Star Wars The Last Jedi was intense. I saw it on December 22nd, and it was brilliant. So much so, I’m going to see the movie again during January. Before hitting the cinema, I read so many bad reviews from fans that I feared the worst. However, I must say that all those haters are wrong. This is by far one of the best movies in the whole franchise, and it sets a different path. Star Wars needed a profound renewal for a new generation, and the film has done so from lots of different angles.
[SPOILERS: this review contains massive spoilers from the movie. If you haven’t seen it yet, please refrain from keeping up reading. Just one thing: don’t believe the negative reviews. Star Wars The Last Jedi is brilliant on many levels. Go to the cinema and watched the movie! Also, my review is quite long.]
This movie has diversity rocking on the top. It also has many female heroes and a manbaby villain. Although the film isn’t perfect, it’s paving the path for us to enjoy more diverse movies where all genders and races see their fair share. I loved the movie, and I liked that it changed the game.
Rey isn’t royalty. We get to know that Rey’s parents were no one, and so she is no one in particular. We find her craving to be someone throughout the entire movie. She goes to Luke in the hopes of knowing something else, of being something more. She also hopes that Kylo Ren will turn up to the light, so she’ll be his savior. And yet, she has to come to terms that she is no one in particular. And this is important news. Being no one, in particular, being someone without a specific destiny makes you unique. You choose who you want to be. There’s no pressure there.
Look at Kylo. He’s like royalty. He needs to deliver and perform in a certain way. People expect him to do so. But in the case of Ray, she can choose freely. She has no real baggage. She can create her own destiny! Kylo is f***ed. And so was Luke, and anyone else that “was special” by blood. The Last Jedi changes all the rules. You don’t need to be born special, you can make it so!
And in so doing, the final scene in the movie becomes paramount. It redefines and refreshes the entire franchise. We can see some kids from The Canto playing with toys, making a rehearsal of Luke’s final moments facing Kylo Ren. The master comes in, and they’re sent to their duties. One kid goes out and takes a broom with the force. We see then the kid staring at the moon, with a pose that makes the broom be a lightsaber. This nobody might be someone one day. Just like Rey. And this kid, who has no family and no one, is dreaming again. He has hope. And that despite the Rebels having significant casualties! I’m sure you notice a flashback here. It’s a callback to Luke’s story in the original Star Wars. He wanted a better future out from Tatooine.
Luke ascends thanks to acknowledging that we are all part of the Force, in all our light and darkness. And he does so taking a look at the sky with two suns. Tatooine had two suns too. While when he was young, he was longing for something better out of the planet, here we can see that he ascends knowing that the Last Jedi will change the game.
And who is the Last Jedi? We all thought it would be Luke, but it’s Rey! She has no idea of the rules, she has been merely trained by Luke, and she has a great intuition. She might make tons of errors, but she’s better suited to bring the Jedi Order to something better. How so? According to Pop Culture Detective, the issue is pretty obvious: the stories of coming of age of boys are flawed.
The Order of the Jedi and the Sith have the same problem. In fact, the Jedi are creating a huge problem: they create monsters like Kylo Ren! The Jedi Order is male-dominated and male-identified, a thing that makes it quite unhealthy. Although they’re presented to us as honorable heroes, the Jedi lack empathy. When Anakin Skywalker is given to the Jedi Council, he’s rejected for having too many feelings. Yoda is one to do so. Why? Because the Jedi are all about emotional detachment, while the Sith are all about letting all emotions in.
There’s just one problem with suppressing feelings: they can make you explode at a certain point and make you as blind as Luke was when attacking Kylo when he was his pupil. Instead of guiding the emo teen, he just fueled his fears and created a monster. All because “Jedi cannot have feelings.”
Take a look at Anakin: he’s asked to have a blank face. It’s like wearing a mask. But that doesn’t mean you’re not feeling anything at all. While Jedi ask you to wear an invisible mask where you don’t show any feelings on your face, the Sith wear literal masks. Kylo is an example. He doesn’t really need the mask, and yet he uses it.
And how does Anakin fail the Jedi order? Because he lets himself feel for the women in his life! This is incredibly problematic because it puts women as the cause of feeling, and thus, the cause of failure! (Also, how many women were in the Jedi Order? A few, at best…)
So, we can see how the Jedi Order’s top teaching is “be a man.” Men don’t cry; if they do, they become Sith Lords. These are very toxic values that need a change. And Luke knows that, even if he doesn’t acknowledge it at first.
