Why Do So Many People Hate “The Last Jedi”?

Matthew Loffhagen
Lucasfilm
(Photo: Lucasfilm)

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is here, and the movie’s debut isn’t exactly going according to plan.

While the vast, vast majority of professional critics absolutely love the new movie, it’s proving to be pretty divisive among more casual audiences.

Certainly, there are a lot of opinions floating around – one the one hand, some elements of the movie are pretty incredible, while on the other hand, the entire experience is far from perfect.

It’s easy for stalwart fans of “Star Wars” to dismiss all of the hate that “The Last Jedi” is receiving is simply fanbaby whining – that many supposed “fans” refuse to accept anything new and different from the movie series, and as such, are bent out of shape about this new movie not being exactly the same as those that have come before.

The argument here is that fans complained when “The Force Awakens” was too similar to old “Star Wars” movies, while they’re now complaining that “The Last Jedi” is too risky, and as such, these fans are clearly just overly nitpicky.

While it is certainly the case that “Star Wars” fans, by and large, demand a lot from our favorite movie series (a logical expectation considering the franchise’s high points), there’s more going on here than simply fan hate.

“The Last Jedi” isn’t just different from previous “Star Wars” movies in terms of plot – this, if anything, is a welcome relief from the formulaic structure of “The Force Awakens”, and the way that “Rogue One” relies a little too heavily on visual fidelity.

The problem is that “The Last Jedi” has a different tone and theme. The movie focuses primarily on abandoning nostalgia and history, and moving forward – a concept that doesn’t gel with what many people want from “Star Wars”.

It is a little odd for a movie in a franchise that is built on childhood nostalgia to make audiences feel bad for wanting to see more of classic heroes. Certainly, one of the big challenges that makes “The Last Jedi” a difficult pill to swallow for fans is the way that Luke Skywalker is portrayed, filled as he is with bitter anger, when the last time we saw him, he was full of hope for the future.

Luke Skywalker Looking Grumpy
Source: Lucasfilm

Fans have wondered for thirty years what Luke Skywalker got up to in his time after “Return of the Jedi”, and Rian Johnson’s movie feels to many like an anti-climax. Luke hasn’t become some big, great hero, but instead, is wallowing in self-pity.

Perhaps Mark Hamill was right to question the direction his character was taken in this movie.

The problem, in large part, is that Rian Johnson seems almost angry in his desperation to distance “The Last Jedi” from existing “Star Wars” themes and characters, especially anything set up by JJ Abrams.

This new movie seems to actively make fun of the audience that have speculated about subjects like the origin of Snoke or Rey, at once referencing the impassioned fan debates that sprang up surrounding these mysteries, while tossing them aside and arguing that they’re all pointless.

This sense of deflation that fans are experiencing is a natural result of JJ Abrams’ Mystery Box storytelling. The director of “The Force Awakens” often seems to write himself into a corner with these mysteries, and thus, “The Last Jedi” suffers from the same disappointing conclusion as “Lost”.

Ultimately, fans are pretty justified in not liking this movie, as the story itself seems deliberately designed to tear down a large chunk of the discussion and debate that has fueled the “Star Wars” fandom for decades.

The Last Jedi Snoke
Source: Lucasfilm

At the same time, those who enjoy the movie are completely justified in doing so. As has been stated, “Star Wars” is like pizza – even when it’s less than perfect, it’s still pretty darn good.

Perhaps it’s worth the entire “Star Wars” community coming together and forming a pact of tolerance. There are many opinions surrounding this film, and some people will love it, while others will be significantly less impressed.

The best thing we can do is respect others’ beliefs and opinions regarding this divisive movie.

Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. It’s a shame that it’ll never work.

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