"I take orders from the Octoboss."

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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

* * *

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

This entry was posted on Monday, December 18th, 2017 at 12:48 am and is filed under Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

411 Responses to “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”


    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.


    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.


    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:


    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.”


    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.






    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.


    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.


  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.


    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.


  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.

    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.


    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.


  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



    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:


    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


    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.


    >” 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:


  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 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?


  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.

    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

    Or maybe MUDBOUND,

    Mudbound (2017)

    Mudbound (2017) Reference View


    or Maybe THE SHAPE OF WATER,


    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,

    Best Space Opera of the year:

    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

  260. @ Vern, and everyone in the comments section, if you have time, could you please share your thoughts on this video series? Would you say they are valid arguments, or nitpicking?
    (Warning, the videos are looong)

  261. *wildly jumps out of the underbrush with knife in hand*

    Listen to my list of grievances, fools!

    Now, I did not hate this abomination when I saw it. I liked a lot of its aspects, and at many a point hoped that it could turn out to be something I’d think of fondly. I enjoyed your review of it, Vern, despite it having a very different final evaluation of it from my own, I pretty much liked the things about it you did, and am glad for whatever you were able to get out of it.

    When I left the cinema though, despite not immediately thinking the movie was terribly bad, I had a sinking feeling of emptiness and disappointment. It took me a while to realize that I would probably never go see a “Star Wars” movie again. Maybe el lucos here has somewhat of a point; despite all the significant flaws of the prequels, I never for a moment thought I wouldn’t be excited to see the next one, even if their auteur had gone veritably insane at some point – at the very latest when he decided to CGI the military insignias of all imperial officers in his OT SE from one side of their uniform to the other. Then again, I immediately wanted to see TFA again upon watching it, and it gave me a new hope for upcoming sequels. In TLJ, however, the empire struck back with a mortal blow, not just taking Han and Luke’s hand, but everything there ever was to be.

    The thing is horrible. Not so much for what it is – a visually stunning but visionless, loosely connected pg-13 corporate barrage with a few endearing scenes – this would at least make it mediocre, if it bothered to spray its teeth with chrome paint and ask to be witnessed. No, it’s terrible for what it isn’t, for what it pretends to be, and most depressingly of all, for what it perhaps could have been.


    One of the arguments for its supposed quality is that it, especially in contrast to TFA, dares to be different, progressive, tackle issues, etc. Now I’m a sucker for any honest attempt to try to make the world a better place by tackling real world issues in movies, so I’d like to compare one aspect where TFA does well in this regard compared to TLJ.

    TFA opens with us seeing a terrified storm trooper who is looking at his side committing atrocities, executing people and burning villages. He has a human reaction to it, and displays the moral courage of allowing himself to be a coward, run away, and not be part of all this madness. Not only that, but he later shows unflinching bravery when it comes to protecting his friends, so we know he didn’t simply run away for fear. A deserter as a hero who saves the galaxy? A bit of an anti-war message in Star *Wars*? One that doesn’t feel forced and makes perfect sense within its universe? Not bad.

    TLJ starts by visually glorifying carpet bombing. Not because it makes any sort of tactical sense – the design and idea of these asinine bombers goes against any and all sense – it’s shoehorned in simply because a certain someone wanted to have carpet bombers in there. Because, you know, carpet bombing was used against the “Nazis” and is therefore a charming, delightful, good-old-times thing, and not at all randomized mass killing, maiming, and burying of countless unexploded bombs to kill and maim for decades to come. I don’t know, man. Not quite what I’d call a visual choice with a right implication.

    This climax of this part is a young rebel (I’ll just call them that, as the movie does too half the time) woman committing suicide to take out an enemy capital ship, as it’s hard to imagine doing that in any other way with those instantly exploding bombers, and afterwards her sister Rose is on deserter-tasing-duty on the rebel cruiser. Think about that for a moment. For her to be doing that, some higher-up in the rebel hierarchy had to have put her on that job.

    “Hey, did you hear? Rose’s sister died to take down an enemy dreadnought.”
    “Great! Put her on anti-desertion duty right away, she should be highly motivated for that!”

    Now that is some Nightcrawler-level personnel management. It’s also an interesting touch that the rebels even have or need someone trying to stop deserters. I always thought that is an important difference between how the empire and the rebels function in the OT; the empire’s military is the one that is based on executions and fearful ever-perspiring officers, and would probably have harsh methods of preventing desertion. The rebels, on the other hand, are an all-volunteer force of people knowing they’re signing up to fight against grim odds in an effort to make the galaxy a better place, which should for one make desertion unlikely, and I’d also imagine that they wouldn’t force anyone to fight for them who wouldn’t want to. Keeping people on a doomed cruiser against their will doesn’t sound exactly like something the good guys would do. Maybe Benitio was right – it’s all a big machine, and it’s better to get far far away from it.

    Then again, Benitio is a traitor, and you can’t really trust a traitor now, can you. So Johnson gives a poignant line about systemic military evil to a cynical traitor who just betrayed the protagonists. I don’t know, man.
    Where is the movie going with this? There are strong implications that the rebels are not as good as one might think. They don’t let people who want to save themselves leave their ship, and we learn they are buying weapons from slavers. A bit of an irony there, naturally unexplored (or most likely not even realized by the various corporate filmmaking divisions assigned to this hackjob), that we see the slaves inspired by the symbol of an organization that buys from their masters, thereby financing the means of their oppression.

    TLJ doesn’t follow through with this, by for example having the slaves rise up, only for the revolt to be put down by the rebels themselves, as they would otherwise lose access to badly needed weapons, and make enemies of other useful weapon dealing slavers. Making the rebels evil would be a bold direction to take, perhaps with the implication that a prolonged conflict causes one to adopt the way of thinking and thus methods of the enemy, should those be more efficient in achieving military superiority. Assuming that, it would not be that unreasonable for Luke to abandon an inherently unwinnable conflict, go meditate and milk aliens on an island, and throw lightsabers offered by naive impressionable youngsters down a cliff. It would even make Kylo seem a little less of a completely deranged psychopath with his philosophy, which I’m not sure would be such a good idea.

    In any case, crazy as this would be, it would have been an interesting choice, and it wasn’t done. Instead, we get rebels that are involved in some pretty questionable, if not outright dark things. Aren’t they supposed to be the good guys? To further this discussion I invite a comment from Mr. Imaginary Strawman Youtube Commenter:

    “LOL! the world isn’t black and white you retard. thats why TLJ is so deep – its nuanced and showing shades of grey (not 50 of them tho lol!) good guys do bad things sometimes everyone knows that thats how the world works stop being a kid!111”

    I can’t believe it. Every single word of what you just said is wrong. Especially the articles and conjunctions. A movie showing some evil and dark shit is, well, it can be pretty damn entertaining in itself. If we’re talking about something deep and thought-provoking though that touches on the reality of things through which someone could possibly better understand something, the motivations, nature and consequences of such actions better be damn well explored. In TLJ, there is nothing. We get the supposed good guys shown as being sort of evil, but still gloriously heroic and we’re supposed to cheer for them. This isn’t deep or nuanced or realistic, it’s simply sending the message that evil is acceptable, as long as someone can convince you that the evil of someone else is greater. Since this is based on the relative perception of evil, there can for one never be an absolute condemnation of evil, and evil can become near infinite while still being thought of as good, as long as there is some supposed greater evil out there. I don’t know, man. I just don’t see Mon Mothma buying weapons from child slavers. Slavers who enslave children, not children who are slavers.

    I doubt I’d have thought about any of this if Rian Johnson hadn’t killed Luke. So thank you for killing Luke, I guess.

    That youtube guy linked above makes some good points in about 5h of videos about some other bullshit with this movie, it’s an entertaining watch.

    I’m joining the Mr.M. club now, abandoning all hope that there will ever be another Star Wars movie. Unless…

    Episode IX SPOILERS

    The sequel begins with what appears to be a flashback of Luke and Kylo’s fight, ending as Luke gets sliced in half and dies on his island.

    “A possible future you see, young Skywalker?”
    “Yeah… Not one I like very much.”

    Luke glances down the steep cliff, looking at his submerged X-Wing in the depths below. A gust of wind blows gently but steadily against the majestic rock.

    “Give me a hand with that?”

    Yoda laughs, Luke smiles.

  262. Well argued, Wildeye. But it seems to me you’re ignoring some important parts of the movie. The bombing raid you talk about is unique in STAR WARS because of the amount of pilots who die, Leia’s pained face when they do it, her sadly looking at a chart of casualties afterwards and refusing to consider it a victory. And it’s the beginning of her and Poe’s arc that subverts the idea of the hotshot doing something crazy and dangerous to be a hero. I don’t think it’s accurate to talk about it glorifying war – it’s very much the opposite.

    Are we sure that Rose was put on deserter-stopping duty? I thought she was doing some other job down there and had taken it upon herself because of the death of her sister. At any rate, what she tells Finn about it makes it clear she is passionate about doing it. As for why people would be deserting – well, this is sort of the story of the movie, starting with the opening crawl, that they need to find Luke to ignite the spark that gives everyone hope. He doesn’t do that until the end.

  263. Thanks, Vern. The high death rate of rebel pilots in the first battle and Leia’s reaction certainly can be interpreted as a display of the horror of war. Not necessarily, though. A high casualty rate can also be seen as something glorious, as proof that morale is high and nobody ran from battle. Even if, or perhaps especially if it is accompanied by a grief-stricken commander looking over the casualty report. It means that the machine is running as intended – the soldiers are doing what they are supposed to, fighting and dying, and the commander, by caring about them in earnest, is inspiring this. Perhaps something went wrong, perhaps someone had blundered, but it is still, perhaps especially because of that, wonderfully glorious. Guess The Charge of the Light Brigade gets an extra twist in a SW setting.

    A panicked soldier fearing for his life in the middle of a battlefield, shocked by the atrocities happening around him and deciding to leave – that I find a pretty unambiguous and courageous statement on the nature of war. One side fighting heroically and suffering terrible losses – that certainly makes for great drama, but doesn’t by itself say much of anything beyond that. The tone at the time is certainly trying to make it appear like there is some statement there, but what it is would depend on the context, and considering how the movie deals with the issue considering the disturbing subtle messages I mentioned, I’m not sure it’s something I like.

    The argument can be made that this initiates the Poe-Leia-Holdo arc, which supposedly makes the message clear. Yet the sole issue there is whether a risky attack with high expected casualties is acceptable or not, which is all Poe through his arc “grows” not to do anymore. That is simply condemning a tactical move within war, nothing more. It’s akin to condemning a charge at the opposing trench in WW1 because of the inevitable enormous casualties. Yes, it seems right that such a horrible thing should be condemned, doesn’t it? Consider the situation being that the opposing artillery can fire 10 times more shells per day, each with a miniscule chance of hitting the trench and inflicting about a dozen casualties. The commander knows that statistically, everyone on his side will be dead in a number of months, and orders a risky charge with massive expected casualties, a charge that gets hundreds killed, but barely works in capturing the opposing trench and destroying a significant number of enemy artillery. Within the context of war, this was a sensible, logical and correct choice. The thing worth thinking about is the context in which something like this can ever be a sensible, logical and correct choice, and the implication that perhaps such a context can’t be that sane.

    Does TLJ make one think about that? The only one in the movie who makes a comment going in that direction is a cynical traitor paid off by the empire. Well, there is another, though not quite going in that direction. It’s Luke himself, who appears to finally be back, facing the Dark Lord of the enemy, and smugly puts him in his place by gleefully remarking that “the war is only beginning.” What timing. Just as we think that Luke is finally back for real, is about to say something badass to make Kylo even more uncomfortable, and are in a state of mind to accept pretty much anything. The war isn’t over, it’s only just beginning. Yeah! Right on! It’s a both a ‘fuck you’ to Kylo, and an implicit promise of the sequels to come, which should include even larger more amazing space battles in an epic conclusion to the galactic struggle. Amazing, how could you not love it? If you think about it for a second though, you might notice that a Jedi Master just gleefully said that the war isn’t over, but is only beginning.

    I remember the conflict in me when I heard this; I wanted to be elated by whatever badass Luke said, but at the same time felt there was something very wrong about that line. I can’t quite imagine Obi Wan or Yoda saying it. Perhaps if it was said with profound sadness, but not in such a way. A Jedi, one feeling life in the galaxy and having visions of the future, would presumably have a general idea of the death, pain and suffering that the war would bring, and would hardly see fit to think of a war starting as something edgy to throw at an opponent. Not to mention that the Jedi seemed to have a zen way of calmness, contemplation and serenity. Now TLJ gives us a Jedi Master gleefully looking forward to a glorious war.

    Not for long though, since he dies and gives the spark of hope to the galaxy. That is kind of problematic as well. What about Luke getting killed by Kylo, or exerting himself to death, is so terribly inspiring? Not much I’d say. So is the story the rebels propagate simply that Luke came back and are leaving the rest out in order to get recruits and support from all over the galaxy? Not what I’d call the most honest foundation. Even if the rest of them don’t know the truth, Leia and Rey know that Luke died. Does this mean they’re letting them spread a hope they know to be false? If this is justifiable to defeat the utmost of evils that is the FO, and is all that was needed to rally the galaxy and bolster their own morale, then why haven’t they simply made something like this up in the first place?

    I can’t appreciate this spark of hope thing anyway. Someone searching for a magic sword to slay the dragon – alright. Someone seeking out an ancient dragon’s wisdom to outwit the evil king – even better. Someone searching for trademarked vague inspiration from somebody else in order to do what he knows to be a good idea anyway – this just doesn’t feel right. It sounds like the slave kids aren’t allowed to free themselves simply because they don’t want to be slaves. Instead, they are only permitted to free themselves through an officially sanctioned brand symbol, as believers in The Return of Luke Skywalker(tm), and when sponsored by some larger organization, to be later integrated into whatever system is imposed. Speaking of brand symbols, I bet Disney is selling those hope rings.

    Oh yeah, Rose could have been doing the tasing on her own, but then somebody would probably have reported that there is a crazy tasing lady tasing people in the hall. Or maybe not, as they would then have to explain what they were doing in the hall with the escape shuttles. You might have a point there. Then again, that would still mean they weren’t allowed to leave, while in the OT Han could go with no questions asked, and Luke wasn’t exactly court-martialed for going to Dagobah either. Or maybe he was, and spent the time between V and VI in the brig.

  264. I think they said Snoke was from Snoklahoma.

  265. @Vern and everyone else: This is a silly question to ask, but in your opinion, do any of the arguments that Disney is pushing a forced diversity agenda with TLJ hold any weight?
    I’ve heard people go as far as to say that the only reason Rose is in the film was to appeal to Asians

  266. “Forced diversity” sounds like a complaint from someone who wants to force a lack of diversity. It’s not like some formulaic Captain Planet thing where they have one of each major race. I think these new Star Wars movies are examples of people genuinely wanting to make movies more representative of the racial makeup of the country/world, wanting to reflect different people, wanting to make things more interesting. Rose wasn’t written as Asian, but he cast her that way – why would this be a bad thing?

    I mean, is there any way to take that than “I only want white people in movies”? Like, it’s *suspicious* to have people who aren’t white show up in movies? What the fuck is that? I can only assume negative things about the person who would make that argument.

