Let me start by saying that this post contains spoilers for The Last Jedi… but if you haven’t seen it by now then I don’t know how my post will tell you anything you haven’t seen or heard at this point.
That being said, reading will lead to spoilers, spoilers lead to anger, and anger leads to suffering, or something like that.
Also… this is not going to go the way you think.
Now, I may as well have stranded myself on a remote island, on a remote planet with cute but mildly annoying critters for all the blogging I did over 2017. Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty to blog about, I like Luke though was doing a bit of wallowing while pondering the mysteries of the universe. Actually, unlike Luke, I’m an actual teacher and teaching takes time and energy, so much so that this is basically me at the end of each week.
However, after spending time chatting with friends, and too much time reading articles and comment sections (an area I usually avoid like the Jedi do emotions) I realized that for the first time in a long while I had something to write. You see I found myself conflicted, very much waffling between darkness and light, much like a certain tantrum throwing high-waisted pants wearing, debate-ably gorgeous villain. Note… I have neither criticism or celebration over this scene, I just had to add it, because reasons.
Now, while I think that there are legitimate criticisms for The Last Jedi as there are with any film, I also think that most of the hate is about as warranted as Kylo Ren’s tantrums.
So, with my apparent usual practice of getting any negatives out of the way up front, let’s talk about porgs. Yes, the porgs are adorable, and yes they’re definitely less annoying than Jar Jar Binks (unless you subscribe to the conspiracy that Jar Jar is a Sith… in which case Jar Jar is a genius and porgs are the most annoying Star Wars critter, followed by anything solely CGI, and then ewoks)
I mean sure, they’re cute and for most of the film I found them to be quite endearing. But having one slam into the window of the Millenium Falcon during a chase scene was a bit much.
Continuing with things I didn’t love on a more serious note. I think that the teacher in me, more than the nerd in me, was some what let down by how things ended with Luke. No, it didn’t bother me that he ran away to basically hide and pout about failure (Yoda and Obi Wan did the same things for similar reasons… because Jedi fail… a lot).
What bothered me was that he FINALLY was ready to teach Rey and had come to terms with balancing what the ways of the Jedi could offer with the recognition that the Force cannot be exclusive to dogmatic practices. Sure it was great that he got one last battle in (and a fantastic one at that), but it was sad to think about how he was finally ready for another student, who will now never learn from him.
Although to be clear, my sadness is reserved for Luke’s lack of teaching. Rey’s lack of a Jedi knight to train her is important to her arc as an independent and determined character. If after all of her strife she suddenly had an easier path I think that in the third film her growth as a wielder of the force would be less significant.
Finally I get to a mix of things I didn’t like with things I did. I felt like Rose and Finn’s time on the casino planet was a waste of time. Not just because the plan literally backfired when all was said and done, but because I would have preferred to see Rey spending more time with Luke or even Kylo Ren.
It was for the most part a silly side quest that could have gotten the remainder of the resistance killed.
However, that specific point brings me to something I loved about the film. It showed that the swashbuckling shoot first attitudes and actions of a previous generation are not always appropriate or effective.
Don’t get me wrong Han totally shot first all those years ago, and it makes sense that Poe would take the actions he took given that no one (and by no one I mostly mean Holdo… awesomely played by Laura Dern) would give him the answers he was looking for. It wasn’t the time or place for him to take the lead and he wouldn’t be ready to lead until he accepted that his priorities and actions aren’t always worth the risk.
So, while the time on the casino planet and its resulting failure were good for Poe’s story arc, and while it moved Finn and Rose closer, and while it also provided an opportunity for Benicio Del Toro’s character DJ to present the double dealing military industrial complex within a world whose characters so desperately want to be evenly divided between dark and light, and while it gave us that force sensitive orphan who…
You know what, like Luke with Yoda I’ve rambled myself into changing my mind about the whole thing. Fine, the time on Canto Bight was well spent, and both moved the story and affected the galaxy in meaningful ways.
Speaking of the orphan, I thought that the last scene was fantastic and confirmed for me (perhaps naively) that Kylo Ren was telling the truth about Rey’s parents. I would have had no problem with Rey being a Solo, a Skywalker, a Kenobi, or even a Palpatine (mostly because then it would balance the light and dark sides with a flip… and she’s got that English accent). However, I’m a fan of Star Wars Ring Theory (which if you’ve never heard of or pondered, it’s worth considering for anyone who hates the prequels). And if my post has already put you in a TLDR mood, just know that the super short version regarding the Star Wars Ring Theory is that each film and each trilogy of films are meant to be poetic and thematically rhyme or mirror the others.
So while that mirror scene with Rey may have been mysterious, it was part of presenting a picture bigger than the dynasties that came before her. The force isn’t limited to certain families, just like it isn’t limited to only the Jedi, or Sith for that matter.
Rey growing up an orphan surrounded by desert and junk traders is the same starting point for Luke and Anakin and therefore poetically echos the preceding two trilogies. I get why some fans were disappointed, but her coming from nothing, and the affirmation of more force users out there starting with humble beginnings is exactly what this franchise needs if it’s going to point fans to look at the bigger picture.
Looking at smaller stuff for a moment, and taking a bit of a bunny trail, the only thing at this point that will leave me disappointed about The Last Jedi is if Phasma is dead. I LOVE Gwendoline Christie and the strong roles she plays, if Phasma’s gone it won’t ruin the movie or the franchise for me, but it will be a missed opportunity in a serries of films that is finally starting to focus on strong female characters.
Final thoughts, a franchise installment is supposed to do two things. One, it’s supposed to be enjoyable, and two it’s supposed to get fans interested or re-interested in its franchise.
The Last Jedi did what it was supposed to do. It was an enjoyable film, and valuable installment in an incredibly important franchise. After watching it, and pondering Rey’s parents (or lack therof), Kylo’s outbursts, Leia’s calm but not detached use of the force and leadership, it made me leave the theater not just wanting to watch The Last Jedi again, but to rewatch and re-experience episodes 1-8, as well as read more Star Wars books. So, as I said, The Last Jedi did what any franchise is supposed to do, entertain and re-inspire fans… as well as make money, I’m still thinking about getting a porg Funko… even if their shenanigans crossed the line, they’re just so darn cute!
What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments.