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Dec
28th
2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Review · 3:31am Dec 28th, 2017

Out of all the science fiction stories I’ve experienced over the years, it’s obvious to say that Star Wars has had a massive impact on our entire culture, both for the casual and hardcore fans alike.

And why not?  It fundamentality both changed and challenged story making tropes by not only creating a vast expanded universe that is still going on nearly 40 years after it’s conception in 1977, to the major twist in Empire Strikes Back that is still being parodied today.

For myself, I was introduced to the original Star Wars Trilogy back in 1994, where my father had an original copy of the unaltered Theatrical release, and since then, Star Wars has been a part of my life.  From the Original Trilogy, to the Prequels, to Knights of the Old Republic, the New Republic, and even Legacy of the Force series.  I even sometimes just pick a random article from Wookiepedia, just to see how much detail and back-story is put into a single character, vehicle, or even an ideology.  There’s probably no other series in the world aside from Real Life that has this much detail put into it.

Now, before I start my review, there is something I would like to get off my chest to explain my point of view of the new sequel series:

I honestly didn’t think that the Prequels were THAT bad.

Now, before you all get your torches and pitchforks out, at least hear me out.

While I cannot argue that the original trilogy is the more superior trilogy, the prequel trilogy has some merits that I feel shouldn’t be cast aside.

For one thing about the prequel series that stands out, it shows the Jedi in their PRIME, just how powerful they were, and how they became the stuff of legends in the original trilogy. From the very first fight scene in Phantom Menace, we got a taste of just how powerful both Qui-Gon and Obi-wan were, and the Trade Federation had every right to fear them.

Not to mention, with the Prequels, the lineage of the Sith, which has been expanded upon in both novels, comics, and especially video games, we wouldn’t have had great stories involving both the origin of the Jedi and the Sith, who’s legacy has brought us legends, such as Darth Bane, Darth Anededuu, and especially the mighty Revan.

What’s more, what’s great about the prequels to me at least, is the amount of detail and scale that was put into each movie and characters.  George Lucas may have been a difficult director, but he knew how to tell a story and create a universe, and with the Prequels, Star Wars felt just like that, it’s own universe.  Everywhere you look in the prequels, there were so much detail, vibrancy, and an abundant amount of characters, so much so that each one had their own back-story even!  And everything was all connected.

Seriously, I felt with the prequels, if you turned the camera away from the main characters, there would still be stories all around just waiting to be heard, and both the comics, games, and novels did just that, connected everything together in one neat little package.  Decisions made thousands of years ago would have ramifications on the entire story of Star Wars in the “present”.  It made it feel so REAL, akin to our universe.  That’s what I love about the prequels and what it did to Star Wars: It kicked the universe and the mythos into overdrive, and made it something more than just a farm boy becoming a Jedi.

Now, this may seem like I’m digressing a bit, but it helps to bring me back to my original point of the new sequel series.

FEELING OF THE SEQUEL SERIES

Let me just get this out of the way before I begin the movie review, I have a mixed feeling about the tone and the “feel” of the new movies.  Like I said with the prequels, I could feel that there was an entire universe to explore and see, especially with locations like Naboo and Coruscant.  But with the new sequel series, I can’t help but feel isolated, or feel that the events are taking place somewhere remote in the galaxy which the impact doesn’t really feel that meaningful.

Don’t get me wrong, I could see the devastation that Starkiller base did to the Republic, but compared to the buildup of Alderaan’s destruction, that at least had Leia as a resident of the Planet to create the tension, while Starkiller’s planetary destruction didn’t leave that much of an impact on me because there wasn’t a character I knew from those planets.

If it was Coruscant itself, maybe.

What I’m getting at is that with the new series, it’s revolving around the “Core” of Star Wars, but creating it’s own ring around the core without taking anything from it.  At least with the Prequel series, it took concepts from the original trilogy, and expanded upon them, with the Clone Wars, what the Jedi were like, and more about how the Empire started.

With the new Star Wars, it feels like they just are throwing out concepts from Star Wars to make it seem like Star Wars, like the First Order as a stand in for the Empire, and the Resistance as a stand in for the Rebel Alliance.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved “The Force Awakens”, and loved the mysteries they set up while introducing us to new characters we’ve grown to love.

