Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Well, once more a movie I wanted to like and expected to like. The only Rian Johnson movie I have seen is Looper, which I thought was good science fiction, which is exactly what I hoped for from this one, and was excited about the direction he might take this film. I had no problem with The Force Awakens, but I was excited to see what a more serious writer/director, with less of a pop sensibility, might do with this middle chapter. And then….

The main thing is that we were about 90 minutes in [leaving 60 to go] when I thought “You know what? I’m just not involved with anything happening here.” I felt that the stories were uninteresting, the characters were uninteresting, and I just didn’t care about any of it. There were, and continue to be, several ”cool moments,” and several fan service moments, and new versions of old favorites (liked the cantina? How about a casino?), but… the audience I saw it with [on Thursday preview night] cheered at the beginning, but sat in dead silence at the end, then just got up and silently left.

I can appreciate that Johnson throws out a lot of the things that Abrams set up, and I appreciate that he takes a different approach to many of the expected aspects that have been handed to him. And I can appreciate that he wrenches the entire story into a vastly different place than it started. That, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that what he replaces them with is good. This movie does, however, make Rogue One seem like a masterpiece.

Staying away from spoilers, I am very disappointed in the lack of development of Rey. And Finn and Poe, for sure, but Rey was such a blazing presence in the last one (We’ll be hip and say TFA), and here, despite being in the presence of Luke, she is just kind of the same person at the end as she was at the beginning. I had to recall that one major surprise achievement about TFA was making me CARE about all of these characters in such a short time. So this movie has its established characters run in place while cramming in the stories of new and uninteresting characters, and then killing off a number of the interesting characters established in TFA. Bold, yes, but… necessary?Wise?

One can kind of imagine the awkward conversation between JJ Abrams and Rian Johnson after the movie was completed, with Abrams saying “Yeah, you know, totally cool to do your own thing—love it!—but, you know, if you hated everything about my movie… umm, you could have just told me.” It’s also a bit like one of those story-writing exercises when one writer develops a scenario, then hands it to another writer to develop (and, in this case, will hand it back to the first writer to finish). And it’s a bit like Johnson began his part of the story with: “And then the nuclear bomb exploded, killing everyone.”

The movie does have it’s share of cool moments. So cool, in fact, to me they came off a bit as crass and fan service. The whole casino sequence was just tedious, and the second time we saw an alien horse smash through a window, I was like “Yeah, we just saw that.” There is a very force-full person who is killed in a way—that is cool!—but is very doubtful they would fall for. Three people in total spend time unprotected in deep space but ARE FINE. Laura Dern’s character does not have any arc, she has a contrivance that keeps information from us deliberately to create a false tension. I do like where the movie leaves Kylo Ren at the very end, although I sort of want Abrams to pull a Johnson in part nine and have him give it all up to focus on making artisanal cheeses. And then bring in an entirely new villain we’ve never met before. Why not, at this point? Hey—can we fit Taylor Swift in here somehow?

And luckily there was no white-hot poker in the theater, or I would be self-blinded this morning due to the “Kidz Have the Force Too!” final moment. I want to see the next chapter begin with that kid blasted into a gooey wet stain.

And now, the spoilers, of which there is only one. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS. SPOILERS SPOILERS. SPOILERS SPOILERS. SPOILERS SPOILERS. SPOILERS SPOILERS. SPOILERS SPOILERS

Luke was the biggest disappointment here. It was awesome to see him onscreen, and in the role, and I liked what a cantankerous bastard he was, although we always knew he would be. As the kids say, it definitely brought “all the feels.” But his “training” of Rey is very perfunctory / nonexistent, which is fine, but what they replace it with is half rehash of Empire (imagine the one-woman Busby Berkeley routines she could work up) and a lot of hot gas without much character advancement. And yes, Luke has some cool moments (and, against all odds, they drag out Yoda without it feeling [too] cheap), but… don’t kill Luke off over nothing, okay? Don’t kill him off arbitrarily, when there is NO REASON WHATSOEVER that he should die, except that you’re reaching for monumentality with your crappy little film, shithead. I guess that’s my feeling about it. We have the promise of this mythic character coming back, 40 years later, and we have him killed off by some shithead who can only destroy, because he is unable to create. I guess that’s resonant with these times.

BTW: Comment all you want, just know that I have very little interest in arguing or discussing any of it. I am fairly sure I will end up seeing it again, so I’m open to giving it another chance.

