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Warning: The Spoilers are coming! The Spoilers are coming!
I think it’s time for me to share my thoughts about Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Before I get into that, though, let me remind you of my Star Wars resume. I’ve been a loyal fan since 1980. The Empire Strikes Back is one of the earliest movies I remember watching in the cinema. I remained a fan when it appeared that no one else really cared about the saga anymore.
Immediately after its release, I read the Thrawn Trilogy several times. I was also a fan of the Han Solo Adventures, the Jedi Academy Trilogy, and the Tales of the Jedi Dark Horse comics. I was a Star Wars trivia fanatic – I even won our school-wide Star Wars trivia contest when I was in college. And I have to intentionally get questions wrong so I can get people to keep playing Star Wars Trivial Pursuit with me.
Needless to say, I’m a big fan. I have been for nearly four decades.
Not too long ago, they announced that the storyline that was created during the three-plus decades of novels and comic books were no longer “canon.” Shortly before that announcement, I had just finished reading the “Fate of the Jedi” series. In some ways, this announcement had come as a bit of a relief. Because while I appreciated a lot about the series – especially the new relationship between the New Republic and the Galactic Empire – I had finally come to a conclusion. It was a conclusion I had been wrestling with for some time and it had been rattling around in my heart and mind for a while. This isn’t my Star Wars anymore.
And it hasn’t been since shortly after the Thrawn Trilogy.
There were hints of greatness, like the Jacen and Jaina Solo dynamic. There’s parts of me that wishes these two were in the new Trilogy instead of Ben Skywalker (who was Luke and Mara’s son). Oh, and a married Jedi who didn’t have to hide it? That would’ve been cool. I really liked Mara Jade’s character.
But there were other things. The lost Sith ship. The Maw. Abeloth. The way they killed Chewbacca. Not a fan. It felt like they started to deviate a bit from the spirit of the Original Trilogy. In many ways, it felt like Star Wars had lost its way.
But it’s not my Star Wars anymore. It hasn’t been for a long time.
Spoilers ahead. Abandon all Spoiler-free hope, ye who continue.
Now that I’ve said all of this, I’m not so sure if I’m happy about what I’m going to say. I can understand the frustration of some of my Star Wars fan brothers and sisters. In many ways, it feels like the latest installment takes a sharp, unexpected 90º turn from the previous two trilogies. It was easy to find yourself disoriented. And disappointed. Believe me. I get it. It’s how I felt after The Phantom Menace. The film just didn’t live up to the hype.
And maybe that’s part of the problem. We build up these movies and expect the new offerings to capture the same magic of the Original Trilogy. That’s an impossible task.
There’s a reason A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi are my favorites and will always be my favorites. It was new. It was exciting. And it was unlike anything I’d ever seen or experienced. Of course, the massive collection of Star Wars toys that my friend down the street and I had didn’t really hurt things, either. That was my Star Wars. It’s the saga I grew up on.
These other trilogies are fine. The Prequels are not my cup of tea, but I think I’ve softened on their value over time.* They mostly keep the spirit of the Original Trilogy, building on the grand story that George and Marcia Lucas were able to tell.** Continue reading Some spoiler-filled talk about Star Wars: The Last Jedi