Where Star Wars The Last Jedi Pays Homage to The Matrix
Let me take you back to the summer of 1999. On my walks to school on garbage day I would rummage through the recycling of my neighbors in hopes of finding and collecting every Phantom Menace Pepsi can to decode the secret message. Here's the secret message, so.tou don't look like a bum: "Anakin breaks free, but may face new enslavement.
One menace is destroyed, but another lurks nearby. The Jedi triumph but their future is clouded." Some characters were only on certain Pepsi products, like Jar Jar and Darth Maul on Mountain Dew and there was also a gold Yoda can. I was looking for the four Diet Pepsi and four Pepsi One characters like Boss Nass and C3P0. Fast forward to May 19th when Episode I is finally released, and I figure out the secret message and while I enjoy the film and it's my favorite Prequel, the rest of the world didn't connect with it or find it fun and they thought that one guy from the side of the Mountain Dew can was annoying. No one really enjoyed it, and I think a huge reason for Episode I's lackluster reception was because a better sci-fi movie came out less than two months earlier and lit up the scene, that movie was The Matrix. And it was impossible not to compare Phantom Menace with The Matrix consciously or subconsciously at the time. Fast forward even further to 2017 with the release of Episode VIII - The Last Jedi. I loved it, it's currently my second favorite Star Wars movie after Empire Strikes Back and I believe it plays with the themes tropes and characters of Star Wars in a really fresh and beautiful way. I especially love how all of the characters fully arc throughout the course of the film. When I first saw The Last Jedi, the showdown between Luke and Ben was breathtaking, emotionally for me and literally for Luke. The moment he ducks under Ben's blade reminded me heavily of The Matrix in that first viewing. The next time I saw that scene the entire lightsaber fight on Crait reminded me even more of The Matrix. Luke is able to make himself look younger through the Force just like how Neo looks like his residual self image within the matrix.
In The Matrix you look different than you do in the real world. Morpheus describes that your residual self-image is the way you see yourself. So how you look in the Matrix is how you think you look in your mind.
In that fight on Crait, Luke looks younger than he supposed to, and we see him with his father's lightsaber which we just saw break in two parts in the previous scene with Rey and Ben. While this is not Luke's residual self-image we are seeing through the force, it is how Ben last saw him. And this is so important character wise, as Luke is messing around with Ben. Luke has made himself look like how he looked when Ben last saw him. This confuses Ben, makes him more emotional, and puts him off his game. And then we see Luke duck under Ben's lightsaber by bending backward and spinning out of the way. The first time I saw this I immediately got Matrix vibes. And as you can see in the gif, the moment in The Last Jedi and The Matrix are the same thing, even with the edit cut in TLJ.
Also in The Matrix, Neo can bend the reality of The Matrix to his will like how the Jedi can bend reality by tapping into the Force with their emotions. And The Last Jedi is a very emotional movie. The characters act on emotion. And I now think back on the emotions I got from Ben Solo fighting Like Skywalker and it's the feelings of both Star Wars and The Matrix. This homage gave me that feeling everyone wanted out of The Phantom Menace in 1999. Now that I have had that feeling I no longer feel I need to get the complete Phantom Menace Pepsi Can collection.