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14 thoughts on “Star Wars: The Last Jedi

  1. Yes, exactly this. I was hopeful to get a story that moved along like Looper, offering up an end/ending for fans that was a little unexpected. The dismissal of groundwork the force awakens laid, in order to give us what amounts to a 2 1/2 slow chase movie. Like, oh shit, the mummy’s after us, we’d better walk a little faster.

    Last Jedi was OJ Simpson in a white Ford Bronco, it dominates your life with it’s excruciating slowness, then it’s over and you’re like what the hell did I just watch? I sat there at the 90 minute mark thinking when does this end.

    Too many uninteresting, new characters, with contrived parts to play, taking time from what could have been further developement of the leads. If the movies are suppose to be about Ren and Rey, can we get more Ren and Rey? Adam Driver needs more to do, and Rey needs more of something to do.

    And the premise- running out of gas? Really? The Millenium Falcon can fly the fuck all over space and back and not need a top off, it’s a ridiculous device used to drive the plot.

    Disappointing to say the least.

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    • Ummm… YEAH! We’re on board. I’ve been loving reading some of the dislike this film is getting, but it will only matter if the box office shows it. I like the whole “last few members of the rebellion are on the run” angle, but… have we ever, EVER seen those kind of Star Trek-esque shields in a Star Wars movie? No, shipd just get HIT. Or are we to believe that no previous ships had their sheilds up? So that was a lot of bullshit, too, and just uninteresting, the amount of times they get shot at and nothing happens.

      I’m so glad you agree that none of the characters develop… because it’s true. I’m just so depressed on the crappy note Luke went out on… I hope the box office dries up REAL soon and they have to do some soul-searching (and dump Johnson from the planned NEXT trilogy).

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      • Completely ridiculous with the shields. In order to suspend disbelief and engage in a movie not grounded in realitty, you have to set up and stick to your stories rules on the finer details. Especially that this is number 8.

        When you end up actually seeing something like the shields, or how that monster star destroyer doesn’t have radar enough to pick up the little transport ships; or how we’re suppose to believe that an Apple Watch will ezsentially lead Rey back to Finn/Rebelliom as they move through space, but its some unbelievable thing that the first order can track them through hyperspace. Isn’t that essentially what Rey is also doing?

        My point is Star Wars didn’t get bogged down with explaining trivial details(at leadt until the prequels). Trek explains their details, star wars is suppose to move with the characters.

        And that rnd for Luke was complete shit. You’re gonna tell me TFA spends a whole movie saying we need Luke Skywalkers help and Rey gives it two days and bounces? He never leaves the fucking island really?

        Could have had Rey, naive, trying to use a mind trick on him like she did on the stormtrooper, and luke be like, you know that only works on the weak minded- and then BOOM Chewbacca brains him from behind, partmof the plan and rey leaves the island with Luke, kidnap style so that he’s at leadt physically present for the last act.

        And if as a dirextor you have such a hardon to have a twin sunset scene, have it with Leia and Rey, returning to the island at the end.

        i’ll see it again I’m sure, but it’s so disappointing how johnson went with it

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      • I like where the article calls it a debacle . On track to make a little more than Rogue One, which didn’t feature luke, leia or chewbacca returning. Worst fall off of viewers of any of the sw movies, that says it all about story execution. https://www.forbes.com/sites/robcain/2017/12/22/last-jedi-daily-grosses-are-swiftly-collapsing-the-worst-holds-of-all-9-star-wars-movies/?utm_source=yahoo&utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=yahootix&partner=yahootix&yptr=yahoo#1ca0e4b5355c

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  2. Unfortunately, the Last Jedi belongs in one of your “Films I’ve watched but couldn’t bother reviewing” posts. A simple, one word review would suffice: YAWN

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  3. Responding to Nick (and others)… I’m fascinated by the articles appearing now that some people don’t like it… and they’re all about how they’re NERDS who are upset it deviates from fan fiction (!?!?!?) or are just so OLD and TIRED they can’t accept anything new, and will not accept that maybe it’s just NOT that great a movie.

    It kind of makes you wonder… does Disney have deep fingers into the press, or… what? First of all, critics universally LOVE the movie… when it has such low character development and is so plodding, etc. Now all this press that people who don’t like it are just shitheads.

    The other conspiracy theory that is starting to seem credible is that Disney is readjusting the series away from “certain chosen people of noble lineage” have the force to “EVERYONE can be a hero!” i.e. Rey’s parentage and the horrid (and allllllll-Disney) kid at the end.

    Thoughts?

