Here’s a hot take for you 3 months after The Last Jedi and with no one talking about the film anymore (I know!), The Last Jedi is brilliant but not necessarily because it has one particularly cool fight scene…. or great visuals or a diverse cast. It’s brilliant because of its writing and in how it breaks down the role of the hero in the story (Luke Skywalker, though to a degree Rey is as well), subverting expectations and pulling the rug from under the audience in typical Rian Johnson style.
A true credit to the films direction and it’s great writing.
This will not…. go the way you think
Much has been said about The Last Jedis subversion of audience expectations for Luke and the plot in general, “Did you expect me to face on the empire with a laser sword?” Luke even says flat out to Rey at one point, highlighting the reality of the situation he’s in and slyly winking at some Star Wars fans who wanted him to do exactly that. The reality of the situation was very different though, Like, now an older, wiser but disillusioned Jedi master was wary of the force and critical of the Jedi, a hero to the republic and living legend and that no one had even seen for years, he was not the hero, you, me, Rey or any other film goer was expecting.
And that’s great! I’ve seen a trend in some notable films in recent years with the breakdown of the hero or father figure type in stories, with them not being as great in truth or as heroic as they’re imagined to be, the truth often hurts but is eye opening to characters who find it out one way or another, just like in Coco and even as recently as Black Panther with T’chala and another prominent character who I won’t name for sake of spoilers. I find this type of storytelling fascinating because it highlights the reality of the world itself that we live in, which is imperfect, even with fantastic, magical sci-fi settings that allow travelling faster than the speed of light and moving things with an invisible force, people are still imperfect and heroes can and do fail.
Don’t meet your heroes
The Jedi, for all their strong efforts and good intentions, completely failed and like Luke said, allowed themselves to be infiltrated by Emperor Palpatine and subsequently wiped out by him which was a great point by Mr Skywalker, the Jedi, like him were also imperfect. So why should he go and help the rebellion wielding a lightsaber, fighting for a belief system he doesn’t even believe in any more? It seems completely illogical and flat out stupid from Lukes’ perspective so in my view, his actions are completely realistic and justified – but even then, he still does what he can to help The Resistance, solidfying his legendary status, the hallmarks of a true hero in my eyes. But for all intents and purposes, before Luke makes his ultimate sacrifice, he has failed, failed to continue the Jedi legacy, failed to reach out to Ben and failed to live up to his own potential, it’s a tragic arc for a beloved hero and is one of the hottest points of contention for the film and surely pissed off a lot of fans but again, it’s so impactful, maddening even because it feels so real.
Rian Jonson brought elements of the real world kicking and screaming into Star Wars and for better or for worse, shook things up, with more well, human like characterisation, far removed from the purely evil emperor who just wants to destroy everything – though Supreme Lord Snoke is arguably just that redux but moving on… Luke’s deconstruction is a good thing and very in line as he’s always been an imperfect protagonist, wanting to go into flight school and never even wanting to get involved in the galactic war, almost giving up his training at Dagobah with Yoda and maybe not so wisely attacking Vader on Bespin in a blind rage, he’s made mistakes but he always prevailed through his positivity, being a lovely, caring individual the whole way.
The point of this isn’t to combat the plethora of criticisms against The Last Jedi, far from it in fact. But to highlight the films’ interesting character arcs and deconstruction of some of the series most beloved characters, from Luke, to Kylo and to Rey, Lukes arc didn’t go the way people thought it would but that’s not a bad thing at all, surprises can be a good thing and are often a feature of life – things don’t always go the way we expect or want them to and that’s another way Rian Jonson brings aspects of ‘the real’ into Star wars.And hey criticising a films plot for not going the way you wanted it to devalues the entire concept of a story you have no control over I’d say but hey that’s just like… my opinion, don’t destroy me The Last Jedi haters!
But yes those are just some of my thoughts, in the end we all love Star Wars at the end of the day (still, I hope) and let’s hope Solo is as good as the last two films in the franchise.