    Would it be wrong if they were trying to appeal to Asians? Aren’t they trying to be broadly appealing to the whole world? Are some people too lacking in awareness to know that there are Asian people who love Star Wars and that it’s exciting for them to be reflected in more than just philosophy and Nien Nub? I would say that no, I think they cast Kelly Marie Tran because they wanted Kelly Marie Tran, but yes, it is good to appeal to Asians.

  267. Honestly, I do chuckle from time to time whenever I see group in a movie or a TV show that is more diverse than any group in the real world would be*, but I don’t really see the problem with it and most of all I don’t understand the “forced agenda” part. Since when is “Hey, there are non-white people everywhere, so why not put them in our movies?” an agenda, not to mention that actually putting some of them in movies is forced?

    *One of my favourite jokes in GALAVANT was when the heroes, who are played by a white actor, a black actor and a hispanic actress, argue about something, one says: “We are a diverse group”, followed by Galavant chuckling: “Yes, we are diverse. Very diverse.” and everybody looking at each other and nodding in agreement.

  268. I think the complaint isn’t against the diversity itself, but that a few fans disliked some of the new characters, and now want to believe that it was Disney paying lip service to having diversity i.e tokenism

    An example video:

  269. Thank you for replying to the initial comment though. It has helped clear my head somewhat

  270. Well, people complaing that a movie, that devotes much of its runtime to non-white characters doing heroic stuff that moves the plot forward, without turning them into flawless Mary Sues while it lets us know them better as characters, only uses them for “tokenism”, is basically the old “I’m not racist, but…” for popculture.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not a honky who thinks that everything is great as long as a movie is full of diversity in front of and behind the camera. History has proven over and over that diversity doesn’t automatically make your movie good. I also think that topics like diversity in movies, political correcness, sex- and racism are worth discussing, but in the case of STAR WARS, it’s obviously a case of “I want my space movie white and male because I’m an asshole”, so fuck these people.

    (I didn’t look at the video btw, because I don’t think that I wanna give whoever made this the extra click.)

  271. You know, I’ve made a ton of decisions in my life that I’ve come to regret, but choosing to opt out of the nonstop parade of butthurt and entitlement that is the STAR WARs franchise will never be one of them.

    I ask in all seriousness: How could any series of movies be to be worth all this? It’s every doleful prognostication I made on the day of the Disney sale and more.

    I am not trying to gloat here. I’m trying to help. Guys, I assure you, there’s a better way. Just let it go. You’ll always have the movies you love, but you’ll never again have to have an opinion about any of this bullshit ever again. I can’t tell you how good it feels whenever some new “controversy” arises to know that I am under no obligation to take either side. I’m simply OUT. Listen, my friends, and believe: It is GLORIOUS.

    Try it. You might like it.

  272. But…isn’t deciding to stay out of this just another side that you take in this?

    (Also isn’t this what Luke decided to do in this movie?)

  273. I have no idea, because I didn’t see the movie and thus have no opinions about the quality nor intent of its content, nor any decisions that may or may not have been made over the course of its production and marketing. I’m not part of this fight at all. If I have to take a side, it’s the side of the conscientious objector.

    In other words…

  274. You thought you were out, yet I pulled you back in by making you reply to my previous commentary.

  275. I still have not expressed a single opinion about any current STAR WARS film, because I am under no requirement to have any. Was Luke’s death earned? I don’t know. Did Kylo lie to Rey about her parentage? Couldn’t tell you. Does the use of a warp drive as an offensive weapon violate established canon? I have no idea.

    Complete willful ignorance: That’s my moral victory. This (star) war is unwinnable. The only smart strategy is not to fight.

  276. I really wish the response to JEDI THAT IS LAST was mediocre or bad because the love Vern and especially Mr. S showed it has me curious. Like BLADE RUNNER 2099 though I keep pushing it off, another one I wasn’t very interested in but the love shown to it by Vern and other’s here have my curious.

  277. …and yet Mr M keeps returning to the battlefield, to let everybody know that he is not participating in this battle…

    (Nah, just yanking your chain.)

  278. Being Asian, I often do have a problem with the way alot of liberal film writers praise and preach diversity, but often snarkily dismiss Asian characters in these big dumb action movies as “The Character for the Chinese Market” or “The Asian Audience Appeasement Character”. I have to admit my feelings were kinda hurt when Vern, in his review of Independence Day: Resurgence, referred to Angelababy’s character as “Lieutenant Pandering Tothechinesemarket”. I mean, we wouldn’t call Jeffrey Wright’s Felix Leiter or the multiple black sidekicks in the MCU “Mr. PanderingtotheUrbanMarket”, would we?

    But then I actually saw ID42 and Vern’s comment made sense – it’s crude but it’s sadly the most accurate way to describe the character, as there is literally no purpose other than that. Forget character arcs or motivations or growth, forget Bechtel tests or whatever, I’m not even asking for that much. Angelababy’s ID42 character, JUST LIKE Bingbing Li’s character in Transformers 4, and JUST LIKE Tian Jing’s character in Kong: Skull Island, literally does nothing the entire movie. Technically, she just stands there looking pretty in a wholesome way, while a nerdy sidekick character kinda-sorta hits on them. And then at the end they seem sorta-kinda receptive to it and that’s it. None of these women are given any interesting dialogue or any cool action beats. They have no bearing on the story. You could literally cut out the entire character (and often the nerdy sidekick too!) and nobody would have noticed (which I guess they did with a bunch of Chinese characters in Iron Man 3, a move that people seem to deem as Marvel being smart and savvy but I kinda think is a little crass and hollow).

    That being said, in the 5 months or whatever since The Last Jedi came out, I have literally never thought of Rose Tico as “The Asian Audience Appeasement Character” until I read the comments in this thread. She’s too well-developed, too central to the story. We know her backstory, we know her motivation in like 2 seconds. She puts giant plot points in motion and her actions have huge consequences (even for setting up the ending shot/next installment of the series!) She gets multiple action scenes and some of the best dialogue. Hell, she’s the character who gets to bluntly state the central theme of the movie at the end! I think anyone who looks at Rose and complains of pandering and “forced diversity” should maybe think again about why they think that, and then go watch those other movies listed above and see what a real example of “forced diversity” is and how offensive it actually is (probably to the minority it’s trying to be diverse to!)

  279. It’s good to know your initial feelings about that Neal, because it hadn’t occurred to me that saying that could come off that way. I honestly didn’t mean that from a diversity standpoint at all, but the business decision of studios intentionally trying to appeal to the newly opened market in China. It was only ID4-2’s cynical way of doing it that I was trying to make fun of, not the actual practice. I don’t think I would’ve said it that way for ROGUE ONE, where the two Chinese movie stars are my favorite characters, and I think in the case of THE RETURN OF XANDER CAGE I probly mentioned it in a positive way because that “let’s appeal to all the major filmgoing countries” approach was part of the fun. But I’m glad you mentioned how it came across at first because I should keep that in mind.

  280. No problem Vern, I know your heart is always in the right place and it honestly took watching ID4-2 to understand the unfortunate accuracy of the statement and how you meant it. I think most (non-racist) people share our view that diversity is a great thing, but for God’s sake, Hollywood – throwing a minority in a movie just to kinda have them stand there and fill a quota comes across as cynical and even passive aggressive. At least try to give them the same care that you’d give a white character and I think most people wouldn’t even notice. I mean, there’s a reason nobody complains about Han from the F&F movies being a “Pandering to the Asian Market” character, and that’s because he’s just a great character, period.

    Speaking of which, on the flipside of the “forced diversity” argument – multiple people have complained that Scott Eastwood seems to have been added to the F&F cast just to take Paul Walker’s “white guy” slot. I can guarantee not as many people would be saying that if his character was halfway as interesting as Brian O’Connor, or if Eastwood had half the charisma and charm of Lucas Black. Instead we get some lunk of wood who is physically there throughout the movie and even during the big action climax, but again, could be entirely cut out of the movie without changing a thing. If the audience takes themselves out of the movie to wonder “why is this character even here?” then it’s safe to say you have a bad character.

  281. We’re at a weird place right now where Hollywood is finally getting a little better about diversity, but mostly for cynical reasons, ie ‘the marketplace we’re trying to sell to is diverse, and we will make more money if our products reflect that.’ It can definitely lead to some awkward situations like the ones Neal described, where a bunch of unimaginative hacks have “diverse” characters forced on them for purely market-research-related reasons and clearly don’t have any idea what to do with them, or any ambition to imagine where they would fit into the standard-white paradigm. All the more reason to get more diverse people behind the scenes, who can start to craft some new and more modern paradigms which reflect a diverse world in a more natural way. One great thing about Hollywood is that it’s run by derivative hacks, which means if we can just get some movies made that offer some alternative conceits to rip off, it won’t be long before the standard model adapts and directors learn some new tricks.

    That said, while there might be a valid critique of the narratively awkward way “diverse” characters seem shoehorned into movies like RESURGENCE or TRANSFORMERS 4, it’s a completely ridiculous argument in TLJ. The whole plot falls apart without Rose, she *literally gets to deliver the moral* of the movie, and Kelly Tran does amazing, seemingly effortless work in crafting a vivid and unique character and carving out a place for herself in a universe which up til now hasn’t really had anyone like her (racially, sure, but even more so in terms of temperament and characterization). And THAT, I think, is the problem a lot of people had with the character; she’s not what they’re expecting in their STAR WARS movie and it makes them feel like they’re not the only person who matters, which is infuriating beyond measure. Which is pretty much the foundation of 90% of every critique of TLJ (the remaining 8% is plot nitpicks which could be applied to any STAR WARS movie, and the final 2% is legitimate criticism of its shaggy narrative)

  282. Sage — My thought is that it would be physically impossible to watch the whole 42 minutes. It seems like she’s responding to the following short interview with Kathleen Kennedy,

    Kathleen Kennedy : Girls can't identify with Luke Skywalker - YouTube

    Kathleen Kennedy's agenda exposed. Kathleen Kennedy is assuming that girls didn't care about Star Wars because they couldn't identify with the main male hero...

    but if so, it seems like she hasn’t really watched it or listened to what Kennedy says, since she’s responding as if Kennedy said “We had to kill Luke Skywalker because girls can’t identify with a male character,” when in reality she’s saying nothing of the kind (the title of the video and the description are also completely misleading, claiming she’s making the exact opposite point she really is). If she makes any other relevant points in the remaining half hour of the video I couldn’t make it to them, but from the first five minutes it really seems like the whole thing is a lot of indignation and posturing over a dumb misunderstanding (and that’s a generous interpretation; a less generous one might be it’s a lot of indignation and posturing engendered by a deliberate misunderstanding that cynically panders to conservative paranoia narratives about secret liberal brainwashing).

  283. This is not only directed to Sage, because this comes up fairly frequently, but if you’re going to link to somebody’s video essays I recommend making a little pitch for them, like “I think this video by so and so makes a good argument that such and such.” Some of the commenters (especially those younger than me) may feel different, but video essays are a hard sell for me, and personally I never click on a video link to find out what it is. Plus, you owe us a little more personal input before expecting us to set aside 42 minutes.

  284. My apologies, I just posted it to see you guys’ thoughts on the video, not because of any particular points that she made. If I make any further posts that involve video content, I will make sure to explain where they’re coming from, as well as that the video is not too long.

  285. If someone is determined to “like” The Last Jedi then who am I to disagree with them? But what I CAN tell you is that The Last Jedi is a lousy story if you respect the opinions of people from Aristotle to Joseph Campbell who have devoted part of their lives studying what makes a good story vs what makes a bad story. Honestly, though, I don’t believe that people are fantasizing about being “just like Rey”…or “just like Finn”…or “just like Rose Tico”. These characters have no growth…no challenges…they are BORING which is a sin in story telling. I am sure there are no fan clubs honoring “the purple haired lady”. General Ackbar, however, will be missed…not because of his poor treatment in this movies…but because in previous movies he was a fully fleshed out character. The Last Jedi destroyed my interest in future Disney Star Wars movies.

  286. Wait wait wait. Can you explain what is fleshed out about Ackbar? He is a better character because he’s a cool fuckin lobster man. But not because anything is developed about him. I think your Aristotles and everybody would prefer Holdo.

  287. I apologize in advance Joseph for assuming you’re trolling, but I think you’re trolling so there’s not much point in arguing. In case you’re not, here’s a whopping 2 minute, 30 second video compiling ALL of Admiral Ackbar’s scenes from everything pre-The Last Jedi. (Which is almost entirely him spouting exposition.) I don’t think anyone can actually say this character was fully fleshed out with a straight face.

  288. Yeah, Poe’s Law being what it is, I have to assume that Joseph here is engaging in a bit of clever satire.

  289. grimgrinningchris

    May 10th, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    Or else he’s el loco reborn…

  290. grimgrinningchris

    May 10th, 2018 at 6:21 pm

    And if he isn’t just trolling and really does think that there aren’t literally MILLIONS of girls (and boys) out there that want to be Rey, then he IS el loco (if only in his lack of sanity) and must’ve stayed locked indoors with the blinds drawn the past two Halloweens.

  291. After rewatching FORCE and LAST JEDI this week, I now have to say that General Hux is my 2nd favourite new character (after Finn, whose refreshing awkwardness was unfortunately dialed down in LAST JEDI).

  292. I read an article calling Black Panther Marvel’s most diverse movie but isn’t it about as diverse as Captain America: The First Avenger?

  293. Less diverse. FIRST AVENGER has Derek Luke, Samuel L. Jackson and Kenneth Choi among the sea of white people. Yeah, I think it’s funny when people use “diversity” incorrectly, but we know what they mean (that it has more non-white people in it).

  294. So my mom is a member of the Disney Blu-ray club. Every month they send her whatever the big Blu-ray is. She’s had this one sitting around for a month, not understanding at all why I was so dismissive when she offered to let me borrow it. So I’m over there for Memorial Day, and there it is. So I figure “Fuck it.” If I’m going to continue to rent out brain space to this franchise, I’d better know what I’m complaining about.

    So I watched it. And don’t get me wrong: it sucks. But I didn’t hate it. It wasn’t traumatic. It was actually very freeing to realize that I don’t care enough about these movies to hate them. I raised my eyebrows a couple times (several) and outright laughed at some of this shit, but i think I’m past being able to have actual emotions about this stuff. That’s a good feeling. I can watch a dumb new Star War every now and then and it doesn’t affect me.

    Let’s start with the positive. I mostly liked all the Rey/Luke/Kylo stuff. All good performances and interesting territory to cover. In a good story, this material really would have soared.

    But then there’s the rest of the movie and the rest of the people in it. What we have here, not sure if anybody noticed, is the story of how a bunch of complete fucking idiots got Luke Skywalker and thousands of other people killed because they couldn’t work through an HR problem. I laughed out loud multiple times remembering the discussion yesterday of Poe Dameron’s charisma. This mansplaining piece of shit? He’s so toxic I think I might not be able to like Oscar Isaac anymore. I’m glad the script reminds me that everyone likes him because otherwise I’d assume he was just a prick who started a mutiny that got the entire Rebelstance killed and then probably got promoted to general or something. The entire subplot that he instigated is beyond worthless. It burned Poe and Finn to the ground as heroic characters. I wouldn’t let these morons run a Dairy Queen, let alone a Rebel Alliance.

    But don’t think I’m letting Purple Lady off the hook. She was such a terrible manager that she got taken hostage by her own crew because she refused to take any action at all to make them trust in her leadership. Maybe the rank and file don’t need to know every aspect of your plan, lady, but when they’re pulling guns on you, some mild reassurances that you have it all in hand might be beneficial.

