BEFORE WE GET too far into this, let me just say this now and profusely, this will be getting into heavy spoilers for Star Wars The Last Jedi. If you have yet to see it (and if you are still interested in seeing it given the controversial nature of the film) then you should run along now and get that puppy under your belt. Because there is a LOT that needs to be covered in relation to the story, plot, characters, development, and production that just cannot be delve into without spoiling what the movie consists of. And when you’re done experiencing everything the Last Jedi has to offer, come on back for MY opinions. Because I’m sure you’ll have your own and they will likely be ‘Eh, it was okay’ and go about your day. All the negativity you’ve seen surrounding the film isn’t as widespread as one would think. The simple truth is this, regardless of what you might be hearing, most people responded with a mix of confusion and a healthy dose of ‘it was alright, I guess’, and it was the controversy between those who absolutely loved it (which I myself did) and those who absolutely hated it. So go watch it with a mind towards UNexpectations and just accept it for what it is if you can then get back over here!
FAIR WARNING! THIS ONE IS A LOOOOONNNNGGGG ONE! SO GET THAT DRINK HANDY!
Now, this will be a semi review with a discussion type tone going into what I thought worked and what the most controversial issues were in relation to the film and why I think some people didn’t relate to those production choices. I will be looking into the general components of everything that made The Last Jedi the Last Jedi and separate these components into a few categories:
- Plot and Story: How the elements worked as presented in the film. The plot point beats, the story flow overall, and how the scenes relate to each other. The feeling of how the story is continued from The Force Awakens and does it work.
- Characters: Who they were. The roles they played in the film. The aspects the most ardent detractors of the film get caught up on. My general thoughts on how those characters performed in the feature. And what could’ve have made them a stronger (or weaker) presence in the movie.
- Special Effects: Did they serve the story and the film or detract. Was it believable in the Star Wars sense or was it overblown? This will look at how the production values themselves enhanced or detracted from the film.
- The Controversies: What was it that made a certain subset of fans so upset? What did the movie do that created such disdain for the movie and could it have been done better? I’ve heard it said that it was an ‘objectively bad’ film. Can that be possible? We’ll look into the case for that here and other thoughts.
A whole lot more can be gotten into about the Last Jedi, of course, and if you’re looking for a beat by beat analysis of the flick, head over to YouTube and search The Last Jedi. You won’t be wont for content as EVERYBODY has an opinion good or bad. If you’re looking for the negative and a five hour run down of everything people (or rather HE) hated about the movie, check out a YouTuber named MauLer. Either his site or get started here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vw7pcCj0ORk <—That’s just part One of a three part series. Go ahead check it out to see EVERY complaint to do with The Last Jedi. OR if you’re curious about a more positive take go to Ascender Ops and check out his video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_8_xsiWSxc&t=633s And there are so many other videos to look at if you’re looking for a balance between the vastly competing perspectives. Interestingly enough, the people who loved it, didn’t feel the need to make five hour videos about it. But those who hated it, seem to be making epic plays of their disdain. But, for now, let’s get into my take of the movie and break down the elements that serve the film.
STAR WARS HAS always been one of those sci fi fantasy movies that has had a broad appeal. The rapturous fans who’ve followed the series for decades look to every film in the series to show how a mythical universe can have so much appeal to the everyday life. And fandoms are not entities who are happy when something changes in their favorite franchise. Just consider the backlash towards George Lucas after the prequel trilogy was first introduced and finished. It was so intense for the man that he decided it was in his best interest to SELL his beloved property to Disney and retreat into hermitude. Such was the nature of fandom anger towards him. Of course, this isn’t something isolated to Star Wars. Such amazing series as Mass Effect and Ghostbusters may never see another entry again due to backlash and outrage, and now Deadpool (if it doesn’t perform well with the second entry) is ALREADY being attacked and it isn’t even out yet. Solo as well is being second guessed and derided for being a failure and it comes out next month. (Of course, I’m looking forward to Solo and want to enjoy it while we have it.) The point is, the internet culture has become a cesspool of hate and villainy (a real Mos Eisley spaceport if you will) and is unforgiving towards anything that doesn’t meet their perceived expectations. And no property in the last year has faced as much vitriolic rage as The Last Jedi. So, was it really as bad as is being suggested? Let’s take a look.
SECTION I PLOT AND STORY:
The Last Jedi picks up almost immediately where The Force Awakens leaves off. The very first scene involves the evacuation of a resistance stronghold (seen in the Force Awakens as where Leia operates) as First Order forces arrive. From here is where those who disliked the movie point to inconsistencies in the plot. First question raised is when does this movie take place time wise? Because they had JUST destroyed Starkiller base in TFA. So how did the First Order arrive so quickly? One thing of note here is that (if there is an issue obvious) the time order of events is not necessarily consistent with the individual stories being told. And one thing that annoys fans is the fact you have to read the novelization to understand the timing and events. Think of the story as transpiring over a week. Rey and Luke’s storyline are transpiring over that week. Towards the tail end of that week is where the main chase sequence of the First Order going after the remnants of the Resistance takes place. Say, the last day of that week. Over that week, Rey ‘trains’ with Luke. He wants to demonstrate to her why the Jedi must end. And she tries to encourage him to return from his self exile (he feels failed because of Ben Solo becoming Kylo Ren). Meanwhile, the Resistance is being harried by the First Order who are trying to destroy the last vestige of the rebellious organization (using a specialized tracking technology first mentioned in Rogue One, the First Order is able to trace vehicles through lightspeed allowing them the ability to just jump to where the fleeing vessels drop out). If we are to infer an order of events in the storyline based on the novelization and the film, then the events are as follows: Rey leaves the Resistance base after the obliteration of Starkiller base (unbenownst to them-and actually the audience unfortunately-the leaving Resistance fighters were traced back to their base) and heads towards Ach To where the infamous map shows where Luke Skywalker was chilling (the map is a point of contention I’ll get into with the controversy section). Rey spends the next week trying to convince Luke to return to the Resistance (and he isn’t going for it because, in a paraphrase of his words, ‘What do you think I’m going to do? Come back with my lightsaber blazing and take on the First Order single handedly?’) and I can understand his motivations.
Everything you see in the movie concerning Luke and Rey are basically taking place BEFORE the chase that makes up the majority of the movie. Which is what was confusing to most of the audiences watching the film. Does it work in this fashion? It works for me. But I can very easily see how people can be lost by this fact. Because we’re seeing the Resistance flee the First Order but it’s SECOND to the plotline featuring Rey and Luke. I see why Rian Johnson decided this was the best order of sequencing (bouncing back and forth between future and past to develop a present narrative) but if not done right can definitely lose those watching the narrative unfold. Westworld does this and much better by setting up expectations of narrative delivery and switching between those narratives so lithely you don’t really see it coming until the end (unless you’re one of those few who are fantastic at solving mysteries and shame on you for spoiling it for people!). It’s a decent attempt at narrative though it could have been produced better. While on Ach To, Rey is disillusioned to find that Luke has quit being a Jedi and cut himself off from the Force because he’s basically experiencing PTSD and just wants to be left alone to die in some long forgotten place (the hardcores and Mark Hamill himself all believe that Luke should have just been this wise Jedi master who would never throw in the towel and would always be a stalwart against evil. Myself, though, I know people with PTSD and, though the movie doesn’t come out and say that he has it, you can see he does with his actions and interactions. He’s hurting and it is clear that he is. Not just because of his failure with Ben but also the nonstop warring that seems to be the galaxy’s major throughline). There’s a series of events where Rey learns from Luke about his own disillusionment with the Jedi and the galaxy and she discovers a dark place on the island and goes there to discover herself. Only what she finds is not who who parents were, not her role in the war at play, but that she’s just herself and she’ll have to rely on herself to get through what comes next (which gets into another point of contention that I’ll get into in the controversies section. Just laying out the story and plot right now).
