I’m sure most (if not all) of you have seen the backlash surrounding the latest Star Wars film, THE LAST JEDI. While breaking box office records (2nd best opening weekend ever) and getting rave reviews from movie critics, the film seems on the surface to be a bonafide hit. But if you look a little closer you’ll see that, much like the film, the shiny veneer wears thin once you start to hear what a majority of fans have to say.
YouTube videos, social media posts and fan sites have been inundated with a different perspective on the successful film. While every new Star Wars movie that Disney has released has been met with criticism and a certain amount of bile, The Last Jedi has elicited a response of a much larger magnitude than normal.
This “backlash” to the film seems to focus on five major issues:
- The Story – a lot of negative comments and reviews about the film express a general sense of ‘bad storytelling’. The film definitely strays from the standard formula that has made previous genre films successful, but it seems that it may have missed the mark all together based on the response of angry fans.
Rian Johnson’s script has been deemed sloppy and chock full of lazy writing with throw-a-way characters (General Holdo, DJ), bad dialogue (“chrome dome”), pointless plot lines (Canto Bight) and silly premises (space chase).
- Luke Skywalker – another big problem fans have had with the movie is the portrayal of Luke Skywalker. While Mark Hamill has been praised for his acting by both sides, it’s the writing of the character and where Rian Johnson has taken Luke that most people have an issue with. His actions seem out of character and have left many fans hashtagging #NotMyLukeSkywalker on social media when talking about the film and specifically the Jedi Knight we came to know so well in the original trilogy. His death has also been a major point of contention for fans as well.
- Awful Humor – the jokes in this film have rubbed a lot of fans the wrong way. From Poe Dameron’s trolling of General Hux (including a line about his mother) and Luke Skywalker drinking fresh milk from the teat of a sea creature to Rey’s comment to Kylo Ren if he has a towel when he appears half naked in a visual Force connection the two share in the film, the humor feels very out of context and will ultimately date the film.
- Leia’s “Death” – the scene in which Leia Organa survives being blown in to space and then pulls herself back to the ship by using the Force has received a lot of criticism from fans on both sides of the fence. Even those who admit to liking the film retain an issue with this scene as it ultimately feels a bit disrespectful considering Carrie Fisher’s death in 2016.
While Fisher herself worked on the script with Rian Johnson and would most likely get a kick out of faking out fans in this way (given Fisher’s sense of humor) it still seems a little morbid. The scene also comes across as visually ridiculous and a lot of people have dubbed this as Leia’s Mary Poppins moment, commenting on how it looks when Leia floats back towards the ship’s airlock.
- Snoke & Rey’s Backstories – While these are technically two different things, they do sort of go hand-in-hand as they were two of the biggest reveals fans were looking forward to since these characters were introduced in The Force Awakens. Snoke’s death at the hands of Kylo Ren has left fans feeling frustrated and ultimately made Snoke a useless character to the overall story. With no revelation about who he is, where he comes from or why he’s so powerful the character has been relegated simply to a plot device.
Rey’s lineage has been a huge point of debate since she was introduced in TFA and with her Mary Sue-like abilities and the visions she experienced when she touched Luke’s lightsaber it was suspected that she was somehow connected to the story either as a Skywalker, a Kenobi or even a descendant of Emperor Palpatine.
The reveal of her being a nobody has left many fans disappointed and made a lot of what happens in TFA irrelevant. While some believe that this reveal is a red herring and she will be revealed in Episode IX as having some significant heritage, it’s entirely possible that Rey will ultimately remain a nobody.
Over the past month since the film’s release the Star Wars fan base has become very divided in its love/hate view of the movie. What’s odd though is the mainstream media’s consistent praise of this film and subsequent attack on fans who criticize the movie. Websites like Vanity Fair, WIRED, Vox, Forbes and many other outlets have gone out of their way to showcase why the naysayers are wrong and why this movie is so great.
Screen Rant went so far as to write an article about Leia’s “Mary Poppins” moment and why fans are “wrong to hate it”. I find this not only insulting, but downright laughable. When a writer is literally telling people in the title of their article that they are wrong to hate something there is a problem.