    Also if light speed can be used as a weapon, why not do that all the time? I agree with a post above that this tactic breaks the universe. Space battles seem stupid now. Just bring a big ship and aim it at the biggest ship. There is apparently no defense for this attack whatsoever. You probably could have taken out the Death Star this way and skipped all that womprat stuff.

    I’m glad she waited until like 600 more people got killed to do it, though, even though she’d already committed to sacrificing herself. Thanks again to the script for telling me that she is a hero.

    And are we really okay with Yoda not being transparent and being able to shoot lightning from the sky now? I feel like when you can control the weather, you are no longer just a spectral mentor. You are an active participant in the world of the living and should probably be out there on the front lines. I don’t think the skeptical eyebrow went down for that whole scene.

    I’m on the fence about the whole Luke projection thing. It’s kind of cool that it allowed him to take all that AT-AT Fire and walk out of it unscathed. But are we really okay with him being able to create ugly chunky necklaces out of thin air that continue existing after his death? That seems like a step too far. Especially since we’re told that he has cut himself off from the Force and has NOT been squirreling away learning new abilities this whole time.

    But even if you accept it, what the fuck is up with the necklace? The whole time, I’m like “Am I supposed to know what that is?” Here we got Luke and Leia reuniting and saying farewell all at the same time, a momentous moment, and all I’m thinking about is some goddamn piece of jewelry. I later learned that it was a prop from the Millenium Falcon. What’s that supposed to mean? Why is that significant to Luke and Leia’s relationship? Did Luke take it from the Falcon, and if so, is the real one rattling around in his hut on his island? I guess it doesn’t matter, since Leia left this gift from her dead brother lying on the floor in an abandoned bunker on a desolate planet. She would have had the real one if Luke has just left it alone. So glad we distracted from the 35-years-in-the-making drama for this vaguely symbolic prop horseshit.

    In the end, I like aspects of this film but I feel the world it takes place in is too compromised from the start. A hero is defined by his/her villain, and the villain here is a cheap secondrate knockoff of the Empire. There’s no getting over it. The basic premise of this trilogy is lame and there’s nothing that can be done about it. I was totally on Luke’s side at the beginning. He spent his life combatting and defeating a great evil, and then the same goddamn boring thing with the same goddamn boring color scheme happened again almost immediately. Clearly, this is what the universe wants. Might as well let it have it.

    So yeah. Glad I got that off my chest. I really do feel better now. I was a bit worried that I might like this movie for a minute there, and that would throw my whole world off its axis. Knowing it’s mostly an eye-rolling waste of time is very comforting. Thanks for encouraging me to push through my stubborn boycott, you guys. I always enjoy proving myself right.

  295. If you live in a world where men and women are equals than mansplaining isn’t a thing. It’s two adults having an argument.

    Also, since we are getting things off our chest I think Speed Racer sucks.

  296. So you didn’t like it. No need to put a spoiler alert ahead of that huge revelation! But now there are no reasons not to see SOLO. Not nearly as many people love that, so you’re on safe ground should you happen to like it.

  297. Stern: Yeah, but we don’t live in a world where men and women are treated equally, so he reads as the type of asshole who talks over all his female coworkers in staff meetings. Which is fine. That’s his character: He’s an idiot who thinks way too highly of himself. I just have a problem with the script trying to offset this characterization with a bunch of dialogue about how, actually, everybody really likes him and he’s not a total drain on resources and morale who would have done everyone else in the movie a big favor by blowing his own brains out after the opening crawl.

    Pegs: If and when I find SOLO lying around my mom’s house, I might just do that. I don’t see how my expectations could be any lower so who knows? This might be the one.

  298. Dammit now my only hope is that I finally saw BLACK PANTHER and shockingly really liked it and is one of the rare times I thought Mr. M was totally wrong. I was even going to finally give this one a watch soon now it’s going to continue to collect dust next to BLADE RUNNER 2099 as I forever push off watching them.

    Stern, re:SPEED RACER: You’re dead to me…

  299. Regardless of whether or not it sucks is SPEED RACER the last movie to gain a significant-cult-following-bordering-on-public-reappraisal after being “trashed by the critics” (i.e. actually getting pretty mixed reviews and losing money)? It probably isn’t, but I can’t think of a later example right now (the DCEU films have their fans, including myself to an extent, but that’s mostly borne out of existent fandom for pre-established characters, and the overall public view still isn’t too good), I feel it’s something that’s kind of faded aware as the prominence of Rotten Tomatoes (in particular) has grown. In the 00s there were a wave of films (THE BOONDOCK SAINTS, EQUILIBRIUM, THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT, even the original SAW to an extent) which were more or less dismissed or laughed at by critics but had decent public support and sizable fanbases who sincerely thought they were great (and intelligent) movies. I personally think critics were actually closer to the mark in those cases, but I feel that causing critics’ monocles to drop out as a result of our outrageously boorish film taste is a god-given right of every filmgoer that shouldn’t go away in a haze of hyperbole and the epidemic of “good enough” films.

  300. zero-mentality

    May 29th, 2018 at 9:38 am

    I don’t want to waste whatever percentage of my life it would take to systematically pick apart everything both nauseating and wack about this film as an ideological and cultural product, but I will pull at one of its many loose threads to give an impression of how easily it unravels – why do the Resistance and the First Order need to buy weapons from the Canto Bight people? The Resistance was the clandestine military wing of the government that ruled most of the galaxy until like, a week before the events of this story, they have mass produced uniforms, sidearms, heavy weapons, fighters and bombers, cruisers, etc, – what weapons do they need to buy? The First Order is (somehow) equally as equipped, and managed to build and maintain a gun planet that dwarfed the original Death Stars – how could they possibly not be manufacturing their own shit at this point?

    So this plot point is totally incredible, as in, not credible based on anything the films have shown or told us up to this point, but it’s a setup for some of the flick’s much praised “complexity” via a political allegory that has no real world equivalent – there are no non-state actors who get rich by funding both sides of a conflict! This doesn’t exist anywhere in the world! The world’s biggest arm dealer is the United States! An allegory with real teeth might have had Resistance leaders stuffing their space-pockets with filthy space-lucre by offering no-bid space-contracts to space-construction companies to rebuild Coruscant after it got space-nuked in TFA, but that probably would have space-implicated people on the Disney shareholders board, lol.

    Anyways, this is all setup for the flick’s exquisitely tortured and nonsensical Moral – first depicted in truly cinematic fashion by cartoon llamas running around a cartoon forest and later explicated by now legendary fan-favorite character Rose Tico (where to cop the 12 inch Collector’s Edition resin space-statue?) who draws an absurd non-existent distinction between “attacking what you hate” and “protecting what you love”, as if those aren’t two halves of the same process like 100% of the time – see George Jackson’s “perfect love and perfect hate”, or like, anything written by anybody who understood anything about political reality. Vapid, banal, aggressively self-righteous, and desperately, desperately stupid, Walt Disney’s THE LAST JEDI is truly the must-see STAR WAR of 2017! Zero bags of space-popcorn out of 10, and so on.

  301. That was beautiful, zero. it’s nice to know that I’m not the angriest hater around.

  302. My point was that the Star Wars Universe clearly takes place in a world where men and women are equal so what he did wasn’t mansplaining, it’s just having an argument. On the same coin, Laura Dern was a shitty leader. Things are looking real bad for everybody and keeping her plan a secret doesn’t make the plan fail or succeed other than to have a fake bit of conflict.

    For the record, I don’t think Last Jedi is that great but I do enjoy the stuff when they get to the planet at the end.

  303. I see what you mean, Sternshein. In his world, what he’s doing is just kind of rude and insubordinate. I don’t think my reading is too far off, though. They have him deliver the line about how she’s not what he expected, which, in cinema, always means “I didn’t know she was a girl.” Then she’s introduced looking way more feminine than anyone else on the ship, even Leia. Then he gets all up in her face immediately like she doesn’t know what she’s talking about, even though she’s a goddamn admiral. I think they wanted us to feel some real-world gender-based discomfort with Poe at that moment.

    Which is good. Like Mr. S said above, I think a story that doesn’t automatically reward cocky young men for their brashness and pigheadedness is a good thing. If that actually happened, that is. In order for us to feel that any of Poe and Finn’s behavior, which directly led to thousands of deaths, was not endorsed by the film, there would have to be some consequences for them. But there wasn’t. In anything even remotely resembling a real military, they would have been strung up and shot at the end, but instead everybody’s cool with them like they did nothing wrong. There’s a disconnect between how the movie wants me to feel about these people and how I actually feel about them. That takes what could have been an interesting twist on the the “He doesn’t follow orders but he gets results, dammit!” trope and turns it into some “Boys will be boys!” garbage. All the traitors are supposed to be redeemed at the end, and for the life of me I can’t see why the movie assumes we’ll think they deserve it. Even a scene with Leia saying “By all rights I should have you all executed right now. But there’s been enough killing today.” Cheesy, but at least there’s some acknowledgement that the film is aware that what Poe and Finn did was fucked up and wrong and cost a lot of good people their lives. Morally, I don’t know how I can think of either of them as heroes from here on out.

  304. But don’t you think the movie explicitly condemns Poe’s behavior? It opens with a deconstruction of masculine hero tropes where he LETHAL WEAPONS in to show how awesome he is, then becomes the only STAR WARS movie to linger on mass casualties and have Leia refuse to celebrate the victory because of all the casualties. She makes it her purpose to teach him a lesson over the movie and at the end he finally learns to shut up and listen. He gets to still be a good guy just like Lando gets to still be a good guy after betraying them, or like Vader is considered redeemed even though he killed thousands, or Statham can be good guy even though he killed Han (oh wait, that wasn’t a Star Wars) – because it’s about larger than life characters having larger than life adventures and sometimes growing from them.

  305. You know what my issue with these two new Star Wars movies and it’s probably me just not understanding very much? Isn’t the First Order basicly the Empire? Didn’t we finish them off in Return of the Jedi?

  306. I think you all bring up great points about the large flaws in THE LAST JEDI. It is far from a perfect movie. However, the endless references and straight-up theft of entire plot points that made me hate THE FORCE AWAKENS are mostly gone. And it has at least some of the deconstruction of black/white good/bad Jedi/Sith false duality that makes me begrudgingly admire THE FORCE AWAKENS. The best part of TFA is easily Kylo Ren’s struggle with being tempted by the Light Side of the force, and his desperate attempts to live up to his idea of what a badass his grandfather was. The LAST JEDI has our heroine being tempted by the Dark Side, and nearly joining forces with Kylo to rule the galaxy as Grey Jedi together. Unfortunately it completely drops what could have been a really interesting and new direction for these movies and lapses immediately into Dark vs Light, Kylo vs Luke. It is a huge wasted opportunity. Rey and Ren, ruling together on equal thrones, always in conflict but also understanding each other, with none of this Jedi holier than thou attitude but without the duplicitous and destructive nature of the Sith either. But no.

    The Monte Carlo planet was complete bullshit. Poe Dameron destroying all of the defenses of a giant gunship, so one bomber can get through and destroy the whole thing, is complete bullshit. And negated completely by the cool and badass but also totally nonsensical and universe-breaking light speed kamikaze attack at the end. If you’ve got dozens or hundreds of pilots killed trying to bomb a dreadnaught, why not just have a couple X-wings warp drive through it, right through the big gun? Two or three kamikaze deaths beat half the fleet dying any day. Our dumbass “heroes” staging a mutiny is bullshit. The female leaders’ reaction to their stupid ass hotshot pilot getting a bunch of people killed and then trying to take over the ship amounts to a mother accepting her loser son stealing the family car and selling it to a chop shop for drug money. I guess they love him no matter what and everybody makes mistakes. I think another mutiny is in order.

    There’s a lot to dislike and you can tear it to pieces if you want to be nit-picky, but overall I enjoyed it way better than TFA, or ROGUE ONE (which I liked at the time but in retrospect is pretty much devoid of interesting ideas), or SOLO. Currently I’d put it slightly above REVENGE OF THE SITH or slightly below, but pretty far behind A NEW HOPE and way, way below EMPIRE. Maybe on re-view it will slide in my ranking but for now being the third or fourth best STAR WARS film is not too bad.

    I really don’t understand movies nowadays sometimes. They spend $200M but don’t get a sane, intelligent person to go over the script and fix obvious flaws. It wouldn’t take much. Kamikaze light speed… this is not really acceptable, obviously. How can we keep this cool, badass scene, but not break the universe? What about the light-speed tracking device. This seems to be new technology, people are flabbergasted that this can happen. Okay, just have a little conversation about Leia’s wristwatch that is tracking somebody via lightspeed somehow, have some engineers talk about the unthinkable next step of weaponizing the technology somehow so that instead of lightspeeding through objects harmlessly (which is how it usually works, so therefore it’s impossible to track an object in light speed), you reverse the polarity or whatever and bam, kamikaze light speed. It makes your ship immediately vulnerable to space dust and debris so you can’t go further than a few thousand miles before you are pulverized, but if you’re suicidal anyway and within range of something you want to kill who cares. Yes, this breaks the universe, but it breaks it with a new technology and not by just re-using an old technology that has never been used in this way for no apparent reason and to great detriment to those who sat around watching Death Stars blow up planets when they could have just hit a button and solved the problem pretty quick. This could actually open up a new story line in the next movie. How can Kylo and Rey rule the universe as Grey Jedi when kamikaze terrorists keep blowing up their fleet?

    It is not difficult to fix up these scripts and satisfy both the need for relentless action set pieces and logical constraints, but they don’t do it. It’s like the scripts have been doctored so much that eventually the studio just says fuck it and pieces together a movie out of what’s been shot and calls it a day. This is not a good use of $200M.

    Notable exception: Marvel movies are usually put together pretty well, without idiotic and obvious plot holes. Not counting CIVIL WAR.

  307. I’m kind of disappointed, Majestyk. How many words had you typed up before yesterday insisting that you would never watch another Disney Star Wars and boy isn’t that freeing and man could you not care less and isn’t it so great that you made such a personally rewarding and responsible decision — only to just watch it eventually anyway? Your boycott didn’t even last six months!

  308. JTS: I wrestled with that. But the boycott was always about my peace of mind, not any kind of moral outrage. And if I was going to remain low-key obsessed with these Disney joints anyway, then the boycott was not really serving its intended purpose. Forbidding something ends up giving it too much power. Facing it turned out to be much less painless.

    Vern: But then at the end Leia literally says “Don’t listen to me, listen to him.” As if not listening to Poe was the problem of the movie. I don’t know, I see what they were going for, but the need for the happy ending completely killed any sense of comeuppance or redemption for the character. Lando and Vader paid for their sins. Poe did not. They just got swept under the rug. Watching Leia placate this callow child was kind of painful. You know Carrie Fisher herself wouldn’t have let him off so easy.

  309. * much MORE painless

  310. Well, I’ll never convince you that you liked something that you didn’t, but I still maintain that TLJ is no more inherently stupid or plot-hole laden than any other STAR WARS movie. I mean, if you weren’t mad that the death star can travel between planets in an hour, but can’t go around a planet in time to stop itself from getting attacked and blown up, I can’t figure out why the light speed thing would be a movie-killer. This has always been a bunch of silly horseshit, but that was OK because we used to have fun with it. If you’re not having fun with it anymore, you’ll probably notice how dumb it all is.

