I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

This is an ALL SPOILER review, written assuming that everybody has seen THE LAST JEDI before reading.

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If you’re not familiar with my take on the Star Wars, I’m a devout follower, but a heretic. I’m out of step with the mainstream because I hold George Lucas in high regard and I prefer the innovation, ideas and idiosyncrasies of his prequels to Disney’s more polished and socially acceptable continuations (though I like those too).

I’ve also been pretty alone in my skepticism about director Rian Johnson. That might be overstating it – I thought BRICK was very well made and I did like LOOPER – but some of the ideas are a little corny to me, and I never related to the effusive praise from my friends and colleagues. So I wasn’t over-the-forest-moon about him doing a Star War.

After THE LAST JEDI, though, I’m sold. And worried about him not doing the next one. In his capacity as the first sole-writer-and-director on a Star War since Lucas, Johnson succeeds in so much more than I could’ve hoped: continuing and deepening the characters from THE FORCE AWAKENS, bringing back Luke Skywalker for a powerful completion to his arc, thrillingly upending some of our expectations, putting a personal mark on the world of Star Wars, and saying new things about the meaning of the saga as a whole and its application to the world. Also there are some weird new creatures, and Luke milks one of them.

My favorite part is all the stuff on the island. You know I love a good training movie. As Luke rejects Rey and she waits outside his door it feels to me like some Shaw Brothers shit. In EIGHT DIAGRAM POLE FIGHTER, for example, the fifth Yang is turned away from the monastery because he’s too crazy, but he stubbornly persists and belligerently forces his way into the ceremony, eventually proving himself worthy of training. His background is in spear fighting, which he adapts into pole fighting, much like Rey with her staff.

When Luke ignores Rey all day and she follows him up mountains, I felt he was training or testing her without her realizing it. Ultimately this does not seem to be his intention, but she receives schooling nevertheless: she follows in his footsteps, does what he does, proving she can hang until she’s drawn to the ancient Jedi texts.

During production, Johnson told Empire that some samurai shit was an inspiration: “THREE OUTLAW SAMURAI for the feel of the sword-fighting, and the general sense of pulpy fun.” I’d never have noticed that, but Hideo Gosha’s film does have some thematic overlap with THE LAST JEDI, with its samurai helping peasants in a rebellion against their corrupt oppressors.

I noticed a more direct reference to Kurosawa. Finn and Rose are in a jail cell trying to figure out how the hell they’re gonna break into the First Order ship to jam the tracker, and they have no idea Benicio Del Toro is in the cell with them until he wakes up and offers his expertise. This has got to be a nod to SANJURO, where Toshiro Mifune wakes up in a barn, overhears the planning of a conspiracy and butts in. Like Yojimbo/Sanjuro, Del Toro plays a weird, impulsive trickster who’s willing to mess around with either side of the conflict because he’s on neither. He does end up being more of a scoundrel than Sanjuro, though – unless we see him again and he redeems himself.

That’s part of what made this feel like true Star Wars to me – it has deeper influences and references than just previous Star Wars pictures. I never felt like it was stoking my nostalgia (even when it was – god damn it Yoda it’s good to see you a puppet again), it really felt like it was telling us a new story in the language of Star Wars. In J.J. Abrams’ enjoyable but backward-looking chapter, Kylo Ren is a Darth Vader fanboy who wears a mask inspired by him and even lugs his remains around like Norman Bates or Ed Gein would. In Johnson’s forward-looking chapter Kylo crushes that mask at the beginning, never wears it again, and sets out to destroy all the old shit (the Sith, the Jedi, the Rebellion, possibly podracing but that is not specifically stated). As mechanic turned hero Rose puts it, the good guys try to save what they love, the bad guys destroy what they hate. That was a corny thing to say about blowing up a cannon, but I’ll allow it because of its larger implications about the story of THE LAST JEDI, and Star Wars as a whole, and our country today, and the world.

I love Rey and Kylo’s telepathic conversations. This is a good example of an ability we’ve seen in previous Star Warses, but expanded into something entirely new and used in a very different, dramatic way. Instead of two heroes warning each other from afar it’s the hero and villain corresponding. At first Rey is telling Kylo he’s going to pay for what he’s done, eventually she’s confiding in him about the deep pain of not knowing her parents. They’re relating to each other, becoming confidants while still at war. Of course I love that shit. It’s John Woo, it’s HEAT, it’s OUT OF SIGHT. But it also builds off of Star Wars, the idea of Anakin turning to the dark side, Luke being tempted by it, Vader coming back from it, the great reversal that Abrams set up where Kylo is tempted by the light side. It expands Lucas’ idea that despite the seemingly binary terms of the Force, heroes can turn into fascists and villains can redeem themselves. And in this case it’s more complicated. Kylo saves Rey and kills Snoke, but not in the service of good.

Star Wars often asks you to consider things “from a certain point of view,” and here Luke and Kylo tell different versions of the Jedi school massacre. The revelation that Luke pulled a light saber on his sleeping nephew is a shock. (By the way, Director trademark: older actor wears goofy wig in scene that takes place earlier.) But I think Luke’s explanation makes sense when we remember that he was tempted by the dark side all through his journey. As was his father, his nephew, his new student. A moment of instinct tells him to take a short cut, to kill Baby Hitler. He thinks better of it, but just the idea has already set disaster in motion.

The match cuts between Rey and Kylo show how much they are sides of the same coin, and when they fight they even combine their power into some kind of Force blast that splits in half multiple Star Destroyers and the storied light saber that Anakin fought the Clone Wars with, that he was using when he got burnt and chopped, that Obi Wan passed on to Luke, that Luke dropped when he lost his hand and found out Darth Vader was his father, that Rey used after the Force awakened in her (and Finn got a turn too), that entitled brat Kylo said “belongs to me.”

[UPDATE: Okay, I guess I misunderstood the cause of that blast. Sorry!]

I read somewhere that every time the Jedi kill someone in the Lucas movies it makes things worse. They seem to be following that here, and I’m really curious how they can resolve everything in the next one. Now that it’s Kylo on top they can’t win just by killing the bad guy, and that’s great! Two dramatic moments here are Luke fighting Kylo in the flashback and Luke fighting Rey in the present – both fights we don’t want to happen. The Resistance space battles have a similar sense of morality. When Poe goes on insanely dangerous missions we cheer his audacity and humiliation of the sniveling General Hux (who is a hilarious foil throughout this funnier-than-usual Star War), but so many other ships get tragically mowed down that it’s upsetting in a way none of the other Star Wars space battles have been. So when Leia chews him out we gotta side with the boss over the flying ace. What do you think this is, Poe Dameron – TOP GUN?


I learned from Twitter that many people hate THE LAST JEDI. I’m holding off on reading reviews until I finish this one, but I know some people don’t like the answers Johnson provides to the two biggest questions people asked after FORCE AWAKENS.

Which is fucking crazy! The answers are much better, and in one case much more meaningful, than the obvious ones we assumed.

Q: Who is Snoke?

A: Why do I give a shit. He’s Snoke. Was Snoke.

Okay, this was kinda pulling the rug out from under us, to make him mysterious and then abruptly render his background irrelevant by chopping him in two so soon in the movie. Maybe people prefer to know what’s gonna happen and not have something nobody expected to happen happen, and it makes them sad. But I’m glad that’s not my instinct. I fucking loved it. Was I surprised? Yes. Did I involuntarily blurt out “Oh shit!” in the theater? Yes. Was this delightful unpredictability better than if it turned out Snoke was a deformed version of some character that appeared in Star Wars before, as theorized in an entire cottage industry of Youtube videos? Absofuckinglutely of course yes, are you kidding me? That sounds dumb, you’re really disappointed it wasn’t that?

(And if it’s so important to know then just hold your horses dude, you know there will be a comic book or some shit.)

Q: Who are Rey’s parents? She’s a Skywalker, right? She’s Luke’s daughter! She’s Kylo’s twin! She’s a Kenobi! She’s a Sebulba! She’s definitely somebody special!

A: No, she’s just Rey. Her parents are Rey’s parents.

Now, that people don’t like this one, that’s more of a problem ’cause it’s pretty much the key point of the movie. If it had turned out she was a Skywalker, that would be the most obvious shit in the world, the thing that every one of us expected, the thing that every fan fiction Episode VII would’ve been about, the most predictable possible rehash. I think you’re fooling yourself if you really believe you would’ve been satisfied by that. You know you better than I do, but call me skeptical.

More importantly, the true answer gives her story, this trilogy, its meaning. That Rey comes from “nobody” is exactly why Kylo was so pissed that she beat him before. He thinks because he’s Darth Vader’s grandson and you’re not that he’s better than you. It even stumped Luke. “Who are you?” He figured she must be some VIP to have been sent on this important mission. But Rey is special because she’s Rey, not because of where she came from. You don’t have to be royalty. You don’t have to be The Chosen One. You might not even need a high midicholorian count – this goes wisely unaddressed. (I think I said before, that whole thing was probly debunked. People who still believe in it are like the anti-vaxxers of the Star Wars universe.)

Maybe nobody carted you off to a remote planet to hide you because you were so important. Maybe your parents literally sold you off for beer money. Nobody ever though you would amount to shit. Nobody. But that doesn’t have to stop you. You can make your own destiny.

That egalitarian theme rolls off of the island to the rest of the movie, including Canto Bight. It’s the most prequely section with all the clunkiest parts, but it’s not a random tangent. Rose describes it as a disgusting, evil place, and we picture the wretched hives of scum and villainy we’ve seen in other Star Warses – bars and palaces full of bounty hunters, vile gangsters, musicians and weirdos. Instead we cut to a luxurious casino for the galaxy’s super-rich. We learn that the well-off are the war profiteers, their prurient excess built on suffering and the backs of the poor and child and animal labor. And here come a couple of ham and eggers who made a choice to buck the system and join the Resistance, and they get to share a moment of joy thinking that even if they failed their mission at least they got to fuck up some assholes’ gambling night.

An ex-stormtrooper and a mechanic. Some kids forced to work in a barn. All the downtrodden of the universe, who will be inspired by the rebel insignia to rise up. This triumph-of-the-little-guy theme comes from Lucas too. Luke was a farm boy who dreamed of adventure, Anakin was a slave who loved to build things, the Ewoks were physically small, technologically crude natives who smashed the fucking Empire with rocks and logs, the Gungans were taller and less cool but had similar achievements. (And you could throw in THX 1138 and WILLOW if you wanted.)

Luke spent his youth dreaming of getting off that damn moisture farm, and his old age waiting to die on a tiny island. I was nervous about bringing back this iconic character decades later (RETURN OF THE JEDI, theatrical cut, was a perfect ending as far as I was concerned) and specifically that they might do some cheap stunt of turning him to the dark side. I think they handled him great, though. He gets a full arc, from grouchy abstainer to reluctant teacher. He got to grow into Old Man Skywalker and still learn new things from Yoda like he’s still a padawan. He got to have a moving reunion with his sister. And best of all he got to exhibit badass Jedi powers beyond any we’ve seen before. “See you around, kid” had me pounding my knee and cheering like a goon. That was partly because I thought they were gonna let him live to fight another day, and we quickly learn otherwise, but his death is so beautiful and mythical that it’s hard to be sad about it. And I’m sure he’ll look good in transparent blue.

Everything with Leia was, of course, more emotional. It’s hard at this point not to get sad about the loss of Carrie Fisher, and the disappointment that Leia won’t be able to have an ending like Han and Luke. But we at least got my one big wish that she would in some way fulfill the “there is another” prophecy, and I couldn’t have asked for a more spectacular way for her to exhibit her strength with the Force. The excitement may dim after repeat viewings, but for now it reminds me of seeing ATTACK OF THE CLONES for the first time and finally confirming our decades of speculation that if Yoda is a Jedi Master he must use a light saber.

When this happened I started to get more confident in Johnson directing this

Before Artoo and Yoda get him to change his mind, Luke points out one of the less acknowledged ideas of the prequels, one that Mr. Subtlety has written of eloquently in the comments here before: that the Jedi orthodoxy and hubris shown in the prequels was their downfall. That it was when they were at their strongest that they fell. That “a Jedi Master trained and created Darth Vader.” So he and Yoda burn it all down (or most of it – I think Yoda knows Rey has the books) because those things are not the religion. They’re just things. The future of the Jedi is in the combination of Rey’s raw potential and Luke’s beautiful explanation of the Force. It’s talent mixed with ideas and relationships and influences.

The Jedi stuff is my favorite stuff in Star Wars, just as I prefer kung fu movies to war ones. Jedi stuff and martial arts are about movement, myth, discipline and philosophy. They combine action with poetry – metaphors that can be interpreted in different ways and applied to your life. The Jedi Order is like the Shaolin Temple – a sect that brought great wisdom and power, and had legendary adventures, and is not the end-all-be-all. By the time Luke was around there was no Temple, no Jedi, but he was able to take the lessons passed down and apply them to his circumstances, reinventing what it meant to be a Jedi Master. And now Rey will do the same. As Yoda says in one of the best moments of the movie, “We are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters.”

And that’s also true of George Lucas. He presented us his teachings, and they have been applied by direct students, in the case of the guy making the Star Wars animated shows and other people still working at Lucasfilm, and now by indirect students like Abrams, Edwards and Johnson. To me, treating Star Wars merely as an intellectual property to regurgitate and fetishize and nostalge all over, without trying to reinvent and evolve and surprise, without a basis in ideas and wisdom, would be the dark side. THE LAST JEDI, I’m so happy to say, is drawn to the light.

In loving memory of Admiral Ackbar

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
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260 Responses to “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

  1. SPOILERS
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    I agree, we’ll see ghost Luke again. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see ghost Han too.

  2. I’m love this review and I’m happy to see the Leia space moment mentioned in a positive light. Even positive reviews are calling that bit OTT and corny and that isn’t a view I can recognise really, cos a) it’s Star Wars and b) the thought of Leia going out without one big Force moment is a bit tragic. If they clipped that scene out her role would become the most passive yet in her last entry, and that really would have been a mistake.

    I’m really surprised by some of the criticism this entry has garnered, and I think much of it’ll die down once the shock abates. I’m surprised that people think killing off Snoke without a detailed backstory (even tho they use a show-don’t-tell approach to set us up for what happens – in his interactions with kylo, in his clothes – dude’s wearing gold slippers!) is a bigger storytelling fuck up from the series that randomly decided that Luke and Leia, three entries in, were siblings. And which retconned half the exposition from ANH wrt the origins of Darth Vader in ESB, just because. I think the storytelling and attempts to adhere to some sort of canon are probably more consistent, consciously, than ever before in SW history.

    Something I want to mention tho, having seen the movie a few times – is that Luke and Rey’s first lesson – on the rock where he dies – is absolutely beautiful. The little life-cycle of the island montage is probably my favourite moment in the series’ history. For all JJ cited Malick (!) as an influence on TFA I think that this is the point at which the series has come closest to doing justice to those influences, and it reminded me of some of the little shots in The Thin Red Line.

    I thought it spoke to Johnson’s confidence and abilities as a filmmaker that he took the comedy space puffins and put them front and centre in the film’s most, like, consciously artistic and beautiful scene. Baby porgs are, genuinely imo, as close to sublime as Star Wars has ever got.

  3. Great review. I’m honestly confused at people’s dislike of it. I’m sure the internet is a tool for moaning.

  4. The Undefeated Gaul

    December 18th, 2017 at 2:18 am

    Indeed a great review, and I’m baffled as well that so many people online seem to hate it. I find myself combing through every hate-filled comment thread I come across (which are found almost without exception underneath glowing reviews of the film by professional critics) because I’m honestly trying to understand where it’s all coming from. After hours of doing this and not really finding any proper arguments, I’m afraid I’m stuck with the generalization that fanboys are just acting out because they didn’t get what they wanted and/or expected.

    It doesn’t happen often (fuck I don’t know if it’s EVER happened before), but I’m siding with the critics’ consensus on this one.

  5. I have to agree with everything said by both Vern and steven.

    I loved the characters/acting and drama/chemistry in TFA, but I didn’t at all care for the nostalgia pandering in the film (nor all of Rogue One), so this film was just what I had hoped for, in terms of building ON what came before, instead of just regurgitating the Greatest Hits with a twist.

    I loved the porgs, Leia & Luke’s big Force moments, and this film finally gave me a hyperspace collision in a Star Wars film, and it was perfect. =)

    The film is getting an INCREDIBLE amount of hate (almost enturely from males aged over 30), but mark my words, given the passage of time, this film will be looked back upon as a highlight of the series in hindsight.

  6. Nobody was bothered by the aggressive daftness of the 18-hour spaceship chase plotline? None of you?

  7. This movie is weak. A rehash of episode 5. I disagree that it tries new things and moves the saga in a new direction. It’s just more of the same, even reverting the resistance into the rebels by the end of the movie, and having Luke say that the war is just starting. Same, same, same.
    I WISH it did something different. The notion of getting rid of everything jedi, sith, resistance and new order is very interesting. But the movie disregards this path and makes Kylo the new supreme leader, and Rey the new Jedi. Burning the tree is meaningless because Rey has the books.
    The whole endeavor is pointless.

  8. Mostly, I agree with you, especially when it comes to Rey. The original Star Wars had this classical hero’s journey of a farmboy going out and saving the galaxy, which was later undermined by his heritage, and now gets reinstated here. I loved that. However, the one thing where I have to strongly disagree is Snoke. While I liked the shocking twist of Ben killing him, I do feel that we should have learned more of his background before that. Who was he? Where did he come from? Where was he during the original trilogy (where Luke seemingly destroyed the Sith)? He’s just too important for the plot of TLJ (he set everything in motion by influencing Ben) to just disregard these questions, and doing so makes it painfully obvious that he’s not a fleshed-out character, but a simple plot-device which serves its function. Which to me always feels like bad scriptwriting. Also, forcing Star Wars-fans to read the novels and comics in order to get the anwers to such pivotal questions reeks of profiteering.

  9. Amazing review, thank you Vern.

    The Force Awakens was a shameless rehash, as cynical an expression of “let’s just give people the shit they liked before” as I believe exists, and the fact that it was celebrated for that bummed me out. I am surprised and delighted that a sequel to it was this good.

  10. Great review, Vern.

    But i hate the Rey/Kylo relationship. Kylo’s done nothing to earn even a hope for redemption. He betrayed Luke and murdered his own father. I am hoping he gets his just deserts in the next film.

  11. I had a lot of problems with this movie. Prefacing this by saying I am an enormous Star Wars fan. I have seen The Last Jedi twice now.

    I have no issues with the Rey/Kylo/Luke storyline. When this comes out on DVD, I will be doing a lot of fast forwarding, but not through any of their scenes.

    I normally don’t like nitpicking sci-fi movies too much. I am not going to ask “well why didn’t the First Order just have some Star Destroyers hyperspace in front of the fleet as opposed to letting them run out of gas”.

    But the entire middle section of the movie feels so shoehorned in just to a) give Finn something to do b) give us something to watch in between Kylo/Luke/Rey scenes and c) show us a cool new planet with cool aliens.

    So Laura Dern has a plan. Head towards the old Resistance base on Crait and evacuate the cloaked shuttles. Cool beans. But for some fucking reason she wont tell Poe this plan. So Poe, Finn and Rose call Maz (this isn’t too forced) who tells them there is a code breaker on the casino planet and they should get him. He can sneak them on the Star Destroyer and they can disable the hyperdrive tracker. Ok. So they go to the Casino, find the code breaker, get caught, find a new code breaker, escape on some Harry Potter horsies, get back to the fleet, sneak on the Star Destroyer and get caught again. Meanwhile, because Laura Dern wont tell Poe the plan, he leads a mutiny on the ship and locks himself on the bridge. Can someone please just tell him the plan? This movie could have used some good editing and a complete rewrite.

    I was never a fan of Finn anyway. I feel like the character makes no sense. He is raised as a child to be a First Order stormtrooper and once he defects he becomes this wise-cracking, woo-hooing stormtrooper killer. But give him something to do that makes a slight bit of sense, please.

    At first the killing off of Snoke and Rey being a nobody both bothered me. But I think Vern nailed it: If I found out she was Rey Kenobi, would I have felt better? And Snoke was, quite honestly, a pretty boring villain. Seeing Kylo as the big bad in Episode 9 will be great. King Kong/Gollum/Ceaser? Not so much

    The final battle on Crait is another scene that makes little sense to me. It looks great, don’t get me wrong. But these walkers are advancing on the base with a big cannon. The rebels call all their rebel friends and send out a distress signal. “We need to buy some time” So, we get in these rickity speeders to….. do what exactly? Give the walkers something to shoot at? How is this slowing down the cannon from charging? And just the second we think something interesting might happen, Finn is going to take out the cannon and kill himself, Rose has the brilliant idea to crash into him and almost kills them both for no reason.

    I will say the moment that gave me the biggest chills came when Chewie flew in and they started playing the music from the Death Star escape from IV. That was fantastic.

    Other nitpicks: I loved that they tried to go Puppet Yoda, not CGI Yoda, but this was not a good puppet. Go to the “Yoda Builders” group on Facebook, search on ebay or Etsy, you can find better looking Yoda puppets. I have two better Yoda puppets in my house. I loved Yoda and Luke’s scene together though. The second time I watched it I was less distracted by the puppet.

    And while the Rey and Kylo vs. the Guards fight was wonderful, we don’t get a true, proper lightsaber duel in this one. Luke’s projection doesn’t count. I also loved how Luke’s projection was slimmer and had better, less gray hair. If I was going to project myself across the galaxy, I would certainly slim myself up and cover my bald spot.

    And JJ’s greatest accomplishment as a filmmaker may be finding Daisy Ridley. She is just the bee’s knees.

    I liked this, didn’t love it. A little editing and a smarter middle plot and it would have been great.

  12. Hey Jeff, the idea on the mineral planet is for the skim-speeders to just shoot the canon. They can’t get close enough and the plan fails, Finn tries to kamikaze it when he gets close, as his guns have melted by that point cos of the heat its giving off.

    I get a bit confused by way Holdo not telling Poe her plan is such a big deal. It’s cos he’s rude to her and has been demoted, so she cba. He still doesn’t like the plan even once he hears what it is, cos hers was about as risky. The other thing here is, I don’t think militaries tell everyone all the way down the line what the endgame for a given operation is, as that’d be a security risk.

  13. “All the way down the line”? The Resistance at this point was about 200 people, all crammed on the same ship. She certainly could have told him what was going on when he pulled a gun on her.

  14. I don’t mind Holdo not telling Poe her plan. This happens a lot in the corporate world: not all managers are good at communicating with their team, but that doesn’t mean employees can ignore the chain of command at the first chance. It’s a nice subplot. My only issue w Poe is that he didn’t care about all the lives lost due to his recklessness. Now THAT makes hin unlikable.

  15. Rian on Rey as Nobody:

    “I can’t speak to what they’re going to do. And there’s always, in these movies, a question of ‘a certain point of view,’” Johnson said.
    “But for me, in that moment, Kylo believes it’s the truth,” Johnson added. “I don’t think he’s purely playing chess. I think that’s what he saw when they touched fingers and that’s what he believes. And when he tells her that in that moment, she believes it.”

    “The easiest thing for Rey and the audience to hear is, Oh yeah, you’re so-and-so’s daughter. That would be wish fulfillment and instantly hand her a place in this story on a silver platter.”
    “The hardest thing for her is to hear she’s not going to get that easy answer. Not only that, but Kylo is going to use the fact that you don’t get that answer to try and weaken you so you have to lean on him,” Johnson says. “You’re going to have to find the strength to stand on your own two feet and define yourself in this story.”

  16. You have made a good article here, and you have explained your thoughts very well.

    With the greatest respect, I make one request of you. Don’t end this article with “In Loving Memory of Admiral Ackbar”. You have insisted in this article you don’t want a Star Wars that regurgitates, fetishizes and “nostalges”. You want a Star Wars that reinvents and abandons expectations. fair enough. No harm, no foul. “Kill the Past”, as Kylo Ren announces to your glee and approval. But don’t reminisce. You don’t get to have it both ways with a film that completely ignored the character.

  17. So Luke Skywalker joined the 21st century and learned how to telework.

    Overall I was lukewarm on this. Plenty of great moments–particularly hyperspace kamikaze and the Rey/Kylo samurai teamup–but there are some issues that keep me from joining the critical consensus.

