1. Old Man Luke
Mark Hamill has gotten old, but haven't we all. Luke Skywalker is no longer the idealistic but whiny kid from Tatooine anymore. He is a bitter,disillusioned, whiny old man living in a hermitage. He has failed, and his successes were flukes, or came from the help of his friends. He is circling around to become Ben Kenobi to Rey, but does so in a typical Luke fashion, only very reluctantly, and not very well. Luke is a flawed character, and he remains a flawed character, but has one of the most amazing Big Damn Heroes moments at the climax of the film when he literally faces down Kylo Ren and the point of the First Order's spear. Like his father, Luke is redeemed in the end, though it was redemption from his failures with the last Temple, his retreat from the Force, and leaving the galaxy to fend for itself. We are often discouraged when we find out that our lionized romantic heroes turn out to be flawed and fallible human beings. Luke is a highly flawed, highly prone to failure human, who becomes a hero to the galaxy. He failed countless times, but when the chips are down, he destroyed the first Death Star, and he saves the Resistance.
2. The Evolution of Kylo Ren
Another lightning rod character, many people HATE Kylo Ren, and not because he is the villain, but because they hate everything about the character. He isn't Darth Vader, he isn't oozing malice and confidence, and he doesn't have his shit together. Spoiler alert, Kylo Ren HATES Kylo Ren for the exact same reasons. He is a young man in a very high stress position where everything is expected from him by an organization that embraces evil and executes hesitators and people who stumble walking into a room. His adoration of Vader is a childish obsession with a father figure, because I'm pretty sure than Han Solo was kind of a shit ass dad, and his mother gave him to Luke to train. With Snoke dead, Rey having rejected/betrayed him, and now commanding the First Order, after his helmet smashing tantrum, I think in the next movie, we will see a much more matured, and much more vicious Kylo, one who very well might be worthy to stand next to Vader, because he won't seek to emulate the Sith Lord but will make his own place.
3. A Perfect Cinematic Moment
Almost out of fuel, with the Resistance fighters and leaders evacuated to Crait, Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) turned the Resistance Cruiser Raddus to face the First Order pursuit fleet, and made the jump to light speed directly into Snoke's Supremacy. The entire scene is completely silent, the cruiser jumps to light speed, the stars stretch out into blades of light and the two ships strike each other. The explosion is white against a black sky, with sparkler like secondary explosions as star destroyers near the point of impact are themselves destroyed by debris. You could have heard a pin drop in the theatre. It harkened back to the silent space of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and when the music and sound started again, with the heroes and villains alike decimated aboat the Supremacy, it book ends just how spectacular and violent the final act of Holdo was.
4. Remix of The Empire Strikes Back
There are homages and shout outs to the Empire Strikes back, and The Last Jedi follows the general pattern of round 2, the bad guys win and win big. This is just one of the basic three act patterns a story arc can follow. Likewise, is DJ similar to Lando and are their betrayals basically the same? Yes. Is it a carbon copy of ESB? No. The end of TLJ is in many ways more bleak that ESB because the Resistance has no more ships, no more fighters, and when Leia made the call for help many listened, but none came, other that her brother. Luke Skywalker is dead, Ackbar is dead. And the Resistance can now fit inside the Millenium Falcon. Jeez. It's going to take a lot to come back from that.
5. Princess Leia
Princess Leia/Carrie Fisher is a major icon now, not quite on par with Wonder Woman, but right up there. Fisher's death impacted the movie, and the dedication at the end brought my wife and a number of other people in the film to tears. The film is torn between the incredulous Mary Poppins spacewalk Leia does in the beginning of the film and Fisher's powerful performance at the end of the film during the evacuation and the Alamo like last stand on Crait.
6. Master Yoda
ILM scanned the surviving puppets from Return of the Jedi's production and they made a new Yoda. He isn't CG, and Frank Oz came out to be Yoda. No computer wizardry, no gimmicks or tricks, just the master puppeteer and original voice of Yoda back again as a Force ghost to give Luke the shit he deserves. Some people have complained about certain issues with this, but is a generation difference. The old fans have been brought to tears seeing Yoda again, while young fans are WTF is this with a puppet.
7. A Story that Belongs to All of Us
Ultimately, Star Wars is a cultural phenomenon that doesn't belong to one person (best thing to happen to SW was Lucas giving up creative control) or a single generation. Is The Last Jedi similar to The Empire Strikes Back? Yes it is, but ESB hit theatres in 1980, 37 years ago. For fans who are under 47 years old, they never saw it in theatres. The special effects are dated, and it is something their parents love. This is giving the next installment of the epic to the current generation of fans. Star Trek did this one single movie, Generations. Star Wars is spreading it out across three films. Finn, Rey, Kylo, BB-8, and the new characters are for the kids and teens today, and Leia, Luke, Chewy, and Yoda are for the older fans. It belongs to all of us.
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