    Not to put words in your mouth, but I suspect that if you weren’t having fun with it, it’s because you’re right: there’s really only one story here, and it’s Rey/Luke/Kylo. Everything with Poe, Finn, Benicio Del Toro and Holdo has no real narrative reason to be in the movie at all. It doesn’t amount to much of anything, it relies on a lot of really obtrusively clunky deux ex machina, and it’s all built on a nonexistent foundation, because TFA completely failed to meaningfully define what the political landscape looks like and it’s way too late by the middle of the seuqel.* In particular, the slow-motion chase that serves as the central motivating conflict for the whole thing is as clunky a bit of overbuilt plot construction as I think I’ve ever seen on the big screen (and worse still: one of the least cinematic).

    But while all that is true, I personally also find it almost completely irrelevant, because I enjoy watching the way these stories play out. I appreciate the story’s willingness to push the STAR WARS universe into new and unexpected places, and especially its zeal to challenge your assumptions about whose story this is, and whose story it should be. While everything you say about Poe and Holdo is true, and I think the movie would probably be stronger overall without it, I’m willing to accept some clunkiness in exchange for a genuinely unexpected and extremely timely little parable about the inherent selfishness of the “hero’s journey” which is so central to the STAR WARS universe (the ballistic reaction of a lot of fans is a pretty big hint to me that it’s a story which is sorely needed, even if this was maybe not the most elegant version imaginable.) And Finn/Rose’s outing to casinoworld is a visually fun, lightweight little side trip which seems to me exactly the kind of thing I want in a SW film. It fits snugly into the universe without really being like anything we’ve ever seen before. It doesn’t really pay off narratively, but it does pay off thematically, and –most important– it pays off by being a bunch of energetic, eccentric fun. What’s to complain about? Do we really think a SW movie would be better without Benicio Del Toro doing a weirdo stutterer thing, even if it’s not narratively useful? If so, you’re looking for different things from a STAR WARS than I am at this point. If you’ve got a few hundred million bucks to play God to an infinite universe with, I say give me more flights of fancy, not less. Aim for my sense of wonder, not my sense of reason.

    Which is really the big difference here. If you’re thinking about the physics of Luke’s necklace gift, it’s because you’re not really into it. You’re not wrong that with the information the movie gives us, it seems like an inexplicable detail. But you can explain it away if you want to, or grouse about it, or just choose to accept it on a mythic level and enjoy it. Would a clunky expository line of dialogue about how you can force-project and bring a tiny bit of matter with you if you’re really super good at Jedi-ing have saved the movie for you? I doubt it. You’re either having a good enough time to accept the fantasy, or you’re going to be miserable no matter what. I find the conclusion of Luke’s story to be so perfectly iconic and wonderful to experience that he could have turned into a cartoon turtle and I’d have just gone along with it. I don’t really care even a tiny bit about specifically how that space magician power works. I’m in it for the enjoyment, and the final act of TLJ was, at least for me, a real joy. Logic doesn’t even enter into it. Never has. I’ll take good storytelling too, if I can get it, but if I can’t (and it seems clear that it is no longer a reasonable expectation in any movie that cost more than $50 million) I’ll consider something perplexing and unexpected as a perfectly suitable consolation prize. TLJ may be an ungainly beast, but it’s at least a vital, tenacious and unique one, which is, after all, the one thing I never expected STAR WARS to ever be again.

    But anyway, I’m glad you eventually watched it. I think its pretty unlikely you’re ever going to dig one of these again, but I’m glad you’re still curious enough to see specifically how Disney is going to grind the life out of this series (which, judging from the behavior of its “fans” [not you, you know the ones I mean] might just be a mercy killing and possibly even a public service at this point). Always glad to have your take!

    *Where the “First Order” and “Mr. Snoke” come from, what they want, how they’re doing what it’s doing, and so forth, is crucial to our ability to place them in a story with any stakes at all, and the time to answer these questions was immediately. I don’t mind silly nonsense, but we’ve got to have the information we need to at least understand what is taking place and what the possible ramifications are. This is information which every person engaged in this conflict understands, but TFA doesn’t engage with that stuff at all, or even hint about it, and the second movie is way too late to do that kind of basic explaining, absent some kind of clear reason for the mystery. It’s the most serious flaw in the whole new trilogy.

  311. And I should say it directly, I’m fine with Poe and Finn and Rose not being hung at the end, even though it’s obviously what they deserve, considering all the people who die because of them. They’re the main characters, and it’s clear they’ve learned their lesson and are appropriately chagrined about what they’ve done. That’s why Leia can meaningfully defer to Poe at the end, even though he’s done nothing but fuck up: she understands that he’s learned a valuable lesson about leadership, and she can trust him to make wiser decisions in the future (the movie is even pretty explicit in making us aware of how this experience has changed his decision-making). The fact that we, the audience, are complicit in rooting for their mutinous behavior helps to make it go down a little smoother: they’re expecting, like we are, that the rebellious, sexy young man who bucks the system is going to prove just barely awesome enough to justify his cocksure attitude. That we’re all proved wrong together makes it a little harder to condemn them. In some ways, it’s a condemnation of hero’s journey hubris in and of itself, and since we’re all watching a STAR WARS movie, we’re all a little guilty of that fallacy.

  312. Mr. S: You’re right that I was probably never going to be able to give this movie the kind of benefit of the doubt it needs to get you over its many faults. I’ve never claimed that the OT was a flawless piece of construction, but it got me young. I remember pointing out to my friends at like 10 years old that Luke only receives maybe a day and a half of Jedi training in EMPIRE, so it’s weird that he shows up in JEDI like he’s an old hand at jediing. They looked at me like I was crazy. The movies told them Luke had been trained, so they took it on faith. Me, I was not prepared to swallow that malarkey, but I already loved the movies with all my heart by the time I started finding faults in them, so it didn’t really matter. These new ones don’t have that privilege, so I’m seeing the faults in real time.

    They also have to deal with fitting into the “rules” that had been established thus far in a way that Lucas didn’t. Everything you saw the Force do back then was new. You took Lucas’ word for it. Now enough has been established that I see Yoda take down that tree and I think, “Wait, isn’t lightning supposed to be a Sith power?” It’s supposed to be this dramatic occasion and they ruined it with this sloppy flourish.

    It doesn’t help that both Abrams and Johnson are some of the loosy-goosiest storytellers around. Abrams disdain for narrative beyond the immediate punchiness of whatever scene he happens to be working on at any given time is legendary, and there are holes in LOOPER you could fly a Star Destroyer through without scraping the sides. On their best day, on a project I had no preconceived notions about, these two don’t have what it takes to put together a story that holds water for me. (Full disclosure: I love BRICK but have no idea if the mystery holds up. I’m scared to find out.) In the case of LAST JEDI, I’m less concerned with any perceived blasphemy to the franchise than I am I’m with the fact that the movie tries to tell me I should feel a certain way about characters and circumstances when I just don’t. That’s not a matter of simple “realism.” Like, realistically, Poe should be executed for treason, but I know that it’s just not gonna happen in a movie, and I don’t expect it to. What I DO expect to happen is that the movie will dramatize the circumstances of Poe NOT getting executed for treason in a way that I can accept. It doesn’t have to be LOGISTICALLY correct, but it does have to be EMOTIONALLY correct. And Leia just shrugging off the loss of HER ENTIRE ARMY because this asshole wanted to do EXACTLY WHAT SHE TOLD HIM NOT TO? Not emotionally correct. I cannot go with that, not on sacred ground like STAR WARS or anywhere else. It’s Majestyk the Lover of Narrative Logic that has a problem here, not Majestyk the Angry Lucas Loyalist.

    I believe Johnson and Co. believed they had taken Poe and Finn and Jumpsuit Girl on a journey of discovery and redemption. I think they’re deluding themselves and they just paid lip service to it because they knew damn well the actual story of the movie was happening elsewhere. And no incidental thrills or vague thematic relevance in their subplot can make up for that. It’s their job to make me believe. They failed.

    And sorry to say, Del Toro barely made an impression. I didn’t buy his character for a second. This completely mercenary scoundrel who’ll sell anyone out at the first sign of trouble is going to take on a suicide mission into the heart of evil with no escape plan…on credit? What? Come on, man. Work with me here.

    Shit like that makes childlike glee a little hard to churn up.

    But hey, the actual movie part of the movie wasn’t bad at all. Ditch these other losers and we might have something.

  313. I find most plot holes are really just something told in the story the viewer doesn’t agree with than an actual plot hole.

    So you’re suggesting that kamikaze is a legitimate military thing and that America should use it? That’s insane dude.

  314. I am assuming they have autopilot. You wouldn’t even need a whole ship, just a light speed drive with a battering ram on the front.

    Not sure where America came into this.

  315. Mr. M — I can see why you wouldn’t be willing to forgive Poe/Finn/Rose after all the harm they did, but I think the movie’s willingness to forgive them is vital to the point the it’s trying to make. One of the boldest things about TLJ is that it is very explicitly about deconstructing the idea of the “chosen one,” a little bit of harmless mythmaking which turns out to be not-so-harmlessly attractive to young men (especially young men of privilege). Which is to say, the exact people who constitute the most vocal and voracious chunk of STAR WARS “fandom” (if it can even be called that anymore).

    The whole script places Rey’s story of coming “from nowhere” to an importance she doesn’t understand and didn’t want, against two male figures: Kylo, who represents the blind, nihilistic rage which is consuming a real big chunk, possibly even a majority, of the world’s young white men in a wild fury against anything over which they don’t have total control over; and Poe, who represents a similar kind of controlling narcissism, but at least derives it from and directs it towards earnestly selfless goals. Kylo, it seems, is too far gone to be redeemed; too angry, too self-absorbed in his depths of rage (at himself and everyone else). But I think Poe’s arc needs to offer some contrast through its offer of hope: recognize your flaws, learn from them, don’t be Ellis, strive for excellence. I do think this message would go over stronger if our “heroes” had to grapple with the consequences of their actions a little more (I mean, they’re not just *wrong*, they get most of their colleagues *killed*!) but I’d argue that it does, at least, make a certain emotional sense from that angle: “you’re not a lost cause, angry young man, we get that you mean well, and it’s not even entirely your fault that you’ve been fed on a steady diet of mythmaking which encourages and romanticizes exactly the outlook that brings out the worst in you. Learn from your mistakes, change yourself for the better, and all will be forgiven. There is still good that you can do!”

    Judging from the collective screech of rage which defined the conversation about this movie, I’m not sure the message was very well-received, but hey, imagine how bad it would have been had they made the moral an even harsher! Usually I don’t give art credit just for having good morals, but this one is rare enough and timely enough that I think I’m for it, even though the story around it is a little bit shaggy. It’s exotic and a little bit bold, which is something I would never have guessed I would say about a Disney SW movie and certainly will never say again, after the thrashing this took.

    As for your criticisms of the lightspeed thing, just add this scene to EMPIRE STRIKES BACK in your mind and all will be well.

  316. As for your criticisms of the lightspeed thing, just add this scene to EMPIRE STRIKES BACK in your mind and all will be well:

    INTERIOR: Rebel base on Hoth. The base violently shakes with the impact of the AT-AT’s lazer blasts.

    OFFICER 1: Your highness, why not just fly an X-Wing into the AT-ATs at lightspeed?

    LEIA: Great question officer. Let me explain in detail exactly why that plan wouldn’t work right now.

    HAN: (shouting) Leia! We have to get out now! Our base is falling apart!

    LEIA: (shouting angrily) Shut up! I need to explain why light speed kamikaze attacks are only useful in very specific situations!

    LEIA: (continuing reasonably) Now the thing about the light speed kamikaze, or LSK, as we call it in the biz, is that the impact you create is proportional to the mass of the ship you’re crashing. A tiny X-wing isn’t gonna crash through the shields of a Star Destroyer, even at light speed. Sure, it could take out an AT-AT, but throwing away an X-wing just to take out ground forces would be incredibly wasteful, you see..

    TLJ Haters Strike Back

    Imgur: The magic of the Internet

  317. Ok but in ROTJ you have dozens of large cruisers getting zapped one by one fighting it out with Star Destroyers, including the big Super Star Destroyers. If you are all gonna die anyway kamikaze makes sense.

    Star Wars films have always thrown logic out the window at the earliest opportunity in order to advance the story. Why does it sometimes take a few days or so aboard the Falcon to get from Tattooine to Alderaan, and other times it seems you can hop into a little one-man fighter and go from Coruscant to lava planet in a jiffy? Or from Dagobah to Bespin for that matter. Because we need a scene with Obi-Wan, Luke, and Han discussing the force and just hanging out in the first one, and in the others we have nothing to do. Should we show a boring and uncomfortable three day flight in a tiny fighter? Is he just stuck in one position for days?? Why can’t TIE fighters go lightspeed? Why doesn’t the Empire, who should be better-equipped than the Rebellion, use X wings? They seem better. How does the Death Star travel?? Does it go lightspeed? How? It doesn’t seem to have engines.

    On and on. Nice comics Mr Subtlety, very nice.

    I have zero problems with Luke force projecting some dice across the universe. The Force is magic anyway so who cares. What bothers me about this is that I was left kind of guessing what the dice were to begin with. I don’t remember how I figured out they were Han’s but I remember thinking they must be from some scene in TFA that I had forgotten about. We’re they? I did some Googling and it seems they were hanging up in the Falcon cockpit in the original series like way in the background, and then unexplained otherwise. Anyway, my point is that making up some little trinket just for this scene and retconning it as an important and iconic item is just weird. Unfortunately I can’t think of anything else they could have used so whatever.

    Like I said before, I actually loved much of TLJ. I liked Rey a hell of a lot more here than in TFA, and Luke’s arc and death was great, and the triple (quadruple?) deconstruction of the lone hero saving the day combined with the subversion of the ultimate bad guy pulling all the strings that has been so central to Star Wars mythology for decades was refreshing, fun, interesting, and a little shocking. Awesome.

    Snoke will probably be back anyway. Darth Maul was cut in half pretty bad, and he seems okay.

  318. “I have zero problems with Luke force projecting some dice across the universe. The Force is magic anyway so who cares. What bothers me about this is that I was left kind of guessing what the dice were to begin with.”

    You’re right. I don’t agree that the Force can do anything because magic, but I do agree that the problem is that I’m thinking about the dice instead of the scene. They chose to distract from the drama with this incredibly trite symbolic prop crap. Let me give it to you straight: I fucking HATE symbolic props. It’s such a cheap, desperate way to pretend there’s something deep or emotional going on. That’s fine when it’s, like, THE EVIL DEAD and you’re just using an ugly necklace as visual shorthand to hurry the audience along emotionally to the next sequence. We know they’re full of shit, they know they’re full of shit, but it gets the job done and nobody takes it too seriously. But this is Luke and Leia sharing the screen for the first time in 35 years. You don’t need to goose it along with any of that crap. The whole story is there on their faces. All you gotta do is let the scene play out. Some directors just don’t know how to stay out of their own damn way.

  319. I dunno, I think it’s pretty reasonable from a character perspective that Luke would want to leave Leia with some symbolic totem of the friend they’ve both lost, particularly given his guilt over his own culpability in that. Yes, it’s a symbolic prop for the audience, but it’s also a symbolic prop for the characters, who, in this meeting all these years later, can’t help but notice Han’s painful absence. Luke, going to his own death, feels the need to remind Leia that she now carries the legacy of Han with her, represented by… well, those two metal dice I guess.

