(Check out the list so far)
The Movie: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
One Sentence Plot Summary: Rian Johnson made a billion dollar Star Wars movie, but a certain portion of the fandom complained so much that JJ Abrams tried to wipe it all away in a movie that made less than this one (and in that same Oscar cycle, Johnson got nominated for an Academy Award).
Why It’s on the List: This is the movie that made me hate the Star Wars fandom. The ensuing two movies have made me question my individual fandom. I watched The Force Awakens and enjoyed many aspects. I liked the casting choices and appreciated a return to more tangible settings. Unlike the prequels, I didn’t feel like I was watching Episode 7 on a rendering computer. The dialogue was also less clunky.
The Last Jedi was truly the Star Wars movie I needed and wasn’t necessarily I wanted. I didn’t know I needed a movie that challenged the very notion of what this whole thing is about. To hell with the concept of just one family being able to control the Force and Jedi. Let’s open it up and even end on a shot of a nameless boy who seemingly can move brooms with his mind. Screw good versus evil because there’s an entire decadent planet that seems to indulge in the war machine. While Benecio Del Toro may technically be playing a villain, it’s his commentary about who’s selling to who inaccurate. It’s easy to dismiss the Finn/Rose portions of The Last Jedi because other creatives don’t have any interest in class issues, but I’ve grown to appreciate those scenes more and more.*
*I bet Rian Johnson is a blast to hang out with in Las Vegas.
I’ll never forget when Ben killed Snoke. In that moment, it felt like there were no rules. Just like Palpatine, Snoke is other side of the same coin. His character sucks and I’m glad he died. What happens afterward is incredible as Ben and Ray team up to take out the guards. They each think they’ve turned the other, and it’s exhilarating to see this team-up because even though Luke and Vader ended up on the same side, they never ended up fighting together.
Even though JJ Abrams and Chris Terio tried to repudiate everything this movie did, The Last Jedi exists. It’s a miracle that it does. I have a deep affection for this movie, almost more than even the original trilogy. I love that Paige and Holdo get to save the rebels in two totally unique ways. I love the quiet diversity represented throughout. I love that Luke throws away the lightsaber at the beginning. Isn’t the movie so much more interesting for that? Where’s the drama in Luke accepting the saber?
If you take away Leia’s flight through space, Captain Phasma being punked out, and the way the film goes through two different climaxes, I’d have almost no issue with Jedi.
MVP: Rian Johnson tried. He wrote the second-best script of the franchise (Empire’s dialogue is still crisper) and one of the most visually striking Star Wars movies ever. It recaptured the classic look while also featuring some gorgeous landscapes and use of the color red. It’s really obvious Johnson wanted to challenge himself and challenge the characters in this series beyond what is typical. JJ Abrams was safe in almost every choice he made in his two sequels. Johnson wasn’t and it’s unclear if he’ll ever get to make his trilogy. Honestly, I would rather see Johnson focus on other projects, a Benoit Blanc sequel or any other original idea, than see him return and listen to this toxic fandom go after him again.
Best Performance: Mark Hamill again. Everyone was so obsessed with the #discourse surrounding if the movie was good or bad that we all completely forgot to understand that this was Hamill returning to the role that made him famous and for which he may have gotten some awards consideration if not for the toxicity of the fandom.
Should Mark Hamill have won? Probably not, but this was the absolute best way to end the Luke Skywalker story. It was consistent with the characterization of the previous trilogy, and regardless of the strife that existed between he and Rian Johnson, Hamill got to end his journey with Luke in a way that made sense and didn’t fall into the typical trope of how the long time heroes die.
Best Quote: “That’s how we’re gonna win. Not fighting what we hate, saving what we love.” – Rose Tico
Is there a sequel? No.*
*I know what you’re thinking. What about The Rise of Skywalker? It’s definitely a sequel within the Star Wars universe, but not to this movie.