A Personal Catharsis
“After the Show” is our spoiler-friendly way of talking about movies at ZekeFilm. In this article, plot twists and hidden details of STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI are potentially discussed. Following Jim Tudor’s glowingly positive pre-opening day review (here), there has a loudly divided fan reaction to the film. Sharing many of the negative sentiments being echoed about, as well as a few that are all his own, is ZekeTalk correspondent John Gross.
DIRECTED BY RIAN JOHNSON/2017
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a Star Wars movie because it takes place in the Star Wars Universe (or at least the new Disney version,) has roles for Star Wars characters we’ve seen in the past and hey—look—it’s the Millennium Falcon! This has to be a Star Wars movie. It’s not one of the many spin-offs that we’ve been hearing so much about either—it’s Episode VIII, part of the Skywalker Saga. It takes place after the three chapters that brought hope and inspiration to an entire generation(s) of moviegoers. So why does this feel like a subversion of the original trilogy? Better yet, why does it seem like the creators of this movie have yet to see the original trilogy? Oh wait, they must have, since the main plot is a derivative of a plot-line from The Empire Strikes Back.
While I thought a lot of the premise of The Force Awakens was unnecessarily copied from bits and pieces of the original trilogy, I left the film with a feeling that was reminiscent to how I initially felt about The Phantom Menace: That had some fun stuff and they’re starting a new story, so I’m excited to see where this goes. Seeing Harrison Ford as Han Solo was a great treat. The whole “map to Skywalker” storyline doesn’t hold up on repeated viewings. The new characters had a lot of potential going into the next film.
While The Force Awakens negated a lot of the victories accomplished by Luke, Han and Leia in the original trilogy, The Last Jedi destroys any meaning or feelings for those victories. The take-aways from this movie: War is inevitable, always be a rebel (even if you’re rebelling against what you’re supposed to be fighting for,) anyone and everyone can be a hero, don’t attach meaning to anything and oh yeah- don’t fight what you hate, save what you love.
One big issue with The Last Jedi is that the writers repeatedly create a crisis through spelling out rules to the audience. The issue I have with the rules that drive this plot is simply: they go against everything that we’ve learned about Star Wars in the last forty years. The first example is: “They’ve tracked us through hyperspace? How can they track us through hyperspace? They must have a hyperspace tracker. Now we have something for Finn to do!” I’m paraphrasing here. For those who haven’t seen A New Hope multiple times—when Luke, Han and Leia escape from The Death Star in the Millennium Falcon, Darth Vader has hidden a tracking device on board. It tracks them through hyperspace and reveals the location of the Rebel Base to the Empire. Not that this matters because they never disable the tracker and by the end the whole point of this plot-line is moot.
Next rule: We’re running out of fuel! Yes, after nine Star Wars films where fuel is never mentioned, the fate of the galaxy is dependent on this. Next to “The bridge is out!” this is one of the lamest plot devices in a saga that never fretted over such trivial details. It’s about as exciting as a dispute over the taxation of trade routes. But it IS a crisis! We’re reminded every few scenes on just how much fuel is left before they run out. Not that this matters because they abandon the ship to fly to a nearby planet and by the end the whole point of this plot-line is moot.
Next rule: Keep the Blast Door intact! After escaping on transports with no shield generators (who knew? Oh yeah, it’s one of those new rules) to an abandoned Empire-era Rebel Base [author’s note—not to be confused with Resistance Era Rebels] the next crisis is to make sure the blast door stays intact. Except—The First Order has a blaster cannon from a Star Destroyer that can now move on land and it can destroy the blast door. For those who haven’t seen The Empire Strikes Back, this is a dilemma. For those that did see Episode V, we remember an AT-AT taking out the entire Rebel Base on Hoth with one blast at full power. Not that this matters because even though Finn tries to destroy the cannon, he’s stopped by Rose. The blast door is destroyed, but… you guessed it—by the end the whole point of this plot-line is moot.
Supreme Leader Snoke – Moot. Rey’s Parent’s – Moot. Leia’s command ship being destroyed, sending her into the vast vacuum of space – Moot. Those Jedi books that we’ve never heard about before this movie but are given so much relevance – Moot. Even Yoda thinks so. Any moral or idealistic meaning that could be found in the story of Star Wars has been wiped out in one film. Forget the First Order. Nihilism has taken over the galaxy.
The biggest tragedy of the film is the diminishment of Luke Skywalker. The hero’s journey, as we’ve seen too often in real-life, is that he eventually falls to his own insecurities and shortcomings as a human being. This film was made well in advance of the scandals that have exposed public figures for their harmful or abusive actions, but Luke’s retreat from reality can’t help but draw comparisons to our loss of heroes to scandal. For every boy or girl who aspired to be Luke Skywalker, this film is the ultimate in disappointment. Even his heroic “return” during the finale proves moot—he was never there, really, you see. Unlike facing Vader and The Emperor in person, he uses the Deus ex Machina—I mean The Force—to become invincible in his last appearance.
Star Wars used to be an escape to a fairy tale space opera. Heroes mattered. Bravery mattered. Loyalty, courage… I could go on, but like everything in The Last Jedi, the point would be moot.