The Walt Disney Co. does not need my advice on how to improve the Star Wars franchise. Based on the most up-to-date box-office tracking data, The Last Jedi is going to gross 90 gajillion dollars. Nevertheless, Star Wars is not just a big moneymaker; it’s an American pop-culture touchstone. As such it is bleeding value, heading the way of another Disney series: The Pirates of the Caribbean movies, which gross more in Asia than they do in the U.S. and are now principally being targeted at the spectacle-driven overseas audience. When was the last time you heard anyone get excited about a Pirates movie?
If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you’ve already seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi, so: spoilers. A movie’s flaws can’t fully be discussed in a review targeted at readers before it’s released, so in my critique last week I was vague about plot details. Now it’s time to talk about how shamelessly TLJ ransacks the Star Wars pantry.
Kylo Ren’s change of heart to rescue Rey from Supreme Leader Snoke? It’s exactly like the scene where Darth Vader turns on the Emperor to rescue Luke at the end of Return of the Jedi. I got a sinking feeling as it played out. Surely the writer-director Rian Johnson is aware we’ve seen the earlier movie? And that you can’t just repeat stuff people saw before? Especially in a franchise that has a certain rep for auto-plagiarism now that it has blown up Death Stars three times? If you were watching Ren’s face as Snoke ordered him to kill Rey and not thinking, here’s where he turns on the old geezer and kills him instead, your fandom is causing you to lower your standards to an absurd degree.