As this is going on, Rey somehow establishes a connection to Kylo Ren (this of course is the doing of one Supreme Leader Snoke who is so powerful in the Force it’s amazing he’s never been discovered before now) and comes to the belief she can turn him. Luke finds out about this and demands she leaves the island (the book goes into detail Luke is starting to doubt his own actions and thinking maybe he shouldn’t have gone into exile so quickly). A falling out happens between Luke and Rey and she goes on the offensive against him (getting into yet ANOTHER point of contention with hardcore fans). She attacks him and he almost seems to give up and falls to the ground. She demands again that he helps and he turns away. So Rey leaves to go find Kylo Ren and turn him to the cause of the Resistance.
After this confrontation, Luke goes to destroy the first Jedi temple but hesitates. Yoda comes to him in Force form and destroys the temple himself by summoning Force lightning (another scene of contention. You’re going to get a lot of controversial material in the controversies section, yar buddy!) Luke realizes that there actually is something he can do. But it won’t be for the Resistance or the Jedi, but rather for those that he knows will continue to fight on. His role in the ongoing wars is done and he seems happier for it. What he does next will be gotten into with the main thrust of the story which actually doesn’t occur until AFTER these sequence of events that are scattered throughout the entire movie.
The NEXT actual story beat (though you wouldn’t know it from the film since this is where it starts) is the Resistance fleeing from the First Order. They are trying to evacuate their base of operations when the First Order arrives. A dreadnought is brought in to annihilate the remaining Resistance soldiers and ships but before it can devastate the base, Poe Dameron goes to confront them. He basically crank calls General Hux (yet ANOTHER point of contention) and proceeds to take out the dreadnought canons. When this is done, he orders a bombing run against the wishes of General Leia and loses the fleet in the process but destroys the dreadnought (hardcores will point to this showing what a hero he was and, yeah that’s true. Unfortunately it also shows how a military commander should NOT be disobeying orders to retreat). Once aboard the evacuating cruiser Leia is on, she demotes him after jumping to light speed. There is a LOT going on here and the short dilly is that the First Order tracks them through light speed where the main story takes place. The Resistance fleeing the First Order. They can’t jump to light speed because the First Order can track them. And fuel is running critically low. So Poe jumps at an opportunity to help Finn and a new character Rose when they come to him with an idea. Disable the tracking device on the lead First Order ship. But to do this they need a code breaker. The reach out to Maz Kanata who is in the middle of her own battle which she refers to as a ‘trade dispute’ and refers them to another code breaker. The problem is this code breaker is on a world far from them. So they arrange to break protocol and send Finn and Rose on a shuttle towards a world known as Canto Bight.
While all this is going on, the First Order has attacked and crippled the Resistance fleet causing the primary executive officers’ deaths (and pissing off fanboys everyone in the process as Admiral Ackbar is one of those lost and his eulogy is one of the nature that ‘he died’). Of those Leia was nearly one as she was blown out into space (this leading to another issue that will be delved into in the controversies section). With Leia out of commission, a new leader is brought forward in the form of Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Denney) who is a no nonsense kind of leader and an immediate foil to Poe Dameron. Her decision making capacity is challenged on the spot by Poe and she tells him to essentially shut up and do as you’re told. Which brings him to Finn and Rose. Finn had been trying to abandon ship so that the device he was wearing (which Leia had been wearing before being injured) was a tracker that could tell Rey where to return to if needed. His primary motivation is only for protecting Rey and he doesn’t know what she is up to but he knows he doesn’t want her returning to certain death. While trying to escape, Rose counters him and stuns him. Then they get to talking and one thing leads to another and they discuss the whole tracking issue.
With Poe’s help, they take a shuttle to Canto Bight and…I’m not going to touch on Canto Bight here. See the controversies section. The big take away here is that they fail (a common theme throughout the movie as failure seems to be the big push. Yoda even tells Luke ‘the greatest teacher failure is’. And the movie pretty much beats you over the head with that theme because NOBODY wins, everybody fails, and yet HOPE is still the big beat. Which might be flawed in and of itself but doesn’t bother me). They don’t find the code breaker but they do find a hacker (and, to be honest, DJ is the one element of the movie that annoys me. Not because he’s a bad character, far from it. But by the mere fact he’s a stutterer and it is almost insufferable how the actor does it. I’m a firm believer that if you have a character that stutters, find an actor that is really good at it. Elsewise it comes off as really fake. You have to stutter to understand what it means to stutter. In the movie IT, they managed to find an actor that could stutter and do it realistically. Here, the producers didn’t. He’s a good actor. But he stutters worth shit and it takes me out of the story every time he pfff pfff pfffs).
Finn, Rose, and DJ head back and infiltrate Snoke’s capital ship, find the tracking unit, and immediately get caught. Poe is listening to this, knows they failed, and then Leia comes in and shoots him with a stun blast. (I’m covering a lot of material really fast here because it’s a two and a half hour movie that needs to cover a lot of story. It glosses over some elements it shouldn’t have and focuses on some stuff it could have dropped. Yet, even so, I don’t see what much else it could have done to balance out the various contrivances and elements without sacrificing pacing. So, my suggestion? Read the book). It is then divulged that the whole plan by Holdo was to evacuate the remaining Resistance members from the cruisers towards the world of Krait. All this time they were losing ships to the First Order (another, Jesus, point of contention…you know what, just look to the controversies section to see what all the bellyaching was about! I promise I’ll get into why I think the controversies don’t work but why I understand it all the same!) and barely staying ahead of them.
With everything coming to a head here, Rey drops in via the Millennium Falcon and flies towards the capital ship. She is brought in by Kylo Ren who knew she was coming and brings her before Snoke. Some banter goes back and forth, she tries to fight back, gets schooled, and then Ren is insulted by Snoke for being nothing more than a pale imitation of Darth Vader. Ren then pulls a move that (that I thought was epic but others were horrified by) ends up in the death of Snoke leaving Ren and Rey to face the guards within the chamber producing one of the more visually stunning battle scenes in the series. Once done, Rey wants Ren to help her save the Resistance but he isn’t interested in them. He tells her a truth she doesn’t want to hear and that she should ‘let the past die, kill it if you have to’ and they proceed to do battle. She is victorious and manages to escape. Down in the guts of the capital ship, Rose and Finn faceoff against Captain Phasma (the chromed plated stormtrooper) and escape themselves.
Jesus there’s so much to this movie! No wonder so much was cut! Look, long story short, there’s an epic battle on the surface of Krait. Poe learns why he should follow orders. A rather…weird scene plays out between Finn and Rose. Luke fucking Skywalker saves the day. The Resistance escapes. And Ren is fucking angry as fuck. Also, there’s an end sequence where we see anybody can be a Force user and the future isn’t written yet.
