In defense of The Last Jedi

Written By Jake Dabkowski, Co-News Editor

Easily the most controversial of the nine-film Skywalker Saga, Rian Johnson’s “The Last Jedi” divided the Star Wars fanbase. To a lot of people, Disney killed Star Wars. To a lot of other people, Disney saved Star Wars.  

“The Last Jedi” isn’t perfect, but a lot of people seem convinced it’s the worst Star Wars movie, an opinion that, in my view, is absolutely hilarious. If you think any of the prequels are better than “The Last Jedi,” you’ve probably smoked enough PCP that your brain is classified as a Super Computer by the Pentagon. “Attack of the Clones” is one of the worst movies ever made and it is absolutely unwatchable, and quite frankly, “Revenge of the Sith” isn’t that much better.

The first thing people say that they don’t like in “The Last Jedi” is the humor. Oftentimes I see this complaint: “It felt like a Marvel movie—Star Wars is supposed to be serious and dramatic, not funny.” What planet are you living on? Star Wars has always been loaded with jokes. Even worse is the people who say “I liked ‘The Force Awakens’ but didn’t like ‘The Last Jedi’ because of the humor,” when The “Force Awakens” has way more jokes in it, they just don’t stick out as much.

This leads to another thing people dislike: the overall tone. Comparing “The Force Awakens” to “The Last Jedi” is very similar to “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back.” “A New Hope” is open-ended because it sets up the universe and the story takes a backseat to visual exposition, and “Empire,” tells a story in a world that we already know about, the story is now more important than the worldbuilding, because we, as an audience know how the galaxy far far away functions at this point. “The Force Awakens” took on a similar style to “A New Hope” to reintroduce us to the galaxy and to show us what’s changed, as well as some things that have always been there but we didn’t know about, then “The Last Jedi” focuses on a much more dramatic story, and because of this, the tone sticks out.

One concession I’ll make about the film is that the pacing is problematic. The casino planet grinds the film to a halt, and while it eventually ends up making some of the best commentary of the franchise (that being that war isn’t just good vs. evil) it takes too long to get there.

The biggest issue that people take with the film, however, is the thing I love most about it: Luke Skywalker. Right off the bat, the performance that Mark Hamill gave is the best performance out of any blockbuster film I’ve ever seen. The reason people dislike his character in the film that they say “Luke would never try to kill Kylo as he did in the flashback.” Sequel haters will cite the fact that in “Return of The Jedi,” Luke refuses to kill Vader because he believes that he can still be redeemed. What they forget when making that argument is that seconds beforehand Luke cuts off Vader’s hand.

In “The Last Jedi,” Luke has a moment of weakness. He’s not some perfect hero who can do no wrong, he has flaws, and following that moment of weakness, the low point of his entire life, he goes into exile for decades until Rey eventually finds him. As the film’s story progresses, he calls out the hypocrisy of the Jedi order, pointing out that despite being “peacekeepers” they fought in one of the largest wars the galaxy has ever seen. 

In the climax of the film, when he force-projects himself to Crait to save the Resistance, he finally lives up to what a Jedi is supposed to be. He saves the day not by fighting, not by giving in to his anger, but by using the force for good.

The ending is also a better ending to the saga than “The Rise of Skywalker.” The Resistance is reborn, hope is restored to the galaxy and the legend of Luke Skywalker travels across the stars.