Movie Discussion: Star Wars Episode 8 The Last Jedi
Here I'll keep my thoughts, opinions, and predictions for the Star Wars universe based on the newest film. Obviously, lots of spoilers, but I do encourage feedback, both agreeable and contrary.
Finn and Rose's Pointless Adventure
I aim to get my complaints done with first. I think I get what the goal was for this plot thread. We're supposed to see a well-off city full of arms dealers who benefit off of warring fractions that make life bad for the little people. We see they are self-serving, including the one who was played by Benicio del Toro.
But I found it flat. Sure, del Toro's character becomes a villain but it's the First Order who actively destroys lives. Del Toro's character is a dark spot in the rage and hate in the abyssal shadow that is filled with the rage and hate of General Hux and Kylo Ren. Those who play both sides are a blip in the grand saga that is Star Wars so I can't see why it's justified that nearly a third of the film focused on this.
Furthermore, this film makes me like Finn less. I get he's supposed to be a blank slate and kind of naive as he's been trained as a Stormtrooper since birth and never committed to the Resistance in the last film. His stand-out moments rely on his 'street talk' which is funny at times even if it feels woefully out of place when compared to anyone else's dialogue. Yes, he gets to strike a heavy blow to Captain Phasma but she's another character who is barely justified to be in the films (more on her in a sec). It doesn't even feel like he has any power in his plot line which is weird considering how on front of advertising he was for The Force Awakens. Finn's character could be replaced with anyone else and nothing would change, and I find that to be insulting for the role.
As for Phasma, she's there to look cool for a scene that lasts under 5 minutes, finally has a cool moment when her armor deflects a blaster shot, but ultimately becomes a joke character yet again, falling down a fiery hole. Of course, I'm sure she'll be in the next film because what's falling down a hole in a massive starship when she was dropped into a trash compactor on an exploding planet-base housing a sun? Give Gwendolin Christie something better to do!
And for Rose. I don't hate her but I don't understand why she's here. She stops people from deserting and has some machine knowledge, I think, but doesn't everyone in Star Wars have that? What's unique about her aside from her sister dying? She leads the plot with Finn and gives her own backstory through exposition. She also has a sudden romance with Finn at the end of the film, something that I felt came out of nowhere, especially since Finn barely does anything. There's little to justify her existence aside from a possible point of a love triangle.
Again while this is all in my opinion, this plot line is bad. It is inconsequential (especially if Phasma survives...again) and is filled with characters that don't matter in this film. Maz makes a short cameo and the guy she refers them to is seen for about ten seconds as well. You could have replaced either Finn or Rose with just about anyone else.
This is probably my biggest overall complaint in the film, so I'll try to cool off.
Everyone has their own opinion, what'd you think of the Finn and Rose plotline?
All about Snoke and his guards
Bad then good. Snoke is now nothing more than a plot device. This is under the assumption that Snoke is definitely dead and not coming back in any way, shape, or form. While thousands of fans subscribed to theories on his identity, Snoke has no features aside from wanting to kill the Jedi, knew of Darth Vader, and was quite possibly the strongest user of the Force we've seen (considering Rey has matched Kylo Ren and Snoke practically toyed with her, exempting Luke because he really doesn't use the Force offensively). We know no backstory, no knowledge of how he took control of the First Order, how he got his scars, or how he met and corrupted Ben Solo. Also, this practically omniscient individual gets tricked by Kylo Ren when he's basically in Kylo's mind? Surely with the level of power Snoke has presented he's no fooled by sleight of hand...
I've got to admit, his guards and room looked fantastic, but I wasn't really a fan of the fight following Snoke's death. There were a lot of neat and charismatic weapons being shown but the fight was so clipped and never focused that it was hard to follow and appreciate. The Prequels get a lot of flak but I feel that most of their lightsaber duels were above this.
But onto the positives that may be one of my favorite parts of this movie: Kylo Ren usurped Snoke. While they may not actually be Sith (more on that in a sec), the writers followed the Rule of Two succession where the apprentice can only become the master by proving himself stronger by killing his teacher. This has not yet happened in any Star Wars film to date. Vader propositioned to Luke to join him and kill the Emperor, causing Vader to be master and Luke his apprentice but obviously, that didn't happen.
The Rule of Two is much more heavily looked at and represented in the extended universe, canon and otherwise. It's a massive moment, even if Kylo Ren seems far and beyond what one would expect to be the de facto lead user of the Dark Side of the Force. It's possible that Kylo Ren planned this out once he realized he could get Rey to run to his side and something he was banking on, planning to have her as his apprentice.
It also brings up an interesting point. Kylo Ren told Rey that he saw her fall to the Dark Side. I'm pretty positive this will not happen in the third film (especially if Kylo Ren is meant to be redeemed as Rey predicted) so maybe when he 'saw' it, it was not prophesy but belief. Perhaps he also could not see Rey's parents and only came up with that story in order to better manipulate her (more on Rey's parents later).
