Thoughts on 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'
The Last Jedi is out, and I want to share some thoughts. Be warned that there are spoilers here. If you haven't seen the movie, you probably shouldn't read this.
This movie felt like Disney was making a break in the franchise from the Skywalker saga. I mean, by the end of the movie there are only two Skywalkers left, and since Carrie Fisher is gone I can only guess that Leia will pass away off-screen in between movies. (Please, please Disney don't try to bring her back with CGI. You might have barely pulled it off in Rogue One, but it would be beyond tasteless to try to do it again in Episode IX.) The only other Skywalker is Kylo, and he made a decisive turn to the dark side in this movie.
This is of course if you buy the revelation that Rey's parents were nobodies. I think this is likely true, since the movie seemed to be all about starting anew from the ashes of the old. One of the last scenes is a slave kid who can use the Force wearing a ring with the emblem of the Rebellion on it.
There were a few things that I know will be controversial in the movie, like Yoda's cameo. He was a little goofy, but then he was goofy in his first appearance in The Empire Strikes Back. The one scene that was just so stupid it was irredeemable was Leia flying through space, presumably using the Force. Never mind the fact that she has never shown any Force ability up to this point, and that she has never been trained. She was sucked into space after the bridge of the ship she was on was blown up. There is no way she survived that. Being strong in the Force does not make one able to survive the cold of space, or remove the need for breathing. That scene was just too stupid for words.
The other thing that was jarring to the point of hurting the movie was Benicio Del Toro's entire performance. He took it beyond quirky and straight into weird. I'm also not sure exactly how he knew about the cloaked Resistance transports. I felt that his whole character was a missed opportunity, as going to the casino planet to find someone who could smuggle them onto the dreadnought would have been a great way to reintroduce Lando Calrissian. Del Toro's character was just annoying. Sort of like those orangey penguin things from Luke's island planet.
Speaking of Luke, they really did not give him the send off I felt he deserved. I was hoping for one of two things. One, he would reluctantly get pulled back into battle and go out in an epic lightsaber duel. Or two, he would have turned to the dark side and end up being the main villain of this trilogy. Instead he started out as the grumpy old man who basically tells Rey to get off his lawn. Then we find out he helped Ben turn to the dark side by almost picking up the family tradition of murdering padawans. Then when he finally does show up it turns out he is only a Force projection and after serving as a distraction he decides he'll just die. No real reason, I mean yeah Kylo Ren is setting himself up as the new emperor but Luke is pretty sure Rey's got this so he'll just become one with the Force now.
Poe Dameron spends most of the movie disobeying orders and starting mutinies, the results of which get multiple people killed. At first this does get him knocked down a couple of pegs in command. (I guess disobeying orders and as a result losing most of your attack force is not a court martialing offense in the Resistance.) His failed mutiny somehow had the effect of earning him enough respect to make him the new leader of the Resistance.
I really thought the movie was going to take more risks than it did. Like I mentioned earlier, I thought Luke might turn to the dark side. (This seemed likely since on the two part movie theater stand for the movie Luke was featured on the light side half and the dark side half.) Or I thought maybe Rey would turn to the dark side and become Snoke's apprentice and Kylo would turn back to the light. There were a couple of surprises in the movie for sure, but the character arcs for the main characters went pretty much as expected.
I was surprised that they killed of Snoke so anti-climactically. I'm also surprised that they never explained who this scarred guy was who was so very powerful in the dark side. I was also surprised that they killed of Captain Phasma. I was less surprised that Rey's parents turned out to be no one important. This seems in keeping with Disney's stated desire to take the movies away from being about the Skywalker family. I was very surprised that Leia survived the whole movie.
All in all I guess it was an entertaining movie. It wasn't as satisfying an end for Luke, or the Skywalkers in general as I'd hoped (although I guess technically as long as Kylo is around there is still a Skywalker). It seemed like the movie was on the verge of doing something really daring for a minute, but didn't quite have the guts to pull the trigger. I didn't get the heroic return of Luke Skywalker I had hoped for, but his standoff against the First Order was still pretty cool I guess. His story ended up being a little depressing, decades of dwelling on his failure followed by dying because he apparently just did not want to live any longer.
But the movie did deliver on action and humor. It did have some edge of your seat moments. One big improvement over The Force Awakens, the film makers apparently remembered that the name of the franchise is STAR Wars and set some of the action in space. Overall it was a pretty good movie that won't seem as good just because it is a disappointing swan song for some beloved characters. And because that Leia flying through space scene is just so fricking stupid.
© 2017 Gracchus Gruad