Sunday, December 24, 2017
More Thoughts On STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI
Warning--This post has spoilers.
I still haven't seen THE LAST JEDI for a second time yet, but I've been reading so many articles and reviews of it on the internet in the last week that it feels like I've seen it multiple times. It seems as if everyone wants to express their opinions on the movie....and most of those opinions are not very positive.
It's almost as if Disney and Rian Johnson went out of their way to produce something that would cause angst among the fan community. The thing is, they didn't have to do that. This is a Star Wars movie, after all--people were going to endlessly debate about it no matter how it turned out. But it seems like THE LAST JEDI especially is designed around revelations and spoilers. The overall plot--what there is of it--takes a back seat to the "trending moments".
Because of the way the film is designed, I have to wonder how much I will enjoy it a second time, knowing how things will play out. What I most liked about THE LAST JEDI were the scenes between Rey and Luke, and between Rey and Kylo Ren. And of course I was highly anxious to find out what was going to happen with Leia.
As for all the other stuff, and the new characters?? I wasn't too impressed. The Canto Bight and "Let's figure out how to outrun the First Order" sequences seem to exist for the express purpose of giving Finn and Poe something to do...and that just shows the limitations of these characters. There's no need for me to dump on the Canto Bight scenes--enough folks have done that already. Suffice to say that saying "Canto Bight" is now comparable to saying "Jar Jar Binks".
It's obvious that in THE LAST JEDI Poe is presented as a Han Solo equivalent. The problem is...there is no such thing as a Han Solo equivalent. Poe ain't Han, and Oscar Isaac ain't Harrison Ford. Poe comes off as a jerk in this story, and he even literally gets slapped down. What it comes down to is...are Finn and Poe intriguing enough characters to make you want to see more of them in the next Star Wars film? For me personally, the answer is no.
I could go on whining about the new characters, but let's move on to the revelations. First off...apparently Rey isn't related to anybody important. I say apparently because, how do we know that Kylo isn't lying to her?? I will say that the idea that Rey comes from nowhere or nothing special is a unique concept--but it also makes her character more of a cipher, since we still don't really know all that much about her.
I liked the idea that Kylo and Rey are linked through the Force. I was convinced that because of this, they were related somehow. But if they are not....is Kylo attracted to Rey? I think that would be a good idea to pursue in the next film. I don't think the story will go down that route, but just imagine what plot points can come out of the main bad guy wanting to be with the main heroine.
When Kylo killed Snoke, it certainly surprised me because I thought, "That's one movie too early..." Then I immediately realized that Kylo wasn't turning to the light side, he just wanted overall control. The problem with this twist is that while Vader's killing of the Emperor was the culmination of an entire saga, Kylo's act seems more like an arbitrary "gotcha" moment. We know basically nothing about Snoke (and it looks like we never will), so his death doesn't really have much impact after the initial shock of seeing it.
Due to Carrie Fisher's passing, THE LAST JEDI had a perfect opportunity to let Leia go out in a blaze of glory. I assumed (along with almost everybody else) that this is what was going to happen, and purple-haired Laura Dern would take Leia's place. But wait!! Leia makes it through the whole movie, and it's purple-haired Laura Dern who gets the heroic sacrificial moment. Trust me, it's not like I wanted to see Leia die on-screen...but how are you going to deal with her in the next movie?? As for Leia's "Mary Poppins" moment....it's....unique, I guess.
For me, the whole Luke-Rey sequence was the best thing in the film. It is Mark Hamill who carries THE LAST JEDI. This isn't my version of an older Luke Skywalker (and apparently it isn't Mark Hamill's either), but Hamill makes it work. Did I really need to see an embittered, reclusive Luke? No more than I needed to find out that Han and Leia had a bad marriage and a punk kid, and that the punk kid killed Han. Anyway, the scene where Luke talks about how hypocritical the Jedi were was right on the mark, and I loved Yoda's admonishment of Luke. Some say that the climax, where Luke projects himself into the final battle, was a cheat--but I thought it was very moving, and at least we got a final Luke-Leia scene out of it.
So in the end, the best way I can describe THE LAST JEDI is that it's not terrible, and it's not great. It does leave the saga in a precarious position. Luke could return for a scene or two as a Force ghost, but that's about it for him. Leia probably isn't going to be seen again, and other than Kylo and Rey's relationship, what else do we have? A bunch of characters that, in my opinion, are nothing to get all that excited about. I still think Disney made a mistake in redoing the war between the Empire and the Rebels. This is science-fiction fantasy, after all--there's hundreds of ways they could have gone without having to re-use the same type of spaceships and the same type of elements. There are so many things in both THE FORCE AWAKENS and THE LAST JEDI that just merely remind me of similar and better sequences in the Original Trilogy. No, I'm not being a hater. The Original Trilogy will always have special resonance for me, and whatever Disney decides to slap the Star Wars title on is going to suffer in comparison.