Luke didn’t get the same type of Anakin’s education. His master taught him briefly, and he hardly follows the Jedi Path as he should. And that’s what saves the day. He has mistaken, true, but he can learn from that. In fact, all the Jedi structure can do so. So, his most important teaching to Rey is to embrace her own darkness and acknowledge that light and dark are part of the Force. How we react to them will make of us Jedi or Sith.
Fear is the path to the Dark Side, or to go astray. Luke feared that Kylo was already taken by the Dark Side and tried to murder him. In acting with fear without giving a second thought, he created a monster. By reacting negatively when Rey uses the force and ventures into the void of the island, he is on the verge of creating a new one. In fact, we are to believe that perhaps something will happen with Kyle and Rey. Maybe Rey will go to the Dark Side. Maybe Kylo will come to the light side. Or so we hope.
Luke refuses to teach Rey the Jedi Order teachings. And finally he sets up to burn them, but he can’t. It’s Yoda who does so using a flash of lightning and giving him a lesson. “We learn from our mistakes.” And he sees it then. The problem with the Jedi Order was not to acknowledge that we’re made of light and shadows, of virtues and mistakes. We learn from mistakes. And thus, he sets himself to right his wrongs.
The old books with the Jedi Order’s teachings are lost forever. And that’s good because they teach to bottle up your emotions. Emotions and feelings aren’t bad per se. It’s how we react to them. If we don’t know how to deal with those feelings, it’s very likely that we’ll turn to the Dark Side. And it will happen regardless of our gender. Because Anakin never knew how to deal with his emotions, he went to the Dark Side.
Luke made a mistake and confused having negative feelings (darkness) with being on the Dark Side already. Kylo Ren is just the product of bad parenting and worse teachings. Kylo doesn’t know how to deal with his feelings, partly because of his lineage.
He is the son of Leia and Solo. We don’t know how his education was, but both parents trusted the kid to Luke. So, Luke did his best following the Jedi teachings. I bet he didn’t follow them all since his character is that, but he didn’t have a nice touch with Kylo. Instead of sitting down and start talking about that darkness growing into Kylo when he was a teen, he decided to try to murder him. Naturally, things went south.
Kylo never grew up. He’s a manbaby, and he throws tantrums of epic proportions. He’s dangerous despite his childish behavior, and that makes him a perfect villain. At least for the times, we’re living right now. (Think about Trump.)
Unlike Darth Vader who needed to breathe, Kylo uses a mask to hide his feelings and emulate his grandfather. He cannot have a blank face like the Jedi’s preached in the past. He isn’t stoic; he just takes a shortcut. Also, he uses the mask in the hopes that will make him like his grandfather. “If I dress like him, I’ll be like him.” Who does that but a child? It gets so bad that even the Supreme Lider Snok makes fun of the mask!
That Kylo hasn’t grown up and throws tantrums like a child doesn’t make him less dangerous. Just the contrary. His outbursts kill people. He’s desperate to create something new he can control. Thus, he kills his father. “Forget the past” is his motto through the movie, in the hopes that he’ll have a clean slate like Rey’s.
Kylo is immature, childish, and hides under a silly suit (the mask). According to him, the whole world has failed him. His family because they sent him to be Luke’s pupil. Luke because he tried to murder him. The male role models he had are frail and a joke. So, he turns to rage. If you don’t do what I want, I’ll kill you. The First Order nurtures the manbaby. Snoke uses it to control him until Kylo finds a way to get rid of him.
Kylo thinks he’s better and above anyone else. He wants power, and he’ll use other people to get it. He does puppy eyes and makes believe that he can change. So, using Rey, he kills Snoke. He wants her on his side because he knows that she’s very powerful. And because he’s better than everybody else, he believes that he can control her. And if she refuses, he’ll kill her. You are either with me or against me.
Kylo is convinced that he’s making something new. But the reality is that he is using the old methods under new makeup to get power and control the whole Galaxy. (Sounds familiar? Repackage fascism, change some words, and say it’s alt-right.) The sad part here is that Rey wants to believe in Kylo. But Kylo is beyond redemption. Unless he acknowledges that he needs to grow up, and acknowledges that not the whole world is against him, he’ll be a manbaby and a hideous killing machine for the rest of his existence.
