Let the Past Die – My Thoughts on the Film and What The Last Jedi Means for the Future of Star Wars

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Before you read any further, I feel that I should warn you that this WILL contain many SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. If you haven’t seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi yet, then WHY ARE YOU EVEN READING THIS? WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING? STAR WARS HAS BEEN OUT FOR ALMOST A MONTH NOW! GO SEE IT! NOW!

In all seriousness, I would highly recommend to all who have not seen the movie to wait to read this blog until after they have seen it. The only way to truly experience the film the way writer/directer Rian Johnson wanted you to experience it is to go in completely spoiler free. This is your last warning. There will be spoilers after this.

Okay, so I neglected to write anything about The Last Jedi for a while, mostly because I needed time to think about everything. I knew that if I wrote anything about the film before having time to digest it, I would not be saying how I really feel about the movie. Overall, I love the movie, but that was not how I felt when I viewed it for the first time. To say that The Last Jedi is probably the most divisive Star Wars film to date is an understatement and many fans have gone so far as to sign petitions to try to get the film removed from canon. I will be honest, after my first viewing I was completely silent. I was speechless and fell into a day of deep depression. For the first time in my life, I had seen a Star Wars movie that I didn’t want to talk about. Friends would ask me what I thought and I would have to tell them that I “didn’t want to talk about it,” and that it was “too soon.” I was just in a state of shock. I couldn’t believe what I had seen. I was sure that I had missed something, surely that was it. There was no way that a Star Wars movie could have made me feel this way. It wasn’t long until I found out that I wasn’t the only one who had felt the way I had after seeing the film. The best way to describe many people’s reaction to The Last Jedi is that it was as if “millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced.” The next day, I went and watched it again and this time, I truly enjoyed it. Seeing The Last Jedi for the second time was just like being a child again if you can believe it. I felt so much joy at the sight of Luke Skywalker and Leia. I loved the movie and I loved Rian Johnson for making it. I have seen it three times now and can honestly say that I think that it is probably the best Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back. 

Having said all that, I do not think that it is a perfect film. There are things that i probably would have done differently, but they didn’t ask me to make a Star Wars movie, did they? (Probably for the best). Here I would like to go though and talk about everything that I liked and didn’t like about Star Wars: The Last Jedi and try to explain what some of this might mean for the future of the Star Wars franchise.

Plot Overview and Some Thoughts on Star Wars: The Last Jedi 

The film opens right where The Force Awakens left off, the first time a Star Wars film has done this. Ray has gone off to Ahch-To hoping to find Luke Skywalker and the Resistance is in the middle of the evacuation of their base. As the last of the Resistance ships begin to depart from the base, First Order stardestroyers and a First Order dreadnought appear and a battle ensues. Poe Dameron leads fighter to victory in destroying the dreadnought, but at the cost of many fighters and all of the Resistance bombers. This opening battle is just amazing. It’s visually stunning and just good, old fashioned Star Wars fun, and you can believe that I was fanboying all three times that I saw it. After the battle the Resistance ships jump to light speed in an attempt to escape the First Order ships. This proves to be pointless though because they soon find out that the First Order can now track them through hyperspace, something that was previously thought to be impossible. (I really thought that was cool because it was mentioned in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story that the Empire was working on hyperspace tracking.) Because the First Order can track them in hyperspace and also because they are running low on fuel, most of this part of the movie is just a low-speed chase that apparently reminds some fans of an episode of Battlestar Galactica. While the Resistance ships are trying to stay out of range of the First Order stardestroyers, Kylo Ren flies in his own special TIE fighter fallowed by two or three other TIE fighters to attack the Resistance ships. Kylo locks on to the bridge of the lead ship, but chooses not to fire on it after sensing his mother (Leia) is there. But Kylo is unable to stop the other TIE fighters from firing on the bridge, killing almost all of the Resistance leadership in the process and also sucking Leia out into the vacuum of space. I will not lie, seeing Leia get sucked out of the ship shook me more than anything in a movie ever. It was like I had been punched in the gut. I started to tear up as I saw her floating in space. I kept thinking, “so this is how it happens, this is how they explain no Leia in Episode IX.” But then, what I considered the most amazing thing in that movie up to that point happened. My tears went from tears of sorrow to tears of relief and joy because Leia doesn’t die. She is able to use the Force to get herself back onto the ship. I couldn’t help but to be excited for this. This is something that I have always wanted to see. Leia uses the Force! And not just to know that Luke is in trouble or that Han died, no she actually uses the Force to save herself and it was awesome! Now, before anyone gets mad at me for saying that, yes, I completely understand if you hated that part and I think that it is justifiable for you to hate it. I just thought that it was cool because my inner child always wanted Leia to use the Force so I probably would have been happy with her using it for anything other than feeling that something is wrong. No joke, I probably would have fanboyed if she had just used the Force to lift a chair or something stupid like that. I’m a hardcore Star Wars fan so I’m going to think that most things in a Star Wars film are cool. Sue me. She does not come out of that unharmed though. As soon as she is back on the ship she falls into a coma and it is hard to tell if she will recover. While Leia is in her coma, Vice Admiral Holdo is put in command.

