There’s Nothing To Pass Down
With Kylo as Vader 2.0 and Luke abandoning ship, Johnson paints the Skywalker legacy as one of failure, which then raises the question: What do they really have to pass down? What’s even more disappointing is that for generations, we’ve witnessed how strong the family is with the Force, and after years of waiting to see a Skywalker, namely Luke, as a sage, a la Yoda, Qui-Gonn Jinn, Mace Windu or Obi-Wan Kenobi, all we get are a couple self-deprecating speeches. Luke’s brief time with Rey doesn’t feel like any sort of mentorship, because all he does is offer reminders that the Jedi were arrogant.
We get it, but why dwell on that? Outside of flashbacks to him and Kylo, all Luke does is teach Rey two lessons — the Force is a life-binding essence, and it’s meant for everyone, not Jedi alone — but we’re left wondering what the third one is that he promised. He barely showed her how to harness the light, so given his final showdown with Kylo, we can only assume it’s to keep hope.
We have to extrapolate, because we never really see Luke as a teacher. Fans watched Luke grow from a doe-eyed boy into a Jedi Knight, but sadly, there’s not much of him as a Jedi Master. It would have been nice to finally see a Skywalker passing down knowledge about defying destiny and reminding us that heroism runs in their blood. Instead, all that’s left to tell are stories of destruction and death, shoehorning Anakin, Luke and Kylo into the same sandbox.
There’s No Sense of Family
Luke and Leia were close in the original trilogy, but Johnson makes a terrible decision to keep them apart until the end, when Luke’s Force projection has a brief, sentimental exchange with his sister. Luke abandoning Leia feels so uncharacteristic; given that he helped push Ben to the Dark Side, Luke running away feels so cowardly and doesn’t give the impression he and Leia had any sort of bond. We didn’t even see the siblings in flashbacks dealing with their Jedi bloodline and what came after Return of the Jedi, so it’s tough to connect with their story and how they handled, or mishandled, Ben’s training, especially with Han Solo opposing it.
It doesn’t even appear that Luke misses his sister or acknowledges her that much, and vice versa. Luke also didn’t show any deep sense of grief when he found out Han died, and apart from R2-D2, he barely interacts with old friends such as C-3PO and Chewbacca. Family is a fundamental part of Star Wars, and while a new one has emerged with Rey, Finn and Poe, etc., Johnson did little justice to the orginal. Everyone feels so disconnected from each other, not just physically, but emotionally.
The Skywalkers aren’t ragtag heroes, but rather the elite bloodline of the galaxy, and that deserves special attention. That The Last Jedi doesn’t depict Leia attempting to change Kylo back into Ben, even using Force telepathy, more or less sums up how emotionally flat the film’s treatment of them is. Instead of continuing the journey that began in 1977, The Last Jedi simply turns the Skywalkers into a bad soap opera in space, with all style and very little substance.
Written and directed by Rian Johnson, Star Wars: The Last Jedi stars Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke, Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux, Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata, Benicio Del Toro as ‘DJ’, Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico, Laura Dern as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, and the late Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa.
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