Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Movie Review--Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I'm going to be talking about my feelings and thoughts toward the recently watched Star Wars: The Last Jedi film. So, if you haven't seen the movie yet, you may want to skip this post until you see the movie. Then come back and read this post with informed eyes.

First, I LOVED watching this film. I thought that it was engaging, exciting, and funny in unexpected ways and places. Many of these funny moments were given to Finn. John Boyega plays the naive Stormtrooper as a slapstick sort of figure, someone who is always rushing headlong into things, tripping over himself, and learning lessons. This makes sense given his very sheltered First Order upbringing.

The Last Jedi also opened a window into the actual economic politics of the Lucasverse--something we've never seen in the movies up to this point. (Note that I have not read many of the innumerable Star Wars books.) As the DJ character points out to Finn and Rose, there are depressing truths behind this galactic economy.

I'm personally very glad that Kylo and Rey are NOT related. (I also really hope that when J.J. Abrams and team begin writing Episode IX, they respect the ground that Rian Johnson has set the franchise on and don't try to retcon their way to some other conclusion.) I am even more pleased that Kylo and Rey are not pining for the Lakes of Naboo. Let them struggle against each other as adversaries, as equals, as people with hopes for one another. But let it remain platonic.

It was wonderful to watch Mark Hamill be Luke Skywalker on the big screen again. While Hamill may have his own complicated feelings about how being Luke Skywalker affected his life so long ago, it seems to me that he used these feelings to embitter his crotchety Hermit Luke performance. I know that the movie is very new right now, so I can't find a gif of the face Luke makes at Rey when he drinks that space walrus' milk. But that was one of the funniest moments of the whole movie.

As others have said . . . the use of the color red was very arresting and well done throughout the movie: From Snoke's audience chamber to the under-mineral dust on the final Rebel base located on Crait, to so much of the promotional material. It was really arresting.

Speaking of Rebels . . . watching the leadership of the Rebellion constantly take up arms against one another made me wonder (if only fleetingly) if the First Order doesn't sort of have it right--minus the heavy Nazi overtones. Because it seemed for a while in The Last Jedi that the Rebel Alliance's biggest problem is that its membership is made up of lots of well-meaning individuals, who each have their own specific motivations for joining this fight. And that makes them all trouble-makers when things start going wrong.

And things went so very wrong for the Rebellion in this movie. The fact that it did go so awry is, perhaps, the most surprising thing about how Rian Johnson told this story. EVERYTHING went wrong for the Rebellion. They lost all of their ships, they lost practically all of their personnel (at least from what we can see), they lost a great deal--if not all--of their experienced leadership. They are definitely backed into a corner and there is a very definite sense of  . . . what do we do now?

Sure, there are lots of people being inspired across the galaxy. But as we in the real world learned in 2017, inspiration minus actual perspiration gets you not very far. There had better be lots of people swinging brooms but also putting boots on the ground if there is any real hope of defeating the First Order going forward.

The "Get Over Yourself" Section 

Some Star Wars Super Fans are really emotional about what Rian Johnson did to their franchise. (And while I'm a Star Wars lover from way back, I guess I'm now a traitor because I don't care.) Still--check out this post from Deadspin.

Odds and Ends
  • Were you as flummoxed by Leia's "Force flight" to safety from the vacuum of space as I was? It exposed a real morbidity within me, when I realized that I was constantly bracing for the end of Leia Organa--knowing that Carrie Fisher had already passed away. It was perhaps the second biggest surprise of the movie that Leia is alive when the film ended.
  • The porgs were fine; the Ahch-To lizard caretakers were not.
  • It's cool that the command style of the First Order (either the military branch or the Sith/Jedi branch) seems to be "Scream your order at the top of your lungs."
  • I disliked the central conceit of the film--the slow escape from the laser cannons until you run out of fuel.
  • Was the extreme close up of the First Order laundry unit a shoutout to the original Star Wars spoof, "Hardware Wars"?
  • I liked how TLJ starts right at the end of The Force Awakens. And I loved that Luke just tossed the lightsaber away--after the two years of wondering what Luke might do when presented with Rey's outstretched plea.
  • I was fully prepared for the stable boy at the end of the movie to turn into Star Wars Kid--

No comments: