People all over the world aren’t pleased with Rian Johnson’s contribution to the Star Wars universe with “The Last Jedi,” the latest release in the Star Wars trilogy of sequels, and they can’t be blamed.
The story was a disaster and the character development wasn’t just stunted, it was absolutely dismissed. I won’t go too far into detail here, mostly because I already have elsewhere before.
One of its most consistently vocal critics was none other than Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill. Hamill made it clear on several occasions that he didn’t like the way Johnson handled the story or the characters, especially his. For Hamill, so many things didn’t make sense whether they were big or small. From Skywalker’s odd death to his character walking by C-3PO without saying a word, none of it felt right for Hamill. None of it felt like Star Wars.
“They say it in the script: “Forget the past, kill it if you have to”, and they’re doing a pretty good job!” said Hamill.
Now, according to Forbes writer Erik Kain, another actor stepped forward to voice his disapproval. John Boyega, who plays the role of Finn (one of the few good characters to come out of the sequels) to echo Hamill and explain that a lot of it just didn’t really make any sense:
“The Force Awakens I think was the beginning of something quite solid, The Last Jedi if I’m being honest I’d say that was feeling a bit iffy for me,” Boyega said in an interview with Hypebeast. “I didn’t necessarily agree with a lot of the choices in that and that’s something that I spoke to Mark [Hamill] a lot about, and we had conversations about it. And it was hard for all of us, because we were separated.”
Later in the interview, Boyega adds:
“I guess in the original Star Wars films there was much more of a trio feel where it was essentially about Luke’s journey, but, Han and Leia, there was a strong dynamic,” Boyega said. “Which I think, I don’t know how quickly we’re going to be able to establish that long-term dynamic with [Episode] IX, but if it’s exploring that dynamic, then that would be cool. I do feel even after three films still, we don’t know them as much as we got to know Han, Luke, Leia. And maybe that’s a great opportunity to get to know them a little bit more.”
Boyega is correct. I’ve recently been re-watching the movies like the new Star Wars film looms just around the corner and the striking difference is the character development. By the time the first act of “The Empire Strikes Back” is over, you have a very firm grasp on who Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Leia Organa are. You have a firm grasp on the nature of their relationship and what you can expect from them. All of these are carried out flawlessly as the characters evolve naturally together.
In the sequels, characters and relationships are established but the growth is hardly there. In “The Force Awakens” Finn and Rey are dedicated friends, and that friendship gives Finn strength and bravery. Solo and Rey have a very interesting dynamic of master and apprentice despite the fact that Solo isn’t even a force user. Kylo Ren and Rey’s relationship is also established as being two different sides of the same coin. Poe Dameron, Finn’s direct tie to the rebellion, has such a great tet-a-tet with Finn that they could have their own buddy cop movie that I’d pay to see.
And then “The Last Jedi” happens and everything is pretty much demolished in favor of bad screenwriting. Characters are shoehorned into the plot for no reason but to increase representation and political messaging. Characters make decisions that make no sense, especially Luke. The only real growth we see is the relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren, but even that comes with its own disappointments as a few spoken lines ruin any potential character development for Rey. The movie just kind of stops progress.
The third entry, “The Rise of Skywalker,” set to release on the 20th, has a lot on its plate. It has to fix Johnson’s massive bungling of the story, reestablish and grow relationships as it develops characters, and manage to finish off the sequel trilogy with a satisfying end.
In the hands of the right director and screenwriters, this is entirely possible, but this is the era of executive producer Kathleen Kennedy. The likelihood of a successful end happening is low.