Why The Last Jedi Doesn't Suck

5 comments

We are just days away from the highly-anticipated release of The Rise of Skywalker, and the hype is real. Disney has been hurling material at us, with new footage seemingly available daily, for the movie that will end the Skywalker saga.

Tensions have never been higher in the fandom. The sequel trilogy haters continue to wail about how the whole franchise has been ruined for them.

Some previous malcontents are tepidly admitting, based on the epic footage in the trailers, that this movie might salvage it for them.

The rest of us, myself included, are pretty damn excited to see how the trilogy – and the entire story – ends.

On every single piece of marketing for the new movie, you can find comments grumbling about the “dumpster fire” or “garbage heap” that The Last Jedi apparently was. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard so much vitriol directed at a movie before.

I am here to tell you that I have almost never heard a single reasonable argument against that movie.

Look, if you don’t like the sequels, you don’t like the sequels. Everyone’s entitled to their own artistic opinion. For some people, it’s just not their cup of tea.

For those that try to logically claim the new movies are absolute trash compared to the old, I’m sorry, but you’re wrong. Here’s why:

“Rey is a Mary Sue”

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For those who don’t know, “Mary Sue” is a term, originally in fanfiction, used to describe a (usually) female character that is unrealistically lacking flaws or weaknesses.

Newsflash, Rey has weaknesses, and they’re similar to Luke’s. They’re both a bit headstrong and impulsive and have trouble controlling their emotions when training to use the Force.

Rey does have moments of failure. In her very first confrontation with Kylo Ren on Takodana, she shoots wildly in fear at him until he freezes her and knocks her unconscious with the Force. When she is given the opportunity to take Anakin’s lightsaber in Maz’s castle, she runs away in fear of what it might mean instead of taking it up confidently.

Critics who apply this term to Rey often cite how quickly she learns to wield the Force and fight with a lightsaber.

Okay, well Luke rolls up to the rebels and is suddenly an ace pilot able to take down the Death Star despite having no real flying experience.

This isn’t a flaw in the character development, it’s just the way heroes work. If heroes don’t overcome the obstacles set before them, then what story are we even telling?

But Rey is also not Luke because you wouldn’t want a character with an identical character arc. Maybe Luke does fail more than Rey does. Why does that bother you?

Rey’s strengths and successes are at least better explained by the writers.

Her use of a staff for personal defense demonstrates a savvy with melee weapons, so it’s not surprising she picks up lightsaber combat quickly.

Kylo’s mind probe allows her to see into his mind, and therefore pick up on some of his training, explaining her quick mastery of a mind trick.

When Rey defeats Kylo on Starkiller base, he is emotionally torn apart from killing his father and physically wounded by Chewie’s bowcaster. His weakness led to her victory. Snoke comes right out and says it in The Last Jedi: “The deed split your spirit to the bone. You were unbalanced, bested by a girl who had never held a lightsaber!” IT’S LITERALLY RIGHT THERE IN THE DIALOGUE.

I loved Rey’s character and I think her vulnerability over her abandonment on Jakku makes her interesting. She’s a badass chick who can look after herself, but who also has an innate sense of good. That’s what I want in a protagonist.

“The plot has too many inconsistencies and lacks direction”

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A lot of people seem to think Disney is just making this up as they go and that the plot has no direction or cohesive story line.

First of all, I don’t understand how you can criticize a plot you haven’t seen the conclusion of yet.

Things that don’t make sense in the middle often make sense by the end. That’s just how story-telling works. No one watches two-thirds of a movie, stops, and then gets upset because nothing is resolved.

And this is coming from people who love the original trilogy. Oh, you mean the trilogy where the writer didn’t decide Luke and Leia were siblings or that Darth Vader was Luke’s father until later in the trilogy?

All movies have some inconsistencies. Yes, The Last Jedi has them. But also, Leia claims to remember her mother, when we know from the prequels that Padme dies in childbirth. So there’s that.

Pointing out inconsistencies is fine, but they don’t make The Last Jedi a bad movie, especially not compared to the original movies.

If you start questioning every character decision or story-telling device, you’ll never enjoy any movie.

Could a lot of conflict been avoided if Holdo had just told Poe her plan? Of course, but that conflict was an important learning moment for Poe. She also outranks him and he had just been demoted for losing Leia’s trust.

“Why have we never seen Force projection before? How did Yoda manipulate lightning in the physical world?”

I don’t know, how does anything happen in any fictional universe?

