Monday, December 18, 2017

Reflections on Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Now That I've Had Time To Think About It. (SPOILERS)

When I left the theater last Friday I did leave Star Wars: The Last Jedi in a good mood.  I wanted to like it, really like it, and in some ways I did, but now that some of the dust has settled little things about the movie have started jumping out at me.

It's interesting the great divide this movie has caused with Star Wars fans.  Reading through the Audience review section on Rotten Tomatoes it seems fans either love it or hate it.  1/2-1 stars verses 4-5 stars, hardly any down the middle.  93% critic rating compared to 56% audience rating.  That's a huge discrepancy.

Don't Read Below If You Don't Want Spoilers, because I'm definitely spoiling stuff in this post.


I originally gave the movie an A-, I've since gone back to that review and gave it a B.

It's a popcorn movie, but a perfect Star Wars movie it is not.

What Ever Happened To The Original Trilogy?

"Let the past die.  Kill it, if you have to.  It's the only way to become who you were meant to be," Kylo Ren.  That's a very prophetic line from Kylo, and this current Star Wars trilogy seems to be taking it literally.  It seems the Star Wars ethos is being killed for the mouse.  Everything we know and love is either getting killed off or barely noticed.

Han Solo's death is still one of the most pathetic deaths in cinematic history.  Pointless.  Simply Harrison Ford wanting a way out.  But it's a terrible end for an incredibly interesting character.  Luke is now dead, ready to fill new shoes as a force ghost.  And we know Carrie is dead, therefore Leia is dead as well.

Then we get to the other main characters from episode IV-VI.  We still have no idea where Lando is.  Not even a mention.  R2-D2 and C-3P0 are hardly seen.  The moments where Chewbacca shows up is to simply be the butt of a joke; It's like he has no purpose without Han, and Chewie is worth more than that.

This new trilogy has also ruined everything the original trilogy set up.  Han and Leia never had a good relationship.  They have a kid, kid turns evil, and they separate.  Greatest love story build up, extinguished. Then Luke literally takes to the hills.  Does he really have it in him to even contemplate killing his nephew? It goes against Luke's saving grace towards his Dad.  Totally out of character.  Yes, he was a bit of a brat on Tatooine, but he grew past that.

The Killing of Snoke

The climax to his death was pretty epic, with Snoke pitting Ren against Rey.  (Is there any reason why their names are off by a single letter?)  I never cared for Snoke.  He annoyed me in the last film.  Never cared about his origins.  So when he died with no explanation, I was totally cool with it, glad to see him out of the way, but I could see why many were not.  Again with the wasted characters, Snoke being one.  These Star Wars movies are starting a troubling trend in wasting characters.

Rey's linage

Kylo Ren to Rey: “They were filthy junk traders.  Sold you off for drinking money. They’re dead in a pauper’s grave in the Jakku desert. You come from nothing. You’re nothing, but not to me.”

He could be lying.  He could be telling the truth.  He may have thought he saw the truth, but didn't, and relayed a false idea.  But then maybe he is being honest.

Rey coming from nothing doesn't bother me.  Greatness can come from anywhere, my only complaint is that Episode I-IX is the Skywalker saga, and it would have meant more if she came from a known linage.  I kinda wonder if Abrams was setting up for that, but Johnson, in the process of taking over and throwing stuff out, replacing Ep. VIII with his own ideas, went away from the original plan.  It's possible that Abrams didn't have Rey's "nothing" parenthood in mind, and that's Johnson's vision.  Hard to know.  Maybe just another thing thrown to the side in the process of changing directors.  One of the dangers of having too many cooks in the kitchen: We're getting half baked goods.

The Gambling Place

The whole side story where Finn and Rose take off to Canto Bight to find the master code-breaker was a whole lot of filler, set up to bring a political side to the story.  Rich people are bad, ya'll, because they are all dealing and selling weapons.  There's animal cruelty and child slave labor.  It's also the place that introduces light/dark/moral ambiguity by introducing DJ, the Benicio Del Toro character who simply comes and goes, using Finn and Rose in the process.  MIA.

The only way the whole Canto Bight doesn't become a complete waste is if DJ turns out to be Rey's father.  Seems like a stretch after what Kylo Ren says, but he could be lying.  If DJ is Rey's father, having proven to be the kind of man who would sell his daughter for drinking money, and returns in the next film, then the gambling World side-traction won't feel so meaningless.

Floating Leia

Leia floating didn't really bother me, interesting visuals, but her sudden mastery over the force with no real training did bother me.  This is the first and last time we see her truly using the force like a Jedi master, and she's not a Jedi master.  It's out of nowhere, strange, and out of character.  If she was a total force user it wouldn't have been so out of place.

In hindsight Leia should have had Vice Admiral Holdo's death, because that was a great way to go.  Too bad we no longer have Holdo, but I found her character interesting, and we barely got to know her.


I did like Yoda's reprise, though Yoda looked weird.  Glad they used a puppet instead of CGI, but the puppet wasn't quite right.  His face seemed squished, or something, can't put my finger on it.  I did like seeing Yoda again, just wish they used the same puppet as Empire/ROTJ.  (Maybe they did, who knows, just going off observation.

"Wisdom they held, but that library contained nothing that the girl Rey does not already possess."  Yoda to Luke, after burning the sacred tree with the ancient Jedi text.  Though this comment may have been tongue in cheek, because the text are later seen on the Millennium Falcon hidden away, which means Rey stole them, and Yoda knew this, pranking Luke.  So typical Yoda.

Luke's Demise

Luke's last scene facing his Nephew and being shot at was really quite epic.  his being killed off doesn't bother me, because, as a force user, we know he's not really gone.  He can be a help to Rey in the same way Kenobi and Yoda were a great help to Luke.  At least he died in peace, though I still find it a shame what they did to his character during those missing years.  

 Strong Women/Weak Men

Rey, Maz Kanata (barely seen), Leia, and Vice Admiral Holdo are all really strong women who can do no wrong.  Kylo Ren is a spoiled brat, Snoke and Hux are pure evil, Poe is a hot head who gets criticized for it, DJ shrouded in moral ambiguity, and Han went back to his rogue ways abandoning Leia and Ren before suffering a meaningless death.  It's lopsided.  The strong male role models we could have had, we didn't, though Luke maybe could be again.  Han started redeeming himself before getting killed off.

Finn and Rose go off on their little side journey, though it fails, at least they tried, but still.

It's good to have strong female characters, but they're a little 2-dimanetional.  Giving the guys flaws makes them more interesting, more human.

Ren is still a brat.  

Humor in the Star Wars Universe

I don't mind humor in the Star Wars Universe.  As humans we find things funny, so having characters with a sense of humor is natural.  There is a point where it gets to be too much.  One of my biggest complaints with episode IV-VI special editions in the 90's was the added side gags, which were unneeded.  Humor, in general, isn't a bad thing.  It should be natural, not forced, and at times it was forced.

* * * *

There you have it, some of the things I've been thinking.  With all these criticisms I wonder if a B rating is too much, but I still enjoyed it, despite the flaws.  Maybe I'll feel differently in a few months, but it's where I stand now.

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