David Ramon’s review published on Letterboxd:
This is a lengthy review, but one that I would appreciate be read by you, the reader. If you choose to do so, thank you and read on.
I walked out of the Dolby Cinema auditorium today, having grasped in The Last Jedi for the second time, and as I did, I heard the rushing of small footsteps behind me. I turned around and saw a young boy rushing to the center of the theater, wielding a blue lightsaber, swinging it like Rey on Ach-To. His dad followed behind him, smiling as he looks on his kid re-enacting, or to the kid’s eyes, learning the ways of the Force.
Having just seen the final two minutes of the film, this moment only reinforced what I ultimately thought about The Last Jedi.
My first viewing of the film was on Thursday night, the 14th. It was there that the twists and turns and the sudden aversion of my expectations left me in shock and amazement. The cheers and clapping from the audience helped elevate the experience. I walked out of the theater, raving and processing what I just saw, while looking at my phone to see other people’s reactions. Like the surprises in the film, I was just as baffled to find out about the growing backlash coming from all parts of the Star Wars fandom, if not more so.
Two days passed and the more I viewed opinions, think-pieces, and discussions online, both civil and downright toxic, I couldn’t help but feel confused. I loved the film coming out of it, but I was left thinking, do I really think the film was good? Am I right? Am I wrong? Even though I was planning to anyway, I took a trip to the theater once more to see it again.
The shock of experiencing it for the first time was no longer in me and I was prepared to view it with another set of fresh eyes.
And I was right. I love The Last Jedi wholeheartedly.
I can go through specifics about character, direction, plot, etc. of what I loved and what I thought were issues about the movie, but this review is more about my understanding of the film. While I do believe that fans who dislike the film “get it” and still hated it from other perspectives, I truly and honestly believe that time will prove the film to be an important one.
Here’s where I can best describe the film: Star Wars finally broke free from Star Wars.
Let’s go on a journey. Star Wars, before it was ever called A New Hope, was about a farm boy named Luke Skywalker, sick from conforming to his restrained life, literally being an insignificantly small speck in the middle of nowhere. He looks to the twin sunset, knowing that the universe is much bigger than he knows, and he wants to explore it ever so badly. He does and ends up in an adventure where he finally commits to something bigger than himself: saving the galaxy. A farm boy. Saves the galaxy. An everyman. A nobody. The film is a direct adaptation of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. It too is about an everyman becoming something of his/herself.
Two years later, Empire comes out. It focused on the characters, their backstory, and the “adventure” took a backseat to be a more personal story. It was despised when it first came out, but it is now universally beloved. That being said, the Skywalker story switched from The Hero with a Thousand Faces to a character-based drama about lineage and destiny. Star Wars changed from having a hero with a Thousand Faces to him being the Chosen One. Yet at this point, it was for the better.
Return of the Jedi capped the drama well enough and created a trilogy about legends. About the chosen warriors who helped save the galaxy. The universe knows it. We as fans know it.
The prequels, for all their shakiness and faults, solidified even further the Chosen One view the saga focused on by introducing a prophecy, godlike birth, and, yeah, midichlorians. As a whole, Star Wars became a popular space opera saga about a specific family and set of heroes who are important enough to have their story told across the galaxy and our TV’s.
10 years later, the force truly awakened with The Force Awakens. It brought us back to the world we once knew and continued to love throughout all these years, while introducing us to new characters and conflicts. That being said, while the film has new elements, it is burdened by obeying to what’s come before it. It was developed and influenced by its own past and stuck with it. It is still entertaining, but it is what it is. It is also burdened by the act of influencing us, the viewers, on making connections to the saga, the Skywalker saga. The past six movies beforehand were focused on this family and only them. So it was safe to assume that whatever it is that was new had to be about just that. We were desperate to know more about the Chosen One.
Which leads us to The Last Jedi. After much set up, speculation, and anticipation to the story, the film answers all those burning questions, but by letting you know that it doesn’t matter. Everything we thought we knew about Star Wars doesn’t matter. It never did. It demolishes what we believed Star Wars to be in numerous ways.
The past is unimportant because it is the past. Luke Skywalker even acknowledges it in the movie. What matters is the future, but even a future needs to built within the present to make it happen. Luke and The Last Jedi proclaims that no one should build their future from being devoted to what’s come before it, whether it be good or bad. It also proclaims that there really is no “Chosen One,” nor should there be.
The Force belongs to everyone. And yet, to no one. Everyone has the right to use the Force, but no one should own it. Everyone could be someone special, someone bigger, a hero, perhaps, even if you are Caucasian, African-American, Guatemalan-American, or Vietnamese. Or even if you are a mechanic for the Resistance, a slave, or a “nobody.”
Star Wars broke free from Star Wars.
The Last Jedi turned 37 years of focusing on The Chosen One to focusing on the very thing that brought us to love the franchise since the beginning: The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
The Last Jedi is a commentary about the Star Wars franchise and more, with themes including failure, disappointment, heroism, mentorship, among several others, but first and foremost, it is about said commentary.
We as fans held on to the legend of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, and other notable heroes, but we, and the franchise, forgot about the story that inspired generations. The Last Jedi burned down the drama that plagued the series and created an open field for anyone to dive into. Star Wars never belonged to us. Much like the Force, it never did. Our devotion to the past, to our nostalgia, is what both enhanced and damaged the franchise, but nevertheless we kept it alive after all these years. But it’s now time for us to embrace the past and focus on what’s ahead, and what we can do now to make it a reality. That is one of the many important messages The Last Jedi expresses ever so perfectly.
Certain characters, both primary and secondary, put this theme into practice and lead the future of the Star Wars franchise into new and unexpected territory.
As to whether the execution of it and some aspects of the film worked or not for fans and audiences, it is still up for debate. After all, film is subjective, no film is perfect, what have you. I’m only offering you my perspective of all this.
The Last Jedi finally makes the world of Star Wars more inclusive than ever before and opens a whole new world of possibilities for the characters and us, the viewers.
Any person of any race, creed, class, culture, a farm boy, a mechanic, a working child, a “nobody,” or a young boy or girl rushing to the middle of a theater lobby, swinging a lightsaber, has the right to use the Force, to be a hero,…
To imagine themselves looking at the sunset or the night sky, dreaming of becoming something more.
- This review may seem like the majority of my thoughts recollected, but because the film has so many layers, it requires me to discuss it even further. If you’d like, comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
- Thank you, Rian. And Happy belated Birthday.