The Force Works in Mysterious Ways in Star Wars: The Last Jedi




The latest Star Wars movie The Last Jedi opened last week, just in time for the holiday shopping season. If the special editions and the prequel trilogy are any indication, the irate fans who hate this new movie will be complaining about it for another decade or two; thus, for the sake of expediency, I figured that I'd chime in with my thoughts before the 2017 wraps up. As Jar Jar Binks would say, meesa tink that Last Jedi is muy muy bombad! Read on for my complete review.

The Last Jedi picks up right where Force Awakens left off. General Leia (Carrie Fisher), Poe Dameron (Oscar Issac) and the rest of the Resistance are busy evacuating their base just as the First Order arrives to counterattack after the loss of their Starkiller weapon. Finn (John Boyega) considers leaving the Resistance until a plucky maintenance worker named Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) convinces him to stay and accompany her on a mission that could save the Resistance from complete destruction. Meanwhile, Rey (Daisy Ridley) has found Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) on the distant world of Ahch-To, only to find that the legendary Jedi Master isn't as enthusiastic to help the Resistance as she hoped he would be.


Now THIS is podracing: Kylo Ren attacks the Resistance in his TIE Silencer.


In some ways, Last Jedi is like the other second (and third) entries in a Star Wars trilogy. The main characters become separated early on and go on separate adventures until the climatic, battle-fueled finale where everything converges at a central location. However, outside of that plot structure, the sequel goes off in several unexpected directions. At many points during the film, I had no idea where the story was going or how it would end; as such, it was a very rewarding experience for a long-time Star Wars fan such as me.

What makes Last Jedi so compelling to me is that it lives up to its "Episode VII" label within the Star Wars series. The character motivations and actions are strongly motivated by what has come before and the legacy that such moments have left behind. When Emperor Palpatine rose to power, he didn't just crush the Jedi Order and conquer the Old Republic; he disrupted a status quo that had been in place for a thousand years. Even though Palpatine has been dead for 30 years by the time of Last Jedi, he still casts a dark shadow over the Star Wars universe. Moving away from such a poisonous legacy and into a brighter future becomes the main theme of Last Jedi, and (presumably) sets the stage for the ninth and final chapter of the pulpy, Skywalker-centric space opera.


Excuse me, sir? Do you have a moment to talk about the Journal of the Whills?


Of course, writer/director Rian Johnson doesn't make it easy for fans to accept this sequel's final destination. He sets up a few scenes that are overtly similar to scenes from the original trilogy (particularly Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) and then goes in startlingly different directions. One of the problems that I had with Force Awakens was how blatantly similar it was to A New Hope; now, I'm wondering if that was the point all along, getting fans comfortable with the familiar before charging unexpectedly into unknown territory. However, the new directions in which Johnson moves include a deliberate call back to The Phantom Menace, suggesting that a path forward for Star Wars should include a valuable lesson from its past. As Yoda himself has said before, "Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is."

Overall, I'm very satisfied with Last Jedi and I think that Disney has found a great resource in Johnson for its future Star Wars trilogy that has been rumored to be separate from the main nine chapter saga. Like Dave Filoni (who has worked on the animated Clone Wars and Rebels TV series), I think Johnson understands what makes the franchise work and how to make it grow in a way that is both consistent with what has come before yet unique in its own right. Furthermore, if you have a chance to see this movie in 3D, go for it. Like the 3D effects in Force Awakens, it's pretty impressive stuff.


A classic Star Wars conundrum: If Stormtroopers use melee weapons
instead of blasters, do they still miss?


In closing, what kind of Star Wars fan would I be if I didn't have something to complain about? Here are some things that disappointed me in Last Jedi (warning: here be the spoilers):

* In one scene, we get an overview of the kind of TIEs that the First Order uses and they are the same designs as those in the original trilogy: Fighters, Bombers and Interceptors. (What, no Defenders or Strikers?) Come on, this is Star Wars--where are the new weird and wild ship designs? Using a sequel to introduce previously unseen ships is a Star Wars tradition, dammit!

* I understand why Johnson would want to use practical effects for the Yoda cameo, but the puppet stands out like a sore green thumb against the other creature effects. It also felt odd to hear the ancient Jedi Master say the term "page turner". Do they have modern Earth slang in the Force afterlife?

* It would have been nice to learn some more about the New Republic. It turns out that the planets that were destroyed in Force Awakens were critical to the New Republic, which has been thrown into disarray as a result by the beginning of Last Jedi. However, this detail is only revealed in the opening narrative crawl and it’s not mentioned again. Luke, Leia, Han and company fought an entire trilogy to get a New Republic established, so why aren't the new movies saying anything about it?

* While Last Jedi handled the topic of Rey's parentage in a way that's consistent with the film's dominant theme, the identity of Snoke (Andy Serkis) and the nature of his Knights of Ren remain a mystery. This is a little frustrating, especially in light of what happens to Snoke and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) during the sequel. Until Disney says otherwise, my theory is that Snoke is the last surviving member of Palpatine's Inquisitors, the group of dark side Force users that were introduced in Rebels. This would explain why he would know enough of Palpatine's secrets to position himself in the First Order as his successor, yet still be inferior to Palpatine when it comes to planning, scheming and back-stabbing. This theory also makes sense from a marketing standpoint, since Disney could use this to encourage fans to buy Rebels DVD and Blu-rays, novels and comic books.


Fun trivia fact: Before there was The Last Jedi movie in 2017,
there was The Last Jedi novel by Michael Reaves and
Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff in 2013.




Comments

  1. What do you think of this theory I have(had?).Snoke was actually the Emperor,who survived falling into a reactor .He looks like the Emperor, only slightly more disfigured.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yeah, I could see that. Another theory I've considered was that Snoke was a Palpatine clone who somehow came out a bit underdeveloped and disfigured but survived anyway.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

FOUND: Mechanical Shark from Universal Jaws Theme Park Ride

The Art of Tron: Uprising (Part 2 of 4): Vehicles and Equipment