The response to The Last Jedi has been divisive to say the least. Some love it because it takes Star Wars in a bold new direction; some hate it for the same reason. While I enjoyed a great deal of the film, it profoundly depressed me, and here’s why: The Last Jedi killed my childhood, but not in the way you think.
I understand the issue here. “Killing my childhood” evokes the far more common “ruined my childhood,” a petty term that merely means someone hates a modern installment or version of something you loved as a kid. “So-and-so ruined my childhood!” cannot be said meaningfully; it can only be whined. The Last Jedi ruined neither my childhood nor the Star Wars franchise.
So when I say it “killed my childhood,” I mean it only personally.
I was born in 1977, and I grew up with Luke Skywalker. I was one of the multitude of kids who watched the films religiously. I can’t even imagine how many times I’ve seen A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. I loved a lot of movies and cartoons and toys, but it was always Star Wars first and foremost, and Luke Skywalker was my hero. It’s not that I necessarily considered him the best hero in pop culture, it’s that he was The Hero. The other good guys in my pop culture life were just that—other.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi shifted the franchise forever, while causing quite a few casualties in the process. But could one of the film’s newest additions have survived their apparent death?
Spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi below!
In the film, audiences were introduced to Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern), a Resistance leader who stepped in in the wake of General Leia Organa’s (Carrie Fisher) injury. After a sort of cat-and-mouse game between Holdo and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), it was revealed that Holdo was ultimately on the side of the good guys.
She proved this by piloting the newly-abandoned Resistance ship, as the rest of the group escaped in jump ships. Holdo then faced Supreme Leader Snoke’s (Andy Serkis) ship head-on, destroying the fleet as her Resistance ship jumped to lightspeed.
But as is commonplace with franchises of this nature, we can’t help but wonder — Could Holdo have survived?In a way, that certainly could be a possibility. Holdo always seemed to be one step ahead of the rest of the Resistance, and her calmness towards commanding the ship could hint that she had a plan already in place. Sure, the Resistance ship was on its last reserves of fuel, but the ship could’ve jumped to lightspeed successfully, with Holdo instructing another vessel to meet her in another corner of the galaxy. And Holdo would certainly be an asset for the Resistance at some point in Episode IX, now that they will not have Leia to guide them.
But on the other hand, Holdo cheating death might not sit well with a lot of fans in the long run. While she was only given a bit of screentime throughout The Last Jedi, fans have ultimately fallen in love with her character through the whiplash of her confrontation with Poe. That arc – and the reveal of her true motivations – make her death pretty impactful, especially since the ships colliding is presented entirely in silence.
“It’s really incredible, right? I mean, we thought it was going to be big, but you could just feel the crowd,” The Last Jedi editor Bob Ducsay explained earlier this week. “It’s amazing. It’s absolutely amazing, and it’s funny about that sequence because it’s sort of complicated editorially, because you’re cutting between Kylo and Rey, and Finn and Rose, and Holdo, and Hux. So it’s a lot of balls in the air, and things got moved around a lot in there to make it accelerate the way that it does.”
As of now, it’s too early to tell exactly what’s in the cards for Holdo. Even if her apparent The Last Jedi death sticks (which it probably will), there are still plenty of avenues for fans to see more of her. After all, Holdo was initially introduced in the Leia: Princess of Alderaan novel, which provided fans with her backstory and canon bisexuality.
Let’s start here: Is there actually a backlash to Star Wars: The Last Jedi?
The problem with using any online voting mechanism to gauge opinions on a movie (or anything, really) is such systems are really easy to game. The 56 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and the 4.9 average user score (out of 10) on Metacritic (where critics gave the film an 86 out of 100) are certainly shocking to behold. (There’s also an ineffectual online petition you can sign.) But flip over to IMDb and you’ll see Last Jedi has a 7.9 user score. That would lag behind critics’ scores, but it’s not far off the 8.1 IMDb user score forThe Force Awakens.
Similarly, all of the evidence we have from actual audience surveys and box office returns suggests The Last Jedi is performing well with audiences. It received a Cinemascore of “A,” exactly the same as The Force Awakens and Rogue One, and its average rating from moviegoers surveyed by Comscore was five out of five stars, which is actually slightly higher than either of the two most recent Star Wars films. (Deadline has more on both surveys and how they’re conducted here.)
Finally, the box office opening for The Last Jedi was exactly as you’d expect a blockbuster movie with good word of mouth, going up on Saturday from Friday and slightly overperforming initial estimates for the second-biggest opening weekend of all time (behind only The Force Awakens). The real test will be how it performs in the lucrative Christmas-through-New-Year’s-Day week. (It should have a steep drop-off next weekend, because Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday, but no one expects it to utterly collapse.)