In keeping with the predictable pattern of contemporary American popular culture and its self-imposed self-destruction by way of unfettered and rudderless prosperity and streamlined glorification of self in tandem with further and further separation from the land for the thirty shekels worth of more efficient bandwidth, The Last Jedi serves its master well.
So the story goes that Luke Skywalker has vanished, and Rey (as played by Daisy Ridley) has been given the task of finding him and bringing him back to the Resistance. Rey finds Luke, and they have a back and forth about philosophy. Luke is reluctant. Rey leaves to help the Resistance because Luke decidedly won’t help anyone anymore. Rey does what she can while the Resistance is being chased down by the First Order. The First Order corners the Resistance on a planet the rebels use as a final defense. A showdown then ensues to determine if the Resistance is finally destroyed or not. The plot is competent and entertaining enough.
The cinematography is visually engaging and the movie looks pretty. Not especially, but the color schemes are unique and pleasant to watch on the screen. The space battles are fun and echo common war movie action scenes. The universe is fully realized in its characters and landscapes.
BUT…If anyone has seen Star Wars before, this is NOT Luke Skywalker. This review could totally be about how everything The Force Awakens (The Last Jedi’s prequel) set up is ignored. How they are clearly making all of this up as they go along. How there is no singular vision, as per George Lucas’s original trilogy and even the prequels (EVEN THE PREQUELS, which are better than this new trilogy). This is not Luke. This must be his cousin Jake Skywalker or someone who looks a lot like Mark Hamill. Which leads one to ask why. What’s really going on here? Why would they fundamentally change not just the motivation of, but the foundational identity of one of the most iconic characters in all of American cinematic lore?
Because of postmodernism. In a nutshell, or according to postmodernism, not in a nutshell, postmodernism is the philosophy that says no definite boundaries or absolute truths exist. It asks self-refuting questions like, “Is truth an illusion?” The current western world is saturated in this stuff. What is up is down. What is right is wrong. Essentially, postmodernism says that tradition is bad. Chaos is good. Even though good and bad are illusions. It’s a viciously circular toxicity that leaves behind decay and disorder. And, yay!, America’s cultural mythology is up next to be portrayed in the light of this intellectual “progress”.
And how do we know this isn’t just a creative flight of fancy on the part of the filmmakers? How do we know it’s moving through our culture and cinema?
Here are a few examples of the cinematic paper trail that demonstrate a pattern:
(1) Most recently, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). This is a rebranding of Superman. Superman is a character based on truth, justice, and the American way. (Just imagine hearing someone on t.v. espousing those ideas today.) In Batman v. Superman, Superman is a dark, brooding jerk without hope, without truth, with a skewed sense of justice, and certainly no mention of America.
(2) Ghostbusters (2016) is a rebranding of its original story. The original Ghostbusters is a funny story about entrepreneurship. A private company fights a government organization for its right to stay in business. The message of the new Ghostbusters? Women are hilarious and men are bumbling idiots. Gross generalizations void of any substantive plot.
(3) Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014) is a rebranding of a biblical prophet. (Also see Noah ((2014)) as a biblical rebranding.) The movie shows Moses as some well-spoken military commander instead of the stuttering shepherd he is in Exodus.
There are more examples. But the pattern proves an inclination, at least, whether intentional or not. And of course, different interpretations of characters are a creative endeavor worth taking. But you can bend metal once before it loses its integrity. At a certain point, it’s not the same character.
Luke Skywalker is the most hopeful character in the galaxy in the original trilogy. He saw good in the evilest person in the galaxy. Not only did he see good in Darth Vader, he redeemed Darth Vader. Luke Skywalker redeemed the most insanely maniacally evil person in the galaxy. That’s how hopeful and positive his character is. And in the Last Jedi? He’s a quitter. And before he’s a quitter? He almost light sabers his sleeping nephew because he senses darkness in him. What!?
So, just to speak plainly, this movie is psychopaths looking to make more money.
One definition of a psychopath is someone who doesn’t feel empathy. Other traits include fearlessness, mental toughness, coolness under pressure, impulsivity, lack of conscience, constant pleasure seeking and ruthlessness.
When one considers how this behavioral aberration has played out throughout American history, psychopaths would have functioned well on the frontier, Manifesting our country’s Destiny. Conquering native populations. Weathering the kind of life pioneers have to weather. Psychopathic traits serve some benefit under controlled circumstances. So once America is established and the frontier is gone, where do the psychopaths go?
The short answer can be found on Forbes.com. According to Forbes, the number one job for psychopaths is being a CEO. Disney, the company that now owns Star Wars, is interested in making Star Wars movies in perpetuity. Because they believe the aesthetic of the Star Wars story artistically best lends itself to having no end? Nope. Because they are constantly seeking the pleasure of maximized profit.
So, couple the trend of cultural postmodernism with corporate psychopathy and what cinematic product do you get? The Last Jedi.
This is not a bad movie, but it’s not a Star Wars movie. It’s worth seeing. But it’s worth seeing as a cultural marker. A landmark. A totem of a disappearing American mythology being rebranded a lá George Orwell’s 1984. This is newspeak for an audience that doesn’t know what newspeak is. The Last Jedi indeed.
Article Written By Nick Murillo
eParisExtra.com Movie Reviewer