My problem with The Last Jedi is how it subverts The Force Awakens.
TFA setup all these mystery boxes, jj abrams style. Why is this sword so important, why is general hux’s so angry with the Resistance, how did max von sydow get a map to skywalker, who is Supreme Chancellor Snoke, what is Captain Phasma’s deal, where are the knights of Ren, does the Resistance purely exist to stop The First Order, what makes maz kinata and kylo ren so intensely interested in who Rey is?
The Last Jedi just throws all those mystery boxes out the window, or directly subverts an interesting question by explaining that it just has an uninteresting answer.
When look just tosses the lightsaber like it’s bullshit, i felt kicked in the nuts. What a huge shit on the last movie.
That’s cool on some level. that’s a storytelling choice, and feels very Rian Johnson (based on his previous movies). It feels very bleak and human and poetic. Neat. But that’s not what I love about star wars.
Plus, star wars movies have always been “swashbucklers” on some level. There’s always been some giant monster for no reason that comes out of left field, and that’s delightful. And there was a grimm’s fairytale vibe to the mythic story structure that tied into how we all dream about our purpose in this galaxy.
– This movie felt more like an afterschool cartoon doling out some real life advice, and even showing kids enjoying toys while they dream of star wars.
– It also offers some poetic subjective filmmaking choices. Luke sees two suns before his death, and then we see there is only one sun. The great darkside evil hiding under jedi island isn’t a monster, it’s just a mirror that messes with your perception of time and makes you feel alone.
Both of those tones/genres feel like something else. Not an amalgamation of myth and adventure.
Despite taking star wars storytelling in a different direction (with a little merchandise/kid pandering), it was a good film. I think in time i’ll come to dig it on it’s own terms. Some of these bleak story beats even seem left open to be reversed in the next movie.
+ I only dug Kylo Ren’s character in this movie. (because it built off what was setup in The Force Awakens in a satisfying way?). Every other chracter had a wtf moment that felt off:
– Chewie didn’t do anything. He sat around eating. Flew his ship well (despite the last movie’s setup that you really need two people to fly it?).
– Poe was an idiot who got people killed, and chose to mutiny.
– laura dern chose not to tell Poe anything, despite clocking him as a hothead.
– leia flew through space, then forgot how? guessing any questions about her interest in using the force will never be answered.
– luke didn’t use the force for 20 years so he could meditate on the failure of the jedi (like an idiot). but now he can project himself across the galaxy? (to everyone in the first order ships?)
– hux is just an charicature of an idiot.
– phasma is just an charicature of an idiot.
– Maz is fighting a Union? Is that what she said? with or against them? wha?
– yoda is a crazy cackling kook? wasn’t that just a ruse to trick look in Empire? he never got goofy again after he revealed himself to luke. so … this struck me as a weird off note choice.
– BB-8 plugs holes in a circuit board, then just crushes his head into it? that’s not how computers work.
– DJ isn’t the codebreaker? Did Maz just know the flower would get our heroes near to him? Or was the justin theroux dude really a codebreaker? and after DJ gives a very nice life lesson speech about military profiteering, he turns on our heroes for money like a shit – which undermines his setup as the only guy making sense. hurt.
– Rose somehow knows there are kids down there being tortured with the beasts, because she was a kid slave once. look closer. look down there, i know what you’ll see. (maybe she just knew he’d see some bad shit. hmmf).
– What is going on with Rey when she’s just hanging out beside luke’s hut? I wasn’t connecting with her at the start. And at the end, when she had just got an earful from Kylo Ren about isolation being his key hangup – she decides to shut him out? wtf? (and she stole those books? … well i guess she was a scavenger so we shouldn’t expect her to be too heroic)
– finn… i dug finn. i remember thinking there was baffling choice with him too, but can’t remember. (more later)
+ the timeline is confusing at the start.
Are they fleeing the same planet? Just minutes later? or fleeing a new planet months later? but after the opening battle, we cut to Rey right where she left off int he last movie – so how long did it take her to get there? I’m guessing they thought this all through, and it’ll make sense after seeing the movie a second time. but, I was confused as an audience member. which feels like a filmmaking mistake to start your movie.
– i don’t give a shit about the porgs. it’s weird that a race of frog nuns has maintained rock huts for thousands of years (In The Force Awakens, I figured luke was maintaining them, or made them, or they were just well built). i don’t care about freeing the horse cats from a racing stable (felt like pandering to animal lovers).
… all that gambling set piece/planet needed was the horse cats to have a moment being awkward inside the casino as they trashed everything, to feel like real creatures instead of vehicles. Or maybe even something more creative that running around a ring (like a relationship to some predator monster that fed off them during the race). Instead, the whole sequence felt kinda flat, and like a fifth element nod, but … was really close to being an interesting new environment. so close.
It’s cool that the resistance will now shift gears towards slaves across the outer rim. but there’s still the odd unaddressed detail that all robots are slaves and nobody notices.
… and a lot of the humor struck me as wrong. jokes about being on hold. “godspeed” (have they said “god” before in any movie?). jokes about “yer mom”.
anywho. blah. writing this down to help process.
While I walked out of the movie pissed (without waiting for the credits to end. which is sacrilege for me), the more i think about it the more i see that they were making an interesting movie. it just wasn’t a good payoff for any of the things we were looking forward to. Except that whiny brat kylo ren, whom i love for some reason.
+ p.s. I’d bet 5 bucks the name of the next movie is “Spark of the Resistance.” Spark of something. How many times did they say spark? huh. bleh.