There is so much to unpack with this movie that it’s no wonder video makers are performing five hour surgeries on a two and half hour movie to get into what they hated about it. But, for me, I thought the plot worked. I felt there was a strong narrative driving the whole thing towards a logical conclusion. It’s almost impossible to write about because it’s just so damned long and complicated. However, that having been said, the constant narrative confusion lost a lot of viewers. And it was no wonder. Because (even at two and a half hours!) it was so condensed. The fact that the movie takes place over a week but the main narrative thrusts takes place over a day makes it feel disingenuous to the films in the series. BUT it also makes you wonder about the timelines of the other movies. Rewatching the original trilogy and the prequels, I suddenly realized that there were issues with timing as well. But what those did well and the new trilogy doesn’t was that the scenarios were so involved you just don’t notice it. With the Last Jedi, the chase sequences can be slow and deliberate (like a nice long dinner) and giving you just what you need just when you need. However, that pacing isn’t something Star Wars fans are accustomed to. It hearkens back to the pacing of 1970’s movies. During that decade, movies took their time to develop their final thesis and it could be boring to watch. Many of you have watch the original Star Wars A New Hope. If you’ve watched it recently, you’ve likely fallen asleep. This is because the pacing is slow and deliberate. Much like the original Superman, and Alien, or Westworld, perhaps Jaws, maybe some Exorcist, Godfather, A Clockwork Orange, Halloween, Monty Python And The Holy Grail, or how about some Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? What do these all have in common? The same mentality. Pacing at a slower level than we’re accustomed to in the 2000’s plus. Action is the name of the game. That’s why Michael Bay movies continue to do well and the biggest movies are action fest events. Why else would Jurassic World be so popular when it’s really just a rehash of 1993’s Jurassic Park? A movie, by the way, that was significantly slower paced than what we see currently. The Last Jedi seemed to have borrowed a 70’s mentality, slowed the plot down, and inadvertently gave rage artists too much time to see things they didn’t like. If you look at The Force Awakens, it has love because it was faster paced and got from one scene to the next with minimal time to reflect. I think the Last Jedi’s plot, while well developed and intriguing, just gave the audience too much time to think about what they don’t like. If they had trimmed it down to the two hour mark, it probably would have been better received (but don’t think for an instance I didn’t want to see it all! Hell I loved the Ultimate Cut of Batman Vs Superman and wished THAT was what was released to theaters!) But I’m not delusional. I know that length certainly affects audience retention and enjoyment.
Overall I found the plot and story well balanced and easy enough to follow. But that’s me. I recognize elements in it that can confuse and mislead the general audience. Which is a problem for a franchise with such broad appeal. They might have been too risky with this outing and not have played it safe enough. I might have loved it, but only time will tell if audiences will return in droves for the final installment.
SECTION II CHARACTERS:
This section won’t be as long. I swear. Whereas the plot and story section had to get into more specifics (yet did it really? It was long and filled with content but it didn’t get into everything! Oh boy!) the Characters section is more about how the characters related to the story. Our main characters are as follows: Finn, Poe, Luke, Rey, Holdo, Leia, BB8, DJ, Chewbacca, Kylo Ren, General Hux, Supreme Leader Snoke, and Rose. How they were all received various depending on who you ask because the story demanded so much on them. Let’s see what we can get into:
REY: I’m starting off with Rey because she’s the most contentious of the characters. I’m not going to throw her into the controversies section because the problems people have with her have been ongoing since episode VII. Many people label her a ‘Mary Sue’ and it’s a label I just have to disagree with wholeheartedly. Rey’s character arc is subtle and straight forward. When it comes to the Mary Sue character (a character that can do no wrong and is always perfect. Ha!) it just doesn’t hold water. Rey is weak comparatively to other ‘Hero’s’ in the sagas. It’s true, she’s a technological wiz. Probably due to all those years surviving as a junk scavenger on Jakku and relying on her wits to live to see another day. There’s also that little nagging issue of being a natural Force user. A natural instinctively can use the Force even if they don’t know they’re doing it. For Rey, she wasn’t an overt Force user until Kylo Ren started poking around in her head in the Force Awakens. It was AFTER that moment she became tuned in to the Force and what it could do for her (but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a subtle influence on her life before. She just became aware of it now). If she was a Mary Sue, Kylo Ren would never have been able to put up any sort of fight against her. She would have blown up Starkiller base all on her lonesome. Snoke would never have been able to control her. And she would have convinced Luke to join her in personally storming the First Order just together and by themselves to win the day. No, the truth is, she is very flawed. She is impetuous and quick to take actions detrimental to her allies and herself. Consider her first interaction with Finn. All it took was for BB8 to tell her Finn had maybe stolen a jacket and, rather than asking him if that were true, she chased him with an intent to mangle. Her recent actions on Ach To are suspect too. Now this is from a cut scene and not in the theatrical run (and it should have been really) but it showcases as well her impulsive nature. Luke gives a ‘certain point of view’ tall tale about raiders on a village. Seeing Luke won’t help them, she leaps down a cliff side and goes tearing off towards the village, bursts through the gate holding her saber high, only to discover they were all just there for a party. I think she’s learning not to be impulsive but it does get the better of her too often. Even going after Kylo Ren gets her into trouble. She could have been killed if not for Kylo being insulted by Snoke. She’s improved subtly from The Force Awakens to The Last Jedi but still has a long way to go. She won’t hold a torch to Luke Skywalker just yet. Not until she learns self control. Which I think is coming in episode 9. But for now, I feel like she’s been having a solid journey. Her discovery and recognition that her parents were just junk traders that sold her for beer money was marvelous. And it is just the right sort of fire to light something within her to do better by herself and her allies. I think Rey is perfect how she’s being portrayed. True, it could be less subtle but I feel like that is what makes her work so well. She seems to be the one who will restore the Jedi Order with a new mission and direction and look to balance in the grey as the key.
POE DAMERON: I knew the second I saw this man in The Force Awakens that he was a flashy flyboy showoff. He came off as two dimensional in TFA and a Han Solo wannabe clone (just how I viewed it) mated with Wedge Antilles. However, his arc in The Last Jedi filled me with hope for him. Poe was a character meant to die in TFA but thanks to Oscar Isaacs arguing for legitimacy from JJ Abrams, the character stuck around. Now we’re actually getting some depth out of him. He’s impulsive too. Thinks he knows better than anyone what’s right from wrong and will act on it immediately. This is nothing different from his portrayal in TFA. The only issue I think diehards are having here is that instead of being called a hero, he’s being called out on his recklessness. He brings a sort of humorous undertone to the film that I think was needed. And the lessons he learned here make me like him more. Because now he’s not some one note throw away. Now he’s a person and I look forward to seeing how his story plays out moving forward. Also, he’s just so much more likable here. If there is one thing that I think could be done better with the character is that he’s just too happy go lucky. He’s gotten to this position for a reason right? So moving forward it should be made known that he actually CAN follow directives.
ADMIRAL HOLDO: This character has received a lot of hate as being a SJW representative for the film and filling some sort of ‘we need more women’ role. I never got that from her. She strikes me as someone who was once in politics but gave that up to fight a larger fight. Sure she is very confident in herself and rather dismissive of Poe (I’ll get into why people are irked by her in the controversies section, duh!) but her presence here I felt was necessary. It was a foil to Poe and a different perspective from the mainstay characters. She is the very definition of Admiral in that she makes decisions and expects those decisions to be carried out. She’s not one to really stop and ask ‘what do you think about this?’ or ‘What do you think we should do?’ She acts in a way that she feels the issue at hand needs to be dealt with. She’s a compelling figure that we don’t a lot of time with and never see what truly motivates her. We get a glimpse and then she’s gone in a flash with what is less than lovingly being referred to as the ‘Hold Maneuver’ by online commentators. Her role is one of balance between the various actors and cults of personalities. A mediator in a way and a controversial figure in the end.
GENERAL LEIA: Carrie Fisher’s final performance is one that carries the weight of generations. In the delivering of Leia, we see a character who has experienced the burden of the galaxy time and time again. The character looks and acts tired. Now whether or not this is because Fisher was growing tired of the role is up for debate. But the character carries the gravity of the movie. She knows that annihilation is a constant moving threat and she’s doing everything she can to maintain what’s left of the Resistance. Leia is the thread that holds all the elements together. At no point do any of the separate storylines fly so far away that they are not tethered by her very presence. What will happen with Episode IX remains to be seen (What with Ms Fisher’s passing early last year). But the one thing we do know is that her influence will remain with all the characters moving forward. It was a fantastic sendoff that shows she not only has those diplomatic chops and solid leadership guarantees, she was also a Force to be reckoned with.