And there is a major problem with the way critics of this film are being treated and labeled. The mainstream media, Lucasfilm, Disney and the fans who really enjoyed the film want to paint anyone who didn’t like the film with a very specific brush. If you speak out against The Last Jedi or express what you didn’t like about it then you are labeled as either a fanboy with unrealistic expectations, a racist/sexist, an Original Trilogy troll who doesn’t like anything post 1983 or a moron who doesn’t “get it”.
While all of these labels are derived from a small selection of actual people, it does not equate to most of the people I see criticizing the film. I’ve seen plenty of intelligent, savvy, progressive individuals who have made some very well thought-out critiques of The Last Jedi. Of course you’re going to have your sliver of ignorant racists and misogynists who attack everything that isn’t geared towards their myopic perspectives, but again, these are not the majority of critics yet most of the film’s critics are depicted as such.
Well, it’s easy to label someone who disagrees with you as a sexist or a racist or a troll. It automatically undermines their position while allowing you to ignore any argument they have, even if it is intelligent and coherent. What I’ve seen happening is unnerving as the mainstream media has done its best to showcase why anyone who doesn’t like this movie is wrong while simultaneously boasting about how much money it’s made.
The amount of money a film makes is irrelevant to whether it is good or not. I find this line of thinking to be quite ignorant and ultimately a straw man argument that warrants no real impact as a counterpoint to someone’s critique of the movie.
A few of my favorite critiques of The Last Jedi are the following YouTube videos. They are unique in their takes on the film, but all three express not only my own feelings about the film (mostly) but also reflect some very real problems with it that fans who liked it can’t seem to comprehend for whatever reason:
While the last video I posted above does go in to the political side of things, it’s not my biggest problem with the film. I do agree that Rian Johnson (and by default Kathleen Kennedy) took it up on themselves to insert political grandstanding in to this movie. This is most apparent in the Canto Bight story arc.
Mind you I’m all for strong female characters, people of all races, religions and physicality being represented in mainstream Hollywood movies, but not at the cost of a good story. I do feel that The Last Jedi focuses too much on trying to shoehorn in modern ideals and social/political commentary which results in some very lazy storytelling and weak plots.
Before you even utter the term “SJW” I want to stop you right there. I grow so tired of the people ranting about how Star Wars is nothing but “SJW crap” and how Kathleen Kennedy is a feminist who wants to destroy white males by making them all inept in The Last Jedi, yatta yatta yatta.
It’s a very stupid position to hold, in my opinion, and anytime someone begins their argument with the term “snowflake”, “SJW” or “liberal” I tune them out because I already know what they’re going to say and why they’re saying it. It’s not what I agree with, although again, I do feel that The Last Jedi failed as a Star Wars film in part because it relied too much on political/social grandstanding which will ultimately date the film. While I agree that these issues are important, I’m not sure that they really belong in a Star Wars film.
One of the biggest comments I see from supporters of the film is how unique and different it is compared to all the other Star Wars films that came before it. While I agree that it’s different, I don’t agree that this is a good thing.
Rian Johnson’s deconstruction of Star Wars in The Last Jedi is something I strongly disagree with. I understand why he has done it and I can even understand why some people like it, but to me he has taken the heart and soul of Star Wars and pissed all over it just because he can.
He dismisses everything that has come before (even The Force Awakens) and instead turned it on its head. Now this would be great if it made for a good movie, but in this instance it just doesn’t. Rian Johnson has made what feels like a glorified fan film that lacks the meat and potatoes of what makes a Star Wars movie (or any genre movie) great.
When all is said and done The Last Jedi is but a blip on the overall scope of the Star Wars Universe. I don’t think fans will ultimately look back on this movie fondly and I feel that this new trilogy may wind up being just a step above the prequels.
So far Lucasfilm has done better with their Anthology films. Rogue One has been the closest to tone and aesthetics of the original Star Wars trilogy, but with a little more seriousness to it. I’m curious as to what the Han Solo movie will be like. I have a feeling it will lean closer to Star Wars than The Last Jedi did reminding audiences what a good Star Wars story really is. At least I hope so.
If there’s one thing that Star Wars has taught us fans, it’s that there is always hope.
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