“Rogue One” especially was a great addition to the Star Wars mythos, because it was portrayed more as a “war” movie, and it did it right. I’ve already made my own review on the subject, if you want to check it out.

Thus, with Disney’s new take on Star Wars, I was excited for what the future holds…. however, once I finished watching “The Last Jedi”…that excitement has slowly turned into some doubt.

Why?  Well, let’s finally get to the review.

***WARNING: MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD***


PLOT


This was a story that I was definitely excited about after the hype explosion of TFA, wondering where the heck the story would even go, and I’ll admit, I was both surprised in the directions that they took for this movie…but also left feeling…. unfulfilled at the conclusion of the movie.   There were a lot of good points that genuinely had me thrilled, but at the same time, executions that left me confused and a little frustrated.

To start off, the movie does an excellent job of creating a feeling of tension and despair, what with being both a chase scene and a race against time for the Resistance against the Empire.  While I will admit that it does add to the tension, the execution behind it leaves me a bit perplexed.  For one thing, how is it that the First Order can’t simply send in fighters over and over to finish off the Resistance Transports?  In Return of the Jedi, that was their tactic in order to whittle the Rebels down, while also preventing them from escaping.

This is especially jarring to the plot, considering it was stated that just after Starkiller Base was destroyed, the First Order now “apparently” has the entire Galaxy under their banner, which doesn’t really make sense considering this event happened only a couple of hours after the events of TFA.  This doesn’t really make sense to me, considering the destruction of Alderaan only drove more people to join the Rebellion.  I just find it HARD to believe that the ENTIRE Republic was destroyed, considering Coruscant still stands (Apparently it was the Hosnian system).

I understand that the feeling of dread and hopelessness was key to this story of the series, but if look at the entire series from Phantom Menace to The Last Jedi, it just feels like a slow downward spiral of doom where the villains will stop at nothing to rule the Galaxy.  Even the legacy of the Jedi looks like a downward spiral of defeat, where they weren’t even given a chance to rise again.

All this adds to the feeling of isolation within the movie like I mentioned above, and if that’s Rian Johnson’s intention, then he did succeed in capturing that feeling.

In fact, that seemed to be the core theme of this movie: Hopelessness.  There are some plot points I have towards the chase arc between the First Order and the Resistance, but I will get to that later in my character section, but the drawn out arc with the chase through space does capture he utter feeling of despair and hopelessness that the Resistance has against the First Order, as nobody comes to help them, even in their Final Hour.

Now, while I do have problems with this sudden rush of futility just after TFA’s victory, there is one theme in this movie that I do believe was captured well in this movie, was this:

The Revival of Hope.  This itself is both a callback to the very first movie of the series, and both a constant theme throughout the entire series.  Does this movie execute this feeling well?  Well…let’s continue on and see.

Probably my favorite scenes of the movie were between Rey and Luke on Ahch-To.  It had both a good combination of humor, but also delving into the mysterious aspects of the Force akin to Yoda’s training.

Luke himself during these scenes also has succumbed to the idea of despair over his life, which he wants to let the Jedi Order DIE OUT because of their history of failure in the galaxy.  While I would agree that the Jedi have had a history of mistakes, I didn’t agree that the Jedi should be gone forever.  I was really hoping that Disney would help establish the idea of the “Grey Jedi” idea of the force, considering they’ve been toying with the idea of the “Balance” with characters like Ahsoka and especially the Bendu in Rebels.


This would at least help address the problems that the Old Jedi Order had in the prequels, and that the idea of the Jedi “ending” would be more aligned with them needing to “end their old way of life” and change into something new, just like the Legends counterpart.

And while I did enjoy the interactions that Luke had with Rey in regards to the Force, I feel like it was more of a brief retreading then establishing more to the Force, like we’re retreading the very same steps that Luke had with Yoda on Dagobah, but I felt that those scenes were done more effectively to add more to the mythos of the Force.

As you can see, there’s a bit of a trend that I’m addressing with this movie, and possibly with the future of this series based on the choices made in this movie.  Out of all the problems this movie has, perhaps the biggest is this:


Execution.