LUKE SKYWALKER: The character has gone through some issues since we last saw him in Return of the Jedi it would seem. There is a lot of backstory not completely revealed in the movie but fleshed out fairly well in the novelization. The crux of the previous film (Where is Skywalker?) has been solved and shown that Luke just vanished because he didn’t want to be bothered anymore. He had originally come to Ach To to find the ancient Jedi temple (the First Jedi Temple!) to discover the secrets to bringing the Jedi back. Whatever it was he found, disheartened him so much he swore off using the Force. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of this particular storyline as it raises a lot of questions. What did he find in those books that put him off so much? Was the issue of Ben the final straw or was finding this temple? Whatever the answers are, I find it intriguing because there is a lot here we don’t know. But Luke, former hero of the old Rebellion, just doesn’t want to rage war anymore. It’s understandable to me, but fans are up in arms about his ‘treatment’ here. I think the sendoff Luke receives here is heartwarming and touching and serves the character more than just him swooping in lightsaber swinging, tearing up the walkers, beating down the First Order, and single handedly saving the resistance. This feels more raw, more important, more necessary. I didn’t know this was want I wanted to see, needed to see. But I’m glad I got it over what I expected.
CHEWBACCA: Chewbacca doesn’t do much in the movie. He’s pretty much a chaffeur. Which makes me kind of sad but the scene with the porgs where he’s trying to eat one is priceless. And then to realize why porgs are on the Falcon like an infestation is all because he feels bad about it…was priceless. But yeah he is here just to be here. And I hope to see more of him in IX.
KYLO REN: There is a serious advancement in this character’s presence in the Last Jedi. In the Force Awakens, he was a young man with hero worship for Darth Vader. A wannabe with nothing new to bring to the table. In The Last Jedi, he comes into his own. Snoke criticizes him and makes him feel worthless. In Snoke’s view, Kylo was a waste of effort because he thought the strong Skywalker blood would make him an impervious ally. Unfortunately, Ren’s mental issues are too much for Snoke and he just derides him. This forces Kylo to become what he didn’t expect (or any of us really) the next emperor. And it was fantastic to see it play out! He is proving to be the villain the new trilogy needs: an unstable megalomaniac who doesn’t realize until it’s too late that he’s been deceived. And now what does he do with those revelations? Only IX will tell. Many fans don’t like him because they view him as a whiny spoiled child. And that may be true, honestly. So maybe think about not spoiling your children like Kylo. Elsewise, he’ll turn into some maniac trying to conquer a galaxy with an army he siezed for himself. Scary stuff. And quite entertaining.
FINN: In the Force Awakens, Finn was a stormtrooper who just didn’t want to kill. So he helps Poe escape so that he can escape. Then he falls for Rey, a young woman who is independent and strong yet he feels gives him purpose. There is not much evolution to him in this movie and he’s driven by pretty much the same thing that drove him in TFA: the need to protect Rey. Which is ironic considering she doesn’t need protecting. It seems to be some sort of projection of his. He no longer knows what his role is so he latches on to Rey. Whether it’s true love or not remains to be seen and whether he will grow as a character is up in the air. The duel between him and Phasma was cool but didn’t develop him any so there is a question of who he’ll be in the future and what his role will be then. In the Last Jedi, he ends up joining Rose in a quest to find the code breaker and then freeing some animals. There’s an interesting dynamic occurring around him. Finn has no reason to love Rey as she’s giving him no reason to love her. Yet he does. Finn has given Rose no reason for her to love him yet she does and he doesn’t see it. It’s sort of a love triangle where nobody really knows why they love each other. The only way to complete that triangle would be if Rey suddenly falls for Rose. And how trippy would that be? I don’t know where this is going and it’s one of the weaker elements of the film but it will still be interesting to see. Providing Finn is developed out more. Right now he’s not contributing much to the general plot. I’ve heard people being bothered that he’s a minority shoved into a major role and, for some reason, that sticks up their craw. I like Finn and I hope he’s fleshed out more. I feel like there’s a missed opportunity here to bring him to the forefront. But that may be mostly due to his being pushed to the margins because of the big names on the films. We’ll see if he’s built up further heading forward. I hope so because he’s a good character. Just unrealized.
ROSE: One of the new characters in the film. Her sister was a bomber pilot who gets killed pretty early on in the flick. I don’t mind Rose but I honestly am not real certain why she’s in the script. Well, I guess there’s the idea that we never get to see the everyman in a Star Wars flick and it doesn’t get more everyman than Rose. She’s akin to the pedestrian character in a Marvel comic. She sees the superheroes doing their thing and wishes she were one of them. In her worship, she comes to realize Finn isn’t who she thought he was. He’s just a person like her. And so in that disillusionment looks to imprison Finn for abandonment. Only they work together to figure out how to actually be heroes. It’s pretty much the average person staring up into a warzone and saying ‘let me help’. She does of course and they find a hacker to help them. It doesn’t work because he’s a backstabbing money hungry traitor out for himself BUT she does add an interesting dynamic to the story over all. Her stopping Finn from sacrificing himself in the final battle for the love of the Resistance and his friends was ironic because she saved him because she’s fighting for love not hate. Yet that was what Finn was doing. So, whereas I think her role is important to the themes of the film, I’m not sure what she’ll be able to bring in the future. Hopefully she won’t become a Jar Jar Binks. A lot of people find her useless and forgettable. And that is almost true. The thing is though she has some potential and I hope it gets fulfilled. Only time will tell.
BB8: The little droid that could. He’s the new R2 on the block and that’s okay. BB8 is an amusing little droid that delivers the map in the Force Awakens and helps Rose, Finn, and DJ infiltrate Snoke’s ship. Outside of that, he doesn’t contribute a whole lot to the story. He’s not as important here as he was in TFA. But that’s okay. C3PO was in every Star Wars film and I don’t recall him contributing to the plot much at all. Sure there was that whole god to the Ewoks thing, but outside of that, what did he ever do? I feel like BB8 may have been the primary agent in TFA but will serve little else than be cute moving forward. Certainly he didn’t provide much plot need here. He was funny though and that’s what counts I suppose. I like him and hope he sticks around. But right now he is about as important as R2D2 in these new movies. Which is interesting given how much screen time he’s had. I haven’t heard anyone talk bad about BB8. Probably because he’s a cute droid. Fun and enjoyable. And maybe that’s just how he should stay. Kind of like R2.
GENERAL HUX: People keep saying Hux got shafted in this movie but from the first moment of seeing him I found him a sniveling opportunist looking to crawl up the corporate ladder. He is a shallow character who cares only for himself and won’t have any growth to carry him forward. It’s amusing to see his interactions with Snoke and Ren but he’s one of those characters that is just there to be villainous and abused and little else. He’s a stock villain. He was in TFA and he is here. Anyone who thinks he should be Tarkin doesn’t understand Tarkin and certainly doesn’t get Hux. Hux is essentially that guy being choked by Vader in A New Hope. He’s there to be a punching bag. If they expand Hux’s role in IX I’ll be surprised. I expect him to take a backseat moving forward as he isn’t adding anything other than to be obnoxious and a punchline (Again like he was in TFA. Nothing different is being done with this guy here so stop saying he was ‘respected’ in TFA. He wasn’t. He was a punchline there too). Hardcores were upset that he was played up as comic relief. And my thought on that is this: good. At least he was doing something useful. Elsewise, he’s just standard douchebag villain number 285. But that’s just how I feel about it.
