Was I Too Hard on the Last Jedi?

Was I Too Hard on the Last Jedi?

I have come to  what is for me an absolutely shocking conclusion.  There are people who like The Last Jedi that aren’t being paid by Disney to say they do.

Most of these, unsurprisingly, weren’t Star Wars fans.  I know it seems odd but you have to remember, while there are Millennial fans of the franchise, it’s not as universal to them as Harry Potter is. 

And I had also underestimated the rabid fascination of the Reylo fanbase. Although I sure as hell wasn’t the only one.

Star Wars was a Gen X thing.  We liked a masculine adventure where the hero is physically over matched in the beginning then throughout the plot crises he faces, grows strong enough to finally face his antagonist.  The OG trilogy certainly delivered on that.  Heck the OG film delivered on that.  Luke was a slacker farmer kid who couldn’t keep his mind on job at hand.  He just wanted to get out of that one Dewback town and get to The Academy.

Then he begins his hero’s journey as pretty closely defined by Campbell’s Monomyth. 

Luke gets the Call to Adventure by Obiwan. And refuses because change is scary and adventures, typically speaking, are somebody else in deep shit far, far away.

External force impacts Luke’s world and destroys it.  There was nothing left on Tattooine after the Stormtrooper’s Beru-bacue at the Lars family farm.  Luke journey’s to the Underworld is represented by Mos Eisley. There Luke begins a transformation that will strip him of his pride, sins and weaknesses.  He receives Supernatural Aid in the form of the Force and represented by his father’s mystical weapon (remember, his father wasn’t Darth Vader back then).  He begins his Road of Trials aboard the Deathstar.   He reaches the Abyss when his mentor is killed, thus paying the price for his rebirth. 

Luke only got into this with the hope of meeting a hot girl above his social status level. He wanted to impress her by rescuing her because Luke clearly had a crush on Leia (so damn awkward).  But now that he is Transformed, he has a higher purpose.  The survival of the Rebellion is more important than his own life.  He thus ascends out of the Underworld when he fires his proton torpedo and Ascends into the Light.

It’s been used a few times since.  Most explicitly with The Matrix.

However it has recently been refined by the Harmon* Story Circle.

And it is this oversimplifed version of the Monomyth that was used to create Rey.

The thing to remember about Rey is that she is supposed to be a heroine that appeals to women.  And believe it or not, she does.  Oh, not the women who liked Star Wars, most of them hate her as much as the rest of us men.  But the core of Rey’s support comes from women who never were all that into the OG trilogy.

Women generally speaking aren’t going to be into the story of a guy that goes to some martial arts temple and spends fifteen years learning to be the Kung Fu Beast.  If you are interviewing a twenty-year old new graduate and she says, “I want your job.”  She means today, maybe she’ll give you ten minutes to box your stuff but she means forget waiting my turn for thirty years, I want your job right now.

The fact that Rey is intuitively good at fighting and flying and the Force use doesn’t bother that audience.  Because that’s not what they are there for.  They want crippling emotional problems and Rey delivers there. One of the first things she says is, “I’m no one.”   Rey has crushing abandonment and self worth issues. 

So consulting the Story Circle we see that Rey wants something.  She needs to belong.  Family would have been preferable but she’ll settle for becoming a Jedi.

Now as a little exercise here lets pretend that she was not going to see Luke Skywalker but GrandMaster Krall, Hero of the Zanj Wars and the last member of the Vashtari Warriors.  But GrandMaster Krall tells her that the Vashtari Warriors aren’t worth being a part of and that it’s just as well that they die with him.

Looked at from that perspective it almost doesn’t suck.

But it is Luke saying these things.  That in itself makes it pretty clear that this was written by someone who didn’t have any emotional investment in Star Wars at all.

So anyway.  Luke says, the Jedi aren’t worth being a part of.  Which robs Rey of any hope of belonging there.  Kylo confirms that Reys parents will never be able to resolve her abandonment issues because they no shit abandoned her (retconned later). But Kylo then offers the Dark Side.  However Rey decides that that isn’t for her either.

She Returns to the Resistance Fleet…Squad (there’s what twelve of them by the end of that movie?)  She has reached the top of the Story Circle.  Her life has resumed as is nothing happened but she has Changed.

