Why The Last Jedi is the Best Star Wars Films


I recently did an article where I ranked the Star Wars films (Star Wars - The Films Ranked), and The Last Jedi was number one.  I know I am not alone in thinking The Last Jedi was a great film and deserved more respect, but I also know that me saying it is the best Star Wars film places me in the minority even among fans of the film.  The follow-up to The Force Awakens does feel like a vastly different film with the same characters and I know some fans had issues that plot points from the Force Awakens were abandoned in The Last Jedi.  The fans have a point, but The Last Jedi and director Rian Johnson are not the ones to blame, Johnson was given the green light to shoot based on the script he wrote.  The producers of the film should have given him strict guidelines and asked to change the script if they did not believe that the script was good.  The film Johnson wrote and directed went a different path and I think the choices he made were great.

THE POINTS OF CONTENTION

There are two main points of contention among Star Wars fans that did not like The Last Jedi, the choice of what they did with Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia flying in space.  The Princess Leia scene I agree did not work for me as much as was intended, fans had been clamouring to see Leia use force powers and Rian Johnson gave us that.  Leia being blown into space and then raising her hand and floating back into the ship looked a little corny.  In the scene, Leia looked unconscious and her hand seemed to rise on its own accord and floating back towards the spaceship look Marry Poppinsish.  I think if Leia was awake and reached out her hand and floated, I think it would have felt different.  I can agree with fans on the way Leia was handled in that scene was not as good as it could have been.  The bigger point of contention was how Johnson decided to handle the character of Luke Skywalker.  Fans were looking forward to seeing a master Jedi and bad ass, instead they got a reluctant hero who needed to be pushed into action.  Fans were truly angry that Luke never left Ahch-To and he never used a lightsaber.  Again, I can appreciate fans being disappointed by the filmmaker decisions, but because they did not get what they wanted they dismissed the film.  

WHAT I AM INDIFFERENT TO

The whole Finn and Rose storyline for me is okay but not great, it does not ruin the movie or make it better.  Finn's journey in the storyline was great because since we met him, he has been trying to escape The First Order.  The only time Finn has stood up against the First Order was when he trying to save Rey, in The Last Jedi Finn finally understands he needs to stand up for something.  By the end of the film, Finn is fighting for the Resistance.  Rose is essential in Finn's journey; she helps him see the galaxy is bigger than one person and that he slowly begins to see he can do some good.  When Rose and Finn encounter DJ, he is Rose's opposite, DJ thinks Finn should not pick a side, just look out for himself and just try to survive.  The whole Canto Bight mission ended with Finn finally deciding he was going to be part of the fight against The First Order, but their mission did nothing to help the Resistance.  

The other storyline from the film that I was indifferent to was Poe Dameron's, again it was essential for his character to grow and learn to be a leader and not an ace pilot.  Poe was a great fighter pilot, possibly the best pilot in the Resistance but he only cared about the mission, he was not thoughtful of the bigger picture.  At the beginning of The Last Jedi, Poe confronts The First Order, and he wins by destroying a First Order dreadnought but at the cost of the entire bomber fleet.  When General Leia confronts him about the loss, Poe misses the importance of that loss.  Over the course of the film, Poe starts to have a better understanding of what a leader needs to be thoughtful of.  The way this story was handled seemed a little clunky, by that I mean it did not feel organic.  Haldo's decision to push him away and not discuss her plans with him almost killed the Resistance.  It would have felt more organic for Haldo, to pull him aside and explain to him why he is wrong and explain her plans.  The problem with that would be that there would be a lot less tension. 

WHAT I DID NOT LIKE

There is only one thing in the film I just cannot enjoy, it is Luke tossing aside the lightsaber Rey's gives him.  That scene that ended The Force Awakens had fans going crazy for two years, we wanted to know what Luke was going to do.  The result was underwhelming, to say the least, the toss was comical and had no real emotional weight to it.  The way the scene played it out, it was a comical toss rather than a toss out of frustration.  I am not sure what Rian Johnson intended with that scene, but the execution was disappointing.  When I look back at the film after several viewings that scene is the only one, I have a strong negative reaction to.  If I had not spent two years envisioning what Luke was going to do, I think the scene would not have bothered me as much as it did.  