    A) In any competently run military or paramilitary organization, Finn, Poe, and Rose would be executed for treason, mutiny, and desertion. Their half-baked plan was conceived and executed outside the chain of command and involved the active sabotage of their superiors. And of course, this plan directly resulted in the failure of the new admiral’s plan, which would have worked. Our “heroes” caused the deaths of, what, 90% of the Resistance (Rebellion?)? I would be okay with this plot development–sometimes people fuck up–but they faced zero consequences and didn’t even seem to feel bad about their colossal failure. At the end everyone from the severely-depleted Resistance is chatting in the Falcon like they’re at a cocktail party. I get that this is for kids and they don’t want to show a bunch of weeping, shell-shocked soldiers mourning their uncounted dead…but the tone was totally off-kilter.

    A movie really screws up when its so-called heroes act like complete numbskulls.

    B) Snoke backstory. People say he was boring and therefore they didn’t care that he had no backstory, thank god they just killed him off. But maybe he was boring because…he had no backstory. Frankly, I would be interested in how a guy rebuilt the fragments of the empire, seduced Kylo, trained his bad-ass security guards, and got his fucked up face. Also, he’s clearly super strong with the force. What was that all about? Was he a Sith? I agree he was a weak villain, but that’s because no one bothered to try to make him otherwise.

    C) Laura Dern’s 45 minute villain-to-hero character arc was totally half-baked and only in there to make Poe run around and act upset. Although her kamikaze run resulted in probably the best image the Star Wars films have ever created, so it gets a pass.

    D) Casting Benicio Del Toro and then not have him do anything. I guess he can go sit at the kids table with Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian.

    E) What was the point of Luke using a hologram for his fight with Kylo, but then dying anyway? Did that serve any function other than letting him disintegrate in front of a dual sun? I guess the Force is like using a phone while out of network, it just drains your battery like a motherfucker.

    Anyway, some of these are nitpicks, some of them are real problems, but they prevented a full enjoyment of this otherwise extremely good film. I’m looking forward to the next installment.

  18. Ever since I saw the movie last week I’ve been waiting for this review! Spot on, as always, Vern!

  19. Nothing to do with STAR FORCE, but do we get a THE VILLAINESS review,Vern? I really want to hear your overall thoughts on it.

  20. The middle section of the film, while little bloated (I mean Star Wars is 40. We’re not all as trim as we used to be) isn’t meaningless. It’s where we see an example of the spark that will light the fire.

  21. There are some things you could complain about here — I’m mixed on how the long, slow-motion running out of gas chase works, and whether it’s worth it to spend so much time on this story which is ultimately a very long shaggy dog joke setup for an (admittedly clever and thematic) reversal. Time will tell if it has the same potency once we know all the surprises. It feels overstuffed and narratively chaotic from time to time, especially early on.

    But you know what, none of that matters to me even a little bit, because that ending is so fucking great. Everything from the final planet is fucking gold, perfectly STAR WARS and yet also filled with some genuinely new dynamics and ideas. And even that doesn’t matter, because of how great an ending it is for Luke. I was against even bringing the classic heroes back at all, but no matter what else happens with these movies, I’ll always be thankful that Johnson gives Luke a better ending than I could possibly have imagined or hoped for. TLJ ends so well that no matter how much Episode 9 sucks, I’ll always be able to just imagine this is the true ending of the saga. Hell, they could end it right here and I would feel perfectly satisfied. The final image of Luke becoming one with the force, the final shot of a kid dreaming of making the universe better, becoming a hero… its the true, beating heart of the saga. Perfection. Wouldn’t change it for all the spice in Kessel. Whatever else happens, however the rest of the movie holds up on rewatch, I’m convinced this will remain great.

    One thing though: when I hated TFA, I left opened the possibility that TLJ might retrospectively make it better. Actually the opposite turns out to be the case: TLJ succeeds by completely negating almost all of TFA, which retroactively makes it even more useless. In fact, it almost improves exponentially with each new Abrams mystery box it contemptuously throws out the window. I’m thrilled to have a TLJ this good, but it just makes me even sadder that Abrams is coming back for the finale.

  22. Seems to me that Rian Johnson “subverted” a straw-man. That is to say, that the pretense of some “Jedi elitism”, is one that was never propogated in the first place. Anakin Skywalker was the slave son of a slave single mother on a po-dunk outer-rim planet. Who were Ben Kenobi’s folks… never addressed.

  23. The first time I saw it I liked it but was also because it was not what I expected. Now thinking it over I absolutely love it. Look I get why some people are upset but I don’t agree with one tweet that it “destroyed Luke Skywalker” It didn’t. It showed he was human. That he was prone to making mistakes just as his mentors Obi-Wan and Yoda had been.

    This movie is about failure and how you learn from it. Failure is something JJ Abrams, a guy who had his first script sold and made into a movie directed by Mike Nichols and starring Harrison Ford wouldn’t have had experience with. He created great characters but with the exception of Finn, they were too perfect. Not only were they awesome personalities, but they were going to succeed at everything they did. They needed to fail. Big time. With horrible consequences. Some fans don’t like that.

  24. Thoughtful review as always, Vern. I was blown away by the movie. I never thought I’d get a Star War this interesting and layered and full of genuine gusto. It doesn’t play it safe, and as a result is one of the most thematically rich blockbusters we’ve been blessed with in recent memory.

    You mention Yoda brushing off the importance of the Jedi texts to Luke, that they don’t really matter in the scheme of things. They are just things. Certainly not every Jedi from the past traveled to Jedi Island to consult them. Rey (or anyone) can be a Jedi with or without them. And all of that rings true to the movie’s theme of letting go of the past. But I also think it’s meaningful that at the end we see Rey took them before she stole away. Meaningful in that she is carrying the literal tenets of the Jedi religion to a new place. She’s not killing the past (Kylo Ren’s M.O.), but she is reshaping it, re-contextualizing it, moving past it in order to move forward, but not leaving everything behind. Just as the movie is doing with the Star Wars mythos. I’ve been thinking about this movie non-stop since seeing it last Thursday night, and it has stirred and shaken my molecules like no other in a long time. The wisdom is strong with this one.

    I have no expectations for IX, other than the second hand whispers that JJ very much liked Rian’s story choices and expressed regret that he wasn’t directing this script, but I very much look forward to whatever RJ cooks up for us in his own little corner of the galaxy.

  25. Am I the only one who thinks J.J. had every intention of telling us who Rey’s parents were and that he didn’t intend for her to be “nobody”?

    J.J. commented in interviews after TFA was released that he did indeed know who Rey’s parents were and had planned that plot point out. He also said that everything you need to figure it out is in TFA. Then, last April he said that Rey’s parents are “not in TFA.” Then, this from Rolling Stone:

    However, coming up with the answer to the Rey’s parentage question was tackled with independence from both J.J. Abrams and Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson. In a new profile in Rolling Stone, Abrams says he told Ridley the answer while they were making The Last Jedi, but he didn’t force Johnson to be beholden to his answer:

    “Unlike almost everyone else in the world, Daisy Ridley has known for years who Rey’s parents are, since Abrams told her on the set of The Force Awakens. Ridley believes that nothing ever changed: “I thought what I was told in the beginning is what it is.” Which is odd, because Johnson insists he had free rein to come up with any answer he wanted to the question. “I wasn’t given any directive as to what that had to be,” he says. “I was never given the information that she is this or she is that.”

    In the end, Johnson’s answer was the same as Abrams’s, which Rolling Stone rightly points out probably means it’s pretty obvious. Or maybe not. They also state that Abrams “cryptically” hinted that he and Johnson had more coordination than Johnson let on. I think what Johnson was stressing here was that he was not forced to use Abrams’ answer to Rey’s parentage, but the two likely discussed it at some point.

    But for those worried that Johnson didn’t have “all the answers” when embarking on The Last Jedi—that’s kind of how storytelling works.”

  26. You know, I remember when I was a kid watching STAR WARS, all I could think was “Man, I can’t wait to grow up so I can watch all these great characters spend their golden years in exile and then die.”

    (Don’t worry, you guys, that’s the only snark I’m gonna let loose on this one. I am on a mission of positivity and me talking about STAR WARS is the opposite of that, but I have to say that this review has made me mildly curious. Which I resent. My heart had moved on, Vern. Stop making me want to hope again.)

  27. So, I mostly didn’t like it, even though there were parts I did like. It sure started out strong with a raw and suspenseful space battle and tense character sacrifice (Rose’s sister) that were more affecting than we usually see in these movies. But here’s what bugs me.

    First, I don’t think this really is a “good” training movie. Luke mostly doesn’t train her, he basically just repeats his refrain that she’s wasting her time and she should go away. That whole part of the film was way too repetitive. I also think it was a big mistake to kill Luke off this way, at this time. When I saw it, the audience roared with approval when it was revealed that Luke was playing Kylo with a force illusion from another planet … and then reacted with vocal disapproval when Luke died moments later (groans, “What the fuck?” Etc.). It’s one thing to surprise an audience, but it’s something else do disappoint them. Luke’s last line to Kylo, “See you around, kid,” teased that Luke was BACK. Instead, nope, he’s gone after all. Annoying.

    Second, the whole Snoke thing tells me that they have no plan for this series, they don’t really care what they’re doing, they’re just making it up from movie to movie. I am NOT one of those guys who wanted or expected Snoke to turn out to be Darth Maul or Darth Plagueius or any other character from an earlier movie; I expected he was a new character. He was also a pretty important character, because he was not only the leader of the bad guys, but he was such a powerful and corrupting force that Luke Skywalker almost killed a sleeping Kylo/Ben over it in the flashback. Okay, so, high stakes villain. Except no, ha ha on you suckers who cared about that! Boom, he’s dead now and it doesn’t matter how he did all that or where he came from because, didn’t you get the memo: don’t ask questions, just enjoy the space battles people! He’s just the big bad guy (for a short time) and you’re all familiar with that trope so what are you so curious about? Well, that kind of turns me off. Who is Snoke? It turns out that Snoke was an empty plot device. We’re 2/3 through the trilogy now and we have no idea where he or the First Order came from, because they don’t care — they just wanted to make an empty clone of the Empire and the Emporer to repeat the same old stuff over and over again. (Oh wait, I guess that battle on the planet at the end wasn’t derivative of Hoth because a guy takes a second to tell us that that’s salt, not snow. I guess it’s original after all?)

    This also paints them into a corner and I’m calling it now: Episoxe IX is going to have a frustrating and underwhelming conclusion. I guarantee you that Kylo will be redeemed just like Vader was. That’s why they bothered to show him hesitate instead of firing on Leiah, and partly why he turned on Snoke (to spare Rey). There’s no way that JJ Abrams ends a saga on the somewhat downbeat idea that Han and Leiah sired an irredeemably evil child, who was inadvertently nudged into darkness by Luke and not saved. Not gonna happen. Kylo will reverse and “do the right thing” at the last minute — but who will he turn against? Snoke’s dead and Kylo’s in charge now. So, what we’re going to get is something stupid where Kylo will carry on like a villain and try to destroy the good guys for most of the movie, and then change his mind near the end and rebel against his own plan, and maybe fight some of his own stormtroopers, I guess? The whole thing is going going to come down to a guy who changes his own mind and disobeys his own orders. It’s idiotic.

    Finally, I’ll also echo others in saying that the spine of the movie — chasing a cruiser that’s running out of fuel — is stupid. I don’t think we’ve ever seen a vessel in Star Wars that had infallible shields for that long (while every other ship in the convoy is easily destroyed), and in any event why on earth wouldn’t the First Order’s ships surround them instead of tailing from a distance? This is symptomatic of Rian Johnson’s writing. The premise at the heart of Looper was so utterly moronic — the least reliable hitman you could possibly hire to kill me would be my younger self in the past; no one has more reason to hesitate and NOT kill me than me; no one is more likely to choke and botch that hit job myself, staring down my future self, stunned by the experience. If you think about that premise for even one second it is so bad, and yet that guy ran with it. Same thing here. The central conceit of The Last Jedi wasn’t good enough to support a movie. That was material for an early first draft of a treatment that should have been discarded.

  28. I also want to say that despite my reservations about the business with Poe and Laura Dern and the long slow motion chase, it’s also kind of something I always wanted to see in a movie. Everything about the way it’s set up is meant to assure us that, like every adventure movie, the brash young hero is right and the cowardly leaders who want to play it safe need to be subverted and rebelled against (see Vern’s amazing takedown of this trope in his AMERICAN ASSASSIN review) but here Johnson reminds us that there’s something deeply selfish about this, and most of the time our heroes are happily gambling everyone else’s life that they’re awesome enough to beat the odds and prove the skeptics wrong. And it adds a subtle but noticeable feminism to it through Laura Dern’s unusual performance. Everything about her bearing her clothes, her decisions, read on-screen as not-as-badass as Poe. But in the end, she saves everyone she can and he ends up getting a lot of them killed. Her final scene with Leia is so unapologetically feminine in the way they relate to each other, (holding hands, I think, and openly expressing their affection for each other). Not only is Johnson subverting the usual ra-ra hero shit, he’s reminding us of our subtle expectation that brash male-ness is heroic and cautious, people-focused female-ness is weak, and showing us how ridiculous that is.

    I’m not sure it’s great for the narrative, but I think it’s damn cool and damn smart, and very possibly the STAR WARS movie we need right now. Feminism isn’t just that Rey can hold her own with the warrior-monks. it’s also that sometimes the warrior monks aren’t the best way to solve problems.

  29. Vern, I’m so glad you liked this movie, and found there to be true soulful resonance within. I did too.

    and now I’ve got a question/theory for interested parties about Leia’s resurrection…..

    We get no explanation for the “thread” talk at the beginning of the movie, right? Whatever the thing is that lets the First Order know where the Rebels are, with apparently foolproof success? I am going to propose that this thread is the fact that Leia is Kylo’s mom. Kylo can use the Force to detect whereever Leia is (as we see in the scene where he almost shoots her, but doesn’t), and he knows that whereever she is, the Rebel fleet will be too.

    So, with all due respect to Leia’s latent force powers…. is it crazy to think that Snoke might have brought her back to life in order to continue being able to track the Rebels, because he knew it was a perfect system and that the Rebels still had some fight left in them? I like the idea that Leia’s been saving up all this Force power to come back in a blaze of glory, as it were, but with no training or anything it doesn’t even seem like a long shot, it seems like there’s got to be another explanation for what happened. And dare I say I think this is not a bad one.

    Did anyone else have this same idea, or am I just fanfic-ing over here? (And for the record, I had no clue people were using this as a reason to say they hate the movie– frankly, hating this movie for any reason seems insane to me, and if Leia’s resurrection was all Leia, I am completely fine with that– Snoke being behind it is just what I walked out of the theater assuming had happened, and thinking was cool.)

  30. Mr S— that final moment with Dern and Fisher was awesome, right? Not only as characters, but as a moment between two female actors who grew up in Hollywood, had famous parents, and have likely seen some pretty awful shit in the trenches over the years– to hear them say “May the force be with you” to one another was so, so touching.

  31. A lot of people complained that the prequels “raped their childhood” but I have to say, watching THE LAST JEDI yesterday I finally realized why I could never really enjoy those sequels: because they shit on your childhood in a way that the prequels never could. It’s kind of what Majestyk said I guess. It’s the equivalent of someone showing up after the end of SNOW WHITE to tell you “oh by the way, that victory over the Evil Queen is ultimately meaningless, because it turns out there was a second Evil Queen, who was even more evil (she showed up out of nowhere, predictably got killed halfway through what I’m telling you now, and her security guards turned out to be way more formidable opponents than she was, but whatever), and most of the Seven Dwarves got murdered, the Prince had to sacrifice himself, and Snow White died from sorrow in exile.”.
    So, yeah, even if they weren’t bland remakes with weak plots, they would still be the story of how your beloved childhood heroes didn’t live happily ever after, but had to face endless wars and sadness and betrayal until they all got killed, which is hard to enjoy for some old fans.

  32. Mr. Subtelty, that scene was actually written by Carrie Fischer. Or maybe both her and Dern. It makes me very sad that we lost her and worried about what they’ll do with Leia in the next one. It sucks the big one that the only original character who hasn’t died yet is played by the only actor who has died.

    I loved this movie. I agree with Vern that they took the spirit of the originals and have built on it in a different way. I honestly couldn’t give the tiniest rat’s ass about Snoke. I like that for the first time it’s going to be a young, feral, God knows what they’re going to do bad guy system.

    Driver was excellent. I felt bad for him when his voice cracked when he said please to Rey to join him and yet I had no doubt that he was too broken. I don’t know that they will redeem him. I loved the lightsaber duel. I think that might have been the first time I’ve ever seen that set up of fighting back to back when one of them leaned against the other for support. I liked it.

    I liked how Luke went out. I liked Finn replying “rebel scum”. I liked Poe jerking around Hux on the phone. I liked Rey not being all angsty and afraid about facing her dark side. She was like, yep, it’s there, but it doesn’t have to rule me. I liked the communicating between Kylo and Rey. I just flat out liked it.

  33. You guys are really gonna force me to be the one to point out that Luke looks like he’s trying to pull the ol’ “Let me show you how to play pool/golf/bowl by pressing my crotch against your butt” move on Rey in that picture? I told you I’m trying not snark on this shit. Now look what you made me do.

  34. Mr Majestyk, I thought I felt a disturbance in the force…

  35. Mr. M — I’ve seen that picture about a dozen times since Friday, and that thought had not crossed my mind. I’m curious as to which one of us forced you to share that enriching take on it, though.

  36. Somebody needs to take up my snark slack, that’s all I’m saying. I can’t hold all this shit in forever.

  37. I wondered if Vern picked that picture for the inadvertent perviness. She’s actually sitting on a platform and he’s not touching her. My favorite pervy subtext, and I really hope it was done on purpose, was when Finn woke up from his coma, or whatever it was and was wandering around covered only in plastic and leaking fluids all over and ended up squirting all over Poe.

  38. I assumed she was actually carrying him around in a backpack in the traditional Jedi training configuration the way the internet has been saying she should since the end of THE FORCE AWAKENS.

  39. Dammit, Majestyk, now I feel like one of those actually… people for having explained she was sitting on a platform. Like I was all, “Actually, he’s speaking a rare dialect of Klingon only known to a small band of outlaws living in the Nerdsville galaxy.”

  40. There’s an interesting split I’ve noticed between people who found this movie really eventful, and those who complain that nothing happened in it.

    I like the pop-meditative side of it, and agree that it’s the best Nu Star Wars so far. I like that monsters are back in Star Wars and that they lactate. Adam Driver continues to give the strongest performance in this series as Darth Yolo, and I love that Rey steps up as the film’s central hero. One thing this series has been doing really well is bringing together a “diverse” group of characters, while making that feel totally organic and not fussed over.

    What’s missing (which Vern alluded to) is that Rey’s temptation toward the Dark Side should be a stronger, more threatening, crucial aspect of the movie. We dealt with that theme in REVENGE OF THE SITH already, but we all knew how it had to end that time.

    Also, it’s thirty minutes too long. Johnson gets the specific pacing of Star Wars scenes, but there are stretches in the middle where I was feeling a lack of forward momentum.

  41. I loved this movie and I’ve been thinking about it constantly since seeing it, but I totally get why it’s so polarising. It’s too long, it’s weirdly structured and it’s central theme is failure. It’s certainly not the fast-paced, scientifically-calibrated crowd pleaser that THE FORCE AWAKENS is. But it’s so bold and daring, and so strong on a thematic level that I can’t help but love it. I love how Rian Johnson picks up all the carefully wrapped mystery boxes that J.J. left on his doorstep and pitches them off a cliff. The movie makes clear that by focusing on those questions (Rey’s parentage, Snokes origin) you’re dooming yourself to be a weak echo of what’s come before. “Let the past die. Kill it if you have to.”

    Whereas THE FORCE AWAKENS feels like a carbon copy of a STAR WARS movie, THE LAST JEDI feels more personal, taking inspiration from STAR WARS but also the same kinds of things that inspired Lucas; Kurosawa movies and anime and classic space opera. It feels like a real film and not just a franchise obligation. And in a movie crammed with expensive special effects, I loved how Kylo and Rey’s telepathic link was visualised in such an understated way. Just camera placement and editing; it feels way more intimate.

    One thing that didn’t quite work for me thematically is where Rose saves Finn from an act of heroic self-sacrifice and states that “saving what we love” is what makes the Rebellion the good guys. I loved that. It’s such a bold and unusual thing for a film like this to say. But the film also wants us to see Space Dern’s self-sacrifice as the actions of a true hero and a teachable moment for Poe. It’s a have-your-roast-porg-and-eat-it-too kind of situation. But I did love how it painted the reckless hotshot pilot as a dangerous liability instead of the only-one-who-has-the-guts-to-do-what’s-right. It’s the complete opposite of what most movies of this type have taught us. I’m not surprised it rubbed so many people the wrong way.

    Also I don’t think I understand the point of Luke’s fake-out at the end of the film. I mean, I liked that they didn’t give him a traditionally “cool” hero moment, and I loved the shot of him peacefully looking out at the twin suns as he faded away. I just don’t see how what Luke did is appreciably different from what they’re trying to subvert (Luke going out like Obi-Wan). I did think it was funny how Luke’s presence is what tips off Poe to look for the other cave entrance, even though Luke was never really there.

    Great to see Yoda back in lovable prankster mode. “That library contained nothing that the girl Rey does not already possess.” Oh Yoda, you cheeky little bastard.

    This movie wipes the slate clean so thoroughly that I have no idea what the third film is going to be about. That’s exciting but also worrying, because I honestly don’t think J.J. has a movie like this in him. If he decides to retcon Rey’s parentage and make her a long lost Skywalker or something I’m going to be really disappointed. What’s especially sad is that this film seems to set up Carrie Fisher is a central character in the third film and a focal point for Kylo’s inevitable redemption.

    PS Forget the porgs, I want more of those space-seals that Luke was milking. Where’s their internet meme?

  42. 100% agree with Crusty pointing out the perfect simpleness of the Rey/Ren mind-meld. With all the money in the world, the temptation to make it some sort of glossy effect must have been immense, but instead it’s done entirely with eyelines, and it could not be more flawless. Absolute respect to Johnson for the restraint there.

  43. I was pleasantly surprised by the 3-D. I saw this in IMAX 2d opening night and real 3D Saturday. I’m pretty sure this wasn’t filmed in 3D at all, but it looked really good.

  44. I absolutely loved this movie and the more I reflect upon it the more I love it. Ridley and Driver are so great in this and completely sell their telepathic communications, which could have come across really poorly in less committed actors’ hands.
    Hamill is also really good and it is actually the first time I’ve really enjoyed the character of Luke Skywalker (I was always a Han kinda kid).
    This movie is also really beautiful to look at. The red dirt getting kicked up by the speeders in the finale was awesome and the staging of the Luke/Kylo fight in front of the Imperial walkers was just iconic.
    There is so much to love in this movie and I can’t wait to see it again.

  45. @Ben, agree with pretty much all of your criticism here, you nailed everything I didn’t like about TLJ. There were good points, mainly everything about Luke (I’m ok with him dying as is) and Rey (I love everything about her) IMO.

    I don’t agree that Kylo will be redeemed. If he is, I think that would be the moment where I’m done. I liked the trope reversal of choosing the dark side without being forced to by the master and seizing power. It made Kylo into an actually interesting (read: not whiny and snivelling) villain. Right now, I have TLJ at the level level as Episode 1 (better than 2, worse than 3 to 7). It sets up some promising possibilities and I’m willing to deal with it, but if the director wusses out from going there, I’m done. I want to see an deep examination of the force/Jedi philosophy. It’s always been far too “Jedi = Good, Dark Side = Evil” with no nuance. That works fine for a short story, but gets increasingly tough to pull off in an extended epic.

  46. It blew me away, I honestly never expected to see a Star Wars movie as good as this again.

    Shame on the internet for giving it a hard time, it proves to me that people don’t really know what they want in a Star Wars movie, I also think it’s wrapped up in a bunch of political bullshit, right wing types mad about the female characters and all that.

  47. I liked the movie the first time I saw it late on Friday. I liked it a lot more the next time I saw it Saturday afternoon. I like it more and more as I think about it and read other people’s reactions to it (such as this really enjoyable review from Vern). One question that I’m left with because I’m an insufferable nerd: Why does this movie think that gravity exists in open space? That whole sequence at the beginning where the (extremely slow) bomber ships “dropped” their payload out of the “bottom” of the ship and they fell “down” onto the dreadnought….. that made no sense. But I was willing to let that go. Until we got to the main plot of the movie where the rebel ships flew very slowly away from the evil bad guy ships and Snoke’s B2-bomber-themed super ship started firing those green blasts at the rebels and they flew in an arc. Why did they fly in an arc? Did gravity drag them down? Why? What gravity? From where?

    Also, if the rebel ships could fly faster than the Star Destroyers (which they explicitly say) then why don’t they ever get further away, so that they’re out of blaster range? Is it because movie? I think it’s because movie.