For those of you who have already watched the movie, you’ll know what problems I’m talking about.  For all the build-up and hype that TFA had with so many new plot points and mysteries that were set up, this film did not live up to those hypes and all that buildup was cut short by the choices made in this movie.

Killing off both Snoke and Phasma (as I’m writing this, their “deaths” are still being debated), is a poor execution of a pay off for both characters that were deliberately built up in the last movie to just be removed with no explanation whatsoever.  I plan to address these two below, but this is just one of the problems this movie has towards the fate of the series now.

I’ve already heard arguments about how this is a “new wave” of Star Wars, and that they’re throwing out “tradition” in favor of a new trend, on how we shouldn’t rely on expectations for entertainment.

See, with that argument, this isn’t about subverting expectations.  I’ve watched the Rebuild series of Evangelion, so I know about subverting expectations (that’s a HUGE can of worms for another day).  This is more about Storytelling 101.  Why would you build up both a mythos and a slew of new characters and make them look like they have a huge importance to the plot of the series, and then toss them aside with a snap of the fingers.

Some may call that expectation subverting; I think it’s more of disjointed writing.  This is what happens when you have completely different directors working on the same project without having an arc planned.  I’m told that Rian Johnson wrote the script for The Last Jedi just after TFA was made.  This is a HUGE problem in storytelling, and probably one of the biggest mistakes so far made.

Call George Lucas what you want of a director.  Yes, his character’s acting was wooden and poorly delivered, but he’s a master storyteller, and he had an arc planned after the release of the first Star Wars, both for the original trilogy, and the prequels as well.

That is what made Star Wars “Star Wars”, everything was connected, and every action, no matter how small, had vast consequences for future events.  It’s probably the most expanded universe out there, more than even the lore of Lord of the Rings.

So, when poor writing like this happens to a series known for its deep lore and interconnectivity, it makes it look out of place, and poorly planned.

This frustrates me most of all because, I know Disney and these writers can do better.  Just look how the Marvel cinematic universe is turning out, where everything has a connection somewhere in the entire series.

This may seem like ranting, but I think this is a legitimate concern, and I know there are fans out there that would happily agree with me, and this leaves me worried about the future of the franchise, and if they could salvage it for Episode IX.

Now, with all this being said about the problems of the movie, do I think that it’s entirely bad?

No, of course not.

It has its storytelling problems and plot holes, and can go all over the place, but the parts that ARE good about the movie, they’re really GOOD.

For example, the cinematography of the movie is amazing, and they build up the tension factor really well.  The special effects are excellent, using both practical and CGI for many of the scenes, and a lot of the action shots really managed to surprise me.

And sense we’re talking about surprises; there were some scenes that did legitimately manage to shock me (in a good way).  Admiral Holdo’s maneuver of Hyperspace Ramming was both jaw-dropping and I think an original concept so far in the Star Wars universe.  I don’t I’ve seen any other material use such a maneuver, which begs the question of why nobody thought of this in the first place?  I’d imagine that this is something Revan would’ve thought up of.

Of course, Yoda’s appearance in this movie, was a definite winner for me, no matter how disjointed the plot was, AND the fact that he was again and actual puppet!  And as always, he delivered some excellent pieces of wisdom.  “Failure is the best Teacher” is probably the best piece of advice that can be given, and its significance was apparent even in the Legends continuity, when Luke used the failings of the Old Jedi Order to make the New Jedi Order.  I just hope that Disney will use that same advise to rectify the mistakes of this movie, which I’ll get into more detail later.

And finally, if there’s one scene that absolutely blew me away, was Luke’s final confrontation with Kylo Ren.  I was literally trembling in my seat, wanting to see the Grand Master of the New Jedi Order finally in action, and it did not disappoint!  When he emerged from the Blaster Fallout with nothing but a scratch, you can bet your socks off that I was grinning from ear to ear!

