The Last Jedi


Star Wars is in my blood. It accounts for my undying love for all things spaceships, science-fiction, technological and fantastical. It ignited the imagination of a 12 year old boy sitting in a dark theater and, in so many ways, it hasn't ever let go. While I certainly don't want to give it more credit than it deserves, it did open my mind to a greater world. There is an expensive statue of Darth Vader hovering mid-"I am your Father"- above my desk as I write this. On the wall to my left is an original Empire movie sheet in a frame. Star Wars is smeared all over my life.

My brother and I were late for the first showing of Empire. I was fourteen and he was nine. So we had to stand in line for the second show. As the previous crowd exited the theater a man said clearly, "I can't believe Vader is Luke's Father." I coughed very loudly when I saw where that sentence was going and distracted my brother. He missed the spoiler. I didn't.

I saw Phantom Menace a week or so before it was released. My own son was very little, but he came to the preview with me. He dressed up as Darth Vader and wacked people in line with his tiny lightsaber. He loved the movie. I did not. But when it came time to write my review for an online review site, I couldn't bring myself to trash it. I wrote a decent review instead. It felt like Star Wars had stayed young and I had grown away from it. Lucas even admitted later that Star Wars was for kids.

And so it remained thru the remaining prequel trilogy. And the animated series. And most of what we got for years. I was ok with that. The ideas and themes of Star Wars had fueled my young imagination and I hoped that it would continue to do so for other generations as well. A story from our childhood, something for parents to share with their children. Nothing wrong with that.

And then Force Awakens came along. And it certainly felt familiar. It was lightyears ahead in terms of quality, production value, special effects, and even in acting, but it felt familiar. It echoed a lot of the original. Which was understandable. I would have done the same thing to be honest. The original was almost 40 years old at the time. But Force Awakens was good, in some ways great, and in some ways familiar. It elicits complex feelings even today.

And then on Saturday I saw the very first new Star Wars film since Return of the Jedi. You could eliminate everything that happened in-between RotJ and Last Jedi and you really wouldn't be missing anything important. Oh sure Star Wars remains primarily a child's story, as it should, but this film (despite its obvious flaws) is the best thing to happen to Star Wars since that day Vader revealed that he was Luke's Dad. That fact is undeniable in my humble, lifelong, opinion.

Say what you want about the movie, but I feel like I have reclaimed Star Wars once again. I felt like a 12 year old watching it. A feeling I never thought it would give me again. I nearly lost it six or seven times during the movie. Luke Skywalker, who 40 years ago represented all of my own hopes and dreams for life - today represents the reality of those dreams for me. Me and Luke have grown up together you see. We each have our traumas, our disappointments, our failures. Life didn't go exactly as planned for either of us.

I didn't expect that from a Star Wars movie.

And for that, the unexpected, the surprising, the grown-up, the silly, the flawed, the moving, and ultimately for inspiring me once again - I have a new hope that Star Wars can be relevant again. And maybe I can too.

May The Force Be With Us All.




5 comments:

  1. While you are being kinder about all the films between Return of the Jedi and The Last Jedi, I'm right there with you. When I saw Star Wars in 1977 on the big screen, it was literally a mind blowing experience for me. Spaceships. Spaceships were everything. I remember taking home a Xylophone from band to try to learn to play John Williams score. And...spaceships. sigh...

    I had a terrible experience with Empire. My first showing was in Washington state. I had uncles that drove for the same trucking company and one summer, my parents foisted me off on one of them. We had a bit of time so I went to see it on opening day. Theater issues, poor sound, horrible splicing. Worst experience in a theater ever. Could not stay for a replacement viewing so I left Washington state with a really bad taste for Empire. Return had gone too far the "Way of the Muppet" for me. Particularly the belching frog thingie outside Jabba's palace. Guess you can never go home...

    The prequels? Yea...lets not go there. Only redeemable thing was Darth Maul and spaceships.

    Awakens...tasted so very much like my beloved 1977 release but...not. Like comparing a home grilled burger with a fast food burger. I figured that I had outgrown Star Wars at last.

    Last Jedi brought all the love back. I walked into it expecting another let down and walked out with a tear in my eye. While it will never take the place of my beloved 1977 release, it has renewed my faith in the franchise and taken it's place as my second favorite Star Wars movie.

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    1. I figured that you and I had somewhat similar feelings about it, most people I know our age tend to have the same general sense about the legacy of these films. They have become very generational. And like you, I was pretty sure that they would remain that way. That was the unexpected thing that happened with Last Jedi, that it could connect again. And maybe all it really needed was for Luke to finally come back and let us all know it was going to be ok after all? Maybe that is all we needed.

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  2. I'm always surprised about how much we have in common in regards of all things sci-fi... And guess what's on the wall to the left of my desk? :) No Darth Vader though... I have a Borg instead, to remind me of how little control we have over going through life.
    Anyway, I saw the first Star Wars 6 times at the theater and couldn't get enough of it, but in all honesty, that was it... Empire was good, but left me waiting a couple of years to see the end and as any teenager would, I hated that. And then there were the Ewoks, that was the end of it for me. Since then, the only movie that really got me excited was Rogue One. All others were nice, but I never felt the same chills going through my spine as the scenes showed up on the big screen.
    Maybe this one will change things for me, we'll see... I haven't had a chance to go see it and probably won't happen for another couple of weeks .

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    1. My friend Random up there was in a similar boat and I convinced him to open his feelings and trust in the Force again. I'd make the same statement to you. Last Jedi is old school Star Wars at its finest. Yeah it has hokey parts and isn't perfect, but it captures that feeling again. Remember when we didn't know anything? And had no idea where things were going?

      Let me know what you think.

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  3. Hi Rixx, occassional lurker here. =)

    I quite like The Last Jedi - the space battles, the tension, the Jedi lore - but have only one gripe with the movie. I, however, never actually got the opportunity to vent anywhere else. So here goes...

    WHY DO RIAN JOHNSON HAD TO KILL OFF PAIGE AND TALLIE OH GOD NOOO...

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