    Of course, this would have worked a lot better if they’d found a totem that anyone but the biggest fucking STAR WARS nerds would understand. IIRC those dice appear in only one scene, the very first time we see Chewie in the cockpit of the Falcon (pretty sure Han isn’t even in that scene). Since I can’t really think of better symbol (one thing about Han: he’s not the sentimental type and wouldn’t keep a bunch of crap he didn’t need) maybe it would have been better if Luke just said something. But then again, so much of that final act is about the strength of its images — I once heard that the OT would work just as well if you took out all the dialogue and just showed the images with the music. That’s certainly not true of the prequels, or the busy, overbuilt plotlines with Poe et al, but it is largely true of the last act of TLJ, which is part of why I think it feels so true and mythic to me. So maybe they made the right call after all.

  320. The important thing about the dice, in my opinion, is that Kylo picks them up and sees them disappear. So not only have Luke and the rebels slipped out of his hands, but we know that the last thing he’s thinking about in the movie is his father, who he killed. It’s goofy that they’ve made a joke prop from the first movie into an important thing, but as a storytelling tool here it totally works for me.

  321. Look at you two good guys, protecting what you love. It’s awesome. I get that the dice make sense thematically. Dramatically, they’re a distraction, though. How you gonna center the emotional climax of the movie around an image that means nothing to 99.999% of the audience and call that effective storytelling? If either of you could look me in the eye with a straight face and tell me that you knew what those dice represented or even that they were dice the first time you saw the movie and didn’t have to look them up afterward and then decide, hey, that actually does kind of make sense if you think about it, I might think your interpretations hold up. But you know you didn’t. You scratched your head, assumed you’d missed something, and pieced it together with Wookieepedia later. That’s not how to tell a story. You can’t just hand someone a random trinket and call that depth. Maybe it didn’t ruin anything for you, but it certainly didn’t help either.

    Of anybody in the whole world, you two are the only ones who came close to making me want to open my heart to this movie. It didn’t happen, obviously, but thank you anyway for continuing to make silk purses out of the pile of pig ears the rest of us sourpusses see this franchise as.

  322. I had no memory of the dice from previous movies, but in this one I was not lost or confused at all because we see Luke go into the Millennium Falcon and retrieve them. I was able to make the leap that they were Han’s with no problem. Apparently I was in the minority.

  323. I did happen to know there were dice in the Falcon cockpit put into the original STAR WARS as a joke, I did not know they looked like that (I thought they were actual fuzzy dice). But in THE LAST JEDI they are established as being Han’s and therefore a memento for his family and friends. There’s no need to know anything else about them – I don’t see how they could be confusing to you if you hadn’t heard that they were a previously existing Star Wars thing and thought there was more significance to them.

    Related: I’ve seen the prequels a million times and I always forget the history of the necklace that Padme wears, but I believe Anakin made it for her, so that’s the significance when she’s in her coffin and the camera slowly pans in on it. I’m not saying Johnson necessarily used this trope because Lucas already had, but maybe.

    I did look the dice up on Wookiepedia now, and apparently they used to say that they were the dice Han used to win the Falcon from Lando. That’s not exactly what we see in SOLO, which I now know you definitely shouldn’t watch because they unnecessarily give meaning to the dice.

  324. I had a vague memory of seeing the dice before but couldn’t place them. Which I think is fair. It’s a big movie with a lot going on, and a pair of dice is such a small, random thing to hang such a momentous occasion on. If there really isn’t a sentimental prop associated with Han Solo, as suggested above, then maybe don’t center the emotional climax of your movie around one. It felt like fill-in-the-blanks writing. “Here’s the part where he hands her a symbolic object. What do you mean there’s no symbolic object? There’s always a symbolic object! Find me a symbolic object!”

    And I’m not gonna lie, I go into these things fully spoiled so I knew Luke wasn’t really there. I couldn’t help thinking about how the fuck he’s making physical dice appear out of thin air and handing them to another person than I am on what’s actually happening. I contend that this was a bad choice, especially since Leia just throws away the ghost dice and, moments later, ends up where the actual dice should have been but aren’t now because Luke felt like making this ultimately empty gesture. Thanks for stealing my dead husband’s stuff and pretending to give it back to me, bro.

    Why complicate things this much to so little effect? (This question could be asked of every Rian Johnson film, frankly.) There’s just no way I can sanction this kind of poor storytelling, especially at such an important moment.

  325. Maybe the light speed attack only works .01% of the time and usually just results in the attacker getting vaporized out of existence and leaves the intended target unharmed and is thus a totally unreasonable tactic to use in all but the most desperate of situations, including bringing down Death Stars because the rebels have a very limited number of ships and people.

  326. I forgot we see Luke finding the dice in an earlier scene. Good catch, Maggie.

  327. renfield: Then why would the bad guys get those “Oh shit we are definitely fucked now and there’s nothing we can do about it we might as well accept the inevitable” looks on their faces the second she aimed the ship in their direction? This wasn’t some new loophole she exploited that nobody had ever thought of before. Everyone involved was very aware of what was going to happen. So why hasn’t it happened before, and why hasn’t anyone thought to defend against it? These kind of space battles are on shaky ground logistically as it is. Now we gotta think about this kamikaze shit.

    also how you gonna have bombers in zero g man just throw them shits sideways like missiles and then you don’t have to fly right over the flak zone what the fuck is wrong with you people no wonder you lost your whole army today

  328. 1) It was a “oh shit there’s a 0.01% chance we’re all about to die” look. Or, there is some other consequence/risk of the maneuver that made it undeployable in all the other scenarios. Since there’s zero discussion in the films, there is no reason for me not to supply any number of explanations that do work instead of one that doesn’t.

    2) We know from every single scene that takes place in space that Star Wars ships have their own gravity. I suppose we can speculate that the effect still works while you are within a few meters of the hull.

  329. I don’t need a justification for how the bombs COULD work. The ship is big enough to have its own gravitational field, the bombs are magnetized, whatever. But why do they NEED to work? They’re in space. Applying the slightest force to any object will send it flying in that direction FOR ALL ETERNITY. You don’t have to fly over the ship’s anti aircraft guns to get the bombs to where they need to go. We drop bombs on earth because it’s easier than propelling them like missiles. That is not the case in space. There is no up or down in space. There’s no reason to put yourself at risk by delivering your payload in this way. It’s all in service to a visual allusion. It has no bearing on the reality of the film.

    I realize there is like one shot of TIE Bombers in a previous Star Wars film. So bombers exist. But I believe they were bombing on land. In any case, they don’t dwell on it or make it the crux of the film’s inciting incident, and also clearly the Empire gave no fucks about the safety of its pilots so it made sense that they would use this suicidal but direct method.

    It’s stupid to argue about piddling crap like this. Either you buy it or you don’t. But you have enough of this kind and it kills a movie with the death of a thousand cuts. They add up to the point where you just don’t trust the filmmakers anymore and you start questioning everything. The greatest skill a storyteller can have is the ability to bluff. To throw some shaky bullshit out there with a straight enough face and enough stored up goodwill that the audience will roll with it, even if they know deep down you’re full of crap. Johnson is a terrible bluffer. It makes you doubt him even when he actually has a decent hand to play.

  330. So I can put you down for TIMECOP >>>>>>>> LOOPER then correct?

  331. I am so not of the mentality of you guys. I was the world’s greatest Rian Johnson skeptic and never understood why people thought he was great. I was so sure I was gonna be the guy bumming everybody out with all kinds of complaints that nobody else gave a shit about. But it did not even occur to me that the bombers were weird until people pointed it out well after I’d seen the movie and then I thought “Oh yeah, ha ha.” I would say he bluffs just as well as the other STAR WARS directors, who have always made me accept their fanciful version of how space battles work. I think in another context, Majestyk, in a movie you were enjoying, you would be 100% aboard the “it’s okay to have things just because they’re cool” train and acknowledging that the imagery and gimmickry of those bombs dropping was fucking cool.

  332. Mr M, I can’t fault you for that analysis; in fact, your criticism of Johnson is one which I have myself have employed in regards to virtually everything else he’s ever done (LOOPER, especially, would be a real movie if were even 15% impressed with its own cleverness). And I have some mixed feelings, at best, about the way some of LAST JEDI’s plotlines and dues ex machina are handled. But I refuse to believe that you, deep down, can really be so annoyed with a magic dice trick and some silly space fantasy gunfights that you can fail to find at least a little love in your heart for a movie which gives Luke Skywalker a truly perfect, heartfelt sendoff. Hell, or even one that gave him that magnificent moment of badass stoicism where he brushes his shoulder off. For me, that forgives basically anything that wants forgiveness. If you recall, I was bearish on the very idea of bringing back the original characters at all, but I wouldn’t trade Luke’s final arc for all the spice in Kessel. A movie that can give me something that good needn’t worry about its shortcomings, whatever they may be. An ending that satisfying for one of cinema’s most iconic characters is something worth appreciating. It’s not just some nonsense Disney’s lawyers advised them to put in there to protect the intellectual property; it’s the real stuff. Never figured I’d get that from another SW film post-Lucas, and I’ll be eternally grateful to Johnson for giving it to the world. He could have put Jar Jar back in there and it wouldn’t change the way I feel.

  333. But I don’t think it’s a perfect sendoff. It’s fine. It works in theory. I wonder how the rest of that inspirational story the slave big told went. (“So what happened after Luke Skywalker faced down the entire First Order?” “Well, I don’t know because nobody actually stuck around to watch because the handful of survivors had to run for their lives. But I assume he died. “Oh. Hey, maybe we better finish sweeping this floor before the overseer gets back.” Not exactly the St. Crispin’s Day speech.) But really, none of this was worth Luke’s time, let alone his life. A hero is defined by his villain, and the fact is Luke dies not even defeating but DISTRACTING a cheap, desperate retread of his actual greatest foe turns it all into a sad farce when you stop and think about it. The filmmakers do what they can but there’s just no chance for greatness in this secondhand dollar store brand cinematic universe. I don’t even want Luke to live in it, let alone die in it. I don’t know how to feel emotions about this franchise anymore. I still watch these movies like they’re expensive fan films. I see his ending and think “Interesting theory but that’s not how the real Luke Skywalker goes out.” I watch through about seven layers of ironic distance.

    So you guys are right. I have no suspension of disbelief for these movies and can’t give them the benefit of the doubt. They’re not even real stories to me. They’re expensive lies, and not even comforting ones. They have stuff I don’t hate but nothing that justifies their existence.

  334. Well, that’s great. Hey, Vern, could you do something about my email hanging out in the wind for all to see? Thanks.

  335. See, I look at his end as the perfect summation of his career as a Jedi. If you think about it, Luke’s entire arc is not about being an awesome warrior (the only lighstaber fight he ever wins is with Vader in ROTJ, and that turns out to be a huge mistake which almost costs him everything he cares about.) Luke’s arc is about a young kid who dreams of being a great hero, and becomes one almost immediately, but gradually comes to realize that being a hero is more complicated than just being the best at killing your enemies. In ROTJ, he’s 100% ready to let the Emperor kill him for no strategic gain whatsoever, just to give his fallen father one last chance to turn his life around. He’d rather do the right thing than win.

    I think he’s doing the same thing with Kylo at the end of TLJ. We don’t exactly understand how Kylo got to be the way he is, and what specifically his goal is, but one thing is clear: it’s his need for control that drives him. Luke, then, isn’t in a position to offer him redemption, but he can offer him one final lesson about the nature of control, and how little it is tied to huge starfleets and magic duels. As Leia tells Tarkin in ANH, “The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.” The Empire’s mistake, and Kylo Ren’s mistake, and to some extent Luke’s own tragic flaw, is that they believed if they became powerful enough they can control the universe. Yoda, who once suffered a similar hubris himself, now knows better, and finally, Luke must learn it too. If he just showed up and kicked ass, Luke might have scored a strategic victory, but he’d have proved that ethos right, to some extent. Obi-Wan did exactly that with Anakin, and look how that turned out. You can’t beat them by becoming them. He’s gotta save his friends, of course, but he now understands that it’s not his skills as a Jedi that will save the universe, it’s his power as a symbol of hope. (Not killing what you hate, but saving what you love). So he can’t just kill Kylo — the Empire Part II would just put somebody more qualified in charge and this shit would go on anyway. Instead, he needs to show the universe that these clowns aren’t in control at all. That you don’t have to win a great strategic victory to defy them, and if you defy them, you defeat them. All the want is control, and that’s something they can never have, if you won’t relinquish it. Snatching Kylo’s sense of control from him at the last minute, just as he’s convinced he’s won, is vastly more of a defeat than simply killing him would be. It humiliates him, shows how stupid and weak and childish this whole enterprise is.

    I imagine that’s what that little slave kid heard in that story. Not a tale of a great warrior-monk, but a tale of a Tienanmen Tank guy. For a slave kid living on the rich people planet, what could be more inspiring than a simple, perfect act of defiance? Maybe he’ll never be a great warrior, but he can be a grain of sand in the gears of everything that’s wrong in the universe, and that, maybe, is the one but of hope that any of us can truly have.

    This all has, of course, some very overt meta symbolism about our particular place and time which struck me, and I think a few other people here who ended up loving the movie, pretty hard. I may not be able to single-handedly defeat the hate-filled, entitled fanboys that Kylo Ren represents, and I certainly will never be powerful enough to take down Trump and his ilk to whom those angry young men are inexorably linked. And boy, do the odds of some single, cathartic defeat of those poisonous forces in my lifetime feel remote. But maybe just standing there and impeding them and making them look like chumps is enough, maybe that will inspire the next person who does it, and the next and the next, and eventually, someday…

    TLJ is, in pretty much every imaginable way, a complete repudiation of the “chosen one” hero’s journey that defined STAR WARS and much of Western storytelling. But I appreciate that it’s not just a bit of cynical nihilism, either — it’s a movie about fuckups, about people who, with the best of intentions, fuck everything up, embarrass themselves, make a mess of everything and end up seriously harming the people and the causes they care most about. Sometimes –often– I feel like that’s all I’ve been able to accomplish with my life up til this point. But TLJ doesn’t give up on these morons, and doesn’t let them give up either. It asks them to re-assess, to admit they were wrong, to learn from their mistakes, and to press onward, together, even when it looks completely hopeless that they’ll ever be able redeem themselves. It may not be as satisfying as blowing up the Death Star and winning the war and getting the girl, but it’s a much more practical vision of Hope for those of us who live in Donald Trump’s America.

    I mean, look at us, you and me… we’re white men who were born in the 20th century in North America. I can’t speak for you, but I know I watched PORKYS as a kid and didn’t see anything wrong with it. I paid taxes while Bush invaded Iraq. I’ve lived in cities that have streets named after groups of people my Country genocided into extinction so I could live here. White men just like me have been on the wrong side of absolutely everything, and even if I didn’t agree with it, I benefited from it, it was done to serve people just like me. If I have any kind of hope at all, it’s not to be a hero who saves the world, it’s to be offered a forgiveness I don’t deserve while I learn to be better much slower than I should. Then maybe, just maybe, I have a chance to play some small part in turning back the nightmare people exactly like me have made of the world, intentionally just as often as unwittingly. Not by defeating the bad guys, but just by standing there and impeding them, maybe for only a second. By being a face in a crowd, by representing something, by convincing just one little kid to dream of a better world. It’s not a message that necessarily makes for a great narrative, but it is a message I think I really badly needed in my life right now. In fact, I don’t think I even really understood how badly until I typed those words.

