Star Wars VII : The Force Awakens was a smash hit in 2015 BUT failed as a story. As a ‘soft reboot’, the movie served to superficially give the fans what they wanted but essentially retold the original Star Wars (1977) plot in an inferior way – adding in new characters but changing nothing significant in the key story beats.
Director JJ Abrams – already with a Star Trek reboot on his resume – admitted as much. “It was obviously a wildly intentional thing that we go backwards, in some ways, to go forwards in the important ways,” he remarked.
And so here we are, less than a month away from assessing whether the Rian Johnson-helmed The Last Jedi will move the Star Wars mythos significantly forward or based it’s plot points on The Empire Strikes Back.
Looking at the latest press coverage over at Entertainment Weekly, the signs are not good.
“Our heroes scatter, the dark side rises” goes the blurb on each of the four alternate covers. Wait! Wasn’t that the basic premise of Empire?
Luke flew to Dagobah to look for Yoda to continue his Jedi training and the others ended up on Cloud City? And by the end of the movie, it seemed that Darth Vader had won a critical victory against the rebels?
Superficially that may be the case. The trailers have teased a dissatisfaction on the part of Luke with Rey, and Kilo Ren with Snoke with a suggestion that Rey and Kilo team up in some way.
Traditionally as well, the middle instalment of the trilogy is darker and ends on a downer (as far as the heroes are concerned – think of The Two Towers and The Dark Knight) – so Johnson may simply be following this structure.
All this remains to be seen of course. Johnson has earned our trust based on the superb Looper and hopefully, will give us a Star Wars movie that truly moves in a new direction.
… still there’s more …