My Thoughts on Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I've waited a little while to post my thoughts on The Last Jedi to give a reasonable delay for spoilers. This isn't a review per se as it pretty much assumes you've seen the film.

Being a Star Wars geek I've seen it in the theatre three times. My 12-year old Jasmine came along for all those viewings. I think she might be a bit of a geek too (with additional family members at some of those viewings).

Overall I liked it a lot - and surprisingly, I found my opinion going up with repeat viewing. My initial thoughts were I found the storyline with the Resistance Fleet being pursued to be a little bit weak and taking too short an amount of time to sync with Rey's story. Repeat viewings made me appreciate it a lot more. The Last Jedi goes for more subtlety than most Star Wars films. The Resistance Fleet storyline nicely exhibited the importance of leadership. If Poe, Rose, and Finn had done nothing, there would have been far fewer casualties. In most stories the hot-shots who undermine authority are always right. The one criticism that could conceivably be levied at Admiral Holdo was she kept the escape plan to herself - though her impression of Poe certainly did not encourage taking him into confidence. He was a pilot whose last mission involved disobeying orders and causing many Resistance deaths. What I found interesting was how Poe evolved - that at the end he understood how Luke was buying them time and it was important that the core of the Resistance survive. And Leia was well used in mentoring Poe to become more than a hotshot pilot, to become a leader. In a sense, Poe seems to have become her true son, her hope for the future.

I do think something could have been done to have improved the fleet story though - ships slowly running low on fuel in open space did seem to be missing something.

What of the trip to Canto Bight? Like the fleet story, I found I enjoyed it more on repeat viewings. Rose's character emphasized the need not just to fight against something but to fight for something.

What of Luke Skywalker? I greatly enjoyed that story, even though as far as I could tell it took a very short amount of time - it appeared that Rey spent maybe two days with Luke. I don't have a problem with "Luke the hermit". Yes, Luke triumphed in Return of the Jedi. But life doesn't end. After we triumph we screw up and/or experience tragedies. A month after my first daughter was born, one of the greatest moments in my life, the startup I was at shut down, leaving me unemployed. One never wins forever. Learning of how Luke confronted Ben Solo through three versions of the same event was a very nice touch.

In the end, it was Luke's final apprentice - and his final teacher - that gave him a much needed kick in the ass to move past his failures. I found it interesting how Luke was able to see the chance for redemption for Darth Vader but not for himself. Anakin Skywalker made a mistake and plunged into the Dark Side of the Force. Luke had a single moment of weakness and couldn't forgive himself. But he did have some valid points - while he might not be the Last Jedi after all, the Jedi Order as seen in the prequels did not deserve to be rebuilt.

Seeing Yoda, back in puppet form, was wonderful. While his destroying the tree holding the books was in a sense meaningless, given, unknown to us, Rey had stolen them, the gesture still worked - Luke needed to realize that Jedi did not depend on wisdom found in books. If the books were to be destroyed the wisdom could be rediscovered.

We'll get back to Luke, but what of the former Ben Solo and of Rey? Their connection was nicely done - and gave hints to Luke's final Force projection at the end, with Kylo Ren stating that Rey couldn't be projecting herself to him - the effort would kill her. Kylo's betrayal of Snoke, with Rey's help, was a nice echo of Return of the Jedi, but with a different motivation. Not to overthrow the evil overlord but to take his place. But he seemed sincere in appreciating Rey - he was far more compelling in attempting to get Rey to join him than the newly minted Darth Vader was in attempting to get Padme on his side in Revenge of the Sith. I hope Rey truly is "no one" as Kylo Ren said - that she's not special due to any destiny but rather being gifted and what she does with her gifts.

Which brings us back to Luke Skywalker's return, when his projection faces the First Order with just a laser sword. It was a moment of joy to see Luke reunite with his sister Leia. And seeing him stand alone against the First Order forces, emerging unharmed from a barrage of all their weapons, did more than buy the Resistance time to escape. It gave the galaxy what it so desperately needed - it brought it a legend and hope. In one sense, Luke died to save a pitifully small remnant of the Resistance. But in another, his death kept the flame of hope alive and kindled it into a legend. I was also amused to be reminded of the early 1990's Dark Empire series, which also featured Luke projecting himself to a place he wasn't, also interacting with people in that storyline.

Ending the story, not with the Resistance but with some "no one" kids again emphasized the legend Luke had become. And seeing that boy call the broom to his hand with the Force and seeing it briefly take the form of a lightsaber (presumably in his mind) showed us the future of the galaxy would pass to another generation, one inspired by legends.

Random thoughts:

  • Porgs are cool
  • I'm guessing Hux is not going to be the most loyal follower of the new Supreme Leader
  • Chewie's interactions were great - with Rey, Luke, and the Porgs
  • I'd hoped that Rey would wind up being "no one" and was pleasantly surprised to see them do just that
  • I have this hope that in the next movie every scene with Kylo Ren has Luke's Force ghost mocking him...

Amazing. Every word of what you just said was wrong. The Rebellion is reborn today. The war is just beginning. And I will not be the last Jedi.

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