John Boyega Feels “Iffy” About The Last Jedi but for Reasons I Heartily Disagree With
I'm sorry, Finn. I'm so sorry.
In a recent cover interview for HypeBeast, Star Wars’ very own John Boyega opened up about his excitement for the upcoming Rise of Skywalker while also dishing out some complaints he had with The Last Jedi. He believes not only that Finn got sidelined from the main action, but that the film threw off the “positive” momentum of The Force Awakens because it separated the core trio: Rey (Daisy Ridley), Poe (Oscar Isaac), and himself.
The Force Awakens I think was the beginning of something quite solid, The Last Jedi if I’m being honest I’d say that was feeling a bit iffy for me. I didn’t necessarily agree with a lot of the choices in that and that’s something that I 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.
For Boyega, separating Poe, Finn, and Rey in The Last Jedi was a critical flaw that reduced the impact of the new Star Wars trilogy, especially in comparison to the three original films. Boyega said that while Luke was the main character in the first three Star Wars movies, the films properly developed Han and Leia and ensured they were equally important to the main narrative. And to him, the dynamic among Finn, Poe and Rey is not there yet.
I guess in 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] IX, but if it’s exploring that dynamic, then that would be cool. I do feel even after three films still, we don’t know them as much as we got to know Han, Luke, Leia. And maybe that’s a great opportunity to get to know them a little bit more.
I have some … bones to pick with this. First, The Force Awakens stirred up plenty of outrage from a certain vocal and *cough cough* misogynistic *cough cough* portion of the Star Wars fanbase for having Rey in the central role. This outrage then continued to dump on The Last Jedi. The rest of the fans, while finding things to be critical of in both films, for the most part did not lose their good will from one film to the next.
And while I empathize with Boyega for being bummed at being split up from the friends and counterparts that he had bonded with during the first film, or being disappointed that his character didn’t go where he hoped he would, that doesn’t necessarily make the choice wrong for the story.
His storyline with Rose Tico (who seems to be constantly forgotten when people are discussing the core group of the new trilogy, which is outrageous to me because she is the best) was the heart and soul of The Last Jedi. It was the necessary world building required to demonstrate just what a devastating effect the continuing fascist colonialism of the First Order is having on the galaxy. The previous Star Wars trilogies have often preferred a “tell, don’t show” method when it comes to letting the audience in on the atrocities of the Empire (with the exception of the Death Star blowing up planets) by having characters monologue about the devastation as opposed to actually putting it on the screen.
But The Last Jedi makes those stories REAL, by forcing Finn—a former stormtrooper—to see them firsthand alongside a woman who lived them. The wealthy casino patrons are not there to be glamorized; they are monsters capitalizing on slavery and death. Not only that, but Finn and Rose’s escape sparks the hope (the key theme of Star Wars!!) of rebellion in the slaves, especially the children—children which, we learn at the end, have the power of the Force in them (well, at least one, anyways). Without Finn and Rose traveling to Canto Bight and stirring up a ruckus, the future of the resistance and the future of the Force past the current adult generation would be nonexistent.
Also, this is not the first time the main group of Star Wars characters has been split up. In fact, part of the Star Wars storytelling style for each bunch of movies involves the main trio being split up in the second film in order to grow and accomplish tasks that will later become essential to their survival/success overall.
In Empire, Luke has to leave and train with Yoda. In Attack of the Clones, Obi-Wan is off looking at said clones while Anakin is guarding Padme. In Last Jedi, all three get split up—Rey trains with Luke, Finn and Rose go to Canto Bight, and Poe is punished for almost destroying the entire resistance fleet because he can’t follow directions. The Last Jedi was a continuation and expansion of the tropes laid down previously.
Finally, I don’t necessarily agree with the complaint that the bonds of this trio are less developed than the bonds between Han, Leia, and Luke. I’m currently in the middle of a rewatch in preparation for Rise of Skywalker, and honestly? I think a lot of what we attribute to this bond has been built over the decades of Star Wars dominating popular culture.
It has existed within our zeitgeist for so long that the bonds feel deeper (and part of that feeling is thanks to the additions of the EU novels and the many many comic book series) than what is actually present onscreen. I also think that just because the bonds are different than the previous trio doesn’t necessarily make them less/worse. It’s more interesting to expand and riff on an existing trope or archetype than to simply repeat it.
This is not to say that there aren’t valid criticisms to be made of The Last Jedi. As a Poe/Finn shipper (like Oscar Isaac himself), I found the love story between Rose and Finn to be forced and unnecessary. I think we are getting too much Kylo Ren. I’m dubious as hell about the reintroduction of Palpatine in Rise of Skywalker.
Star Wars, even the original trilogy, has never been a perfect entity. Far from it. But I find complaints like Boyega’s (while I understand where his frustration stems from) discouraging, because in our current age of internet bad faith takes, they will be used to justify the hatred of trolls. But also, I’m sorry John Boyega, because this stirred up a lot of feelings in me.
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