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‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ is both the best and worst of the series

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The Last Jedi

The Last Jedi

Disney

Disney

The Last Jedi

Matt Withers, Arts Editor

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“Star Wars” is a franchise that is near and dear to many nerd’s hearts, and has been a pop culture juggernaut since its initial release back in 1977. The franchise has seen major highs and devastating lows. The prequals are mostly regarded by fans as being a smudge on the legacy of the first three movies that they hold so dear, but the former extended universe (comprised of books, comics, animated series, and video games) was consistently great.

When Disney bought “Star Wars,” they threw that extended universe away to make a brand-new trilogy, this was disappointing yet exciting for fans, because while it got rid of the universe they spent years reading about, it also opened a galaxy of possibilities of where the story can go. With all this said after the ups and downs the franchise has had, why do many fans think director Rian Johnson has ruined “Star Wars?”

Johnson took the directorial reigns for “Star Wars’” latest outing “The Last Jedi” while also serving as the films lead writer. His take on the classic galaxy far, far away is interesting to say the least. The movie opens with rebel pilot Poe Dameron leading an attack on The First Order’s fancy new weapon, which stands to set up a couple of things.

The first being that this movie is not afraid to kill off characters, while no major characters are lost in the opening battle it does stand to set a tone of the resistance being underdogs. They make sure the audience knows that while the protagonists may win battles they are far from winning the war.

The second being Johnsons fantastic direction. The action in “The Last Jedi” is tight and thrilling, the space battles are some of the best that the series has seen, and by far the best lightsaber battle that has yet to be put to the silver screen. Johnsons visual flair has left me with some images that I will never forget…for better or for worse.

After the opening scene with the resistance, we cut to what everyone has been waiting for since the credits of “The Force Awakens” rolled, Luke Skywalker. Luke is not the same character as the one we left at the end of “Return of the Jedi,” he’s a bitter, selfish, angry old monk, and this is where most fans have their biggest problems with the film. A loud portion of “Star Wars” fanbase has called Luke’s portrayal in “The Last Jedi” a permanent stain on the franchise. They want the old Luke back but, Rian Johnson isn’t interested in giving audiences what they think they want.

Johnson takes loose threads from the previous films and tries to boil the characters to their core. Unfortunately, while he may have started with trying to boil characters down, he ended up burning the entire universe down so he could rebuild it and that comes with both positives and negatives.
Rey gets so much character development in “The Last Jedi” that she makes it out of the film as one of my new favorite leads in the universe. In the previous films she was fun, but overall came off feeling bland. She wasn’t a bad protagonist per say, but she was far from great. Johnson saw the potential in her, and expanded upon that.

In this film Rey is a reflection of Luke when he was younger, a hopeful idealist with immense power, possibly more than even he has. He rejects her because if he failed, then of course she would, I mean he’s Luke Skywalker, savior of the galaxy, right? It’s a joy to see these two interact and build off each other, and became one of my favorite aspects of the film and some of my favorite moments in “Star Wars” overall.

While “The Last Jedi” has some of my favorite moments in the franchises history, it also achieves some of its worst moments to date. There is one scene that I can’t help but talk about whenever the movie is discussed, because it is so hilariously bad. Everything about this scene is atrocious, the CGI, the pacing, it contradicts lore and also basic logic, but worst of all it feels completely unnecessary. It is less than a minute long and yet it’s one of my most prominent memories of the film. The film also tends to drag near the end of the second act, it feels like a half hour could have been shaved off and nothing would have been lost.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” encapsulates everything I love about the franchise. It is can range from some of the silliest movies on screen, to some of the coolest visuals that have been put to film. Rian Johnson clearly wanted his film to be different from anything that had come before it leading to some of the best moments “Star Wars” has to offer, but in his rush to be different he made some worst as well.

No matter if you loved or hated “The Last Jedi,” it’s a film that had everyone talking about it and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since its release.

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‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ is both the best and worst of the series