The original 1977 Star Wars film is often credited with creating the modern blockbuster: a popcorn-fueled thrill ride that is a feast for all the senses. Before it became known as Episode IV: A New Hope, Star Wars set the template for popular film, from the tight three-act structure to the bombastic film score to the broad strokes of heroes and villains against a visually spectacular backdrop. The commercially driven films that it spawned became densely packed with groundbreaking effects and audience-thrilling action.
This is precisely what makes The Last Jedi, the most recent film and source of the most recent controversy in the franchise, such a wild departure. It’s true that the movie is, like the preceding entries in its canon, very much a Star Wars film: there are space battles and aliens and shootouts, along with lightsaber battles and a John Williams score. But in many ways, it deviates from the original template more than any other Star Wars movie to date, even when compared to the boldly different The Phantom Menace.