refer to Episode IV as the first Star Wars movie…after all, that’s the order in which I saw the whole series of films. This movie isn’t my absolute favorite, but it was a solid movie and worthy of the Star Wars franchise. I only have one quibble…I wish there had been more truly original content. The Last Jedi spent a LOT of time copying prior plots and characters. Luke Skywalker was more Obi-Wan than Luke. Boba and Lando showed up as Phasma and DJ, and of course DJ had to betray the good guys…you get the idea. Even some of the better moments were twists on old plot points. What would have happened if Darth Vader had killed the Emporer in The Empire Strikes Back? You get an answer here. All of this is to say that there was a LOT for long time Star Wars fans…but more in terms of reflections of past glories. So…why do I still like this movie? There was the nostalgia factor for me…after all, I was in the movie theater 40 years ago when the first movie (Episode IV, told you I still call it the first movie) came out. But, there was more. I have grown to appreciate Rey even more in this movie, and that’s saying something as I was already impressed with her first appearance.
Kylo Ren has become a better character and a more compelling villain in this movie as well. The action was great, and the plot…even with all the nods to past glories…works for me. This wasn’t my absolute favorite, but it ranks in the top three for me. And, it has me anxiously awaiting the next installment.
Joe “Geronimo” Gagel:
Star Wars: The Force Awakens set a good foundation for the future of the franchise, flaws and all. I feel like Star Wars: The Last Jedi failed to successfully build upon that foundation. My first problem revolves around the little to no time between the films and how this feels like the characters aren’t really allowed to grow and evolve the way they should. How am I supposed to take Crylo Ren seriously, especially now as THE main villain, if he hasn’t matured and completed his training as Supreme Leader Snoke suggests in the previous film? How am I supposed to buy Rey as a legit successor to the Jedi when she spent most of what felt like a small amount of her time her on Ach-To following Luke around and only learning two of his three lessons then STEALING his Jedi archives? Yes, she is very strong in the force and all but it’s like the road to becoming a Jedi has become an attraction at Disney where all you need is a fast pass to make it.
While all this is going on we get periodic updates on the OJ Simpson police chase, I mean the First Orders pursuit of the last remnants of The Resistance. If The First Order reigns as supreme as the crawler suggests, they should have little problem assembling the entirety of their strength to extinguish their greatest threat. Showing the fruits of Leia’s force training was the only redeeming factor here. This leads to a very pointless side quest that only serves to pit Captain Plasma against her traitorous trooper. Seriously, if you cut out Finn’s arc the story is unaffected.
My last problem lies in the character decisions and directions for Luke Skywalker. I realize this trilogies purpose is to build something new and “let the past die”, but by choosing to include some of these characters this whole damn thing was based around then you should keep in mind what George Lucas built. Lucas’s Luke Skywalker wouldn’t have given up and allowed himself to become so broken and dejected, he was The New Hope! He would’ve dusted himself off, figured it out, and in if need be die trying to right the ship. As Mark Hamil suggests it might as well be Jake Skywalker, who probably couldn’t even get me good savings in a galaxy far, far away.
The Internet is awash in dire reports of the many lives thatwere irrevocably affected in the wake of Star Wars: The Last Jedi’s release on December 14, 2017. My deepest sympathies extend to anyone who suffered at the hands of Mr. Rian Johnson and his team. At the risk of sounding flippant or disrespectful to those that were lost, I can safely maintain that after watching all 152 minutes of the film that, yes, my childhood remains intact.
Word For Sale:
When something is near and dear to our heart, identity, and influences to life achievements, It Is easy to become protective, defensive and harshly judgemental. I feel that this is the case when it comes to the newest addition to the Star Wars franchise. The Last Jedi took us on a new journey and it definitely did not take the easy path. Overall, I greatly enjoyed this new step in the Star Wars saga and embrace a lot of the more critical aspects the film has stirred amongst fans. However, there are some things I just can’t overlook and wish a better choice was made. Here is a quick rundown of my thoughts of the good and the bad. Warning as there are spoilers below.
- Kylo Ren has finally stepped into his rightful place as a Sith Lord. There is no looming presence giving orders that -another- sith is blindly following. His internal conflict is now over and his resolve has become stone. We will see how truly powerful he will become now that he has no doubts about his actions. This was clear when Snoke met his end lamenting about Kylo and sensing his resolve.
- Finn and Poe’s story shows us that playing the hero isn’t always the best choice. Lives are lost, your plan can fail and ultimately mean nothing but people die. Another hero trope, suiciding to “save the day,” is also a pretty stupid action and it’s better to live to see and fight another day.
- Rey is an apparent nobody. Skywalkers have mucked up the galaxy long enough, and it’s time for a new bloodline to show them what being strong with the force means. Rey has an opportunity to become something more than what Anakin and Luke failed to accomplish. Anakin succumbed to fear, and Luke failed his training to save his friends. Both gave up on something and it’s up the new generation to carry their torch.
- Suddenly Jedi Leia. My biggest complaint and one that will stick with me to the end. I know she is sensitive to the force, but that does not mean she is capable of force pulling herself back into a ship while also surviving in space. The better choice I wish they made would be Someone, like Poe, finds a way to aide her (some new space suit tech we haven’t seen yet?) while she barely survives space because of her force sensitivity. Regardless, it was still great to see the late Carrie Fisher perform her iconic role one last time.
- Luke would not have stayed on his island. The man that left, despite the warning of Yoda he’ll turn to the dark side, to save his friends only showed up by astral projection? This doesn’t seem like the Luke we know and love. I wish he had a more dignified end with a showcase of his powers at their peak. Let him die by blowing up too much shit and not sending his image across the galaxy to delay Kylo a little bit.
- We still don’t know anything about Snoke. We have this awesome new Sith lord that pops up out of nowhere, has the ability to turn Luke’s nephew, and has this amazing unknown power. I knew Snoke -had- to die for Kylo to ascend, but I would have liked to know more about him before he succumbed to the old Sith rule of the apprentice killing their master.
Despite the shortcomings, this new addition to our beloved story is only a stone within the massive mountain of lore, characters and excitement. No matter your feelings about this film, it does not change the years of love, devotion and happiness these characters have brought you. Don’t hate it because it’s not perfect, because then you’ll never rekindle that same experience you had before when you expected nothing. I for one look forward to the movies to come and see where this all ends.
Though we do not all see eye to eye, the film did fair better than some are making it out to be. In the end, that is the beauty of Star Wars, it means many different things to different people. No matter what, the fans are passionate and invested.
Please let us know your thoughts below.