Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Image result for the last jedi


Star Wars The Last Jedi is an ambitious film that seems to want to subvert some of the Star Wars tropes we've grown used to, and entirely upend others. The idea of a "chosen one," the Jedi as a force for good, the mentor training the new apprentice- these and more are all looked at. Does it work? Well, it certainly breaks new ground to an extent, but for me the callbacks and nostalgia are  a bit too much. There's not enough new here to really take this forward, and the movie is way too long (I think a good half hour could have been shaved off). The biggest problem I have, though, is the way the Luke Skywalker arc is handled- I'll get into that below. If I had to sum up my reaction in one word, though, it would be- disappointing. 

Spoilers for the movie. 

Lucasfilm had an opportunity here to take this franchise forward, with new characters taking over from the Big Three- Luke, Leia, and Han. At the same time they could show fans what the Big Three are like thirty years after Return of the Jedi. So many possibilities! And while the introduction of more diversity into the cast is a welcome addition, in my view they badly bobbled the existing characters. Luke wasn't even in The Force Awakens until the last minute, Leia had nothing to do and Han was a grouchy old smuggler rather than Leia's ally and a hero of the Republic. Now Luke and Leia are left, and we finally get to see what a Jedi master looks like thirty years later. Well, it turns out he's... rather grouchy and bitter. 

Jaded by his failure with Ben Solo, Luke has retreated to an island on Ahch-To to basically retire. Yes, another galactic war is raging, his sister is in the middle of it, and Luke is just hanging out. The problem I have with this is that the Luke at the end of Return of the Jedi was triumphant, having defeated both Darth Vader and the Emperor, and it stands to reason that there would be setbacks as he tries to resurrect the Jedi. Sure Ben Solo is a pretty big setback, but for him to retreat and turn on the Force doesn't ring true. I don't buy it as a character arc, and judging from Mark Hamill's comments in various interviews, he had trouble with it too. So whatever my other problems with this film, the primary issue for me is the way Luke is handled. Everything bad flows from that. 

I'm just going to share my likes and dislikes below, and I'd love to know what you think. 

LIKES
The portrayal of Luke. Wait, didn't I just say I disliked that? Well, yeah, but I'm talking about Mark Hamill's performace here. I thought he did well, and he had a nice redemption moment at the end. That scene where he withstood sustained Imperial (er, First Order) fire and then shrugged it off- there were cheers in the audience. 

Vice Admiral Holdo (played by Laura Dern). I wasn't crazy about her at first, but she won me over by the end. 

Ahch-To. The water planet where Luke too refuge, and the site of the first Jedi temple. I loved the location and the remote nature of it, and the sense that it had a Dark Side place, just like Dagobah did.  

Chewbacca and the Porg's flying through the caverns under Crait, when they drew the TIE fighters away. Fun scene and one of the few that made me feel like I was in a classic SW movie. 

Rey and Kylo fighting together. This was the signature lightsaber battle of the movie, as they took on the red- garbed Imperial guards, and I loved seeing them work together. Pretty good battle too. 

DISLIKES

The portrayal of Luke. Yes I'm having it both ways with this one. This is the heart of my problem with the new trilogy as a whole. I want to see Luke at the height of his powers, interacting with Han and Leia, as part of the Republic, not as a jaded hermit on some island somewhere. As much as I loved Ahch-To, Luke should be out in the galaxy- doing things. 

Artoo Detoo was again criminally under-used. He hardly has any scenes, and BB-8 has totally taken over his role. 

BB-8 irritates me at this point. 

Poe Dameron has potential but he's too one- note. Same with General Hux. Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson are talented actors- I mean, watch Ex Machina and you can see them act. They just don't have good material to work with. 

Leia floating through space, protected by the Force. I thought that scene was so bad. 

Finn and Rose. Their storyline seemed entirely unnecessary (not to mention boring as all get out) and was part of the reason for the bloated run time. 

Snoke. Is that a stupid name, by the way, or what? He was so over the top and he's certainly no Emperor. And he got killed, we never found out who or what he was, so he was pretty much useless? 

Luke dying. First Han, now Luke. You know we never got to see those two interact, so Return of the Jedi was it. Wouldn't it have been nice to see them share a laugh, or the old banter?  

The battle of Crait was too much like Hoth. 

The movie's too damn long- did I mention that??