WHY I THINK THE FILM IS GREAT

Rian Johnson made some difficult choices in the movie, choices that took considerable guts and I appreciate the fact he made those choices and delivered to fans a great film.  The choice to make Luke Skywalker a grumpy hermit similar to Yoda in Empire was not easy but I understand why he did it.  The Jedi fell because they were arrogant and for Luke to be a master Jedi was meaningless, Yoda who was among the most powerful and wise Jedi, and still he was not able to defeat Palpatine.  Having Luke fall into the trap that the Jedi did and have a fall similar to them (contemplating killing his nephew) was enough for him to realize the Jedi were not as great as the legends told.  Luke souring on the idea of Jedi superiority fits with the history of the Star Wars universe George Lucas set up in the prequels.  To have his final moments be used to say goodbye to his sister and save the rebellion fits with the Luke we got to know in the original trilogy.  The reveal that Luke was not really on Crait was a great reveal and the shot of him still on Ahch-To and his final moments was both beautiful and heartbreaking.  

Luke choosing to exile himself on Ahch-To was a great choice, it was a similar choice Yoda made too.  When Luke realized he failed as a Jedi, his students dead or turned and his temple burnt to the ground, it was a humbling experience.  Luke now realized why Yoda was on Degobah, it was not out of cowardice but out of understanding that he failed.  It took Rey coming to Luke to wake him up, he needed to be challenged again and Rey definitely challenged him.  Luke turned off his force sensitivity because he could not face his failure, now with Rey being there, he opens himself up to the force again.  When Luke finds out Rey has been communing with Kylo Ren he loses it, Luke fears he will lose her too.  It takes a visit from Yoda for Luke to finally see that he needs to help and learn from his failure.  Luke was always strong with the force, but he never had the full teachings of a Jedi or the life experience of Yoda who lived for over a thousand years.  Luke force projecting himself to Crait took a lot of power and cost him his life, but he saved the Resistance and inspired the galaxy.  

The lessons Luke tries to share with Rey are bout trying to show her the force is beyond control, and that the Jedi were not as noble and good as people thought.  Luke calling Palpatine Sidious was great, it was a call back to the prequels.  I liked that Luke has become jaded on the idea of the Jedi, he learned a lot and found that they themselves failed the galaxy.  The force wants balance and does not care about the light and the dark.  I really liked the scenes between Rey and Luke, they had great chemistry working together.  That is why I wish we saw more of Luke in Episode IX, whether it would have been haunting Kylo Ren or just being a mentor to Rey.

The force connection between Rey and Kylo Ren was another aspect of the film that I found fascinating, the seeds of Kylo Ren turning were set up in those scenes.  The chemistry between Rey and Kylo Ren was great and believable.  One of the only great things from episode IX was the continuation of the force connection between Kylo Ren and Rey.  Seeing the different perspectives of Kylo Ren and Luke's recollection of the night Kylo Ren turned on Luke was great.  The film did a great job of humanizing Kylo Ren while also showing the audience how dangerous he could be.  Rey and Kylo Ren fighting the Praetorian guard after Kylo killed Snoke was one of the coolest fights in all of Star Wars.  The confrontation between Kylo Ren and Rey after they defeated the Praetorian guard was beautifully written.  After defeating the Praetorian guard Kylo Ren and Rey have a great interaction that ends with them each trying to force pull Luke's lightsaber to themselves.  That whole section of the film climaxes when Holdo enters lightspeed travelling through Snoke's ship.  The sound effect of what Haldo did was amazing and the whole thing was something new to Star Wars. 

  THE CONCLUSION

I am not saying The Last Jedi is a perfect film, I know there are issues, but I think I have such a blast watching it.  The scenes involving Luke, Rey and or Kylo Ren are among the best in all of Star Wars, the decision Rian Johnson made in this film took a lot of guts.  Rian Johnson gave fans a Luke Skywalker, that was true to the character Luke was in his heart a good man.  Luke choosing his exile on Ahch-To was a choice that disappointed fans but felt true to his character.  Luke was never fully trained as a Jedi; he was powerful, and he helped take down the Empire but his failure as a teacher was something he did not know how to get over.  Yoda's appearance was great and as usual, he delivered Luke another important lesson about learning from our failures.  The film is deep and thoughtful, and I could write even more about why the film is great.  The Last Jedi is on Disney Plus so please if you have a subscription to Disney Plus give The Last Jedi a chance (or second chance).

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