It’s easy to say that The Last Jedi has become a divisive film among the fandom. There is a lot of discussion among fans, not all of it positive, in addition to the questionable audience reporting from sites like Rotten Tomatoes. I’ve been asking myself what people didn’t like about the film. Why did they not connect to the film?
Personally, I loved the film. However, I fully understand why someone would not enjoy the film. The Force Awakens was a huge hit that was a lot of fun. Much like the original A New Hope, watching The Force Awakens is a fun ride. It’s a great fast-paced adventure movie. Some complained about it being too similar to A New Hope (and I’ve discussed that previously) but The Force Awakens had to remind everyone what they loved about Star Wars and I think it succeeded at that. Now with The Last Jedi, it’s a more complex story, it doesn’t give us easy answers, and it kills off Luke Skywalker.
Luke Skywalker is the heart and soul of Star Wars, and his death hurts. I’d bet some of the negativity stems from the killing of Luke. I remember hearing horror stories about what R A Salvatore had to endure after he killed Chewie in the Vector Prime novel. I’d imagine it’s a similar situation here.
The Last Jedi subverts a lot of tropes we’ve come to expect from a Star Wars movie. The Force Awakens embraced those tropes that had come before, giving us a cinematic version of comfort food. They could have easily followed in the footsteps of The Force Awakens and given us a film that hits those familiar beats we’d expect from The Empire Strikes Back, but they went a different direction with the story. The film is constantly teasing us with the way things have gone previously and then it will switch them and go off in a new direction.
The Last Jedi does not give us easy answers. So, it’s understandable why someone may not connect to the film on it’s first viewing. The Star Wars movies are so layered with action, adventure, mythology, and more that it’s easy to miss stuff on just one viewing. I don’t think you can properly appreciate the film if you’ve only seen it once. The Last Jedi especially, is recommended for multiple viewings. There are so many shocking moments and changes in course from the expected that it can be overwhelming on a single viewing. With multiple viewings you can get over the shock of the unexpected and really dig into the larger ideas at play. After the first viewing of The Force Awakens, I was so overwhelmed by everything that I wasn’t quite sure what I had just seen, and my first impressions upon walking out of the theater were less than positive. However, after I watched the film a few more times over that opening weekend I was able to learn it’s rhythms and adjust to the changes and appreciate the film for what it was.
It’s been disheartening to see some of the comments and reactions that have come out of some so-called fans. I hate to word it that way, but I do have to question whether these people have followed the themes of the saga. The amount of vitriol and anger I have seen thrown at the film, the creators, and fellow fans is disgusting. This is the part of the discussion I don’t understand. The trolls have come out and found this movie as their latest lightning rod. People actively seeking out and attacking those who have expressed their enjoyment of the film online. The worst of racist comments put out against members of the cast. This level of discourse is something that I can not abide. These people are not the brave rebellion fighting for freedom. They are the Empire, imposing their will through whatever means on those who oppose them.
Movies are an art form and it’s important to remember is that art is subjective. What I may love and hold deep meaning and thought for, may be simple tripe to another, and both viewpoints can be perfectly valid. Of course, when it comes to any kind of discussion about Star Wars among fans the most important thing to remember is that we are all fans of the same thing. To all of us, Star Wars was something more than just a movie. We can disagree with each other and frequently will. But, it’s important to maintain a level of respect and decency. Remember what Luke Skywalker and our heroes were fighting for, what they stood for.Powered by Sidelines