The Last Jedi finally gives Star Wars fauna its due

Porgs, and fathiers, and vulptices, oh my!

(Image credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been rightfully praised for blazing a new trail. The latest entry in the wildly popular series is surprising, stylized, and narratively ambitious in ways its more nostalgic predecessor, The Force Awakens, never was. But at least in one important aspect, The Last Jedi actually marks a return to the old ways of doing things. I speak, of course, of space creatures.

When live-action Star Wars came back to movie screens after a decade-long hibernation in 2015, it was clear that the filmmakers, including new director J.J. Abrams, wanted to re-prioritize the human characters. Humans populated George Lucas' controversial prequel trilogy, of course, but Lucas' seeming distance from actors and his fascination with new technology meant that their performances weren't always the most eye-catching element on screen. (Just think of The Phantom Menace's Jar Jar Binks.) So The Force Awakens, as if to reassure the audience that they were dealing with a director who actually liked actors, kept one of its biggest computer-generated-only characters, the shadowy villain Snoke, shrouded in fuzzy transmissions. Another computer-generated creation, the wily bar proprietor Maz, was clearly modeled on Yoda: diminutive, confidently mischievous, wise. It was the flesh-and-blood actors who really stood out.

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Jesse Hassenger

Jesse Hassenger's film and culture criticism has appeared in The Onion's A.V. Club, Brooklyn Magazine, and Men's Journal online, among others. He lives in Brooklyn, where he also writes fiction, edits textbooks, and helps run, a pop culture blog and podcast.