And even though he didn’t do any “Starkiller”-esque moves, I was still shocked as ever that he not only held his own against Kylo Ren, but the new power of Astral Projection on such a scale and distance was flipping amazing, and harkens back to the old creed of the Jedi: “A Jedi uses the Force, for knowledge and defense.  Never for attack.”  And even though I was saddened by Luke’s death, I have a feeling this is not the last time we will see of him.

So, while the Plot of this movie has its problems, it’s not the worst.  It’s fun and kept me on the edge of my seat, but I was disappointed by the execution of key scenes that I felt could’ve been done way better.


CHARACTERS


Just as we take off from TFA, the characters we know and love are back with new developments, along a slew of new characters, and their portrayal is just as fun as they were in TFA.

Finn himself has awoken from his coma, and has his own character arc (albeit a short one) through the movie, where he goes from still somewhat selfish portrayal, willing to abandon the Resistance fleet to find Rey (noble intentions, but with all that is happening, he could’ve said something to Leia about Rey), to one who was willing to sacrifice himself for the Resistance fleet in a suicide run, even when it meant he would never get the chance to see Rey after his battle with Kylo Ren.  Finn is probably one of the new characters that I like the most, one who is trying to do the right thing, but his priorities are more near-sighted than the bigger picture.  Luckily, he has plenty of friends, both old and new to help him be a better person.

Rose is a character is one character that I think I’m also slowly growing to like as well.  Although I was a bit put off by her “Genki-ness” when she first appeared with Finn, but I could see that she’s a person who fiercely believes in doing the right thing, that she’s very selfless but she isn’t above being affected by personal loss, and she’s not blind to the corruption that still plagues the galaxy.  I actually enjoyed the development she received in this movie.  I like characters that start out innocent enough, but gradually develop into more mature and strong individuals as they grow more into their universe.  She was willing to give out the only relic of her late sister who she just lost, if it meant even a little hope for the Resistance.

Poe was a character whose development I was kind of surprised at.  We’re all used to the idea of the “gung-ho” pilot who helps save the day with flashy moves and quick thinking, but Poe’s direction was more of a deconstruction of that effort.  While he was perfectly willing to go in headfirst to attack the First Order, the consequences of his actions did lead to more of a pyrrhic victory for the Resistance.  I actually liked this direction, showing that going in “gun’s blazing” isn’t always the answer, as you have to look at the big picture and consider the people you’re trying to defend.  Glad Poe got some development of his own in this film, despite being the best pilot.

Rey’s development was also one that I did enjoy.  Daisy Ridley does a great job of portraying both a strong-willed and optimistic Jedi in training, while also struggling to deal with the darkness of both the Galaxy around her, as well as within herself.  In fact, while a lot of people have problems with Rey’s parents being Junkers (if Kylo Ren was telling the truth), I actually don’t have a problem with it, because it harkens back to the idea with Anakin, that greatness can come from the most unlikely of places, that the Force moves in mysterious was.  Even with all these revelations, Rey was one who still kept to her convictions of what was right, and still tried to not only convert Kylo Ren to the Light side, but refused his offer.  I love how Disney is helping to create such strong-willed female characters, like Rose, Rey, and Phasma (I’ll get to her later).

Although, I will say that I do raise my eyebrow at how proficient Rey has become with Anakin’s lightsaber.  I find the explanation so far of Rey becoming a skilled jedi because the Force needed to be balanced a bit of a stretch.  Finn was lucky when he faced Kylo, so I find the idea of Rey being so proficient only after a barely a couple of days, kind of hard to believe.  With all the emphasis placing how dangerous a lightsaber was in both prequels and the expanded Canon material, I just don’t see how Rey could be so effective with it that she killed a few of Snoke’s guards with little training.  Not even Luke was willing to teach her.

That being said, I still think Rey is a good character, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she becomes the new head of the Jedi Order in the next movie.

While some of the characters got some good development and characterizations, not all received the same treatment, at least in my eyes.


Admiral Holdo’s portrayal was one that I was not invested in, as well as the whole subplot of Poe’s mutiny.  All of this could’ve been avoided if they just told Poe what their plan was to escape the First Order, instead of keeping it on a “need-to-know” basis.  When you’re fighting for survival, the LAST thing you want to do is keep secrets from your own STAFF.  Thus, she came across to me as both arrogant and kind of stuffy with her attitude towards Poe.  While I applaud her self-sacrifice and creating probably the most epic crash in all of Star Wars, I still feel that her character could’ve been portrayed more effectively.  Admiral Ackbar should’ve been the one to take charge instead of this character.

