Let the Past Die [The Last Jedi Review] - Spoiler Free except for one quote!
Unless you didn't know that movies exist, I'm sure you're well aware of the premiere of the latest Star Wars movie gracing our local theaters. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a strange beast. It's dark thematically, but then it throws juvenile humor your way. The familiar soundtrack blares through the sound system, but then Luke begins saying things that you don't know him for. In other words The Last Jedi is a movie that is a blend of the old and the new, dividing fans, critics, and loved ones all over the world.
Having seen it myself, I personally think it is one of the better Star Wars movies, particularly when you compare it to the previous six. Think about it. The Phantom Menace, with Jar Jar Binks? Automatic pass. Attack of the Clones with its contrived romance threads and boring subplots? Eh. Ooo, what about Revenge of the Sith? Anakin turns into Vader, but let's be honest, Uwe Boll could have written the screenplay and it would have still been at least passable. It's not hard to write that story. Okay, so the prequels are out. How about the originals? Well, nothing can beat A New Hope in terms of it being the first Star Wars movie. It's like when everyone watched the first Avengers movie. It practically sells itself on premise alone. Return of the Jedi was well-received for wrapping up the trilogy.
What's that? I forgot one? Ah, yes. The Empire Strikes Back. The movie that I would most compare the Last Jedi to. Why? Because it boldly went for the new and unexpected. The Empire Strikes Back has the prestige of that decision actually working. Now, it's debatable if the Last Jedi achieves its hefty ambitions, but I suggest that it works. My thoughts can basically be summed up in the following quote, said by Kylo Ren:
"Let the Past Die. Kill it if you have to."
The quote has its place in the overall story arc, but it's also speaking to the audience. The average moviegoer and Star Wars fan might fly to the theater to see cool space battles, vague force powers, awesome lightsaber duels and semi-well fashioned political drama, not to mention a clear distinction of good and evil. Light and Dark. The Last Jedi says to forget all of that. This is a new generation, and a new trilogy. Stop living in the past and enjoy the journey for what it is, for better or worse. We currently live in a society that is drunk on nostalgia, whether it's politically or through Netflix binging. We can't get enough of the past, opting to swim in a haze of good times and childhood pleasures. Unless someone experienced trauma in their past, typically, one looks upon their history favorably, and in my opinion, I think it's because we are trying to escape the pain of the present. We desire a time when things weren't so complicated, not realizing that we may have endured then because we were ignorant of the situation. As we get older, we learn more, but with knowledge comes suffering. Instead of using that knowledge to improve our current situation, we may fall into pessimism. The movie speaks a lot to this theme.
The characters, from Luke to Rey to Poe, are holding onto a past, believing that it defines their core and will continue to do so, when it is merely a stepping stone into evolving into their better selves. To be human is to err. To be human is to fail and make mistakes and suffer, but the beauty comes when we learn from our past and overcome our future.
The Last Jedi is a hard lesson, surrounded by the same cool lightsaber and space battles. At its core, it is trying to teach us to not let the past define us on all levels, whether it's the franchise itself, the characters, or even ourselves. It is a necessary teaching that is hard to swallow, but necessary to learn. The Empire Strikes Back spoke to the exact same lessons, but we were younger then, more impressionable and willing to learn. Now we're older and jaded, and instead of embracing the lesson to grow, we have become old hermits trying to cut ourselves off from the world, even if we have the power to change it for the better.
In short? Go see it, and don't be afraid of what it might make you feel. Understand it. Embrace it, and then if you must, let it die. Or Kill it. The choice, and your future, is up to you.
Review Score: 4.5 out of 5