Star Wars: The Last Jedi – A Divisive Sequel that Deserves Recognition
Star Wars: The Last Jedi sparked outrage and heated debates among fans when it hit theaters in 2017. Many felt that the movie dismissively disregarded the groundwork laid by its predecessor, The Force Awakens. However, despite the polarizing reactions, The Last Jedi should be recognized as a great sequel that skillfully continues the narrative. This article will explore the reasons why The Last Jedi deserves appreciation, exploring its themes, characters, and the ways it contributes to the overall Star Wars saga.
The Controversy Surrounding The Last Jedi
Upon its release, The Last Jedi ignited fervent discussions and passionate arguments within the Star Wars fandom. Its handling of characters, plot threads, and the overall story established in The Force Awakens became points of contention. Critics accused writer-director Rian Johnson of discarding previous ideas in favor of his own vision, leaving the third film in the trilogy with nowhere to go. The Last Jedi has often been pinpointed as the moment when the new trilogy went off track.
However, this perspective misses the mark. In reality, The Last Jedi is not only the best film in the Sequel Trilogy, but it also serves as a natural and fitting continuation of The Force Awakens. It embodies the self-reflective vision, progressive storytelling, and themes of growth and letting go of the past that were established in its predecessor. To truly appreciate why The Last Jedi succeeds as a sequel, we must delve deeper into its narrative and explore its distinct qualities.
The Philosophy of The Force Awakens
Before defending The Last Jedi’s merits as a sequel, it is crucial to establish an interpretation of The Force Awakens. The 2015 film revolves around the theme of looking to the future rather than dwelling on the past. Characters like Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren, Han Solo, and Leia struggle with their histories and face the consequences of their choices. The Force Awakens emphasizes the importance of moving beyond the mistakes and tragedies of the past, creating a fresh start and building a better future.
This theme sets the stage for The Last Jedi’s narrative. Johnson effectively expands upon the ideas presented in The Force Awakens, building upon characters’ struggles and evolving their journeys. Rather than dismissing the previous film, The Last Jedi takes its premise and runs with it, ultimately delivering a powerful and thought-provoking story.
Challenging Expectations – Luke Skywalker’s Journey
Luke Skywalker’s portrayal in The Last Jedi sparked controversy and divided fans. However, his character arc aligns seamlessly with the trajectory set up in The Force Awakens. The film reveals Luke’s disillusionment with the Jedi ways due to past failures, culminating in his self-imposed exile. This decision stems from the guilt and pain he experiences after his attempt to train Ben Solo results in the creation of Kylo Ren.
It is essential to consider the psychological impact this event would have had on Luke. The Last Jedi paints a realistic picture of a jaded and embittered hero who questions the worthiness of the Jedi Order. Luke’s reluctance to embrace his legacy and his eventual redemption by the film’s end showcase a compelling character arc. The Last Jedi does not dismiss Luke’s past accomplishments but rather confronts the complexities of his character and forces him to confront his failures head-on.
Redefining Lineage – Rey’s Revelation
Another aspect of The Last Jedi that generated controversy was its revelation regarding Rey’s parentage. The film defied expectations by revealing that Rey’s parents were insignificant individuals, mere junk traders who abandoned her. While some viewers may have initially been taken aback by this twist, it actually aligns with the overarching themes of the Sequel Trilogy.
The Last Jedi emphasizes that characters are not defined solely by their lineage or heritage. Rey’s journey revolves around discovering her own identity, regardless of where she came from. By revealing her parents as unremarkable, the film reinforces the idea that one’s worth and potential are not tied to their bloodline. This rejection of traditional notions of importance allows Rey to forge her own path and embody the principles of the Jedi.
The Evolution of Kylo Ren and the Removal of Snoke
The Last Jedi also takes bold steps in developing the character of Kylo Ren and removing Supreme Leader Snoke from the narrative. In The Force Awakens, Snoke is introduced as the central antagonist, and viewers expected a grand revelation about his identity. However, The Last Jedi defied these expectations by eliminating Snoke and placing Kylo Ren firmly in the primary antagonist role.