Speaking of weird portrayals, Benicio del Toro’s character was one that I think didn’t have enough time to develop.  Heck, I didn’t even get his NAME before the credits.  “DJ”.   Either I missed that, or they didn’t even mention it in the movie.  Not a good sign.  As for development, while I do like the idea of areas of the Galaxy that prey upon selling themselves out to both sides to get a profit, I don’t think we delved on that subject enough to have an impact.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a plot point that’s sticking it to the 1%, but it just didn’t seem to impact to the plot that much, or was it necessary.  And while I was surprised by his portrayal, the character of DJ didn’t really leave an impact on me.

Thus, the new characters are a bit of a mixed bag, but leaning towards the good side.

As for the original trilogy characters?

Leia’s portrayal was definitely in character, in that she does know what she’s doing, and it’s apparent that the amount of loss is taking its toll on her.  Plus, you have to admit, her flicking off Poe for his gung-ho attitude was really, really funny.  Also, we have the first glimpse of the power of the Force that she wields.  I’ll admit, with Carrie Fisher’s death (RIP), I was really expecting that Leia was really dead in the first half of the movie, but my jaw dropped when she saved herself from the vacuum.  The Force is definitely strong in the Skywalker family.  And, even more so, you can bet I was almost on tears of joy when Luke and Leia were finally reunited and shared family moment after almost 30 years.  Come on, you can’t tell me that you didn’t love that.

That being said though, I’m really worried about what this means for the future, now without Carrie Fisher as Leia.  How are they going to include Leia in a way that both respects the character and is convincing?  If they killer her off, that’s really depressing, because it means now nearly NOBODY from the original trilogy is alive.

Which, now brings me to probably one of my longer portions here in the review that I want to get off my chest: Luke Skywalker himself.

Luke in particular is one that I have severely mixed opinions about.  On the one hand, Mark Hamil’s performance of Luke is just brilliant.  Mark Hamil is probably an actor that I would love to have a lunch with and just shoot the breeze.  A lot of times, a lot of actors become disillusioned with their fans, viewing them as obsessive and “without a life”, but Mark is different, in that he both respects fans, and is grateful for them.

His merit as an actor is great for this movie, and he really gives it his all in the role that has been given to him.  He’s cynical, direct, and has the mannerisms perfectly of a man who’s been broken and has lost his faith in the very thing he tried to create.  I especially liked that nod that Luke had towards the Jedi of the prequels, who were pretty dogmatic and hypocritical, and that way of life possibly needed a severe retooling.

That being said however, while Mark’s acting, as this version of Luke is great…I’m definitely not partial to this version of Luke.  I feel that this version of Luke, who we’ve had over forty years to digest and work to understand, does not do Luke Skywalker as a whole justice.

This was a character that was willing to sacrifice himself, because he saw the good in Darth Vader, one of the most notorious people in the galaxy, because he was his father.  That was a character that was devoted to his family, even teetering on the edge of the Dark Side.

Thus, I find it especially hard to believe that Luke Skywalker would DRAW HIS LIGHTSABER to his NEPHEW, under the pretense of him having “Dark Thoughts”!  If anything, he should have TALKED to his nephew about such feelings, because Luke himself has teetered on the edge of the Dark Side when he confronted Vader.  All of this madness could’ve been avoided if Luke didn’t raise his Lightsaber, AGAINST his own FAMILY!

So, while I do think that Mark Hamil did a phenomenal job of portraying Luke in the way the story was written, I don’t believe that this version of Luke was executed well given what we know of him from the original trilogy.  I’m with Mark’s opinion on this version of Luke.  They could’ve done so much better with him without being so cynical and jaded, and even hypocritical towards his beliefs.  So no, I’m not a fan of this one, and my preference is definitely the Luke’ Skywalker of Legends.

