By Megan Bianco
Who knew, as 2017 comes to a close, that the chatter around the newest Star War movie could possibly be the most divisive of this dynamic and dramatic year? More divisive and split on opinions than mother! and The Neon Demon combined, The Last Jedi has created a full blown fandom war. And when your fandom is of the biggest movie franchise in the world, a lot of opinions are being thrown around.
Before this week, Star Wars: Episode VIII— The Last Jedi was the most anticipated movie of the year and the most anticipated Star Wars sequel since The Empire Strikes Back (1980). It was supposed to be “deeper,” “darker,” more “spiritual,” more…well, more like The Empire Strikes Back. But instead, filmmaker Rian Johnson threw caution to the wind and just made whatever the heck he wanted. And what we got was…something completely different. The jokes and gags were still goofy, the direction was more artistic, and there are multiple tones and plot twists.
The irony is that the people complaining the most about The Last Jedi not being as “serious” as Empire seem like the same people who were accusing The Force Awakens (2015) of being a remake of A New Hope (1977). Because A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back were so successful, well-received and well-made, the standard for the series’ future was set incredibly high.
Unfortunately, I think that the past week might be a good example of how no one will probably ever reach that standard again. The Empire Strikes Back was a once-in-a-lifetime, lightning-in-a-bottle miracle that we will always be able to marvel at and enjoy. In many ways, I admire Johnson for not attempting to recreate Irvin Kirshner’s direction with the 1980 film or play it safe as J.J. Abrams did with The Force Awakens. His direction with the eighth episode in the franchise is isolating to a large extent, but it is also the most unique since Kirshner.
The fanbase for Star Wars can be unbearable at times with their massive expectations, but that’s life with the biggest following in the world. Personally, I wasn’t in love with The Last Jedi. It took me a long time afterwards to fully decide if I enjoyed it or not, because it was so off-brand for the franchise. But after letting it sink in for a few days, I think it is one of the more original Star Wars movies. But whether it will age well, or worse, or if the fandom will loosen up on its direction the same way the Harry Potter fandom did on The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)–it’s too soon to say.
Megan Bianco is a Southern California-based movie reviewer and content writer with a degree from California State University Northridge.
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