From Cass R. Sunstein at Bloomberg:
“George Lucas, the genius behind the first six “Star Wars” movies, says that his films are defined by “a sort of effervescent giddiness.” That’s true, and it’s central to their magic.
That helps explain why writer-director Rian Johnson’s new film, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” isn’t really “Star Wars.” Sure, it’s good, even very good — but there’s nothing giddy about it. […]
Although Star Wars is a bit of a cartoon, it also has feeling and depth, and real insight into human psychology. Drawing on Joseph Campbell’s idea of “The Hero With a Thousand Faces,” Lucas told a universal tale (actually, two tales) about heroic journeys and freedom of choice, exercised for better or for worse by two young men, Anakin Skywalker and his son Luke. Both of them are deeply tempted by evil. Lucas is candid and vivid about the seductive, even erotic power of the Dark Side of the Force. […]
When Lucas’s protagonists do go bad, it is for one reason: They cannot bear to lose someone they love. The path to the Dark Side is paved by grief and loss. But in a stunning reversal of what seems to be his main theme, Lucas also shows that fear of loss (otherwise known as love) is the path to redemption as well. […]
Having studied the topic with care, Lucas is also insightful (and enduringly relevant, above all in the much-maligned prequels) about how democracy falls and how authoritarianism rises. He captures the populist allure of the all-powerful leader. As one of his characters puts it, “So this is how liberty dies … with thunderous applause.”
Anakin Skywalker himself insists, “We need a system where the politicians sit down and discuss the problems, agree what’s in the best interests of all the people, and then do it.” Ominously, he adds that if they refuse, “They should be made to” — and if that sounds like dictatorship, “Well, if it works …”
“The Last Jedi” has a lot to say about the Light Side and the Dark Side, but there is nothing about grief and loss, and it’s banal about democracy. What it does with good and evil isn’t nearly interesting enough. Rey, our heroine, is never truly tempted. That’s boring.
Mr. Dark Side, Kylo Ren, does have a bit of a struggle, and in that sense, Johnson maintains continuity with Lucas’s vision. But in this movie, at least, the struggle turns out to be a head fake. Because Kylo’s descent doesn’t have the precipitating cause of Anakin’s — the loss of loved ones — and because we don’t see Kylo suppressing the better angels of his nature, the film doesn’t come anywhere close to the depths of Lucas’s films.
The script flags the idea of freedom of choice, but it’s not heartfelt — more like checking a box. In that sense, and worst of all, Johnson ends up losing Lucas’s golden thread. […]
True, Mark Hamill is fabulous as the old Luke Skywalker, and as Rey, Daisy Ridley matches him. Johnson’s work is more than competent; it’s sharp and inventive (and in a few places, stunning). But it doesn’t wrestle with demons or with the largest questions. It isn’t brimming with life.
It’s a reminder that George Lucas was, and remains, one of a kind.”
“Cass Robert Sunstein FBA (born September 21, 1954) is an American legal scholar, particularly in the fields of constitutional law, administrative law, environmental law, and law and behavioral economics, who was the Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2012. For 27 years, Sunstein taught at the University of Chicago Law School. Sunstein is the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School.
Studies of legal publications between 2009 and 2013 found Sunstein to be the most frequently cited American legal scholar by a wide margin, followed by Erwin Chemerinsky and Richard A. Epstein.” (Wikipedia)