    I don’t know if TLJ is an objectively good movie, maybe it’s not, maybe that whole concept doesn’t even really mean anything. So I won’t speak in any kind of objective terms at all, and I’ll simply say, to me, at this point in my life, coming from where I’ve come from and going wherever it is I’m going, it really meant something that Luke Skywalker could be my hero at age 35 just like he was at age 5. That Johnson was able to point out just how corrosive those old stories we imagined ourselves in could be, but also offered some kind of way forward. I don’t usually think of a movie being defined by its message –in fact, I’d usually prefer them separate– but this one time, in this one particular stupid franchise which is, for good or ill, strangely bound to my life and to my growth as a person, I found it surprisingly powerful. To me, it was just a little bit of hope in a world which, my god, often seems to be crushingly short of that particular resource.

  336. Majestyk: I think it’s fair to not consider post-Lucas Star Wars to be real Star Wars. I would probly do that if I didn’t like this one so much. I mean, RETURN OF THE JEDI should be the end of the Empire.

    To me the conflict with Kylo is interesting because it’s not about the kid being powerful, it’s about him being Luke’s greatest failure, and about the challenge of trying to stop him within his belief system. Luke and his dad and his nephew all struggled with people trying to turn them to one side or other of the Force. Luke defeated/redeemed his father by throwing down his light saber, and then he blew it with his nephew by holding it. That he doesn’t actually leave the island or physically battle Kylo is my favorite thing about the movie, because they convince him to go out there and inspire everybody, but only after he figures out a way that doesn’t violate his previous convictions. I think it was a brilliant move because he saves the Rebellion without chopping up his evil relative (which we know he doesn’t believe in) or being murdered by him, which would presumably put the kid irretrievably into dark side territory.

    (cue Abrams ruining this by having them just kill Kylo in EPISODE IX)

  337. I responded to Majestyk before seeing Subtlety’s much better take on similar territory. You guys are the best. Thanks for the great discussion.

  338. MR. S that was beautiful. Not being facetious, your second-to-last paragraph made me tear up and think about how I could do better (a subject I spend too much time thinking on rather than acting on and when I do I usually mess spectacularly). I hope you don’t mind me sharing that with others (giving you credit of course!).

    *Still have not seen this movie yet*

  339. ” If I have any kind of hope at all, it’s not to be a hero who saves the world, it’s to be offered a forgiveness I don’t deserve while I learn to be better much slower than I should. ”

    No seriously, this line is being printed and put somewhere where I can read it in times of need.

  340. Mr. S: Powerful words. I wish I could see the movie you see.

    Your interpretation of Luke and his motives is probably pretty spot on. I only wish the plot that has been used to dramatize his arc had given him an opposing external conflict that was as formidable as his internal one.

    That said, I can’t say I agree that this plot tosses out the Hero’s Quest altogether. After all, what reason do we have to believe that the traitors who killed the Rebellion should be redeemed other than that they are the stars of this story? This plot, in which our heroes get thousands of faceless nobodies killed and face no repercussions whatsoever, merely reinforces the idea that some people are important and others are cannon fodder. Some people are characters and others are just props to tell their story. It tells you that the death of thousands is perfectly acceptable as long as one handsome man learned a lesson about leadership (I would tell you what Finn and Rose learned if I had any earthly clue). It’s saying. “It’s all about you, above-the-line hero guy. We live and die to bolster your emotional arc.” That’s what I find distasteful about this plot. It’s dishonest. A story that truly believed in subverting the hero’s quest would be outraged at the notion that human casualties should be the accepted cost of a “hero’s” personal growth. If I got any sense at all that Poe or Finn were haunted by what they’d done or that the universe (represented here by Princess Leia, whose status in the mythology makes her words hold a Yoda-like significance) gave one single shit that all these people died because Poe and Finn thought it was all about them, then maybe I’d feel like this argument held water. But in the end we’re still living in Campbell’s world, and any carnage or tragedy is justifiable as long as our heroes take a step toward self-actualization. The movie asks us to ignore all those needless deaths, to agree that this clumsy boondoggle is worth the lives of so many, including a beloved icon, and I cannot do that. My heart is with those poor bastards who died, not with the vainglorious prick who got them killed and then continued to fail upward. That guy gets rewarded enough in the real world.

  341. Griff- thanks, man. If I’m doomed to become a rank sentimentalist in the waning years of my youth –and it seems pretty clear that I am– it’s nice to know I’m not the only one.

    Mr M — what can I say, man, everything you say is completely reasonable and not at all wrong, but I just didn’t take it that way. It’s like complaining about all those citizens who obviously die in MAN OF STEEL; that movie is asking you to take its stakes seriously, so you you can hardly complain when people notice all the collateral damage and find it more upsetting than fun. TLJ is asking you to do the same thing with the characters’ moral stakes, and so I can hardly blame you for taking it at its word and really taking stock of the severity and consequences of their failings.

    On the other hand, these sort of narrative stories are more or less inevitably selfish about who we’re asked to care about, and it’s quite intuitive to follow their suggestions; we’re much more affected by Obi-Wan or Han’s death than we are by the eradication of billions of lives on Alderaan or wherever it was that got blown up in TFA. Just as we’re much more affected when our own family member runs into hard times than we are about horrific poverty and exploitation in some other country somewhere. This kind of moral relativism is hard to defend ethically,* but it’s certainly the foundational assumption of basically all stories in the Western narrative tradition, right? I mean, we have to not care much that all those guys in jumpsuits being gunned down by James Bond are probably working-class schlubs trying to hold on to exhausting, demeaning jobs doing god-knows-what for some eccentric jackass rich guy, who have hopes and dreams and families that love them. It’s not fair, it may even be dehumanizing, but its sort of essential to the narrative form, no? Because of the limited nature of the medium, we’re forced to prioritize both our time and our emotional engagement. Short of becoming some kind of deconstructionist DODES’KA-DEN: A STAR WARS STORY**, there’s probably always gonna be some background guys with mustaches who gotta die for purely mechanical reasons which we don’t get too teary-eyed about, while our main characters experience drama . In that sense, of course, Poe and Luke and Rey and our other protagonists are “Chosen ones” in that we, the audience, choose to prioritize their stories and suffering over the extras.

    Still, I think there’s a distinction between storytelling that de facto prioritizes the main characters, and a movie which rewards their inherent sense of their own specialness. While there’s plenty of overlap, I draw a distinction between a hero’s journey (which follows a character as they quest and grow) and a “chosen one” narrative, where the hero’s inherent sense of greatness is unfairly denied and finally confirmed. It’s the difference between, DUNE and, say, ATLAS SHRUGGED. That’s at the most extreme end, of course, but I think there’s a slight but vital distinction between stories which follow heroes and they become great, and stories which seek to validate a hero’s ancestral or inherent greatness.*** That’s why it’s so important that Rey isn’t from some royal bloodline, and Kylo is — he thinks this should be his story, that it’s his right. She’s just trying to figure out how to do the right thing. A crucial difference.

    Of course, most of the trick that TLJ is trying to play on the audience comes for our assumption that those two –the hero’s journey and the chosen one myth– will turn out to be the same, as they usually do. That just because we’re following these characters, they’re going to end up being right, that they are Great Men who are fundamentally better and more important than everyone else. To turn that on its head and show them as well-meaning but often pig-headed fuckups who, assuming the same thing we do, crash right into disaster, is pretty brazen. While I agree that Poe/Finn/Rose (and really, to be honest, even Luke) could certainly stand to suffer more for their failures, it’s pretty audacious to even depict that failure in a huge, mainstream movie like this. You can think the punishment they get is anemic, but the movie’s message is clear enough: your sense that your own inherent awesomeness makes you too good to listen to anyone else is gonna get us all killed. Whether you buy into it emotionally or not, the story its trying to tell, and the moral of that story, are pretty readily apparent.

    So while I understand your position, and think it’s a completely defensible one, I don’t think it’s an inevitable one at all. The movie has a functional internal emotional logic to it, and if you’re willing to accept that logic, it’ll take you where Johnson wants you to go. I wouldn’t say the filmmaking which guides you there is so ironclad it’s impossible to resist, and I can agree with you that it potentially writes an emotional check for a serious moral reckoning which it isn’t quite willing to cash, but still, the architecture is there if you’re in the mood to go where it beckons. I guess I’d agree with you that Johnson isn’t quite a strong enough filmmaker to force you to go where he wants against your will, like Spielberg could, but at least for my money, he’s successful enough to get the job done (particularly with the Luke stuff, which so enraptured me that some of the obvious cracks didn’t even occur to me until later. Not so much with the Poe stuff, but still, it’s close enough and the message is appreciated enough that I’m willing to meet it halfway). Which just bring us back to the same point: I think TLJ is a movie which offers plenty of pleasures if you’re willing to meet it on its own terms, or plenty of misery, if you decide not to play its game.

    *Indeed, if the 21st century has a moral arc, it will surely be the widescale questioning of how appropriate or desirable this essentially tribal moral impulse is, and if there’s anything that can be done to eradicate it and extend our empathy to a vastly wider circle.

    ** Which would be awesome, of course, and I’d totally be for, and feel free to contact me, Disney, if you’re interested in my pitch.

    *** I reaaaallly had to struggle to come up with a clear hero’s journey movie that isn’t both, showing me just how pervasive the intertwining of the two are. It probably comes from Western history’s preoccupation with “noble birth” and the divine right of royalty, which helps explain why it gives me such an unpleasant visceral reaction even in fairly benign stuff like a HARRY POTTER.

  342. fuck, I meant geoffreyjar, not griff. Sorry bud.

  343. When it comes right down to it, Mr. S, you think this is a moral story with its heart in the right place, and I don’t. You think it’s subverting something, and I think it’s just the thing itself with a guilty conscience. Its message doesn’t even add up. What do you think that kid at the end was fantasizing about with his broom lightsaber? Just playing his little part in the grand scheme of things? Following orders and trusting your commanding officer because we’re all in this together? Or is he fantasizing about being goddamn Luke Skywalker, standing alone against his sworn enemy because that’s what heroes do? I mean, isn’t that the whole point of this great inspirational legend that Luke was drafted to create? To give the masses a legendary hero to look up to? Those kids aren’t telling stories of all the little people who worked together behind the scenes without ego to eke ever closer to a better tomorrow. They’re telling stories about The Chosen One Who Returned At Our Darkest Hour And Single-Handedly Fought Evil And Also Said Some Badass One-Liners. You know, the Hero’s Quest. So to me, this movie didn’t subvert shit. It just muddied it up. I can’t fault your honest emotional reaction but I never even got within Force choke distance of buying what this story was selling. All the minutiae we argued about upthread was just a symptom of that.

  344. Still, I will readily admit that the movie is way better than it has any right to be, given the cup of lukewarm piss Abrams left them with in terms of world-building.

  345. I stand by my Tienanmen Tank guy comparison, which I guess in a way sort of splits the difference, because one one hand, he doesn’t do anything that remotely resembles “winning” and gets himself killed, just to make a statement. But on the other hand, you’re right, we do want to be that guy, not the people who organized the event and made flyers and hired buses and worked social media so the image could get exposure, and so forth. It’s not exactly a radical departure from the basic protagonist-driven model of narrative storytelling, but I do appreciate that, even if it ultimately doesn’t break the very foundations of hero’s journet mythos, at least it has the ambition to directly confront some of its more unpleasant aspects. That by itself is pretty impressive for a big tentpole movie like this, in my book, and you have to admit — it really, really fucking pissed off some of the absolute worst people on Earth, so it must be at least doing something right.

    But one thing you and I can definitely agree on: this whole trilogy was fundamentally hobbled by TFA’s spineless ball-passing on every important bit of world-building that the sequels would need. It’s simply not acceptable storytelling to just punt on answering important questions like “who is Snoke and what does he want?” and try and pass it off as a mystery you hope the next guy in line will come up with a good solution to. That’s straight-up cowardice.

    I appreciate that Johnson treated these empty, desperate mystery-boxes with the contempt they deserve, and am glad he was able to set the Episode IX up for a sleeker, more focused conflict, but really there’s no saving a trilogy where you’re going into the final chapter, after like five hours of screentime, without the answer to basic questions like “who are the villains and what do they want?” and “who exactly is governing this galaxy, and why do they seem to not care that a heavily armed military group is running around blowing up planets?” (not to mention: “so, are there like, only 500 people in the whole galaxy fighting this particular Star War? I see, what, one rebel capital ship and maybe six ‘New Order’ ships, and apparently that’s all there are? And by the end every one of those is destroyed? No wonder nobody answers the “Resistance’s” call, they don’t understand why these same hundred people are still beefing in some remote corner of the galaxy and it doesn’t affect them at all”).

    I guess you could argue that Johnson should have answered those questions when he was up to bat, but I think his instinct was that it was a losing game, since there’s no “answer” to those “mysteries” which would have justified keeping them a secret in the first place.* You either establish the basic conflict early, or you better make the mystery absolutely vital, and Abrams left him with neither option. Better to just toss out the detritus and pivot to something better.

    *(ugh, just imagine how Abrams is planning even now to reveal that Snoke was really Peter Cushing or Yaddle or something, because he read online that nerds didn’t like it that the movie doesn’t have a twist where it turns out he’s somebody from the established continuity. I was laughing a few weeks back about the idea that EPISODE IX would end with an escaped villain going to a mysterious base and relaying Snoke’s death to a shadowy figure who would turn to the camera and suddenly we’d see that it was a resurrected cyborg Darth Maul who was behind the whole thing… and then it turns out that’s (SPOILER, SPOILER) exactly how SOLO ends. Because if you don’t have an endless supply of fatty go-nowhere subplots and continuity and a cliffhanger, how will people know to tune in next week? If anything killed STAR WARS, its episodic TV.)

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  347. If Comcast buys Fox, will this negatively affect Lucasfilm?

  348. Any thoughts on Mark Hamill’s recent comments in his interview with IGN?

  349. So, I’m probably gonna regret asking this, but is there anyone, anywhere who is looking forward to RISE OF SKYWALKER for any reason other than morbid curiosity? Can anyone give me one reason to be hopeful about this turkey? I’m resigned to seeing it no matter what, but when I heard they were bringing Palpatine back… I mean, yeeesh.

  350. I am looking forward to it. Do I qualify as someone? I found things to enjoy in both of the last two. Honestly, I like all of episodes 4-8. I feel like there’s an inverted U curve going on: if you don’t care about STAR WARS, these probably aren’t for you; if you’ve got a really deep squishy soft spot for these, they seem destined to dissatisfy you; if you enjoy STAR WARS and have seen them a couple times but don’t have a deeply profound emotional connection to them, they’re solid, I think.

  351. Mr. S,

    You honestly think people aren’t excited to see the new Star Wars movie just because you aren’t?

  352. 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' Smashes Presale Records

    In its first 24 hours, the December tentpole has exceeded all other titles in the storied series.

  353. SOLO: A STAR WARS story also broke pre-sales records. The new one is going to make lots of money, of course, but if I was someone who bet on these things I would bet it ends up the lowest-earning of the Disney trilogy. I might even bet it has the worst opening weekend of the three.

