Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review

"...This is not going to go the way you think!" 
                                             - Luke Skywalker

This comment from the trailer for the new Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi, accurately summarizes the entire experience.

Since the release of The Force Awakens in 2015, a million and one fanboy/fangirls have posted their theories about what might happen in the next episode. I had my own theories, good or bad, that I posted here. But in the words of director/writer Rian Johnson, your Snoke theory sucks.

So with such high expectations for the saga, will anything truly satisfy everyone?

As with all things in the world today, this movie has definitely polarized fans. From comments like, "...this is the best Star Wars movie ever!", to "...this is the worst Star Wars movie ever!", it seems everyone has very strong opinions about the newest chapter in the saga.

Star Wars has become so painfully mainstream, it's as if it's ingrained into our DNA. We all have an idea of what Star Wars should be. So, can anyone really look at it objectively? Well, I'm going to see if I can let go of my feelings and try to review it fairly.

Ha! Everyone knows, there is no try! 

For this review, I'm going to break it down in two parts: Non-Spoiler, and Spoiler. The first half being non-spoiler, and don't worry, I'll give you plenty of warning before delving into the spoiler half.


Creator of the Star Wars universe, George Lucas, had an outline for the final trilogy in the series. But, for some reason, Disney threw out his notes and decided to do their own thing. The Last Jedi, was written and directed by Rian Johnson, but the origins of the current story arc, including characters, came from Episode VII, The Force Awakens, which was written and directed by JJ Abrams. And, as you may know, I'm not such a big fan of JJ Abrams.

"...but Deeesher, JJ Abrams rebooted and saved Star Trek AND Star Wars!"

Seriously, a couple of trained monkeys could have rebooted those titles, because they are popular franchises with an enormous built-in fan base. They were guaranteed to be box office hits. But "Successful" does not necessarily mean "Good".

Prior to Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan taking over the script for The Force Awakens, it was originally being written by Michael Arndt. He had some great concepts, and I highly recommend the book, The Art of The Force Awakens. In it, you will find rough drafts for the movie he was writing, as well as plenty of concept designs for the environments and characters before Abrams took over. I would have loved to have seen that movie!

But Abrams did take over, and for the most part, he played it safe, rehashing a lot of concepts from the original 1977 Star Wars A New Hope. He also created some new characters that were not so inspiring to me. Sorry, but I never really liked Rey, Finn or Poe. I don't find anything appealing about them at all. They didn't feel so heroic, and I had zero emotional connections with anything they did. You could replace them with blocks of wood, and I would have been equally as entertained.

"...oh Deeesher, you're just stuck in the past and only like old things!"

Ha! First, I'm only in my twenties (as far as you know), and I LOVED Star Wars Rogue One from 2016! I thought Jyn Erso, Chirrut, Baze, and Krennic were fantastic characters! I even loved K-2S0. I also really recommend watching the animated series The Clone Wars. The first couple seasons were a bit kid friendly, but later on, they had some great episodes, and some genuinely Interesting characters. So putting things in perspective, I just want something that will inspire and excite my tiny brain. And going into The Last Jedi, I really hoped these new characters would step up their game and add a bit more from the previous movie.

I'll even admit to liking BB-8 from The Force Awakens. I also like Snoke, and I guess I'm curious about Kylo Ren, and now finally we get... Luke Skywalker!

So, The Last Jedi continues their stories, and throws even more new people at us... which I didn't care about either. 

Fortunately, BB-8 was still awesome. Luke, Rey and Kylo Ren were, interesting, and I really wanted to follow them through the movie. The other characters just seem to push the story along. I will even go so far to say I really hated Poe's actions. Isn't he supposed to be a hero?? Why am I hating nearly everything he does? Shouldn't I be cheering for the heroes?

And as for Luke, I've read that some people complained about how he was portrayed here, but I didn't have any problem with it. His actions and behavior, for the most part, made sense to me. Of course I wish things would have gone differently, but I didn't write it.

And how was the writing?

Well, there was a lot of it. Two hours and thirty-two minutes is too long. Whatever happened to 'leave them wanting more'? It felt like the Netflix Marvel shows, where they give you thirteen episodes, but you would have been happy with nine or ten. The story moved along nicely, but I think it would have been more exciting if they had cut out a lot of unnecessary moments. A two hour Star Wars movie would have been fine with most fans. Dare I say, an hour and a half would have felt nice?

Fortunately for us, director Rian Johnson knows how to direct a movie. I could see the action, and there was some sweet emotional moments as well. I also appreciated the dialogue and it had a good sense of humor.

I can't say I hated The Last Jedi. But I won't say it was awesome either. Mostly, I had problems with some of the writing decisions. I prefer it over The Force Awakens, but the original trilogy still did it best. 

And, as controversial as this might be... I like Porgs!

And now, to properly dissect my review in half, I present to you a truncated picture of Supreme Leader Snoke, before going into Spoiler territory....


Okay, I was being kind for my 'general audiences' review, but there were a few writing decisions that really pissed me off, and there were a couple things I really appreciated. Going through the list:

1. Snoke. Seriously?? That's it?? What an incredibly anti-climatic conclusion to a character being built up as the ultimate power in the universe. I sincerely hope he manages to sew himself back together for the next movie, because if he's dead... lame! Oh Snoke, we hardly knew ye. I mean seriously, he just happened to be the guy to take over the First Order and mysteriously influence Kylo Ren... only to die before the final chapter?  Ugh...

2. Phasma. Possibly a bigger joke than Boba Fett's ending. Never have they built up such a powerful important character, only to have her be tossed in the trash compactor in the first movie then easily defeated in The Last Jedi. If she somehow survived to come back in the next movie, the only way to redeem herself, is if she takes over the entire galaxy. Are they really trying to promote strong female characters?? Because she's been beaten down and lost every time she's been on screen.

3. Space Leia. In the words of Han Solo... That's not how the Force works! I'm not sold on the idea of her holding her breath and flying through the vacuum of space to safety. I would have preferred a moment where someone goes to shoot her, and she raises her hand to block the bolt like Vader has in the past. Of course, I think there are any number of different ways to show she had learned some Force abilities, but this wasn't it.

4. Force Astral Projection. Some people had a problem with this. But I'll reluctantly give it a pass, moreso than floating through space anyway. Although, I would have preferred if Luke had shown up for a real battle. If he reluctantly left his home for one last fight, and let Kylo Ren kill him ala Ben Kenobi, that would have been a very powerful and poetic ending. But as it was, he looked cool, and I didn't mind it, mostly because his dying at the twin sunset was a powerful emotional scene for me.

5. Luke, Leia, and R2. Speaking of powerful emotional moments, seeing these characters meet each other, got me right in the feels. Oh... I have something in my eye...

6. Finn. I really expected him to sacrifice himself into the big cannon at the end, because he could have died a hero and I would have felt something for him. But... nope. Still don't care and he'll be back again for the next movie to do... something... I guess.

7. Yoda. This was maybe my favorite part. Yoda proves he is still wisest of them all, and I really enjoyed this a lot. Maybe this is one of the reasons why I didn't completely hate the movie.
8. Rey. I'm going to say it now... Kylo Ren lied to her. Her parents weren't 'nobody'. I still think she is a clone of someone, and I'm hoping it was Palpatine. We'll see.

That's it for now, nerds. Until 2019, when we discuss, Episode XI: The (Something) of the (Something)