Granted, I still have issues with it, especially with Snoke being so clumsily killed. There's also the question of Snoke's claim that Kylo Ren was the leader of his 'Knights of Ren,' which unless they were the red guards in his throne room, we haven't heard or seen from them (although they are probably the other Jedi Luke was training before that ended in flames). And finally, is Snoke even really Sith? They don't use Sith titles, something every Sith individual has used in the series, but they seem to fit the mold in every other way. It's further frustrating that Kylo Ren references them in letting the past burn. Is he saying Snoke was Sith and now that he's dead no one should worry about them? What's his ultimate goal in having Rey follow him them? These aren't questions you can theorize on as well since there's just small but very precise gaps in them.
Do I have a problem with Luke Skywalker dying? Not at all. As many people predicted even before Han Solo died in The Force Awakens, the original cast is going to bite the bullet in order to allow the new generation take the stage properly. There's no surprise or real reaction from me because I knew he had to die.
But, I am annoyed with how it was treated. Luke's fight with Kylo is drenched in nostalgia from Obi-Wan facing Darth Vader for the final time, straight down to the almost quote. When Kylo cuts through him (actually, is Kylo a title like Master or Darth? I have no idea), I was confused by Luke appearing fine. By the time I accepted that today wasn't the day that Luke was going to die, he does die from what the audience is to assume is 'using too much Force.'
The way Luke dies is meant for twist purposes first and foremost and it doesn't change Luke's fate. It plays on the audience's expectation and subverts it, as is a twist, then suddenly follows through on it in order to deliver a double twist. It cheapens Luke's passing and his sacrifice, especially when one could argue that Luke could have just gone with Rey and died just as poetically without the twists in a perfect homage to Obi-Wan.
To be fair, I'll probably only find this bothersome the first time I watch it. I'll know it's coming and be able to appreciate poetic value of it from now on when I see it.
Where is Rey's Alignment?
Seems like a stupid question, right? Of course Rey would use the 'Light Side' of the Force. But consider this, she hasn't actually gone through any real training, only lessons about why the Jedi should end. Repeatedly she's shown anger, especially when she fights. She deals with her fear of not belonging and being unsure where she comes from and where she needs to go. Consider the Force abilities she's used. She used Kylo Ren's interrogation technique back on him as well as the infamous 'Jedi Mind Trick' in The Force Awakens. Luke admonishes her when she first touches the Force in front of him, saying she goes to the Dark Side without hesitation not too long before she actually goes down to the 'Dark Side Mirror' (what was the point of that anyway?). While I expressed doubt earlier about Kylo Ren's prediction that Rey would turn to the Dark Side, it does seem to match with her track record.
Still, consider Luke's journey when he officially becomes a Jedi. One of his first abilities he displays in Return of the Jedi was Force Choke and the Jedi Mind Trick. It seemed Luke was following more of a grey route while still working on taking out the Empire. How Rey turns out, whether she becomes a purist by studying solely on the original Jedi texts or 'balances' both aspects of the Force.
How do you think Rey will turn out?
Also, I'm not sold on Rey's parents being nobodies. Sure, her memory flash back showed a ship flying off and that alien Plunkett holding her back as a child matches up to Kylo Ren's claim. Personally, I have an unrealistic theory that Rey is actually a clone, maybe as part of a canon experiment to clone Jedi (thinking in the aspect of the video game The Force Unleashed). My only bit of evidence is that Dark Side Mirror under Luke's island but I'm not going to be too bothered if her parents really aren't important to the universe.
- On the planet Crait where the final battle takes place I really enjoy the thin layer of white (snow? ash?) that reveals the ruby ground whenever there's friction. I love the contrast and wish more time of the movie was featured here. While I can't speak to this of my own memory, apparently Luke's Projection never causes the white to be disturbed which is even more awesome.
- Laura Dern (who was in the original Jurassic Park) plays Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo. For the most part I really enjoyed her character, especially when she suicide charged into Snoke's flagship (I found the shot to be very aesthetically pleasing). I wasn't entirely sure why she chose to withhold her plans of escape from anyone on the ship unless she suspected there to be a spy (and while someone gave the information up, it was a traitor traveling in a mutinous mission). She's part of Poe Dameron's proper character development and handles him well. She's referenced as having something of a famous past but we don't really get any information about that and I'm not sure that we will, considering she's dead.
- What made Luke even have the reaction of killing his nephew when he sensed there was darkness in him? He refused to kill his dad who already was a Dark Lord of the Sith. Could he not seek out Snoke and confront him or otherwise save Ben?
- How much claim does Kylo Ren have to be Supreme Leader? How much control does General Hux have? Are we going to have infighting in the future? Hux doesn't seem to be the person to let this go. Also, I really enjoyed Domhnall Gleeson's performance as half-full of rage and sheer prejudice as a bit over the top without being ridiculous. It's a fantastic balance.
Those are just some of the theories I've gleaned, modified, or created myself that I particuarly like, or the thoughts that I've had. Do you agree, disagree?
I'd love to hear some of your thoughts in the comments below. Tell me something I've missed or haven't considered, or tell me why one of my thoughts is wrong. I want to talk about it, and right now the world is still worried about spoilers so feel free to discuss it here.