Despite initial surprise, this narrative choice allows Kylo Ren’s character to shine. His conflict between the light and dark side of the Force becomes the central focus, giving him the opportunity for growth and development. By eliminating Snoke, The Last Jedi breaks away from the paradigm of repeating the past and instead creates a fresh dynamic between Kylo Ren and the other characters. This choice paves the way for Kylo Ren’s complex transformation, presenting him as a captivating and multifaceted villain.
The Last Jedi’s Stance on the Past and the Future
Central to The Last Jedi’s narrative is the theme of balancing the past and the future. While Kylo Ren advocates for letting go of the past entirely, embracing a nihilistic approach, the film ultimately advocates for a more nuanced approach. It suggests that the past should not be discarded entirely but rather be utilized as a foundation for growth and change.
The Last Jedi encourages the audience to learn from the past and evolve beyond its flaws. It highlights the importance of embracing the core principles of the Jedi while acknowledging their past failures. The film’s message is best exemplified by the quote from Yoda: “We [masters] are what they grow beyond.” This sentiment reflects the film’s overarching theme of leaving behind the mistakes of the past while building upon its positive aspects.
The Last Jedi: Leaving Behind Future Possibilities
Despite criticism, The Last Jedi leaves several avenues for future exploration within the Star Wars universe. The Resistance’s ongoing struggle against the dominant First Order provides ample material for a satisfying conclusion in the final installment of the trilogy. The movie’s conclusion also alludes to the possible resurgence of new Jedi and a continuation of the Force-sensitive lineage.
While critics argue that The Last Jedi left nothing for the next film to work with, these claims disregard the narrative potential established within the movie itself. The Last Jedi sets the stage for a thrilling conclusion, with ample room for the Resistance to regroup, new Jedi to rise, and Kylo Ren’s internal conflicts to reach a climax. The film presents a tapestry of story threads that offer an array of possibilities, showcasing that there was much left for the trilogy’s conclusion to explore.
Appreciating The Last Jedi for Its Merits
Despite the divisive reactions, it is crucial to acknowledge the artistic merits of The Last Jedi. The film takes bold risks, challenges fan expectations, and presents thought-provoking themes. It successfully explores complex character arcs, delves into the consequences of the past, and sets the stage for a profound exploration of the Star Wars universe’s future.
While fans may have their personal preferences, it is essential to recognize that The Last Jedi, as a distinct and daring sequel, contributes to the richness and depth of the larger Star Wars saga. It is a film that sparks conversations, invites differing viewpoints, and stands as a testament to the power of storytelling and interpretation within the Star Wars universe.
In conclusion, Star Wars: The Last Jedi should be commended for its achievements as a sequel to The Force Awakens. Despite the controversies and intense debates, the film remains a significant addition to the Star Wars saga. Its thematic exploration, character development, and bold narrative choices demonstrate its value as a thought-provoking and engaging installment in the franchise.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why was The Last Jedi so divisive among fans?
The Last Jedi divided fans due to its departure from expectations and its subversion of traditional Star Wars tropes. Some viewers were disheartened by character portrayals and narrative choices that challenged their preconceived ideas of the franchise’s direction.
2. Does The Last Jedi dismiss the groundwork laid by The Force Awakens?
No, The Last Jedi continues the story established in The Force Awakens and expands upon its themes and character arcs. While it may challenge certain elements, it does not dismiss the groundwork laid by its predecessor. Instead, it builds upon it, offering a fresh perspective on the Star Wars universe.
3. What is the central theme of The Last Jedi?
The Last Jedi explores the themes of letting go of the past, embracing change, and learning from failure. It emphasizes the importance of moving beyond established conventions while honoring the core principles that define the Star Wars universe.
4. Is The Last Jedi a necessary part of the Star Wars saga?
Yes, The Last Jedi plays a vital role in the overall Star Wars saga. It continues the narrative established in The Force Awakens, adds depth to the characters and their journeys, and sets the stage for the final installment of the Sequel Trilogy.
5. How does The Last Jedi contribute to the larger Star Wars universe?
The Last Jedi expands the lore and mythology of the Star Wars universe by challenging established norms and presenting new perspectives. It invites viewers to reevaluate their understanding of the franchise and engages them in meaningful conversations about the nature of the Force, the Jedi, and the ongoing battle between good and evil.