Star Wars Episode 8 – The Last Jedi

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Geoff Harris

Anyone who says Sunday afternoons are the best times to go see a movie needs to have their teeth pulled out without pain killers. The theater was packed to capacity. The moron next to me took up an entire seat to house his coat and popcorn. I had assumed he was holding the seat for a late arriving friend but by the second half of the movie it was pretty clear he was just one of those asshats who wants to form an island around himself despite others needing a seat. By a fluke of fate, the children present were actually quiet and I was blissfully unaware of any side chatter. Point of order, I was once guilty of doing it myself too. With age comes wisdom and consideration for others. And so we, the collective slack-jawed mass, began our journey into The Last Jedi.

The eighth in the Star Wars Saga, Last Jedi is effectively two movies that had really hot and nasty Porg sex and made a bloated (but immensely watchable) baby. Story line A deals with the young Jedi-wannabe Rey as she tracks down Luke Skywalker and annoys him into teaching her the ways of The Force. Story line B centers on the Resistance (Rebellion) getting its ass kicked by The First Order (Empire). The two plot lines converge rather nicely towards the end of the second act into one big epic. The Resistance story takes some interesting twists and turns. We meet Rose, a low-level tech who befriends Finn and later joins him on a mission to aid the Rebel fleet. This leads to a planet side adventure within an adventure showing the third faction of the universe, those who profit off the war between the other two. Lots and lots of sci-fi goodness. Keeping this as spoiler free as possible, there are some great moments and others that will be debated for the next ten years. Watch the movie and decide for yourself.

I say the film is bloated because it’s just too full. There is so much going on at times you find yourself dizzy and wanting to make it stop, if only to catch your breath. In many ways this movie reminds me of war films from the sixties and seventies. How they would keep going after several logical “stopping points.” It’s almost as if Disney is offering us a massive dinner, complete with appetizers and dessert, because the next time they have us over won’t be happening for quite a while. There is enough action and plot to keep the internet buzzing for a good stretch. At times I did feel cheated as if I were being fattened like a calf knowing my end was near only to be forsaken for a lean season. It’s clever marketing; Hell is getting everything you want in abundance.

I did find some of the characters a bit hollow. They seemed to only exist as reflections seen through another’s eyes. Rey as the persistent student hounding Luke. Poe wanting to be the great hero only to learn what true heroism is by the actions of another. Finn finding his courage and, to a degree, a conscience in Rose. Some resolution for Luke in Rey. Kylo Ren is still king of all emo snowflakes. I’m sorry but the guy has serious daddy issues. Leia is a perfect example of a leader and perhaps the only character whose depth of feel comes across strongest. I’m not saying the others sleepwalk through the movie. They all grow in their own ways, even Kylo Ren. Personally I can’t wait to see where his character goes next. He can still find his way back and isn’t redemption an underlying theme of the Star Wars movies?

All in all, I liked Last Jedi more than Force Awakens.  It has the grit of Rogue One coupled with the beaten down but not out optimism of Empire Strikes Back. It’s a big feast that should be eaten slowly and give yourself room for a nap afterwards. I’d definitely see it again.

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Sarah Hood

I have lots of words for The Last Jedi and a lot of feelings. This movie had me on the edge of my seat and many times had me laughing. I’m still convinced that many of Luke’s lines were just Mark Hamill’s. I know this movie has made many a fan angry of how they did the reveal of Rey’s parentage, the humor, and who died and didn’t die. Personally, I approve of the way they did this movie. I like how they made Rey come from nothing, no ancient Jedi or Sith bloodline, nothing tying her to the order or the Force. Rey in all terms is a nobody that just happened to discover she had this ability. I think many of us forget that a lot of Jedis didn’t come from ancient bloodlines but were trained to control the Force. Just because you come from an ancient bloodline of Jedis doesn’t mean you’re destined for greatness. Kylo Ren is the perfect example of this.

This movie had problems yes, I felt like they drew out the Resistance escape a little too long but for the sake of story telling and giving Rose and Finn time to find a hacker to disable the tracking beacon. The unanswered questions are what bug me the most. We found out nothing about Snoke; who he is, how he became (or even is) a Sith or where he found Kylo Ren. All we’re given is this figure that tortures Rey and mocks her attempts at swaying Kylo Ren. Then we’re given a lackluster death and no show of his true strength. It would not surprise me if later on we find out that Snoke was a mere puppet of some other great Jedi, just as with Darth Maul. Another question I want answered is how Finn can wield a lightsaber when he’s shown no inkling of the force in any of his actions.