SUPREME LEADER SNOKE: Honestly I’m glad he was killed. I almost cheered when he was cut in half in The Last Jedi. Because for me the big moneyed interest is Ren. And we’re getting sooooo much character development out of Kylo Ren! Snoke on the other hand is just some Force powerful overlord we’ve seen before. There is a good chance we’ll see Snoke again, unfortunately. Because fan ire is saying ‘we don’t know who he is!’ But I know. He’s another stoke villain. A big bad from the Unknown Regions come to conquer the imperial remnants and overthrow the New Republic. His motivations are like any big bad’s motivations: command and conquer. Even if IX does get into his origins, they’ll be far less interesting than what’s going on with Kylo Ren. Kylo Ren betrayed his family on a false promise. The only thing about Snoke I want to know is this, what was that false promise to Ben Solo? That’s it. His origins I couldn’t care less about. Because I’ve seen it a hundred times. But a young man turning evil when his family was loving and kind to him? That makes for some compelling drama. In The Last Jedi, I can see that Rian Johnson agreed with my thought. He was just one more uninteresting lush come to take glory. It wouldn’t have been interesting, it wouldn’t have been compelling, it just would have been a by the numbers event. ‘Big Bad Evil Emperor From The Unknown Regions Of Space Comes To Take Over The Galaxy!’ Cool. And? A big issue with Snoke for people was that we don’t know who he is and his death ‘robs’ us of a chance to learn his backstory. Honestly, like I said, I know his backstory. I don’t have to hear it to know it. I’ve seen it dozens of times. And it’s generic. Disney serves themselves well by dumping him now and getting to who we really need to see as a villain: Kylo Ren.
DJ: What is there to say about DJ? He was in it for about fifteen minutes. Made a huge impact, stuttered a lot, betrayed his new friends, and left with a shit ton of money. I feel like his only real contribution was to point out that the moneyed interests in the galaxy profit off of war and you should be in it for yourself. I loved the fact that Rose and Finn fucked up by parking on the beach because she was afraid of being identified as Resistance fighters (movie doesn’t point this out but the book does) and then get arrested just before talking to the code breaker. It is sooo on point with the movie that it’s amazing. He is the physical representation that you can be doing the wrong things for the right reason and then utterly fail because even if you’re the hero, who really cares in the end? It’s a cynical conceit and it works well here. DJ though is an obnoxious prick who serves no other purpose than to be a zit on their asses. And…stutter aside…I loved it. He’s just some dude out for himself and Rose and Finn our so desperate they said ‘we’ll take it’. I don’t know if he’ll be back in IX (he might be. He’s kind of a Boba Fett kind of character. There to fuck with ya and say a few lines then be eaten by a sarlacc) but he won’t serve much of a role if he is because he’s just a foil here. I feel that dropping the stutter would have made DJ more interesting and straight forward. His stutter is the worst part. Because he doesn’t stutter words he just…pfft pfft pffts and then speaks. That isn’t how stutters work and should have be eliminated. A lot of people had an issue with him because he was convenient. The sad fact is that with writing, everything is a convenience to get your characters from point A to point Z as quickly as possible. DJ is the highway.
Every other character in the movie is alright. They serve their roles and move the story forward and that’s all you can really expect. There are no glaring oversights to me in regards to characters. Some are more interesting than others but most are there to be fill-ins to flesh out the world.
SECTION III THE SPECIAL EFFECTS:
There is one thing the Last Jedi has been lauded for and it is its special effects. Everyone I’ve talked to, every video I’ve seen, every review written about the movie has stated quit clearly that the best thing about the film is its visuals. The visuals flesh out the movie in a way that is spectacular and awe inspiring. Even if you didn’t like the film. For me, special effects are irrelevant. Yeah, it was a gorgeous film to look at and it made it easier to watch. It wasn’t what I went to see it for though. I went for story and wasn’t disappointed. The Special FX though were flashy and fun and worked well for the established nature of the saga as a whole. It was certainly more in tuned with the prequels in visual fidelity. And the hand made effects were phenomenal as well. Though…I could have done without the seacow scene. That was…disturbing. Understandable. But disturbing. I agree with Mark Hamill on this one, if you have time for Seacow milking of green milk, you have time for Luke morning Han. It was a quick scene. They could have put it in. It’s on the blu ray, sure, as a deleted scene. But I would rather it have been in the movie over green milk tits mcgee.
Overall though the visual effects were pretty much Star Wars through and through and I don’t have much to say in regards to it. I know I made this a separate section but I needed a shorter segment to get into because it’s one thing a massive sci fi fantasy epic like Star Wars has going for it, it’s its visual effects!
SECTION IV THE CONTROVERSIES:
And now we get into the nitty gritty of the hate towards the Last Jedi. I’m going to focus on the major issues that has fans divided and I hope I can be consistent here and thorough. The issues surrounding the Last Jedi come down to choices made by Rian Johnson. There was a treatment for Episode VIII made up by JJ Abrams (A treatment by the way is not the same as a plan. It’s an idea that written and put forth basically saying ‘what if we do this?’ And can be accepted or ignored by whoever is picking up the mantel to move forward on the story) but it was pretty much thrown out by Rian Johnson as he wanted to do something surprising and unexpected. He didn’t want to replicate The Empire Strikes Back, as it looked like the direction it was taking, but do something that would have fans talking about it for years. And boy did he! Alright here we go and I’ll try not to bore you. I’ll give you the controversy and why people are mad. And then I’ll give you my take on it.
CONTROVERSY NUMBER 1: IT IGNORES EVERYTHING THE FORCE AWAKENS SETS UP
This isn’t something easily ignored. Rian Johnson was pretty explicit in saying he wanted to subvert expectations and that meant throwing out the preliminary thoughts for episode VIII. People think he just did this without input but that is a wrong assertion. Both JJ Abrams AND Kathleen Kennedy were on board with his new script. In fact, JJ was so enamored with it he said he wished he could be directing the film. Not to undo those changes but because he loved the concepts so much. So what changed from draft to shooting script?
- Luke’s role would have been more Obiwan like. The original thought was for Luke to assume the mantle of Obiwan Kenobi and become a great Jedi master. Teaching a new generation of students and learning from the ancient texts of the old masters. In a way, we got this with Johnson’s script. But Johnson felt that was too generic. We’ve already seen this haven’t we? Qui Gon Jinn? ObiWan with Luke? Yoda in his final days? Do we really need to see it again? So the thought was, what if we approach this from a different angle? What if Luke IS that wise old master but he’s just grumpy and tired of war? I don’t know that PTSD was ever mentioned in these revisions but it certainly comes across as the such. The Force Awakens sets this all up via Abrams’ mystery box fetish. The idea we don’t know what’s hidden so let’s explore it together! So Abrams had Rey handing Luke the lightsaber in anticipation of her new role as student. What the final result was involved Luke tossing the saber away because he no longer wanted that responsibility. This change caused a fury in diehard fans who were anticipating Luke being that Obi Wan character and became angry at Johnson for subverting this hope. He knew what they wanted and deliberately didn’t give it to them. Personally, I prefer Johnson’s way. I expected the wise old mentor Luke Skywalker to come in and save the day (and he does, just not in the way we were expecting) but was so pleasantly surprised at the direction the movie took in regards to Luke’s journey. We all thought Luke Skywalker would come in and Luke Ex Machina is way through the film but instead we got a grumpy old man shouting ‘Get off my lawn!’ and that just tickled me pink. (Diehard fans will say, including Mark Hamill, that Luke would never give up. That Jedi’s don’t give up. Yet, the entire history of Star Wars shows us differently. The Jedi weren’t beyond going into hiding if things were going south. Just look at Obi Wan and Yoda. They retreated because of the rise of the empire. And with the rise of the First Order, Luke followed suit because he felt he was only making things worse. But if you also take into account that Luke is human and fought a war for ten years where many people died and more and then tried to teach his nephew to use the Force wisely and even established an academy solely for that purpose, when Ben turned Luke’s PTSD would have flared up to crazy levels of inability to manage. It’s amazing he can even TALK to Rey when she first finds him).