  48. Me and Neil deGrasse Tyson care deeply about this issue.

  49. I think in Star Wars space is largely just the sky but more high up, which is why it also has sound. As these things go it is probably fairly consistent with what we’ve seen in previous movies.

  50. RJ: How about the new concept that ships that run out of fuel in SW space these days apparently stop dead instead of travelling on at just about the same speed they’d reached before the engines cut out?

    Can I also say that for all the highlighting of what a wrong-headed arse Poe apparently was to take out that Dreadnought and kill all those good people in the process – had he not done that, the thing would have been with the rest of the fleet when it jumped after them, and THAT gun could have easily wrecked the entire Resistance in an instant, so fuck Leia’s and Holdo’s holier-than-thou attitudes. That guy saved (a few of) their asses

  51. I haven’t seen The Last Jedi yet but I thought I’d remind you Beyond Skyline is on VOD.

  52. My friends and I discussed the bombs “falling”. We decided that they were actually self propelled or magnetic and it just looked like falling. We made peace with that. I didn’t notice the blasts arcing.

    psychic_hits: The “thread” he was talking about was their new found, and secret from the resistance, ability to track through hyper space.

  53. Does anyone else think that JJ probably planned on Rey being “somebody” not “nobody”?

    Kylo says to Rey: “They were filthy junk traders. Sold you off for drinking money. They’re dead in a pauper’s grave in the Jakku desert. You come from nothing. You’re nothing. But not to me.”

    Alright, so in the Force Awakens, when Rey has her flashback in Maz’s castle, she sees a ship flying off of Jakku while Unkar Plutt is holding her back. Maybe Unkar was a really bad babysitter and they were leaving the planet on a beer run?

    Maybe I am looking too literally at all of this, but I swear the idea of Rey being nobody doesn’t seem like something that JJ would have come up with.

  54. RJ — maybe those ships are large enough to generate their own gravity?

    JeffG — 100% guarantee Abrams thought those mystery boxes would be filled with something dumb. Good on Johnson for knowing better.

  55. maggie— shoot, really? i missed that, but believe you. thanks for clearing that up for me.

  56. RJ, here’s my own nerdy thoughts on that–it’s always been a convention in Star Wars that there’e some kind of artificial gravity on board spaceships, so why not just say that bombs start falling because they’re in the same gravity field? Then when they leave the bubble, you could imagine their momentum just carries them on at the same speed they were going when they crossed the boundary.

    Also, people complaining about the Star Destroyer/Resistance “Chase” and them maintaining a constant distance should remember this is a universe where there’s sound in space, and ships fly just like in WW2 dogfights, banking when they turn and such. I think if you want any kind of explanation for this you have to imagine there’s some kind of invisible ether filling space (an actual old 19th century idea) that creates resistance to flying spaceships so they can bank, gives them a max speed they can travel at a given engine output, etc.

  57. Although I mostly hated this, I still admire Johnson for actually having the balls to upend so many expectations with this one.

    I didn’t like what he did, sadly, but still, he went for it and he’s definitely a good choice to steer the franchise away into something different.

    I guess I’m conflicted, Kylo-Ren style.

    Loved the porgs, though. Shit, I’m not made of stone.

  58. Rian Johnson basically did to The Force Awakens what Luke did with the lightsaber at the beginning. JJ spent so much time in TFA building up Snoke, building up the mystery of Rey’s parents and why she was abandoned, and even building up to that last shot of Rey and Luke and he basically just said “yeah, no thanks.” to all of it. I understand why people are pissed, there are folks out there that LOVE TFA. The Last Jedi doesn’t make a single safe choice, I don’t think.

  59. Crushinator Jones

    December 19th, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    Marvel brain sickness has taken over the Internet. Now people are bitching that shit from other movies didn’t “pay off” in this one or won’t “pay off” in the next one. Ugh. I’ll just quote Yoda – y’all clearly have your eyes on the horizon, rather than just evaluating what’s in front of you.

    Also LOL Star Wars spaceships have always been ridiculous and non-science and I’m glad of it. Bring on the fantasy.

  60. There are Finn/Rey shippers complaining how Rian Johnson demolished their ship when in fact it actually makes it more possible. Finn was pining over her but she already put him in the “friendzone” at the end of THE FORCE AWAKENS with Rey leaves him in his coma and goes off to become a Jedi. Now she went through her “bad boy” phase which most women go through. She think she can change him but realizes he’s a trainwreck who’ll never change and is now ready for a “nice guy” at the end of TLJ but now he seems to be also into someone else. It’s a much better position for Finn to be in.

  61. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS FUN FACT, A GROUP OF PROGS IS CALLED A “PORGY” THATS A TRUE BIT OF INFORMATION SPOILERS SPOILERS

    That comment by Lawrence suddenly makes me nervous they’re going to try some kind of tiresome romantic triangle between Finn, Rose, and Rey in the final one. Both previous trilogies feinted that way but then dodged it at the last minute, and I can’t imagine a world where a JJ Abrams version of that hackey premise would be watchable. But at least as of now I appreciate that Finn and Rey just seem to be battle buddies, two kids from bad circumstances who care about each other very deeply because they’re both the first true friends either one has ever had but aren’t necessarily crackling with sexual tension. I mean, who has the time?

  62. Mr. Subtlety, don’t forget we have Poe in the mix now, too. I sensed a bit of a spark when he and Rey met. But that could just be Oscar Isaac. He leaks sex appeal all over the place.

  63. I liked this a lot! Too much bloat and corn around the middle to really love it, but hey. The first and last hours were really, really great – the middle two hours and a half, I didn’t care much for.
    Can’t really add much to what’s been said all around, except to point out how exceptionally lovely this movie is to look at. The battle on not-Hoth, with the increasingly red battlefield was a personal highlight, but also the intercut force training montage, the red-on-red big brawl, the hyperspace crash, the lovely samurai-movie style focus on footwork*…
    I think some time back (around Dr Strange?) Disney got tired of people whining that all their movies looked like crap, and decided to Take Steps. And I couldn’t be happier about it.

    It’s a shame that JJ will be back for the last one, since honestly I haven’t really liked any of his films, and TFA was basically a plot hole just barely patched over with some fun characters. But at least we can look forward to a Rian Johnson trilogy, now he’s shown he’s not just a hired gun.

    *I’m a footwork fetishist. Don’t judge me!

  64. Felt meh about the movie. Didn’t really do anything to me and i was left not really excited for the last movie.

    Just wanted to say that the comedy felt completely flat on me and with the people that i watched it.

    People chuckled at Luke tossing the lightsaber away and that was that.

  65. Vern’s review of The Force Awakens two years ago: 435 comments

    Vern’s Review of The Last Jedi: 65 comments, and already dying down.

    I know a lot of folks who aren’t big Star Wars fans who went out of their way to see TFA three or four weeks after release. I feel like TLJ isn’t having that sort of buzz around it.

  66. I don’t think people are suddenly less obsessed with STAR WARS. I feel like the broken Recent Comments sidebar is having an effect on the conversation. I like to come back and check to see what people are talking about, so I don’t post as often when I have to individually click on the articles in the off-chance somebody will have said something.

  67. Yeah the recent comment thing is a bummer and I feel bad it’s been my fault twice. You should all watch Beyond Skyline.

  68. Maggie — Agreed, Oscar Isaac is just pure sex, and could potentially throw the whole thing off when everyone of all genders and political affiliations decide to just become part of a polyamorous love cult headed by him. Hell, SPOILERS Laura Dern gets undermined and mutiney’d by him, held at gunpoint, and almost has her whole plan to save everyone ruined, and she’s still openly ready to jump his bones. And the audience is still like, “yeah, that makes sense.”

    I also want to second DreadGuacamole’s point that this is almost certainly the prettiest STAR WARS film ever. Lots of striking compositions, which do a lot to establish an epic, mythic tone.

  69. “I know a lot of folks who aren’t big Star Wars fans who went out of their way to see TFA three or four weeks after release. I feel like TLJ isn’t having that sort of buzz around it.”

    Well also TFA was the first Star Wars movie in 10 years – TLJ is the third SW movie in 24 months.

  70. OK, I’m always happy when I can back up Mr. M.

    So I have a chance to see TLJ with my kids in the old cinema in which I saw STAR WARS originally in the 70s, but not until after Christmas. Trust me, dodging spoilers is really hard work; and not everyone is considerate as y’all. The buzz is as big as ever. Although I’m hoping I won’t half to queue up the front street like I did way back when.

  71. Also, off topic, but as mentioned, I’m avoiding spoilers, would now be a good time to say I still have money on Mally No Show for January?

  72. Something worth looking at, not necessarily because of the huge importance of the topic, but because of how it demonstrates how tiny minorities of people with fanatical opinions can make it appear that a disagreement exists when in fact there is widespread consensus. I think it explains a lot about how unbelievably toxic fandom has gotten over time. Worth your time, even if you didn’t like TLJ (and neither did the author) because if they can do this to Luke Skywalker, no one is safe.

  73. This is a section from the book “How Star Wars Conquered the Universe” about fans and how they hate everything, im paraphrasing a bit. I’m not saying I agree with it, but I always thought it was interesting, funny and slightly accurate:

    In 2005, a 20 year old in Vancouver named Andrey Summers, witnessed the deep schisms within Star Wars fandom firsthand when he attended a screening of Episode II. The screening was preceded by a costume contest, and Summers was shocked when, in the course of it, older fans actually started booing the costumes of younger fans. “That was when I realized” Summers told me “these fuckers aren’t into joy. They’re into canonical accuracy.” He wrote an article for Jive magazine titling it “The Complex and Terrifying Reality of Star Wars Fandom”.

    Summers was having a hard time explaining fandom to his girlfriend, because true fans hate EVERYTHING about Star Wars, from the whiny delivery of Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in the original trilogy to the CGI pratfalls of Jar Jar Binks in the prequels. “If you run into somebody who tells you the franchise was quite enjoyable, and they very much liked the prequels as well as the originals, and even own everything on DVD, and a few of the books, these imposters are not Star Wars fans,” he wrote.

    “To make Star Wars you have to hate Star Wars” This is the maxim I’ve heard from more than one veteran of Lucasfilm’s design department. What they mean is that if you are too reverential about what came before, you’re doomed. You’ve got to be rebellious and questing. The franchise must constantly renew itself by pulling incongruous items out of a grab bag of outside influences, as Lucas himself did from the start. Likewise, fandom must constantly renew itself with new generations of viewers brought in by the prequels, by more recent additions to the canon like The Clone Wars and Rebels, and soon enough, by the sequels {this book is a few years old}.

    “To be a Star Wars fan one must possess the ability to see a million different failures and downfalls, and then somehow assemble them into a greater picture of perfection. Every true Star Wars fan is a Luke Skywalker, looking at his twisted evil father, and somehow seeing good. We hate everything about Star Wars,” Summers concluded, before offering a line every fan in the world could agree with: “But the idea of Star Wars…the idea we love.”

  74. Great review, Vern, and pretty much agree with you on everything here. I was surprised not to see you mention the Chewie becoming a vegetarian thing. The movie devotes a total of like 30 seconds to it, but it’s such a charming and weird story point that I figured you would mention it.

    One thing I found very odd about the film. After Dern dismembered Snoak’s ship Ren wakes up having clearly been knocked out or something, and he finds that Rey must have already woken up and fled. Implying that at some point Rey was awake next to an unconscious Ren. Maybe this is too obvious, but the parallels with Luke being in a position to kill Ren as a sleeping child are pretty striking and I’m surprised they didn’t make anything of it. Not a complain though. For a long movie this one was actually really dense as well.

    REDACTED–

    Re: your point E). Earlier in the movie when Ren and Rey are having their first mind meld and struggling to understand what is happening to them, Ren says something like, “You can’t really be here; the effort would destroy you.” So I guess that’s how they set up Luke’s death.

  75. Mr. S–

    I’ve thought a little about it, and I actually do think this movie redeems TFA a little bit. The whole series is kind of about repetition with difference. They are frozen in this pattern, only able to make minor adjustments, and still finding themselves stuck in the pattern. The cynical cash-grabby feel of TFA is unlikely to go away; but the conceit of basically rerunning the whole thing, beginning the cycle again, seems to me a very Star Wars thing to do. TFA is flawed not because TFA is repetitive (this movie here was more than a little Empirey), but because Abrams just isn’t a very good filmmaker.

  76. I really appreciate the review, because overall I only have love and fondness for The Force Awakens. I have the same reactions as the naysayers about the Snoke backstory, the Leia space survival, and the , but I balanced that with the dozens of amazing gifts we are given. Porgs and Ice foxes, killing a destroyer with a light-speed driven cruiser, and Luke winning the battle with Kylo by sheer power and trickery. Fooled the audience and fooled the bad guy. Double win.

    You loved the movie and yet are willing to discuss the controversies. That’s why I like your article. I am in the same space with it.

    I wanted to respond to steven’s comments about the training of Rey. He called it “absolutely beautiful”. While I wouldn’t throw shade on his feelings toward it, I wish that the training scenes would have been different. It felt like they went from, “I won’t teach you,” to “you’re now a jedi master” just a little too quick, albeit with some humor up front with the “reach out,” and “Oh, I feel it.” gag. That was cute, but I wish there were something that felt as authentic as Old Ben Kenobi teaching Luke. Some explanation which she “doesn’t get”, then some “event” that triggers a deeper connect to the awakening force in her, like getting her angry, or thinking about being abandoned, and then her channeling it into connecting to the force. Some moment of awakening that the audience could also experience and feel her shift, and thereby feel ourselves shift toward something greater (By the way, the force is real, but it’s just different and more like an awakening of goodness inside us).

    If you’ve gotten this far in my post, thank you for continuing. I loved the movie in truth, and the more reviews I read, the more I realize that there is to see and discover. I’ve seen it twice, and will probably see it several more times!

  77. Jeff: These dickheads love nothing but themselves. They care not for the work itself, but just for the feeling the work gave them when they were of an age when they could still feel joy. The work itself is irrelevant. If KRULL had caught on in the eighties, these same motherfuckers would be complaining about how the prequels ruined the Glaive by giving it a backstory, but they’d still be buying up the merchandise and seeing the movies opening night. They’re just chasing the ghosts of their former selves by romanticizing some half-remembered golden age (which always seems to coincide with their grade school years, whenever those were) while actively working against everything the work itself should have inspired in them. They don’t like the thing anymore but they figure it’s all because some handy scapegoat ruined it for them, and if they just yell louder, the real thing will return and everything will be as they remembered it. Their love has curdled into possessiveness.

    I mean, do I even need to draw the fucking Trump parallels here?

    Many of you are no doubt saying “That’s rich coming from you, Majestyk.” I admit to succumbing to bitterness after the Disney sale, despite being mostly supportive of the prequels, because I am an auteurist. To me, STAR WARS is the personal universe of George Lucas, infused with his values and obsessions, and it has no reason to exist without him. So (and this is the important thing here) I STOPPED CARING ABOUT THE MOVIES. SW means different things to different people, and I had no right to hold everyone to the same strict orthodoxy that made sense to me. The world had moved on and I accepted that. This is the way things are now. My STAR WARS is gone, if it ever really existed at all, and that’s okay. I don’t have to go through the cycle of manically chasing that elusive childhood high followed by intense disappointment and resentment when a major multinational corporation somehow didn’t read my fucking mind and give me exactly what I wanted. I realized that STAR WARS is not for me anymore and I stepped off. The saying is “If you love something, let it go” not “If you love something, kill it and dissect it so you can find out why loving it doesn’t make you feel good anymore.” If “fans” can’t accept that, that pure child-like joy they’re clutching at will only get farther and farther out of their grasp.

  78. Jonson and Abrams lacks the imagination, intellect and passion that Lucas had. It shows. The prequels were so much better, I just saw them on cable. They had so much more philosophical and political depth in them, and yes, well developed, interesting, and the coolest characters in movie history. Jonson and Abrams have no idea what to do with all these ideas, with all those wonderful characters, but to kill them in the most uncool way possible.
    Luke is just an old loser? we don’t get to see him kick ass? Only through some ridiculous hologram? And what was the point of the hologram if he just dies at the end of this lame shit? Is a mediocre one-liner makes this turd small like a rose? No wonder Hamill was disappointed by this.
    Star Wars in the days of Lucas was so much more the “Snoke is just Snoke”, “Ray is Just Ray”. Come on, That is not cool, Vern. I have no idea how the Disney machine made the critics eat this turd.
    Han and Luke were flowed but super cool characters. Why take all the coolness out of them and kill them off? Abrams at least had a sense of showmanship and style. He tried to supersized everything Lucas did (bigger Death Star, Bigger villain). Snoke, the super sized emperor was an interesting creation of his, if not too original. Serkis done a great job with this. Why just kill him without explaining shit? How did get to this place? Is he a sith? Who the fuck is he? He is not just minor character, he was the main villain! why not explain him? Lazy writing, no imagination. I’m not even talking about the lack of coolness of dealing with characters like Luke, Solo and Leia. They were unfit to get in the ring, they had no place to be there but pure greed.

  79. http://web.archive.org/web/20071005041825/http://www.jivemagazine.com/column.php?pid=3381

    Mr. M: Here is the article. Certainly tongue in cheek, but very funny and on the same page as what you said.

  80. Where is this philosophical depth in the prequel trilogy?
    Political depth? Okay. But philosophical? Nah. I think TLJ had more philosophical depth than the prequel trilogy combined.
    And who were these “coolest characters ever” in the prequel trilogy?
    Darth Maul? Okay. But he’s given far less story and depth than Snoke (at least in canon and outside of the EU).
    Maybe you mean Nute Gunray.

  81. Did Yoda burned down the tree, or did it just happen?

    I read it as like a Zen joke: Luke agonizing over burning it, changing his mind, when it was just gonna burn down on its own anyway.

    Plus wouldn’t it be sorta weird if Jedi ghosts could summon lightning bolts to hit things, and this is the only time in the entire series they decide to use that power?

  82. el loco, and others:

    I think one place I disagree with you is that I think Luke’s showdown with Kylo is the coolest thing he ever did. He seems to do the impossible, completely awes the rebels and flabbergasts Kylo and the First Order troops. As of episode VII he was a mythical character that people had heard of and didn’t know if he was real. After this scene he’s a legend told throughout the galaxy, especially by the downtrodden, inspiring them to stand up to their oppressors and aspire to greatness. He had given up but after the new lessons from meeting Rey and talking to Yoda he has become a new hope again, or a “spark” as they call it in this movie.

    And just on the surface coolness level, this astral projection is a new and amazing Force power that makes him seem like the most badass Jedi ever, just liked we’d always imagined/hoped he’d be. A hell of a way to go out. That it goes so quickly from him having tricked Kylo to becoming one with the Force is an emotional rollercoaster, but that’s okay because in death I believe he’s making good on the threat he made to Kylo about being with him forever. He really will “see you around kid” because he is gonna haunt the shit out of that motherfucker.

    Obviously we’ll see in time, but I really believe he’ll be blue-ghosting Kylo to redeem both the kid and himself as a teacher. And that Kylo didn’t kill him will make his redemption more possible. (I mean we have a hard time forgiving FAST AND FURIOUS Statham for killing a Han – imagine if he also killed a Luke.)

    I don’t expect them to use this, but it also occurs to me that as far as anyone not connected to the Force knows, Luke survived that encounter.

    As for the Snoke thing, this keeps reminding me of Abram’s MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3 and the rabbit’s foot. If you read my review of that you can see my big rant about people not liking that the never specifically explain to us what type of deadly weapon that McMuffin is. This strikes me as a similar case because this is a deliberate gimmick they use to tell the story in a more interesting way, and people are treating it like some kind of oversight. YES, OF COURSE we expected that Snoke’s identity was going to be a big reveal that would explain everything. That’s exactly the idea. When it turns out to be totally irrelevant, this is a thrilling moment, the drop on the rollercoaster when suddenly we don’t know where the bottom is. Enjoy that feeling! We don’t know which directions the tracks are headed now. To me, that’s worth ten complicated explanations of how Snoke got where he was (which we will still probly find out in some form, especially if Abrams knows the answer).

  83. What you said, Vern.

    For me Luke isn’t “dead” per see. He’ll be training Rey and hounding Kylo Force Ghost style for years to come. Maybe decades.

  84. Grimgrinningchris – Please do share the profound philosophy of TLJ, because I don’t see anything there but “Disney Sells More Toys”. Kylo Ren of TLJ is a pale imitation of Anakin/Vader, main protagonist of the prequel trilogy. Obi One? Not enough iconic for you? None of the new characters are as interesting, they are all pale and undeveloped imitation of what Lucas did. And Snoke’s parallel in the prequels, is Palpatine, and you know who that motherfucker is, what he is about and where he is coming from. He is not just some Snoke getting killed.
    Abrams could get a way with it. I fucking hated what he did to Han Solo, his inability to deal with the hero of this saga -Luke. But at least, there was a sense that he respected what Lucas has done before him and was trying to bring back that old feeling and style. Ray and Kylo and Snoke are not original characters, Abrams just set them up, hoping for other, maybe better storyteller, to put some life and personality into them in the sequel. It didn’t happen. Jonson and his team of writers weren’t the right guys. The still had Luke. Coolest dude ever. Shit on that. They still could do something with the new characters: They made them even less interesting. After TLJ, I don’t know nothing new or interesting about Ray or the whole new bunch, cracking some irrelevant Marvell jokes, that’s all that the writers could come up with with. Shame on them, don’t go in the ring if you are not ready.

    Vern – When you just kill a character without giving any interesting information about it you get much less impact. Nobody care about someone she doesn’t know. Stephen King spends hundreds of pages in order for you to care about the main characters and know them and then kills them off. He doesn’t just kills motherfuckers off without you knowing them. And then says it’s cool, it is some sort of surprise that you don’t know nothing about the character, what happened before, or where the plot is going to.
    Why do I have to read about the main villain in some comic book that nobody cares about? That was Jonson’s job, his and Abrams story to tell, but they were too lazy, leaving it to some fucking comics writer or the next director? What’s the point of Abrams explaining Snoke now after he was deemed irrelevant by Jonson? How come the main villain is irrelevant? Just because you killed him off so early? Is that makes you a great storyteller in anyway? or just a lazy one?
    And no, Snoke is not a McGuffin, he is the main villain.
    As for the abomination done to Luke – How can you compare this ridiculous shit with Luke confrontations with Vader? Or anything he have done in Lucas trilogy was so much more powerful and cool. The Master-Student Relationship : you compare Luke and Yoda relationship and Anakin and Obi in the prequels? to Luke e and Ray 3 lessons that are so forgettable, that we don’t even get to actually see them? I really didn’t understand what was so cool by committing suicide through some “astral projection”, only in order to come back as a ghost to hunt motherfuckers? Come on, Vern, that is lame, that is not something that Luke would do.

  85. The idea that a creator didn’t give you exactly what you want because they are “lazy” is always hilarious. The fact that el loco’s post came IMMEDIATELY after Majestyk’s is almost too good to be true, it’s almost like it’s a purposeful parody.

  86. Grimgrinningchris

    December 21st, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    I dunno, el loco… I would venture to say that those are things that Luke would do… because he did them.

    Vern’s review and thus talkback are both full of words pointing out and dissecting the philosophies of the movie.
    Destroy the past to save the future being a pretty prevalent thread.
    What are these grand ideas in the prequel trilogy?
    Also still waiting on that list of “coolest characters ever” in the prequel trilogy and explanation of why Maul and Grievous are given no context or backstory in canon- and that’s okay- but no explanation or backstory for Snoke (and since this trilogy isn’t done you can’t even conclusively say that will end up the case) is some sort of fuck Up or oversight?

  87. JTS- They are not lazy because they give me what i want, but because the didn’t develop the characters, they didn’t made them interesting, cool or original like those of Lucas. They just killed the cool characters that Lucas created without offering any interesting story. Majestyk was right on and maybe more eloquent then me, I didn’t mean to parodoize him.
    Grimgrinningchris: “Destroy the past to save the future”, really? I agree they destroyed the past, the fine legacy of Lucas but I don’t see any hope for the future since ause they are left with nothing now.
    Again, Anakin and Obi are the main characters of the prequel, they are iconic, everyone know them, even if you didn’t watch the movie you still know their fucking names. The smaller minor characters have less background, but that happenes in all great movies. The main villain, Plalpatine, was someone you know about, a real character, not just a puppet you kill like Snoke. Hell, even Jar Jar Binks, hate him or ove him, had more personality then all the new characters put together. Nobody gives a fuck about the new characters, they are undeveloped pale imitations of Lucas creations. Jedi philosophy had zen Buddhism going on, Joseph Camble, Jung, Roman history and so much more. It had exiting and relevant political allegories to offer. You really want to destroy all that, say all that Jedi shit is worthless? at least bring something new and exiting to the table, at least be able to walk in these big ass Lucas shoes. After seeing these two failures I agree with Majisteak: this is Lucas universe. I’m not saying you can’t get into this universe and do great things. I kinda like Rogue One. It happened before with other franchises too: I don’t think, for instance, the Alien universe is Scott universe, for example. Cameron came after him and made something new, original and exiting. The problem is that Abrams and Jonson are no Cameron or Lucas, they are not in that league.
    And Luke wouldn’t do that, and didn’t, if it didn’t happene in the Lucas universe. Mark Hamill was justifiably shocked by this bulshit and said he didn’t know that character, it is someone else.

