Star Wars: The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson responds to the hateful criticism leveled by fans against the film. It's been quite a roller coaster ride for Johnson and The Last Jedi since its release December 15. The film had the momentum of overwhelming positive reviews from critics going in, which no doubt helped it score an impressive $220 million haul domestically in its opening frame. But while the film skyrocketed toward a $1 billion gross worldwide by New Year's Eve, grumbling from fans quickly intensified, and some went so far as to create a petition to remove The Last Jedi from the Star Wars canon.
Among the beefs viewers had with The Last Jedi and Johnson in particular are how Leia (Carrie Fisher) displayed some Force abilities while floating in space after an attack on her ship, as well as Luke Skywalker's (Mark Hamill) new Force powers, which helped him create a younger doppelganger of himself through astral projection – a move that took so much out of the Jedi master he departed the material world to become one with the Force. A lifelong fan of Star Wars himself, Johnson has been quite in tune with criticism of The Last Jedi, and last week, tweeted Luke's doppelganger move is actually rooted in Star Wars literature and not something he made up off the top of of his head.
Teasing an upcoming interview for its program The /Filmcast, /Film released excerpts from a recent conversation with Johnson. Specifically, /Film noted that while hopping across theaters in Los Angeles to introduce the film on opening night, he took a breather and checked his phone to find the first of what he called "hate tweets." Admittedly, Johnson said, the backlash threw him for a loop. He said:
“The crazy thing is, I had no perspective on these tweets. I had no perspective in terms of how big a group of people this was, even what they were upset about specifically. Over the next few weeks, I was able to contextualize it and feel much better about it. But at the time, I thought, ‘Oh my god, does everybody hate this? Did I totally mess up, was I wrong?’ And I had a very dark hour of the soul…because I had no context for this.”
While Johnson told The /Filmcast that 95 percent of the comments he gets about The Last Jedi are positive, the other comments stick in his brain. “When even five percent of the people are saying, ‘You ruined Star Wars, I hope you die,’ that’s what you’re going to listen to,” Johnson said. When asked if the negative reaction to The Last Jedi would change the way he approaches the new Star Wars trilogy, Johnson told The /Filmcast, “No, I don’t think so," adding, “I don’t even know what that kind of approach would be. You have a way that you tell stories…you just do that.”
With any luck, time will soothe whatever problems fans have with The Last Jedi, and it's doubtful that any negative reactions they had to the film will dull the anticipation of Star Wars: Episode IX, when The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams returns to the helm. There's no question that Abrams will pick up on Johnson's story, and in all likelihood their combined visions will create a satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker family saga – hopefully providing answers to the critical questions fans had over the new direction Johnson took with the film series.
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