By Paul Wennberg
If you have not seen “Star Wars: the Last Jedi,” stop what you are doing, i.e. reading this article (there will be spoilers). If you have not seen “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” by now, well then I don’t feel bad saying Darth Vader is Luke’s father! “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” rebooted the famed Star Wars franchise in style. It perfectly collected a new quartet of characters that will take the place of Han Solo, R2D2, Luke, and Leah in the new generation of Star Wars fans. Thankfully, J.J. Abrams and the writing team did not feel the need to replicate C-3PO. “The Force Awakens” was a high-powered intergalactic adventure, a perfect combination to return to what Star Wars is all about. However, it left some fans griping that it was too similar to “Star Wars: A New Hope.” Well, what did you hope for? After eviscerating, I hesitate to call them “Star Wars: Episodes I, II, and III” for being a complete departure from Star Wars. I thought it would be a welcome return to a galaxy far, far away that has begun to feel like home.
Enter “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” A common remark from viewers of “The Last Jedi” is “I loved how different it was from the other Star Wars movies.” May I dissent? “The Last Jedi” was essentially the same movie as “The Empire Strikes Back”! Admit it, friends: It is okay to enjoy a movie even if it is similar to the original. Embrace it! We do not all have to be avant-garde cinema noir critics.
I will begin with the overall timeline of both “The Last Jedi” and “The Empire Strikes Back.” The first thing to clue me in to this being the same movie was that both the timelines made no sense! In “The Last Jedi,” the fleeing Rebel fleet slowly loses fuel reserves that were supposed to last approximately 18 hours. In this time period, Ray seemingly spends at least three days with Luke mastering the Force. I am no physicist and therefore cannot comprehend space-time continuum/ non-linear time frames, but let us remember a similar timeframe in “The Empire Strikes Back.” Once the Rebel base has been discovered on Hoth, the last-ditch evacuation is ordered. The Millennium Falcon’s hyperdrive malfunctions (classic), and Leah, Han, Chewy, and the droids are chased by Star Destroyers on what appears to be a hopeless flight. Meanwhile, after leaving Hoth at essentially the same exact time, Luke manages to find Master Yoda and train in the ways of the Force. In both movies, visions interrupt the young Jedi’s training, and both flee despite the protests of their masters. Both Jedis rush to the aid of their friends — granted Ky Lo Ren is not a friend … we’ll call him a frenemy/love interest? — only to realize… it’s a trap! Sound familiar?
Admittedly, unlike in “The Empire Strikes Back,” the good guy does not end up losing a hand, the bad guys end up losing more than a hand (being cut in half), and the battle that takes place on a crazy cool planet (snow and salt) happens at the end rather than the beginning. But the trajectory of the storyline is made from the same cookie cutter. Yes, “The Force Awakens” was eerily similar to “A New Hope.” Its okay that “The Last Jedi” held a similar resemblance to “The Empire Strikes Back.” There were some new bells and whistles for sure, much as in “The Force Awakens”: It was a bigger Death Star, and the one weakness was a thermal oscillator rather than the thermal exhaust port that did in the Death Star. So admit it: We like the old Star Wars versions. I like the story arch, and gosh darn it, I am excited for a remake of “The Return of the Jedi” staring Ray. Luke was too whiny anyways. May the force be with you.
Articles related to “‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’: a dissenting opinion”