When it comes to Star Wars, there is no single piece of media as divisive as The Last Jedi. The eighth film in the Skywalker saga seemed to split the fandom right down the middle into two camps: those who didn’t like the film and thought it felt like one big F*** You from Rian Johnson and those who were wrong. But here’s the thing: a lot of the “fans” who hate the movie are also wrong.
Confused? Let us explain.
Bad Mom Jokes
There are those of the opinion that The Last Jedi is kind of the worst Star Wars movie for silly reasons like Rey being a “Mary Sue” (she’s not) or bombs falling straight down in the vacuum of space (dude, space wizards and laser swords, keep up). These opinions make it hard for the rest of us with legit criticisms to discuss what’s wrong with the movie without immediately being labeled a fanboy mourning their childhood. Because trust us, there is enough to dislike about The Last Jedi for people all across the political spectrum.Let’s start with the humor. The Last Jedi is the only Star Wars film to open with a “Your mom” joke, and we can only assume that’s because every other Star Wars director realized that it’s a bad fit tonally for the universe. Star Wars has always had humor, and some of the jokes have been dumb. Jar Jar Binks steps in poop in the Phantom Menace, for crying out loud.The difference here, though, is that poop—for good or ill—is a part of any universe with livestock. Stepping in poop dumb, yes, but a universal gag. “Heh, Heh, your mom!” on the other hand, feels decidedly 21st century Earth and pulls you right out of the film.
Luke’s Reaction To Getting His Lightsaber Back Is Cringe
Then there’s Luke’s reaction to getting his lightsaber back. Does he get all solemn and thrust it back at Rey, saying, “That’s not who I am now,” or something similarly somber? No, he tosses it over his shoulder like it’s a Looney Tunes gag. The scene could have “Yakety Sax” from the old Benny Hill Show playing under it and it would fit perfectly.
The dismissive, comical way Luke tosses the weapon over his shoulder undercuts any tension the scene would otherwise have and sets the tone for the whole movie. From there, you get BB-8 being mistaken for a slot machine and spitting the coins back out like a joke from the Star Wars prequels and Maz Kanata making a joke about the codebreaker being able to do “everything.” Are we laughing yet?
Too Much Blurring The Lines Between Good And Evil
Let’s move on from there to Rian Johnson’s “both sides suck” attitude towards the Resistance and the First Order. Through the cleverly named character DJ (Don’t Join, get it? Eh? Eh?), Johnson pushes the narrative that both sides of the war are profiting from it and that bad guy and good guy are relative terms that are almost interchangeable. If you want to make that argument about wars in real life, then go for it. The military-industrial complex deserves all the critique Rian can throw at it.But this is Star Wars. One side has actual, quantifiable evil on its side. Yes, both sides have killed people, but only one side blew up a whole planet! In a fairytale, it’s okay to acknowledge that there is an objectively good side and an objectively bad side. Save the grey middle ground for the real world.
Subverted Expectations To The Extreme
Then of course, we have Mr. Subvert Your Expectation. The Last Jedi is one big “Gotcha!” as far as Rian Johnson is concerned. Did you expect to hear someone say, “I have a bad feeling about this,” just like in the seven prior mainline Star Wars films? Too bad. Gotcha!
Did you expect Rey’s parents to be someone important because that’s what J. J. Abrams teased? Too bad they’re nobodies. Gotcha!
Did you think Snoke was this Star Wars trilogy’s big bad? Too bad, you plebian the emperor had no character development in the original trilogy. He just showed up in one movie and died too! Never mind that fan expectations for lore and canon have changed since 1983.
Johnson can’t even help himself in the third act on the planet Crait. We’re 100% certain that Johnson’s intention with setting the final battle on a white planet was so that initially viewers would think it was snow like in the Empire Strikes Back, only to then purposely have someone taste the “snow” and exclaim, “It’s salt!” Salt! Gotcha!
Not Making Good On Promises
Perhaps Johnson’s biggest sin with The Last Jedi was not making good on his promises. Let the past die; kill it if you have to. Okay, fine. Luke’s the Last Jedi, and Rey will start some new order. At least Star Wars will go in a new direction—oh, never mind, the sacred texts were saved. Rey is going to continue the same old Jedi practices as before.Oh, Rey and Kylo Ren teamed up. Are we going to get something new, like Rey actually taking Kylo’s offer to co-rule the galaxy? Will the third movie in the trilogy be the other good guys taking on Rey? Wait, nope. She turned him down. We’re back to hero vs villain. Classic Star Wars.
The Last Jedi Was Made To Troll Star Wars Fans
Ultimately, Rian Johnson made a movie specifically to troll fans who had understandable expectations following The Force Awakens filled it with ill-fitting humor that clashes with the established Star Wars aesthetic and acted like he was shaking things up only to end the film exactly where Star Wars always ends up. A big group of bad guys in pursuit of a small, ragtag group of rebels. Cool.
Oh, and the porgs sucked.