It is coming up on the end of the year and audiences and critics still find themselves discussing The Last Jedi. And it is quite possibly the most divisive Star Wars to date with fans supposedly wanting to shut down Rotten Tomatoes over the film.
Speaking of, the Rotten Tomato Score is still at an audience score of 52% and other films like The Greatest Showman is at 90% and another nerd movie Justice League bottoming out at 78% audience approval.
And for anyone questioning if this movie was not divisive, we have reviews bouncing all around, from Rooster Teeth that seem split, with Gus Sorola saying he was fine with it, to The Know who have their own opinions, to Kevin Smith who was so ecstatic that he gave an hour and a half opinion, to WhatCulture calling the movie a disappointment, The Cosmonaught Variety even admits the fanbase is divided, Tyrone Magnus defended the film but admits it has faults, same with the Andre “The Black Nerd”, meanwhile some question if the movie failed.
Through all of this, few to none outright praise the movie to be a success from beginning to end. While BleedingCool is one of the few to very nearly say it is flawless calling out people who fight the opinion by quoting the movie, “Dead heroes, no leaders.”
But there have been some near consistent critiques of this film that do lead to hold real merit outside of just Mark Hamill claiming this is not his Luke Skywalker, he was more of a Jake Skywalker. He has since supposedly recanted his words. But this ultimately is a symptom of a much bigger problem, which some more than defend. And that is this one line: This is not going to go the way you think. Slashfilms claims The Last Jedi does not care about what fans think. That was why the subversions and the confounding conventional thinking were brilliant writing.
BUT…here is the problem.
From Burnie Berns and Gus Sorola to The Black Nerd to so many others, including small fans that I had the pleasure to talk to after my four viewings.
Here were the major issues with the film, outside of the casino scene, which was almost universally seen as a mistake.
1) Luke Skywalker was mishandled. While the movie argued that the universe (and through that the fans) deified him when he was nothing more than a man, and Rey (as well as fans) need to accept he is nothing more than a man. And in the end, he asked if we wanted to see Luke Skywalker face down the entire First Order with a Laser Sword. And the answer to that is YES. Star Wars is old and audiences take these characters seriously. If Leia had been mishandled or misrepresented, fans would be outraged. And here, Luke Skywalker was flawed, so much so it affected Mark Hamill. In two of my viewings, when Luke’s climax comes, there were applauds and excitement until his final act. When he fades to become one with the Force, the theater reacted in confusion and anger.
2) Snoke. All of Snoke. It is not just that we know nothing about him, but it also comes down to the fact that he comes across as this all-powerful being but he is blindsided by his apprentice, who he spends a majority of the movie bitch slapping.
3) Phasma. Fans were ecstatic to have Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma. And according to ComicBookResource as well as Bernie in his review, Star Wars is trying to replicate Boba Fett. That would be great, but Phasma needs to be more developed and in more of the movie if you want fans to be excited about her or afraid when she faces down Finn. There was no one who was happy with how easily defeated she was in this movie especially after literally throwing her in the trash in The Force Awakens.
And for those saying I do not understand because Boba Fett and the Emperor in the original trilogy were not wholly explained. But the point of making a sequel or continuing a story is not to necessarily remake the wheel or to have it repeat. Doug Walker brought up how George Lucas used to say these movie rhymed. Then have them rhyme. They can be alike, but the point of moving forward is to do better, not for critics but for your fans.
4) Subversion. EVERY part of the movie was trying to shock fans and try to make us think one thing when something else was going to happen. Need an example? Luke will face down the First Order only to be an illusion. Or how about making the audience think Finn and Rose would find a way to kick ass after the casino only to have them fail. OR….Rey’s parentage. Having Kylo rub it in her face, and by extension, the audience’s face that she is a no one so she does not belong in the story.
To quote someone opening night, “F*ck right off!”
None of this is to say The Last Jedi was bad, but in each viewing, more people were left confused and unsure especially after Luke’s death, than they were entertained. And while shock might get some farther than others, if this were any other franchise, the audience could hold them accountable by not going to the sequel. However, this is Star Wars. Like Marvel, they have a captive audience that will not deny ourselves in seeing what happens next. And for that, any complaint, whether against Rian Johnson, Disney, or Star Wars is pointless.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in theaters and has a near 400 million gross from its domestic sales in the United States.
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