Yoda looked terrible. Why can't they ever capture him as well as they did in The Empire Strikes Back?

Kylo Ren- boy Snoke wasn't kidding when he told Kylo he was no Vader, just a kid with a helmet. Kylo is as whiny, petulant and lame as he was in The Force Awakens. Thank goodness he ditched the lame helmet, at least. 

 So there you have my largely negative feelings towards The First Jedi. I would love to enjoy these movies but they're just going in an entirely different direction and seem so derivative. Where are the new ideas? Why couldn't we have the Big Three be together, at least somewhat, and do meaningful things? And although we got to see Luke Skywalker show a few fancy moves, he didn't get a chance to really kick ass as a Jedi master, and then to kill him off? To me that's a failure. 

28 comments:

  1. So I see you're one of the people who contributed to the 220 million plus figure this past weekend! (lol) As I read this, we can tell you're a serious fan for sure. If you ever get a chance, check out Chef Jim Smith, who I interviewed a little while ago, on Twitter or Instagram, who can probably beat your ears off about Star Wars.(lol) He talks about mostly food, but I promise if you mention anything about Star Wars, he'll be all in. I've mentioned this before, but your skill in reviewing movies is so on target that you should be paid by somebody!(lol) Hugs...RO

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    1. Yes I am! And I will check him out, that's good to know. :)

      Aw thank you, I don't know about that, but I appreciate the sentiment!

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  2. I haven’t seen it yet so I didn’t read your thoughts but I’ll definitely come back after I see it. You always have fun insights.

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    1. Thanks Jenny! Hope you like it :)

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  3. I am a Star Wars fan from waaaayyyy back and I'm kind of scared to see this.
    Jen Ryland Reviews

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  4. I liked the movie, but I also kind of hated what they did to Luke.

    Spoilers in my comments below!

    I was also miffed about the gigantic plot hole. Was there a good reason why Holdo kept the plans with the transports and the old rebel base from Poe? If she had told Poe, he would not have sent Finn and Rose on that wild goose chase, they wouldn't have been betrayed by the codebreaker, most of the Resistance would still be alive, and they wouldn't have been in such dire straits at the end of the movie. All because Poe was kept in the dark, for no reason at all I could see. That really bothered me.

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

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    1. That plot hole is huge. And the movie felt small to me? Like we get crait but hardly see any of it, and the casino planet I didn't even care about. Why aren't we seeing Coruscant, or Corellia, or any important Inner Rim worlds? They don't seem to be expanding thr galaxy much (some say the casino planet was doing that, but I was unimpressed). And yes the Poe thing was clumsy.

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  5. Great Review! I agree with most of what you said. I did enjoy Luke and Kylo Ren's battle at the end because it shows how inexperienced Kylo Ren is. He didn't even realize Luke wasn't really there. I did like the end that showed the slave boy having powers so maybe the next movie will give us the new story line we are looking for. I hated the Princess Leia floating through space thing too but I admit I bawled at the end when Leia and Luke were talking because I got nostalgic and sad that Carrie Fisher is dead.

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    1. Thanks Jolene! I did like that Luke handled Kylo pretty easily- because as a master he would right? And the Luke/ Leia scene was nice.

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  6. Oh Greg, I have so much wanted to get into discussing this with someone. I thought this was a great space movie, but it wasn't a Star Wars movie, not because Luke and Co weren't in it enough, but because ... I don't know. Everything and everyone in it but Leia and Holdo were mediocre. I can't decide if this is because it is a second movie, because most times I don't always like those and they tend to falter because the trilogy is always strongest at the end.

    I liked Luke -- I liked that his portrayal was realistic for a man who'd fought wars and given up. But I thought in the same vein, Leia should have been stronger as she was keeping the resistance together basically. There were cheers in my cinema too after the he brushed off the imperial firepower lol

    Holdo and Leia were badass. I'm ready for the movie about the two of them holding the Resistance together. I know that the women are leading the resistance doesn't sound good to fans online, but I enjoyed that aND i WOULD have liked to have seen more of that on Leia's and Holdo's part.

    Ahch-To went on for too long, though it did bring some lighter moments too. Luke should have done more, Leia should have done more, but much like hwne the new Star trek killed Vulcan in the first new movie, this was always going to have to something drastic to pull away from the history of Star Wars that came before. This was just not a good movie for Luke's passing -- it wasn't paced well, and goodness, I love Rose, but she and Finn were involved in the most longwinded part in the movie. I just wanted it to end.

