Possible spoilers for the film Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Proceed with caution.
I wanna preface this – as a massive Star Wars fan, I love the original trilogy, I have some vague respect for the prequel trilogy, and I have thoroughly enjoyed The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, despite their glaring issues. I don’t dislike any of the film’s – I really don’t even hate Phantom Menace.
My issue that I’m starting to have with this new, corporate, Disney Star Wars is that they seem to lack depth. Whether it is or not, it seems to have a major issue of ‘making it up as they go along’, which for a franchise with such a rich, deep, extensive history and plethora of lore at their disposal, seems to stick out more than should be acceptable.
TLJ was a great movie. I really, really enjoyed it. But looking at the movie as a whole, I start to feel a little underwhelmed. Snoke was underplayed – supposedly this big, powerful, deeply evil villain – that they do zero with. Rey, this character that teases depth and intrigue – never delves beyond what is teased. It seems like a movie that is focused on teasing and setting up without ever paying off – and not in a way where it builds excitement and curiosity for the next film, but where it feels lazy and unfulfilling. All these characters are teased to be these great characters, but sadly end up staying in this little box of personality that doesn’t show anymore growth than when we first met them. They go in circles – we meet them, they show that there may be more than meets the eye, we reach the climax that should affect and change the characters, then they plateau into the same people they always were.
Take Rey, for example. In the last film, we see a desert scavenger that is shown to have a strange connection to both the Skywalker’s, and the Force as a whole. She is shown to be immensely powerful and a natural with the Force, proving to be a more than fair match to Kylo Ren, who has been training in the ways of the Force for years.
What’s her lineage? What’s her connection to the Force? Why is she so powerful? Who or what is she really?
Flash forward to TLJ. Rey is an incredibly powerful user of the Force, shown to be an equal to Kylo Ren and almost Luke Skywalker himself, is able to feel both sides of the Force, walk into the Dark Side and back out again – and is a desert scavenger born to two drunkards. None of it pays off. None of this grows her character in any way – she’s powerful and shown to be an embodiment of the Light Side of the Force to match Kylo’s embodiment of the Dark, but neither she, Luke, or us as the audience have any clue why.
Anakin Skywalker was a child born of the Force to fulfill a prophecy that would bring balance to the Force – in a world where the Jedi ruled as a ruthless, arrogant system of government, Akakin’s descent into darkness throws the Jedi off of their high horse and proves that their arrogant ways have led to their downfall. As Luke states in TLJ, the Force does not belong to the Sith, or the Jedi – it belongs to every living thing. The Force uses Akakin to end the Jedi’s narcissistic hold on the Force, and then uses his child, Luke Skywalker, to bring down the Empire and restore peace within the Galaxy and within the Force, completing the circle. It’s all one prophecy that fulfills itself over the span of about forty years or so, starting with Akakin’s life and ending with his death.
This is what was intended. George Lucas may not be a brilliant writer, but they was a plan in place, there was a story to be told, and the pieces (mostly) fit together.
But what is Rey? What is her purpose? What is she trying to accomplish? So far, we’ve had nothing to tell us why she is what she is. Why she’s as powerful as she is, or even what her connection to Luke and the Skywalker bloodline really is. She’s very well acted – but in the grand scheme of things, it feels like she’s pointless. It doesn’t feel like she’s that important to the world and to the rebellion around her – while, once again looking at Luke, he was a key player in the Rebellion. A brilliant pilot who was instrumental in the destruction of the Death Star, a powerful Jedi, and the son of the second-in-command of the Galactic Empire. He had purpose. There was a reason why he was important to the story and the people around him. And each installment built on his importance with an extra layer to who he was.
Rey? She means the exact same from TFA to TLJ – hardly any growth, and nothing explained as to why she is what she is, or really even what for that matter.
To me, the only characters that make sense are Kylo Ren/Ben Solo and Finn. Ben Solo really should have been the focus of the trilogy – born of Skywalker blood, lured in by the Dark Side of the Force, yet unsure of himself and how evil he actually he is. He just wants to be something – and to prove himself to those around him and the galaxy. He’s seen as a temperamental child, and he acts the part – but while Anakin had been totally torn down and rebuilt in the image of the Dark Side – both metaphorically and literally – Ben is just a conflicted young adult.
Why wasn’t he the key focus of the trilogy? A Skywalker torn between the image of Darth Vader and the reality of Anakin and Luke. Desperate for power and a place in the world but still unable to kill his mother and only driven away because he thought he had been betrayed by his uncle?
And Finn, a meaningless, nobody clone who had always been in the First Order but pulled himself away knowing that he wasn’t like them – and chose good over evil.
They have purpose. They have reason. They can be built upon – but where’s the foundation for Rey, our main protagonist and the keeper of the flame of the Jedi after TLJ? It isn’t there. There isn’t a point, at least a point that is planned out, thought out, and then executed.
This is my problem with a great deal of the new Star Wars’ movies – a lack of a point. The Death Star had a great deal of history and gravity. Starkiller Base? Not so much. The Galactic Empire had a reason and a purpose – the First Order? Just being evil, I guess, led by a villain who never got to make their point before being Darth Mauled into irrelevance. They build up these things as huge, important plot points and never pay them off – and that’s just not fair to the audience.
Now, this could all be rendered null by December 2019.
The 9th film may show us that Kylo and Rey were being utilized by the Force to create a union between the Dark and the Light, forcing the end of the Jedi and the Sith, who have caused too much pain, war, and death in the universe. It might explain that after all these years, the Force was trying to bridge that divide – the Force is a force of life, after all, and having two religions that create a divide between Light and Dark just make death. Kylo and Rey were the vessels to do so – and together, instead of toppling the First Order, they rule it together and restructure it, creating a new Republic that isn’t fixated on the ideals of the Sith or the Jedi. No more old religions, no more Empires and Rebellions – just unity.
Or, it might not. It might be vague plot points and pointless exposition or not enough exposition and a lot of fighting without any purpose or reason to fight and end without any satisfying resolution to lead to another trilogy where they do things just for the sake of doing them – without any rhyme or reason or story to back them up.
Like I said before, I do enjoy the new movies – quite a lot, if we’re being honest. But I’ve just been thinking a lot about these things and wanted to voice them a bit and get my thoughts out so they weren’t just echoing around my head. I’m hoping that I’m wrong – that come 2019, all will be revealed and everything will come full circle and we’ll be able to look at the trilogy as set of movies that tell a specific story for a specific reason. It’s just that beforehand, each movie told a specific story while contributing to an overarching trilogy plot point – which is something that, as of right now, the current trilogy of movies can’t very well say.
But I’m optimistic – if not with life, than at least with Star Wars, haha.
And as with everything else, here’s looking to the future.