Star Wars: The Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson opens up more about the tone of his upcoming film, revealing that it keeps the lightheartedness of the previous installments in the saga. Throughout his career, Johnson has become known for more serious-minded works like Brick, Looper, and some of the most intense episodes of Breaking Bad. Those sensibilities made him an ideal choice for Episode VIII, since the second chapter in a story is typically the darkest, with our heroes at their lowest points. Based on the teaser trailer, Last Jedi certainly has an ominous air to it, with Luke Skywalker's shocking proclamation still reverberating through the fan base.
That said, even The Empire Strikes Back (frequently regarded as the "darkest" Star Wars film) balanced the drama with levity, still having the feel of a thrilling, escapist space opera even while Han Solo was being frozen in carbonite. As such, it was never expected Episode VIII would be an entirely bleak ordeal; it's difficult to be too depressed when a flock of porgs is hopping around. Johnson has openly admitted there are parallels to Empire in his movie, but it might actually be more similar to its direct predecessor, The Force Awakens.
Speaking with Empire magazine as part of their cover story on Last Jedi, Johnson discussed his approach to the film, saying that though it was his intention to push the characters to their limits and, he didn't want to overdo it in that department to keep the free spiritedness that's a Star Wars staple intact:
"This is the second movie in the trilogy, so it's easy to draw parallels to Empire in terms of a darker feel. And we do dig into the characters: we're going to challenge them and things are gonna get tough for everybody. But I didn't want this to go too dark. One of the things I drew from J.J.'s film was that sense of fun and playfulness - that as much Star Wars as 'I am your father'"
John Boyega has mentioned in the past The Last Jedi is darker than The Force Awakens, but that doesn't necessarily mean Episode VIII is going to be a dark movie. Here, Johnson is basically reiterating what Oscar Isaac previous said in that Star Wars 8 tests its cast as the going gets tough. The First Order is a rising threat looking to capitalize on the chaos in the galaxy, so things aren't exactly happy-go-lucky as we pick up. Still, it's encouraging Johnson is going to maintain the same energetic vibe of Force Awakens, allowing there to be some consistency between entires. If Last Jedi was a complete tonal departure from Episode VII, it would be jarring for some viewers. Star Wars movies are designed to be for audiences of all ages, allowing people of multiple generations to get swept in an adventure.
Johnson seems to have found the proper approach for the franchise, which is why he is a popular pick to take over Episode IX now that Colin Trevorrow departed that project due to creative differences. Time will tell if another Star Wars film is in Johnson's future, but he clearly had the time of his life with this experience, meaning fans should be in for a treat come December.
Source: Empire Magazine
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019