  88. Grimgrinningchris

    December 21st, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    Also, in the OT, Palpatine is given no backstory.
    He isn’t even mentioned in ANH.

    He’s an enigmatic hologram for a minute in one movie and in the next he has one scene and is then murdered by his student during a clash of wills between conflicted light side/dark side force users.
    Kinda like Snoke…

  89. He was killed in the most memorable way in the OT And in the end of it, not in the beginning when it doesn’t make sense or because the writer has no idea what to do with him. And he was the main villain in the prequel trilogy, a real character, not just a puppet, a toy to sell by the Disney cooperation.

  90. My daughter and I think that the little stableboy at the very end of the movie used the Force to pull the broom into his hand…just a few inches, but it was there. And then, he held it up, like a lightsaber…like every kid started doing in 1977 when they got home from a New Hope. Man, I loved that scene.

  91. Also, Vader is Obi One’s student, not Palpatine’s…

  92. I read this theory and didn’t catch it:

    Luke was at the top of the mountain at the end of TFA/Beginning of TLJ preparing to kill himself. That is why he had his formal garb on and, once Rey stops him, he immediately changes in his day to day outfit. And Snoke says something to Rey about giving Skywalker the death he desires, or something to that effect.

  93. Grimgrinningchris

    December 22nd, 2017 at 7:36 am

    What are you talking about, man?

    Vader becomes Palpatine’s student/apprentice after abandoning his relationship with Obi Wan.
    Same as Kylo Ren becoming Snoke’s after abandoning his relationship with Luke.

  94. Guys, el loco has articulated what he doesn’t like about the movie and explained why he finds the prequels more interesting. He played fair. Don’t put him in the same category as the dickheads I was talking about just because he doesn’t agree with you.

    The next step, loco, if you really are that unhappy with the way the series is going, is to let it go. Holding onto something that has moved on leads to anger. And we all know where that path ends.

  95. I admit to coming off overly salty. And apologize for that.

    I just don’t get it.
    Sins he’s pegging on TNT (would that be what we’re abbreviating it as, The New Trilogy?) as these irredeemable fuck ups are prevalent in the PT and he seems to find no fault in them there.

    Like I said, I just don’t get it. And I guess I won’t, so there’s no point in arguing for sure.

    Cheers, all!

  96. Majestyk – Thank you, amigo, I guess the Jedi must end for us.

    Grimgrinningchris – You are all good, I ‘m not offended. it is okay that you disagree. You say that the representation of Palpatine in the old trilogy is just like the representation of Snoke in the new one. You bring that as your example that Lucas made the same mistakes as Abrams and Jonson. But, according to what you say, your own description, those representations are competently different. It is thru that you see only a glimpse of Palpatine in the first Episode – NH. But Abrames (mr. supersize everything and it’s all good) and Jonson did the opposite, they show Snoke and all his dark powers in full display from the begging. That’s like Spielberg showing you the whole shark at the beggining of Jaws, and not just glimpses until the very end of the story when he revieles the shark. That’s not what a true master do, he doesn’t show you everything at the very begining, he paitantily waites, until the right moment when he can have full impact. And that’s what Lucas did, and this where Abrams and Jonson failed with Snoke. revieling the dark force takes time in order to have full impact: You see only hologram in first episode, and then you see more of Palpatine in Empire and Return – and he kills him only at the end of the trilogy. You learn the story of how he rose to power in the prequele trilogy. So your one and only example of how the OT sucks as much as the NT just dosen’t stand. Because Lucas knew exactly from day one what his story is. Who is Palpatine. He knew even what will happen to Luke in NT (he talked about it with Hamill in the 70’s and told him what his character do around 2012. when he planned to start the NT), he knew the whole history, he knew what the fuck he was doing.
    Now those other guys in charged on the new trilogy just don’t know the history of this thing, they don’t know what to do with this whole universe and characters. The feeling is that they just need to tell some story they don’t know or care about just so Disney can sell more toys.

  97. BTW, Vader was an employee of Palpatine, not his student. That what was his job after graduating with Obi as his master. That’s the way I see it.

  98. Look, the comment section updates again. It is a Christmas miracle. Also Merry Christmas, assholes and I wish everything STAR WARS gets sucked in a black hole along with its “fanbase”.

  99. The moment of truth. Will my postimg this screw up the comments section again?

  100. Some of the reactions to the Luke story that I’ve seen make the reactions to the Zod neck snap in MAN OF STEEL look positively rational and subdued by comparison. Loved the movie, and on a second viewing, came around a little bit on some stuff I didn’t like the first time (the Casino bit, though it’s still the weakest part for me). Loved the handling of the Luke, Snoke and Rey parts for the same reasons as Vern, though Rey’s parents are still a sticking point for some people who claim the explanation is unreliable because it comes from Kylo…even though he didn’t actually say it, SHE did, so it seems like a confirmation to me.

  101. You’re off the hook, Sternshein. Looks like el loco lost this round of Recent Comments Russian Roulette.

  102. I saw this one yesterday and feel about it exactly the same as the Force Awakens – it was very enjoyable but totally silly and completely forgettable. I won’t be counting the days until the next one but I’m sure I will see it at some point. I can’t understand people that feel really passionately one way or the other. I mean, I saw Attack of the Clones and I thought it was terrible but I didn’t get mad about it. I just didn’t watch part III and never thought twice about it.

    I’m surprised to hear Vern say there was more humour than usual. That would be my only real criticism here – I didn’t think there was ANY humour in this one. I thought Rogue One had a lot more humour (I also think that one is easily the best Star Wars outside the original trilogy).

  103. Just curious but what trailer did they show before the TLJ screening?

  104. el loco… Sith. Master/Apprentice. The hierarchy and relationship is pretty well mapped out there.

  105. Darth Vader/Relationships

    The relationships of Darth Vader. The Emperor was the man who turned the former Anakin Skywalker into a Sith Lord. He owned Darth Vader like a slave, but together the two were the most feared beings in the galaxy. For many years before his fall to the dark side, Anakin had considered Palpatine to be a good friend and even another mentor, not realizing Palpatine was swaying him to his side, turning him against his fellow Jedi. Palpatine preyed on Anakin's doubts, fears, his ego, and his...

    “Palpatine never really considered Vader his apprentice but merely his pawn and enforcer, and a broken one after Vader’s injuries”.

  106. I’m in the Caribbean – the only trailer we got was a brief teaser for the Incredibles 2.

  107. We got way too many freaking trailers here in Seattle. There were at least 5-6. My personal preference is 3-4. We got some sappy teenage girl volleyball team trying to win for a dead teammate. Avengers, some steampunk, sci-fi one where London is a floating city capturing ships/people, A Wrinkle in Time, Ready Player One, and I don’t remember the others.

  108. 5 or six? We have been averaging 7 to 8 in the Chicago area.

  109. totally off topic, but i just want to acknowledge that I’m an idiot and didn’t realize Finn and Rose’s entire quest was to get the thing that let the First Order track the Resistance, hence my theory re: Leia’s resurrection many posts above. my bad. Macguffin explanations tend to go in one ear and out the other for me; that part of the movie was much more about Finn and Rose’s dynamic together and the surprising anti-war-profiteering themes, and less about what precisely the thing they were trying to get was.

    whatever though, i still think the movie rules. a day hasn’t gone by that i haven’t thought “disney actually made a really excellent contemporary SW movie!” and felt happy about it. viewers who think it makes Luke into a sad old man— i couldn’t disagree with that take more. luke is a fucking badass in this movie. to use the parlance of our times, he has run out of fucks. i guess movies are only supposed to be escapist fantasy for a lot of people; maybe those people need Luke to be an infallible knight in shining armor… but I feel like a lot of us around here enjoy seeing real, relatable life reflected in the movies we dig the most, and for me, this was one of those. it felt like the first Star Was movie ever made by someone who has lived with and around humans, and understands their lives and behavior. and for that reason, i love it.

  110. Well, humans, unless you suggest that critics or rest of the Disney PR are human, don’t really like this movie compared to the other Star Wars movies:

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/robcain/2017/12/23/the-audience-strikes-back-last-jedis-77-fri-to-fri-plunge-is-worst-ever-for-a-star-wars-pic/#1fe83af357fa

    You could understand that before by looking at the big dissonance between the critics scores and the fans scores in movie sites like IMDB, meta critic and rotten tomatoes.

  111. And why would you want another Star Wars presented by someone else but its author? This motherfucker is still alive!He gave you his notes and suggestions you didn’t even have a look?
    Would you read another Dark Tower novel not written by Stephen King? Or a Parker novel not written by Stark? Anyone one care or remember the Cameron-Less Terminators? How about Reservoir Dogs 2 with no QT? Bring it on?
    Disney biggest sin here is not listening to Lucas, not trying to understand his vision, let alone, not hiring him again to finish his story. Instead of that they assumed to know what the fans want, assuming the fans are stupid and don’t know whose story this is.

  112. The scenes featuring Luke and those involving Kylo and Rey’s dynamic were the highlight for me. Poe and Finn are both fine and likable enough, but I didn’t feel like they had much particularly interesting to do, and they felt fairly one-note to me. Poe’s arc is a nice bit of possible growth for him, but is a bit too on-the-nose for me. The scenes on the island are easily the strongest and most powerful in the film, along with the final confrontation with Luke and Kylo.

    It’s fun to trade viewpoints about these films, and I often find myself appreciating how different people can experience the same set of films so differently. More offputting is the virulence, unhealthy emotional attachment, or condescension that sometimes accompanies them. Keep telling yourself: it’s only a movie.

    I don’t think the prequels can hold a candle to these, honestly. The raw talent, charisma, and emotional power of the performances in these is enough to settle it. Characters and conflicts I actually give a shit about and where the die are not entirely cast. The sense, more often than not, that the films are taking place in a real, physical world and not some shiny screen-saver-verse is another major factor.

    Anyway, Driver and Hamill bring a level of pathos and depth to things that is incredibly satisfying for me, and I love Luke’s arc here. Isaac and Boyega do just fine, it’s just that they haven’t been written or used in such a way as to graduate behind goofily earnest and charmingly intense, respectively.

  113. el loco according to Slashfilm:

    “In the (Art of THE LAST JEDI) book, we learn that one of the first meetings to visualize The Force Awakens happened on January 16, 2013 at Skywalker Ranch with George Lucas himself. Among the pieces presented at the meeting were portraits of an older Luke Skywalker training a new disciple named Kira (who was later renamed Rey). The idea was that, 30 years after the fall of the Empire, Luke had gone to a dark place and secluded himself in a Jedi temple on a new planet. The paintings show Luke meditating, reassessing his whole life.

    Apparently, the initial plan for Star Wars: Episode 7 was that Luke, over the course of that movie, would rediscover his vitality and train this new Jedi. So basically, what we got from the Rey/Luke storyline in The Last Jedi was initially supposed to be the bones for George Lucas’ Episode 7. Imagine an alternate universe where Episode 7 was Luke reluctantly training a new Jedi – it would be completely different.”

    http://www.slashfilm.com/george-lucas-sequel-trilogy/

    So the idea of Luke living in isolation in an ancient temple in a “dark place” WAS Lucas’ idea, Disney just pushed it back to Episode VIII.

  114. SPOILERSES

    SPOILERSES

    SPOILERSES

    SPOILERSES

    SPOILERSES

    I disagree with el loco that we need a ton of fresh screen time devoted to a character for his/her death to be satisfying. Both Han’s and Luke’s final scenes are incredibly poignant and character-honoring, and their performances in the broader films are age-appropriate. The filmmakers have the courage to kill our darlings and take them to new emotional and developmental places vs. a kind of pathetic midlife crisis wish fulfillment that pretends they’re still 30 or that their invulnerable. I loved what they did with both Han and Luke in these last two films, respectively. I also loved that they never brought Han and Luke directly back together. This isn’t a nostalgia reunion tour circle jerk. Did Yoda or Obi-wan die high-fiving their buddies and generally crushing it? No, the hero’s journey is finally a lonely one.

    The prequels are just a bunch of pulse-less, plodding, charm-free exercises in masturbatory exposition-speak and worldbuilding that completely fail in the heart and soul department.

  115. Lawrence- Thank you for the Slash story. The same story claims: “[Lucas’s] treatments were largely thrown out by director J.J. Abrams” and there is a link to an interview with Abrams who says he didn’t look at Lucas treatments because the studio decided to go in another direction. He also admits he doesn’t know nothing on the science of the force, he just wants to imitate what Lucas had done when Abrams was a child. So just because Luke had a female apprentice in Lucas treatments, just because they took one tiny element from Lucas, doesn’t make it his vision. In his, Solo and Luke are united and not dead. They don’t just wine and bitch and die in an uncool way.
    Abram in fact admits in this interview that his is not original, that he just wants to have the same feeling he had as a child again by imitating Lucas style in the 70s and 80’s, and this without understanding the “science of the force”, just to repeat some infantile feeling, a process he calls “spirituality” or some bulshit. Lucas said in a Charlie Rose interview he was all about bringing something new that you never seen before to every episode, and he rejected Abrams unoriginal retro approach. Also he says that when Kennedy asked him what he wants to do the answer was finish his story. They said they rather do something else for the “fans”: some incoherent, infantile retro shit by someone unoriginal. Fuck you very much, Disney.

    Skani – Dude, the heart and soul of Star Wars is George Lucas, don’t you know that? Not a bunch Disney executives (Abrams, included) taking the most ignorant and heartless decisions possible.
    I didn’t find Luke and Han or Liea treatment in the movie “incredibly poignant” and “character-honoring” (what?) or any of that shit. In the context of the Star Wars universe it was pathetic. Those are space westerns, not Noa Baumbach movies about losers, or Phillip Roth novels about old men – those are Jedies and mythical heroes, they should kick ass at any age, just like Yoda. You can deal with aging with more dignity then this shameful mass: have you ever seen Unforgiven? Or Godfather? Lonesome Dove? Or Revenge of the Sith?
    I find that the fact that they never brought Han and Luke directly back together is not story-driven, and so disappointing and lazy. I suspect it’s more like greed-driven then story-driven, like Abrams would want us to believe. Why have to haggle with Ford and Hamill agents about checks when when we can save money and pay them each just for one movie? Brilliant, way to go Abrams, that “loves” Star Wars” so much he didn’t want the hero of this saga in his movie, didn’t want to work with Mark Hamill.

  116. Also, the name Lucas gave the lady student was much cooler.

  117. much more cooler

  118. My friend who might possibly be Star Wars’ biggest fan alive absolutely hated TLJ and said it made him not even want to watch Episode IX, which is a weird thing for a guy with a giant Darth Vader tattoo to say. But that may have been the most ringing endorsement I could hear, because I was kinda done with the series after the useless, wheel-spinning Rogue One single-handedly turned me from a fanboy to a franchise hater in the course of 2+ hours. I wish I could say TLJ was the earth-shaking game-changer people have been making it out to be, but am I the only one who thought it was just “pretty good”? Like I honestly don’t really get why anyone would be THAT MAD about it, but i also kinda don’t see why people are that excited about it?

    I mean, there’s tons of good stuff here – it’s never boring, the music is better than last time, the acting’s still strong. I like the new dimensions given to our trio of new heroes. And the new characters are better developed and more likable than anyone in Rogue One. I really like what they did with Snoke and Rey’s Parents. I actually don’t have too many complaints, which makes me wonder why I didn’t love it more, other than franchise fatigue/I’m getting old. I think the main problem I had was the structure was strange – I literally thought Snoke and Phasma’s death was the end of the movie (especially since the low-speed chase visualized in a literal ticking clock on someone’s wrist reached the end of its storyline), so when it suddenly turns into a remake of ESB’s Hoth scene I was getting restless like “wait why is this movie still going?” And yes, count me among the people disappointed in Luke’s death. Him dying via exhaustion rather than via lightsaber just felt like semantics, and I suspect the only reason Johnson didn’t just have him get killed by Ren is because they already recycled Obi-Wan’s death in the last movie.

    I’m just not really excited enough to add much to the conversation about this movie, except I do think it’s funny Johnson doubled down on the Mary Sue-gate from last time by making her even more Mary Sue-y. He specifically pointis out she beat Kylo Ren with zero experience. He debunks fan theories that “oh you’ll find out she was so good because she had training she forgot. I guarantee it!”. And most importantly he didn’t even give her any real training with Luke before having her dispatch a whole bunch of Imperial Guards and move a giant wall of rocks to save the day. It’s like, either The Force is this egalitarian thing that everyone can acquire and train and work on, or it’s something you’re born with alot of, like uh, midichlorians. You can’t really have it both ways. This is why people’s theories that Kylo Ren represents entitled white privilege seem a little backwards – he’s actually the one who trained and worked at it since childhood, and Rey’s the one who gets all her powers just handed to her on a silver platter. Btw, so much for Anakin being “too old” to start his training in TPM, and Luke needing 3 movies to train and fight competently, now you can be just as powerful as them by virtue of the plot requiring you to be.

    So yeah I guess that’s my big complaint – the movie kinda seems to act like it’s cleverly undermining prophecy/chosen one tropes, but then basically uses those tropes when it wants to. Not to sound like a big ole hipster nerd, but *SPOILER* Blade Runner 2049 did the exact same thing better – the main character finds out he doesn’t have special parents and he’s not the chosen one he hoped to be, and he’s just a nobody. But he still keeps doing what he can and fighting the good fight, and maybe puts a drop in the bucket into making the world a better place. In TLJ, the main character finds out she doesn’t have special parents and is just a nobody, but then still has all the powers and gifts as if she’s the chosen one anyway. I guess like Luke’s death, this movie’s really into shaking things up via semantics.

  119. Some of the more effusive praise for LAST JEDI seems unwarranted. I thought it was nothing more or less than a competent and generally satisfying STAR WARS film. I can understand where some of the magic of the OT is gone, mostly because I think those films delivered a pretty satisfying resolution and didn’t leave much left to be done that didn’t amount to undercutting the victory at the end of JEDI. It’s perhaps inevitable that the sequels push us into a more perpetually dualistic yin-yang kind of mode where there is no final victory or everlasting peace, just the perennial, cyclically alternating tension between dark and light.

    That is one of the difficulties that this new trilogy faces is that there is a bit of recycling going on, and the mythology in this new trilogy feels a little derivative and generic vs. actually taking us deeper into things. It all feels a bit stock and under-explained. I still enjoy it for what it is.

  120. Yes, Skani, I agree, the more effusive praise for LAST JEDI seems unwarranted and that’s and understatement. It’s not only they were derivative of the OT, they also imitated with no imagination the underrated PT (prequel trilogy). Kylo Ren is a poor man’s Anakin, and that’s there strongest character in there. The darkness and criticism of the Jedi Philosophy in Revenge of the Sith, which is the best Star Wars movie sans Empire Strikes back, maybe, is much more profound and darker then in the NT. Lucas did it so much better before them. Stupid fucks, why don’t you do your homework, listen to the master who created the whole thing, let him lead the way, instead of thinking of selling more toys and other dark side shit.

  121. The reason it’s getting praised so much by critics is that most of them are more objective about Star Wars and don’t have such a narrow idea of what it “should” be. Like my local newspaper critic is not a big Star Wars fan(he actually did an article years ago how he was a theater usher as a teenager during the 1980 run of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and said seeing it over and over again was torture but he gave THE LAST JEDI a positive based on Mark Hamill’s performance(and it is a great performance).

  122. The Last Jedi is a good movie. The people that complain about it are probably babyboys.

  123. Lawrence – I think the right word here is not “objective”, it is more like “ignorant” or “indifferent”. I think a good interesting movie critic should be educated and passionate about movie history, not treating it just as a commodity, like 90% of the so-called critics do, but also and mainly as an art form. Vern is a good movie critic usually, that is why I was disappointed with this review. For example, most critics praised ” Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”, without mentioning the sugarcoating of white supremacy in that movie (including the new york times or the new yorker who should know better). I think only one review in the village voice and Vern, tackled this this disturbing and obvious trait, and that show you how most critics are ignorant and not very clever.
    I don’t think my view of what Star Wars is narrow. Just because you think George RR Martin should finish the saga of ice and fire, and not some other dude who doesn’t care about this shit, that doesn’t make your view “narrow”.
    Kemosahbee – I guess accepting the shit storm Disney money machine unleashed on us without any criticism or complain make you an adult. If you love Lucas work you are a baby boy and if you like the NT you are an adult. Fine logic, now I understand how we got stupid ass Trump as a president. The TLJ is just like Trump’s new tax plan, tailored for uncritical “adults” like yourself.

  124. el loco, man, it’s clear that you are blinded by your allegiance to Lucas and the PT. I don’t begrudge you your right to enjoy the PT, because I, too, enjoy some objectively bad movies. Neither do I fault you for the indelible mark that Lucas’s canon has made on you. At the same time, some of your comments are just too much.

    ROTS has some good moments, but the pervasive video gamey CGI and moments of absolutely cringeworthy dialogue and delivery at absolutely pivotal moments (typically involving Anakin and/or Padme) just sink it. Even if Kylo Ren’s characterization is that of a poor man’s Anakin (which I’m not conceding), Adam Driver’s performance has more nuance and gravitas in his left index fingernail than Christensen’s Anakin. These differences matter if the humanity and specific humans in your film are of any particular relevance to your filmgoing experience.

    I know Vern and others (including Rian Johnson, apparently) will defend George Lucas and the PT on grounds of pure auterism, innovation, and risk-taking, but the films fail in prizing cinematic technology over any kind of earthy, organic realism**, and that is not simply a minor stylistic quirk in terms of the cartoony production design, but it pervades everything else besides, from the dialogue to the performances to the plotting.

  125. el loco, a big part of the reason i was so pleasantly surprised by The Last Jedi is because i hated The Force Awakens’ blend of watered-down New Hope plot points and Abrams’ mystery-box bullshit. i hold Lucas in far less esteem than you seem to but I agree with Vern that he is an auteur who brought some highly
    personal elements to a series of globally popular movies, which is no small feat. so i was really surprised that Disney (and/or Rian Johnson) could actually make a movie that felt, to me at least, like authentic Star Wars with contemporary touches, fresh ideas, and an original way of executing them. i don’t need much more than that to like it, but i also got some awesome characters new and old, wrestling with choices and consequences that felt relatable and weighty and lived-in. and porgs, man. there were also porgs. the movie, in my opinion, rules.

    (im mostly kidding about the porgs but i’m not kidding when i say the rest.)

    but a friend of mine said something you might appreciate, when he and i were talking about what made Last Jedi so much better than Force Awakens: “Star Wars has never been about mysteries; it’s always been about relationships.” It doesn’t seem like you’re going to be convinced by anything anyone on here says in favor of TLJ, but at least The Last Jedi knew to echo the OT (and, yes, even the prequels) by emphasizing the bonds between characters,
    rather than backstory no one asked for or would have even given a shit about to begin with had Abrams not made “stay tuned for next time!” the only original thing about TFA.

  126. el loco (and everybody) – let’s try not to be personally insulting please.

    As for whether or not I am “a good movie critic” with this review, I don’t think you could possibly argue that I’ve ever followed the bandwagon on Star Wars. If you think you were the only skeptical parade-pisser while everybody else celebrated Disney buying Star Wars, you weren’t seeing what I was writing. I have stood by my admiration of the prequels since they came out and I did the series LUCAS MINUS STAR WARS, reviewing every single George Lucas production outside of Star Wars, partly to support my argument that he deserves more credit as an artist than he’s gotten since everybody turned on him for the prequels. I also did my “No Baggage” Star Wars reviews which I think are a perspective on those movies that I haven’t seen elsewhere.

    I’ve written I don’t know how many thousands of words on the series so I hope it’s pretty clear what I love about them and why THE LAST JEDI fulfills what I’m looking for in post-Lucas Star Wars. But it doesn’t seem like there’s as much of a back and forth going on here as somebody saying something they loved about the movie and then you saying that they’re wrong and stupid. I like that you keep responding to offer a different view, but I think you need to make more effort to understand other people’s points and to not, like, call us ignorant and compare us to Trump voters and stuff like that. You seem less like our friend discussing movies with us and more like a wild-eyed dude that just jumped out of the bushes with a knife in one hand and a list of grievances in the other.

