Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi is set to be released on Blu-Ray and DVD on 27th March this year and there have been calls for it to be used as an opportunity to edit the divisive Canto Bight story-line that split the opinions of fans of the franchise.
The Canto Bight Controversy
Director Rian Johnson has admitted that he was sent death threats after his work on the latest instalment in the Star Wars franchise hit cinemas to widespread critical acclaim. Despite proving hugely popular with fans and critics alike, there was a hardcore sector of the fanbase that took severe exception to the way Johnson handled the story-telling within the movie.
One of the major focal points of anger was the inclusion of the Canto Bight story-line. This saw the characters of Finn (John Boyega) and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) travel to the casino city of Canto Bight, located on the planet Cantonica. Their mission was to find a master codebreaker that could help the Resistance stop The First Order from tracking their ships through hyperspace.
Finn and Rose failed to make contact with the master codebreaker before they were arrested for a number of violations they had committed since arriving at the city. In jail, they encounter the enigmatic DJ (Benicio Del Toro) who claims he is a codebreaker who can help them.
As the plot progresses, DJ does assist the duo in hacking into The First Order’s system. However, the trio are captured by Captain Phasma only for DJ to reveal The Resistance’s plans to The First Order in exchange for his release.
The whole plot caused huge discussion and disagreement amongst Star Wars fans. Some stated that the fact the mission failed made that entire section of the movie redundant. Due to the movie being 2 hours and 32 minutes long, critics felt the Canto Bight arc was unnecessary and prolonged the movie too much.
Yet others felt the plot was about more than just finding a master codebreaker to foil The First Order’s plans.
Kill The Old
Johnson repeatedly emphasized that he wanted to use this Star Wars movie to break away with tradition and offer a new approach to the franchise. It’s a philosophy that is totally understandable. Previous Star Wars movies are held in such high regard that they can’t be replicated so why try?
Instead, wouldn’t it be better to take the movies in a new direction and create new magic for the franchise than attempt to recreate the magic of old?
Past Star Wars films have often included a sub-plot where characters meet new individuals. Usually, it was someone or something that experienced the classic character arc of being flawed before realizing the errors of their ways and earning redemption.
The fact DJ did not follow such a path clearly irked fans of the previous movies. There was no moral lesson here. This was a cold hard dose of reality. Sadly, in life, there are people who are in it for themselves.
It was also refreshing to see an audacious mission fail. Not just in Star Wars, but in countless other epic movies, there is some kind of mission that seems impossible that is somehow completed by the heroes. You only need to look at the final mission in Independence Day (1996) as a classic example.
This Star Wars movie was praised for its rollercoaster of emotions, leading fans down one path before throwing them on another. Every character from Kylo Ren to Rey ends up taking a journey no viewer would have predicted before the movie started.
More Than Just A Mission
Arguably, Canto Bight was far more than just a mission to get one over on The First Order. It was a chance to set things up for a new generation and tell another layer of the story. It also showed us another world.
Taking inspiration from Switzerland’s role during World War II, Canto Bight shows a land untouched by war where those that thrive there have benefited from dealing with both sides in the conflict.
Underneath the surface, it shows how those that lack the power and finances to operate in such a way are oppressed and suffering. It’s a brutally honest interpretation of actual war.
Furthermore, it acts as a spark for the next crop of young resistance fighters. As Finn and Rose escape from the city and free the fathiers that are enslaved to race for entertainment, they inspire the stable boys and girls that are also treated as slaves for the super rich in the city. One stable child is shown looking in admiration at Rose’s Resistance fighter ring, which she left behind.
Come the close of the movie, the pay-off for the Canto Bight plot comes through. Instead of ending on the scene where the small crew of Resistance fighters who are left are shown grouped together on the Millennium Falcon, the scene cuts back to the stables on the casino city. One stable child reaches for a sweeping brush seemingly using the Force before staring out longingly at the stars in the night sky.
That is exactly why Canto Bight proves to be so pivotal. It not only offers hope to the current batch of Resistance fighters heading into the last movie in this current trilogy – it also delivers inspiration for the next generation of Star Wars fans.
The Star Wars story of past generations has already been told. Canto Bight now allows the future generation to tell theirs.