Star Wars: The Last Jedi “subverts the narrative formula”

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the second chapter of the new Star Wars trilogy that began in 2015 with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The film follows The Resistance – led by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) – in their continued fight against the rising power of The First Order. However, the main talking point surrounding the film is, of course, the return of Jedi Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill).

At the end of The Force Awakens, we see force-conscious scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) arrive on the isolated planet Ahch-To with Luke Skywalker’s blue lightsaber from the original trilogy. This ultimately sets up the big return of the fan favourite character in The Last Jedi. However, his return is not all audiences and die-hard fans of the franchise may have hoped for. It would seem in the 30 years between events in Return of the Jedi and The Last Jedi that Luke has not only developed a sense of sarcasm but he has also lost all the heart and emotion his character was known for in the original trilogy. Whilst this dark, comic version of the character does add some humour to the film, it is not the character we know and love. The beloved character audiences have been waiting for even since that final scene in The Force Awakens is unfortunately tarnished in this long-awaited return to the franchise. This issue with character continuity in The Last Jedi is something that questions the franchise’s reliance on older characters to drive forward the film’s narrative for a new audience.

Skywalker aside, The Last Jedi is not a terrible film. Arguably the film is very divisive as early responses have indicated yet it does succeed it one area that no film has since the original trilogy. It subverts the narrative formula. Whilst like The Force Awakens it relies on similar narrative aspects of the franchise, it does not rely on them as heavily. Midway through the film, we see Rey hand herself over to The First Order and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). This scene is familiar with the ending of Return of the Jedi in the confrontation between Luke, Darth Vadar (James Earl Jones) and The Emperor (Ian McDiarmid). However, in The Last Jedi this scene plays out very differently. Whilst I have no intentions to spoil this scene I will note that it contains one of the best choreographed lightsaber battles in the franchise’s history. This makes The Last Jedi feel a much fresher movie in comparison to its predecessor.

Ultimately, whilst The Last Jedi is narratively and visually an amazing film, it does tarnish one of the greatest characters in cinematic history – Luke Skywalker. In a film full of action, comedy and shocks it leaves a lot to desire and sets up more to come. Many fans will be hoping the sequel in 2019 will wrap up this trilogy with an ending that will justify many decisions made within this movie and prove that Star Wars is still the best film franchise in the galaxy.



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February 2021
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