Since Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012, the studio released three new Star Wars films, with a fourth one out this week. The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi continued the main saga, while Rogue One and Solo are standalone stories that explore other corners of the universe. So far, all four movies have been well received by critics, while fans have been a little more mixed.
But for fans, there isn’t one movie that’s more polarizing than The Last Jedi. While the film was a big box office hit and received rave reviews from critics, a lot of fans felt alienated by it, largely due to its story and character decisions. Some have even called it the worst Star Wars movie yet, while others have tried to create online campaigns and boycotts against the film. (Not that those things ever have any major impact, but yeah.)
However, there are also fans who love the movie. I happen to be one of those fans. In fact, in my opinion, The Last Jedi is not only the best Disney-era Star Wars movie, but also the best movie outside of the original trilogy. Here, I will explain why I love it so much.
Before I continue, I wanted to clarify that everyone is entitled to their own opinions. If you don’t like The Last Jedi and have a legitimate reason why, I get that. I’m just here talking about why I do love it.
Also, I will be going fully into SPOILERS for The Last Jedi. I know the movie’s been out for several months, and most people have already seen it. But just in case someone reading this has not…
The main reason why I love The Last Jedi is how it not only continues the Star Wars saga, but it serves as a deconstruction of sorts. And that is very evident in one character more than the rest: Luke Skywalker. The young hero that we saw in the original trilogy has grown into a jaded old man who gave up the dream of being a Jedi master and training others in the ways of the Force. He tried and failed to rebuild the Jedi Order, and he didn’t take that lightly. In fact, he turned off his connection to the Force and was extremely reluctant to train anyone else, including Rey. But at the end of the film, he was redeemed, choosing to help Rey and the Resistance in one final, sacrificial act of heroism.
To me, Luke’s arc from the original trilogy through The Last Jedi is one of the most compelling in the entire saga. Few other arcs have contained the same amount of depth and gravitas. Depicting Luke as an old Jedi master who’s past his prime is a gutsy move, but one that ultimately paid off. It could’ve been super easy (and even predictable) to show Luke creating the new Jedi Order, but instead, Rian Johnson went beyond that. The Last Jedi serves as an effective ending to Luke’s arc, as the saga completely shifts its focus to Rey and the other new characters. Despite his initial resistance, Luke inspired the new heroes in a time when hope was almost completely gone. It’s a classic example of a broken, older character who redeems himself/herself to fulfill the needs of others. And if that isn’t heroism, I don’t know what is.
Another thing that elevates The Last Jedi is its story. Ever since The Force Awakens came out, fan theories had gone through the roof, from Snoke’s history to Rey’s parentage. Well, The Last Jedi pretty much ignored those fan theories and did its own thing. Snoke died in the second act, Rey’s parents are nobodies, and Kylo Ren is further from redemption than ever before. It would have been too predictable for the film to include certain things because a fan on Reddit theorized it. Even The Force Awakens, as phenomenal as that movie was, was criticized by some for having a plot that was similar to past films. And honestly, if the saga is going to continue, then the movies need to break new ground with their storytelling. Otherwise, it’s going to grow stale, and fatigue will set in sooner.
Rather, The Last Jedi focuses on its own story, and that helps the film immensely. Not only is its plot original, but it is so unpredictable. For example, it does fresh new things with the Force. Rey and Ben communicate with the Force, while Luke creates a Force projection of himself. The movie expands our knowledge of the Force, just when we thought we knew it all. Then there’s the film’s constant misdirection, whether it’s Leia “dying,” Snoke’s quick demise, or Kylo seemingly killing Luke in their final confrontation. Heck, there aren’t any real lightsaber duels in this one, which is rare for a Star Wars movie. The constant unpredictability makes the film engaging throughout.
The Last Jedi includes other things that fans have come to expect, such as stunning visual effects, exploration of new planets, and new characters. Steve Yedlin’s cinematography is arguably the best in the entire saga, while Rian Johnson’s direction is on point. The throne room sequence is one of the best scenes in the entire saga, hands down. And it didn’t need a conventional lightsaber duel to do so.
I also love the active roles of female characters in the movie. Rey is the main protagonist and has a great arc, General Leia elevates every scene she’s in, Holdo is very good (how can you not love Laura Dern?), and both Phasma and Maz Kanata are memorable in their limited screentime. And then there’s Rose. I’ll admit, the scene where she saves Finn from sacrificing himself was a little…weird. But other than that, I liked Rose. Kelly Marie Tran has been enthusiastic about getting a Star Wars role, and it’s clear that she’s a huge fan of the saga. For me, that shines through her character. How can I hate her knowing that?
This segment leads me into a mini-rant…. One frequent complaint I’ve heard about The Last Jedi is its female characters. “Fans” claim that the movie is taking the saga into SJW territory or some nonsense, while their attempts to edit the movie remove all the significance of women. I shouldn’t have to point out how problematic that mindset is to people, but here we are. Women have always played big roles in Star Wars, from Leia in the original trilogy to Padme in the prequels to Ahsoka in the animated shows. It’s a silly and misogynistic complaint at best. Again, it’s fine if you have a legitimate reason why you don’t like The Last Jedi, but this is not a legitimate reason. It’s just a sign of insecurity and sexism.
Alright, moving on…
Before I go, I wanted to clarify that I’m a massive Star Wars fan, in case you couldn’t tell already. I grew up watching the prequels and original trilogy, and I adore the characters. So far, I’ve been on board with Disney’s work on the franchise. The Force Awakens was fantastic, Rogue One was really good, and you already know what I think of The Last Jedi. I’m more excited than most for Solo, and I cannot wait for Episode IX and whatever else is planned.
Ultimately, this is my take on why The Last Jedi is the best Star Wars movie outside of the original trilogy. It’s not afraid to take risks with its storytelling and character development, while it offers compelling new arcs for Luke Skywalker and others. It pushes the boundary in depicting the Force, the conflict between the light and dark sides, and addressing fan expectations. Honestly, movies would be so much better if we got more blockbusters like this.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know on Twitter at @WOBAMEnt.
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