So, the good guys want to believe people can change. And that’s a good thing because The Last Jedi is all about love. It’s an act of love to hope someone can change. Rey thinks Kylo can change for the better. Love includes, and expands our personalities, our souls. However, hate self-destructs.
We learn that in a good example, one that’s been criticized online. Rose and Finn lead what has been said to be non-important. However, their arc and their story are paramount for us. First, their adventure let us see the effects of years of war. And then we know what can happen when we love or hate. Rose saves Finn from self-destructing himself for nothing. He hates so much the Empire that he’s ready to sacrifice himself, for nothing. Rose puts him off-track at the last moment and saves him.
Love, and compassion, it’s what makes Rey hope for Ben’s change for the better. Kylo won’t leave Rey alone in her darkness; in the same way, Rey won’t leave him alone in his light. They both reach each other because the Force has both sides. While Kylo Ren is motivated to fight what he hates, Rey is motivated by love. She wants to protect those she loves. She’s not fighting just because of pure hate.
When Kylo offers to Rey to rule the Galaxy by his side, she refuses. But she doesn’t reject because of Jedi rules, but because she loves her friends and isn’t ashamed of her darkness. She isn’t afraid of Kylo at all. Kylo’s hand was naked when they first reached out each other. When the Force connected them first, they learned from each other. But when Kylo offers the Galaxy to her, he has a glove. He’s still afraid and plenty of anger. He just sees the world as a binary, while Rey sees it as a whole. He is disconnected, she is connected. He hates, thus he destroys. She loves, therefore she creates something new.
Kylo’s hate makes him blind to his surroundings. While trying to take the last stand of the Resistance, he doesn’t realize that Luke is there in spirit, not in the flesh. If you look closely to the fight scene, you’ll recognize that Luke leaves no footprints on the white sand of the planet. The lesson is obvious: it’s love that makes us whole. It’s hatred what destroys us.
While we can see a great story, we can also note the details in Finn’s and Rose’s adventure. Many have criticized it because it’s useless. However, I believe it has crucial aspects that are important for the story. We get to see Finn how he changes and finally accepts that he might too be a hero. Even if he doesn’t want to be one. We also know that love is what makes you whole. And thanks to them, we get to know what war does to different people living in the Galaxy. There is glamour, but there’s also torture and slavery. Both sides are responsible for that!
And finally, we get to know more badass women. Holdo’s actions are those of a brilliant strategist. Leia is excellent, but in her absence, Holdo has to do the job. And she does it with style, despite having all the odds against her. She decides not to tell Poe what’s going on. In fact, Leia demoted him because he didn’t follow orders. He thought better, and he lost many ships and many lives. He won a battle, but at what cost?
When Poe realizes who Holdo is, he is surprised. A woman with purple hair is going to lead the Rebellion to safety if Poe lets her. He starts to mansplain to her what just happened. Then, we can see him not agreeing, being nervous, and acting by himself. We don’t know what Holdo’s intentions are until the end. It’s then that Holdo teaches a great lesson to all of us, not only to Poe: trust women even if their looks and behavior don’t necessarily fit the stereotype for that job. Don’t think that a woman with colored hair won’t be capable of doing the job. Don’t assume that she won’t perform just because she seems quiet and detached.
Holdo needed detachment and to be quiet because she decided to sacrifice herself for everyone else. She needed to prepare to complete her mission: be left behind so that the others could be safe down on the planet base.
I loved Star Wars the Last Jedi. Even if many hate it out there, I feel that this is the right moment to give the franchise a fresh start. We get stories with diverse characters, while toxic masculinity is ditched for something better. Plus, we get wonderful messages of hope and lessons from many badass characters. I couldn’t be happier with it.
So, what do you think? Was this movie of your liking?
Note: I’ll come back to talk about all these topics in depth in other posts. If you’ve arrived until the end of this post, I just have one thing to say to you: thank you for reading!
Want to read more about it? Read these other posts:
- Why Kylo Ren Is the Perfect Villain for the Age of the Alt-Right
- “The Case Against the Jedi” Takes on Toxic Masculinity in Star Wars
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