  127. I actually really like the idea of collaborative or sequential authorship. I specifically plowed through the entire 14 book WHEEL OF TIME series because I knew the original author Robert Jordan died before completing it; the last three books were completed by Brandon Sanderson, a novelist whose work I’m familiar with and enjoy. I was intrigued to find out what the experience would be like.

    Sanderson, whose primary storytelling gifts lie in delivering jaw-dropping conclusions that improbably weave together numerous disparate threads, seemed like an ideal choice to pore over Jordan’s scattered notes and tie them together into something grand. From a writer’s perspective, the whole ordeal is fascinating. The new author approaches the material from a reinvigorated perspective; he has varying degrees of success “getting” the voices of the various characters and the tone of the prose itself; some fragments were written by the late original author and it’s fun to speculate about whether a given passage is one such fragment.

    I don’t see it as being fundamentally bad for authorship to change hands, although I admit a degree of chagrin in having accepted that the HBO ending of ASOIAF is the only ending we’ll ever get.

    Also, let’s keep in mind that even though the films are funded by Disney execs (who, of course, have broad decision making power over the product), they are actually created by artists.

  128. Sorry if my blithe prequel-bashing was offensive. I am speaking purely from my own lack of enjoyment of the films and why I think they ultimately don’t work, but that’s not to diminish the thoughtful analyses of such films that you’ve authored Vern. I lack the discipline to pore over and articulate my thoughts on the films as painstakingly as you, but I realize it may come off as glibly dismissive. Also, I know I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been said before about them. It’s a fairly dead horse, but I think el loco’s extreme contrarian Lucas purist perspective awakened my inner troll.

  129. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

    Regarding Snoke/Rey allegedly turning out to be a nobody / not having a backstory / etc. I really don’t get this thread of discussion at all. Snoke led the first order, caused the Starkiller Base to be built, hunted and eradicated the remnants of the rebellion, manipulated Ben Solo into becoming Kylo Ren, and lured Rey across the galaxy with his psychic gambits. Seems like a pretty formidable bad guy resume to me.

    Also, I would argue this film reveals Snoke to *not* be the main bad guy by virtue of Supreme Leader Ren’s succession. So if we want to talk about whether this trilogy has a good main villain, I think at this point you would have to frame that discussion in terms of Ben Solo.

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  130. Just got back from a second viewing, and I liked it even more this time. I was worried that its interest in undermining expectations wouldn’t work as well on subsequent go-rounds, but actually it works maybe even better once you know how these things turn out. It just has one solid scene after another.

    SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

    The one thing I’m still divided about is the Poe/Holdo subplot. On one hand, I dig even more how warm-heartedly feminist it is, and fucking treasure the final scene between Dern and Fisher. On the other hand, it’s also the most unnecessary subplot, introducing a totally new character for not much apparent narrative benefit and only mild thematic benefit (it works with the themes of the film, but at 2 hours and 30 minutes its hardly lacking in changes to drive home its themes). And there is definitely no getting around it this time — there’s absolutely no reason in the world for Holdo to be so secretive about what she’s doing. Just a little reassurance to the crew that they’re not treading water would be enough, but she doesn’t even offer that, she just demands that no one ask questions. A reasonable military request, sure, but given the situation it seems like bad leadership, which is a problem because the whole point seems to be that she was right and Poe was wrong. A few lines of dialogue would be all it took to correct this issue (“we can’t explain because the ship is bugged!” or something). But without that it’s a little hard to get over, especially since it’s so intrinsically part of the ticking-clock structure.

    But whatever, I still dug the hell out of this. It’s the movie the world needs right now, if not the one it wants.

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  131. I’ve seen the film twice now and I think it’s pretty clear that the creatures Luke milks are actually Snoke’s parents. (spoiler)

  132. Ah, so they DID slip a backstory in without us noticing. Good catch psychic_hits!

  133. The criticism about Snoke’s empty biography and character non-arc have merit, though this criticism is really a proxy for the broader gripe that this series offers no explanation for the First Order writ large. How the heck did we get from the death of the Emperor and Darth Vader to Snoke and the First Order? This isn’t the kind of exposition I want to see reconstructed in excruciating detail in a series of PT-esque films, but it’s worth a flashback or a montage at least, if not a wholly different take on how the dark side manifests itself with a new iconography. By wholesale recycling the imagery, tech, and goals of the OT Empire (all the way down to Snoke and Kylo as Palpatine and Anakin 2.0), the sequels can’t help but either diminish the significance of the events of the OT or sheepishly handwave over how the Empire reconstituted and re-asserted its dominance in a single generation. OR both. This is where I think the complaints of el loco and others have merit.

    This series gives us charming, involving new characters and some stolen moments with our beloved OT heroes, but the broader macro-dynamics of the First Order and the resistance seem like little more than a scaffolding for setting up a reset of the OT hero’s journey. It’s a deus ex machina re-setting of the chess board that allows us to replay a kind of Star Wars tropes greatest hits mixtape. It siphons its gravitas and sentiment from the OT without really adding much to that mythology or even really earning the narrative right to do that.

  134. My favorite scene is when Finn wakes up from his coma.

    Poe: You must have a million questions.
    Finn: Where’s Rey?

    Their relationship has solidified into my favorite relationship of this new trilogy.

    My other favorite scene is when she’s in line in the tunnel. She snaps her fingers it comes back around to her.
    I was like…whoa, trippy.

  135. Vern – I didn’t try to insult anyone here personally, I am sorry if I offended you or anyone else. I think there was a back and forth, my first comment created dialog. Just because I have a different opinion doesn’t mean I”m not friendly.
    However, I didn’t find the defense here for TLJ convincing. I agree with Skani that Adam Driver is a good actor. But his did better with Scorsese and the Coen Brothers, not because he is a bad actor but because the writing in this stinker is terrible: impulsive unexplained decisions replace a vision of storytelling. Also I don’t see no reason to modernize Lucas approach, like Skani suggested, because this is a space soap opera inspired by Flash Gordon serials from the 30’s, A mythical saga like those of Homer or Tolkin, not a Casavetes character study about modern contemporary people. That’s why I agree with with your defense on Lucas dialog in your first SWPM review, could care less about your complains about it in the rest of them. It is what it should be and I don’t agree that the NT cast is doing any better then the cast of the PT.
    Again, I just don’t agree with you that this is the coolest thing Luke ever did. I still don’t understand what you said. Plot wise there was no point for this act: he didn’t save or help anyone or himself, I don’t understand why you say this whole thing makes him looks cool, or how he tricked Kylo by getting himself killed by him. I just don’t get it, makes no sense. The only sense it makes is economic one: get rid of Hamill so we don’t have to pay him for more then one movie. Just like they did with Ford in the first one.
    The same goes for Snoke: not only we didn’t hear about him throughout the whole first six episodes, and then he appears out of nowhere (can you explain that,renfield?), and then getting killed in the most ridiculous way: I mean how did Kylo managed to kill so easily this omnipresent super being is far from being clear.
    As for the subplots of the NT – even the TLS fans say they are boring. I also find Lucas visual style and action choreography superior to NT. Some here admit it but say is not impotent, I disagree.
    So after saying all this and re-reading some of your old reviews and criticims about Disney and Lucas haters, and how they are calling themselves Star Wars fans and at the same time are happy that it was taken from him by the unoriginal studio-hack Abrams, I was kinda surprised by this review. Because, like Trump (no offence, I don’t think you are with him), the NT is a worst case scenario possible for any true Star Wars fan. First 6 episodes was Anakin’s story, 6 last should have been about Luke. Not some “just Ray” or a “Snoke that just was”. They should have saved “just Ray” and “Snoke just was” for the side movies, if at all, and not cause such a disappointment to the true fans of this shit by not letting Lucas finish his story, is all I’m saying.

  136. Skani, thanks for explaining some more how Snoke doesn’t make sense. I agree, I should have mentioned those facts but is so much wrong with this movie it is hard to say it all at once.

  137. el loco, I am fine with Snoke as presented for several reasons. It has always been indicated that there is a ton of shit in this galaxy that we don’t know anything about. Anakin and Obi Wan banter about all sorts of adventures they had and we aren’t told what they consisted of, what goals were achieved, what planets they visited and so on. It’s possible that Snoke is indeed this mythic figure and we simply didn’t hear about him. A good fantasy world should feel like it has a depth beyond what you are shown, in order to feel real. Fans have always strongly felt this way about Star Wars, given the rich extended universe they created.

    Or, maybe he just showed up out of nowhere, inserted himself into the New Republic in some sort of Grima Wormtongue capacity, set plots in motion, executed a coup and so forth. This is perfectly reasonable too. 500 years later they can look upon him as a legendary figure given his deeds in the First Order; it is not required for him to already have been legendary in order to function as an initial villain in this trilogy.

    SPOILERS
    As far as his demise goes, I thought it was very well executed and a cool gambit on Kylo Ren’s part. How do you trick somebody who can read your intentions? By having your intentions mirror his so closely that he can’t tell that you’re going to kill him and not Rey. It’s like the scene in Silence of the Lambs where the film tricks you with its editing into thinking the FBI is about to raid Buffalo Bill’s house, but then when the door opens it’s just Clarice there by herself. That’s essentially the same trick Ren pulls on Snoke and I thought it was brilliant. I also like the idea that it wasn’t necessarily planned on Ren’s part, but just an opportunity he saw and seized.

    I’m not trying to say this movie is without flaws, and there’s a lot in it that didn’t work for me. But to suggest it is not finishing Luke’s story seems wrong to me. I appreciate that you don’t think it’s doing a good job telling the story or even choosing the right story to tell, but according to these films, Luke’s story is that he became a jedi master and failed his students, and since his star student was also Han and Leia’s child, he failed his friends too. This film told the story of him returning one last time to instill the galaxy with a new hope. To me, this film felt reverent towards the Luke Skywalker character, and I thought Hamill delivered a fire and brimstone performance that I hope will lead to some sort of late-career live-action renaissance for him. I’m sorry it so completely didn’t work for you but perhaps those who see it differently come by their perspective honestly as well.

  138. Last sentence came out more prickly/sarcastic than is warranted. Thanks for bringing and defending a dissenting opinion, el loco; I appreciate you.

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    If we get blue astral projection Luke and Anakin side by side treating with Kylo to come back to the light, I will leave IX a happy camper regardless of any other content.

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  140. renfield – Thank you for the detailed explanations. I didn’t say you were dishonest, I’m sorry if you were offended.

    Snoke sudden appearance in this saga: I donno, man. I still find it odd that we didn’t hear about him in the six first episodes. Did Anakin and Obi ever encountered anyone as powerful and important as him? I don’t know, maybe he was on a long vacation all that time. Anyway, I still think they did a lousy job in explaining it.

    Snoke Demise: I’m still not sure I understand how this mirror thing works and how you compare a scene in a movie to a character in a movie. Even if it did make sense I still don’t understand how the powerful Snoke can’t figure this mirror thing, can’t figure Kylo true intentions. Again, I think they did a lousy job explaining it.

    Luke – Yes, I think it was the wrong story to tell, since this is, as George Lucas said long time ago, the story, the saga of the Skywalkers. I think they didn’t do their homework here, they don’t even know what Star Wars is about. As Lukas said before, this is not about spaceships, this is a story about a family, the Skywalker family. If they need tell another story, I agree with you – this universe is wide enough, do it in the anthology films.
    Luke treatment here was shameful. I understand what you are saying here but don’t see the point: It is like Odysseus getting back home at the end of the saga and instead killing Penelope’s rapists he just let them gang bang his ass in front of her. This is extremely disappointing for such a mythical figure, in my opinion. I enjoyed seeing Hamill on the big screen again, but unlike him, I felt it was all about the money, to save on him and Ford, and not because it was organic to the story.

  141. For the first movie, Lucas had people designing ships way before he had a script finished.

    I think anyone who says they know what Star Wars IS or SHOULD BE is being silly. It’s never been one defined concrete vision.

    I also get creeped out by people who use anal rape analogies.

  142. Kemosahbee – I was talking about fictional characters, I don’t endorse rape in real life in any way, shape or form.
    And there is a difference between a script and a treatment. Just because he didn’t have a script doesn’t mean he didn’t know the basic story, which is about the Skywalker family, Lucas said it and I think he is not just “anyone”.

  143. el loco – Well, we do agree on one big thing. I wish they had used Lucas’s outlines. I at least wish I could know what they were about, whether it was a First Order type situation, who the villains were, etc. And I wish I could read Arndt’s script based on it.

    But Lucas sold Star Wars and put his faith in Kathleen Kennedy, and she put her faith in Abrams, and if Abrams didn’t think he could make those ideas work I guess that’s that. And I think you and I agree that there is no one like Lucas. I prefer Johnson’s movies to Abrams in part because he’s putting his own spin on it more while Abrams is copying Lucas more. If there’s not a personal aspect to it then it’s just fucking fan fiction, what’s the point?

    About Snoke – I have always assumed that he was someone who came to power during the 35 year span between the two trilogies. Is there some reason to believe he was important before? I mean, nobody mentioned Maz Canata either.

    “I still don’t understand what you said. Plot wise there was no point for this act: he didn’t save or help anyone or himself, I don’t understand why you say this whole thing makes him looks cool, or how he tricked Kylo by getting himself killed by him. I just don’t get it, makes no sense.”

    Let me try again. There are many reasons why he did it. The two that are explicitly stated in the movie

    1) To stall the First Order army while the last survivors of the Resistance escape out the back.
    2) To inspire hope across the galaxy so the downtrodden and oppressed will help the Rebellion. This is also successful, as illustrated by the final scene of the stable boy slaves in Canto Bite telling legends about what Luke did. One of them, a Force user, looks up at the sky much like Luke in episode IV.

    In fact, when Luke first rejects Rey he asks something like “What did you think would happen, I would go out with a lazer sword and face down the whole First Order?” So when he needs to inspire the galaxy he finds a way to turn what he initially imagined was Rey’s pipe dream about his abilities into a reality.

    He also tells Leia, “I’ve come to face him, but I can’t save him.” On first viewing I took this to mean he’s there to kill him, but of course he doesn’t try to kill him. In fact he knows he will die from the act of doing this, and that it will be up to Rey to save Kylo. He could’ve flown there in his X-Wing, put up a fight and been killed, but that would’ve made it impossible for Kylo to be redeemed. Therefore, becoming one with the Force peacefully is a sacrifice he makes for his student and nephew that he feels he failed.

    But also on the surface level he got fired on by an army of AT-ATs and then stepped out of the smoke and brushed his shoulder off. He practically made them all shit themselves. Even in the Prequels, even ignoring the amazing feat of projecting himself from Ach-To, we never saw a Jedi do anything like that. And then he has a fight with Kylo that is the most legitimate old school samurai style light saber duel so far. How do you not think this is badass? I guess I’m confused about that.

  144. Right on, Vern.

    Saw this again today. The Canto Bright and Poe stuff were pointless. But it did make me appreciate Luke better. Despite being disillusioned in himself, you could totally buy Luke as a powerful Master. The guy KNOWS stuff.

    TLJ Luke is way more interesting than Expanded Universe New Jedi Order Luke (Anyone read those?).

  145. Copenhagen Interpretation

    December 27th, 2017 at 4:58 am

    How dare you?
    Are you the Vern that wrote that Seagal book? the one that made my trip to NYC in 2007 the most memorable in my life? I picked up the pony-tail in focus covered book at Madison Square Garden, back when NYC had more than two bookstores, and I spent the next 48 hours in my hotel crying – partly in joy over having a reason to avoid my gf’s shopping spree but mainly because of finally meeting a fellow human who appreciated a god damn god of an actor, auteur and fashion beacon. So it is with great dissapointment that I have to tell you this:

    Rewrite that Last Jedi review NOW!

    Sincerely your biggest, if not only, danish friend in the whole wide web sight.

    TL;DR {

    And this is not a request, it’s an order, like a First fucking order. You think we don’t got no direct flights from Copenhagen, salty old queen of the sea, to where you live? And where is that btw? San Franciso, L.A. or someother shit hole? Doesn’t really matter, I’ll find you. There are daily SAS flightses that will take me there; across the tip of Greenland and into Canadian airspace – and as I enter US airspace I will be assembling my pole vault sized light saber, and beat the living midiclorians out of your pink lego hat. But we can get around all that if you just put your derrier to the seat, and start writing like you were the last of the spartans.

    And if you are not already at it – here’s why it’s your goddamn-it-Alexis duty to do so:

    Star Wars, as you might pick up from the title, is supposed to be about war. At least 50% War and then 50% about Stars, including Luke and Han and the elongated stars when flying through hyperspace. What always worked in SW was the fact that it was believable from a certain point of view, and that point was more Sun Tzu than Obi Wan. You see the Empire was a frightening, lean mean fighting machine – not like John Candy in Stripes, but more like The Nazis, The Soviets, The Maoist and so on. You get the idea. They had the coolest uniforms and weapons and tactics. They conducted themselves professionally. Much like their earthly counterparts. They were effective at killing and ruling in no specific Order. They weren’t just your local bunch of planet idiots that somehow ended up commandig hardware worth trillions of galactic bit-credits. They acted like real Warsers. They were suspicious, like, where are you taking that freakin Wookie? Right? And when the Stars were wise cracking, the Warsers were planet cracking or calculating all known trajectories if they weren’t being reprimanded with a bit of choke.

    If we can agree that we need both Star and Wars? then how is it humanly or even porgly possible that a grown up, wanna-be-ex-con, can apprecitate anything beyond the opening scroll of The Last Jedi? It took less than 10 seconds before the Warsers were effectively removed for good by nothing less than having the fucking Jerkie Boys fly in, or dial in rather, on an X-wing. This scene alone killed it. From then on I was expecting Dark Helmet to enter the scene at any moment. Not to pick up the call, but simple to break the fourth and scream at Johnson: this wouldn’t even work in Space Balls you Disney scum.

    Because let’s be real; it is really that bad. Had it been a snap “Holding for Huxley” it might have saved the movie for 2 minutes. But no, this flying prank call on over-time now destroy all gun turrets on a Super duper Star Destroyer one by one, while the Warsers from planet retard reminesses back to the original trilogy to finally come up with the brilliant idea of releashing the Tie fighters.

    You see I could go on and on – and I will. The case is that none of it makes any sense. There is zero logic left in the First order millitary command. I don’t take offence for the killing of Snooker (Im an 8 ball guy myself you know) or the missing parents (btw was I the only one hoping that Rey was the daughter of GunRey – that trader dude from the Menace? it would have been cool had Kylo told Rey – your dad is Newt, oh and wait, you will take after him as you age) those were just dumb choices made by Rian. But I do take serious offence with the fact that you can turn all of the Warsers into very little to Marvel over. Battle scenes that would be more intelligent had they hurled space Hulk around to penetrate Star Destroyers. Because let’s be clear about one thing. You cannot fly at lightspeed through a Star Destroyer. Period. And how do I know? because of the books and the fan sites and the European Union that everybody keeps bringing up?! No, I don’t even know what the Extended SW Universe is supposed to be about. But I do know that in seven and 9/10ths of all SW movies, no one ever turned anything with a hyperdrive into a weapon of mass and energy equivelance. YOU JUST CANT DO THAT, OKAY. If it was the case, they could have taken the first Death Star out with a retrofitted podracer for jedi’s sake. And don’t ask why not, as in, ohh, it could probaly be done because magnets bla bla bla and general Thrawn and some shit. The fact is that when you completely dispense with Wars, you can make anything work by having dame Edna on stilts be the first in the galaxy to figure out something, that could have saved said galaxy over and over – talk about deos ex spaceship.

    And while we are at it. What do you need to get into a military installation or spaceship? yes, a password or a code clearance (and a cake and a stripper but ony in very ry cases) not a hacker. Contrast the moronic hacker scene in TLJ with one of the best scenes in ROJ; the fly by of shuttle Tyderium. Please, go rewatch it if you forgot it. Everything from the visuals, the music, the suspence, the humour, the dialogue on the bridge between Vader and one of the Warsers and the force moment where Luke realise how he is endangering the mission. Had Rey been onboard the ship, she would have been in full VR conference call with Kylo already.

    Having knocked my self out at least twice in the theater I admit I wasn’t following that closely at this point – but I just don’t get how FN and What’s in a name, were planning on actually landing unobserved on the Super duper Destroyer? Sure, they used a one-hand keyboard Hux-net worm to trick the particular Warser operating the skeletal-ribbon-graphics console, and allow them to fly through the shield or radar or some bs. But how do you plan to land in the bay unseen? Is the hangar just unattended parking? If I were FN I would be worried that the polished tin-trooper from GOT could be some sort of fancy dressed hangar valet. Since even FN must be wondering, what other purpose could it possible serve among its fellow Warsers? I don’t know, that’s why I ask. But I do know that moments there after, my favourite scene and character in the whole show appeared. Yes, Im talking about the black first order droid; let’s call it BD-9 for Brain Droid. The only intelligent being in the First order. Unlike the rest of the Warsers, it manages to spot the BB-octopus-ball disguised as a blindfolded garbage can in Destruction Derby mode. Now I really hope that this cool droid gets to take over the First order, or the Second order for that matter, or preferably the Last order. And you may laugh at the thought, but I think this is Johnson’s way of sayin; screw you and your saga, SW is now SjW and J isnt for Jedi – becasue we’ve had the last of those. but J is for Justice – as in fuckin Star justice Warriors, okay! And social justice for all including A.I.s so next installment will finally see a droid as the supreme leader.

    But perhaps Im getting a little carried away with Warsers of the first order. Because to be fair, the force somehow auto balances for intelligence in script writing. And as unbeliveable as it may sound, Johnson manages to make the Rebellion even dumber than the first order Warsers. The Warsers of the Resistance, and Im not sure how they went from being the Rebellion to the Restistance, perhaps they use more electronic warfare now? are by any measurement the Plancks constant of stupidity in the Johnson SW universe. Where the Warsers in the Rebellion where smart and quite a capable fighting force, the Warsers of the Resistance are more like X-Factor first week auditioneers than actual X-wing pilots. I don’t think the combined beards of Taleban, ISIS and Al Quaeda could concoct a more successful suicide mission than the ones admiral Edna and horror pilot Edgar Poe comes up with. In the original battle of Hoth, the rebels had battle maps and shields and an ion cannon and something as arcane as a plan. In the renactment version of the battle, this time on the planet Salth, the order of battle seems to be a subtle homage to Seagal script convoluting techniques. The Warsers are bringing a smaller version of the Death Star planet-incenerator, you know the weapon that can shoot across planet systems and can take out five planets in one shot. Fortunately, for the Resistance, the firing range of the drag-along Death Star is less than four double light sabers taped together. (Serves them right for buying from those rich filthy Trumper aliens on Planet Vegas – they should have listend to What’s in a name’s SjW speech, ha!).

    Since you probably, in all honesty, haven’t seen the movie yet and is just pretending, I won’t do any spoilers. But let me say this; The idea of actually having continuity in a Saga containing tre-trilogies of which this movie is the second final episode could have been a great direction. But not for Rian. Coz he’s refreshing and brave and sooo avantgarde that he boldly goes where even Star Trek hasn’t been. And to do so, he needs to take the tre-deuce to the head of the tre-trilogy and get rid of any and all continuity. Personally, I don’t think it does anything good for the story, though I see how some people would find it fearless to read through, say the Sagas of Icelanders, only to have Julius Caesar and the romans enter the pages of the last book. But that’s not you Vern, right? we enjoy seeing Seagal stay in character, because he really can, no matter what role and subject, but we really don’t want him to be Ellis. We don’t want him to kill his own perpetual saga. There’s a reason why Seagal is not in the Expandables and it’s the same reason Rian Johnson shouldn’t have brought back Yoda in the role of the Fahrenheit 451 fireman and the reason Disney and Johnson should be force-grab-forced to have a “laser sword” duel to death or at least until the Last of the Star Warses can glimmer away in the sun.

    } TL;DR stops here

    So, for the sake of mankind and the guardians of this galaxy and the galaxies far away, it is time to speak out or risk having the ghost of Niemöller replace the one of Disney in your dreams. Remember, first they came for uncle Owen, then they came for the bothans, then they came for the jedis and finally they will come for the Verns and there will be no one left to speak out for you.

    Yours sincerely

    CphInt

  146. SPOILERS IN HERE
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    The Luke stuff is completely bad-ass and poignant. I couldn’t be happier with how he is handled in his film and the dirt off the shoulder move is priceless.