  354. Mr. S – I honestly had zero desire to see Rise of Skywalker until I took an edible and re-watched Force Awakens last night. You know how some people joke “Man I really wish we got a sequel to The Matrix! (Or my favorite variation: I wish we got a sequel to X-Men First Class)”, I literally thought “Man I really wish we got a sequel to The Force Awakens” while I was watching it, and I say that as someone who hated this movie until last night and really grew to love The Last Jedi. They just don’t feel like the same story or the same characters or the same tone or vibe, which I guess is the point but after a rewatch I’m shockingly glad JJ’s back now. And yes, I’m the same guy who’s been complaining nonstop about JJ on these boards and has spent the better part of the last four years complaining about Force Awakens’ lack of imagination and often used it as a synonym for “lazy bare-minimum, play-it-safe cash grab”. Maybe it’s the last four years of digesting similar (and better) meta-movies and media, maybe it’s where I am in life or maybe it was the edible, but I finally learned to stop worrying and love the most popular film of all time which should be the exact opposite of a hot-take but it kinda is now.

    I think I learned complaining about TFA’s lack of originality is actually me doing my big movie criticism pet peeve, i.e. boiling a movie down to only one negative aspect and forgetting about everything else. Aka never shutting the fuck up about “nuking the fridge” or “unobtanium”. I was so busy complaining about “They did another Death Star!” that I completely forgot about the stunning cinematography that pulls off the magic trick of looking like an unearthed movie from the 80s but somehow cutting-edge modern at the same time. I completely forgot about the winning, star-making performances by our four new leads and the truly great chemistry they all have with each other (every scene where they interact with each other is dynamite, and the lack of which is probably another reason people probably didn’t like The Last Jedi). I forgot about the surprisingly ingenious structure which feels less like a movie and more like a rock opera or a Greatest Hits tour, where they sprinkle in all your old favorites (The Millenium Falcon! Han Solo! Darth Vader’s Mask! A lightsaber! C3P0!) throughout the runtime with almost mathematical regularity to keep your interest up. It’s like a series of 10 minute webisodes that all end in a “holy shit!” cliffhanger and I kinda love that. And I’d be remiss to not mention the gorgeous, Malick-ian “Introduction to Rey” sequence, which is a masterclass in visual storytelling and better than most entire movies.

    Every complaint about the plot of this movie is absolutely true and valid, but last night I made the inevitable (and insane) realization that the closest cinematic cousin we have to The Force Awakens is I’m Gonna Git You Sucka. Sure, it’s technically “about” the adventures of new, likable, fun characters, but it’s actually “about” being a fanboy love-letter to a forgotten genre and giving you the warm fuzzies of seeing actors you love and tropes you know being brought out one last time. Complaining we get another Death Star is completely valid but also kinda like complaining that you saw Guns N Roses on tour and they ended with Paradise City and didn’t play enough off of Chinese Democracy. (Yes, I know movies aren’t concerts but work with me here) Plus, look, if we can oooh-ahh about the passable recreation of the Overlook in Doctor Sleep, we can give Abrams props for re-creating the look and feel of the OT with Gus Van Sant Psycho-like precision and actually sustaining it for 2 hours. If we can give Logan a pass for dropping us into its world without explaining how we got there from Days of Future Past, we can forgive the clunky world-building and non-explanation of who the fuck the First Order is. Could TFA have been more like Avengers Endgame where they hit all the greatest hits and trot out the cameos and easter eggs while actually telling a clever and surprising story? Could it have been more like Fury Road and deliver truly jaw-dropping action? Could it be more like Avatar where it actually has something to say about the world we live in? Sure, and that’s why those movies are all better than this one is. But as an exercise in De Palma-ian style and homage over substance, The Force Awakens is kind of an enjoyable miracle.

  355. Oh, one more thing – can you imagine if you were a Star Wars fan and somehow never saw a trailer or lived in a cave and had no idea what The Force Awakens was going to be about? Looking at it from that perspective it would probably be one of the most “Holy Shit!”-filled, satisfying experiences of all time. I know they couldn’t possibly keep everything secret but imagine if they had an Avengers Endgame-level of secrecy and vague trailers and you didn’t know any OT elements or cast were in it at all – the scene when Han Solo shows up would have been a world-breaking all-timer twist. Instead we didn’t just know he was in it but most of us figured he was going to die in it. (We also knew Luke was going to be in it which makes his appearance at the very end a “that’s it?!?” groaner instead of the “Holy Shit!” moment it could have been)

    Also: imagine if you didn’t know a Stormtrooper-turned-good was going to be one of the heroes of the movie. During the opening shootout when Poe is mercilessly mowing down Stormtroopers left and right like we’ve seen in every other fucking Star Wars movie, and then suddenly the music turns sad and dramatic and the movie starts focusing on one of the Stormtroopers looking scared and then there’s actual Stormtrooper blood shown, it’s a total “wait, what’s happening?? Is this real?” scene like something out of Too Many Cooks. For a guy who constantly talks about the joy of his mystery boxes, it really seems weird that JJ keeps making movies that work best (or ONLY work, you can argue) by forgetting the elements used to sell the movie. Like, can you imagine if Palpatine being in the new one was actually kept a secret? I’d probably kinda love it when I saw it, instead I’ve been groaning loudly about it for months like everyone else on the internet.

  356. I didn’t know a stormtrooper-turned-good was going to be one of the heroes of the movie. I remember being slightly intrigued when I realized that was the setup, and then I was hugely let down because the movie never reckons with it all and his personality is totally incongruent with his backstory. Boyega is a charming actor, Finn is a terribly realized character, and I believe that’s true of every actor and character in the whole movie with no exceptions.

  357. I’ve got tickets for tonight, and considering how sold out every showing is, I know there are a shitload of people who are excited. I am too.

  358. JTS – Yeah that’s JJ in a nutshell – intriguing and smart setup, not-so-great payoff. The fact that they shake things up by asking the question “Who are these human beings, these LIVES under the Stormtrooper masks that we’ve been asked to cheer when their lives are snuffed out?” and then 5 minutes later Finn is cavalierly blowing away like 100 of his friends for LOLZ, it’s such a disappointment and why despite being a real good time and a brilliant technical exercise in mimicry, this will never come near Cobra Kai in my list of all-timers.

    And now that you mention terribly realized characters, I must ask: is the moratorium on saying the phrase “Mary Sue” over? Look, I swear I’m not a sexist but I think it’s impossible to watch the movie and NOT notice Rey’s extreme proficiency at everything. The movie totally plays it up for laughs and even has characters make jokes about it out loud multiple times! It actually feels more like a MacGruber-esque eye-rolling running gag than something that would end up getting politicized and getting the internet up in arms over. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not mad about it, I’m amused by it and respect it as a screenwriter’s shortcut the way Maz Kanata’s “I’ll tell you where I got the lightsaber some other time!” works as an eye-rolling gag and a screenwriter’s shortcut.

  359. Yes, I am excited to watch the next STAR WARS movie. Just like the last 2, and the original 3, I will watch it once and enjoy it immensely, and then never think about it again.

  360. I would be more excited for the new movie if it wouldn’t look like Disney is bending over backwards to please the loud minority of internet trolls that hated everything about THE LAST JEDI, despite the movie being praised by critics and making a shit ton of money. Hopefully it’s not what it appears to be, but how suddenly every press interview featured “Uhm..yeah…we kinda didn’t like the last movie either and we swear we weren’t told to say it, just like we didn’t have to mention all those real sets and practical FX whenever we were promoting THE FORCE AWAKENS”, doesn’t lift my spirit. I wish Carrie “Take No Shit From Anybody” Fisher would still be alive.

    Say what you want about George Lucas, but at least he did his thing, no matter what the nerds said! (Even if he admittedly reduced Jar Jar’s role with every movie. But hey, he was a part of CLONE WARS!)

  361. Compared to how I felt before the other two came out, I’m feeling positively sanguine about this one. There’s no reason to give a shit one way or the other about the supposed story this supposed saga is supposedly telling, so there’s nothing any of these Ellises can do to hurt me anymore. I don’t even feel the need to rant about the creative bankruptcy that has allowed these cynical content extensions to exist because it seems like most people have caught on to what I was saying right at the beginning of the Disney era lo these many years ago.

    And I quote:

    “People just seem to get this selective amnesia where they forget that nobody ever actually likes it when franchises get extended well beyond their natural sell-by date. Yet they keep coming back for more. I don’t get it. It’s like they enjoy being disappointed.”—Mr. Motherfucking Majestyk, Chronically Correct Motherfucker, April 29, 2014

    All this has come to pass exactly as I foretold. And while there is some satisfaction in being One Hundred Thousand Percent Right About Everything, mostly I just appreciate that the world maybe isn’t as insane as I’d feared. People are easily sold a bill of goods but they eventually catch on. They’ll see the new Star Wars because it’s the new Star Wars but the thrill is gone. I’d rather the movies were great and I had to eat my words but if the movies are going to be as not great as these movies are then I’m glad I’m not the only one who notices anymore. I can only hope that the Disney Star Wars backlash leads the charge in making audiences prefer new experiences instead of all the corpse-humping they’ve been served this past decade.

    That’s why I am currently at peace with this series and the discourse surrounding it. Because I don’t feel like a lone mutant ranting on the fringes anymore, I can be more reasonable about the films and what they mean, which is to say absolutely nothing. They’re big shiny balloons full of empty air that have to go meta to justify their existence. This is obvious to one and all and thus not worth my righteous bile. I’m not even boycotting the movies anymore. I see them when it’s free and easy, enjoy their few good parts, have fun ranting about their many bad parts, and keep it moving. What do I care about what happened long ago in a galaxy far far away? That’s the past. Star Wars is the past. Let’s focus on the future.

  362. I really do hope the next decade of blockbuster filmmaking steers away from beating on dead horses and creating more original experiences. But wishful thinking is often just wishful. I’ll eventually see some of this when it airs on TBS just to see what Lando has been up to and all the hoops they jump through to justify and make sense of the emperor’s return. But I’m almost certain that just like TFA I won’t be able to handle more than 10 min of this bullshit. I don’t have Disney+ so I don’t know if The Mandolorian really does bring back that creatively guerilla Star Wars of yesteryear style but I am at least glad from now on due to it’s success they’ll at least be open to taking more risks. Seemingly.

  363. neal2zod — I need the contact info for you dealer, immediately.

  364. neal2zod — I need the contact info for your dealer, immediately.

  365. There have been some pretty major high profile franchise flops (X-Men, MIB, Terminator, Justice League, Solo, etc.) in the last couple of years, and I was curious if that would lead to more original blockbuster movies, but so far it doesn’t look like it. I’m to see curious if a few more of these new movies from franchises that no one was particularly asking to continue/return (Ghostbusters and Top Gun especially come to mind) bomb or underperform, will that just mean that Hollywood will double down on the safe franchise stuff? Will they start experimenting more within a safer framework, a la JOKER? Will every big budget movie become a superhero movie or a Disney remake? Or do these trends run their course sooner rather than later?

    It makes sense, with how much the home viewing experience has improved over the years, that people are becoming less and less likely to drag their asses out to the theaters and drop a bunch of money over something that isn’t familiar or a sure thing. I get it. And it’s easier than ever to access all sorts of movies from home, old and new, and find your niche, so grouches like me probably don’t have much of a reason to complain (for the time being). I mean, why not let pop culture devour itself, and as long as no one gets a monopoly on streaming services, the rest of us can ignore the big movies if they don’t interest us.

  366. I’m looking forward to it. It has a lightsaber duel on the surface of something floating in the water with waves crashing down. It also looks like it has a whole bunch of space battles.

    One of the reasons why I don’t like TLJ that much, even though I think it’s pretty good, is it really doesn’t have a sense of adventure and very few action scenes. It’s mostly Rian Johnson being all philosophical and it’s a fucking kids movie.

  367. Dan’s post just reminded me and I guess I’ll have to take some of what I said earlier back with this but I think TOP GUN TOO looks sorta amazing and I was never the biggest fan of it and I was also surprised at how much I enjoyed the GHOSTBUSTERS TREE trailer. I guess I’m still open to going back to the well after all but at least with some reverence to what came before while still grounding it in something new (which GB especially seems to be doing but I never saw Stranger Things so maybe I’m wrong).

    I do think at this point Jason Reitman has taken bolder leaps than his dad did at that point in his career. It’s gonna be interesting to see how he gets his Ivan Reitman on. Or maybe they should just give all these long in the tooth sequels to Joseph Kosinski. The TRON: LEGACY fan in me thinks he’s the only one that gets it.

    I do agree though that with the likes of Netflix and soon HBO Max a platform for original big budget cinematic content on a more consistent level is not out of reach. So maybe things could be worse. But it’d just be great if we could get more high profile reaches for the heavens on a more regular basis than just another JUMANJI or something. Balance is key and especially this past decade the tide took a turn for the worse.

  368. Yeah, the most interesting thing about the modern franchise-obsessed Hollywood system is that leaning so heavily on known properties means that ideas become a non-renewable resource. Looking at a list of modern blockbuster franchises… there’s barely any that are less than 10 years old, and many are over 20. And even the more recent ones (DEADPOOL, HUNGER GAMES) are based on known properties which are much older. Which raises the question… what happens in the next decade, when the previous one didn’t produce any new franchises to coast on?

    Do we, like, get endless, endless Marvel movies and James Bond movies forever, interspersed with decades-later sequels and huge budget adaptations of public domain stories which never do very well? Do we, at some point, simply have to create original content to sustain interest, or do movies just die off entirely before that becomes a problem?

  369. Does it end at some point? If the movie theater industry continues to die and Disney’s surefire hits become the only thing propping it up, what happens then? Does that bubble burst?

    I can foresee a future where streaming services finally put a bullet in the head of the theater industry (maybe Disney+ is even the one to pull the trigger), and then Hollywood mostly stops making megabudget movies, since now it’s about cultivating an online library of content, not making individually successful movies. Theaters become rare, boutique operations for niche audiences in cities and wealthy areas.

    That’s a more extreme scenario, obviously.

  370. Man Mr. S I’m actually stuggling to think of any truly original franchises that did prop up these last 10 years. I guess the chronicles of the patron saint of assisination Mr. John Wick. But I really struggle to think of anything else. And even with that Cool Breeze is still gonna reprise Ted “Theodore” Logan and Neo one more time. Not that I actually mind especially since I’ve missed Bill & Ted and feel that this will at least expose more people to the diamond in the rough that is BILL AND TED’S BOGUS JOURNEY but I really don’t think there is any escape. This IS the state of movies for the rest of our time.

  371. Dan P – considering that streaming services themselves are becoming proprietary (Disney has Disney+, WB has HBO MAX and eventually Universal will likely throw their hat in the ring) the real question is in the end will they prove to be more profitable for the industry than just keeping theater chains afloat? whatever the answer to that question may be I think that’s where the real eventuality will lie. With that said movie theater attendance actually trended upwards this year and I think Netflix actually lost a lot of potential revenue.

  372. Legit the only “original” franchise I could think of from the last ten years is JOHN WICK. I though THE CONJURING might count, but then I remembered it’s based on that book by those two con artists.

    It will be genuinely interesting to see what happens with the huge-budget tentpole format in the future. It doesn’t seem like the current model can possibly be sustainable in the long term, but as of now there doesn’t seem to be any identifiable alternative. I guess when (if?) the public ever begins to tire of comic book movies, there will be some kind of reckoning. And as Dan says, that may just mean that most major content moves to platforms where it can be jealously guarded, and off the big screen entirely, or at least primarily. It feels sort of inevitable, at least from this current moment. But then again, is there any sign that the public’s interest in endlessly reiterated STAR WARS or AVENGERS films is waning? I mean, hey, even if the consensus seems to already be that RISE OF SKYWALKER is disposable, unsatisfying trash, it’s absolutely printing money for the time being. THE LION KING REMAKE made more than than many entire national GDPs. Most normal people (i.e. hypothetical people that I have never personally met) don’t seem to really be bothered about these movies being unoriginal, so maybe this really can continue forever?

