Director Rian Johnson shares the creative thought process on his decision to make sure Star Wars: The Last Jedi is different from its predecessors. The eighth film in the Skywalker saga and second one from the sequel trilogy, the film followed up J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens two years prior. It earned an impressive $1.3 billion at the global box office, making it a smash hit. But while many loved it due to its bold storytelling, it also gained criticism from the massive fan community, making it one of the most divisive blockbusters in recent years.
The Last Jedi picked up immediately after the events Star Wars 7, continuing the ongoing journeys of new characters such as Rey (Daisy Ridley), Poe (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), as well as legacy ones like Luke (Mark Hamill) and Leia (Carrie Fisher). Johnson, who also wrote the flick, introduced some brand new key players in the mix with Amilyn Holdo (Lauren Dern), DJ (Benicio Del Toro) and Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) as well. With its second year anniversary inching near, the filmmaker is opening up about working on the project.
During a guesting stint at the first episode of the podcast Creative Processing with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Johnson looked back at his experience making The Last Jedi. The director took a lot of risks when it came to working on the film which resulted varying opinions from the massive fandom. Johnson then proceeded to explain why he was keen on making Star Wars 8 different from its predecessors.
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.
Johnson has a point, part of the reason why the Star Wars saga continues to thrive is it's able to keep the viewers guessing what comes next for their beloved characters. However, the counter argument by genuine The Last Jedi critics is that the film may have pushed too far for the sake of pulling narrative plots and twists. Some also point out that Johnson's creative choices resulted to inconsistencies in the franchise considering that he went on a different direction compared to what Abrams was initially planning in The Force Awakens.
Only time will tell how Star Wars: The Last Jedi will fare in the next decades to come. George Lucas' prequels were also very divisive during their release, but looking back at them now, fans have mellowed down on their criticism. There are some who even go as far as saying that they actually like them now. At this point, all eyes are back on Abrams as he wraps up the sequel trilogy and the Skywalker saga overall in this December's Star Wars: The Rise Skywalker.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019