I will say that there was a basic concept of a story that could have been explored if it didn’t have the name Star Wars slapped on it. Now it was still deeply flawed in several other ways. Although, some of the damage could have been mitiagted. Letting Leia perish after she got blown out of the ship would have worked, and the character needed to be written out after Carrie Fisher died. Just lift the Rose and Finn subplot completely, it did literally nothing to support the main story. Cut straight to credits when Kylo holds out his hand to Rey. That leaves the door open for a Luke redemption arc.

Truthfully, you could say the same thing about Ghostbusters 2016. Paul Feig’s shtick is making female led parodies, just take a look at his directorial credits and that is the only thing you see. If it had been called Ghostchasers and been about a group of women trying to make it as TV paranormal investigators and then they find something real, it would have worked well enough, I guess. Or at least no one would have cared it anymore than James Bond fans cared about Feig and McCarthy’s Spy. Because it would have been trying to be its own thing.

But it did have Ghostbusters on the title. And Rian Roundhead had Star Wars plastered all over a film that fundamentally was never a Star Wars film

So in answer to my question.  No, I wasn’t anywhere near hard enough on The Last Jedi because THIS IS CRAP!!!

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Comments (19)

  • Chief_Tuscaloosa Reply

    I’ve enjoyed most of the “Critical Drinker Fixes” videos, but it’s not a lack of talent that resulted in The Last Jedi, et al. The destruction of Luke as a character wasn’t an accident. Exhibit 1: Luke guzzling milk straight from the tap of the giant whateverthatthingwas. In fact, watching “Critical Drinker Fixes” episode on Luke, it’s obvious the writer/director team COULD have done many things to keep Luke heroic. Turning him into a bum was intentional. I suppose fans should feel fortunate KK and company didn’t have Luke reveal that Rey was his daughter, and then hit on her.

    Harmon story circle *could* explain the writing plan of KK and company…but I dispute there was any plan other than girls rule and Luke can suck it.

    November 24, 2021 at 5:04 pm
  • Michael Maier Reply

    So Luke being a bum was just Disney catering to legions of damaged women whose fathers were bums so they could relate more?

    November 24, 2021 at 5:28 pm
    • Talos Valcoran Reply

      Or boyfriends/husbands, yes.

      November 30, 2021 at 1:34 am
  • Wazdaka Reply

    It’s all very well taking a hammer to yesterday’s heroes, but you really need to replace them, rather than revel in the destruction.

    Who wants to be king of the crater?

    November 24, 2021 at 5:45 pm
    • Chief_Tuscaloosa Reply

      November 24, 2021 at 5:51 pm
  • Dave W. Reply

    Yup. It was crap. May Rian Johnson and KK rot in hell.

    November 24, 2021 at 6:28 pm
  • EXALT Reply

    1)To be fair, “Go back to where you started, but changed” can work – Tolkien, for example, used it to great effect – as long as you use it for something other than Emotion Porn for the main character.
    2)Is it a coincidence that you’ve reposted this article the same day “Hawkeye and New Female Hawkeye” premiered?

    November 24, 2021 at 8:26 pm
    • The Dark Herald Reply

      I had a lot of preparations for Thanksgiving that needed to get done which left no time for a new post. And Disney had decided that Hawkeye was going to be a Holiday release. So, it is a coincidence (sort of).

      November 25, 2021 at 12:58 pm
  • Caveat Reply

    it worked when Tolkein used it; because for Tolkein, it was the longing for home that was what everything was about. Frodo leaves to protect his home, Bilbo yearns always for his Hobbit-hole, Aragorn is striving to make his people’s ancestral homeland safe; and the Hobbits return to the Shire and find that Home itself has changed- and so have they. If they were still who they had been when they left home, they could not have helped their own home recover- but the changes they had undergone made it possible to save the Shire at its core.
    Further back than that, the Rings were made to preserve the home of the elves, for they loved this land; and farther still to the Silmarilion- that strife of home with what it takes to protect home, if not for yourself but others who still live there resonates throughout the whole of Middle-Earth.
    My point, I guess, is that you can’t use ‘back where you started, but changed’ and really have it work unless the characters themselves WANT to go back, yearn for that home they left behind. Take the Oddessy; ten years to find the way back home. And then rescue his wife. He didn’t really want all those adventures- though I daresay he didn’t precisely mind a few of them afterwards; once it was all over and done with.

