One year ago today I waited anxiously in a movie theater to see the newest Star Wars movie. Two and a half hours later, I walked out of that same theater feeling disappointed and perplexed. Over this last year since its release, many fans have scorned The Last Jedi (so have some Russian bots, apparently), and defended it just as emphatically. The film divided a fan base. A year later, I’ve tried to take a more objective look at The Last Jedi to see if it was really as bad (or as good) as people claim.
To that end, I watched the film again recently. No, I didn’t particularly care for the film in general. But also no, I don’t think Rian Johnson deserves death threats for an inadequate movie. I similarly don’t believe that Kelly Marie Tran deserved the online hate she received, either. What I do believe, however, is that The Last Jedi could have been a much better film with just a few minor tweaks.
Tweaking The Last Jedi
Overall, the film wasn’t terrible. It was visually stunning, certainly. And though some people decried the scene, I loved the look, feel and silence of Holdo’s light speed crash into Snoke’s command ship. My biggest issue with The Last Jedi was, is and will continue to be the writing. In this writer’s humble opinion, there were much better ways in which to tell The Last Jedi than those Rian Johnson chose.
Was Luke Tossing the Lightsaber Necessary?
There was no other purpose for Luke tossing the lightsaber over his shoulder other than shock value. Johnson did a disservice to the fans, and the franchise, with that scene. Imagine how much more poignant that scene could have been. Picture Luke taking the saber, examining it, and then forlornly pressing it back into Rey’s hands and walking away. Fans would have felt that. Related to it. Luke had failed. He’d exiled himself. And now this stranger girl brings him one of the instruments of his rise and fall as a Jedi.
It’s okay for him to be jaded, and disillusioned with the Force. But would he have not learned, and grown, more from his journey as a Jedi than what we saw in his behavior in his opening scene? Rian Johnson defended his vision of Luke in The Last Jedi. I still think he’s wrong. How different a tone would the film have had with even just one, subtle change to that singular scene?
I could go on, but the fact remains The Last Jedi was a top grossing film, and is part of the Star Wars saga. I don’t think it should be remade, but I do hope J.J. Abrams is able to make some subtle course corrections with Star Wars Episode IX. The franchise isn’t broken, per se. It just needs a little tune up.