Luke immediately throws away the lightsaber and shuts himself in his hut, refusing to help Rey or the Resistance.
Rose, despite her initial fangirl attitude, actively thwarts Finn’s escape attempt in the process and then accuses him of being a traitor.
Holdo immediately gives Poe a dressing-down and refuses to let him in on her plans, to the point that he believes that she is an enemy.
I don’t really agree. Luke’s character arc is sort of the entire point of the movie, I don’t think changing it would be a good idea.
My suggestion wouldn’t have changed Luke’s character since his training of Rey would still be designed to show her the error of the Jedi and not for the goal of helping her become a Jedi at all.
And with Holdo, she’s not an antagonistic ally, she’s functionally a straight antagonist until the end of the movie.
That would be fine if Holdo was some sort of potential ally that Poe needed to convince to join the Resistance, but she’s acting as the head of the ‘good guys’. Casting her as an antagonist until the abrupt turn at the end doesn’t endear her or more importantly the Resistance to the audience, which is the whole point I was trying to get across. Establishing clear sides in a conflict is basic storytelling.
Rose is the only character here where this really applies well to, but even then I wouldn’t consider her an antagonistic ally. More of an ally who gets off to a rough start with Finn. Especially because Finn is clearly in the wrong trying to abandon ship.
I mean, though many have argued that Finn is a de-facto member of the Resistance after TFA, TLJ makes it clear that he didn’t actually sign up for it and is only interested in Rey. I wouldn’t say he’s clearly in the wrong for not yet being ready to fully sign on to the Resistance, and even if he was, he’s one of the protagonists so an audience is primed to give him the benefit of the doubt.
The short of it is that Rian was so enamored with subverting expectations that he forgot to make the allies of the film likeable from the outset.
It really sucks that “subverting expectations” has been so associated with the Last Jedi. It wasn’t Rian’s governing mindset making the movie, it’s just something he said once behind the scenes and the marketing department plastered that soundbyte everywhere.
Perhaps I should have used ‘creating a postmodern deconstruction of Star Wars’, which would be more accurate. And this could have been just great, except that it often comes at the expense of basic storytelling techniques. Obviously this works for some people who are on board with these antagonistic characters, and that’s good. But a large amount of the audience did not get on board, and personally I think that was an entirely avoidable problem. Rian has been on record saying that the mark of success for him is a divisive film which is either loved or hated, and I disagree.
It’s possible to make a great, interesting piece of art that is also well-regarded by most of its audience. The Matrix. Blade Runner 2049. Jurassic Park. The Sixth Sense. It just requires the desire to place appeal on equal footing with message.