Sunday, December 17, 2017

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI review


    Yeah, it was okay. Actually, no, no it wasn't. I feel like this is going to be one of those movies where I'm either on the wrong side of history or ahead of my time. Basically, my opinion of the movie is a resounding "eh." This is probably my least favorite of the Star Wars films and that includes the Prequels and Rogue One. I didn't even like Rogue One that much so I may actually be on the verge of disliking this film actively. It's not a badly made film but the direction it takes the characters, mythology, and lore just feels like they aren't very well thought out.

    The premise is Rey has gone to Luke Skywalker's residence near the First Jedi Temple and finds he's lost all faith in the Jedi Way. We later discover this is because he (justifiably) blames himself for Kylo Ren turning to the Dark Side. Finn and Poe have managed to make it to the Resistance's headquarters but they've been driven to almost extinction by the First Order.

Their story deserved much better.
    The First Order, despite losing their own Death Star, have all but defeated the New Republic and are poised to eradicate freedom across the galaxy. Kylo Ren is suffering from severe guilt and self-hatred for his murder of his father but has established a powerful force bond with Rey. Then stuff happens, heroes die, heroes live, and the next movie is set up. When the credits rolled, I wasn't filled with a sense of elation or shock but simply the numbness that I didn't buy this was the next chapter of the story.

    A big problem with this is Luke Skywalker. I'm not going to spoil anything but the answers for why he's gone into hiding are incomplete as well as out of character. To make an example, let's just say someone did a movie where Superman and Batman tried to kill one another. Where Superman was a brooding antihero and Batman killed...oh wait. Yeah, that's my feelings on The Last Jedi in a nutshell. This is the Batman vs. Superman of the Star Wars universe. Luke Skywalker is so grossly out of character that he's not recognizably Luke Skywalker at all so you can't really emotionally connect to the guy.

Is it creepy that I think Laura Dern still has got it going on?
    Given Luke Skywalker is the single most influential fictional character in my life. A guy who literally inspired my five year old self to become religious and aspire to be the nicest person I could be as an adult--this is not good. It doesn't fit with the Luke Skywalker of Return of the Jedi but it doesn't fit with the Luke Skywalker of The Force Awakens either. It reads like Rian Johnson's fanfic of Luke Skywalker so the ending just falls flat for me. Mark Hamill does the role but you can tell his heart isn't in it and he'd have probably enjoyed doing anything else.

    Daisy Ridley's Rey has some revelations about herself, her parentage, and plenty of other magical mysterious things which are probably the one really bright spot in the movie for me. I don't have any problem with Rey and while she's greatly overpowered, so was Luke in Return of the Jedi. I'm fine with her being the Galen Marek of the new franchise and she's a likable entertaining heroine throughout. I think the story would have been better if they'd gone a different direction with her parentage but it's not terrible the way Luke's treatment is.

Run Porg! RUN AWAY FROM CHEWIE!
    Adam Driver's Kylo Ren gets a treatment of the movie which I'm a bit iffier about. I mentioned the "fanfic" parallel earlier and this is how I felt about him. Kylo Ren has gone from being a creepy boy pretending to be Darth Vader to being a misunderstood broody loner who exceeds his idol in several cases. Rey and he have a lot of romantic tension that just feels completely out of place in Star Wars given the franchise has largely avoided showing evil as anything decent or romantic. The fact Finn's relationship with Rey is completely glossed over also feels like Hollywood may have an issue with the racial dynamics. I'm not saying it does but it seems notable the black male lead is unceremoniously set up with another woman.

    Carrie Fisher's farewell performance was extremely moving in light of real life events and I quickly bonded with Laura Dern's Admiral Holdo. The send off to another character was sudden and anticlimatic but also fitting. I also think if they had to kill one character at the end, which they didn't I'd like to point out, they probably did it in the best way they could have. Even so, a lot of characters die in this movie and not all of them were necessary or for the good of the story.

Really, the best scene in the movie.
    The special effects are beautiful, the fight scenes were terrific, and there's parts I wouldn't have minded if they'd been in the third movie but am angry for in being the second part since they leave the story a mess. I love the Porgs (albeit I'm horrified as to what Chewie did with one) and think the casino planet had a remarkably cynical view on war profiteering which did a better job than any of the Prequels explaining how Lucas views the Military Industrial Complex.

    Also, despite the fact I'm disappointed with the lack of a Finn and Rey romance, I have to say I enjoyed the character of Rose. She's a genki and enthusiastic new addition to the cast and I love how she helps even out the testosterone to estrogen level. She makes some weird choices and falls for Finn too fast but I don't mind them as a couple. I also like how she plays against his character as he continues to grow into a full-fledged hero of the Resistance.

    But did I like the movie? No. No I didn't. Worse, I can't really think of it as the future of my Star Wars so when I think of the next film, I have very little excitement. It's a shame because John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, and Oscar Isaacs were terrific in the film. In fact, just about everyone was. It was the script and storytelling choices which sucked.

4/10

2 comments:

  1. This is a movie that entertained me when I saw it, but which I now regret having seen it, mostly because the things that I like are not the things that are being praised.

    I don't buy the Deconstruction stuff. It basically amounts to characters played by non-white actors being given nothing to do, of no importance. It amounts to women in positions of authority treating with a light touch stuff that any professional military organization would not hesitate with summary execution. Seriously mutinying is not something you forgive or play for a minor subplot, and then softpedal the deaths and destruction that happen, while getting unearned praise for making something about "the little people" or forgotten people. Even George Lucas at his most flimsy never did stuff like that.

    And no Canto Bight is not a better exploration of military-industry complex than the Prequels. It's a faux-populist subplot that does nothing and means nothing. It shares that with the prequels but nothing else. Yes people selling stuff to both the Rebels and First Order suggests something big...but you know in the first Star Wars, Leia was working for the Imperial Senate, and Luke Skywalker originally planned to be a pilot of the Empire too, Han Solo was a rogue out for himself. This is basic edgelord 101.

    The only stuff that works in the movie are appreciable and likable as self-contained moments. Yeah Admiral Holdo's big scene, great...that scene with the Red Costume Wearing guards, cool, Snoke's big scene was nice too, Luke Skywalker's big scene, and everything with Leia, and yeah the final scene and shot is affecting, but everything in-between doesn't work and doesn't mean anything.

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  2. It was terrible. Have to agree, but Darth Emo was still Darth Emo, the Porgs are the new ewoks, and Rose is the new Jar Jar Binks. Oh, and VA Holdo? Worst military commander ever. Let aomebody know your plans, already. The estrogen was overwhelming in this one, since all the male characters seemed to be incompetent boobs. Snoke was a huge Missed opportunity as well.

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