Explaining the Hate and Love for Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Who's to blame?
You might want to stop blaming the hate for Star Wars: The Last Jedi on Rian Johnson and Disney - the blame may actually lie with us, especially the hardcore fans. Why? I'm glad you asked that. Let me explain.
Summary of the film
If you haven't watched the film by now, I have 2 questions: a) What have you been doing with your life? and b) When are you going to watch it? To better understand the backlash, let me summarise the movie really quickly here.
THIS SECTION CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI. Feel free to read one of my other beautiful articles if you somehow still have not watched this movie.
Basically, during the start of the film, the First Order, which is a remnant of the Galactic Empire and acts as the big bad organization of the Star Wars universe 30 years after the events of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, proceeds to destroy the Resistance and the Republic, led by General Leia, by blowing their base up. This forces the Rebels to retreat into space alone. At this point, the First Order basically has all of the Resistance in one spot and is chasing them down in a slow space race.
However, while the Rebels retreat, Kylo Ren decides to be a bad boy and blow up parts of the ship himself, seemingly killing his mom in the process if she didn't have the Force to help her survive in space. Meanwhile, in order to disable the First Order's tracking device, Poe helps Finn and newcomer Rose embark on a secret mission.
Meanwhile, Rey meets Luke Skywalker, legendary Jedi Master, on his deserted island, who refuses to train her and shuts her out in the rain alone for about a day or so. While R2-D2 convinces Luke to mentor Rey, Rey unwillingly communicates with Kylo Ren through the Force and has visions of becoming his partner. While Rey learns about the Force under Luke's guidance, Kylo reveals that Luke tried to kill him, which Luke admits to when confronted by Rey. Luke claims this is because he sensed Supreme Leader Snoke corrupting Kylo to the point of no return. This causes Rey to leave Luke and confront Kylo, believing he can be redeemed.
Finn and Rose meet DJ, a hacker, who claims he can help disable the tracking device. They infiltrate Snoke's ship but are captured by Captain Phasma, Finn's old boss, and not-very-friendly buddy, due to DJ's betrayal. Meanwhile, Rey gets aboard the ship and is escorted by Kylo Ren to Snoke, who demands Kylo to kill her. However, Kylo instead uses the Force to kill Snoke, and Rey works with Kylo to fight off the guards. Afterwards, Kylo attempts to seduce Rey to the Dark side and fails, resulting in a fight for Anakin Skywalker's lightsaber, which splits in two.
Rey escapes, and the Resistance begins to evacuate to an old Rebel base via space pods. DJ informs the First Order of this plan, and the pods are slowly destroyed one by one, compelling Admiral Holdo, the only person left on the main ship, to sacrifice herself and fly into Snoke's ship. The Rebels reach the Rebel hideout, and defend the base with old speedsters when the First Order arrives, with Kylo Ren declaring himself the new Supreme Leader.
Luke arrives at the base to allow the Rebels to escape, and Kylo confronts Luke in a lightsaber duel, expressing all his hatred for him. However, he turns out to be a doofus and was "fighting" his Force projection. Afterwards, Luke dies peacefully on his island and the Rebels escape once again on the Millineum Falcon.
- Rebels escape and First Order chases them
- Luke reluctantly mentors Rey
- Rey leaves Luke because he tried to kill Kylo Ren as a child
- Finn and Rose find DJ and try to disable the tracking device but are betrayed by DJ
- Kylo kills Snoke and works with Rey to kill guards
- Kylo fails to seduce Rey to the Dark side and becomes the Supreme Leader
- Rebels evacuate to their old base, while Holdo sacrifices herself
- Luke arrives at the base via a Force projection so the Rebels can evacuate, while Kylo fights the projection
- Luke dies peacefully on his island
When there is a difference between critics and fans in terms of the amount of love given for a movie, fans would normally love the movie more than critics. Take the 2017 Justice League movie, for example - according to Rotten Tomatoes, 77% of 120,741 people (approximately 92,971 people) enjoyed watching Justice League, leading to an average rating of 4/5, or 8/10. Meanwhile, only 40% of 299 critics (approximately 120 critics) enjoyed Justice League, leading to an average rating of 5.3/10.
However, as shown from the screenshot for the Rotten Tomatoes page for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, this trend is completely reversed in this case. One fan review went as far to give the movie a half-star rating, stating it was "absolute tire fire. What a disappointment." So what the hell happened?
"There's nothing I've read or seen that's made me think, 'Oh god, I did kind of mess that up, I would've done that differently if I could go back.' I still genuinely believe in all the decisions I've made." - Rian Johnson
Why Critics Love It
Firstly, let's discuss why critics love this movie so much, without even calling it the best Star Wars movie since Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, which is considered by both critics and fans alike to be the best Star Wars movie to ever be made.
Critics and reviewers are supposed to see movies only as movies - not a fan film or anything like that. This is their job, and they need to be able to see the movie for what it is and how it fits in with the film's universe, if it has one (in this case, this universe is, like, 30 years old, so there's a lot of fitting in to do), while comparing it to other movies if necessary. That is why so many critics love The Last Jedi; it's a film with a great plot, stunningly and visually beautiful, and refers to past events in the Star Wars universe very well, no matter how subtle they may be, while introducing new characters into the story and seamlessly weaving themes together. The heroes are well developed, and even the villains can be sympathized with at certain points, making us question the motives of our favorite characters within the Star Wars universe. But, what Star Wars does best is making sure it keeps us guessing - the twists and turns provided in this film come from all directions, at unexpected moments while turning people from one side of the Force to the other.
The fact that Star Wars does all these things so perfectly is why critics love it so much. But now, let's compare it to the reasons fans and other audiences seem to hate The Last Jedi so much.
Why Fans Hate It
I'll summarise this section to one reason alone: expectations.
In the beginning, when the film was open for critics as a preview, there were many good reviews - most reviews provided 4 or even 5-star reviews, leading to high expectations from hardcore fans and general audiences alike. Some probably thought the film was going to be perfect and would be everything they thought a Star Wars movie would be when in reality, the film was probably the biggest diversion from the past that Star Wars has ever taken.
Another expectation was due to the many theories made by fans online, the most prolific and significant being Rey's parentage and Luke's role in this film, due to his small role in The Force Awakens (he didn't even have a line to say). Some people thought Rey would be Luke's daughter, Han's and Leia's daughter, or even Obi-Wan Kenobi's (Darth Vader's Jedi mentor) daughter or granddaughter. However, the film merely revealed that Rey's parents were nobody significant or important, leading to high disappointment from many fans.
Meanwhile, some fans also thought Luke would be a villain in The Last Jedi, or at least have a larger role. However, Luke ended up filling in the role of Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back, as Rey's mentor, while failing to teach her much.
Finally, the last reason I think so many fans hate The Last Jedi could be due to the small role Supreme Leader Snoke played in this film. In The Force Awakens, he was suggested to be this big, powerful person, much like Palpatine, or Darth Sidious, in the original trilogy. But Rian Johnson merely decided to kill him off and have Kylo Ren become the big bad wolf, leading to disappointed fans not knowing what he can really do, and leaving Snoke's background and history a mystery.
Fans vs Critics
I don't think many fans genuinely hated The Last Jedi - I think the majority still enjoyed it very much but figured there are still many things Rian Johnson could have done to make this film a more enjoyable experience, especially seeing as this film basically threw all fan theories out of the window and disregarded them, at least according to fans.
On the other hand, critics absolutely love The Last Jedi, and this film has become both a commercial and critical success, earning over $1.25 billion at the international box office, so I guess you could say Disney and Rian Johnson are fairly happy and content.