Why Star Wars is Still Good

Yeah, so I’m going to try to write more stuff up here this year. Show that I’m alive. Since I got loreshapers.net up and going, this is back to being well and truly just my personal blog, and I’m also working past my “write something formal” stage and (hopefully) coming out of my shell as a better, more flexible writer.

Today’s topic: Star Wars, and particularly the Last Jedi. Spoilers ahead.

I actually like The Last Jedi. That’s not universal (though most people concede it’s a good movie, even if it’s not quite up to the standard of other Star Wars movies). I think that there are some issues with the cinematography and just being too busy with different plots and characters, though I think that the underlying story and characters are all fantastic.

One of the things that is important to remember about Star Wars is that it has at its heart always been about mythos and a dualistic struggle. Good and evil clash in an epic fanfare.

In The Last Jedi, like no other Star Wars movie, this clash happens on a psychological level. If Rogue One was the first Star Wars movie to feel like a war movie, The Last Jedi is the first Star Wars movie to offer a really deep psychological perspective on its characters, especially Luke.

I’m a fan of archetypes and patterns in storytelling, and one of the most important archetypes is that of the Destroyer. In a sense of religion, the Destroyer would be what I would call the “sacred” archetype: it is the Christ and Antichrist, depending on whether it works for good or for evil.

And Luke’s internal struggle is incredible. Going from a former rebel who, enthusiastically or not, destroyed a central power in the galaxy, to a burnout who has destroyed his own family and his vision for a new world is a powerful tragic story. Luke’s rise, fall, and redemption is, in my opinion, a much more powerful saga than that of Darth Vader, and his role as a catalyst in changing the Star Wars universe is incredible.

There are a lot of people who are upset about this, but I think it really elevates the series. Take the whole experience: there are major issues with the plot of The Last Jedi: Leia’s miraculous survival felt really forced to me, Rose is a great new character but her and Finn going off on a side-plot torpedoed the focus of the story and really sunk the drama, the whole “woo, now they magically see us when they couldn’t before” felt a little played out.

Those were bold decisions, played poorly. Good ideas, iffy execution. I would’ve liked to see them play out separately, perhaps in comics or novels, or in a side-work. They helped to ease some of the darker tone of the movie, but they also broke the narrative. Finn and Rose don’t really develop into heroes; Finn goes from being a coward to being willing to sacrifice himself, and Rose goes from having no confidence to being capable, but they don’t have enough time to truly get a triumph or make a meaningful decision. I hope that they get a more dignified role and more development in the next film.

I watched a feature shortly before or after I saw The Last Jedi that talked about how Episode IV was heavily edited: early versions showed a lot of Luke’s life and had events in an unappealing sequence because the audience didn’t invest. I think that was The Last Jedi’s flaw. For those of us who knew where to look and wanted to see it, it had some really good points. For people who aren’t inclined to look at things and dislike them, it was a great movie, with some really impressive scenes.

For people not willing to give it charity and see what the original vision was, or those for whom it trampled upon the sacred Star Wars style, it’s not appealing, and will probably never be.

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