    I certainly agree that it is possible to explain how Snoke came to power and how the Empire came to be the First Order and how Kylo came under the influence of Snoke–I just don’t think this series succeeds or even really attempts to do so. We’re not talking about incidental pieces of backstory color, like finding out Rocky opened a restaurant between parts 5 and 6. It amounts to a narratively unearned perfect reset of the Empire-Emperor-Vader mythos and dynamics of the original series. I am fine with minimizing this weakness and granting Lucasfilm their reset here for the sake of enjoying the really good aspects of these films, but it does seem like one of the more egregious examples of laziness and non-innovation.

    Snoke’s death was a great scene imho.

  147. Re: the origins of the First Order— because I agree, it is a weak-ass storytelling decision to be like “And then there was a new Empire, only it was called something else and the ships were bigger”—

    I’m positive that, about 2 weeks after The Force Awakens came out, i read about the original script somewhere online. and it totally killed any enjoyment of TFA i’d been able to muster, because it sounded so much more interesting and made so much more sense as a continuation of the saga than just a straight retelling of A New Hope— but,
    naturally, i have no idea where i read it and googling it is not proving helpful.

    Basically: the story was that there *wasn’t* any First Order (or Snoke) in the script they actually began shooting, just a Leia-led New Republic. In this version, Leia was still leader of the NR, and was reluctantly but determinedly going around the galaxy with the Starkiller Base, which the New Republic had built in this version, and was using it to destroy whole planets if those planets had any Empire holdouts on them. And Finn was from such a planet, but he escaped its destruction and joined with Rey and Han, and eventually they all met up with Leia, and it’s Finn who ultimately convinced Leia to stop doing what she was doing, since he was able to put a human face on the Empire for her and prove that the people still nominally with the Empire could be her potential allies. but Kylo and the Knights of Ren steal the Starkiller Base, and that’s basically where the movie ended.

    Apparently this was much too dark and also too politically ticklish for Disney, who actually intervened after like a week of shooting (during which they’d covered most of Rey’s early stuff) and got Abrams to accept a new script that was just a retread of IV.

    Again, I have no idea where I read this and typing it out now i admit it reads as a little half baked, but I still feel like it explains why a lot of the stuff in TFA feels a little off or hollow or rushed or just generally lukewarm. Particularly the disconnect between the focused visual storytelling of the scenes with Rey on Jakku and, well, the rest of the movie.

    Does anyone else recall ever having heard something similar, back when TFA came out?

  148. Grimgrinningchris

    December 27th, 2017 at 8:50 am

    The two most mind boggling opinions in this thread…

    That Kylo Ren is a poor man’s Anakin.

    That TLJ half assedky checks off expectation boxes.

    I really just can’t even comprehend either of these things.

    When, ALL other opinions aside- I don’t think there is any question that TNT is far far stronger on characterization and dialogue than the PT. I’ll totally listen to arguments that the PT is structured better and stronger on plot and story.
    But when we’re strictly talking about characters, acting, dialogue? No fucking way.

    And isn’t the huge thing with this movie that it shirks expectations. That it does so much unexpected shit, that it has so many elements that seperate it from ALL the other movies?
    Isn’t that the OPPOSITE of checking off a bunch of boxes with lazy fan service?

  149. I agree, Chris. I think what this comes down to is a degree of warmth and humanity at the heart of STAR WARS vs. a sterile, technical exercise. I need a film to engender real emotional investment in the characters, which requires a degree of depth. The Lucas sequels miss the human element, and that comes through in the tin ear for dialogue, the resultingly stilted and perfunctory interactions and character beats, the overly clean and slick milieus (save for the desert scenes), and the Roger Rabbit-grade CGI characters who never make it out of the uncanny valley, not simply because of the limits of CGI c. 1999 but because they are conceived and realized from soup to nuts in the most caricatured fashion possible, from the physical features to the voice acting. This is my thesis: that these various and sundry complaints against the PT are not just a pile of cumulative nitpicks but a set of symptoms that stem from a unified underlying pathology: the lack of interest in developing characters, relationships, and stakes that have flesh, blood, heart, soul, intimacy, and real felt stakes.

    The new/sequel trilogy (are we calling this TNT? works for me) fails in giving us a deep, carefully constructed, and compelling overall narrative arc and mythology and feels more like it’s just riffing and coasting on the fumes of OT mythology. But it nails the beating heart emotional stakes and poignancy piece, arguably exceeding the OT in that regard. I think it gets the most important things right, even if its mythology and narrative shortcomings are non-trivial.

  150. Grimgrinningchris

    December 27th, 2017 at 9:41 am

    I’m sticking with “TNT”. Yup.

  151. I’m here for the first time so forgive me if I break some kind of local netiquette.

    I read all the interesting discussion, but I still don’t understand three things not really mentioned by anyone who likes this movie.

    First: it is really a bad movie. Not “bad to watch” but simply “bad craft”: with plot holes, plot devices, cartoon characters, deus ex machina, broken timing, bad acting. I can imagine pro reviewer would not understand SW universe, but they should at least know that.

    Second: it is really bad continuation. Mind it: it is “EPISODE VIII”, second PART of third trilogy. And somehow it fails miserably in both.
    It (with TFA) makes all the heroes of the first 6 episodes fail miserably with whole lives literally wasted:
    a) Han is still running from his debt – it could be charming when he was in his 20s and lone, it really feels pitiful when he is old and supposed to take care for his family and politics,
    b) Leia achieved nothing except her “resistance” is now much smaller, she is no more a princess and her only son turned evil,
    c) Don’t even start about Luke…

    At the same time it discontinued or discarded all the plots from the episode VII: Snoke, Ray, Poe, even Finn – it is all new and rebooted. Some say it is good – but then it should not be called “episode VIII”, should it?

    THIRD: it is not a real story.
    I understand it is all about failure, but stories are about HEROES and there is not many of them in this installment. Heroes are the lucky ones. The ones that shine and win against all odds. That’s what make the stories worth telling. Is there really anything worth telling in this movie? Except for comic relief?
    episode 1: anakin wins podracing, obi kills the sith, amidala wins the war.
    episode 2: anakin wins padme, obi uncovers the plot, yoda wins with doku.
    episode 3: obi kills anakin, yoda saves padme kids and set hope for the future.
    episode 4: obi saves luke, leia saves han, han saves luke, luke destroys DS1.
    episode 5: han saves luke, yoda trains luke, luke survives first confrontation with Vader and saves leia, leia and lando saves luke. Some great and memorable bad guys.
    episode 6: leia and han saves the fleet, luke saves vader, vader saves everyone.
    episode 7: ray wins with Ren, finn, poe destroyed DS3.

    now episode*8:

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    Ray failed to make luke teach her, failed to make Ren join her.
    Poe and Holdo destroyed resistance (with some help of Finn and Rose).
    Luke made great showdown but of no real importance and died.
    Leia literally lost all of her military but is still happy with Poe and Holdo who destroyed it – I wonder why she was so angry about lost bombers if they were of no real importance?
    Even Ackbar died off-screen, with no real importance. Loser.

    Director made some cheap trills like the one with killing Snoke – it may be all right in GoT TV series but it has no place in the movie like this. It all clearly works somewhat on the emotional level – but has no real meaning or logic behind it.

    Speaking of logic – how is the chase possible in SW universe? Anyone remember Tantive IV captured? What happend to the tractor beam technology?
    Even if we take what happened as what was possible – if Finn and Rose could just fly away from the convoy, why Holdo didn’t just sent all the people that way? During the chase she could easily move few hundreds to Canto or rebel base. And if she was just dumb and do not thought about it – why First Order didn’t either? Why they didn’t surrounded rebel ships with swarm of tie-fighters, just to be sure Leia is still there when ships are destroyed?

    Even worse with the suicide charge. Why they didn’t do this with those two ships they lost earlier? Holdo KNEW where they were going so she knew they wouldn’t make it – why she didn’t ram the ship earlier? It do not make any sense. If this kind of ramming was possible – there would be no capital ships in this universe at all, because there would be no sense of building them. But first episodes make it clear IT IS NOT POSSIBLE. It is classic deus ex machina here, cheap plot device like Snoke or map from TFA. I’m really sorry for people trying to make any sense of this for classic RPG or new EU…

    I’m Kurosawa fan like anyone else, but this is nothing like Sanjuro or Throne in blood, rather kind of glossy reflection in mud paddle.

    Sorry if my rumblings are hard to understand, english is not my first language. Good night and good luck.

  152. Skani, You gotta understand the history of this, man. Because your opinions here are nothing new or fresh. back in the time, around 1977, when the first one came out, many people expressed the same feelings you have toward the PT when thy saw the first Star Wars. The most important critic of that time, and probably of all times, Pauline Kael, said this:

    ““Star Wars” is like getting a box of Cracker Jack which is all prizes. This is the writer-director George Lucas’s own film, subject to no business interference, yet it’s a film that’s totally uninterested in anything that doesn’t connect with the mass audience. There’s no breather in the picture, no lyricism; the only attempt at beauty is in the double sunset. It’s enjoyable on its own terms, but it’s exhausting, too: like taking a pack of kids to the circus. An hour into it, children say that they’re ready to see it again; that’s because it’s an assemblage of spare parts—it has no emotional grip. “Star Wars” may be the only movie in which the first time around the surprises are reassuring…. It’s an epic without a dream. But it’s probably the absence of wonder that accounts for the film’s special, huge success. The excitement of those who call it the film of the year goes way past nostalgia to the feeling that now is the time to return to childhood.”

    The real deeper problem here, I suspect that like Keal, you don’t really like Lucas work and the universe he created. Just like Abrams or Jonson, and unlike Kael, you think you have a better formula for Star Wars, and you try to force your concepts of “emotional investment in the characters” which are completely irrelevant to the universe Lucas created and to the Star Wars formula.
    Now, during the 80’s, many Hollywood movies and foreign movies assumed they know how Lucas formula works and try to do space operas. Most of them failed miserably (although I like Fukasaku take on the genre).
    My big surprise here that Kennedy, such an accomplished producer, didn’t study this history or forget all about it, repeating the same done so many times before. I mean, what is your problem, Kathleen? You produced all those Lucas and Spielberg movies. Now, I know that last two Indian Jones movies sucked, those to fucked up on this one. But still, you should have known better then anyone else here that no one has the formula but Lucas. You probably know the Lucas thinks Spielberg is the best director in the world and that at one time Spielbeg said he wanted to direct episode 7. It was much more a better and fair bet for you to bring this two together for the last time, with the best screenwriters that Spielberg and you worked with before, like Kushner, or Stoppard or Tarantino, working with Lucas outlines and giving the true fans of this shit the best ever Star Wars movies. How did you lose the faith in yourself and your two golden boys, Kathleen? You could still have made tones of money with other stories from anthology movies and toys and such, fucking progs. You can still do that shit, Kathleen. Scrap the JJ Jonson trash and let us see the real thing, please: George Lucas’s episode 7.
    I mean, one of the main reasons that Peter Jackson did so good with LOR is that he wasn’t trying to modernize Tolkien. He was smart enough to know that no true fan wants to see “Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings”, they all want to see “Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings”.

  153. Grimgrinningchris

    December 27th, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    *sigh*

    I’m really REALLY trying to not be a dick.

    But come on. Bad acting in TNT but still lauding the PT (As an overall fan of the PT, despite its myriad flaws- there is no Galaxy, here or far far away- where the acting in the PT could ever be held in a more favorable light than that of TNT. The PT is pretty much ground zero for pointing out flat, lifeless performances of flatter and more lifeless dialogue by traditionally solid to stellar actors) ?

    Seriously questioning SW space-physics?

    Emotional investment in characters is irrelevant in the SW universe (?!?!?!?!)

    My mind is completely mush trying to make heads or tails of these nonsensical criticisms.

  154. el loco, now I think you’re just trolling us. All of Peter Jackson’s LOTR movies feature major (and minor) alterations to the story of the books, and every single one of those alterations was in the name of modernizing Tolkien’s original content so present-day audiences would be able to get into it. What’s more, they’re absolutely drenched in Jackson’s previously-established directorial style. To call them “Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings” is not only not accurate, but the opposite of the truth: it is a lie, sir. Those movies are “Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings” through and through, up and down, from the first minute to the last, every which way but loose, etc.

    On a semi-related note: awhile back Vern made a Pauline Kael t-shirt for fans of hers to buy. The link is on the right-hand side of the page and right now they’re 15% off!

  155. el loco, neither of our opinions is anything new. Also, I mentioned several clicks up that my opinions are nothing new, which means that your mentioning that my opinions are nothing new is nothing new.

    George Lucas’s great gift of the OT and the SW mythology does not entitle him to the unconditional fealty that is characteristic of a personality cult. Although both the PT and TNT inevitably are interpreted and evaluated in the context of the SW films that preceded them, the films must also carry their own cinematic weight. Appeals to Lucasian orthodoxy and exegesis of the associated sacred texts will not do.

  156. psychic_hits – Hey, I’m not trolling anyone here. Maybe Kathleen, Jonson and JJ, but they are not real people, they are sith lords and clones.
    Those alternations were minor, and I think you know it, sir. Jackson respected the source material. He didn’t remove Buggins from the plot or anything radical like that. Almost the same goes for the GOT guys from HBO. They respect Martin’s vision. Even though I think it was a mistake to keep on going without TWOW completed, at least they didn’t just wipe their assess with Martin’s notes and plot point suggestions to the next episodes, after the books were over.

  157. Skani- You missed the whole point. I’m a classicist when it comes to this Star Wars shit. I was not saying my views are newer then yours. I’m saying I like Lucas work more then you, and that this is the essence of Star Wars and t since SW started it was always been like that. Two sides: The Lucas haters and the true fans. Don’t you see that your discontent with Lucas work in PT has been argued before by Kael before regarding OT? At least she was willing to recognize that “[T]his is the writer-director George Lucas’s own film, subject to no business interference…”

  158. If I’d known it, el loco, I wouldn’t have said otherwise.

  159. El loco reminds me of asimovlives. (it’s a compliment)

  160. Keep fighting that good fight for the true fans, loco.

  161. el loco-
    Look, I understand the impulse to completely reject Disney Star Wars. The whole thing is like something out of Black Mirrors or Don Hertzfeldt: this giant monolithic corporation pushes a button and causes infinite Star Wars forever. And though Vern correctly points out that it was Lucas’s choice to sell his work, it’s hard to blame the man for his embitterment. The toxic nerd rage of the internet as we know it pretty much first reared its head in response to those prequels. I don’t think there was any cultural precedent for what Lucas experienced. Crazy stuff.

    All that said, if your position is one of fundamental rejection based on the absence of Lucas, doesn’t it become pointless to debate the films at all? If you’re seriously insisting that you are giving these movies a fair shake, I think the discussion would be more interesting if we kept it centered on the actual content of the movies and not on the idea that their very existence is an abomination.

    Also, sorry I didn’t explain my view on the Kylo Ren / Snoke trick better, for some reason I find it hard to articulate but maybe somebody else can jump in.

    —-

    That said I hope the film’s more extreme detractors can shed light on a few points that I don’t understand. I am paraphrasing opinions bandied about here and elsewhere:

    “The fact that Luke, Leia, and Han went on to have more adventures, featuring conflict, means that the accomplishments they made in the original trilogy are now null and void.”

    The idea that Luke became a Jedi master just to watch his father die and then live a boring life ever after is so fucking depressing, I don’t think any “true Star Wars” fan would really cosign it. As evidence, I would point to the myriad of Star Wars novels and other extended universe fiction in which fans delightedly pitched these beloved heroes against a myriad of dire foes. Through these adventures, our heroes experienced doubt, grief, trials and tribulations. These are the elements that makes stories worth telling.

    I don’t get the impulse for this Harry Potter bullshit. I have a lot of problems with the HP saga but one of the most egregious was that terrible epilogue, where everybody gets married and lives happily ever after. They went through all that strife and Harry didn’t even get to go on awesome adventures as an auror, and Hermione (the most talented witch of her generation) is dismissed into domesticity with Ron. Surely that’s not what you wanted for Luke, Leia and Han?

    “The only characters that these movies should focus on are ones that are already important in the Star Wars mythology. The only things that are allowed to happen are things that have already happened.”

    I can’t even believe this needs to be rebutted. If you apply this methodology to Star Wars as a whole, you have to apply the same objection to Lando, Padme, Dooku, Ackbar, Grievous, Maul, Fett and so on. Binks, Wicket. YODA. Blue force ghosts, Sidious lightning attack, AT-ATs, tauntauns, ion cannons… And I mean, I feel like I must be misinterpreting y’all because this is clearly not a viable strategy for telling a story let alone a series of them. Of course the further adventures of Skywalker and company involved other people, creatures, and so on! Of course there is more to this galaxy than we have already seen!

  162. SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER * * * I’ll take a shot at explaining how Kylo defeated Snoke. It’s set up in Rey’s discussion with Kylo beforehand. She tells him that she knows he can be redeemed because she sees his future, not his exact future, but “the shape of it.” Everything she describes turns out to be true, but not exactly how she interpreted it, for example he does change, but not by coming to the light side. So when Snoke boasts that he can see Kylo’s every intention, we can assume that it works the same way. He sees “the shape of it” (that Kylo is about to use a lightsaber to kill his greatest enemy) but not the specifics (that SNOKE is that enemy, not Rey).

  163. Renfield- I already explained why I don’t like the content of this movie and so are others here like Ben, Robert, Majestyk. They all explained in detail why the content of this movie is nonsense in all aspects of it, complete load of shit. Also I find it silly to ignore Lucas Work when discussing the TLJ since the pretense here was to continue Lucas story. I mean if there is a sequel to Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter written by someone else, wouldn’t it be pointless to talk about it without mentioning Tolkien or Rowling?

  164. Vern – I don’t see the point here to try to defend and excuse those unexplained, half baked decisions by a cold and heartless corporation trying too sell merchandise and not to tell a story. As Robert said, those are chip thrills, not story-telling. You know damn well that if they wanted to tell the story here, and not sell progs, they wouldn’t wipe their assess with Lucas treatments.

  165. When the Dust settles and the hype is gone this won’t be part of the Star Wars canon. You can’t seriously take it that way. Hopefully, some people in Disney will go through a redemption process and let us see sometime the future the real story completed.

  166. Haven’t seen THE LAST OF THE JEDI just yet but I feel I should tell el loco to not watch episode 1 of Netflix’s THE TOYS THAT MADE US that treats Lucas as a mean greedy man who is never satisfied, takes a 2-5 minute detour to bitch about the prequels (a very overlooked complaint I think we can all agree on)*, and then treats Disney buying STAR WARS as the best thing to ever happen to STAR WARS (the thing villifies Lucas for stopping the series and then villifies him for making the prequels). It funnily supports Vern’s concern with these legacy series that all the ‘fans’ really care about is the merchandise.

    *This part is rich, not only is it the same complaints we’ve heard every day since 1999, they then try to say that Lucas screwed them by the movies the way he did and toy sales suffered, then they admit they over-produced, then they admit they made billions off the prequels.

  167. “The fact that Luke, Leia, and Han went on to have more adventures, featuring conflict, means that the accomplishments they made in the original trilogy are now null and void.”

    Except they didn’t. That’s the problem: we never seen them on “new adventures”. We just see the accomplishments they made in the original trilogy are now null and void. They fought for their whole lives and got a complete failure. Look at Han: no money, no ship, no family, no title, no home – and killed by his own son. Is it a life You would wish for yourself? Or your beloved hero? Or even for an enemy?

  168. I have to believe that the many adventures and people that Han helped over the years mean something. Rey and Finn are practically awed when they realize who he is in Force Awakens.

  169. I think there is some nuance that has to be navigated here. The meaning and quality of one’s life doe not hinge on getting a happy or socially glorious ending. It comes from the integrity, constructiveness, and heroism of one’s choices, playing the cards one is dealt in a shrewd and honorable fashion. Yoda and Obi-wan both died as marginal, obscure figures, initially remembered as failures if they were remembered at all. Anakin died a war criminal and tyrant in the eyes of most. The idea that they have to die at a ripe old age or die “happy” in the conventional, superficial hedonic sense is total poppycock. Han dying in a tender moment of vulnerability trying to turn his son back to the light is the definition of heroism, even if it does not match your Mountain Dew fistbump bro-awesome definition of life having purpose or a fitting end.

  170. The other side of the nuance, where Robert and el loco have a legit gripe, is that the OT and ROTJ in particular left us with the feeling that the Empire had been dealt a death blow. TFA can only lead to the inference that the ROTJ ending was at most nothing more than a very temporary setback that had no lasting impact on the quest for liberation from the empire. TFA’s need to have everyone in basically the same place they left off or worse greatly diminishes the significance of what the Skywalkers et al. accomplished in the OT. What’s worse, it undercuts the stakes or significance of any subsequent uber-narrative, since we now have the precedent that whatever momentary victory may be achieved at the end of part IX can be retroactively marginalized or subverted via elliptical (read lazy) interstitial handwavery.

    Does this mean that any post-OT sequels are verboten in principle or, equivalently, that ROTJ had to bring about an eternal galactic peace? Not at all. But give us a narrative that honors the closure to the Empire (its tech, its iconography, its tropes) and the victory of the rebellion and that confronts Luke, Leia, Han, and the next generation with a new type of conflict and a new type of villain or at least the dark side in a more distinctive guise. Don’t just do a lazy off-screen reset of the chess board as if the Empire never skipped a beat, and don’t lazily insert a facsimile of the Palpatine-Anakin dynamic, complete with Darth Vader’s grandson in the Anakin role.

    Again, I regard both TFA and TLJ as net successes. They look and feel like STAR WARS with 35+ years of special effects innovation, there are some compelling new characters, conflicts, and ideas, and they give us some great moments and beats with our heroes of yore. They are good popcorn entertainment with real heart. But I do fault them for undercutting the OT and squandering an opportunity to do something really interesting in how they approached a resurgent or reconstituted dark side. Instead, we got the same old Empire with a name change.

  171. I totally agree with that particular gripe (that the First Order is just the Empire again, and how that undercuts the ending of ROTJ) but I hold it against TFA and JJ Abrams, and not so much Rian Johnson. Johnson had to pick up the story where TFA left it, he had no choice. He threw out what he could, worked with what he couldn’t, and within the parameters he had I think he did something new, bold and interesting. That’s why I really like this one, but didn’t like TFA, and have no faith that IX will be any good either. Based on his track record, I am hopeful Johnson’s new trilogy (if it still happens) will be better start-to-finish.

  172. After reading all these comments, it makes me like TLJ a little bit more since its divisiveness undoubtedly brings about some great thought-provoking conversation. Even though I wish it was MORE different and game-changing, we can all agree if it was yet another New Hope rehash (which I half-expected from Disney), the comments would basically just be split between “I’m done with this series” and “Whaddya expect, stick with what works”.

    Re: Luke’s final act, as I’ve stewed on it, I definitely like it a bit more since as Vern mentioned, it does serve multiple plot functions and upends expectations, but we should also note it’s surprisingly true to character – Luke doesn’t win in ROTJ through brute force by cutting off Vader’s hand. He wins by showing mercy and an act of peace, not an act of violence, and as much as I would have liked to see him take on the entire fleet by himself with some extended-universe style Jedi Powers (which I half expected to happen), the way the scene plays out is a nice mirror/callback to his biggest victory. I still think he shouldn’t have died right there though – it’s just strange to show a Force power we’ve never heard of have a consequence we’ve never been aware of, and it’s kind of a groaner that we have to pick off another OT character for the second movie in a row. Plus I’m pretty sure Kylo Ren knows Luke died at the end since everyone else with the Force could feel it – as nice as it would be to think that Luke’s act will change hearts and minds, I’m guessing the first thing that happened is Ren told Hux and the other Empire guys “well I basically killed him anyway” and he’d be kinda right.

  173. I agree that Johnson played his hand very well. All the same, I think I enjoyed TLJ about as much as TFA. Maybe a little more, but not dramatically. Regardless of who’s to blame per se for the meta-narrative shortcomings of TNT, those elements are as baked in to TLJ as they are to TFA: there’s obviously a very strong continuity and overlap across the two films, with TLJ building on the themes, conflicts, mini-arcs, and plot points of TFA even as it relegates certain TFA teases to red herring status. I don’t see how one can love this one without having at least some esteem for TFA, since Luke and Leia are only part of the action here.

  174. The casting of TFA was great. The new characters are all charmingly acted, even if some or all of them were poorly conceived. Maybe that counts as “at least some esteem” in your book. The things I liked most about this one were were things JJ Abrams would most likely not have done (to put it generously), or were even direct repudiations of JJ Abrams’ bullshit and hackery (to put it less generously).

