Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Compare and Contrast
Overview and Comparisons
This movie is the second in the series where rebels fight against The First Order. This movie premiered 40 years after the release of the original Star Wars. It seems a good time to compare it with the first Star Wars movies. The Last Jedi has 5 of the original characters from the original Star Wars. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) have aged 40 years. C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), R2-D2 (Jimmy Vee), and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotarno) show no sign of aging.
Leia Organa is the head of the resistance and goes by the title “General” as opposed to “Princess”. Luke Skywalker is apparently the last of the Jedi Masters. Like his master Obi-Wan Kenobi he lives as a recluse and has been uninvolved in events for many years. As with Obi-Wan, Luke is presented as the only hope. Luke Skywalker also trained a Jedi Knight who turned to the dark side.
Chewbacca is the captain of the Millennium Falcon. The Millennium has an infestation with a new Star Wars creature, porgs. The infestation is reminiscent of the Star Trek episode “Trouble with Tribbles”. C-P3O is his old skittery self and still gives long odds when someone wants to do something dangerous. R2-D2 seems to have grown from the brave and clever droid to one who can show real wisdom. He plays an old message for Luke at just the right moment. The action is critical to the plot and nostalgic for people who saw the first Star Wars a long time ago. BB-8 (Brian Herring & Dave Chapman) has taken the role of the heroic droid.
Last Jedi has a battle on an ice planet, reminiscent of The Empire Strikes Back. The ending is also reminiscent of The Empire Strikes Back. There is a casino scene reminiscent of the cabaret scene in the original Star Wars. The contrast is the cabaret in the original is full of “low lives” and the casino in The Last Jedi is full of upscale “low lives”.
Contrasts and Observations
The original Star Wars is a familiar story. A young man lives in a backwater area. Great events are happening and he wants to be part of it. A chance occurrence gives him an opportunity to be a significant part of these events. His first step is to rescue a princess. The movie ends with him destroying the enemy’s ultimate weapon and saving a planet. While there are obstacles the protagonists quickly find their way around them.
The Last Jedi has a more involved plot. The way to accomplish something isn’t always a straight line. The main protagonists sometimes keep their plans secret from each other and the audience. Some plans come to nothing or backfire.
The original Star Wars had young heroes. Luke Skywalker is just old enough to enter the academy. Princess Leia was barely in her 20s yet she is a very important figure in the resistance. There is Obi-Wan Kenobi and other older characters but the story centered around Luke. He is immediately made a fighter pilot and almost single handedly vanquishes the enemy. In the third movie in the original trilogy the Rebel Alliance makes newcomers Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Lando Calrissian (Billy De Williams) flag officers. The Alliance puts Lando Calrissian in charge of the entire Rebel fleet.
The Last Jedi had young heroes but their daring plans are foolhardy. General Organa and Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) take the correct course of action.[i] Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and the other young rebels are proven wrong in opposing their leaders.
In original Star Wars Princess Leia is the only female character.[ii] In “The Last Jedi” there are female characters on both sides. The strong “good guy” characters are women. Luke Skywalker is deep in self-pity. Poe Dameron is impetuous and Finn (John Boyega) is full of self-doubt.
The “bad guy” side has Snoke (Andy Serkis) who is the counterpart to The Emperor in the original series. General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) is the military leader. He doesn’t believe in the force. He is jockeying for position with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), a Sith. Kylo Ren is the counterpart to Darth Vader in the original series. Kylo Ren is no Darth Vader. Darth Vader’s look and voice projects a strong evil presence. Kylo Ren doesn’t look or sound menacing. He also appears conflicted. This works to the character’s advantage. The other characters and the audience doesn’t know what he will do next.
Science fiction, and its audience, has changed much since Star Wars: A New Hope. Star Wars is a good series to see how the science fiction genre and how society has evolved since the 1970s.
[i] While people can argue if their plans are good ones the movie presents them as taking the right course of action.
[ii] Maria De Aragon played Greedo but the Greedo character was presumed to be male. A couple of other uncredited characters were women.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi shows
© 2017 Robert Sacchi