On Star Wars and the End of Childhood Imagination
These reviews of The Last Jedi from the Free Beacon and The Washington Post express most of my thoughts on the movie as a movie. The Disneyfication of Star Wars (e.g. “We’re going to win this war not by fighting what we hate, but saving what we love!”) was also a disappointing aspect of the sequel trilogy’s direction.
Those reviews of The Last Jedi did not address the movie as the continuation of an unparalleled cultural force. Star Wars became that force through its capture of kid’s imaginations. As a kid, all I wanted was to see Luke Skywalker in a lightsaber duel one more time. The prequel trilogy, for all of its faults, could not disappoint because that option was not available. Even The Force Awakens avoided this by keeping Luke out of the movie.
Instead we got a movie where Luke does not fight, but dies in exile unnecessarily. And Rey, our hero-in-waiting, had no meaningful role in the movie’s climax. Like Mark Hamill, I thought that this was not the Luke Skywalker of my childhood.
I was a kid when the prequels came out, and I actually enjoyed them in theater. I did not enjoy The Last Jedi. It failed to be a good movie in its own right, and shamefully bungled the Star Wars hero who captured my imagination as a kid. That was a far greater disappointment than Jar Jar Binks, and a greater disappointment to my childhood imagination that I thought pop culture could still wield.