Many disliked this movie for different reasons and I won’t spend my day arguing with them on it, until it comes to something that is being shoved so blatantly in our faces. The Force isn’t dead, it’s alive and very well in the movie. The ending where the little boy pulls the broom towards him with the Force proves it. Before we know it I’m sure there will be more Jedis popping up to join the Resistance and with Luke gone Rey may have to step up to be the new Jedi Master. This film did fall in many aspects but I feel like its setting us up for something much, much greater that will answer our questions.

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Andy Lockley

I’ve seen quite a bit of debate online (and off) about the latest offering in the Star Wars franchise; some claim that it is a brilliant new direction for a series that has become the definition of predictable, while others decry the film as a departure from that which made Star Wars the single most successful franchise in history. And, to be honest, I can understand both sides of the argument.

Simply put, Star Wars movies are ostensibly predictable from beginning to end. Outside of people’s initial viewing of Empire Strikes Back, whose reveal of Darth Vader as Luke Skywalker’s father has become such a part of popular culture that it’s no longer a surprise, there is nothing in a Star Wars movie which shocks its audience. Han Solo’s death in The Force Awakens is not surprising; Harrison Ford had been trying to kill the character for thirty-five years. While Rogue One is a fantastic film, essentially a World War II movie wrapped in a Star Wars skin, nothing within the film, or about the characters, is shocking. “No one survives!” Of course they don’t, or they’d have been in the original trilogy played by Jane Fonda or somebody.

Thus, Rian Johnson’s attempts to shock the Star Wars audience with the events in The Last Jedi are understandable. Kylo Ren taking out Snoke the way he does is a masterstroke. He and Rey fighting side by side against the Praetorian Guard is, without doubt, the best part of the film.

However, what Johnson sacrifices for these twists is the soul of Star Wars. There are Star Wars elements in this movie: the Force, lightsabers, X-Wings and TIE Fighters… but what is lacking, what is so immeasurably, powerfully lacking from this film, is that which makes Star Wars great in the first place: the characters we know and love. Let me explain.

Yes, Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa and Chewbacca and R2-D2 and C-3PO are character names in this film, generally played by people who played them in the past. However, their character, most specifically that of Luke Skywalker, is not the same as every other iteration of the characters we’ve seen.

Luke Skywalker spends most of his screen time in this film a brooding, angry, bitter old man convinced that the problem with the galaxy is the Jedi, and, more specifically, Luke himself. He feels that he failed his pupils in his new Jedi Temple, and again, more specifically, his nephew Ben.

His feelings of failure are understandable. His bitterness, briefly, is understandable. His blaming of the situation on the Jedi, and himself, rather than the Dark Side of the Force, or Snoke, is not.

Luke, as we’ve seen him previously, is generally optimistic. He has moments of doubt, mostly in the first film, but overall Luke is a glass-half-full kind of guy. He senses the good in Darth Vader, a murderous cyborg known across the Empire as The Dark Lord of the Sith, and is completely convinced that he will be able to turn his father from the dark path he has taken.

And, most importantly, he succeeds.

Fast forward to what we’re shown in The Last Jedi. Luke senses the darkness growing in his nephew, and sees a possible future of Ben causing death and destruction. And Luke Skywalker, who saved the Force Ghost soul of Darth Vader, becomes so fearful of his inability to affect that darkness, that he considers assassinating Ben Solo. Enough that he ignites his lightsaber to do the deed.

The Luke we see in Episode VIII is not the Luke we’ve seen in every other Star Wars film.

And these failings continue throughout the movie.

One of Johnson’s most important moments is having Rey acknowledge that her parents were nobodies. That they sold her for slave money.

I’ve seen arguments that this is a good thing. That the original Star Wars, before the Skywalker name mattered at all, was about a farm boy becoming a hero. Showing that it could be anyone, anyone at all, who rises to the challenge. That it was only the revelation of Empire, that Skywalker meant something powerful, that changed the tale from one of Everyman heroism to one of birthright destiny.