    I hate all things to do with Kylo. Driver is not a good actor, and instead of menacing, he is pretty much petulant. And unfortunately, movies like this tend to fail or succeed on the strenght of their villains. Without Snoke, that falls to Kylo, unless the third movie is going to be a longwinded discussion with Rey touching his hand and convincing him not to go to the dark side. There is no big bad any more in this series other than Kylo. Unless Hux decides comic relief is his new super-power. There's no way to redeem Kylo now anyway -- he's killed Hand and Luke, for all intents and purposes -- or wanted him to die.

    I do like the idea that anyone oculd be a jedi -- and that one's parentage doesn't have to make or break being a powerful Jedi. I also think that reveal was underwhelming and Rey's parentage is a reveal waiting to happen because Kylo is well, evil. lol

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    1. Ooh I love your comment! Luke was the biggest issue for me (although not the only one obvs- lol) although I will agree if they are going to go that route (him all bitter and everything) he did a good job with it. Holdo and Leia WERE great, I agree- they played off each other well. When Holdo said she liked Poe, reckless or not, that was a nice touch. :)

      I actually liked Ahch-To mostly, because it was remote. Although yes I just think in general Luke should have done a LOT more. And that's my problem, too- like you mentioned Vulcan. I HATED that when they did that, and it's the wholesale changing of franchise stuff like that that irks me.

      I'm not a fan of Kylo either, for sure. Snoke was a poor man's Emperor, for sure, and Kylo... doesn't hold a candle to Vader, in my view. So with a lame villain it's hard to get into. And Rey's already beaten Kylo once- what are they going to do for an encore??

      I was more ambivalent about the anyone can be a Jedi thing- I LIKE that the Skywalker family is special, and some people have it more than others, but I have seen a lot of people say the same thing so you may be in the majority on that. :) Either way they did handle that well, and I agree about Rey's parents.

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    2. *high fives* Apparently Hamill is voicing his dislike for Luke in this movie in his interviews. can't really blame him to be honest. I hated it when they killed Vulcan in the star trek reboot, and had to admit myself, this new Trek wasn't aimed at me, as much as I wanted to see Kirk and Spock and the Enterprise return. I haven't watched the next movies as a result. There have been article surfacing that Snoke had two disciples according to a random book/encyclopedia about star wars. Not sure what it means for the next movie, but it sounds like people want it to be true to explain the way things are going if anything.

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  7. Although I enjoyed The Last Jedi because I'm too much of a Star Wars fangirl not to, LOL, the movie definitely wasn't without its faults. I totally agree with your Snoke comments. I couldn't take him seriously at all, especially when he looked like he was wearing a bathrobe. XD

    I also can't take Kylo Ren seriously. I almost started laughing out loud when he practically had a temper tantrum on Crait, screeching at Hux to fire ALLLLL the weapons. I actually felt sorry for Hux for having to deal with such a whiny brat, LOLOL. I'm so glad I wasn't the only one feeling like Crait was a throwback to Hoth. At first I thought they were on Hoth! And Grumpy Old Man Luke got tired pretty fast; I love Mark Hamill and felt like he got kinda shortchanged here. :/

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    1. Snoke was just lame (and that name- ugh). I kinda laughed at all his scenes!

      Kylo is just yeah. Hard to take seriously. He seriously is just like some emo kid. Remember the Imperial March whenever Vader showed up? Sorry but Kylo has none of that. :) And the guy playing Hux is a good actor, they are totally wasting him by having him be this hysterical villain...

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  8. I kind of skimmed over this because I still plan to see it. I'm not a die hard fan of the series so some of the things that bother other people go right over my head lol but I can see that I might have some of the same problems.

    I really disliked Kylo Ren. He's just this whiny emo dude wearing black and acting snotty to get back a this parents lol

    For What It's Worth

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    1. I hope you like it, and truthfully even though I didn't I want other people to enjoy it. :) And yes Kyle is a joke! I totally agree with your characterization of him!

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  9. I had to skip the spoilers as I haven't seen the other two yet...though an idiot tv presenter announced spoilers for them when talking about the premiere of this one!!!

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  10. I did not read this post YET! I didn't want to risk ANY spoilers LOL I'm going to night! I'll be back tomorrow to comment!!!