Meanwhile, Ray finds Luke and tries to give him back his father’s lightsaber. And, like Luke tells us in the trailers, this doesn’t go how we thought. Luke takes the lightsaber, looks at it for a short moment, and then tosses it over his shoulder before stomping off, angry that someone has found him in his self-imposed exile on Ahch-To. Ray spends some time fallowing Luke, hoping that he will train her. Luke keeps turning her down until R2-D2 plays the old recording of Leia from A New Hope. (Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.) That was the second time I cried in this movie. Luke tells Ray that he will teach her the ways of the Jedi and why they need to end and I felt that he had some good points. He brings up that the Jedi sat by and let Darth Sidious (the Emperor) take control of the galaxy and that they let themselves be destroyed by Sidious and that Darth Vader was a Jedi and was trained by another Jedi (Obi-Wan). I felt this was good because it helps tie the three trilogies together and helps these movies feel like one long story. While Luke is training Ray, she discovers that Kylo and herself are somehow connected by the Force, something that I think Rian Johnson was trying to use to make us all think that Kylo and Ray were related (spoilers, they aren’t). Anyway, Kylo and Ray talk here and there and that encourages Ray to wonder why Kylo turns to the dark side. Luke blames himself and says that he saw the darkness in Kylo from a young age, but Snoke got to him before Luke could do anything about it. Then, Kylo said that Luke tried to kill him because he feared Kylo’s power. What we end up finding out is that both stories are somewhat true. Luke did consider killing Kylo once he saw that Snoke had gotten to Kylo’s heart, but at the last minute feels shame for even thinking it. Before he is able to put away his lightsaber, Kylo wakes up and destroys everything, including killing the other students at the temple that didn’t join him. Ray ends up thinking that she can turn Kylo back to the good side if she just goes to him (basically making Ray every teenage-girl in America who dates a bad boy because she thinks she can change him) and she leaves Ahch-To to go find him.

Before Ray leaves Luke finds out that they are connected and thinks that he’s lost Ray too when she leaves, so he decides that he must burn down the ancient tree with the ancient Jedi texts in order to end the Jedi. It is then that he is visited by the Force-ghost of Jedi master Yoda, who finally shows us what Obi-Wan was talking about when he told Darth Vader in A New Hope “If you strike me down I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” To just be blunt about it, HE FREAKING SUMMONS LIGHTNING OUT OF THE FREAKING SKY AND DESTROYS THE ANCIENT JEDI TREE! THAT’S RIGHT, YODA IS BASICALLY A GOD NOW! The only bad thing about Yoda doing this is that it begs the question WHY DOESN’T YODA JUST SUMMON FREAKING LIGHTNING OUT OF THE SKY TO ZAP KYLO REN TO KINGDOM COME??? Like, I’m pretty sure all Yoda would have to do is just wait for Kylo Ren to get on some planet and then summon lightning down on him. Boom! The galaxy is safe and Luke can go back to training new Jedi and everyone is happy again. But no, Yoda uses this power on a tree. Moving on, Yoda also tells Luke that he must learn from his mistakes because, “The greatest teacher, failure is.”

Ray ends up finding Kylo Ren on Supreme Leader Snoke’s ship and Kylo takes Ray straight to Snoke himself. Snoke toys with Ray for a while and reveals that he is the one that created the connection between them in order to lure Ray to him. He then reads her mind and finds out that Luke is on Ahch-To. Snoke tells Ray that she is going to die and that after she is dead they are going to destroy the Resistance and then go kill Luke. He then orders Kylo Ren to kill Ray and this part is probably the most shocking part of the whole movie: Kylo Ren kills Supreme Leader Snoke. You see, when Ray is brought to Snoke, he takes Luke’s old lightsaber and sits it next to him. While Snoke wasn’t paying attention, Kylo Ren uses the Force to turn the lightsaber toward Snoke and then turns it on, cutting the Supreme Leader in half. Ray and Kylo then fight and kill Snoke’s Praetorian guards in an awesome showdown that had me once again feeling like a child. After all the guards are defeated, Ray asks Kylo to call off the attack on the Resistance ships. Kylo refuses and says that she needs to join him. They then fight over the Skywalker lightsaber, pulling it in half with the Force. Ray is able to escape when Admiral Holdo points the last large Resistance ship at Snokes ship and goes to lightspeed, blasting Snoke’s ship in half. (Note: everyone except Holdo had escaped off the lead Resistance ship onto smaller ships before Holdo sacrificed herself. Kylo Ren names himself Supreme Emo Leader and orders that they follow what is left of the Resistance down to the planet Crait (TIME TO SUMMON UP SOME LIGHTING, YODA! Oh, you’re not going to do that? Oh, okay I guess…).

