If you haven’t watched one of the latest installments of the epic sci-fi franchise, Star Wars, yet then you might want to turn away now. Star Wars: The Last Jedi was released in December 2017 to a mixed reception from critics and fans alike. There were those who were just over the moon of Endor to enjoy another Star Wars movie – and then there were those who couldn’t deal with some of the big plot holes that the latest installment seemed to leave open. Whichever side of the fence you were on, it’s clear to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi was a subversive masterpiece, and here is why.
The Star Wars traits
Whichever way you look at it, The Last Jedi certainly was in keeping with many of the Star Wars movies that came before it. In fact, much of the storyline could be deemed as very similar to previous flicks, such as The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Rey is trying to learn the ways of The Force and work out who are parents are – sounds familiar. Rose and Finn are trying to sneak onto an Imperial craft and destroy a vital part that is keeping the Resistance in check – also sounds familiar. Then you have Poe who just wants to blow everything up – definitely sounds familiar. If all of the standards of Star Wars films are present then, why was this movie so subversive?
You see, while some of the stories in The Last Jedi felt very familiar, they certainly didn’t have the same outcome as we would expect. It’s these variations that ensure this movie stands out from all of its predecessors. For example, we learn that jumping in a spaceship to blow stuff up isn’t the answer to the galaxy (and Poe’s) problems. You can’t always hop aboard an Imperial craft and hope that you won’t land yourself in hot water. And you don’t need Darth Vader as a dad to become the next heroic Jedi. While much of the story felt familiar, it’s the different paths that ensured The Last Jedi was so subversive.
If there was one thing that Rian Johnson did right with The Last Jedi, it was to cause debate. His aim was to disrupt the status quo that Star Wars fans had become so accustomed to. The uproar over Rey’s parents not being anyone important goes to prove that we were all expecting the same kind of story. But, it turned out that they were just junk traders with no real history or anything special about them. The moral of this story? You don’t have to come from someone powerful to become powerful – and one of the last scenes of the movie showed us that. If anything, this movie showed us that times are certainly changing. Rian Johnson didn’t want to stick to the same tried and tested techniques; he wanted to break the mold.
With J. J. Abrams coming back to work on Episode IX, there is that lingering question – Will we be going back to tradition? Or will Star Wars continue to divide, cause debate, and bring something new to the table? We only have nearly two years to find out… And in the meantime, we will fill our boots with the next canon in the franchise – Solo: A Star Wars Story.