Thoughts on Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Spoilers obviously

I think at this point it’s pretty clear that the theme of the new Star Wars trilogy is that the greatest hero of all is nobody. It’s the daughter of a some junk traders scavenging in the desert, it’s the stormtrooper who has a number instead of a name, it’s the random technician on the rebel cruiser, it’s the one bombardier desperately reaching for the launch button. The Last Jedi absolutely demolishes the weird aristocracy Star Wars has built for itself and replaces it with a bunch of ordinary people doing the right thing.

Kylo even says, repeatedly, that he’s deliberately trying to sever himself from the past in general and his family in particular. Of course what he doesn’t realise is that by the end of the film, he’s the only connection to that Skywalker aristocracy left (well and Leia, but sadly Carrie Fisher’s death has closed off her story).

It does this by deliberately discarding a lot of the mystery boxes the first film set up. Which is great, because they were mostly quite bad, clichéd mysteries. I am told there is a backlash against The Last Jedi, although I haven’t seen it myself, but I expect it will be among the kind of fan who has spent the last two years debating who Snoke & Rey’s parents are, only to be told “it’s not important”. To be clear, this is a terrific answer, the best possible answer to these questions, but it’s also tailor made to enrage the kind of person who engages with fiction like they’re editing a wikipedia article.

That’s not the only time where the film subverts expectations. Kylo (still a gloriously whiny child) does the reverse Darth Vader, killing his master but taking his place. A move the film tries to do again with Benicio Del Toro doing a reverse Han Solo, but that doesn’t land as well, because Del Toro’s character is so inconsequential and so full of Del Toro quirks I don’t even remember his name. He’s easily the worst non-porg part of the film.

It’s telling that almost everything I’ve talked about comes at the end. Because between a strong opening and a fantastic finale (two fantastic finales really, one after the other, that probably should’ve been cut together) there’s a whole lot of shaggy dog plot. Pretty much everything Finn and Rose do in meaningless, apart from a nice bit of implied class war. There was definitely a point, when they were hanging around with Del Toro, that I thought the film was going to flub it. Force Awakens is definitely a cleaner, more tightly plotted film, but it doesn’t have anywhere near as much to say.

At a crucial point in the finale, Snoke tells Kylo that he knew a light force would rise to oppose them as their power grew. He’s not just talking about Rey, he’s talking about everyone. That’s why the First Order can never quite destroy The Resistance, because they aren’t fighting The Resistance, they’re aren’t fighting Luke Skywalker, they’re fighting the very concept of empathy. Every time an ordinary person stands up and says “this is wrong”, they lose. That’s why the film ends on the shot of that small child cleaning out the stables, because the idea of resistance is still alive.

The Porgs are crap though.