- Rey’s Parentage. In Abrams’ original notes, Rey would have been someone explicitly connected to a main character from the series before. We don’t know who that would have been as those notes have yet to be released but she would have had that familial connection. Johnson felt that was too easy and too dismissive of other Force users. So he made Rey’s parents…nobodies. Just some drunkards who traded her away for booze money. She lived on Jakku since then trying to survive and hoping her family would return. Upon being involved with Kylo Ren, he simply stated she knew the truth. They were dead and she was alone and a nobody. The idea here being you don’t have to have a family name to be one with the Force. And that’s an important point because even Yoda and Obi Wan stated that the Force was what bound everyone together. It was a connective energy that belonged to no one being. Yet the uproar here is ‘So now EVERYBODY has the Force!?’ And I can understand the anger. However, I also always read the extended material in books and played the games to get a more complete picture of what the Force was all about. So I was surprised with the revelation that anybody can use the Force and that Rey’s parents were nobodies. In fact, I prefer it that way. So much speculation was out there that she was the lost daughter of the Solos or that she was the daughter of Luke Skywalker that I started wishing she wasn’t related to any of them. And so we get the truth that…she isn’t. And that filled me with such relief. Rey didn’t HAVE to be a special princess. She’s just an abandoned child strong in the Force who learned to survive on her own. And that…I feel that’s more genuine really.
- Supreme Leader Snoke is someone powerful and important. And yes JJ had a thought for him. However, the first time I saw Snoke I really didn’t care about him. Sure, I enjoyed the theories that he could have been Darth Plageuis and thought that would have been a cool reveal. But overall, to me, he was just a replacement for Emperor Palpatine and that rather bored me. But then Kylo Ren just kills him and I seriously almost applauded outloud. It was a great moment for me because I really just wanted to see who Ben Solo was becoming in the end. The challenges that Snoke put upon Ren were so severe and intriguing that I was more interested in the direction Kylo Ren was going. Everybody wanted Snoke to be some big bad, and he was. But to say that discounts what the Force Awakens set up? No. I disagree. If anything it makes TFA make more sense. Here’s a man who came from nowhere to take control of the First Order. We don’t know who he is, we don’t know what he wants, but we discover that it doesn’t matter. Because he is that thing Kylo Ren is trying to be. The important discovery was right in front of us the whole time. Kylo Ren. Supreme Leader Snoke is the MacGuffin in this case. Now, episode IX will likely fill us in on who he was. Hell, in might even make him Darth Plageuis. But really I don’t need that. I’m comfortable with this being Kylo Ren’s journey and not Snoke’s. Sorry, fanboys. Snoke’s a nobody.
- The Knights of Ren. Alright this one I will say I wished we’d gotten a little more hint at. Outside of Luke saying Ben slaughtered his students and ran off with a handful of others, nothing is mentioned of the Knights of Ren in the Last Jedi leaving some less than thrilled. The Force Awakens establishes these guys as a force to be reckoned with. Yet we get nothing about them in the Last Jedi. I almost wished Snoke’s red guards in the throne room were the Knights of Ren giving Kylo Ren some pause. But we don’t get anything which leads people to say that The Last Jedi ignores established canon. But really I just think it wouldn’t have been necessary. Rian Johnson left them out because he didn’t know what to do with them. That doesn’t make him a bad story teller, that just means the Knights of Ren were important here. I’m sure JJ Abrams will let us know what they’ve been up to. Hopefully anyway.
- What the hell was up with that damned map!? And we come to the map to Skywalker! The whole impetus behind the Force Awakens! Rey finally gets to Luke using said map and he….doesn’t care? So what was the point of the map? I will admit when I first thought about this I was confused. We have an entire section of the galaxy readily available on one map but it has to be plugged in? Don’t galactic governments know about this area? Well it turns out no. No they don’t. The region in question here is the Unknown Regions. It’s where Snoke comes from. And probably the Chiss while we’re at it. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you haven’t seen the expanded universe materials. Books, cartoons, games, etc. Essentially, this map was the map Luke was keeping while exploring the Unknown Regions for the ancient Jedi temple. Once he found it and realized that the information within was too destructive to the galaxy at large, he had R2 remove the region from regular maps. At the time, nobody had explored there. Certainly the exceptions were those who lived there (at one point Luke even cooperated with Snoke in discovery which is how Snoke came to discover the name Skywalker) and the information was given to him readily enough. But then he discovered Snoke’s influence over his nephew and went into exile, deleting the map’s coordinates of that region. Only R2 kept copies of it just in case. So this wasn’t an oversight in the story. It’s part and parcel of it. The Last Jedi doesn’t invalidate the map it just brings the reasons for it more into focus. JJ didn’t go into this because he’s obsessed with mystery boxes and didn’t really know WHY it was so important. Only that it was a useful tool in getting Rey to Luke.
- The Galactic Government in the New Republic was useless. Now this is probably true. The issue with the New Republic was that it was ineffectual and overconfident. The First Order strikes at the heart of the New Republic in Episode VII wiping the government out. How? How can the First Order be so powerful that it now controls the galaxy again? Well, first off, it doesn’t. The First Order gained its power under Snoke in the Unknown Regions for decades. When it came to power it was facing a galactic government still trying to wrangle control of star systems away from regional governors loyal to the old imperial order. The imperial remnants were either controlling personal solar space or allied with Snoke in the outer Unknown Regions. This ability to remain unseen was what allowed them to build Starkiller base and operate outside of the jurisdiction of the New Republic. By the time the New Republic even knew of the First Order it was too late to stop their rise. The government of the New Republic would shift their representatives every year from solar system to solar system hoping to keep any enemies on their toes and at bay. Unfortunately for them, the First Order knew their order of cycles.
- What’s the Point of the Resistance!? Who are they fighting if the New Republic is in charge now!? There is an issue out there among fans who don’t know what’s going on story wise. And the reason why is this, Star Wars has been, is now, and will always be a multimedia product. To get the entire story you have to read, watch, and game. But many people feel they shouldn’t have to do that. And I understand that. However, a movie can only give you so much. And the Star Wars franchise is a HUGE entity that will never unveil all its secrets in one movie. You have to glean what you can from it when you can. The truth of the Resistance is this: Leia saw the threat of the First Order rising and wanted to fight it. At the time, her old friend Mon Mothma was in charge of the New Republic. Mon Mothma didn’t feel the First Order was the threat Leia considered it to be and didn’t want to hear anything more about it. They had a falling out and Leia went to form her own Resistance. The Resistance is made up of donations from friendly business men, worlds, and organizations who fear the First Order’s rise. At no point was the Resistance funded by The New Republic. Which is why their resources are limited and their ships are often weakly armored. They no longer have access to the old Y Wings and B Wings but can find cheap A Wings, X Wings, and ancillary bombers that their supporters are willing to donate to the cause.
- How Was the First Order Able to Find the Resistance Base So Quickly!? As I mentioned previously, the timeline can be confusing. It took the First Order nearly a week to track down the Resistance base using tracking technology through light speed. This makes sense as Starkiller base was obliterated and Kylo Ren needed time to heal up. Also Finn is shown to have healed over some time in a bacta tank. So we’re looking at a week’s time frame for the First Order to arrive and attack and catch the Resistance trying to evacuate their base only recently having discovered the truth. It isn’t inconsistent with what was established before.
There are other issues relating to the Force Awakens that people have and consider contradictions. But I just don’t find all of them as compelling as these previous examples. A lot can be said here but overall, I feel like what was established in the Force Awakens carries over to the Last Jedi fairly adequately. Things can always be fine tuned further but The Last Jedi doesn’t ignore the established plot points in the Force Awakens in my opinion.