On Crait, a battle ensues and the First Order has the upper hand. Just when all hope seems lost, Luke shows up and tells Leia that he is sorry for what happened to Kylo and that he is there to face him alone. Luke steps out of the base and Kylo Ren gives the order to focus all fire onto Luke. Luke comes out of that completely untouched and Kylo decides that he will go down and face Luke. The both take out their lightsabers and start to have a duel that is less like a duel and more like Luke just dodging all of Kylo’s attacks while the Resistance starts looking for a way to escape. Kylo Ren finally strikes Luke and reveals that he has been fighting Luke’s Force projection this whole time giving Ray time to get what is left of the Resistance onto the Millennium Falcon and escape. Kylo Ren throws a tantrum because they escaped and back on Ahch-To, Luke, weakened from Force projecting himself across the galaxy becomes one with the Force and fades away like Yoda did in Return of the Jedi. And that is the third and final time I cried while watching this film for the first time.

My Thoughts Overall of The Last Jedi

As I said earlier, at first I this film made me feel really depressed. This was the first Star Wars film that I didn’t want to talk about at first. I just had to morn Luke and think things over in my head for a while. I want to be clear though, I ALWAYS thought that this was a good film. It did what it was supposed to do: to shock and surprise me. I’m glad that I didn’t get what I was expecting out of this film. It’s been too long since a movie surprised me as much as The Last Jedi did. In a way, it was everything that I could have ever wanted. That also doesn’t mean that it is a perfect film. In fact, I think that it is far from perfect. There were parts that we could have done without and there are also some missed opportunities. I could have done without the shirtless Kylo part that was put in there just to be eye candy for all the emo teenage girls watching. I could have also done without the porg. I can’t express enough how much I hate the porg. The porg are literally the new prime example of how some things in Star Wars are just made to sell freaking toys. That is literally the only purpose they serve for this movie and I hate it. Hell, the Ewoks and even Jar Jar served a purpose in the stories. What do the porg do? They’re just cute and your kids will want one. Also, if you have noticed, I didn’t talk about Canto Bight, Ray’s parents, or Captain Phasma in the plot overview. Well, that’s because literally none of that matters. Nothing that happens in Canto Bight matters to the film in the long run so they could have just cut that all out (I never say that they could have cut things from films by the way). Who are Ray’s parents? Doesn’t matter, they were just drunks that are probably dead now. And Captain Phasma is in the movie five minutes and all they give her to do is die. And part of me just wants to pretend that Kelly Marie Tran’s character Rose just never happened.

The missed opportunity that I am the most upset about is having Luke show up in his X-wing to take on the First Order. How awesome would it have been to see Luke fly in inside his X-wing fighter and start shooting up the First Order on Crait before jumping out of his X-wing to fight Kylo Ren in a real lightsaber duel? We saw his X-wing in the water on Ahch-To, so why couldn’t he have lifted it out of the water? That would have been a great throwback to The Empire Strikes Back. And, sure, he would have needed an astromech droid in order to fly the X-wing, but R2-D2 was with Ray when she came to Ahch-To, so couldn’t he have stayed with Luke when Ray left so he could have gotten in his X-wing? Luke still could have died in the film if Rian Johnson really wanted him to,  but this way his death could have been so much more epic. But that’s not the film that we got.

I would also like to take a moment to talk about how much I love what happens to the characters in this film. The Development of Ray, Kylo Ren, Fin, and Poe is terrific! Ray has found out that it doesn’t matter if she comes from nothing. To be honest I’m glad she’s really a nobody. It feels really nice knowing that she just someone really powerful with the Force. It also means that she is now more relatable as a character because she is just one of us. She’s not a Skywalker or a Kenobi or anyone else that we know from lore. She’s just Ray. Now that she is no longer asking “Who am I?” and “Who are my parents?” she can just focus on who she wants to be in this galaxy and I really like that. It allows her to grow. Kylo Ren also grows as a character. Sure, he’s even more emo in this film than he was in The Force Awakens, but he kills Snoke and now has complete control over his own destiny. He is no longer just a servant for some kind of greater evil like Darth Vader was. Kylo Ren has become that greater evil. He might not ever be as cool as Darth Vader, but he has done something that Vader couldn’t do. Fin also found his true place with the Resistance and Poe learned how to be a leader and a true hero.

What Does The Last Jedi Mean for the Future of Star Wars?

In The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren say “Let the past die.” I feel like that statement was the theme of this film. With Luke’s death in this film and Carrie Fisher passing away a year ago it has been left to the new cast to carry Episode IX by themselves. Sure, Luke will probably come back as a Force-ghost, but his story is officially over now. It is time to give all the focus to Ray, Fin, Poe, and Kylo Ren. It’s their story now. The Force Awakens, as amazing as it was, was all about rehashing the old stuff, the things we were familiar with. The Last Jedi did something else. It paid its respects to the originals while offering up something fresh and new for all the fans, young and old, to enjoy. The Last Jedi left me not knowing what to expect from  Episode IX, and maybe that’s for the best. All that we do know about Episode IX is that all bets are off. Anything can happen, and that gets me excited.

So until then, may the Force be with you, always.

 

 

 

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