We took our time for this review. No need to haste something so delicious. Taste comes from patience as much of the current fan-boy ranting on the web proves. So what does Clone Corridor think about Episode VIII: The Last Jedi? Absolutely awesome!
I thoroughly enjoyed The Last Jedi during the very first viewing, much more so than I enjoyed The Force Awakens on the first viewing. This Episode VIII comes out of the screen with a confidence in its visuals, its storyline and its characters that makes watching it a true pleasure. Not a moment did I have the feeling of ‘Oh I hope they do this right’ because every time there is a crucial scene you can feel the hand of a director who knew what he was going for.
Immediately after the first viewing the dominant feeling is however one of ‘My goodness, what just happened?’ because a lot, really a lot happens in this movie. Rian Johnson didn’t make a film with just a single story-turning dramatic scene, but a whole string of them. That is something you want to process before you start cheering or criticising it.
And here, I must say part of the Star Wars fan community is letting us down massively. The degree of outrage spouted by some a mere few minutes after their first viewing is ridiculous. These are not people who want to invest in trying to see the director’s and writer’s point of view and consider it. These whiners are people who simply cannot stand not being served what they believe they’re entitled to. There is not a trace of being a fan in that, it is mere snowflakey entitlement-drama. As far as I am concerned we can stop arguing with these people and simply ignore them.
So there is a lot going on in The Last Jedi and I can fully understand that some of Rian Johnson’s choice do not chime well with how some Star Wars fans had imagined the future Luke or Leia to be, or what they perceive the role of an Ueber-villain is. I was very happy with Johnson’s choices but I can see why others would not. But the way I suggest to go about that is: thinking again and watch again!
After the second viewing I see a lot clearer why I liked it so much the first time around. So now let me review the film a little further (without spoiling anything).
Many characters get a full arc in this film. As a result for some of those arcs there is a lot of time and for others there is less. The arcs of Luke, Rey and Kylo are in the forefront and take up most of the time. But they chime very well with some of the background arcs of known characters like Leia and Finn and new characters like Rose Tico and Admiral Holdo. But these arcs are remarkably coherent and revolve around a common theme “failure” that only a spoiler review can discuss fully.
But it is a beautiful variety of versions of that theme that echoes through all the character of these arcs. When the arcs of some of these characters overlap for a brief scene this produces the strongest and most emotional scenes in all of the film. Ultimately this is the reason why the film has so many twists and turns. It is not an attempt by the director to be flashy and to brutally cast of the chains of the past. It is very much that as each character speeds towards that final conclusion of their uniformly themed arcs, their respective failures impact on the storylines of others in unexpected and dramatic fashion.
Leave the past behind you
In some ways The Last Jedi makes sacrifices to tell this multi-layered story of failure. One of those sacrifices may be one to many for some of the Star Wars community. Some will argue the film sacrifices the connection to previous films in an attempt to be boldly new. But I would disagree there. In fact, in saying its farewell to the traditional Original Trilogy plot lines, without abolishing the Star Wars story-beats, it connects with the Originals in the best way possible.
What most of the Extended Universe books were assuming about our main characters is that they would be the victorious trio of the Original Trilogy and would somehow turn from the inspired but uncertain and outgunned rebels into some kind of superheroes. Well, guess what … they didn’t. If I would have to sum up in a single non-spoiler sentence how Luke’s arc connects to his OT-arc then I would say this: Luke’s experiences in his early tweens have deeply affected him, the Luke who throws away his light-saber after defeating Vader only to be saved by the last shard of light left in Anakin brings with him a lot of mental luggage when he attempts to restart the Jedi Order prior to the Sequels. In The Last Jedi we finally see how much and what its effects are.
The Last Jedi is an excellent film. It chooses a post-Return of the Jedi path that is psychologically and humanly the most interesting path, it takes the set-up of The Force Awakens (i.e. Leia/Han/Luke basically back to their starting points) seriously and leads it to its ultimate conclusion. The film establishes a ‘new mission’ for the new generation, both for Rey as well as for Kylo Ren. With The Last Jedi the Star Wars story finally grows beyond its origins. An exciting journey, that has only just begun!