  373. I’m guessing the slight rise in attendance this year is a short term bump based around a few high profile hits and the introduction of subscription movie pass programs, but who knows? It still looks like they are losing money, if not at as fast of a pace as last year.

    Of course, the streaming services offer their own problems. I think we’re in a sweet spot right now, because they have to be competitive with each other, which encourages them to offer a broad variety of content. If I had to guess, Netflix is losing ground because it’s facing serious competition for the first time, and its losing more and more of it’s non-original programming.

    But so many are popping up, do we reach a critical mass at some point? When there become way too many services to even subscribe to a reasonable cross section of them, do they start packaging them together like cable networks? And what happens if, say, Disney or Netflix buys out one of their major competitors? I like all the choices we have right now, but I’m not sure it’s going to stay that way.

  374. Here, again, I think there’s a bit of a shell game going on with this talk of “original” franchises having to meet the bar of not only being non-reboots but that they can’t be based on any prior source material (e.g., CONJURING). By that definition, DIE HARD was not an original franchise. How many original franchises were launched in the aughts? Also, do we want more original franchises or fewer franchises altogether? I’m confused about what we’re all longing for that we’re not getting (other than Stallone to do a good movie that isn’t a ROCKY sequel and for Scott Adkins to get a big budget theatrical franchise starring role)?

    Also, let’s not forget the storied MECHANIC franchise, you guys.

  375. You mean the one that was a remake of a Charles Bronson movie?

  376. Also, I will just say that I think the STAR WARS Original Trilogy is great, iconic fun with high re-watch value, and I do think it is better than the new trilogy, but, honestly, I don’t think it’s that much better. I think there’s a halo over it, and we see it via the gauzy memories of childhood (if we came of age in the VHS era). They’re great, but they had flaws, did goofy stuff, too. That helps me take all this in stride.

  377. Oh, right. I’m partial to the MECHANIC prequel trilogy myself, but some of the stand-alone MECHANIC saga stories were pretty good, too.

  378. Mr. S – Yes, I too can’t believe I found weed strong enough to shatter my entire worldview and make me appreciate a movie that’s been my punching bag for the last 4 years.

    Speaking of which, The Last Jedi is also very, very good on stoned rewatch. It’s everything everyone says it is – really smart and thoughtful, really dumb and full of “plot holes”. Thematically rich and full of things to say, but also not really sure how to say them. I can’t believe I initially thought “That wasn’t really THAT different” when I first saw this movie – it’s so unlike any other movie in the series in aesthetics and tone that it actually feels a little off-brand, like if we were sold and expecting Avengers 5 but instead we got an episode of Agents of Shield featuring Special Guest Starts Laura Dern and Benicio Del Toro. Both of which play characters unlike any we’ve ever seen in this series, and like everything else about this movie they’re either a breath of fresh air, or kind of a betrayal and a bad joke.

    Just like I felt ROTS was less of a movie and more of a checklist of “Shit that needs to happen to get us back to the OT”, The Last Jedi feels like Rian Johnson’s checklist of “Shit I can do to shake up this stale franchise and make JJ’s life a living hell”. Yes, everyone’s already discussed the way he wantonly stomps on and destroys all of JJ’s mystery boxes (Snoke, Rey’s Parents, Phasma, etc…), but watching it again I’m shocked how obsessive he is in bringing up the minutiae of the Star Wars universe. Fuel, currency, shield levels, animal welfare, arms dealers – this is all shit I’m sure the Extended Universe books and videogames dealt with, but the movies wouldn’t waste any time on – and Johnson makes them all important parts of the plot! I mean the movie is so obsessed with upending things, they even have characters say it out loud multiple times. (I actually laughed out loud at how nakedly meta the “Let the past die, kill it if you have to” line is.) If this was the first Star Wars movie in 20 years, or the begining of its own trilogy, it wouldn’t feel that weird, but as a 2-year-later followup to The Force Awakens’ slavish recreation of the OT, it’s whiplash-inducing and jarring. It feels like an Andy Kaufman-esque trolling of the audience, or more accurately – a deconstruction of the source material even more ruthless and aggressive than Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. Except if you liked that one, the internet deemed you a douche-bro MRA, but if you didn’t love this one, then the internet deems you a douche-bro MRA. (Better analogy: this is the equivalent of Greta Van Fleet making a new album that sounds nothing like Led Zeppelin, and then half the public goes crazy for it for making a bold step towards something original, while the other half thinks “dude, people only liked you because you sounded like Led Zeppelin”.)

    So yeah, it’s messy and incongruous, but I kinda love this new series and it’s clearly 2 for 2 in being fascinating reflections of the canon of Star Wars and it’s an interesting experiment in auteurism, ownership, etc…This series is, however, 0 for 2 in being actual movies that work as things other than responses to the rest of the series. I’m sure JJ’s new one will be perfectly adequate and check the boxes that it needs to check and it’ll make a ton of money. But part of me kinda wishes Rise of Skywalker was just handed off to Michael Bay or Wes Anderson or Terrence Malick or some other director to put their own stamp on the series, Alien Quadrilogy-style.

  379. Oh I totally forgot I had this ultra hot-take – I think I totally prefer Snoke to Palpatine. Like yeah, Snoke’s underused and disposed of too abruptly, but so was Philip Seymour Hoffman in MI:III and I still thought he was one of the most memorable villains of the series. Every minute of Snoke’s screentime has more personality, more oily, arrogant menace than The Emperor’s macguffin-y appearances in the OT and his downright obnoxious role in ROTS. (I haven’t seen the new one of course so I might change my mind, or we might find out they were the same person or who knows at this point)

  380. I saw THE LAST SKYWALKER last night, but I Guess we’re saving our opinions until Vern’s review?

  381. Ugh, I’d hate a Michael Bay Star Wars movie. I watched 6 Underground. I’m sure you all will love 6 Underground but holy shit did I find that whole movie boring.

  382. Now that the movie has gotten mediocre reviews, “we made it for fans” season is upon us. My favorite justification from filmmakers and actors. Alex Kurtzman even used it in defense of The Mummy when that tanked, despite having no fans.

  383. The Veriety review is the one review that seems to be the most level headed.

  384. Well guys, I did it, I saw it. And you know what? I’m closer to 40 than 30, I have a lovely partner, a stable job, good health, good friends. I don’t need this series about space wizards anymore. I’m not mad. I actually feel sort of free. If STAR WARS 9 (nine, for heaven’s sake!) is stupid and empty and inconsequential, what does that cost me? Two hours and some change, a 10 buck ticket and 20 bucks for a pitcher of beer. Not even disappointment, since, come on, what did I expect? Did Disney finally Marvelize the Star Warses? Of course they did, that’s what they do. If there was ever anything here that really meant something, this doesn’t diminish it. If there was anything about this ride that I’ve enjoyed, it will always be with me, and nothing can take that away. If it was always all nostalgia, then I accept the comfort that gave. If it ever raped my childhood, well, I’m not a child anymore. If it all must end ignominiously, at least it ends.

    I am at peace.

    The Force is in balance.

  385. When I talk to people about movies I love they usually stare at me like I’m mad or stoned. And that’s fine. It’s their loss. So I’m not used to dealing with films that every idiot on the planet has a unusually strong opinion about. I liked THE LOST STAIRMASTER – and I can even tell those who are interested how it compares to the other eight – but the quality of the thing does not affect my mental health or mood in any significant way.

  386. Shit, I realize now that it’s called THE RISE OF…

  387. Mr. S: Well, geez. Other than good health, I have, like, none of those things. And I’m closer to 50 than 39 so who knows how long that’ll last. When you put it that way, I could really use some good space wizardry right about now.

  388. * 30. I am closer to 50 than 30. Not 39. I’m not that old yet.

    Goddamn phones. I learned to type on an antique typewriter at age 6. There was no going back for mistakes. I am a professional editor and proofreader and have been most of my adult life. I recently submitted a 100-page unproofed mostly first-draft manuscript that had one (1) typo in it. But get me on my goddamn phone and I’m all fucking thumbs.

  389. Mr M — ah, but you’ve got something even better: a publishing deal. Immortality!

  390. JTS – it’s me, I’m the one fan of the Tom Cruise MUMMY flick.

  391. You are not alone. There are at least two of us.

  392. I tried watching THE MUMMY. Couldn’t do it. I do like the Joe Johnston version of THE WOLFMAN that wasn’t really Joe Johnston’s version though so who am I to judge?


    I don’t want to be a complaining Star Wars guy, or a parade pisser, so I didn’t get into it with anybody, and I’m not gonna do a big review about it or anything, but I wanted to vent among friends here. I love this show The Mandalorian. And what they did at the end there was a pretty cool idea (though one of the few times they’ve gone with the obvious thing we’ve been expecting for the big dramatic events). But… I wish it worked better for me. I had a hard time getting excited about seeing this beloved character because it really didn’t feel like we were seeing him. I guess I understand why they think Hamill is too old to de-age. But, in addition to it obviously not looking like a real human being there, it just wasn’t a performance. His expressions and his voice were so lifeless. I don’t know if it was animation or mocap or stock footage but it sure seemed like the latter.

    Oh well. You win some, you lose some. The Ahsoka Tano episode and the first Boba Fett appearance made the season great, and there were lots of other great moments in the finale (like Mando saying goodbye, or that scene where an Empire asshole got to air his grievances after being taunted about the Death Star). But what I wanted to rant about was the high number of people on Twitter using their excitement about the Luke scene as a chance to drag THE LAST JEDI again, saying “THIS is the Luke I remember!”

    I’m glad you loved it, I’m not gonna argue with you, but WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? It’s “the Luke you remember” because it’s the same outfit and the same footage of his face. But you really think he’s in character? The Luke of the original trilogy – in fact, EVERY character of the original trilogy – did not and likely could not do anything remotely like that light saber massacre. It’s cool, I like it, but it’s not the Luke you remember! And though they’re droids and that doesn’t seem to count as killing in Star Wars despite his best friends being droids, I also think this is an odd look for him after he has already completed his arc of being tempted by the dark side, rejecting it and redeeming his father. Why would he be here 9 years later looking like it’s the same day as RETURN OF THE JEDI and acting more like Darth Vader than ever before? That’s weird, right?

    I’m not complaining, it’s fine, I’m just saying – don’t tell me LAST JEDI Luke is not the same character because he has been through things and lived a life and changed his mind about things and struggles with things, and then tell me this empty video game simulacrum of his face doing cool moves is the REAL Luke you wanted to see. Or actually, DO tell me that, to remind me not to get into these discussions anymore, because we’re not even talking about the same thing.

    p.s. Come home Grogu you know you don’t want to be a Jedi

  394. Vern, this is excactly what I’ve been trying to tell friends and co-workers with that attitude. Good to hear someone else say it. PS! Wasn’t Hamill’s acting in ‘83 pretty much like this?

  395. My 2 cents Vern: The Mandalorian in general rang all the bells in my Geek Cathedral for successfully bridging both the retro charm of an old TV show, the ones where a lone hero wanders from town to town having little standalone adventures (HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL, KUNG FU, THE FUGITIVE, THE INCREDIBLE HULK….insert appropriate reference) and an overarching mythology of the Star Wars universe, centering around a gifted Child.

    It boasted awe inspiring visual effects, top notch production design, written and filmed by people who genuinely understand and love this Universe and capped it off with a season finale that’s 45 minutes of the most epic action I’ve seen on TV this year, not to mention a TWIST that understandably sent SW geeks to Nerd Nirvana!

    The Luke appearance was just the cherry on top of a sweet sweet cake.

    I love that scene NOT because it’s the Luke I remember, I love it for the joy and relief of seeing what an homage from film makers who genuinely love this character would be like.

    Have no issues with those who’re down with a Luke who’s a cynical and bitter hermit milking a sea camel’s tits because he almost off-ed his nephew for sensing a Dark Side within him, it’s just not what that character is to me and how I believe I that character could have evolved. I believe there’re many who share that opinion that’s where most of the nerdgasm over the Mandalorian Finale is coming from.

  396. That’s what everybody’s crying over? The same bullshit they hated at the end of ROGUE ONE?

    Unrelated question: How long can a human roll his eyes before it becomes a health problem?

  397. Maj, I’ll admit CGI Luke doesn’t completely clear the Uncanny Valley, but Jesus, it’s a quantum leap from CGI Leia at the end of ROGUE ONE

  398. It’s not the CGI I’m rolling my eyes at.

  399. If you mean the scene at the end of ROGUE “It’s like a real war movie!” ONE where the leader of the bad guys tears through a bunch of people and it’s more or less played like a scene of Bruce Lee kicking ass in ENTER THE DRAGON, people loved that shit. I kind of did, despite my better judgement.

  400. It would have made a really bitchin’ video game cut-scene, that’s for sure.

  401. KayKay – I feel the same about the show and I don’t question the bonafides of the people making it. Dave Filoni worked closely with Lucas on Clone Wars and takes the philosophy and storytelling more seriously than anyone, in addition to adding his own spin to it, so he literally is Lucas’s padawan. I just think this particular part is a rare misstep, at least for me, since it put a big empty soul-less hole into the middle of the emotional climax of 2 seasons of television (not to mention what should be the thrilling appearance of an all time favorite character).

    My main problem is with the execution, but this really shows how crazy these “this is what Luke is supposed to be like” discussions are, because it’s clear that you and I interpret *both* of these depictions of Luke *entirely* differently. To me, THIS is the cynical version. It’s all very intentional and meant to be cyclical. His entrance is a direct homage to the Vader scene in ROGUE ONE, he’s dressed in the same outfit that represented his temptation to the dark side in JEDI, he comes in and repeats the mistakes of his father’s mentors, taking a child away from his father (possibly for a doomed Jedi Academy, if that exists yet), and doing it with all the emotions of a guy picking up a package at the post office. Some of that is down to the failure of the technology to put humanity into the performance, but I think there’s also meant to be irony to the scene.

    The Luke of LAST JEDI is bitter and disillusioned, but it’s because he *does* care, he thinks he repeated the Jedi hubris of the Clone Wars era and that he’s causing more harm than good. It’s an extension and evolution of the character who questioned Jedi orthodoxy from the beginning, found a better way than killing his father, and subsequently was thrown into a reality where his victory over the Empire didn’t fix much. (And then he learns from Rey and Yoda and evolves his ideas further, like an actual character with an arc in a dramatic story.)

    I have no doubt that if Filoni made an animated series about Luke it would very thoughtful and I would love it. But this cameo as an asskicking video game automaton at a point in the timeline when he could be an inspiring idealist is not my favorite choice.

    I do like that now I have have NO idea where the story is going. I’m pretty sure they won’t leave the show’s most popular character off at boarding school for long, but I don’t know how they’ll do that.

  402. There is also the little matter of Ben Solo killing everybody at the school so technically Grogu probably dies.

  403. Anyone who thinks the Baby Yoda arc is going to be taken to it’s logical conclusion of being collateral damage in a Ben Solo rampage hasn’t been hit hard enough by Grogu toys flying off the shelves

  404. Majestyk, according to my friends with teenage daughters it’s possible to roll your eye for 6-7 years without permanent damage. I don’t know if the same goes for a man of your age.

  405. *s. Rolling one eye is never effective.

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