My Verdict: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
I really had to sit on this for a while, because SW TLJ is a very bold movie. It apparently has divided Star Wars fandom considerably, from the Dragon*Con fanboys down to the casual fans. I have to respect Rian Johnson for his bold moves and his attempt to make it his own tale. But there is some drawbacks to that. It also points to something that annoys me greatly about Hollywood and franchise movies in general.
Overall, I really did enjoy the movie, despite its flaws. It did not have the gaping holes that TFA had, although it still had holes. But these holes did not bother me as much because they could easily be explained by situational story elements or other simple things. In TFA, the plot holes are bad because they rely way too much on coincidence and ignores the size of the galaxy in general (admittedly, one of my pet peeves). One of the reasons I love Star Wars and nay science fiction/fantasy is because they are set in some as large as a galaxy. To realize just how big that is, to realize how long a light year ir, and have technology that can traverse those distances is what draws me in. The possibilities are endless.
Enough about TFA. This post is about TLJ. There are several reasons why I liked the story of TLJ and thus the movie.
(1) It thumbs its nose at TFA in so many ways. From the opening scene onward, everything about TFA was erased. One of the central themes of the movie was let the past die. Even if you have to kill it. And he killed it. He listened to the criticism of TFA and bit by bit, annihilated every aspect of it. I recognized that this dashed every fan theory and expectation possible. Which is why many hate it. They feel that they saw more potential in the series than Johnson did and when he did not fulfill those expectations and potential, it is deemed as crap. Instead of taking his story for what it is worth, people are just mad because he did not do what they wanted. TOUGH! I am totally fine with what he did. he mad every character human, with flaws and depth. Quit your whining.
(2) It did answer many of the unanswered questions left over by TFA and in doing that, it did settle some issues I had with TFA. It just did not answer them in a way that a lot of folks liked. Rey is nobody. This really helps me buy into her character a little more. It also help explain away some of the coincidences in TFA. It is more believable that a random person found the Falcon on Jakku, rather than someone related to the Skywalker/Solo/Kenobi line. Rey and Kylo/Ben are something special – unprecedented raw force power. Again, I can buy into that a little more and it helps explain her abilities a little more. She is more powerful, a freak of nature. Maybe, she and Kylo are a result of all those Jedi that have already died, a culmination of their power reborn. Leia uses the Force. She hasn’t been ignoring her own Force ability. She has just been keeping it on the down-low. More about her moment later.
(3) It showed more of the universe. The new wretched hive of scum and villainy is full of rich people and they fund both sides of the war. This is something I have explored in the RPG, and something that was touched on in the EU with the Corporate Sector. So many people hated this aspect of the movie because of the leftist animal rights message but if you ready into it properly, it does seem to say that human slavery is OK, while animal slavery is not. So I think that it is less leftist than people think.
(4) It was dark and showed failures. This was less of a rehash of ESB from a shot for shot point of view and more in terms of theme. And I am OK with that. ESB depicted failure after failure and so did this movie. Maybe more than it should have, but I was fine with it. The characters, old and new, were flawed and things did not go the way they wanted. The succeeded once only to see everything repeat itself. Collectively, the galaxy did not learn from history. Again. A strong allegory to today’s society, regardless of what letter you have on your jersey (R or D). I was very happy with the theme and story of the movie.
(5) Light Speed into a ship. This was phenomenal and one of the best scenes in the movie. This is something that would have happened in an RPG session of mine. But why not one of the other ships that was already running out fuel. Why did it have to be the flagship? And why did she take so long to do it? I was a little annoyed by those chain of events.
The key part of the movie was the story and it did well for me. Mechanically it did fail in some places but not enough to kill it for me. There were certain aspects of how the story was delivered that bothered me, but not as much as other people. Here, I will address some of these aspects people have pointed out and the level of concern and consternation I had with them.
(1) Space Physics – Bombs dropping, ships dropping, etc. (Don’t agree) Anyone that complains about these minor film conventions best hate the originals for the sound in space and ships banking in space flight, because these are all basic physics the Star Wars movies have ignored. The setting has repulsorlift and gravity manipulation systems, so anything is pretty much possible with regards to a single ship, or bomb. It’s when the movie ignores a fundamental aspect of the universe that the setting has tech built into it to overcome, that it bothers me. Stellar distances are a real thing and you can’t just communicate or see things from one system to another. Light travels at a certain speed and you can’t change that. Thus the scene where people see the Star Killer base (in another system) destroying another system from a totally different system killed TFA for me. The reason that bothers me is that the setting has Hyperspace, which inherently recognizes stellar distances.
(2) Slow chase to nowhere – (Agree to a point) OK, here in lies one of my fundamental problems with the movie but it still does not kill the movie for me. I just feel like it could have been done differently. The whole plot revolves around the long chase between First Order ships and what is left of the Resistance fleet. And boy, do they get whittled down to just about nothing. That whole part of it could have been more tactical like is Star Trek: Wrath of Khan or that episode of the new Battlestar Galactica where they were jumping a bunch to escape the Cylons. A combination of the two. Finding difficult to navigate locations throughout the galaxy one by one, to whittle both fleets.
(3) #NotMyLuke – (Don’t Agree) People apparently have a hard time with the evolution of Luke. Or the devolution of Luke. Again, I do not get this. He had a rough time. The entire new Jedi order is destroyed because of him (from his perspective). He saw it as a failure. After watching the prequels, the Jedi were a failure to me. Not just because I hated those movies, but because of what happened in those movies. Everything has come full circle once again. And in order to break this cycle, one has to kill the past. Forget it! Move on to something new and different.
(4) Porgs – (Don’t Care) Meh, they were fine. Not overused in my opinion. I hoped they would be verman, and they were. I am perfectly fine with them.
(5) Leia’s Force Moment – (Don’t Agree) Otherwise known as the Carrie Poppins moment, I really don’t get the consternation about this. Perhaps it was the overall optics of the scene that bothered people but if not that, I really don’t get it. Sure it kind of looked silly but it was apparent Leia was not going to play a huge role in the film, so they had to figure out a way to put her out of commission without killing her. I was find with her Force pulling herself to safety. Why is that so hard to believe?
(6) The Death of Snoke – (Agree) This surprised me a little more than it probably should have and I think it might be one of the few nose-thumbing to TFA that might not have been needed. What was so special about him that he was able to resurrect the remnants of the Empire, build an army without cloning, and somehow build things like the Star Killer base, the Dreadnoughts and that huge star destroyer. I realize that somewhere in the published material about TLJ, there are some hints that he might be an ancient Jedi that has seen both sides of the Force, or whatever, but that needs to come out in the movies. Also, why didn’t he sense the actions made by Kylo? Was he just that wrapped up in his endless monologue that he did not sense the Force usage Kylo – a person he has been force manipulating through two movies – was performing? I have to admit that bothered.
The two major weak points that I agree with here not enough for me kill the movie outright. It was a weakness in writing and a mechanism to the story, but in general, the story could stand on its own. I enjoyed the story most of all.