The Last Jedi and the great lightsaber duel. Or not

The intergalactic saga has certainly become a divisive lm and yet, the more people talk, the more it is cashing in money


IT has been a week since “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” began its run, but the latest instalment of the franchise has solicited quite a hot debate among fans and critics.

While the movie is certified “fresh” by aggregator Rotten Tomatoes with a 93% score (at press time) from over 300 discerning critics, the audience seems to have given it rather conservative reviews.

Average rating is 3.2, while only 54% of over 128,00 users liked it. Now, this is considered “rotten” since the number recorded is less than 60%.

The intergalactic saga has certainly become a divisive film, and yet, the more people talk, the more the franchise is cashing in money.

According to Box Office Mojo, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” delivered an estimated US$450 million (RM1.84 billion) during its global debut, the third-largest (excluding China which debuts on Jan 5), behind its predecessor “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows Part 2”.

On the local scene, the eighth episode is poised to rival “The Force Awakens”, which had raked in US$6.6 million in 2015.

The amount also places it fifth in the Malaysian yearly box office, behind “Furious 7”, “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, “Jurassic World” and “Ant-Man”.

“The Last Jedi” saw writer-director Rian Johnson at the helm, taking up the baton from Jeffrey Jacob Abrams who directed “The Force Awakens”.

Johnson had somehow laid out some surprising twists to the storyline which, for better or worse, fans have to come to terms with.

For instance, everyone’s favourite lightsaber is also given an uneventful treatment in the storyline.

(Spoiler alert! If you have not watched the movie, do not proceed. You have been warned.)

Skywalker’s Lightsaber Fate

“The Last Jedi” picked up from the seventh episode’s cliffhanger. Jedi apprentice Rey (Daisy Ridley) arrives at Luke Skywalker’s (Mark Hamill) hiding place Ahch-To, with a mission to bring back the Jedi master into action and fight against the First Order along the Resistance.

When Rey hands over Luke’s lightsaber to him, he unapologetically throws his long-lost lightsaber over his shoulder.

Needless to say, “Star Wars” fans are as bewildered as Rey over Luke’s cold reception.

He does not seem to care, or even activate the lightsaber and give it a swing, despite being reunited with the lightsaber for the first time after his hiatus.

Perhaps, he is perturbed with the fact that the lightsaber was constructed by his own father Anakin

Skywalker, and that it was passed down to him by the Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, who previously kept it for two decades.

What is Rey to do, but to pick up the lightsaber and make it officially hers.

The inglorious fate of the lightsaber continues when Rey set foot on the ship of the Supreme Leader of the First Order Snoke (Andy Serkis) to redeem Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), the new servant of the dark side.

After the battle against Snoke’s elite crimson-clad guardians, Kylo and Rey end up in a “tug of war” moment as both seem to be calling out with their hands to the lightsaber, or rather, Rey’s sword.

Sadly, the lightsaber’s handle breaks into two, after two “strong forces” pulling it from opposite directions. And yes, that’s the end of the lightsaber.

The scene does end with an explosion, but for over two hours of the movie, anyone wishing to see a proper lightsaber duel would be highly dis- appointed.

The Forgotten Lightsaber Duels

“It is obvious that this contest cannot be decided by our knowledge of the Force…but by our skills with a lightsaber,” Count Dooku said to Master Yoda in Episode 2 “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones”, which represents the significance of a lightsaber duel scene in the series.

“Star Wars” fan might want to watch such duels, but it is non-existence in “The Last Jedi”.

There are also moments that could lead to a great lightsaber duel. For instance, when Rey fights Kylo in the Snoke’s throne room, or during Luke’s duel with Kylo in the final showdown on planet Crait. But no, Johnson decided otherwise. Well, there are some nice lightsaber moments like the epic battle when Kylo and Rey join forces to fight Snoke’s Praetorian Guards.

Nevertheless, as far as a one-on-one lightsaber battle is concerned, Johnson had decided to make it a big deal, despite the knowledge that “Star Wars” enthusiasts might cherish such duels, as they did in previous instalments, including that Master Yoda versus Darth Sidious scene, or that Anakin Skywalker versus Obi-Wan Kenobi battle in “Star Wars: Episode 3 — Revenge of the Sith”.

Regardless, the 40-year legacy of the “Star Wars” civil war will continue for next generations to come.

Entertainment giant The Walt Disney Co definitely knew what they wanted to do with the franchise, when they purchased Lucasfilm Ltd from filmmaker George Lucas for US$4 billion in 2012.

After a 10-year break, the studio decided to revive the sci-fi pop culture phenomenon with “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi”, as well as “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”.

The final episode of the sequel trilogy is in the pipeline and can be expected to hit the market in two years time. As it is, fans’ theories on the upcoming instalment are already flooding the Internet.

For the time being, let us pay homage to the seemingly forsaken lightsaber and to the late Carrie Fisher, who passed away not long after she completed filming her role as the fearless General Leia Organa in “The Last Jedi”.