As for the rest of the original cast, I really think that not enough time was spent on them, especially with reuniting with both Luke, and a chance in the spotlight, such as R2-D2 and Chewbacca.  I wish both of them had more scenes.  C-3PO had more scenes, but he seemed more like a background event then an actual character.  He barely interacted much.

I get that they’re trying to focus on the new characters, but I wish we had just a bit more time for them to spend in the limelight.


VILLIANS


Honestly, I will hate to admit this, but I’m disappointed the most by this aspect of the movie.  Don’t get me wrong, Kylo Ren has been a unique subversion of the “Darth Vader Dragon” trope of apprentices to Masters, in that he has now surpassed Darth Vader in terms of power, now that he’s now Supreme Leader of the First Order.

Imagine that, Kylo Ren, a Darth Vader wannabe, has surpassed what Darth Vader couldn’t, and killed his Master to become the Supreme Leader…. but that’s where my problem lies with, especially in the execution of this trope.

Probably my BIGGEST gripe with the entire movie is just that:  The Execution of Supreme Leader Snoke.


Now, I know from interviews why Rian Johnson chose to get rid of Snoke, in order to avoid retreading what Palpatine already did.  But, there’s a big difference between Palpatine and Snoke’s portrayal.Even in the original trilogy, while Palpatine’s origins weren’t revealed that much, he still carried such presence and oozed such evil.
 You kept wondering, why is everyone afraid of this frail old man, that when he releases the ferocity of his power, it still stuns the audience, even though they know it’s coming.

With Snoke however, we have all this build-up and mystery surrounding him in TFA, that I actually was excited because there were so many possibilities.  I was one of the people that was convinced that Snoke was Darth Plageius, which would have been a GREAT tie-in to the Prequels, because it would show why Snoke was interested in Ben Solo to begin with, since Ben is the culmination of Anakin’s legacy, which Plageius had a hand in creating.

But no, we have all this build up, all this mystery, only a GLIMPSE of Snoke’s power, and his killed by a lightsaber two inches moving LOUDLY away from him.  All that, for nothing.

The scene could’ve been done SO much better, showing the sheer POWER of Snoke.  In fact, a friend of mine, Tarbtano actually made the scene with Snoke far more effective in my opinion.

“Kylo starts moving the Lightsaber, with Snoke having his full attention on Rey.  And, this ancient, near omniscient monster, notices the loudly vibrating lightsaber two feet from him.  The lightsaber ignites and flies forward and we see in a quick cutaway, Snoke redirected it and the lightsaber is a mere inch from Kylo’s face.  Kylo is putting all his strength into pushing it, visibly trying (as much to Rey’s surprise), but Snoke?  Snoke is just LOOKING AT THE SABER, and he has control over it.  A Slight tilt of his head, and Kylo gets sent flying.  Snoke mocks them saying, if they want to make it like that, resisting him, he’ll indulge them.  And instead of a fight with nameless guards #1-12, it’s a brief fight with Rey and Kylo vs. Snoke, but it’s nearly a complete curb stomp, with Snoke barely needing to move and he’s no-selling them.”

This would be a GREAT idea to show just how powerful Snoke is.  Heck, if you wanted a callback to other Star Wars properties for the fans, he could’ve wielded his guard’s weapons all at ONCE with Telekinesis, like Darth Traya/Kreia in KOTOR 2.  It would’ve been awesome to see both Kylo and Rey fight 12 floating weapons ALL at once!

And if you wanted a defeat for Snoke this movie, Admiral Holdo’s “hyperspace ramming” could still cripple his ship and force a retreat, that way you could still build up to the next movie.

But it seems that we’re instead treated to this kind of “forced” twist to have the main baddy be Kylo Ren, and it just doesn’t stop with Snoke.

Captain Phasma was another character that we had a lot of teasing and buildup in the last movie, but just like Snoke, she’s killed off without any major resolution.  We don’t even get to see her FACE.  Yes, she had her moment with facing off with Finn, but again, like Snoke with all the buildup behind them both, their deaths just seem needless, like they weren’t important to the story.  At least with characters like Admiral Piett, they had their time to shine and interact with the main cast of the original trilogy.

But nope, both Snoke and Phasma are killed off, to make way for our new “Supreme Leader” Kylo Ren.