CONTROVERSY #2 IT DISRESPECTS LUKE SKYWALKER AND MAKES HIM WEAK
Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, kind of helped propagate this one by being vocal about Rian Johnson’s views on Luke Skywalker. Hamill felt Skywalker would never act like this and is therefore disingenuous to the character. And I’m not going to argue against people’s perceptions of who Luke Skywalker was or is as it is very subjective by nature. The thing is Rian Johnson had a vision of who Luke Skywalker had become and headed in that direction. What people remember most is the last time they saw Luke Skywalker, that hopefully young man who tried to save his father from himself. That person would never turn dark and would never for an instant consider killing his own nephew. Many are calling for the Last Jedi to be stripped from canon and the old canon restored. However, there might be a surprise waiting for those diehards. Years ago there was a comic series told called the Dark Empire where Luke Skywalker turned to the darkside and became the temporary pupil of the clone of Emperor Palpatine. This comic along with the Heir to the Empire trilogy of books written by Timothy Zahn would establish a connection to the dark side that Luke would never quite be rid of. So it is canon that he would consider such a thing. And in fact he almost DID kill his own father during that final showdown in the Emperor’s throne room. It was at the last minute that he realized what his father had become and then forced himself to turn away. This doesn’t mean to imply Luke is a bad person only that fighting against dark instincts is a neverending battle. And when Luke sensed it all starting again with Ben, he momentarily entertained the idea. But we’re talking about a split second. And we’ve ALL had split second thoughts along the lines of ‘what if I just punch this guy?’ or ‘I should just kill you’ but never actually do it. The fans in regards to how Luke is approached here act as if he actually made good on the threat. Luke Skywalker was never perfect and indeed what made him a strong character was his persistence on moving beyond those darker instincts. And he’s still a compelling character when looking at him as someone who’s disengaged with the rest of the galaxy. I can certainly understand the reasons why he would want to. War once again rears its ugly head.
Other issues people found with Luke Skywalker in this film:
- He was too easily beaten by Rey during their fight. Rey gets angry at Luke and grabs her stick to fight him. It turns into a battle with Luke using a twig as his weapon. He’s knocked to the ground leading people to believe he was defeated by the Mary Sue. The truth was, Luke was just tired of fighting. He engaged her at first and then basically quit because he didn’t want to fight her overall. When he falls to the ground you see him using the Force to prevent himself from hitting the rocks. Had he meant to, he would have beaten her easily. He only had decades of experience using the Force by this point. (A note: Luke had cut himself off from the Force. However, when he reached out to Leia he reconnected with the Force to see what he was missing. Going to Rey he finds her consorting with Kylo and getting ready to make a horrible mistake. This is why he goes ballistic. And it makes sense to me why he would be angry. He sees the patterns repeating.)
- He never properly mourns Han. It’s as if he doesn’t care. The truth is, there was a scene where he does mourn and I wish it were left in. It wasn’t long and it dealt with the concerns fans had. I don’t see any compelling reason why this scene would have been left out. Time wouldn’t be an issue because we’re talking about something like 30 seconds. And it doesn’t disrupt the flow of the narrative. So no reason to have this one out. And I’m sad it was removed.
- When did Luke have the ability to Force project himself!? You’re talking about thirty years worth of history since Return of the Jedi and he’s sought out the Jedi temple (the very first even) to discover ancient secrets. You think he wouldn’t learn a trick or two in the process? When it comes to Force usage in this movie people seem to lose their minds. I’ve read hundreds of stories, comics, played games, and this aspect was probably the most intriguing I’ve seen and the most in line with what the Force can do. And yes, it is draining. But the issue seems to be if it hasn’t been shown before it can’t happen. And…I mean…NONE of the Force powers were shown or described before they were used. Why is this one an issue?
At no point did I think Luke Skywalker was disrespected as a character. In fact, I’m glad he was used as a Luke Ex Machina and thrown in to be the Ultimate Warrior. THAT I would have felt disrespectful to Luke. Like the ultimate fanboy nerdgasm unleashed on the page and the golden screen. For me, this was the natural evolution of Luke Skywalker. He can’t always be looked to to solve the galaxy’s problems and it demonstrates how the wars in Star Wars is everlasting. Luke interacting with Rey is in a very strong way passing the torch on to a new generation. She has lost faith too. She looked to the past to solve the current problem. Luke sees the past as a hindrance and that if Rey tries to convert Kylo, she will fail. It isn’t until he’s talking to Yoda that he realizes that knowing that someone will fail isn’t a reason not to help. So he does his part to give them all a chance to be stronger moving forward without using the past as a crutch. At least, that’s how I felt about it. And it moved me deeply. So to come home and hear the vitriol was…surprising. Luke’s journey is complete. Maybe he’ll come back as a Force ghost maybe he won’t. But he’s served a critical role in molding the story moving forward and I found it perfectly reasonable.
CONTROVERSY #3 HOLDO IS PUSHING AN SJW AGENDA
All the things said about Holdo were…weird. I never felt an agenda was being pushed. She is definitely a hard woman with her own way of doing things but this doesn’t detract from what the movie is or how it plays. I sometimes wonder what is going on with the internet. I remember seeing similar criticisms towards the new Tomb Raider games and that woman were inherently weak and couldn’t hold their own properties and that forcing a woman into a leading role was stupid because they couldn’t do the same things as men and were less interesting. And I just have this to say from the bottom of my heart, if you believe that, you’re an idiot. Tangle with Boudecia or Cleopatra or Queen Nzinga. The idea that women are inherently ‘weak’ is something propagated by society and isn’t supported by fact. So when I hear that Holdo is some ‘SJW Agenda’ I get understandably annoyed. It is true that Kathleen Kennedy has made statements pushing for more women in the Star Wars Universe, but just because that’s true, doesn’t mean the characters put forward are irrelevant. Let’s look at some of the issues people have had problems with:
- All Holdo Had To Do Was Tell Poe The Plan. There may be something to that idea but not much because, as a military brat, let me tell you how militaries work. If you refuse to follow orders, you’re going to be drummed out or down. Poe refused to follow General Leia’s directive to leave the field of battle. He insisted on destroying the dreadnought and got the entire fleet he was in charge of killed. As a result he was demoted. So when Poe engages Holdo by demanding what the plan is, she is under no obligation to tell him. She’s an Admiral. And he was once a Commander demoted to Captain by a General. In a real military, if you refuse orders, you’ll be lucky if all you have to do is peel potatoes. In this fictional confrontation, however, there’s not much left to the Resistance and they can’t afford to lose anymore people. That’s why he’s still in service. Holdo is giving him a chance to prove himself by standing back and obeying. But he’s not content in doing that and almost makes everything worse. Yet, somehow, in people’s minds it’s Holdo’s fault for not telling him the plan. No, it’s Poe’s fault for not shutting up and following his directives.
- Holdo is overconfident and puts the Resistance in Unnecessary risks. I think Holdo was the number one recruit under Leia trained specifically by the General to do what needs to be done when all hell has broken loose. She might be wearing elegant dresses and sporting a pleasant smile, but she is certainly focused on her task at hand. But her narrow focus does represent a failure of sorts (recognize that theme?) as she doesn’t petition her crew for tactical advice but rather goes it alone. But that is something the brass is known for be they men or women. And had Holdo been a male, I seriously doubt anyone would have said anything about HIS actions.
- The ‘Holdo Maneuver’ Is Stupid. I’m not going to comment on this just yet because it plays into another issue that people have with the movie. Needless to say, the maneuver in question isn’t without merit and likely has a presence in the history of the Star Wars galaxy. It isn’t unprecedented because it has real life connections as well. But let me get into that shortly.
I don’t find Holdo a bad character. There is an arrogance about her though that is common among people holding a position of power. But the idea that because she’s a woman makes it more wrong, pisses me off. I’ve seen plenty of movies where men in power make stupid decisions but aren’t derided because they have a penis. Like somehow that makes someone smarter. Holdo is an Admiral. Informed by her role and position. All of her tactics are derived from this simple observation. And no having Admiral Ackbar take her place wouldn’t solve anything. In fact, Ackbar was an old man who was an adherent to old philosophies. Creative attacks were never in his repertoire. What you’re talking about is fan service not story service.
