by Peter Niverth ’18
As the most well known science fiction series in Hollywood history, the Star Wars saga continues its storyline set up nearly half a century ago by the first movie, “A New Hope.” “The Last Jedi,” set to premiere December 15th, is the latest installment in the franchise after “The Force Awakens,” which kicked off the newest trilogy two years ago. The film’s opening weekend is anticipated to make an upwards amount of $200 million, just under The Force Awakens’ $248 million.
In 1977, “A New Hope” premiered as the first Star Wars movie. Two more followed in 1980 with “The Empire Strikes Back” and another in 1983 with “The Return of the Jedi.” The commercial success generated by the first trilogy led to the production of a new trilogy set prior to the events of the first. “The Phantom Menace” in 1999 signaled the start of the prequels, as they came to be called. The 2002 and 2005 films, “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith” finished the prequels, though to little fan approval.
Both critics and fans alike agree that the prequels did not hold up in comparison to the original trilogy. With lengthy talk scenes instead of action scenes and annoying characters, the prequels are regarded as a disappointing continuation of the saga.
So while “The Last Jedi” carries the hope of continuing a beloved franchise into a new generation, it also carries the baggage from the older generation. By far the biggest fear for the upcoming premiere, however, is not the quality of the movie but instead its originality (or lack thereof).
The “Force Awakens” took a lot of criticism for seemingly having the same plot as “A New Hope” from the original trilogy. In “The Force Awakens,” Rey, the hero of the story and an unknown scavenger on a remote planet, learns that she possesses a strange yet strong connection to the force. In “A New Hope,” Luke Skywalker discovers his own connection to the force in the same manner as Rey. Both heroes also are hunted down by masked villains with a seemingly strong aptitude for violence. In fact, Kylo Ren, the antagonist of “The Force Awakens,” worships the Sith lord Darth Vader from “A New Hope.”
Due to this, many wonder if “The Last Jedi” will follow the pattern of the original trilogy and have a similar plot as “The Empire Strikes Back.” The trailers already indicate that this could be the case. Similar to how Yoda, a jedi master in “The Empire Strikes Back,” trained a young Luke Skywalker, Rey is being trained by an older Luke. Even the famous scene with Darth Vader and Luke is analogous to a conversation between Kylo Ren and Rey.
Regardless of how original or groundbreaking the film is, or even how well made it is, Star Wars fans everywhere will want to see “The Last Jedi,” even if only to decide whether or not the movie makes its own mark on the 40-year-old saga.