  175. Yes, I think that counts as some esteem. Well-written, well-acted characters are a usually necessary and sometimes sufficient condition of a movie succeeding in my experience. Agreed that TFA didn’t have much to offer beyond that, a big budget, and a lot of nostalgia, but that was enough to put it in the win column for me.

  176. I don’t understand all the hate for Abrams. I think he is competent if unremarkable. I know he has his idiosyncrasies and pet gimmicks (lens flares and “mystery boxes”), but I think those things tend to get amplified and exaggerated by people who have animus toward him.

    I get that TLJ pulls the rug out from under us vis a vis Snoke and Rey’s heritage, but I don’t see how that amounts to repudiating anything Abrams does, so much as it subverts the expectations that TFA set up and exposes those threads as pieces of misdirection. For obvious reasons, TFA and TLJ have a lot in common, and there aren’t a lot of things that I see TLJ doing better than the TFA did, other than making sure not to give us another Death Star. I think a lot of the differences can be chalked up to TFA focusing on Han and TLJ focusing on Luke as the primary OT character arc. Between this being the “dark” second act and Luke having more potential as a character (vs. Han being the superficially charming, skeptical ne’er do-well), I’m not sure how much of what works in this film uniquely boils down to Johnson’s superior vision or filmatism.

  177. Re:

    “First: it is really a bad movie. Not “bad to watch” but simply “bad craft”: with plot holes, plot devices, cartoon characters, deus ex machina, broken timing, bad acting. I can imagine pro reviewer would not understand SW universe, but they should at least know that.”

    Is this your first Star Wars movie? LOL

  178. I so vehemently disagree with everything you wrote there Skani, I don’t even think I can cogently reply without coming across like an el loco-type. Suffice it to say, I think “other than making sure not to give us another Death Star” is massively underselling how shameless, pandering, and cynical TFA was, and TLJ wasn’t.

  179. Okay, well, that leaves us with nowhere to go dialogically, but your vehement disagreement is registered. For whatever reason, the contrasts or discontinuities between the two films are much more salient to you than the similarities and continuities, whereas I the similiarities and continuity are substantial. The two films work together, the second builds on the first and can’t make much of any sense without the setup of the first, and I think TFA handled Han as effectively as TLJ handled Luke. The main thing this film introduces is some new Force-craft. I guess it is fair to say that Abrams had more of a clean slate to work with, while Johnson had to work within the pieces Abrams setup (although Abrams wasn’t the sole writer or independent vision behind TFA), but I don’t find it particularly helpful to evaluate TLJ in terms of hypotheticals about what it might have been if TFA had been different.

    I also don’t see how TLJ really adds that much more in terms of the Force mythology and philosophy. I like the scenes on the island and the way the film handles the character development for both Rey and Luke (and Kylo), and I like the way the film treats the force. But I don’t see much that is radically new or earth-shattering as far as upending or re-configuring our understanding of how it all works. And the risks or new directions it takes are all outgrowths of the characters that were established in TFA, which was a palette-cleansing reset to the tone and feel of the OT.

  180. I get that’s what you feel, and I feel like you are very, very wrong. Again, I probably feel strongly enough that I could stridently respond to every sentence a la el loco, but where does that get anybody? It’s okay that we have nowhere to go dialogically, because the dialogue would just be an extended argument.

  181. It is interesting that NT’s plots and the production surrounding them, are obsessed and tainted with the theme of treachery, just like the political discourse surrounding Trump: The main character, Kylo, betray his all family, and then his master Snoke, and also, on the way, his girlfriend, Rey. Same theme echos through Finn sub plot in the first one or Poe’s in the second.
    But I don’t think this thing is as sophisticated political allegory as the PT. Vern covered in detail in his reviews for PQ how well this aspect is executed there. The same cannot be said on the NT. They decided the whole political drama is just box office poison, and so are Luke and Han, because their ass too old and they cost too much.
    On the plot level, they are just repeating in a very incompetent way what Lucas has done with Anakin’s story of betrayal in the first six episodes and this theme’s echos in Han’s and Lando’s subplots in OT. So what we got now in the NT is a poor man’s Han and a poor man’s Lando, in addition to the poor man’s Anakin. Those fuckers didn’t even think of bringing real Lando back. They didn’t even bother to kill him in an uncool way. Sorry, we had to fuck Billy D because we are already paying for Boyaga and he is much younger, right? we don’t really need the real thing in this, we just got rid of the other two nagging old fucks, thanks dear lord satan.
    What I’m trying to say here is that those fuckers responsible to the soul-less toy selling machine called NT don’t care about Trump or politics, the world around them, Jedi philosophy or any philosophy. They are telling their own story here of moving to the dark side.
    While Lucas’s alter-ego in the first six episodes was Luke, and reflected his life, his personal straggle with his father, in the NT the alter-ego of the so called filmmakers (more like toy merchants) is Kylo, which tells their own personal story of being fake and unworthy version of someone original and of moving to dark side.

  182. Crushinator Jones — SPOILER SPOILER SPOILERSPOILER SPOILER SPOILER * * *

    >” it’s just strange to show a Force power we’ve never heard of have a consequence we’ve never been aware of”

    actually there’s a subtle line early on which both tells us about this power and explains the consequences. When Ren first sees Rey appearing in front of him, he says something like ‘You can’t do that. the strain would kill you.’ His first assumption is that Rey must be astral-projecting herself like Luke does at the end, and he explains that the strain would be fatal. I didn’t notice the significance of the line until the second viewing.

  183. If we’re comparing Lando and Finn simply because they’re both black, I think I’m done with this discussion!

  184. Yeah, what Renfield said. i’m done trying to ice skate uphill here. See you when episode 9 comes out, el loco.

  185. My argument was about the theme of treachery, and how it highlights Lando’s subplot and the repetition of it in Finn’s. Not the color of their skins. If you can’t follow the argument don’t just troll.
    And, yes, there is a racial problem here that you two are too insensitive to see. The exclusion of Lando, such an iconic and important and iconic figure for black Americans viewers by the white so called filmmakers from NT is shameful.

  186. It follows Disney’s proven racism through the decades. Also it was one of the main character in the OT, why remove only him from SW universe?

  187. Grimgrinningchris

    December 28th, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    Okay. Confirmed trolling now.

    You’ve gone too far el loco. You’ve tipped your hand.

    Do you know Demon Dave?

  188. Or maybe they plan to bring back Lando in episode 9, out of nowhere, we are used to that in the NW, to avenge his body Han and clean the mess Kylo made, kinda like Wahlberg at the end of The Departed.

  189. Confirmed trolling based on what? on having different opinion then you? For not believing the hype? is there something you want to say about what I said or you just gonna bark “troll” like a rabid dog because someone have a different opinion then you? Don’t know about Damon but you remind me Fuller’s White Dog.

  190. They paid Ford 20 mil, Hamill 10 mill. Dee Williams 0 dollar.
    The rest of the cast gets between 3 and 5 mill, unless you Asian then you get only 2.
    Sounds like Trump tax plan, not like a fun movie.

  191. I had to, majestic. Don’t judge me, you know the NT sucks so many balls. Got it out of my chest now.

  192. I thought Luke’s death was thrilling, thematically resonant, and memorable. When Luke literally brushed off that absurd laser pummeling I rolled my eyes and buckled in for another weightless, Marvel-style, light show fight. To me it was pretty awesome when the movie showed what Luke was really up to, and that the old master didn’t so much die as dissolve into the Force.

    I think this one is the true heir to the prequels. Those movies definitely were not old time swashbuckling films, nor were they sci-fi translations of heroic epic narrative structure and characterization. For example, they constantly blurred the lines between good and evil, played fast and loose with who the real protagonist even was, and spent an inordinate amount of screen time having characters talk about bureaucratic minutiae, trade deals, shifting political alliances, and what have you. That’s not the stuff of the Iliad or Gilgamesh. Hell, that’s not even the Bhagavad Gita.

    Someone above said something about Lucas’ plan for these movies being all about the Skywalker family. If that was the case then the prequels were an extremely artless setup. The scope of the prequels is just so much larger than that, which is another reason why I think this movie is their true heir. And even if the prequels didn’t exist, I don’t think a movie about some dynastic family of superheroes would be very interesting or even enjoyable. I much prefer the approach of this film, which reminds me of the originals, in that it’s about a bunch of screw ups and misfits who win the game by always fighting for each other.

  193. Grimgrinningchris

    December 29th, 2017 at 4:00 am

    You can’t POSSIBLY really believe that a lack of Lando is proof of racism from the makers of TNT. You just can’t.

    Nor can you think that an actor in the series’ pay has more to do with their race than it has to do with their bankability. Of COURSE Ford is going to get paid more than anyone else. It’s because he’s Harrison FUCKING Ford. Not because he’s white. And of course the newest lead is going to get paid the least. It’s because she’s virtually unknown and had never starred in a major studio movie. Not because she’s Asian.
    Really, you’re just making shit up now.

  194. Phillip – SW saga is the Skywlaker saga just like the Odyssey is about Odysseus. If you think Lucas work is “artless” and you don’t appreciate his style and vision then you are not a Star Wars fan, you are a Marvell fan, and that’s okay. But I don’t like to see Marverll movies rules applied to the SW universe. If Disney hacks wanted to do another Marvell movie, do it, but why ruing the Star Wars universe with rules that don’t apply to it? Also, the Iliad is full of political intrigue and I don’t understand why Disney would make a Star Wars movie for people who are not fans, who disrespect the vision of this whole thing.
    Also, it is funny how TLJ apologists trying to make sense of Luke ridiculous and immensely disappointing demise, as if there is something deep behind it, and not an economic and artistically so artless and so stupid and senseless decision by a toy selling machine.

  195. Grimgrinningchris – Yes, I said it and meant it. All the white boys gets invited to the reunion, even CP30 and R2D2, everyone getting millions, and only the black dude is not invited and gets nothing? That’s not fair, in my opinion.

  196. Couple of thoughts:

    1)

  197. Couple of thoughts:

    1) Do we realty need to put SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER in these comments? The whole review is spoiler filled. Are folks actually reading just the comments that don’t say Spoiler prior to seeing this movie?

    2) I don’t understand people (including Mark Hamill) having a problem with Luke ending up an angry, jaded hermit. Yoda had this miserable, catastrophic failure and allowed Sidious to basically destroy the Republic under his nose. His response: become a hermit. Obi Wan fails miserably, allowing his apprentice to fall to the dark side under his nose. His response: become a hermit. Sure, a hermit with a purpose, but a hermit nonetheless. Luke fails horribly, allowing his nephew to fall to the dark side under his nose and slaughter all his Jedi students. His response: become a hermit. Where did people expect Luke to end up?

    3) I think, other than not including Snoke and Luke (and Leia for reasons outside of his control), JJ can largely ignore TLJ and do whatever he wants in Episode IX if that is his desire. I assume it will be necessary to set IX a good bit after XIII, otherwise the Resistance will only be about 15 people strong. If, for sake of discussion, they pick up 5 years after TLJ, how exactly will JJ be constrained by what happened in The Last Jedi? It is still Rey vs. Kylo with supporting characters who will be given something CGI and pointless to do. Hell, he can even give Rey parents if he want and say it was all a lie. He can give us the back story of Snoke if he wants. He can give us Ghost Luke if he wants. Honestly, other than picking off Luke and Snoke, cant Abrams just make a sequel to the Force Awakens if he wants? I’m not saying this is a good thing, but for all these folks petitioning to make TLJ non-canon, JJ really can almost do that on his own.

  198. The SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER stuff is for the ‘Recent commentary’ sidebar on the front page (which isn’t working at the moment).

  199. JeffG —

    1: the reason we use the spoilers tag is that usually (though not right now, due to unexplained technical problems) the first sentence or two of all new comments show up in the “recent comments” sidebar on the right side of the review, and it’s easy to just glance over there and have something ruined if you don’t make the first few words “SPOILER”

    2: I get the feeling that Hamill feels very protective of the iconic character he’s forever tied to, and genuinely thinks of him as a hero, someone to look up to. Even though his hermitage is very similar to Yoda and Obi-Wan, it definitely does seem particularly selfish of him when everyone, including his sister is desperately suffering and holding out hope that he can give them some help. It seems like Yoda and Obi didn’t have much hope when they escaped into obscurity, but it sure seems like Luke could have done more to prevent the rise of the “First Order,” like his sister was doing (kind of hard to know, since exactly how this transpired is frustratingly obscure, a simple bit of factual information which should not have been left a mystery this long). And even I have a little bit of a problem with the idea that the character as I understand him would have seriously considered hacking his nephew to death in his sleep, because he was having bad thoughts. I like the Luke storyline enough to let it slide, but you can definitely imagine how Hamill, reading that on the page, would think it was a bridge too far for this earnest hero who thought there was still good even in the galaxy’s most legendary villain.

    3: Yes, JJ can do what he wants, although if he retcons any of this, the few remaining STAR WARS fans who are not currently frothing at the mouth will probably begin to do so. It’s a no-win game, especially since Abrams is such a hack I can only imagine the “advice” he’s soaking up from the internet right now. But whatever happens, I’ll always have those perfect final moments of TLJ, and I’ll be fine writing off part IX if need be and still thinking the NT was a net win.

  200. JeffG – I don’t think Abrams has any artistic desires, it is all about the Benjamins, baby. He shitted on everything Lucas done before him, and then came Jonson, who shitted on everything else, including the stupid-ass things that Abrams did. That’s not how you tell a story, in my opinion, that’s how you sell progs.
    Imagination, Imagination, imagination. Never mind that Obi never was an isolated hermit, never mind that Yoda is not the hero of this saga but Luke, never mind that the ROTJ ends with Luke winning so there is no call for him to be hermit like Yoda. All that the unoriginal Abrams and Jonson did is ignore what Lucas did, not continue his story (why after ROTJ big win we are in this situation the dark force is so powerful and Leia is so weak, and why is she so cocky about it like this is a Marvell movie?). So the big question is why Kennedy handed this project to unoriginal hacks and not to a one time original genius like Lucas.

  201. All they could do is copy Lucas with no imagination while at the same time pretending to be radical or original.

  202. Mr. S: I don’t think Luke “seriously” considered hacking up his nephew. I think he saw into him and the darkness and had a momentary thought about killing him. He says that the mere thought freaked him the fuck out. It was super bad timing that Ben woke up right then.

    I can buy that he’d go off to be a hermit despite all of the help he could provide. It totally fits the psychology of deep seated guilt and self loathing. They think that they would only cause things to be even worse, so by that thinking, he is doing the right, or heroic, thing by removing himself. It’s the same psychology behind people that kill their children. They think they’ve screwed them up to the point that the only way to save them is to kill them. This fits right in with his thought to kill Ben. It’s whacked, but it tracks.

  203. “Snoke sudden appearance in this saga: I donno, man. I still find it odd that we didn’t hear about him in the six first episodes. Did Anakin and Obi ever encountered anyone as powerful and important as him? I don’t know, maybe he was on a long vacation all that time. Anyway, I still think they did a lousy job in explaining it.”

    Hey el loco, did you ever watch the Clone Wars TV series? There was an ultra-powerful dark sider on that show, Mother Talzin, who was a major antagonist (and mother of Darth Maul) but wasn’t a Sith, instead being the leader of a group called the “Nightsisters”. She had a bunch of witchy “Force magick” abilities that we never saw in the Sith, see

    Talzin

    Talzin was a Dathomirian female who lived during the final decades of the Galactic Republic’s reign and became a formidable figure of power during the Clone Wars. On her homeworld of Dathomir, Talzin lived as a shaman and Clan Mother of the Nightsisters—a coven of Force-sensitive witches who used magicks to manipulate the wilderness around them and rule their male counterparts, the Nightbrothers. Talzin’s expertise in magicks was significant enough to attract the attention of the Dark Lord...

    for details. In a universe that can have someone like her who never showed up in the cinematic prequel trilogy, I’m fine with it also containing other powerful non-Sith dark siders like Snoke. And keep in mind that Lucas was very involved in all the story planning for the Clone Wars series (I recommend it for anyone who subscribes to the Lucas-as-auteur perspective, especially the later seasons which are a bit less kid-oriented), and because of that Disney decided to include it in their new Star Wars canon.

  204. @Copenhagen Interpretation:

    “Because let’s be clear about one thing. You cannot fly at lightspeed through a Star Destroyer. Period. And how do I know? because of the books and the fan sites and the European Union that everybody keeps bringing up?! No, I don’t even know what the Extended SW Universe is supposed to be about. But I do know that in seven and 9/10ths of all SW movies, no one ever turned anything with a hyperdrive into a weapon of mass and energy equivelance. YOU JUST CANT DO THAT, OKAY. If it was the case, they could have taken the first Death Star out with a retrofitted podracer for jedi’s sake.”

    I’m gonna pull the same trick as in my last comment and defend this with a Clone Wars reference: in the episode “Destroy Malevolance”, Anakin gets aboard an enemy ship and sabotages their hyperdrive so they make the jump to hyperspace right in front of a moon, destroying the ship, and we see a giant explosion on the moon’s surface. Clip here:

    And like I said in that last comment, all the stories for Clone Wars episodes were developed in consultation with Lucas, and Disney treats it as part of the new Star Wars canon. So, although it does seem weird that hyperspacing into a solid object causes a big explosion in regular space and yet this is never used as a battle tactic, Johnson wasn’t the first one to introduce this plot hole.

  205. Sorry, the link to the clip didn’t work, trying again:

  206. Still not working, maybe if I remove the HTML stuff that the board software automatically adds?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOgv0eFWqvc&t=2m35s

  207. Say, JeffG’s comment on Luke/Hamill actually got me thinking: it really is weird that Luke has so completely given up on Ben Solo, right? I mean, he saw the good in Darth Vader, the universe’s most legendary villain! Knew that as long as there was even a germ on conflict, he could still be saved. No such goodwill extended to Ben Solo, though, even though no one has any doubts that there’s conflict in Kylo Ren — even Snoke comments on it. To Rey it seems totally obvious he’s teetering, and she thinks it’s gonna take just a little push to set him right. It doesn’t go quite like she planned, but she turns out to definitely be right that he’s nearing a breaking point. I don’t understand why Luke considers him such a completely lost cause that he first considers murdering him in his sleep, and then just straight-up gives up on everything. Maybe it will be better explained in part IX, but it does seem a little vague here, not to the movie’s benefit.

  208. It’s interesting that Disney gets a lot of flack for being a “soulless corporation” (they are, though I prefer a phrase like “rabid dog”), but Lucas doesn’t seem to get nearly as much for giving Star Wars over to them. The argument from some notion of property rights that it was his to do what he wanted with it doesn’t help, since the same is true now of Disney. It’s theirs and they have the right to do what they want with it. No one put a gun to Lucas’ head. He was already a billionaire and could easily have set something up to continue his vision more faithfully. He deliberately chose not to. He gave his baby over to a rabid dog he knew full well was rabid.

  209. el loco, I’m not gonna try to engage in a conversation with you at this point, because you clearly don’t have that function when it comes to Star Wars, but I just want to point out that this trilogy is still about the Skywalker family. FORCE AWAKENS has Leia and Luke, and centers on Leia’s son, the search for Luke, and the legacy of Anakin/Vader. LAST JEDI has Luke and Leia and centers on the struggle to save Leia’s son. The next one would’ve centered more on Leia, but will at least have her, and will be primarily about trying to save Ben, and I also guarantee you that Luke will appear in Force ghost form.

    So maybe save your “they can only be about Skywalkers” argument for the one four years from now or whatever.

  210. hypnosifl – I saw the first animation series – Star Wars: Clone Wars, directed by Genndy Tartakovsky – Talzin wasn’t there. I missed the two others, my bad, I always plan to start watching them but somehow it didn’t happen, maybe because what you say about it going too much the kiddie direction and I was already too old for that shit. I sure want to complete watching Lucas’ canon. Talzin looks cool and maybe it will help forgetting about the horrors of the so called NT, which I hope they scrap one day and let us all forget about this non-Star Wars piece of crap and see the real shit.
    Unlike Snoke, Talzin has a history and a genealogy, and you know where is she from and what she all about. And this is and animation cartoon for little kids, and they still did a much better job with much mote depth then the NT’s assholes.

  211. Vern – You are right about that: They still have Skywalkers in the NT. However, I’m not sure that they are the center of this since Abrams declared Ray as the new hero, and Jonson tells us she came from nothing.
    Also, as a Lucas and SW expert, you should understand that the last six episodes were about Luke. Lucas started this story with him because Luke is him, he is his alter-ego. The fact that they chose to remove Luke from the first movie in order to save 10 mill on Hamill, (and Han from the second in order to save another 20 mill, but that’s another story), tells about their inability to understand who is this story is about, their inability to walk in this big ass Lucas shoes, and the fact that the majority of Star Wars fans don’t care about this franchise anymore. Maybe some Marvell fans, as you can see from the conversation here.

  212. Maggie — maybe you have a higher threshold than I, but if I wake up to find you hovering above me with a grim look and a sword in hand, I’m gonna assume it’s “serious” even if you decide not to go through with it.

    That said, I get why Luke would abandoned everyone and hide, but it definitely shows a more flawed side of him than Hamill probably wanted. There isn’t anything in the earnestly idealistic Luke of the OT which suggests he would so easily give up in the face of failure. But it’s Johnson’s prerogative if he wants to take the character in a different direction, and I can’t argue with the results (I can’t imagine humble OT trilogy Luke dusting his shoulder off like a boss either, but I love it). I’m glad Hamill ended up trusting him and going with it.

  213. Mr subtlety, no question what Luke went through with Vader is similar to Ben, but Vader wasn’t a personal failing on his part. He thought Vader was turnable and he was right. Vader wasn’t his fault and on his watch, Ben was. Think about it in real life. If your father was a d if addict or your adopts son was. The fact that this is so interesting to discuss says something for the film.
    Also, let’s not forget the age. I had a lot more piss and vinegar at 20 than I do at 50.
    I thin rJ gave it all this much thought from the interviews I have read. I read the art of force awakens book and realized that movie was basically slapped together bas s on a bunch of cool drawings

  214. I think Luke’s TLJ psychology makes a certain degree of sense. It’s not too much of a reach. One theme with Luke is a bit of hubris and perhaps mistaking his Force intuitions for brute fact. He struggled with a certain degree of impatience with his own Jedi training and did not heed Yoda’s advice about completing his training. He was convinced, against all signs to the contrary, that he could save his father and destroy the empire. And then he was convinced that he was the one to rebuild the Jedi. And then he saw that, rather than Darth Vader being a regrettable aberration that he could correct, perhaps the Dark Side/Light Side struggle was a more of a cyclical duality, with the tension between light and dark always at some risk of tipping over in the wrong direction. The idea that balance and peace are very fraglie. One can see the same God complex that gave him the courage to follow his intuition in turning Vader give him the same level of momentary certainty in his equally strong but opposite intuition about Ben Solo. And then one can see how the emotional turmoil over whether he caused Ben Solo to become Kylo or merely failed to stop him from becoming Kylo, along with the unraveling of his dream and life’s work being quite a mindfuck to say the least. The realization that everything you’d work for was undone and of questionable ultimate sigificance could drive one to a pretty dark place. And Luke has a bit of that God complex hothead DNA of his father.

  215. Did he have his lightsaber out and lit up, though? In Kylo’s memory he did, but in Luke’s I think he was just standing over him. I think he even threw out his hand and yelled no when Ben grabbed for his lightsaber. I tend to believe Luke’s memory. Although, I don’t really blame Ben for freaking out because Luke looked terrifying standing there.

  216. All of that to say that I have far less difficult “getting there” as far as Luke’s TLJ psychology than I do with the broader fact that the ROTJ victory was far less impactful in the long run than we were led to believe, along with the complete lack of explanation for why the Empire (ahem, First Order) has seemingly not skipped a beat since then.

  217. JeffG:

    “‘I sold them to the white slavers that takes these things, and…,’ Lucas said before laughing and deciding it better not to finish.”

    George Lucas Says He Sold ‘Star Wars’ to ‘White Slavers’

    While Disney has to be pleased with the way its $4 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm is turning out, thanks to the galactic success of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the man who created…

    Lucas’s interview with Charlie Rose is a great one. Save for that part where Charlie Rose exposed himself (rimshot).

  218. Vern – And I’ll say few more things, you don’t have to engage in conversation if you don’t want to, most of my posts here are replies to people, including you, who do find my perspective interesting or relevant :
    I’m surprised that you chose to excuse and rationalize those hasty decisions by Disney. I’m surprised that you are encouraging others here to troll me by saying what I say is not worthy of discussion. I’m am surprised that as a SW expert, you deem the perspective of the majority of Star Wars fans who don’t care about this franchise anymore as irrelevant. I’m surprised you chose the Disney side here.