And, if I want to be honest, Kylo Ren kind of reminds me of Anakin as a Jedi though.  He’s impulsive, reckless, driven by his emotions, and he can be scary when he’s angry.  Really scary.  And, while I will argue that the prequels were better than people give them credit for, I still kind of felt that Anakin’s portrayal was kind whiny.  Thankfully, it was rectified in the Clone Wars series, and Anakin became one of histories greatest badasses!

With Kylo Ren though, it feels like Anakin, backwards.  He went from this mysterious badass, to this whiny emokid, wanting to destroy all remains of the past, because he believes he is destined to rule and deluded by his heritage to Darth Vader.  While his abilities and his behavior does make him frightening, it still looks childish to me, like a kid throwing a tantrum or a bully duking it out just because he doesn’t get his way.

This is why I liked that rivalry that he has with General Hux in TFA, which Kylo Ren is trying so hard to emulate Darth Vader and the fear he gained, but Hux doesn’t give him the ounce of respect and fear that Darth Vader got from his officers.

Bit of a side note, General Hux was also a character that I think got the short end of the stick in this movie, where he was portrayed as an effective and threatening leader in TFA, and now he’s just portrayed as this bumbling and cowardly lark that switches alliances.  So yeah, another villainous beef I have added to the list.

So back to Kylo, no, compared to Snoke, Kylo Ren doesn’t really seem that much effective as a villain.  I admire villains who are calm, cool, and collected, even in their rage, because THAT’S more intimating.  It makes them look in control of the situation compared to someone that’s in a blind rage.  So, unless Kylo Ren calms the **** down a bit in Episode IX, he isn’t really does it for me as a villain.


SETTINGS


This aspect is also a bit of a mixed bag for me, but also nearing towards the good side.  On the one had, Ahch-To, the home of the first Jedi Temple, is definitely good place to start for Rey’s journey.  The vast cliffs, the ocean waves, the stone structures of the old Jedi, it just seems like something that an explorer would find when visiting mountain monks in the real world.  Simplistic, but carrying such history behind them.  I’ve recently visited Ireland a couple of years ago, and I can say that it’s a beautiful country and was an excellent choice for the First Jedi Temple.  I especially liked the nod they had towards Dagobah with the Dark Geyser that Rey ventured into, as the Dark Side tempted her with that mirror cave.  I expect that it’s something that will be expanded on in a novel or a comic in the future.

And as much as Crait was a retread of the Battle of Hoth, I do like the originality of it being a salt flat, revealing the red crystal underneath.  Seriously, when I first saw that Resistance fighter go over the trench, I actually thought he was bleeding for a sec.  What a BADASS.  But still, it was an original planet, and I do like the addition of the Vulpetex (the crystal dogs), that’s definitely a creature design I won’t forget.

If there is one location that I do have gripes with, it’s the Casino planet.  I know that the movie was trying to make a statement on the idea of the rest of us versus the “1%”, but in the context of Star Wars….the Casino looked too… “Earth-like” in my opinion.  This is supposed to be a Galaxy Far Far away, and even though there were humans, the series always made the universe feel both familiar and alien at the same time.

However, with this Casino, it actually feels out of place in a universe filled with so many alien creatures, and I know how ridiculous that sounds. I did like the chase sequence at the end, and how both Finn and Rose freed those alien mounts.

“Finn and Rose, stickin’ it to the man since “A Long Time ago”.”

This, while I do have a problem with the Casino planet, I cannot argue how breathtaking all these environments are, I was very much entertained by the creativity they had for their choices.


ACTION


This is probably a given to say that action is a fundamental part of Star Wars.  I’ll be brief, and say, this was a roller coaster of a ride, both in the space battles, despite how short they were, and in the Lightsaber fights that we had.  The fights between Rey and Kylo against the guards were very intense, and as I said above, the final fight between Luke and Kylo was phenomenal.  I may have problems with Luke’s portrayal, but that was definitely one of Luke’s finest hours, worthy of a Grand Jedi Master.


