Greetings from the Ether,
The immortal franchise of Star Wars has seen many highs and lows, between the original trilogy’s achievements to the prequel trilogy’s lackluster execution. One thing that has remained consistent with the series is the general consensus between audiences and critics. In The Last Jedi, a schism has occurred. Audiences are divided down the middle with Episode VIII, while critics have lauded it as the best chapter since The Empire Strikes Back.
So why such a divided response? The most common explanation references the nature of The Last Jedi, how it puts to rest previous formulas of the franchise. In Episode VII: The Force Awakens, the few negative responses for the film cited its formulaic structure which paralleled Episode IV: A New Hope. Now, the negative responses to The Last Jedi cite its differences to previous installments as the primary flaw. Couple that with the hype and fan theories, the success of The Force Awakens, and this brought expectations to an all-time high. The Last Jedi is a film that is self-aware of fan’s expectations, and purposefully chooses to ignore them. The twists and turns are not only unexpected, but downright shocking. In some ways pleasantly shocking, in others disappointing.
This disappointment originates with self-created expectations, and this is perhaps why the negative responses are, for the most part, unwarranted. The Last Jedi presents to Star Wars fans a changing of the guard. The death of the old ways, of the formulas and plot structures that we are all used to in this franchise. The characters that we have come to love make decisions and act upon events in ways that we are not accustomed to. But why would one of the most progressive franchises of all time be hated for drastically changing the fantastical universe we have all come to love?
The best way to describe The Last Jedi, is that fans who don’t want change and want things to stay the same, are frustrated with a film that presents changes and doesn’t want things to stay the same. Episode VIII stands on its own and presents a unique atmosphere and plot to a franchise that has had trouble in these exact fields. The best way to approach the film is with zero expectations, zero fan theories, and an open-mindedness toward change.
As for the film itself, The Last Jedi is easily the most beautiful film we have seen in this saga. The direction is unique, camera angles during fight scenes epic in scale, and the colors and cinematography are the best we’ve seen in the Star Wars universe to date. The characters all take interesting directions in their journeys and we are introduced to sides of these beloved characters that we have yet to see. The action is stunning, even if the plot at times is dull. The strangest aspect of Episode VIII is that the scale of the plot is minuscule compared to the scope of the characters. We find ourselves in a much more character-centered story than before. While the events that take place are significant to the development of the universe, the actual happenings are small in comparison to what happens between the cast and characters.
The changing of the guard happens in several instances, where we see what some call the death of a franchise, and others call the beginning of a new direction. There are subplots that don’t quite fit, a couple forced relationships, and some scenes that don’t quite make sense. These moments don’t take away from the big picture, however. As soon as we find ourselves distracted and out of focus from the primary story with these subplots, we are yanked back into the fray.
All of the cast are superb for the most part, a few of the actors not really given a chance to shine. Character development is the focus of the story, and it works beyond expectations, delivering a climax that only opens the gateway to a fresh new direction within the beloved franchise. Is Episode VIII as good as critics say? Probably not. Is it as bad as the audience scores read? Absolutely not. The Last Jedi stands above the Force Awakens and Rogue One, but fails to dethrone The Empire Strikes Back as the best in the saga.
Our recommendation? Clear your mind before seeing the movie. Ignore the hype and the fan theories. Embrace change. The changing of the guard has happened, and we are excited to see where the new generation will take us.
OUR RATING: 4/5 Stars
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