With the expanding adventures of a galaxy far, far away continuing to draw audiences to the multiplex, there’s a reason Rogue One and The Last Jedi are a significantly important part of the Star Wars mythology.
Not since George Lucas’ prequels has a Star Wars film created so much controversy especially amongst the fandom, but with the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi the latest chapter in the growing narrative written and directed by Rian Johnson the filmmaker has given faithful fans an entirely new reason to scratch their heads, and this time we can’t put the blame of Lucas’ inflated overbearing sense. It was after all the creator of the Star Wars saga that decided to revisit his classic original trilogy with a revisited “Special Edition” before returning with new material.
The revisioning gave the creator the inspiration to return to the galaxy of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, but his hope was to fully flesh out the backstory of the film’s ardent villain Darth Vader, who by the end of the Episode VI was on a road to redemption. For Lucas the character’s path into darkness would lay the ground work for the prequel films. With the technology finally entering into an age that would give Lucas the opportunity to manipulate his story, it was open season for him to tell the tale of Anakin Skywalker’s decent into the Dark Side.
If you ask Lucas, he would tell you had always every intention of telling that story; in fact, the story goes that Lucas had always intended for the story of Star Wars to actually be told over the course of nine episodes. After he completed work on the “special editions” and the prequels, Lucas decided that he was in fact, done — and a new generation inherited the franchise. Eventually the narrative extended to The Clone Wars animated series and its follow-up Rebels, but as Lucas handed over the reigns, a demand for more Star Wars would become inevitable.
The continuing adventures…
When Disney purchased the Star Wars empire from Lucas, it went into production immediately on a “new trilogy” — a follow-up to the adventures of Luke Skywalker revealing what had happened to the heroes following the destruction of the second Death Star and the redemption of Darth Vader. Unfortunately, it didn’t all turn out so great, at least not in the way that fans had anticipated. Responsible for reigniting interest in the Star Trek franchise with the 2009 reboot, director J. J. Abrams was recruited to return movie audiences to the Star Wars universe.
Intuitively Abrams was well aware that unlike Star Trek he couldn’t simply recast the original actors and continue to tell the story. Instead the introduction of a new generation of players would be pivotal as the characters that survived the Battle of Endor had gone on with their lives and aged 30 years. The battle was won, but out of the ashes of the evil Empire emerged a remnant force that proved every bit as dangerous in The First Order. The rebellion was done, but the Resistance was now the determinant agency dedicated to restoring freedom to the galaxy.
With Star Wars: The Force Awakens Abrams reminded audiences of what it was that made them fall in love with Star Wars in the first place. The beats of the film were pretty much the same, and with the exception of sacrificing Han Solo, giving the film its most emotional resonance, The Force Awakens was the hope that fans had imagined it would be. Gareth Edwards was tasked with the most challenging part, delivering the first stand-alone story and delivered Rogue One an untold tale and stand-alone that connects right into A New Hope — and it was really good.
Then there’s The Last Jedi
On the latest film director Rian Johnson performed double duty, having written the story and directed the feature, a daunting task indeed for any filmmaker, especially one coming into a franchise of this magnitude. For Star Wars: The Last Jedi Johnson chose to break convention with any expectations and deliver a decidedly different Star Wars film, one not unlike the prequel world that Lucas had ventured into where not everything was orderly or transparent. Where some things just didn’t add up, and perhaps for a reason.
In The Last Jedi Luke Skywalker has isolated himself on an alien planet hidden from prying eyes, but one that is centrifugal to the legacy of the Jedi Knights, and from here he puts Rey on a path — asking the force-sensitive youth to grab her things and go! From here Rey finds that she has a unique connectivity to the Force and links with her rival Kylo Ren. The pair are so powerful they take down the Supreme Leader Snoke, living everyone to wonder what Snoke was in the first place. The rebellion is reborn and in the end, it is Skywalker that gives the heroes the hope to survive.
At the end of The Last Jedi the rebellion lives to fight another day, the First Order is left in much disarray and Johnson has thrown a curveball, expanding the world of the galaxy far, far away and laying the ground work for what’s yet to come. There’s a lot of unraveling that occurs in The Last Jedi some storyline oddities that appear to be major hurdles for Abrams who will be working on Episode IX to face, but whether it’s coherent or not, it’s the “middle story” and therefore the necessary transition by which the next trilogy will find its conclusion.
That’s why it matters.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is available now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.