Star Wars: The Last Jedi has released worldwide, garnering critical acclaim from reviewers and breaking international box office records. However, though many critics consider The Last Jedi to be one of the best Star Wars films to date, fan reactions have been divided.
Earlier this week, The Last Jedi scored a shockingly low audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the lowest score ever received for a Star Wars film. Now there’s even an online petition going around, currently signed by over 49,800 people, to remove The Last Jedi from the Star Wars series canon.
Despite the fact that I enjoyed The Last Jedi, I understand where the disappointment with the film comes from, as I certainly wasn’t all too happy with the way in which the film depicted Luke Skywalker and the Jedi’s legacy. The ending of the film felt like a cop-out, a quick way to get rid of Luke in order to finalise the Skywalker saga and pave the way for a fresh reboot of the series with all new characters. Not only that, but the entire film just left me with far more questions than answers. Who is Snoke, really? What’s his connection to Darth Vader? Are Rey’s parents really ‘nobodies’? How will the series deal with Leia, given that she survives in The Last Jedi but the great Carrie Fisher is no longer with us to reprise her role in the next film?
In many ways, The Last Jedi managed to do away with the aspects of George Lucas’ creation and vision while maintaining a decent plot and drama. Mark Hamill himself, said in an interview, that “He’s not my Luke Skywalker.”
Below is an excerpt from the interview, which can also be watched here.
“Jedi’s don’t give up. I mean even if he had a problem he would maybe take a year to try and regroup, but if he made a mistake he would try and right that wrong.” So right there we had a fundamental difference, but it’s not my story anymore. It’s somebody else’s story, and Ryan needed me to be a certain way to make the ending effective. That’s the crux of my problem. Luke would never say that. I’m sorry. Well in this version, see I’m talking about the George Lucas Star Wars. This is the next generation of Star Wars, so I almost has to think of Luke as another character. Maybe he is Jake Skywalker. He’s not my Luke Skywalker, but I had to do what Ryan wanted me to do because it serves the story well, but listen, I still haven’t accepted it completely. But it’s only a movie. I hope people like it. I hope they don’t get upset, and I came to really believe that Ryan was the exact man that they need for this job.”
This sentiment is echoed by many fans of the original Star Wars series, including myself, and leads to the question of what exactly Rian Johnson has planned for the franchise. It all just seems a little forced at the end of the day, and a desperate attempt to deviate from the original vision that George Lucas had. This idea of deviation is still evident despite having Easter eggs in the film, which suggests connections between the Skywalker saga stories and the stand alone films.
One small but significant Easter egg which seemingly provides a connection between The Last Jedi and Rogue One, is the fact that the First Order is now able to track the resistance’s starships through hyperspace travel, something that was thought to be impossible. However, in Rogue One, Jyn Erso stumbles upon other Empire files that detail something called ‘hyperspace tracking’, while searching for the Death Star plans.
In considering whether The Last Jedi should remain as part of the Star Wars canon, the first question that needs to be asked is whether or not Rogue One is considered as canon as well. If it isn’t, then perhaps the link between the films denote both films as existing outside of the canon story and is simply part of the extended universe instead.
This isn’t the first time in the past two months that a Star Wars controversy has come up and been in the news. The Star Wars Battlefront II video game by EA DICE was a title that featured heavily in the news upon release regarding its loot boxes and microtransactions which consisted items that could affect gameplay, therefore encouraging the concept of ‘pay-to-win’, something which players criticised and raised concerns over the similarities with gambling.
Responding to players’ concerns, EA removed micro-transactions from the game, with DICE stating that these concerns will be looked at and that micro-transactions will eventually return to the game at some point. In the meantime, EA has added bonus content, including The Last Jedi season, which among other film related content, allows players to unlock new characters, Finn and Captain Phasma, into the game for free.
Despite the various ways in which The Last Jedi and Star Wars as a whole are being promoted, several dedicated and hardcore fans of the Star Wars franchise aren’t too pleased and demand change. It’ll be interesting to see where this all leads and what’s to come in future Star Wars films and video games.