Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Last Jedi Review(WITH SPOILERS)

As most of the universe knows, The Last Jedi came out a little while back, and I went to see it the day after it was released.  I've waited a bit before reviewing it in order to make sure the legions of fans who were rabid got to see it and give it some thought before I reviewed it.  It's no surprise that I'm a big sci-fi nerd, so I was really looking forward to this movie.  Last chance warning - this review contains massive spoilers.

Okay, now that we've got that out of the way, we can begin...

I have to say...I didn't like this movie.  As time has passed, I've liked this movie even less, going so far as to say I hated it.  It was among the biggest disappointments I've ever come across, ranking up there with Batman Vs Superman and World War Z.  Disney seems to think that slapping the name Star Wars on something will make it automatically a blockbuster, and that's probably true, but that doesn't automatically make it a good story.

To start with, they've destroyed the legacy of the characters who made Star Wars great.  I get needing a new generation to pass the torch to, but this didn't pass the torch - it snuffed it out.  Killing Han Solo in The Force Awakens was supposed to add gravitas to the movie, so while I thought it a bit reaching, it fit.  In The Last Jedi, however, the other old characters were completely left out.  Chewbacca is on screen for all of two minutes, and only when he roars at Luke(leaving the rest to Rey for some reason) and gets an attack of conscience about eating a bird-like creature for supper, because it's cute or something.  Luke Skywalker, the hero of the original trilogy, gets barely any screen time, and what he does get makes him out to be a horrible person.  He isn't just a crotchety old man; he's an asshole.  He was supposedly broken by Ben turning into Kylo Ren and embracing the dark side, but then we learn of one of the main reasons why - Luke was about to kill him.  This is so out of character for Luke that it made me wonder if there was some kind of doppelganger involved.  Let's not forget that this was the same guy who literally refused to strike down one of the most evil men ever because Luke felt there might be a tiny sliver of good left in him.  However, in this movie, he appeared willing to stand over the sleeping form of his sister's only child and strike him down as he slept because there might be some bad in him.  Remember, in The Force Awakens, Kylo himself admitted that he felt a pull back to the light, so shouldn't Luke have been able to sense this conflict and try to bring him back before deciding to turn him into a shish kabob?  I know that he said he pulled back, but even going as far as he did destroyed the visage of a man who believes in ultimate redemption.  Remember, Kylo hadn't yet done anything; Darth Vader blew up whole planets and choked people to death simply because they pissed him off.

While we're on Luke, was the whole Yoda cameo really necessary?  Yoda showed up to tell "Young Skywalker" that he still had much to learn.  And he can apparently still use the force in our world by bringing down lightning to destroy the "tree of good"(that's what I'm calling it) that held all the Jedi books.  He was a sad, comical character who added nothing to the film.  A better idea might've been to bring back a vision of a reformed Anakin to remind Luke that he redeemed him, so maybe he can do the same with Ben.

There was one, and only one, point at which we thought maybe Luke was the badass we all knew he could be.  Remember that part in The Empire Strikes Back where Darth Vader literally blocked Han Solo's blaster shots with his hand?  In this movie, Kylo Ren had a dozen AT-ATs fire at Luke and he walked away from them.  I thought at first that a better thing might have been for him to deflect them the way Vader did, but it still gave me some hope that maybe he was a higher order of Jedi Master after all.  But then...nope!  Turns out that he projected a hologram of himself halfway across the galaxy,  He didn't raise his ship from the water and fly in to the rescue as the hero we always saw him to be.  Instead, he was sitting on a rock doing some kind of "ohm, ohm, ohm" yoga thing and fooling everybody.  Then he just faded away, because I guess force projection is lethal.

Going back to the beginning of the movie, the Resistance attack on the First Order's Dreadnaught was...well...laughable.  I get it that we're supposed to suspend disbelief in a movie about fighting in outer space, but you can't ignore obvious stuff, like major laws of physics.  During the fight, the Resistance bombers had to go over the top of the Dreadnaught to drop their bombs because...they needed gravity?  In space?  This is space for crying out loud!  One of the hallmarks of outer space is no appreciable gravity, meaning that the Resistance could've launched their bombs from practically anywhere and let inertia do the rest.  I get folks who come down on me for wanting a sci-fi movie to be a little realistic, but this part was waaaaayyyyyyy over the top.  They might as well have needed to shield their eyes from the sun, too.

As the Resistance flees the approaching First Order ships(btw, didn't the rebels rout the original Empire?  You'd think they'd have kept some kind of military force beyond "Leia and a few ships that can be beaten up pretty easily."  If not, then how did they retake power in the first place?), they run into something that has never been an issue in Star Wars before - fuel.  Sure, maybe an okay plot point, but given that no one has ever mentioned it before, it seemed like a stretch.  Still, let's go with it.  After an attack that blew Leia out into friggin' space, she somehow morphed into Supergirl and figured out how to fly through space.  With no oxygen.  And no air pressure.  Unconscious.  Yes, Leia showed a very brief ability to tap into the force in The Empire Strikes Back, and she is a Skywalker, but not only did they not allude to anything to do with her force abilities in The Force Awakens(aside from apparently knowing Han was used as a pin cushion for their boy), they've never shown space flying as a Jedi ability.  Yet this untrained woman pulled it off, I guess because they knew folks might be pissed she got killed(even though she's dead in real life).  So she magic-moves back inside, while in a coma, and the Resistance fleet is now in the command of some purple haired actress who we haven't seen up to now.  But she's brilliant.  Totally brilliant.  So brilliant that she has devised a plan to save her people and fool the First Order into leaving them alone.  So awesomely, outstandingly brilliant that she not only conceives of this plan, but then promptly tells absolutely nobody, thus giving everyone the impression that she's an incompetent boob and they have to do something if they are to survive at all(thus leading to a 45 minute totally unnecessary subplot which I'll discuss in a few minutes).  I've heard some very ignorant people say things to the effect of, "Well, she's in charge, and the lower Soldiers would never be told of the plan."  That's absolute, 100% horseshit.  There's a concept in the military called Mission Command, and it's both a big deal and fairly standard practice.  The whole point is that you tell everyone, including your lowest subordinate, the intent of the plan so that they can carry it out in the event things go sideways(as they tend to do in combat).  Purple Hair could've eliminated the coup, the trip to the Star Destroyer, and the trip to Vegas Planet, simply by saying, "BTW, folks, we're going to use our ship's destruction to mask our escape to this planet we used to have a base on."  That's Leadership 101, yet she acted haughty and basically provoked a few alpha personalities to come up with something, anything, if they were to survive.