The truth is, these ridiculous types of questions bother people when they don’t like a movie, and don’t bother them when they do. Clearly there are other underlying reasons why they don’t like it.

These aren’t reasons, they are validations.

“Luke’s story is a betrayal of his character and the original trilogy”

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Luke is the hero of the beloved original trilogy. In The Last Jedi, we discover he has lost faith in the Jedi path and has removed himself from the fight in defeat over his failure to prevent Ben Solo’s turn to the dark side.

This really did not sit well with original trilogy fans.

Luke himself says it the best: “You think what? I’m gonna walk out with a laser sword and face down the whole First Order? What did you think was going to happen here?”

Apparently this is what a lot of fans thought he was going to do. Or something equivalent.

But this isn’t Luke Skywalker’s story.

If you wanted a trip down nostalgia lane, with the old gang back up to their usual shenanigans, Han and Luke bantering in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon for three more movies, you were never going to get what you wanted. And you shouldn’t have.

This trilogy wasn’t made with only the original Star Wars fans in mind. Disney, JJ, and Rian are trying to move the story forward. So we got a new set of heroes with their own story to tell. Luke, Leia, and Han all play an important role, but they are not who they once were.

People get older. People face disappointment. People face regret. These things make Luke human, they make him relatable. We don’t stop changing and growing, even after our greatest achievements.

Compare Luke’s journey to Obi-Wan’s. If the story had been told in chronological order, starting with Episode I, you might have been dissatisfied with Obi-Wan’s fate. After all, he’s a major hero in the prequels.

But he, like Luke, retreats in heartbroken defeat to self-exile on an isolated planet. Like Luke, he returns to the fight when the next generation needs him. And like Luke, he sacrifices himself so that the next band of heroes can keep fighting.

Luke’s sacrifice is epic. He achieves a rare and exceptional power with the Force, mocks his tantrum-ing nephew, and get’s to say goodbye to Leia.

Compared to Luke’s final battle, Obi-Wan’s is rather underwhelming. Obi-Wan’s story is actually pretty tragic when you think about it. But that didn’t make me hate A New Hope.

“Canto Bight”

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Okay, I can concede a little on this one. I loved The Last Jedi, but I still kind of want to fast-forward through this part of the movie.

I think it served a purpose. It was meant to show us how life goes on outside of the struggle between the Resistance and the First Order.

But really, I wish it was like, half as long as it is. I’d take 10 more minutes of shirtless Kylo Ren over the Canto Bight sequences any day.


The Last Jedi does purposely foil a lot of predictable Star Wars tropes and subvert a lot of expectations. And it does leave some questions unanswered, but I have full faith that those answers will come in a few days.

The people that didn’t enjoy having their expectations subverted claim that it was done for the sake of it, rather than with purpose.

But there was a purpose. The purpose was to say, we want Star Wars to be more. We want fresh ideas and deeper story-telling and more complex characters. We can still love the old movies, and pay proper homage to them, while also trying to create something new.

To the critics still holding on, Kylo Ren has some advice for you: “Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to.”

Lucasfilm

I know there are a lot of popular criticisms I didn’t cover. If your personal favorite is one of them, leave me a comment and I’d be happy to refute it!

5 comments on “Why The Last Jedi Doesn't Suck”

  1. I really enjoyed reading this post. While I don’t have the love for Last Jedi that you do, I always appreciate when a specific piece of geekdom resonates with someone. I’ve reached the point in my life where I realize that not everything is always going to resonate with me personally. I don’t have a lot of vitriol towards Last Jedi. It wasn’t the movie I was expecting and overall it fell flat with me from a personal level. However I can absolutely see it resonating with a lot of my friends and it now toppling other films as their favorite and I think that is cool.

    For me The Force Awakens created a bunch of mystery boxes that I desperately wanted to see The Last Jedi open. However Rian effectively tossed them over his shoulder into the sea much like Luke tossed his lightsaber. That set a tone that never quite recovered for me. I don’t love this film but I also don’t hate it. I am fine with it not knocking Empire Strikes Back out of my favorite Star Wars film slot. This is a franchise that if it is going to survive needs to broaden its appeal to lots of people who didn’t grow up watching these films and give them enough air to breathe to carve out the stories that appeal to them. I am hoping that Rise of Skywalker can make good on some of the mysteries that still exist in the setting. I do however love the new generation of characters and am supremely interested in seeing where Star Wars goes after the Saga is finally completed.

    Like

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