    November 25, 2021 at 6:06 am
  • furor kek tonicus ( David French is a willing and eager Handmaiden To Evil ) Reply

    Chief_Tuscaloosa Reply
    of the giant whateverthatthingwas

    how would you characterize the appearance of MilkBeast’s face? *hint, hint*
    oversimplifed version of the Monomyth

    holy crap, you’re not kidding. at Step 2, they’re already conflating Wants and Needs.

    November 25, 2021 at 9:38 pm
  • Chris Lopes Reply

    My first thought was “is that even theoretically possible?” I concluded it wasn’t, in fact, possible to be too hard on The Last Jedi. It turned a beloved character to shit, wasted a semi-interesting villain, and pissed on ideas set up from the previous movie. The movie made anything approaching a cohesive sequel trilogy impossible. Removing the movie from our collective consciousness (using Thanos and the Infinity Stones) wouldn’t qualify as being too hard on the movie.

    November 25, 2021 at 10:46 pm
    • furor kek tonicus ( His Name Is Cannon Hinnant ) Reply

      messed up TWO semi-interesting villains. i’d argue that Kylo was almost as broken after TLJ as Snoke was.
      after TLJ, Kylo can’t function as anything more than the bad boy that Rey *shouldn’t* be attracted too.
      and TLJ is an awful movie simply on the basis of the fact that they freed the race horses AND LEFT THE CHILDREN AS SLAVES.
      you practically can’t get any more Hollywood than that. social posturing with no actual effect while the Evil goes on unhindered.

      November 26, 2021 at 4:28 am
      • Talos Valcoran Reply

        Rose freeing the horses and leaving the enslaved children *could* have been a brilliant plot point if she’d turned out to be a First Order spy, but it’s mostly just hilarious.

        November 30, 2021 at 1:37 am
  • Ty Ping Reply

    The Last Jedi should be classified right up there with the mythical sequel to Highlander– it never happened; there was no such movie.

    November 26, 2021 at 4:00 am
  • jorgen Reply

    Isn’t it actually the Wizzard of Oz, with the black guy being the cowardly lion, the other guy that LOTR nerd liked a lot who says “Somehow Palpatine returned” being the scarecrow, and Rylo being the tin man? And Snoke is the Wizard of Oz and his throneroom is the emerald city. Disney likes to mix in the old properties they think they own (that are really public domain stuff they stole), like they did to Avengers 2 Age of Ultron with Pinochio. She’s Dorothy with her little dog Toto the spherical droid following the no-training-brick road to visit the Wizard.

    November 26, 2021 at 4:23 am
  • Pete Reply

    Probably has something to do with the innate differences between men and women. A man has to struggle to gain high status. Lift heavy weights, work hard, earn wealth, defeat competitors. A woman is either born into high status or marries into it.

    So naturally the female mind sees Rey as the ideal – she’s just born with great power and everything comes to her easily. I’m honestly surprised they didn’t write it so Rey had to make a romantic choice between two hot alpha bad boys…that actually would have made it a hit with women.

    November 26, 2021 at 3:34 pm
    • Ty Ping Reply

      Kylo Ren just doesn’t work as an Alpha Bad Boy. He’s too dang whiney, just like that Anakin fella was. No wonder the Sith keep failing…

      November 27, 2021 at 8:56 am
    • EXALT Reply

      “I’m honestly surprised they didn’t write it so Rey had to make a romantic choice between two hot alpha bad boys…that actually would have made it a hit with women.”
      That’s because they weren’t actually trying to appeal to women, they were trying to reprogram them.
      The Dark Herald explained some time ago how an actually-for-women Sequel Trilogy should have worked: https://darkherald.net/2019/03/26/star-wars-how-to-make-ma-rey-sue-work/

      November 27, 2021 at 9:32 am
  • MrUNIVAC Reply

    I forget who it was, probably someone on this very blog, who made the argument that Roundhead looked at KK’s track record of micromanagement and firing directors, and made the conscious decision to turn himself into a lickspittle yes-man and work to please her at all costs so that he could last long enough to cash in afterwards. It credits him with more intelligence than he deserves, but it’s plausible since Kathy was apparently delighted with the production, and also, it totally worked. I’ve never seen Knives Out, but you’ll never convince me that it would have been as successful as it was if he never directed TLJ, or kept his mouth shut on Twitter instead of lashing out at fans.

    November 27, 2021 at 4:02 pm

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