There is controversy about this movie. Fanboys were disappointed that they were so far wrong about what is really important in this movie. Fan theories were all way off base. And that was a good thing. The movie was the best Star Wars movie they have ever made.
I took my family to see this movie at a Thursday matinee a week ago on a regular screen so I could actually afford it, and we watched good battle evil once again. And all the usual things were set up to be a replay of Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. But this smashed all expectations. The evil side very nearly won. And the good side lost almost everything. So, in many ways, this whole movie reflected reality in America. Except, of course, for the fact that Emperor Snoke is actually quite smart and crafty.
But the thing that makes this such a flaw-filled perfect Star Wars movie is how the story builds on everything that came before to make a coherent and very wise theme. Threads of ideas that exist in all of the previous movies (except the Christmas specials) are drawn together and woven into a whole thematic cloth. The Jedi tried to bring balance to the Force, and they failed because they thought balance was the same as the Light Side winning out over Dark. Anakin Skywalker brought balance to the force by bringing back the Dark Side, and then Luke came along to bring the Light Side into balance. Of course, the rise and fall of Light and Dark will occur over and over again.
This movie isn’t just another hero’s journey where Rey finds a master and learns what it will take to defeat evil. Master Skywalker does not actually take her on as a student. He is dealing with his own demons and refuses. So the hero must learn the lessons on her own. But she falls into the pattern naturally that Luke recognizes. And Luke’s hero journey has not yet concluded either. Luke recognizes his own past in Rey. Master Yoda reappears and still teaches him something he needed to know. “Failure is the greatest teacher.”
Rey shows signs in this movie of becoming the hero that win it all in the end. But this is Luke Skywalker’s moment. He learns from his personal failure with Ben Solo. He steps into his old role as the light that guides the rebellion. He creates a final duel with Kylo that calls upon him to use greater powers of the Force than we have ever before seen from a Jedi of the Light Side. And he doesn’t win the battle. He only delays Kylo and the First Order long enough to save Rey and the Resistance. It will be up to others to fight on in the next movie. But Luke has finally proved that the Jedi don’t always fail when the next power surge rolls through the Dark Side. Metaphorical victories count too. Surviving is a victory in itself. No movie has ever been so relevant to my own life and struggles. I have to fail so I can learn too how to win.
So, yes. I am a completely uncritical critic. I only report on the things I love about movies. I never quibble over how it should have been done differently, or how it disappointed me. I actually loved the prequels, and Jar Jar Binks was one of my favorite characters. But I loved this Star Wars movie more than any of the ones I have seen so far. And the next one may surpass it. Miracles do happen. But this movie was the perfect thing at the perfect time in my life to accomplish everything I want a movie to do for me. I loved it. I wouldn’t change a thing, even if I had the power in the Force to do it.