Thanks to my impromptu holiday over Christmas I didn’t get to upload my review of Star Wars Episode 8 on time. It’s been about 10 days since I saw the film and I’ve loads of time to acquaint myself with the general reactions to the film. The critical stuff has, mostly, been very positive with people praising Rian Johnson for taking some risks whilst also remaining faithful to the original trilogy. However, as you’d expect from the Star Wars franchise, the fanboys be pissed. Even before I’d seen the film I’d glanced at an article claiming fans were starting a petition to get the film removed from the canon. I mean, for fuck’s sake guys. This is why we can’t have nice things. Fans were up in arms about the film because it was too different from the previous films. First they complain that The Force Awakens is too similar to A New Hope and now The Last Jedi is too different. Well, how the fuck is anyone supposed to make a film within those parameters? Before I went to see the film, a girl I work with complained that it was underwhelming. She’s also the person who described Rogue One as the worst Star Wars film of all time. She typifies the view of the old fanboys who can’t see a Star Wars film that is centred around the Skywalker family. There’s more to the force and this universe than Luke Skywalker and, I for one, am ready to find out more. I can’t promise that my hatred of the reactions out there won’t have an influence on my review but it’s not like it’s going to be a problem. I’m not influencing anyone to change their mind about this film. It’s far too divisive.
With every release of a new Star Wars movie there comes the inevitable low murmur of fanboys bemoaning the new director for ruining a much beloved classic. It always drives me insane because it’s absolute nonsense. For one thing, no matter how shitty the new films might be, the old trilogy will always be the great films that they are. If they can survive Georege Lucas tampering with them then they can survive anything. For another, it’s never really been about the fans: Star Wars was never made to please its audience. The reason George Lucas made the changes he made and created a bunch of prequels everyone hated was because he wanted to. He didn’t do it for the money or to get praise from fans; he did it for himself. More than any fandom out there, Star Wars fans have a real problem with egotism. They’re all so self-obsessed and petty, which is all the more amazing when you consider most of them are in their 40s and 50s. What other people think or want or feel is no matter to a particular participant in this fandom. They’re the kind of people who just want things their way but, she says before stating something incredibly fucking obvious, they all want something different to each other.
I read a comment under an article in the Guardian the other day where a fan had stated something along the lines of ‘this is a film you’ll enjoy if you’re not a big Star Wars fan’. Okay, so some guy I’ve never met is ready to make an assessment on how big a fan of these films I am? Sounds about right. These guys. Apparently, the biggest Star Wars fan is the kind of person who just wants to keep reliving the glory days when they were children and had no cares in the world. The kind of person who can’t accept that the franchise has a life beyond those films about an annoying young boy who can magically do anything the narrative demands. The kind of person who can’t understand why a woman has to take centre stage or why racial diversity has to make its way into the Stormtroopers. The kind of person who thinks Darth Vader is the greatest villain the world has ever seen despite the fact we didn’t get a decent look at his awesome power until the final moments of Rogue One. The kind of person who is so stubborn that they can’t admit that The Last Jedi is not just a good Star Wars film but a great film in its own right.
I’m petty enough to suggest that this is a flawless film; there is plenty that I think could have been changed or missed out. The film is long and there are certain sections that go on a bit too long. The Finn and Rose storyline is lovely and the character development is great but we spend too long on a planet we don’t need to explore. It feels dragged out. And are there a few plot holes here and there? Yeah but what Star Wars film doesn’t? It’s not so much that you can’t end up suspending your disbelief a bit more than you already have to accept that many years ago people were running around space fighting each other with light swords. Does it kind of annoy me that a lot of plot relies on people keeping secrets from each other for no reason? Yes, but that happens in literally every film or TV show that I watch or book I read these days.
There is a great deal to love about The Last Jedi though. I won’t go into too much detail as I don’t want to give off any spoilers. Still, it is a very funny, emotional and exciting film. I love the fact that it happens in the span of a few hours and takes up, literally, from the moment The Force Awakens ends. Yes, it doesn’t mean a lot of stuff happens but it means there is time to develop the characters. This is the story of Rey, Finn, Poe, Luke and Leia coming to terms with who they are and who they need to be. It is a clever story that develops over time and doesn’t really have an end game. The first two Star Wars films had key goals: to blow up the Death Star. This film is about survival. It’s slower and a bit more fragmented but it works. For the most part, Johnson knows just how long to stay with each storyline and ensures that each character gets the time they need. It’s a very clever film.
There are plenty of great new characters, notably Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) and Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern). They are two superb additions to the cast and provide some of the more memorable moments in the film. Dern is responsible for the one moment when, at the screening I was at, people were audibly wowed. Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher are both on fine form as they take up their characters once again. Yes, there are some changes within the character but, let’s be honest, they’re all a lot older and wiser now. Luke couldn’t stay that annoying kid forever. Which is perhaps why fans are so upset. The young man they once admired as children is now a cynical old man… talk about an in-your-face reminder of your own ageing. Let’s be honest, the ‘true’ fans were never going to like this one but everyone I give a shit about has said they loved it. And I can’t deny that, whilst it wasn’t what I was expecting, I was left satisfied and ready for the next chapter.