Discussing the merits or drawbacks of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” at this point, considering how much the film has been dissected and overanalysed over the years, seems somewhat pointless.
Rian Johnson’s follow-up to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has been polarising, divisive and fascinating in a way that’s in stark contrast to the far more familiar and routine J.J. Abrams-directed film that came before it. Much of that was because Abrams’ film played entirely into the expectations of the fandom, whereas Johnson’s often seemed to rally against those same expectations – subverting them at many turns.
How good a job he did at subverting them is up for debate, but one thing all sides agree on is that Johnson didn’t play it safe – he forged his own path which made some fairly liberal changes to the universe, to the characters we knew before that point, and most often to where people thought the story would go.
This week the director, whose new whodunnit comedy “Knives Out” hits cinemas in November, has spoken on the Creative Processing Podcast (via Cinema Blend and explained why he took so many risks with his “Star Wars” film:
“I think the instant you start thinking in terms of how do you not step outside of the bounds of what the original movies did, you’re not thinking the way the people who made the original movies did. They were with every movie, they were pushing it forward, with every movie they were stepping outside those bounds and pushing the characters into new, emotionally honest, but surprising places.
That’s why those movies are great. That’s why they’re alive. If they had been looking at something that came before it and saying, ‘Oh, we better not do this because that is outside of this or that,’ it would’ve been different.”
The most interesting question going into Abrams’ “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” this coming December is one of how much of Johnson’s changes will be retconned out by Abrams. The latter’s return as director seems to be in part because he’s more inclined to ‘tow the line’ of the fandom’s wants and the studio’s demands as it were.
There’s also the question of “The Mandalorian,” the first live-action “Star Wars” series premiering November 12th and one which executive producer Jon Favreau has been proudly touting as a show that will highlight the ‘darker, freakier’ side of the Lucas-born universe.
Johnson meanwhile is working on further “Star Wars” films for Disney, though those have yet to be dated.