  219. I had no idea this existed. Takes place between episodes 6 and 7.
    http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Star_Wars:_The_Aftermath_Trilogy

    What’s even weirder is that I would have expected them to chronicle the First Order’s rise, but it seems that the rebels had to go through a bunch more shit to put down the Empire in the immediate wake of ROTJ!

    I tried reading the plot summaries but it made my head spin.

  220. Jesus Christ, just skimmed through all this and can’t believe some of the vitriolic hatred toward a movie that’s forward-looking, challenging, hopeful and entertaining. But this is 2017 America and Star Wars, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised to see overly regressive nerds exposing their dark side. El loco in particular is being a worthless troll—don’t feed him.

  221. Chucky: I didn’t troll anyone, I just stated my opinions and talked with people here, many of them agree with me. You are the worthless troll and you got nothing interesting to say.

  222. Okay, I get it now. El loco is the first example I’ve seen of somebody that grew up on the prequels, now treating the new series just as the people who grew up on the original treated the prequels. The circle is complete.

  223. I grew up on the OT, Vern, the the first one I saw as a kid a ROTJ and I’m obsessed since then.

  224. I didn’t mean to be disrespectful.
    I just tried to understand why some people and critics like yourself like it so much and try to defend it. I’m sorry you couldn’t convince me. maybe it is my fault, I just can’t get it. I agree to disagree.
    I didn’t attack anyone personally here so I don’t like Disney ass kissers calling me troll and you encouraging them. If someone wants to talk to me that’s fine and I enjoy it. But trolls are not welcomed. I think you should make that clear.
    Also, by ignoring the fact that they didn’t let Hamill enjoy the part he is playing, making him think about someone other then Luke, to actually go out of the character he is playing, hurts the movie, hurts the fans, hurts Hamill financially and morally and hurt your review when you ignore it. They Hurt Billy D Williams financially and morally and hurt the black audience by removing Lando from this. Buy Ignoring Lucas they hurt him and most of the SW fans. By ignoring all this I find your review is lacking. Don’t you think that those are more of financial decisions then story telling?

  225. I haven’t seen this movie yet.

  226. I’m with you Vern. I just wanted to say that I saw this with one of my best friends. He’s about 7 years my junior. We’re both Star Wars “fans”. He was more into the expanded universe books and stuff than I. I’m just a movie fan. A New Hope was the first movie I went to as a kid. I’ve been a fan ever since. I loved the direction The Last Jedi took. My friend, however, hated it, he didn’t just not like it, he had vitriol coming out of his mouth, and maybe a little out of other orifices as well. I was on the other end, complete opposite. I was ecstatic, on such an adrenaline rush, feeling like a kid again(that doesn’t happen often anymore). I looked at him, and I’ve been looking at him everyday since we saw The Last Jedi on opening day, and I legitimately think we saw a different movie. We were in the same theater, I’m sure of that, but it was in 3D, so maybe his glasses showed something else. If that’s the case then I get it, I mean I didn’t see what he saw so I can’t really judge. But that would mean he didn’t see what I saw either, so he can’t judge what I saw. I have to believe that this is what it was because I think our friendship hangs on it being true. I tried to ask him how he accepts everything in the Fast and the Furious franchise that was retconned, and then has a problem with an original voice, in a world he grew up loving. This is all hyperbole of course, about my friend and I’s friendship, but for real, it’s been rocky(he’s never seen Rocky btw). I’m a Rian Johnson fan. I like him as a filmmaker, and storyteller. He had The Last Jedi written as The Force Awakens was going into production. He made bold character choices, and, this is only my opinion, he crafted the most well-made film in the Star Wars universe of my entire life. I mean I love me some Irvin Kershner, but I’ll take Rian’s filmography over his any day. Anyway that’s my two cents. I’m going to run and see The Last Jedi again, and bask in the audience’s affection again. Because, after the 3rd time of already seeing it, that’s the one thing that has been constant. The audience reaction has been one of the reason’s I keep going, everyone is having such a good time, and so am I. Oh nevermind, I just saw the new Wesley Snipes movie, Armed Response, is on Amazon Prime. I’ll go tomorrow because I know there will still be a shitload of people in that audience. Peace and love internet.

  227. el loco: I’m on your side here but you gotta let it go, man, for your own peace of mind. For you, this a matter of principle, not aesthetics, and while that’s admirable, it’s also not debatable. Your principles (and mine) will never allow you to appreciate these new films the way viewers with different principles can. So why engage? You’ve made your point. It’s a valid one: The loss of Lucas’s point of view has dealt the series an irreparable blow that no hired hand, no matter how talented, can fix. So why do you care about this series anymore? It’s gone. Let it go. What was your favorite movie of 2017? I bet you wrote less than half as many words about it as you did about his movie that enraged you. That’s not healthy, man. I’ve been there. It sucks. So please, for your own well-being, take a break from STAR WARS talk. Give yourself some breathing room and recognize that just because a relationship eventually ends doesn’t mean it was a failure. You spent many happy years with STAR WARS and now you’re both going your separate ways. It can be a good thing if you allow it. You can give yourself a chance to grow. I can’t tell you how much better it feels knowing there’s nothing anybody can do to STAR WARS that will hurt me anymore. It was a beautiful relationship for a long time, but we wanted different things, and now I’m free. I hope you let yourself experience the same feeling of peace that comes from not allowing a bunch of executives to hold dominion over your heart.

  228. El Loco- None of those things are relevant to an appraisal of the film. They aren’t needed for a review.
    And people have been taking a lot of what Hamill has said out of context. He said he needed time to come around to the ideas of Johnson, but ultimately thinks it’s fantastic. He’s publicly spoken out about how people are saying he’s upset, and that he regrets confessing his *initial* issues with the direction Luke took.
    And sorry, but if Lando’s not necessary to the plot, then Lando doesn’t get a part. I think the new films are a little too enamoured with cameos (both for characters and actors) as it is, and Lando would just take time away from our newer characters. Lucasfilm doesn’t owe Billy Dee a paycheck, though they have been giving him one with his voicework as Land in REBELS and the new BATTLEFRONT. And the character’s going to be featured in the SOLO movie.

  229. Hey Vern, how about a Revenge if Potpouri post as a temporary patch for the Recent Comments situation? There are so many movies that I’ve wanted to talk about but there’s no point because the only review that gets any traffic is this one. It would really help us out to have a safe space to discuss non-STAR WARS stuff.

    Thanks, man. Hope I’m not overstepping my bounds.

    To everyone else, despite our differences, there’s still no other community whose opinion holds any weight with me. Let’s do this shit up right in 2018.

  230. Yes to the Potpourri. We need to discuss Nic Cage, Parental Rage Zombie.

  231. Mr Majestyk will win by saving what he loves, not fighting what he hates. ;) Well said.

  232. Lots of comments on this one. I gotta say I hated this movie. Not because it raped my childhood but just because it wasn’t very good to me at all. The whole rhythm of the movie feels off to me starting with the horrible holding for General Hux scene. That whole scene is so completely out of place. It makes the First Order look like something out of a Naked Gun movie. From there it just seems like Rian Johnson is just going out of his way to do the opposite of what we think a Star Wars movie is, instead of making a good Star Wars movie. Poe Dameron getting yelled at not once, but twice, is a big example of this. Johnson obviously wanted to make the character who would normally be the lovable rouge look like a complete idiot. He succeeded well. Luke’s arc is completely unbelievable. As already pointed out in here, how in the hell would the Luke we know have given up so easily on Kylo Ren aka Ben Solo aka HIS NEPHEW AND BEST FRIENDS SON! He fought for his father up to the point he was almost killed by the emperor but all he could muster up for his sisters son was to try and kill him in his sleep? Not only does this movie try to do the opposite of what you expect but it’s also erasing the history that’s already been told. I wasn’t a big fan of The Force Awakens but Rouge One felt like a step in the right direction( even if some of if makes no sense when you realize all this took place right before the original Star Wars A New Hope). The Last Jedi is a step in the wrong direction for me.

  233. Mr. Majestyk: Thank you my friend, I think you right, I do need a long break from Star Wars. Last think I say about this matter for now, I agree with you and the old Vern that we are not going to see a live action Star Wars anytime soon. But since it is just a matter of money, and not about emotions, Disney might realize that there enough people interested in seeing the Lucas universe completed and there is enough money to be made there with an animation TV series that cost them nothing compared to a live action Star Wars, and without interfering with – WOOSA – Abram’s NT project. Voiced by Hamill (this time enjoying himself), Ford, Williams and the others.

    So If you didn’t see Godless yet just do it now.
    My Favorite movie of the year was DETROIT

    Detroit

    You guys, it's seeming more and more like Kathryn Bigelow, Academy Award winning director of THE HURT LOCKER, has permanently replaced Kathryn Bigelow, awesome director of POINT BREAK and BLUE STEEL. That's okay, they're both very good at what they do. DETROIT follows ZERO DARK THIRTY as another heavily researched, based-on-actual-events issue movie with writer Mark Boal (IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH). This time they step away from the 'War on Terror' to look at an even more intractable American quagmire: the war that members of law enforcement have on African American citizens, and the way the system harbors maniacs

    Or maybe MUDBOUND,

    Mudbound (2017)

    Mudbound (2017) Reference View

    “]

    or Maybe THE SHAPE OF WATER,
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2396589/reference

    Also WIND RIVER

    Wind River

    WIND RIVER, new on video this week, is a thriller written and directed by Taylor Sheridan, who's on the radar now because he wrote SICARIO and HELL OR HIGH WATER. Jeremy Renner (Catwoman: The Game) plays Cory Lambert, a hunter for the Fish and Wildlife Service in Wyoming. When he drives out to the Wind River Indian Reservation to find what wild animal killed some livestock and spend some time with his son Casey (Teo Briones) he finds a dead woman in the snow. He knows her, her name is Natalie (Kelsey Asbille, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN). She's a good friend's

    I don’t know why there isn’t a review here for the new Kingsmen.

    Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

    Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017) Reference View

    Also, if you love Ennio Morricone and old Italian Gialo and crime movies the kind that early Argento did this on is a must: Let the Corpses Tan

    Let the Corpses Tan (2017)

    Laissez bronzer les cadavres (2017) Reference View

    Vern will also enjoy the Japanese action movie Mr. Long,
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6509862/reference

    Best Space Opera of the year:

    Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

    Ladies and gentlemen, we have the movie that the director of THE FIFTH ELEMENT makes eight years after he sees AVATAR. One of the first scenes in Luc Besson's VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS, the one right after the title, brings us to the island paradise planet of Mul, where elongated, glittery-skinned beauties with star-shaped irises fill their giant shell backpacks with pearls, and they feed one to a little pangolin-like creature who puffs up and starts pooping duplicate pearls from under his scales that drop into a hole as an offering to the planet, but suddenly

    What where your’s Mr. Majestyk? I already know your worst movie of the year I guess.

  234. I’m not really an end-of-year list kind of guy. It’s just not how my brain works. I don’t generally watch awards movies so the delineation between years means very little to me. I like to figure out what my favorite movies are a few years down the line, after I’ve seen them a few times and I know what sticks in my mind for the long term. I listed a few good ones I saw in the last couple weeks on the new Potpouri thread, though.

    That said, if you’re implying that LAST JEDI was my least favorite movie of the year, I’m afraid that’s incorrect. I haven’t seen the movie and am not sure I ever will. When it comes down to it I simply am not interested in watching the director of LOOPER kill Luke Skywalker. God bless to all you who loved it, but that’s not a thing I need to see. Luckily all movies are 100% optional so I can just skip it and watch one of the dozens of other movies that are made available on any given year. I was bitchy about some major projects this year but I also saw a lot of movies I liked and admired for a lot of different reasons. I’m not gonna focus on the movies that weren’t made for me.

  235. “Han dying in a tender moment of vulnerability trying to turn his son back to the light is the definition of heroism”

    True – but he is no more a hero, just a martyr.

    Many tried and lost, heroes are the ones that succeed. :-)

    And look – First Order destroyed Chandrila and other planets… maybe all in all everyone would be better under good old Palpatine?

  236. Remember how just 2 weeks ago there was some suggestion that interest in TLJ and Star Wars generally was in decline and this could be measured be the feeble level of comments here? For what it’s worth things are at 230+ comments now, which is pretty much in line with TFA commentary 2 weeks in, and that achieved even with the ongoing Recent Comments situation.

    What about the movie? Yeah, it was fine. As noted in Vern’s review, it seemed like it was made by someone who’d seen some samurai movies, which was not something that occurred to me watching TFA. But it got me wondering where all the fighter pilot movies have gone. The not unconnected RED TAILS is the best recent example I can think of. Has anyone seen SKY FIGHTERS? I loved the Les Chevaliers Du Ciel TV show when I was a kid. And I’d like to think RETURN TO BASE is TOP GUN with Korean levels of melodrama, but I’d be interested to hear opinions of those who’ve seen it.

    Also, if Disney are taking us down the Womp Rat Summer (credit Mr. Majestyk), then on the showing of TLJ, I’d probably show up for a Young Yoda movie.

  237. Stu – The more layers a movie review have, the richer and interesting it is. Not talking about the modes of production in a Star Wars movie kinda make the review poor.
    The NT creators killed the iconic characters of SW, trying to insert new ones. But you can see even without checking out the movies, the new characters are not as iconic as the older ones. Kylo action figures stay on the shelf since Abrams SW. No kid wants them, the all want Darth Vader.
    The Plot of the NT is not a plot. It is a series of jumbled cheap thrills with unexplained characters and with no point by disappointing the fans and saving on the original People who made that shit happen.
    The numbers tell the story better then any structural analysis: in Lucas version they pay Ford 60 mill. Hamill 30 mill, and Fisher 30 Mill. In Disney version they pay Ford 20, Hamill, 10, and Fisher 20. The saved 70 mill and put it in their pockets instead of the people who deserved it. That is all that there is to it.
    I don’t believe the interviews of Jonson and Abrams when they say they suddenly realized That Han or Luke have to die “for the plot”. Like they god came to them in a dream and told them to. Seriously, you gonna buy that?
    Hamill got a phone call from Disney telling him to deny what he said and suggested time and time again. If you ask us to believe his denial you either work for Disney or you are extremely naive.
    Also, I didn’t like whitewashing and sugarcoating Dee Williams blunt racial discrimination in this. He was one of the most important characters in episodes 5 and 6, and Jesus didn’t tell Jonson or Abrams in a dream Lando is not needed for the plot. Jonson and Abrams had no call to do these crimes against culture.

  238. I mean, commit those crimes against culture…

  239. I guess you’re right then.

  240. Borg9,

    To be fair, el loco has about 60 posts on here.

  241. Borg9 – one of the very first rumors I heard when Disney bought Lucasfilm was about Zack Snyder pitching a sort of “SEVEN SAMURAI with Yoda.” I was never clear if that was a made up story, but a “Yoda origin” movie has been mentioned a few times as one of the things they’re developing for a future “A Star Wars Story.” I have always hoped/assumed that the “origin” part was a misunderstanding by low-imagination entertainment journalists, because holy God is that by far the worst idea they could ever possibly do. But if they were just gonna do a movie about a badass adventure that Yoda had one time in his many years as a Jedi that’s something I would be excited for.

    Of course, now Rian Johnson has given us hope that such a movie could star a puppet, and reason to be crushed if it didn’t. I guess their rule might be that he ages into a puppet while on Dagobah.

  242. I’m sorry to do this but I have no choice

    TLJ Haters Strike Back

    Imgur: The magic of the Internet

  243. Saw this for the second time yesterday and I agree with Mr Subtlety that this movie improves as a viewing experience once you know how the plot unfolds.

    Couple of random thoughts that I haven’t seen yet in this thread (apologies if I am duplicating anyone else’s points, there are a lot of comments):

    1) I think it’s possible that what bothers some fans is that this entire trilogy hasn’t been planned out in advance; maybe there was an expectation that each part of the TNT story would slot into a larger pre-determined plot but it has not been written that way. TFA was written to be mysterious, to raise questions but with no particular answer to those questions. They are making it up as they go along and the fact that anybody thinks otherwise is a testament to the effectiveness of TFA or a monument to illustrate just how desperate some Star Wars fans are for it to be something it never has been – because that’s exactly how Lucas made Star Wars too, as far as I understand it. He didn’t write A NEW HOPE knowing Vader was Luke’s father and he didn’t write EMPIRE STRIKES BACK knowing that Leia was Luke’s sister – the story evolved over time.

    2) I loved Luke’s treatment in this movie and I believe his representation in TLJ builds on his arc in the original movies; throughout the OT he learned that he didn’t need to personally fight in all the battles as evidenced by his decreasing relevance to the large scale Rebellion’s victories from A NEW HOPE to RETURN OF THE JEDI as he abandons his friends and his mission for a personal quest. For him to refuse to rejoin the conflict is a logical conclusion of that arc.

    3) In terms of whether Luke acts out of character in this movie (especially his moment of weakness with Ben Solo) I would say absolutely not. Luke learns in the original trilogy that using violence to combat evil is inherently self-defeating and every aggressive act he takes as a force-user beings him closer to Palpatine’s grasp; moreover every victory he has is achieved through some compassionate act. In TNT we see his moment of anger, straying from the compassionate path – this is definitely in character for Luke; he wavered throughout the original films and especially in the Emperor’s throne room in his duel with Vader where the temptation of the dark side almost led to him murdering his father.

  244. Sorry for the ridiculous italics.

  245. Those are great points about Luke, Analog. Thank you. I think this also ties in with the whole issue of him not physically going to Crait. By not letting Kylo kill him he’s not giving his nephew/student that opportunity succumb further to the dark side through an act of violence.

  246. Analog —

    100% with you on point one. I think a lot of people –and especially a lot of (for want of a better word) nerdy fanboys– have grown very accustomed to the concept of serialized narrative storytelling, which is never really what STAR WARS was, and isn’t really what TLJ is (though ironically it’s vastly more so than any SW which came before it). They want, in other words, a structure which is much more similar to a TV series. Twists, mystery boxes, shared universes, things to guess at and try to solve. TLJ certainly isn’t much interested in providing that, and rather abruptly disposes of the leftovers from TFA in a way fundamentally different from a Marvel movie, let alone a serial TV series.

    As for Luke, I still think it’s startling to see him consider murdering his nephew in his sleep because of his bad thoughts. He’s been drawn towards the dark side before, as we’ve all been, but hacking a kid to death in his sleep is a little different than being tempted to strike down the Emperor who ruined your father and is trying to kill your friends, and whatever drives him to that extreme point, we’re not privy to it. It’s not that big a deal for me because I don’t think the character of Luke is all that well defined in the original series anyway (beyond his role as a mythic hero), but I can definitely understand why some people –including Hamill– thought this was a bridge too far for the character.

    Then again, I also think they ought to remember that crafting fiction isn’t a democracy — just because you have a different perspective on a character doesn’t make the artist wrong. And that’s what’s really wrong here: the nerds now consider art a collectively held property, and they consider it their right to demand their entertainment reflect not the artist’s vision, but their own. And that’s not really how art works. At the end of the day, what they really want isn’t art, it’s control. And when they can’t get that –and worse, when a movie like TLJ goes out of its way to remind them of that– there’s a level of fury and betrayal that far, far exceeds anything one could reasonably expect for simply experiencing a piece of entertainment, even a manifestly terrible one.

    As Mr. M once beautifully put it: “When people stop wondering what stories mean and start demanding they mean what they want them to mean, stories become fundamentally meaningless.”

  247. That ‘TLJ Haters Strike Back’ imgur album is very funny. The wikipedia article about Palpatine especially.

  248. JTS — I’m partial to “Shoulda done more rock lifts!”

  249. Thanks Vern. I agree that all the Yoda origin story we need is him shaving off his Jedi topknot – figuratively speaking – and rescuing a child held hostage by a thief.

  250. Holy shit. There was no way I could go through all these responses. I’ll just say that I am one of those few that is strong thumbs in the middle. Seems you can only love it or hate it.

    I also think El loco does bring up good points but is such an asshole about it. Shouldn’t have been surprised when he was an asshole about Shape of Water despite also bringing up good points. The lesson here is don’t be an asshole.

    I am also being an asshole in the Shape of Water comments section.

  251. BTW, I have no idea how they wrap this up with one more movie.

  252. My money’s on “Rey kills Kylo while Finn and/or Poe and co. destroy some putative First Order nerve center” in a mostly competent, sometimes poignant, and ultimately pretty vacuous bit of painting by numbers.

  253. Skani — interesting that you think Kylo’s got to die. I was under the impression that most people think he will eventually come around and be redeemed.

    With Abrams at the helm, the “vacuous bit of painting by numbers” is no longer in dispute, though.

  254. Man I am way late to this one, and need to read through everybody’s comments, but I enjoyed this one way more then expected after not liking THE FORCE AWAKENS.

    A couple thinks that struck me watching this movie:

    This movie feels like a major course correction from episode 7, and reveals that they have never had a good plan or story in place for what they plan to do with this new trilogy. Not only could it be read as a critique on #7, but on SW fandom as a whole. Episode 7 was a crass attempt to manufacture the same phenomenon created by #4 for a whole new generation by making a soft remake of A NEW HOPE and it was a financial success but not a very good movie. This film says fuck the past and fuck your traditions you can’t go backward if you want to move forward, you are all focused on the wrong things and missing the point.

    With this film they addressed my critique of how Obi Wan the Jedi where portrayed in the prequels that I have mention on this site back when Vern did his baggage free reviews of the 6 other films. It acknowledges their incompetence and failures and makes them part of the story.

    This also is the first SW film with a strong anti war message. Characters like Poe and Finn represent archetypes that we have seen in numerous of these types of films where the only way to defeat evil and violence is through violence and action, but sometimes hope and caring can be more powerful than blowing shit up.

    I don’t really like Luke as a chracter, but I loved him in the film. This is my favorite use of Luke in the entire franchise and it treats him way better than #7 did Han.

    I am excited to read through the comments and hear what everybody else thought.

  255. Reading through everybodys posts it’s clear SW is still a very personal subject to some people. With that said I have a few things to add.

    First, in my previous post where I mentioned how I like they way this film acknowledges the faliures of the Jedi from the prequels I forgot to mention how much I like the way this film deals with the politics and morality of war instead of trying to paint everybody in simple black and white strokes off bad guys and good guys this film deals with the grey area and treats the politics of war in a much more realistic way. Snoke and Kylo are not the only bad guys so are the war profiteers that financially benefit from the heinous actions of the first order.

    I am not sure why people care so much how Snoke and Rey’s parents was handled. I think JJ had other plans for Snoke and Rey, but luckily Johnson burned that shit down (SPOILERS) like Yoda did the Jedi tree. Building a story around Rey’s parents and Snokes history would be a bore and I am glad we can now move past these questions and maybe just maybe tell a SW story in part 9 that is not bogged down by trying to rehash troupes, themes, and archetypes form the original triolgy and tell a fresh story worth telling in the SW universe.

    The slow space chase and Dern subplot are part of the subtext I mentioned in my previous post about this film subverting the idea about how to win a war and defeat evil.

  256. Finally saw it. Man, that was painful. No, not the movie. I loved every minute of it. The revelation that fans these days finally caught up with being the shitty nerd stereotype, that they tried to fight for decades. I’ve heard many, many people talk about certain moments and characters in the movie as if this was a trainwreck on the level of TRANSFORMERS 2.

    In conclusion: Fuck fandoms. I had lots of fun with them, but from now on I avoid them, doesn’t matter if it’s Star Wars, Trek, Doctor Who or other nerd shit and just stay in my happy little bubble, with friends and people who I respect and who don’t WANT to hate things.

  257. CJ: If you give up all fandoms then what are you doing here with a bunch of movie fans huh!? Check.mate.

  258. Hey, I’m not giving up on people who like things in general. Just the shitty nerd herds, who suck the joy out of everything by being completely unable to watch a movie or TV show, understand its story, subtext and what it set out to be in the first place and transform little moments of “That didn’t work for me” into “WAAAAAH! THAT SHIT IS THE WORST THING EVER! IT’S NOT WHAT I THINK IT SHOULD BE!”

    Unfortunately it seems like those motherfuckers have overtaken every fandom that I enjoy.

  259. CJ — the way I see it, I’m only interested in being part of a fandom which is composed of, you know, actual FANS. Which used to mean, “people who enjoy a thing.” Nowadays it seems more like “people with an unheathly fixation on something which infuriates them.” Obviously that’s why I love this place. Probably the most actual positivity (or at least funny negativity) per square inch on the internet, at least about the topics I’m interested in

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