Last Jedi

We’re a couple months in now, so why not.

I like the movie.  More than I expected to.  The new characters had some level of depth to them, and most everyone had an arc.  There were instances of the dumb throughout, but on the whole it was a nice way to start fresh.

Characters

Rey is the crux of it all, practically a McGuffin in fact.  I like that she’s not a Mary Sue, that she’s able to make her own decisions and move forward.  I really like that she’s a nobody, as that string of who her parents were was frustrating from the previous film.  It (and the closing shot) portend to a true re-awakening of the force.  The battle scene with Snoke’s guards with Kylo Ren at her back was great to watch.  Very well filmed.

Kylo Ren is the story catalyst.  There’s certainly an arc, but it isn’t about growth.  It’s like peeling an onion and seeing the various depths.  On the surface he’s a spoiled child, then you see that he’s an abused child, then angry, then scared, the confused.  Doubt about truth seems to motivate him, and the lack of control he shows is amazing.  Sure, it looks like a tantrum but given the circumstances, every single one of his actions becomes justified.  Especially that crater in the ground scene.

Luke is a bit wishy washy to me.  He failed himself and Kylo, gotcha.  His guilt outweighs his reason.  There is no clear link between the Jedi code he so despises versus his actions.  The Yoda scene was expository, but required to push the story forward.  I truly do not understand how he can be portrayed as both incredibly strong and so incredibly weak willed a the same time.

Finn & Rose.  I understand the purpose of their arc, I just don’t see the point.  It could have been solved with any other plot device, like say a spy on their ship.  The entire gambling casino portion felt like a Lucas special-edition throwback.  You’re telling me that they felt more for the horses than they did for the child slaves?  Finn’s need for redemption and purpose is rather clear.  Rose has a little bit of it, but she’s used a bit too much as a plot device to move things forward.  Benicio del Toro’s character is the best part of the movie.

Poe Dameron.  Neat that you get to see the heroes fail, and the impacts of those decisions.  You’d think he’d learn from that but instead every story driver causes him to rebel even more.  Holdo is such an astoundingly poor leader it’s amazing that she doesn’t die from a papercut.  She causes 3/4 of the movie to occur by not acting when she should have.  Finn and Rose would not have left.  There would be no mutiny.  There’d be no final battle.  Poe learns something at the end but it actually goes against his character arc in the film.

Leia.  Or should I just call her space god?  Apparently she learned to control the force, and to a degree that we have never seen anywhere else.  She uses powers the Emperor didn’t have access to.

DJ.  The purpose of this movie was to show shades of grey.  He was a clear marker for that.  His intro was weak but his scenes were worth it.

Plot

New order still being around?  Sure.  We’re talking hundreds of planets.  Getting rid of one won’t stop them.  Getting rid of Snoke… that may change things.  Not sure how only Kylo and Hux are the only 2 people running the show mind you.

Being able to detect movement in hyperspace?  This doesn’t work as a plot device.  See, the order could have just ordered more ships to jump in ahead of the rebels and closed the trap.  It also took around 40 years between Rogue One (where the breadcrumbs start) and this movie for this tech to show up.  It also doesn’t justify Holdo.  Would have been easier to put a spy or some other mechanism.  Feels a bit too much like that Star Trek episode where warp speed destroys the universe… then no one talks about it ever again.

The Holdo arc.  Why would the leader of a couple hundred rebels not tell them what is going on.  She can clearly see the mutiny coming.  She even loses more people because of it.  And at what point did she tell Finn and Rose this secret?  You know, so that they could then DJ the secret, who would then sell that secret to the order?  The only explanation for all this secrecy is having a spy on-board.  See previous plot point.  Also not quite understanding why she would not have gone to hyperspeed immediately after releasing the final shuttle.  She was going to die anyways.

Snoke being nutso.  That part was pretty cool.  Extremely strong in the force.  Focused on a particular target.  That he was oblivious to Kylo using in his room was a bit weird, but it ended up working out.  He was a great plot device and does a great job explaining why there are no old people in the new order.

The casino scene could have been entirely cut and replaced with them walking into a Cantina looking for a criminal.  Same with the Moz scene.

Luke’s planet was neat.  The caretakers were a good touch.  I understand the technical reason for Porgs, though they are bit too much like Tribbles for my tastes.  The light/dark portion was well done.  Seems a stretch that no one knows of a planet strong in the force, but then again everyone is dead.

Luke’s force projection across the galaxy was like Superman turning back time.  He could have easily done this on the actual planet.  His death was ok, though poorly explained.  He certainly didn’t atone for anything.  Just acted as a delay to help with the escape.  There seem to missing some scenes explaining his personal closure after that scene with Yoda.  Also, is he now a force ghost too?

The last shot was a weird one.  The point of episodes 4, 5 & 6 (and 7) have been about the scarcity of force users.  Episode 1 did a really poor job explaining how the Jedi (or Sith) found new recruits.  Maybe everyone is force attuned and doesn’t know it?  It sets up some interesting possibilities.  In particular that there are no force teachers left in the universe.

Filming

I will say that the film is well shot, the images are well constructed with some interesting colors/contrasts.  I wanted more out of the music.

The writing seems like it was edited multiple times by multiple sources.  There are great flashes of brilliance (Kylo) and then it suffers from the dumb (Finn & Rose).  I do like that it throws a lot away and tried to start fresh.  Hats off to that.

The editing is rough.  There are missing scenes that would have helped move this along better, and there are scenes present that serve no purpose.  We didn’t need another space cantina casino showing us aliens.  We didn’t need a perfectly preserved impenetrable ice planet base that happened to have a very large exit in the back.  Also notice how they didn’t shoot from space, even though there were shields, shields that weren’t there since they used a battering ram?

 

 

 

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