Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi ★★★★★

"Now that they're extinct, the Jedi are romanticized, deified. But if you strip away the myth and look at their deeds, the legacy of the Jedi is failure."

Still the boldest franchise blockbuster in recent memory, if only because it asks you to consider something that no other sequel/prequel/reboot would dare ask - "maybe the way you've been taught to read these films is wrong". Nostalgic callbacks are undercut as quickly as they appear, fan theories are offed with a swift stroke of Occam's razor, and lore gets symbolically burnt to the ground with Luke's temples. Whenever the demands of traditional screenplay structure rear their ugly head, Johnson pushes back, zigging where he's expected to zag; plotlines end suddenly or come back in places where they're not supposed to, heroes fail to learn and change until it's too late, and twists stubbornly refuse to happen. Judging by any classical screenwriting book's advice, this film shouldn't work...

...but it does, which is entirely Johnson's point. Structure is a powerful tool, but when we accept it as dictum, things grow stagnant and eventually rot away. Victories without end and exalted old orders aren't art, they're propaganda, the kinds of tales Snoke uses to keep Kylo in line. Subversion has power, and so does sacrifice. Good stories, even the most basic ones, aren't about lore or nostalgia or theory; they're about ourselves, about each other, about seeing the world the way someone else might even if it's only for a few minutes. As long as that humanity remains, nothing else matters. God knows some of us could learn from that.

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