Star Wars Episode Eight: The Last Jedi (2017)
What did you see? Star Wars, the eight movie in the series.
You mean the fifth movie? Sure.
Or the sixth if you count Rogue One. Okay, let me get started, will you? Oh hey, there are spoilers here. I try not to dive deep in to them.
Because the original trilogy makes up parts 4, 5, and 6, we all anticipated episodes 1, 2, and 3 from George Lucas directly so we could know what drove that universe to end up the way it did before the droids showed up at Luke’s door. Star Wars and its characters were his and his alone. He delivered those stories, and it turns out we didn’t want that tale.
There are several factors but some of it definitely boils down to our own nitpicking. Revenge Of The Sith has to cram in a lot in its still-too-long-runtime to wrap up and apologize for the previous two (which are terrible, no matter how you slice them). If we thought they were so bad, why did we keep showing up? I know I planned to skip seeing Attack Of The Clones, but was dragged to see a heavily edited IMAX version that skipped most of the love courtship between people who are not in or nothing like their characters in the original series. How did Lucas get his own characters and plots so wrong? Was this the beginning of my generation screaming about how these things ruined our childhood? Since I was dragged along to see Attack Of The Clones, and felt obliged to see Revenge, I know that we the audience have a choice to NOT be the audience.
I have since seen The Force Awakens (pretty good) because my niece wanted to see it, and Rogue One (meh, not bad, kinda boring, I don’t need EVERY detail in this story connected). I might as well see Episode 8, The Last Jedi, which I’m not sure if it picks up where 7 left off. Rey is handing a lightsaber to a reluctant Luke Skywalker, which is where she was standing when 7 ended, right? But the rest of the cast is trying to escape from a raid from The New Order. How much time has lapsed for them? Did a lot happen to them during the time Rey flew from the rebel base to wherever Luke was hiding out?
What continues then is an Empire-level amount of switching between A, B, and C stories that happen to have the same lesson: it’s okay to let go of things and fail at them (none of these people were my guidance counselors or parents). It’s about two and a half hours of this, and some of it’s good and some of it’s meh. After watching one of the stars of the original trilogy pass on in 7, and other died in real life shortly after filming 8, those of us who grew up with Star Wars dominating pretty much everything (and surviving the PreQuels) might’ve been a bit pessimistic that this story might’ve been it for our heroes and also for us: everything we held on to from Episode 4 would be gone. And everything we held on to was (in fact) good. The death of all good things.
Well, this is a overall a good movie. I’m not sure where the hate from the haters come from beyond maybe some awkward transitions and cutaways, such as establishing shots of Luke’s island when you already know that they’re there. Maybe the concept of continuing this story is pointless for them, in which case: they don’t have to watch. I would be perfectly happy having NOT seen any of these movies, but I was also happy seeing them, so I win.
It’s written and directed by Rian Johnson, he of Looper (didn’t see) and Brick (did see, loved it). The Force Awakens was a reset button by one of the original trilogy’s writers and JJ Abrams, overseen by Disney’s acquired Lucasarts team, right? The Last Jedi is full steam ahead, even if that path for our characters seems to be certain death as the A, B, and C all converge. Poe is no deeper a character even with more screen time and a bigger role in the Resistance’s run from Star Destroyers. Maybe most of the characters are no more than skin deep, with their very introductions and screen times as misdirects for both our heroes and the audience. Maybe some of you predicted every scene, and congrats if you did.
But it’s done so well that it is almost a welcome 2 and a half hours (no, no movie should be that long, shhhh). Johnson & friends took their time to fill up every frame with a lot to look at…not just digital effects, but scenery (hopefully real sets?) the characters exist in and in front of. It knocks out the overbearing score during those action moments that it would exaggerate or character discussions it would ruin in the prequels. Many of the characters might as well say “forget about the original trilogy” over and over right in front of the screen and address each of us individually. That would mean something if these characters get to stick around and have more adventures beyond episode 9…and, you know, Disney, if that’s the case, we don’t need a young Han Solo movie.
Overall, pretty good experience. I know people who love it and those who loathe it. I can understand not liking it, because there are better (and shorter) light shows with light plots. I haven’t dived deep into either explanation. If you read this far, I apologize for not going deeper analyzing why it was “pretty good” and enjoyable. A lot of “tentpole” movies, which exist because of Star Wars, feel like they have to pack in characters and their arcs from their related movies, which drags down the momentum of the one story (stories?) you paid money to see. Every superhero movie could be a half hour shorter. It could do more with less. Patton Oswalt joked in Parks & Rec of all places how you could sneak the Marvel Universe into Star Wars, and the corporate powers that be might allow that one day when they run out of ideas and assume we’ll just keep showing up. This movie has enough.
Maybe Part 9 will be Finn saying something along the lines of “you just don’t have to show up, you know. The Force has been with YOU all along.” That’s if we haven’t all been acquired by Disney and thus legally forced to see it.
That said, since writing has one credit and it’s straight to the director, and we don’t know how much of the committee had say in shaping the story…can Johnson take on part 9? This movie is way better than 7.
Here’s some random observations:
-The opening battle is the WW2 air raid that George Lucas wanted to do in Episode 3.
-How much of Laura Dern’s battle with the giant space cruiser, and Kylo & Luke’s battle, is influenced by Anime and other Japanese films? There’s plenty out there on influences on the original trilogy, so I’m sure someone will point that out soon.
-Also I have a huge crush on Laura Dern. She was in season 3 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and I want to beat up every guy that was mean to her character in that show.
-THE BIGGEST SPOILER I WILL MENTION HERE: I try to keep it clean on this site, but…F*** Snoke. I’m GLAD the movie doesn’t tell us who he is. What anywhere in this galaxy was there a Snoke hinted within that required so much debate? Sometimes there’s just bad people who fill in the spot of the last bad person. I hope no one in this film group goes back to fill in that story gap. No “The Rise Of Snoke,” we don’t need it.
-Rey & Kylo Ren, kicking so much ass. Hi-fives all around.
-I can not imagine Hux and Kylo Ren keeping their act together as any kind of unit. The Resistance might as well just wait it out for a few weeks and then offer to pick up the pieces with all the annoyed and disgruntled soldiers, if any are alive after week two of the duo’s obviously-going-to-deteriorate co-rule of The New Order.
-I mean, episode 9 might as well be a slapstick adventure between John C Reilly and Will Ferrell taking over as Hux and Kylo (they can be either character) trying to best each other. I will actually prefer that.
-I’m glad puppet Yoda showed up to burn down the sacred texts that dictates what it means to be a Jedi. And no mention of Midichlorians or whatever they are. Burn down the restrictive canon that paints a making a Jedi character into a corner. Keep burning it.
-I would rather have Poe make contemporary modern-Earth customer service phone jokes than the flatly delivered exposition delivered by good actors in the prequels any time.
-Look, I know Carrie Fisher died in real life, but don’t you dare harm General Leia, filmmakers. General Leia is fine and walking her dogs on some planet and checking in with The Resistance on occasion and that’s IT.