This movie did not go the way I thought it was going to.
I’m a nerd, if that wasn’t clear enough. I love Star Wars. I’m always quick to point out the prequel’s faults but I’m just as quick to point out the prequels strengths and what they did right (which are few but they are there if you pay attention). I remember my heart soaring when I heard the John Williams score booming in my ears when The Force Awakens started. While I enjoyed that movie, I also recognized that it tried too hard to stay close to the Original Trilogy instead of trying to be something new. I could understand the reasoning – after all, the last time someone did something new with Star Wars we got Jar Jar Binks – but at the same time, this was a brand new trilogy of Star Wars films. They needed to be different.
The Last Jedi is a very different film. At the beginning, it starts to feel like The Empire Strikes Back, portraying the Resistance as on the run and on their last legs trying to regroup from an unending force of destruction. Towards the second act, though, it starts to feel different. Emphasis on emotion and loss become more prevalent as Daisy Ridley’s character Rey explores why Luke Skywalker went into exile. Then John Boyega and Kelly Marie Tran have to go to a planet seemingly ripped straight from the prequels to move the plot along. Things get more desperate as Oscar Issac disagrees with Laura Dern with how to run the Resistance.
As I watched the film, I couldn’t help but feel like the film was meandering around from plot line to plot line. Even when the film finished, I left the theater still thinking about the film. There was so much about the film that felt familiar but turned on its head and sent in a different direction. This is ultimately what has divided fans so much about the film. It’s a film that knows your expectations and then willingly subverts them.
Questions that were raised in The Force Awakens are not only left unanswered but also made to feel unimportant, like they were not the questions you should be asking. So I left the film wondering what questions should I have been asking? Eventually, I stopped wondering what questions I should have been asking and instead wondered what exactly was the film trying to say. I could go on about my thoughts on the film but in the end, this is a review so I should step away from spoiler territory.
The film does meander but it all comes together in the third act. The seemingly multiple themes spread throughout do merge into one idea that the film does portray rather well. It is a very well put together film, but it is definitely a film that is intentionally subversive. Rian Johnson knew fan’s expectations going in and decided to toss them on their heads in order to force the audience to think. To think about what, well that’s up to you. All I know is that this is a very amazing but very different Star Wars film than I was expecting.