Quote Originally Posted by David Walton View Post
I still feel really ambivalent about The Last Jedi's characterization of Luke. I feel like it's brilliantly executed. Mark Hamill gives one of his finest performances, arguably Oscar-worthy (especially given the character's 40 year baggage and Mark's creative disagreements about the script).

But I don't buy into the idea that Luke would truly think it best to stand by and do nothing while the space-Nazis take control of the galaxy.

I do think Luke is more interesting when he's somewhat broken, but there's A LOT of middle ground between the Legends version (essentially a superhero) and him being a complete wreck. In a perfect world, we'd see a Luke who's cynical and witty, but still fully involved in the fight against tyranny. Luke didn't have the baggage with the Jedi that the film seemed to imply, since he wasn't trained in the traditional way and achieved his greatest victory by turning Vader against Yoda and Obi-Wan's advice. Luke was the ideal figure to re-shape the Jedi Order in a way that dealt openly and honestly with their failures.

All that said, the climatic battle is Luke Skywalker's finest moment. One of my favorite scenes in the franchise.
Iím mostly with you, but with one major caveat: O think the biggest mistake made with Luke in TLJ was the sheer size and enveloping natureís of his role in the film, since it wound up hollowing out time and focus that should have gone to Rey, or to bulking up Kylo as a threat, or to giving Finn a worthwhile story.

Hamill is doing a great job, and Johnsonís ambition came from the right place, and even though I do think TLJ Luke is ultimately out of character and dubiously written on a basic level, I think I could have run with it if the writing for the STís leads was up to snuff. Iím loose enough that I could look at Luke, figure heís written out of character, but roll with it if I liked the rest of the film, and if Luke was a supporting character whoís arc didnít become the centerpoint of the film.

I mean, I was excited to see Luke, but I was putting down money to see the continuing story of Rey, Finn, and Kylo, not an epilogue to Lukeís story.

Thereís plenty of Han fans who have a point in saying that TFAís version of Han seems to have regressed off-screen so that Abrams and Kasdan could portray a loner, smuggler Han separated from Leia, all without really adequately explaining that. But Han is ultimately a supporting character in TFA; not only is his ďregressiveĒ starting point handled for only a short amount of time so you can get over it quickly, but heís used to sell Finn and Rey to the audience even more and his death at Kyloís hands is used to define Kyloís evil. So even if you donít like Hanís story, if you like Finn, Rey or Kyloís story, you can enjoy TFA because of how they used Han.

TLJ puts way too much emphasis and time into Lukeís story, particularly considering its risky nature and how it really doesnít build up Rey in any significant way. Rey is basically demoted to supporting character for Lukeís story (and Kyloís as well, but thatís more because of the film ignoring her perspective for its man-crush on Kylo), and doesnít receive ďthe rubĒ from Luke in any real way. She got one half-hearted, almost decent meditation lesson from Luke, than acted as an audience stand-in so Luke could explain his characterization to the audience with her other lesson, all before she left him to mail herself to Kylo. The only real service Luke performed for her arc was to supposedly drive her into Kyloís influence (which makes no sense), and thatís it.

Then he takes the actual climax away from her by confronting Kylo, who gets belittled and humiliated in a film that never really rebuilt him after his TFA loss in the first place, meaning that when Luke leaves the film, our heroine is underdeveloped and out villain is somewhat pathetic.

And on top of all that, Lukeís shadow puppet show is supposed to be more motivating to the Galaxy than 1) the destruction of Starkiller Base in TFA, 2) the destruction of the Hosnian System in TFA (think Pearl Harbor-style anger for the Galaxy), 3) Holdo obliterating several Star Destroyers in one attack in TLJ (even if the moment is an example of poor writing), and 4) Rey lifting what amounts to a mountain to physically rescue the survivors Lukeís buying time for.

To really, deeply, enjoy TLJ, you *have* to like Lukeís story. Itís too central to the plot and holds too large a monopoly on the significant moments of the narrative. And outside of *maybe* Rey and Kyloís interaction (unless youíre revolted by its shoddy writing, like I am), thereís really nothing else significant to focus on. TLJ dismisses Snoke as a potential intriguing character, uses all the military plots to try and just resurrect the OT status quote, but sloppily, and has Finn running around in a circle so he can undergo redundant character growth of downright pathetic scale.

And since TLJís story for Luke is risky, and since it really doesnít handle critical thinking that well if you donít jive with Rian Johnsonís creative impulses, the whole movie suffers as a result.