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  11. I think the original first three from the '70s/'80s will always be my favorite. I did like The Force Awakens (even though they killed off Han Solo!!) but it's still not the same for me. Bummer to hear this is disappointing. It's a shame they've kind of failed with Luke's story arc. I agree he should be fighting by his sister's side instead of pouting away in some remote place. I was also disappointed that Han and Leia weren't together and happy in The Force Awakens. Definitely not making a trip out for this one. I'll watch it when it comes out on DVD. :/

    Great movie review, Greg! :)

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    1. I agree, the originals will always be my faves. And I'm really disappointed what they did with Luke. I don't think you're missing too much if you wait for DVD. I do really regret we didn't get to see Luke/ Leia/ Han interact at least a little??

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  12. "Leia floating through space, protected by the Force. I thought that scene was so bad." 100% agree there!!

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  13. I didn't hate the movie, so I'm not really a "hater" but there's so much I didn't like about it. There were many inconsistencies. Since when is launching your ship into hyperspace a weapon? If so, why hasn't this been a weapon before? How do you drop bombs in zero gravity? Mary Poppins Leia bugged me. I wanted say, "Oh come on," out loud in the theater. What about the map R2D2 had and why was that never explained? I don't believe Luke would've ever tried to kill someone else in their sleep. Why didn't Laura Dern's character just tell Poe what she was doing? That whole subplot with Rose and Finn (where they accomplished nothing) could've been avoided and the writers could've done something more productive with them. The majority of the story was just one long, slow chase scene. And on and on. Still, I left the theater entertained, so it wasn't a total loss.

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    1. The bombs in zero gravity thing realy is silly! It's amazing to me in pre-production that no one said um guys, does this make sense?? MAry Poppins Leia cracks me up. That scene totally took me out of the moment! And the chase scene- yeah. Still I'm glad you liked it despite those things. I'm just a grinch :)

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  14. I enjoyed the movie overall, but I definitely agree with you on several of your dislikes. As much as I was glad that they didn't just kill Leia off in that explosion, I do agree that the float through space scene was just weird and didn't feel very Star Wars like.

    I also agree about the portrayal of Luke. I thought Mark Hamill did a wonderful job with the material that he was given, but that just didn't feel like Luke Skywalker to me. I definitely wanted more.

    Chewy flying the Millenium Falcon was definitely a highlight of the film for me, especially when the little Porg starts doing the Wookiee roar too, lol.

    I've been conflicted about the newer characters too. I really like Rey, Finn, and Poe and feel like they are growing as characters. They'll never replace Leia, Luke, and Han in my heart, but they have grown on me with each movie. Kylo Ren, on the other hand. I don't find anything about him interesting. He is definitely no Vader and I just cringe every time he's on the screen.

    I definitely had the vibe that this film was designed to be 'Out with the old, in with the new' and I'm just not sure how I felt about that. It makes me fear for what other beloved original characters we will possibly lose in future films. They better leave Chewbacca alone is all I'm saying, lol.

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    1. Yeah the Leia thing was iffy, although it was nice they didn't kill her that way. Poor Luke- such a disappointing return to Luke skywalker. I loved the Porgs though!! Even though they get a little heat online, I thoguht they were great :)

      I totally agree about Kylo. Such a whiny thing! And I like Rey. I'd love to see her become a full fledged Jedi. I think Poe has potential, although some of his lines were cringe worthy. Fin and Rose unfortunately bored me.

      I think you're right. I would have liked to see Luke be portrayed a little better, with Rey taking center stage next time, but whatever. and yes they better leave Chewie alone!!

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  15. Whining and angst is what I thought about The Last Jedi. I was psyched by The Force Awakens, but Ben Solo/Kylo Ren gets on my nerves. There were some good parts but this movie was definitely different. Yeah, the battle scene with Rey and KR fighting back to back was good. I wanted BB8 to have a bigger role in this last movie. Also, when I saw the dark version of BB8 at Target, I was intrigued but then disappointed at its role. I was expecting Rey to have some royal parentage but I guess they didn't want to do exactly what was done in the original series? More like how a commoner comes into a top notch position or "family." It made me think of commoner Kate Middleton marrying into the Royal family. I will still see the newer installments of Star Wars but in my heart, it always goes to the original icons of the first trilogy.

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