This assessment is, however, incorrect. In the original film, Ben Kenobi tells Luke that his father was a Jedi Knight, like he was, able to use the Force and the greatest pilot he’d ever seen. This is not a tale of the Everyman rising about the odds. It’s a story about family. Star Wars has always been about family. Specifically the Skywalkers.

Now, of course, the argument could be made that the Skywalker being followed in this new trilogy is Ben Solo, son of Leia and grandson to Anakin Skywalker. But that is not sufficient. It’s not sufficient to the themes of the story. It’s not satisfying to the audience. And in effort to have a twist, and stop people talking about it all the time, Rian Johnson took one of the story’s major themes, and dumped all over it.

The Last Jedi has some great moments, some incredible action, and some truly satisfying scenes from the new characters. What remains in its wake, however, is a galaxy far, far away rippling from the effect of a black hole. This movie builds up the new characters by tearing down the old… and that, in my view, is the essence of poor storytelling.

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The Phantom of the Cineplex

I think I’ve fallen and hit my head, or maybe I’ve had a stroke.  This fucking movie has broken me.  I’m done.

I can’t even think of the words to form the sentences to describe how awful Last Jedi is.  “Longest chase scene, ever”, is all my damaged brain can muster.  It is nothing more than a string of utterly pointless…words…I can’t find more words…just so dumb.

This movie could have lasted ten minutes if the key players could have correlated the relevant information already in their minds, like — if Snoke’s fleet is pursuing your fleet, and you can’t get away because he can track your hyperspace jumps, and you can only jump one more time — instead of losing your whole fleet in a long sublight chase to a holdout where you would have to contact your allies and have them come rescue you, instead contact them to arrange an ambush and then jump to the rendezvous.  See, the whole movie is pointless, unless the point was to hawk highly merchandisable Rebel/Resistance branded Little-Orphan-Annie-styled decoder rings.

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Everybody’s subplot is pointless and everything done by everybody (except Kylo Ren’s one BIG action) is wasted.  Finn and Rose’s mission was pointless, as was the subterfuge of Del Toro’s character (name?  Did he even have a name?), who ALREADY had those two in a cage and just had to phone that in to get his reward.  Poe-roll’n-twenties-Dameron’s doomed bombing mission was pointless, as was his later mutiny.  Super Mary Sue’s mission was pointless and things for her turned out exactly as they would have had she never left with Chewie.  Luke’s use of the Force to effect events without endangering himself turned out pointless (um, “spoilers”).  I think we all understand why everybody else’s sacrifice to save Leia (the only thing accomplished by the Rebel..I mean “Resistance”) was pointless, right.

I would also point out that the POINTLESSNESS of this damned film even renders subplots of Force Awakens null and void.  Curious about Snoke’s identity and past history?  Now pointless!  Looking forward to learning about Rey’s parentage?  Well, that’s pointless!  Hopeful for the return of the Jedi Order and the balancing of the Force?  That’s just pointless!  Wanted to see the evolution of a multi-generational, galaxy-spanning history of conflict and victory, the First Order destroyed and the Republic, at long last, finally secured?  NO DAMNED POINT!

This is Game of Thrones, melon farmer!  Pretty much everyone dies and everything is destroyed.  Rian Johnson’s contribution to the party was just to put his dick in the punch bowl.  All that’s left at the end is this:  There are three humans named Rey, Poe, and Finn and a wookie with the somehow more plausible name Chewbacca.  They have spaceships.  That is all.

The next movie is also pointless.  That’s right!  This movie had so much pointlessness in it that it bleeds over into the future and makes the next Star Wars movie pointless.  The way this film ends, really, is THE ENDING of the three big story arcs.  There is truly no need to see the next film to see what happens to the Skywalker family.  They genuinely did write this thing as though it were the last part of the whole and the film ends on that emotion note and is even retrospective in its finality.

This is not a movie review…I can’t even.  I am broken somehow.  Wait…”worse choreographed swordfight ever”. Kylo spent, like, eighty percent of the fight stabbing and cutting the floor — POINTLESSLY!

Sorry, that is all I can manage.  Maybe one more…”I would have to reach beyond Christian cosmology to find the sort of Hell that befits Rian Johnson.”

There.  I think I’m done.  I feel myself slipping into the Force now.

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