CONTROVERSY #4 THE STARSHIPS DON’T ABIDE BY ESTABLISHED CANON!
This one is rather petty. Apparently some diehards had an issue with how technology is depicted in the Last Jedi without it first having been already established before. But my question is this, how do you establish something that was never presented before? Are movie makers supposed to stop the movie and lay out EVERY conventional application of technology first before the movie and then say, ‘okay as you were’? Luke being able to do a Force flip in Empire Strikes Back wasn’t established by the movie before hand. Does that mean he shouldn’t be able to do it? Obi Wan Kenobi died by disappearing when killed by Vader. Did we need to have a prequel made first to explain that fact? The anal nature of fandoms these days drives me nuts. So here are the biggest gripes involving starship capabilities in The Last Jedi.
- So You’re Saying Gravity Exists In Space!? Uhm…yeah. It’s a universal force people. But the big issue here involves the bombers making a bombing run on the dreadnought towards the beginning of the film. The bombers (not Y wings which I’ve seen complained about. I’m guessing Y wings weren’t available. I’m not writing the script for them. It’s just obvious. Deal with it) start dropping bombs on the dreadnought. The bombs fall straight down towards the craft and some people have raised the issue why would that happen in space. Welp, there are two scenarios here. One, the bombs are drawn down due to the gravity of the world they’re orbiting and therefore are going straight into the dreadnought as a result. Number two, the bombs are magnetic and drawn to energy sources. The book lays it out as the second option. HOWEVER, being in orbit around a large planet also means that both methods are going to be valid. But it’s a science fiction fantasy movie and I wonder, can you just not suspend your disbelief anymore? The reason why astronauts ‘float’ in orbit is not because they’re weightless. It’s because they’re falling. They’re in a controlled orbital environment where they are constantly falling. Further out into space you’ll see less of this and who knows how human beings will react to such a thing. Or bombs. Good thing this battle didn’t occur elsewhere or minds would totally have been lost.
- How Can You Ram A Ship At LightSpeed When It’s Never Been Done Before!? Apparently this was something that really stuck up people’s craws. The Holdo Maneuver will be described now. The principle is that a starship is being used as a battle ram at light speed into another vessel. In a last ditch effort to protect the Resistance remnants, Holdo turns her cruiser around and rams it at light speed into Snoke’s capital ship. This causes a chain reaction of energy that wipes out half the fleet of the First Order present. The issue for hardcores is that this has never been established in lore before. If you can do this why don’t they always do this? Why even have space wars if you can just jump a vessel into light speed and waste your enemy that way? Why have combat? And this REALLY gets to people which I find hilarious honestly. Here’s the thing, you can do great destructive damage in real life with a 747. But my question to you is this, just because you can, do you think using a 747 in a wartime scenario is a valid weapon choice? For me the answer is no. Because a 747 just isn’t a practical weapon. You have to hope it’ll hit its target at the right moment at the right angle to do the maximum damage. And I’m pretty sure the same is true in space battles. You have resources to contend with, military personnel, tactical on the fly situations…and you just can’t guarantee that your light speed equipment super weapon is going to fly exactly as you see fit. Droids should be used then? Well, aren’t they semi autonomous beings that don’t want to die? And can you rely on such a thing to be as destructive as you need? In World War II, the Japanese used kamikaze tactics to try and cripple the US fleets in the South Pacific. And YET it was relatively fruitless as they lost anyway. They lost because it was a last ditch effort with no resources left. That’s what happens in a war time scenario. Using a ship as a weapon has probably been done before in Star Wars history. Hell even Han Solo in a New Hope said jumping into light speed isn’t like going to the store. You could easily hit a black hole or asteroid and that would end your day real quick. This infers that there is a measure of uncertainty when hitting light speed. Holdo got lucky when she hit the capital vessel. It’s just not a practical means of waging war.
There’s more to the complaints but there is just SOOOO much to work through I’m just going to leave it at this. You don’t need to have heard about vessels being used as machines of wars in the Star Wars universe before. It can just be inferred because there are literally an infinite amount of stories that could be told. So I find the idea of ramming a ship in a last ditch effort sustainable but not practical. And the energy dispersal given out is believable too. An Xwing or a Tie Fighter are going to have significantly less kinetic discharges at lightspeed than say a battle cruiser with more mass. These are scientific principles that can be demonstrated. But I’m not going to demonstrate them here because this is already going to long.
CONTROVERSY #5 THE ENTIRE CANTO BIGHT SEQUENCE
About midway through the movie, Finn and Rose headout towards Canto Bight to find the Code Breaker. What happens there is a twenty minute segway into a side adventure that some people like, some people hate, and most just give two ‘ehs’ about. It was a necessary diversion to demonstrate the theme of failure to its maximum effect (Don’t land on the beach! Follow proper docking protocol! They won’t care that you’re Resistance! They won’t) and to make the point that the rich are playing both sides of the conflict. A lot of the naysayers take it as an animal rights embellishment piece. But I don’t think that’s consequential. I think the whole scene exists to show WHY people join the Resistance. And of course to establish that Force sensitives can come from anywhere. I’m not getting into bullet points here because, honestly, I don’t have a problem with the scene. I think it works. It’s over long but it works and fits in nicely with the themes. If you’re one of those who hates the movie my lavishing praise on it and explaining how this scene works isn’t going to change your mind. If you enjoyed the film and didn’t mind this sequence, it still won’t change anything. I actually think it all goes pretty fast and there are a lot of cool practical effects on display here.
I could go on all night on what the various controversies and issues with the movie were but I ‘m not going to. This has already gone on for far too long. And I’m tired. The truth is, I thoroughly enjoyed Star Wars The Last Jedi. I’ve reviewed dozens of hours worth of criticism against the film and just see nitpicking. I felt the story was well balanced and delivered a satisfying story. Yeah, it was subversive in a lot of its writing. Yeah it killed Snoke, made Luke a grumpy old man, showed Leia using Force powers (which was another point of contention I find ridiculous. You don’t think Leia would learn how to do the basic Force pull over the last thirty years? Come on! Her blasting into space and pulling herself isn’t the most egregious thing you’ve ever saw, snowflake!). And at no point did it contradict the Force Awakens. It just gave you something you didn’t expect. Maybe you liked it, maybe you didn’t.
Overall, The Last Jedi is my favorite movie in the series and well produced. Every critical response given I have an answer for. I just don’t feel like laying ALL of out here. This is already like 22 pages long and I’ve only SCRATCHED the surface of the hate towards the Last Jedi! I loved the movie! It was great! It isn’t for everyone and it’s definitely flawed. It’s a fact that Mark Hamill wasn’t a fan of it and Carrie Fisher probably had her issues too. You can see in their faces during the movie that they’re not totally happy. But if you look at the younger actors, what do you see? An abundance of joy and excitement. That’s because they’re along for the ride and excited for the future of Star Wars.
I’m 42 years old going on 43. I remember seeing the originals in the theater and I will never forget the joy I had seeing them there. I hated the prequels but saw everyone single one of them in the theater opening weekend. I found something to like in all of them. And this new trilogy? Welp, I’m enjoying them more than the prequels thank you very much. The energy of the actors, the fast pacing of the story, the strength of the narrative…it could be delivered better, sure. But then so could EVERYTHING. But so far I’m happy with what Disney and LucasFilm is giving us. And so long as they keep delivering the goods, I’ll keep paying them for it. Because that’s how capitalism and the free market works. If you like something, you say take my money please. And I’m loving what I’m seeing so far. And I can’t wait for Solo to come out. I’ll have my popcorn, my soda, and my wife right beside me and ready to be entertained. Because unlike what’s happening currently among fandoms and internet rage artists, I remember what it means to have fun.