HUMOR


Humor of the films is another area I think this movie shines the most at, especially coming from Mark Hamil.  The years in the Joker limelight has certainly molded him to be very funny.  I think where he best shone in this movie was where he played the cynical old Jedi, messing with Rey on the ways of the Force.

However, there were some scenes that left me kind of dreading of how the humor would take shape for the rest of the film.  If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know I’m talking about the scene with these “giraffe-elephant” aliens that Luke literally “milks” to get blue milk.  That scene alone left me with dread that the movie would take a “Sausage Party” direction with the humor.  I am not a fan of scatological humor, at all.

Thankfully, we only had one scene like that, and the rest of the movie’s humor was definitely worth a laugh.


OVERALL


Honestly, I’m kind having a bit of a mixed bag feeling when it came to the Last Jedi.  Because it was the middle movie of this new trilogy, I don’t honestly know what I was expecting.  And, that is both a good thing, and sometimes a bad thing.

For those of you who know me, I am a huge fan of Evangelion, and I’m open to the idea of unexpected twists and “gut-punching” ideas that make you think and question (Evangelion is yet another can-o-worms for another time).

But the difference being between Evangelion and The Last Jedi, is that Evangelion gives you the means to make you think behind such moments.

With the Last Jedi though, I’m left feeling confused and questioning why such decisions were made despite all the build up, and it left me with a feeling of wanting more, but not in a good way.

I’ll admit I could be considered a “hardcore” Star Wars fan, but there’s a reason for that.  I grew up in a time where I was nearing my early teen years when the Prequels came out, and thus have become intimately familiar with both the Prequel Lore, and the expanded universe.  We’ve had over 40 years to dissect and help create a consist universe that was the Star Wars Expanded Universe.  We’ve accepted Legends as the definitive Star Wars universe, with KOTOR, the Prequels, Shadow of the Empire, The New Jedi Order, everything and everyone was connected somehow, and choices made thousands of years in the story had consequences.  Everything had an arc somewhere.

And yes, I’ll admit I may be biased towards the Legends continuity, but I think the problems that this movie has isn’t just about me being a fan of Star Wars, but storytelling consistency.  Honestly, why would you build up all these people in a previous movie, but then toss them aside in the next as if they have no meaning to begin with?  Why include them at all?

Maybe I’m making a big deal about this, but I know that Disney and these writers could do better.  They’ve given us the amazing Marvel Cinematic universe, and Rogue One was especially well done, so I know they’re capable of amazing feats.

And while I do have problems with the movie, it wasn’t a complete loss.  The environments were stunning, the acting was phenomenal from all the actors, there were a couple of jokes and scenes that had me laughing OUT loud, and I will admit that the movie as a whole kept me on the edge of my seat.

I just hope that doubt I experienced when I first watched this movie will change in the future.

Who knows?  I’ve only seen the middle of a trilogy.  By the time of Episode IX, I’ll probably have a much different opinion about “The Last Jedi”.

Thus, as a Final Score, I’ll give “The Last Jedi”: 7.5/10

It has problems, but the movie is still enjoyable.

But what do you all think?  Let me know in the comments below.

P.S.  Yes, the Porgs were adorable.

Comments ( 2 )

This is something that gets tossed around a lot on this site, but I wish I could 'like' a blog post. I don't have time to respond point-for-point with this essay/review, but just saying "I liked it" feels like a criminally small use of space.

I really think you hit on a lot of good points about the movie.

There are things in this movie that I really like - Mark Hamill, the plot-related stuff with him and Rey and Kylo - but there are also things in this movie that I think are pretty damn disjointed. No matter what some defenders of the film may say to me about the casino subplot, I just remember feeling crushingly bored in that segment.

And Snoke's demise, while a good shock twist at the time, just doesn't really hold water on later viewings. How, how, how, HOW could he NOT notice the loudly rattling lightsaber right by him?

Also, while I do like Laura Dern, they did not do justice to her character. For an admiral of a poor and ragtag resistance group, she just looks out of place... I didn't think of her as anyone with any kind of military experience, just as a snobby politician type from Coruscant. And also, given the prior rivalry and headbutting between her and Poe, that bit with her cupping his cheek when he was unconscious, rather creeped me out...

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