Two of the biggest mysteries of The Force Awakens were the identity of Rey's parents, and who was Supreme Leader Snoke?  Was Rey a Kenobi?  A long lost child of Emperor Palpatine?  Some left behind half sibling of Ben that no one knew about?  WHAT COULD BE THE ANSWER?  Well, it turns out that her parents were nobodies who got drunk and traded their kid for some whiskey.  All well and good to show that strong force users can exist outside of the Skywalker line, but building up the mystery so much and then pulling this kind of crap was an enormous waste.  Even if they pull out that it was all some kind of Kylo Ren trick and she's really related to some big shot in Episode IX, this whole bit left everybody feeling deflated, and no one will buy it should it turn in the next movie.  And then there was about a letdown.  Darth Vader and the Emperor knew Luke existed in the original trilogy because of the effect he had on the force.  So here we had an enormously powerful dark side force wielder that now led what was left of the Empire, so there had to be a great deal to the story, right?  He couldn't have become that powerful and the heir apparent overnight, or without Palpatine noticing, so what was the deal?  Was he a brother?  An illegitimate son?  Did Palpatine violate the "Rule Of Two" for some unknown reason?  Surely here was a powerful man who would be integral to the entire canon of the galaxy!


Kylo Ren simply cut him in half and watched as what was left of him slid down his throne.  It quickly became apparent that Snoke was nothing more than a plot device for Kylo Ren to take over the First Order, kind of doing Darth Vader in reverse.  Again, amusing point, but not worth of the way they built Snoke up.  To make it more gripping, they needed at least 45 minutes of Kylo defying his master, as well as some kind of trigger beyond "Kylo wants to rule and really likes Rey."  The scene in Snoke's chambers was the best of the film, but only from an action standpoint, and not based on plot.  We got nowhere in knowing how or why Snoke rose to the top, nor how he became a great dark side force user.  He felt like a throwaway.

Speaking of throwaways, wtf was with Captain Phasma.  She was built up as being a bigger thing in this movie, a big baddy that would really cause chaos for Finn, and she turned into this trilogy's Boba Fett - a cool looking character with a lot of promise who died after a bad fight and did nothing of substance.  I could've done more in that movie than she did.  For that matter, Winnie The Pooh would've made a bigger impact in a cameo than Phasma.

Returning to that whole unnecessary 45 minute sub-plot involving the gambling planet, can we please keep the social commentary out of our movies?  We have to deal with this bullshit from all sides every damn day in our lives, and maybe we just want to go to a movie and relax.  The scene was first predicated on the only way to get rich was to sell weapons.  Really?  Not streamlining hyperdrive technology, re-growing limbs or creating robotic ones for amputees, or growing food for the galaxy's inhabitants?  It has to be nefarious and greedy money-grubbing and lead to death and destruction?  The view is so caricatured that it sounds like it came right out of a college protest.  Even within this ridiculous subplot they missed clear opportunities.  When they were looking for the cryptographer who could help them break the First Order's codes, and they were talking about a well-to-do scoundrel, I was certain they were going to bring in Billy Dee Williams and Lando Calrissian.  That would've gotten back to the nostalgia and blown everyone's minds.  Nope, instead we got a brief cameo of someone we never saw again, and then Benicio del Toro showed up playing basically the same character he played in Guardians of the Galaxy.  Then, as anyone with half a brain could've predicted, he betrayed Finn and the others.  Wow, just knock me over with a feather on that one.

While we're on the gambling planet and talking about preachiness, I could've done without the whole animal rights bullshit.  We get it - the folks who run the planet are bad, bad people who enslave children and whip animals.  We didn't need it shoved down our throats.  Further, I thought I was going to puke when Finn asked, "Was it worth it?" and Rose took the saddle off the horse/camel thing, saying, "Now it was worth it."  Give.  Me.  A.  Fucking.  Break.  Releasing an animal into the wild - one that will likely be recaptured about 15 minutes later - makes the trip to find the guy who can help you figure out how to disable the First Order's hyperspace tracking device worth it?  Perhaps we should keep our eye on the bigger picture, mmmkay?

All in all, this is a horrible movie.  Any fan of the original trilogy will likely come away from this profoundly disappointed.  I know there's all this great hype now from critics, but I predict this will become like The Force Awakens or The Phantom Menace after people have had a chance to really think about it - they're currently in the afterglow of "OMG!!!  IT'S ANOTHER STAR WARS MOVIE...YYYYYEEEEAAAAARRRRGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!"  However, it'll soon become, "Now that I've had some time to think about it, that really sucked."  I give this movie one and a half stars out of five, and I think I'm being generous.

But I'm an elite snob, someone who is out of touch, blah blah blah.  I'm sure that legions of sci-fi nerds are now preparing to burn me in effigy for my blasphemy.  Maybe they'll have better success if they act nothing like any of the wimps in this movie.  I never thought I'd say this, but can we please bring back George Lucas?

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