Summary: The Last Jedi powerfully conveys two major themes of our time, projected with powerful CGI and compelling acting. Critics focus on the acting and CGI, and so usually ignore much of what makes these films a success at the box office. These films are set in a fictional universe, but their dynamics are those we live today. Here we look at the second of these great themes.
The Boomers screwed up, and Millennials take over.
The Star Wars saga tells the tale of generational transitions, just like your time. The Greatest Generation built our world. They took us through the Great Depression, defeated the fascist powers, ended the post-Civil War legal oppression of African Americans, created the international order that brought the Cold War to a peaceful non-radioactive conclusion — and more. The Boomer Generation inherited this fistful of high cards and squandered it, leaving America weaker by almost every metric — slower economic growth, more debt, and with deeper internal fissures in our politics and society. We are not the Worst Generation, but we are candidates for it.
In the Star Wars universe we see this played out in the original trilogy (I ignore the prequels, as they make little sense except as a Lucasfilm cash grab), beginning with A New Hope. The Boomers are played by Luke and Leia Skywalker, Han Solo, and the Rebel Alliance. They are screw-ups from start to finish. The Rebel Alliance is saved by only through redemption of the last of the Greatest Generation. Luke successfully appeals to Dad, Anakin Skywalker, to defeat the nearly satanic evil of Emperor Palpatine (reprising the Greatest Generation’s defeat of Hitler). In Return of the Jedi, the galaxy’s fate passed into the hands of the Boomers.
When the third trilogy begins The Force Awakens, we learn that the Boomers have (of course) screwed it up. They are again a beleaguered remnant before a new bad empire, led by a new Sith Lord. The Boomers Jedi, Luke, failed spectacularly to re-build the Jedi. We learn that his good trainees were slaughtered, the strongest (Kylo Ren, son of the First Hope heroes) became a Sith apprentice — taking with him many of the trainees. Fortunately, two Millennial appear to save the day — Finn and Rey.
The Last Jedi continues this theme. The Boomers lead the Resistance into total failure. Admiral Ackbar, Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, and Leia (Han Solo having made his last mistake in The Force Awakens) make error after error. (No spoilers here; see the film and count them!) I can’t tell you the state of the Resistance at the end. Let’s just say the ratio of Resistance fighters to stars is low (the Milky Way Galaxy has several hundred billion stars). Fortunately for the galaxy, The Last Jedi has a happy ending. With the passing of the Boomers, the next film will begin with the Resistance leadership in the hands of Millennials.
This is the same theme as in the 2009 reboot Star Trek. All the old folks die so that the Enterprise has a crew of Millennials to take it into a future of sequels.
As a Boomer looking at our history, I understand why Millennials find this theme attractive. If I were one, I too would hope the Boomers quickly got of the way. The second film of the third trilogy ends on the same note as the first of the second trilogy: A New Hope.
What about the CGI, the plot and acting?
The CGI is excellent. It’s what Hollywood does best. The plot is best ignored, a ramshackle series of events designed to sort-of follow the beats of the New Hope trilogy. The writers obviously consider themselves Le Cordon Bleu chefs cooking for dogs, so did not try for coherence (they’re right, of course). Part two discusses the acting!
Tune in tomorrow for part two reviewing The Last Jedi: girls rule, giving a New Hope to the galaxy!
Other perspectives on the Star Wars saga
- A philosopher reviews “The Phantom Menace”, a great film with hidden depths.
- The Force Awakens is a film for Boomers. It’s about us.
- The Last Jedi is a finely manufactured product!
- My review — Part One: passing the torch between screw-up Boomers and great Millennials.
- My review — Part Two: girls rule, giving a New Hope to the galaxy!
- Last thoughts: Last Jedi’s darkness mirrors the darkness in us, today’s America.
For More Information
For Holiday shopping ideas see my recommended books and films at Amazon.
- Our biggest films reveal dark truths about us — Boomers watch films about their failure as a generation.
- Stand by for political realignment in America! — About passing the baton between generations.
- Why have our movies become so dark, showing a government so evil? — Despair about the world the Boomers built.
Trailer for The Last Jedi