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  4. The Last Jedi is Star Wars: We Discover Existentialism in Space

    Everything about following the force is foolish, destiny is for idiots, light side hah dark side hah it’s all rubbish, rebels just get themselves killed in a war that doesn’t even make sense anymore and lasts forever, the empire becomes the first order, they just want to rule but their leadership are assholes so they can’t rule effectively, more futility, Snoke might be the old librarian from Episode 1 and 3, who cares though don’t explain this plot or character it doesn’t matter that it would have been a cool idea and maybe 100 people on Earth believed that fan theory.

    Saving animals? Nah, they’ll just get free and destroy everything. Love? Nah that is fruitless and just hurts everyone. Poe? Don’t try to take risks just listen to the government or you’ll just fail. Gay romance? Doesn’t exist. Give people a silly new character. In fact give people another huge fuck you by making her a sister who is far more cool looking and a better actress then kill her off too.

    Nothing matters and there is futility to everything we try, train Rey or don’t she still has the same power, be born of Skywalker lineage or just be random it doesn’t matter, midichlorians don’t exist really, its just random, you can’t train in the force you need to be born into it yet there is no sense to it, just happens like Evolution, use the force to save your friends, it just kills you, whatever happens it’ll probably just be realistic.

    This really is like if Zach Snyder directed Star Wars, it’s as if Rian Johnson thinks subverting everything people like about Star Wars is going to somehow come off super clever and in the end deliver classic cinema when all it does is insult everyone’s intelligence because the director isn’t as hot shit as he thinks he is.

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    • Hahaha, thanks for the smart comment, I was chuckling throughout. But–all true! That’s one of the points I wanted to make back in my comment that maybe Disney is re-jigging the narrative to be more “ANYONE can be a hero (and Disney products are there–every step of the way!)” is the thing that Rey doesn’t NEED any Jedi training, girl’s just GOT IT! Training is for old school losers like Luke, and look how he ended up–he couldn’t even be present at his own death!

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    • That kid at the end killed me, Spielberg Kid, I was waiting for ET to come rolling down the side walk. Whether disney had a lot of influence on the script or were just excited to green light what johnson came up wth, I don’t know.

      They get to give lucas a big fuck you by nuking any kind of lineage mythology that has been built up so far. You said it Scott, Disney gets to show how hip they by letting Rey get away with out training as like a call out to girl power and they get to pander to that everyone is special narrative running rampant nowadays.

      I dont know if the critics are this bad at recognizing a bad movie or if, they think johnsons alleged cleverness at “doijg something so different” is in itself something to praise. Never mind if the execution of his idea leaves a swath of cardboard and cliched characters and bad plot devices, it’s DIFFERENT, and let’s celebrate that, because being different is OKAY, and we here at Disney recognize that and wish to profit from it.

      Whethet Disney is influence these early critical acclaims, I don’t know, they’re certainly buying up the cinematic rights to everything, which would give them the clout to pump up their movies, and revenue, if they wanted.

      And the reviews calling out any negative fan response as old square nerds who can’t handle change, ignores what seems obvious, that movie just wasn’t that good.

      I’m curious how much actual screen time rey actually. thats not even to say developement, which there was little. Same for kylo. It never felt like the movie gathered steam or had tension. You open the movie with a Can you hear me now? joke. There were too many scenes like that that either stopped any tension or momentum or took you out of the star wars universe. Look Rose, I don’t need to hear about how the canto bight citizens represent the oppressing class, in the middle of your and finns compeletly pointless but time sensitive mission that lacked any sense of real urgency.

      And what really sucks is thwt with Disney buying up everything, therems going to be a flood of movies like this, no depth plodding messes, that the internet generation is gonna go gaga for- until the next shiny new thing comes out.

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  5. Responding to Nick’s Forbes article… YES, this is exactly what I wanted to see. Can’t wait for it to continue and for them to get worried about the franchise. I like his line about “the SW movie that will kill off all interest in seeing another SW movie” because that’s exactly how I feel. It made me just not care anymore. Going to be super fun to see all the hand-wringing that comes when the box office drops out.

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  6. Watched it a second time with the fam, liked it better actually. Space Bombers is still dumb, Alien Tit is still totally unnecessary, but the thing as a whole rewards being willing to enter the appropriate emotional state and that’s easier when you know what to expect.

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    • I saw it again yesterday and was able to enjoy it. The big alienator is that it DOES NOT follow on the story of TFA, and if this is not one big story, then… why am I watching? But I could see that it was well-made. Thanks, Mike

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  7. Pingback: The Last Jedi: Second Viewing | Cinema de Merde II: Legend of the Thingy

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