The Last Jedi is still a weird point of contention within certain, louder pockets of the Star Wars fandom. The debate regarding whether or not the penultimate film is a worthy installment is still a rather lively one and honestly, the existence of the discourse alone is not that big of a deal. The differing opinions and friendly in-fighting have been woven into the fabric of the fandom since the story’s inception. And no film is impervious to criticism even if some of it stems from the stars and filmmakers themselves. As far as standalone, totally valid opinions go, there really isn’t much to discuss. But on certain stages—like a national press tour, for instance—it can resemble a narrative, and this one in particular favors one filmmaker over the other in a noticeable way, even if that isn’t anyone’s intention.
In a recent, candid interview with Hypebeast’s Isaac Rouse, John Boyega expressed his own understandable issues with Rian Johnson’s 2017 film, which many felt sidetracked Finn’s journey, specifically. “The Last Jedi if I’m being honest I’d say that was feeling a bit iffy for me,” Boyega admits. “I didn’t necessarily agree with a lot of the choices in that and that’s something that spoke to Mark [Hamill] a lot about and we had conversations about it. And it was hard for all of us, because we were separated.” He, of course, is referring to the lack of shared moments between Finn, Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Rey (Daisy Ridley), a dynamic that he wishes the film had explored more: “I guess the original Star Wars films there was much more of a trio feel where it was essentially about Luke’s journey, but Han and Leia there was a strong dynamic, which I think, I don’t know how quickly we’re going to be able to establish that long-term dynamic with [Episode] Nine. But if it’s exploring that dynamic, then that would be cool.”
Boyega isn’t the only one giving their honest critique of The Last Jedi and the latest trilogy, in general. Now that Rise Of Skywalker promotions have reached the final stages before the film’s December 20 release, the actors and filmmakers have less of a reason hold back. Just a day later, writer and director J.J. Abrams praised Johnson’s effort in Dave Itzkoff’s piece from The New York Times, “The Battle For Star Wars,” for its “bold choices,” but that didn’t stop him from providing his own hot take. “It’s a bit of a meta approach to the story,” Abrams said. “I don’t think that people go to Star Wars to be told, ‘This doesn’t matter.’” He went on to say that the installment served as a necessary “pendulum swing” before the final act, which we guess is a compliment, if you squint.
Again, putting certain megaphones to these opinions has a way of shifting the optics, and as some note, can look like pandering to trolls in a way that isn’t necessary. (Though, we should definitely note, Boyega did call out the toxicity that exists within the fandom: “The rest of the fandom, even when they have problems with it, it’s discussed in a very cordial way, in a fun way. But when it gets toxic, when no one’s listening and then I say one thing and then it becomes an attack, come on man, I can tell you lot ain’t never had no real fight before. You call that an attack?”) In any case, The Last Jedi is certainly not without its praiseworthy notes. After all, it’s still a thoroughly enjoyable chapter and putting women—especially those played by Laura Dern—squarely in charge is a pretty big plus. And the positive response to Johnson’s vision from long-time fans seems to outweigh the negative. Even the Knives Out filmmaker himself still finds the experience to be largely positive. So before we rush to pity Johnson over the recent tide shift in PR, let’s remember that these are still just opinions.