Star Wars: The Last Jedi, has been successful critically as well as commercially, but, it might still turn out to be the most divisive Episode of the Star Wars franchise till date. The writer/director Rian Johnson depicted the battle between good and evil, represented by the Resistance and the First Order respectively, but, he moved away from the Star Wars mythos by reducing the importance of the franchise’s most appealing family: the Skywalkers.
First, the director destroyed the family’s plans to rebuild the galaxy when he finished transforming Ben Solo as the new Darth Vader, and then he went on to depict the savior Luke Skywalker that we had seen in Return of the Jedi as a defeated teacher who went into exile after his student joined the Dark Side. Let’s say: When Mark Hamill found it difficult to accept how Luke was shown to be an insensitive defeated Jedi, it was obvious that these are no longer the Skywalkers that you loved. Johnson might have endeavored to take a different route, but, he ended up ruining the Skywalker legacy. Let’s see how:
There Was No Progress
After Kylo Ren was first seen in the 2015 movie The Force Awakens, there was all the scope for Johnson to lead him away from the stereotype path. It is evident that Kylo’s internal conflict and his wish to see Rey rule the galaxy by joining him is nothing, but, a reboot of Darth Vader’s vision of seeing Luke be at his side. Johnson gave Kylo the role of Supreme Leader which shows him as a weak character, and in effect, it makes a mockery of the choices that Luke and Vader had made to protect the galaxy from Emperor Palpatine.
The duo of the Skywalkers wanted to ensure that they won’t be known as tyrants, but, Johnson undermined that with the path that Kylo took. This lack of evolution is further highlighted by the new arc given to Luke. He simply exited the scene and left the galaxy at the mercy of Kylo and Snoke. Hamill had said that Luke would find a way to amend things, therefore, to show him as a defeated, self-pitying guy who ditched the Resistance is a great deal of backward movement.
Kylo turns out to be a typical power-hungry baddie and Luke is shown as a self-obsessed hermit who has no clue about things, and that depiction shows the Skywalker clan in a very poor light. They are transformed from the beacons of galactic hope into ordinary losers. The fact that Yoda had to come back to motivate Luke underscores Luke’s weakness.
There’s No Legacy
Kylo Ren is simply rehashed Darth Vader, and Luke has been shown as a fugitive. Thus, Johnson has shown the Skywalkers to be just a legacy of failure, which leads to the question: Do they have any legacy to offer? It is highly disappointing to notice that for generations, we have seen the family to be very powerful with the Force, and after spending years to see Luke Skywalker, as a learned character in the mold of Yoda, Qui-Gonn Jinn, Mace Windu or Obi-Wan Kenobi, we only got a few self-pitying speeches. Luke’s short interaction with Rey was nothing like a teacher-pupil bond because he only reminded her of how the Jedi were an arrogant lot, not worthy of existing anymore.
Let’s accept it, but, why to go on harping about it? Besides the flashbacks seen by him and Kylo, Luke teaches Rey only two lessons: 1. The Force holds the life together and 2. it can be used by everyone and not just Jedi. The Third one that he promised was never really shown, and he only touchingly showed Rey how to use the light. Therefore, we can only guess that it was to stay hopeful.
We need to assume because Luke was never shown to be a teacher. Fans saw him transform from a wily youngster into a Jedi Knight, but, not much is shown of Luke as a Jedi Master. It would have been great to see a Skywalker handing over knowledge about battling the destiny and depicting the heroism that is associated with the clan. On the contrary, all we hear are tales of death and violence, pushing Anakin, Luke, and Kylo into the same corner.
The Familial Bond Is Missing
The original trilogy showed Luke and Leia to be very close. However, Johnson decided to keep them apart until the film’s end, when Luke briefly had a Force projection featuring a short and emotional exchange with Leia. It is so unlike Luke to ditch Leia; especially after he unwittingly pushed Ben to the Dark Side, his decision to go into hiding appears to be a cowardly choice, and the film doesn’t give any feel of bonding between Luke and Leia. In fact, the siblings were not even shown in the form of flashbacks or what happened after Return of the Jedi. Therefore, it is difficult to even link to their saga or how they managed/mismanaged Ben’s training, especially in the wake of Han Solo not approving of it.
Luke gave no impression of even accepting her sister’s existence, nor does Leia. Luke also didn’t show any sadness when Han died, and other than R2-D2, he doesn’t even interact much with C-3PO or Chewbacca. Star Wars has held family as a central theme, and despite a new bunch coming to fore with Rey, Finn, and Poe, Johnson hardly did any justice to the original. They are all so disconnected from each other physically as well as emotionally.
The Skywalkers are not known to be random heroes, but, the most coveted clan of the galaxy and that deserved more emphasis. The fact that Leia didn’t try to transform Kylo back into Ben, by using Force telepathy, is a clear indication of how the film has treated them without any emotions or emphasis. The Last Jedi is not a continuation of the saga that started in 1977; rather, it is a transformation of the Skywalkers into a terrible soap opera based in galactic space, with not much of a substance to them.
Rian Johnson has written and directed the Star Wars: The Last Jedi and the film stars Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke, Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux, Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata, Benicio Del Toro as ‘DJ’, Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico, Laura Dern as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, and the late Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa.