By Jason O'Toole
Back in 2015 we were all hyped that Disney was reviving Star Wars with The Force Awakens. While I personally thought that The Force Awakens was a fantastic new start for the franchise many people were not happy with the films nostalgic feel. The mixed response didn’t stop the film from shattering box office records and bringing Star Wars back into our hearts and minds.
Cut to two years later and Rian Johnson has brought us the next chapter with The Last Jedi. Those same fans who said that The Force Awakens was to nostalgic were now saying that The Last Jedi was too much of a departure from the Star Wars films they once loved. While the film has definitely brought many changes to the film franchise I personally think these changes were absolutely necessary to keep things fresh and usher in a new era for the franchise. Kylo Ren utters the words that sum up everything that Rian Johnson was trying to bring to the Star Wars universe, “let the past die, kill it if you have to.”
The heroes of the old films made many sacrifices to defeat the Empire and bring a new peace to the universe. The new film does not change that it just shows that while evil can be stifled it can never be snuffed out. While we will all miss the trio of Luke, Han and Leia it is time for them to move aside and give way for Rey, Finn and Poe.
The biggest complaint that has come up has clearly been the drastic change in Luke Skywalker. The onetime hero of the franchise has been drastically altered by Rian Johnson’s new direction. Luke saved the galaxy and starts rebuilding the Jedi order only to see in his nephew, Ben, what he once saw in Darth Vader. Luke is faced with a terrible dilemma, let the universe once again fall to darkness or act and end the threat before it begins. Many feel that this is completely out of character for Luke. Luke has a moment of weakness that I feel is completely understandable based on the things he has seen.
Ultimately, he decides not to go through with it but the damage has been done. This shatters everything Luke has been trying to build and his faith in the Jedi order. As penance he exiles himself to Ahch-To and cuts himself off from the force. As Darth Vader was redeemed before him Rey comes along to bring Luke back. His ultimate sacrifice at the film’s conclusion serves as a potent reminder that the past has to die to give birth to the future.
All of the expectations that we as fans had for the film are shattered. For the first time in a long while the future of the Star Wars universe is unknown. I, for one, think that is exactly what needed to happen to reinvigorate the franchise. My excitement for the future of this story is palpable and I hope yours is too.
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