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I think that should give everyone ample opportunity to realize that there will be spoilers in this post, right? I mean, I do not want to be attacked by the Spoiler Police or anything. But because this is the world we live in, I should probably say it again…if you have not seen the movie, you should probably avoid reading from here on out because there will be spoilers.
It is fitting that today is the day I have chosen to write about Star Wars: The Last Jedi, since I wrote my post about The Force Awakens exactly two years ago to the day. What an insane coincidence! Actually, I finally got the chance to see the movie yesterday and today just happens to be the day I could write about it. I will say that it was extremely hard ignoring everything on social media about the movie over the weekend. Thank you to all the people who avoided posting spoilers!
Damn…what a movie! Rian Johnson took the Star Wars films in a different direction and it definitely paid off. From the opening all the way to the end, the movie tried different things (whereas Abrams stuck with the ANH formula), such as a cool shot coming out of the crawl, a very different ending, or ignoring much of the stuff that people wanted this movie to focus. I have read a ton of the negative comments about the movie and have come to the conclusion that the majority of them are just upset that their theory did not pan out. Or that what they believe should happen, did not happen. I think this is a relatively small percentage of the fans out there, but they are being extremely vocal about it, which makes it seem like the movie is not nearly as well received as people would like.
I am honestly just going to ramble about the movie. So if you are looking for some kind of in-depth analysis, this is probably the wrong place.
One of the things that struck me was how this movie picked up on a subtle commentary that was evident in TFA. Follow along for a second…in TFA, Kylo Ren represents the Star Wars fans. He is basically the ultimate fanboy. He idolizes his grandfather, Darth Vader, and decides to wear an outfit similar to Vader, including something that alters his voice. This is not my idea, I have read this before in reviews for the movie. We get that idea again in this movie (hey, I have not read this mentioned anywhere), but instead of Kylo, it is the Jedi Archives. When Yoda torches the library and basically says to Luke that the Force is not stuck in a bunch of boring books, nor is being a Jedi just confined to some scripture. It made me think that Johnson was officially torching the Extended Universe (or the Star Wars Legends imprint as it is now known). He knows that fans will scream that something is counter to what they remember from some book that has no bearing on the movies now and he is basically saying that it is time to move past it. I thought that was a pretty cool thing.
I will not lie, I did have one of those fanboy moments when Luke fights Kylo, and we learn that the old master is using some kind of Force projection. My first thought was “umm, how come no one ever did that before?” And then I remembered those wise words from Master Yoda: “you must unlearn what you have learned.” That little nugget of wisdom applies to the characters at times, but also to the fans. And then as I thought about it, I realized it actually makes sense. The Force is some mysterious energy that binds everything, right? So, if you can tap into it, maybe you can stretch yourself out through it and create an astral projection. Obviously it was pretty freakin’ difficult, since it basically sapped Luke of all his energy, to the point that he said “screw it, I am one with the Force.”
I seriously thought Luke was going to allow himself to die, like Obi-Wan. And then he gave that wink to C-3PO and my mind immediately went to ROTJ and the plan to escape Jabba’s barge. I knew Luke was up to something. But in the end, he did what Rey wanted, he helped foster a legend for the Resistance to build around. And he defiantly states that the Jedi are not all dead, as we see Rey rescue Poe and the rest of the Resistance with the Force.
I did not see the showdown with Snoke ending the way it did. Honestly, no one did. So many months spent contemplating the identity of Snoke and it turns out that it was not all that important. Plus, Kylo used the trick that I mentioned before! Well sorta, I said that you should use the Force to flip off the lightsaber’s switch during a fight, but Ren does something similar, he subtly turns the weapon, then flips it on with the Force, killing Snoke. So what are the odds that Snoke is not really dead? I feel like we have not seen the last of that guy, but I could be way wrong.
