The second installment of the latest Star Wars trilogy and the eighth film of the franchise came to the big screen over the holidays, ending a two year gap since audiences saw their new favorite characters come to life, as well as the return of the original Star Wars iconic trio in The Force Awakens. But unlike its predecessor, The Last Jedi deviates from the typical plots of the earlier trilogies from the franchise. While The Force Awakens, no matter how highly anticipated and well-reviewed, closely followed the plot of A New Hope, The Last Jedi introduces audiences to a new storyline in the Star Wars universe.
With Rian Johnson acting as the new director and screenplay writer, The Last Jedi picks up within days of where The Force Awakens left off. The galaxy is under the tight grip of General Snoke of the First Order, and the rebellion is in trouble. And while this newest installment largely maintains the classic good versus evil framework, with the introduction of characters such as Kylo Ren, the movie also introduces more complex relationships and dynamics between the rebel forces and the First Order. Such dynamics leave audience members questioning their own alliances, as well as what these complex relationships, notably between Rey and Kylo Ren, might mean for the fate of the Star Wars universe when the final installment of the trilogy is released in 2019. It is already clear that Episode IX will almost certainly deviate even further from the The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.
Fans already have taken note of the distinct differences between The Last Jedi and all seven films that preceded it. The film has embodied more common themes found throughout many modern large-scale action-adventure movies. Most notably, this film took on a different style of the humor that doesn’t seem to fit with the Star Wars aesthetic. The Marvel-esque jokes and sense-of-humor in the film don’t sit well with fans of the original films. With the usual banter between Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia Organa, that was always a delight to original fans, missing, Johnson has compensated with the type of humor that a view would expect to see in films such as Guardians of the Galaxy and all of the Iron Man films. But while such a tactic has not set well with older fans, this is likely a strategic business move, as the films look to the newest generation of fans; those who are much less familiar with the dynamics of the original films.
Of course, this film, and Star Wars in general, cannot be discussed without a fair mention of the original characters that revealed themselves to audiences over 40 years ago. The return of original characters, most notably Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa, as well as the droid team of C-3PO and R2-D2, keeps The Last Jedi grounded in first six movies. But the death of Han Solo in The Force Awakens creates a certain pining and nostalgia in The Last Jedi. The energy of Harrison Ford, who played Han Solo from the onset of the franchise in 1977 with A New Hope to his last breath in The Force Awakens, is missing from this film. And while new characters that fans quickly came to love, like Finn, Rey, Poe Dameron, and, of course, BB-8, fill the story with their own fast-flying high-energy and emotionally-charged performances, there is still a feeling of nostalgia that can’t be filled by these new characters.
In a franchise that is so highly regarded and deeply loved by its fan base, some characters cannot be replaced. Of course, the return of Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker and Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa maintains much of the original Star Wars feel, but their returns were not met with one hundred percent ratings from fans and viewers. Additionally, the passing of Carrie Fisher in 2016 as well as Luke Skywalker’s on-screen death further complicates the dynamics between the original films and the new trilogy. It seems that the transition period between the original Star Wars universe and the new trilogy has come to a close. The three hallmark characters of Skywalker, Solo, and Princess Leia have moved on. Now, film makers will be challenged with relying on the new characters for the finale of this new trilogy. Where this will lead the galaxy, fans can’t quite predict.