Prior to seeing the movie, I did something stupid. It’s something I never do. It’s something I tell all of my friends and family to never do before going to see a movie they really want to see. It’s something I view as sacrosanct. It’s something I have always worn as a badge of honor. But today… today I am ashamed. I read one review before seeing Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I will never be the same.
For as long as I can remember, when there is a movie I am really excited to see, I stay away from the hype and reviews as much as possible. Today, if you are on any part of the internet, this can be challenging, but up until SW:TLJ I have held true to my beliefs and it has been wonderful. I saw A Force Awakens and Rouge One with very little knowledge before hand. I do allow myself to watch the trailers, but that is as far as I will go. This has allowed me to go into movies without any pre-conceptions and enjoy all of the surprises and ups and downs the movie has to offer. I do not even learn anything about the characters. For example, when I went in to A Force Awakens, I only knew the name of Rey and Finn, but everyone else was a surprise. Well. Except of course for the original cast, but everything was a clean slate.
For some reason.
For The Last Jedi.
I read a review.
And it slammed the movie.
I panicked when I read it. I had just assumed this was going to be another slam dunk and everyone was going to love it. The Last Jedi was supposed to be the next Empire Strikes Back. It was supposed to tell us Rey was a Skywalker. We were going to find out Luke had been secretly training a new Jedi army. We were going to finally get to see Captain Phasma in action. It was going to be epic so this review couldn’t be true.
The first thing I did was jump to Rotten Tomatoes. I have used this site since they were just a fledgling internet site and they never let me down. Relief! They gave it a score in the 90’s and I was immediately calmed down, but something in the back of my head was still tugging at my subconsciousness causing doubt to linger in the peripheries of my brain. And then the worst thing that could possibly happen, happened. I read a headline that is “Mark Hamil Says This is Not His Luke”. My heart sank and I read the quote. Reality was setting in. This movie was going to suck.
At this point, I shut myself off from the world and refused to read anything else about it but it was too late. I went into the movie looking for problems.
With Star Wars, Luke was the one I related to the most. Luke was young but full of energy and the desire to make more out of his life then being a moisture farmer. He had a lot of confidence in himself and he wanted to be in the middle of the action. He relished the hero role. Think about the first movie where he said things like “I’m here to rescue you” or “It’s not impossible. I used to bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home, they’re not much bigger than two meters.” This was the voice of confidence. The voice of hope.
As the movies progressed, Luke started understanding the galaxy was not always as black and white as he had believed. He struggled with patience and learning to fully embrace the force and he was worried about being gone from his friends for so long. But he was still brave and confident as he went after Han and Leia knowing he was potentially walking into a trap. Even after finding out his father was Darth Vader, he still fought to survive and rejoin his friends until he eventually freed Han from Jabba the Hutt. By the end of the third movie, there was a confident young Jedi who understood his place in the universe; the outlook for his future was exciting and bright.
Skip ahead to The Last Jedi, and we find a scared man, hiding from the rest of the Galaxy and who has abandoned the force entirely and is just waiting to die. He learns his friend Han is dead and the Galaxy once again is in peril from the student he “failed”. Regardless of what Mark Hamil says about feeling bad about saying “this is not his Luke”, he was right. It was not the Luke we left and he is definately not my Luke. What happened to Han’s son was not enough for him to run away and hide. This was the man who returned home to find his aunt and uncle burned to a crisp. This was the man who was chased across the galaxy by the Emperor and Darth Vader; the two most feared people in the universe. This is the man who lost his mentors Obi-wan and Yoda. This is the man who blew up the freaking Death Star and who found out his father was Darth Vader. How is what happened with Kylo worse then any of that? My Luke would have chased after Kylo Ren to try and turn him back before it was too late. My Luke would have stood up, dusted himself off and fought back against Snoke. My Luke would not have run away to hide on some deserted island.
My expectations for Luke in this movie were extremely high so for me, the movie sucked. I hated it and I am disappointed Luke ended his Star Wars legacy in a mediocre display.
To be sure there were other issues with the movie. I haven’t even addressed how they wasted Snoke. I thought the whole Finn goes off to track down some hacker was just kind of pointless. They also wasted Gwendoline Christie and Captain Phasma, among other things, but these are all things I could have dealt with; messing with Luke was a bit much.
I have come to a place in my life when I try not to take things like movies to seriously. Life is too short to get too upset about movies, and chances are I will probably like the movie better after watching it again, but I don’t think I am ever going to understand why they changed Luke’s character and I am not sure I am going to get over that any time soon.
Regardless, I will give it another chance, but for right now, I am not very excited about the future of Star Wars.