There were also a ton of very funny moments. The opening where Poe goes up against the entire First Order and asks to speak with Hux “I will hold for General Hugs.” The whole thing was silly fun and people who are so worked up about it should probably not take stuff too seriously. However, it did remind me of Han Solo in ANH, when he is pretending to be a stormtrooper and says “we are all fine here, thank you. How are you?” The look on Han’s face of “shit, did I just say that?” It was funny in that movie and pretty silly when you think about it.
While I enjoyed all of the callbacks in TFA, I was glad to see that this movie decided to stay away from them (there were some, but not nearly as many, and not nearly as overt). I also loved how much the advertising/previews made us think certain things were a huge part, when they were really not that big of a deal (porgs…remember when people were so upset about them? turns out they are just cute, little bird-like things, some comic-relief). Or remember how everyone wanted to focus on the mystery of Rey’s parents. And then Kylo Ren gets her to admit that they were nobody. Who knows if that is the truth, but it felt real, and it was kind of soul-crushing, to see Rey admit something like that out loud.
So…the ending. I absolutely loved it. The little boy (was he a slave on Canto Bight?), who helped Finn and Rose is told to get back to sweeping and he reaches his hand out and the broom comes to him through the Force. He has on the Resistance ring and he is staring into space. The Jedi are not dead, Rey and others will reform them. Maybe they will not be as great and powerful as those before them, but for as long as there is the Force, there will be those who can tap into it.
Also, the ending made me realize that Episode IX will probably be set further into the future. Maybe we find Rey with a bunch of teens, who can all wield the Force. General Leia will have died and handed over the reigns to Poe Dameron, who will now be a seasoned leader of the Resistance. Will Finn & Rose be together? Will we see Kylo Ren and his Knights of Ren (there was mention that Ben Solo did not kill all of Luke’s students, some of them came with him)?
Okay, if I had a few complaints….I did not like the visual of Leia flying through space. It looked weird. I can get behind her using the Force to pull herself to the ship (before anyone freaks out that she was never shown using the Force or anything except to communicate with Luke, allow me to point out that in the years after ROTJ, it is not crazy to think that while hanging out with her brother, he may have taught her a few things, like lifting rocks and whatnot), but it just looked so fake that it took me out of it.
I hope we get more Benicio del Toro in the next movie. I generally like him in anything (even those beer commercials), but thought he played that roguish codebreaker/thief so well. And he drove home a great point to Finn–that the super rich people at the casino, they sell weapons to both sides, they profit no matter who wins/loses. That said, I wish Laura Dern’s character had been developed more. I honestly thought she was working for Snoke (I read something that said she has been mentioned in the canonical outside stories as being Leia’s best friend, or protege). That would have been a nice thing to maybe mention at some point. Not that it matters now.
So Rey and Kylo fight Snoke’s guards. It was an awesome fight, those guys were hardcore. However, how come Kylo does not use the Force at all to maybe toss something at one of them, or just lift one of them up and body slam the guy? Just seems weird that he would not think to use that tactic. Oh well, he can learn from his mistakes.
I enjoyed the quick fight between Finn and Phasma, but seriously, can they at least show her doing something badass in the next movie? I do not believe for a second that she died, we saw that her armor is pretty heavy duty, so she probably survived that fall/explosion, right? Hopefully in the next movie, we just see her taking on an entire squad of Resistance troops with no troubles at all. Something (she should not end up being this trilogy’s Boba Fett–looks cool, but does nothing).
My only other complaint is the music. No, the music in the movie is great, as always, but this new trilogy does not have defining piece. The original trilogy has at least two (the theme, and the Imperial March), and the prequels had “Duel of the Fates”, but so far there is not that one song (do you call them song, or should I refer to them as pieces?) that dramatically changes a scene. I hope in IX that we get something like that, maybe during the final showdown between Ren/Rey.
So those are some of my thoughts on the movie. Like I said, I loved it and I am now even more excited about the prospect of Rian Johnson directing a whole series of Star Wars movies that are outside the Skywalker saga.