This is a SPOILER-FREE discussion about how some big Star Wars fans have reacted to the movie.
This is not a judgemental attack piece, just a series of observations about how different people are receiving The Last Jedi. The people who struggled with this movie are intelligent and I am not some sort of Super Genius, so I am confused about some of the reaction it is getting.
There are a great many things about which I am or may be mistaken. One of those things is caring enough about what other people think that I fixate on the disparity between our perspectives. I enjoy hearing other people’s perspectives on a wide range of topics, particularly Star Wars. I am very attached to some of the people and ideas from that far, far away galaxy. (This blog’s name comes from Star Wars) I listen to many different people talk about Star Wars to get more points of view. I started listening to Star Wars podcasts about 10 years ago. I have drifted around, trying different shows and reading different blogs. I’ve settled into a good handful of shows and was eagerly awaiting their reactions to The Last Jedi. I was surprised by one overarching perspective.
Almost everyone who reviewed the movie said that they couldn’t quite process at all in their first viewing. Many of them were uncertain how they felt about it until the second feeling. Around half of those people had been looking into spoilers for the movie for some time before its release. One of the shows I regularly listen to, is focused on sharing production details as the Star Wars movies are being made. Those folks even talked about how they were sort of reeling from all the information that was in the movie. I do not comprehend.
My wife and I took our kids to a drive-in theater for an evening showing of The Last Jedi. We were dealing with kids who were moving around, playing and asking for help with snacks and drinks. Our toddler turned the dial a few times. Our middle kid kept standing up and blocking the screen. Most, if not all, the people I heard say they had some difficulty grasping the movie and sorting out their feelings and thoughts on it, went without kids to their first viewing. I think most of them were at early screenings. I figure that not having to care for other human beings would have freed them up to take in the whole experience. It is possible that the excitement or atmosphere at the screening put them in a different frame of mind. I remember when I first saw Revenge of the Sith, I wasn’t happy with the first 15-20 minutes, which is a portion of that movie I thoroughly enjoy every time I watch it.
My wife isn’t much of a Star Wars fan. She has seen all the movies twice or three times with me. We and our kids have watched The Clone Wars together as a family, as well as Rebels. I would say that she has slightly more than a passing familiarity with the Saga. Some more background in me: I enjoy Star Wars, but recognize that it has some flaws. I also love the prequels. The Force Awakens is a movie I have a lot of issues with. Honestly, I think that I have issues with JJ Abrams and Larry Kasdan. I think the two of them have a lot of similarities and I am very, very, very different from them in both my general outlook on life and how I think stories should be told. Yes, I am an amateur and they are professionals, but that doesn’t mean I have to buy what they’re selling just because other people do. I love half of The Force Awakens; from the opening crawl until Finn and Rey get taken aboard Han’s freighter, TFA is a solid 9 out of 10. The rest of the movie mostly fell flat for me. Rey, Finn and Poe won me over and I wanted to follow their stories, but there were so many things that felt unfinished or like they didn’t have enough effort put into them.
I went into The Last Jedi spoiled on a lot of details. I told my wife there was a wide range of opinion from reviewers. An independent journalist I follow gave it a 3 out of 10. I had heard some spoiler-free podcast discussion which was mostly positive. We both went in with an open mind, ready to see what it had to say. Throughout the movie my wife and I turned and looked at each other in amazement and delight. As we watched The Last Jedi we laughed, clapped, I cried, and I think we both shouted a couple times. As the credits rolled, she and I looked at each other and talked about what a great movie we thought it was. On the way home the conversation continued and we decided to go back one week later to see it again, a rare occurrence for us.