Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Force Goes Back to Sleep

I’m about as big a Star Wars fan that you are going to find. Outside of that extreme 1%, there doesn’t come a bigger Star Wars lover than ol’ EJ … So usually just the EXPERIENCE of having a new movie or addition to the franchise come out will pump me up with enough nostalgia fueled joy, that I’d wind up enjoying the hell outa almost anything they come up with … Not this time, however ... 

It feels like a betrayal to my fandom to say this, but Star Wars: The Last Jedi … sucked. And I mean like - “Even the prequels were better” sucked … Yes, even “The Phantom Menace(That’s my ‘low bar”, as I actually LIKED Attack of the Clones) But I never want to be someone whose bias of “WANTING to like something”, stands in the way of them being completely honest with themselves and their review. So in all honesty, TLJ was low key trash.


This isn’t to say the movie was ALL bad. It wasn’t. There were a FEW terrific scenes, aspects, and performances that make it worthwhile for ANY Star Wars fan, but too many of the directorial choices were horrific and ruined what could have been otherwise an actually decent film. 

The Good:

Leia uses the Force

Back at the end of Return of the Jedi, Luke informs Leia that she has the same power that he does and in time she’ll learn to use it as he has. It was cool to see that circled back to. There was a fakeout early on where we thought Leia was killed, and that would be them “writing her off” as Carrie Fisher is no longer with us to reprise her role in Episode IX … But nope, she pulls off a force trick we’ve yet to see in any film before, saving herself from the vacuum of space, and levitating to the airlock of another ship. Kewl.

Poe is a cool ass pilot

Poe got little opportunity to shine in The Force Awakens. We saw a bit of his pluck and attitude, but not enough to make us REALLY like him. That changed here. The opening battle which starts out with him trolling General Hux was pretty hilarious, and then showing off his flying skills destroying the guns on the lead capital ship? Hella fun to watch. We definitely got to know him better, and it was much appreciated.

The introduction of Rose Tico

The cute & spunky mechanic Rose Tico, played by Kelly Marie Tran was one of the best things to come out of The Last Jedi. She had a fairly big part to play, even though a lot of that story, on the gambling colony of Canto Bight, was some of the very worst of the film. But I don’t blame her at all. I left the movie wanting to see MORE of her moving forward, not less. That’s a good thing.

Benicio Del Toro

His character is never named, specifically, which is … odd … but referred to by his “Don’t Join” mantra of neutrality, or “DJ” for short. He was interesting and cool, and I liked how he was “specialized” in some way, with a skill or useful trait (more on that later) that can be beneficial in their universe. He’s the new “Lando-type” character, skewing a little more towards the dark side, than the light, but without being outright ‘evil’. Didn’t need the stutter though. Felt distracting when I was trying to just appreciate what he had to say. 


This is another character that we didn’t fully get to know in the first film. We got more of him here, and that’s was much needed. Gave an extra added element to the bad guys. I only wish we got to see him being even more dastardly in a direct confrontation/ interaction with one of the heroes. (i.e. - Tarkin & Leia in Episode IV) It would make it all the more satisfactory and ‘earned’ once he gets his inevitable comeuppance. 

Kylo Ren

Adam Driver continues to take his role of the big bad and blow it out of the water. The passion he brings to it steals almost every scene he’s in. I wish he didn’t destroy his helmet though. Reminiscent of Vader? Sure. But still cool and unique in its own right.

Return of “Puppet” Yoda

In maybe the best scene of the entire movie, Luke has a reunion with his former teacher, Master Yoda. The have a long conversation and for like one of the only times throughout, we really feel the Luke we used to love from the original trilogy. It was easily the best “reunion” of any characters since the new films started being made … And the first time Yoda has felt like Yoda since Return of the Jedi.

The Bad:

Everything else. But specifically, to name a few without getting TOO lengthy


What a waste of fuckin time HE was, huh? Never got to know what his deal was, what he was about or his motivation towards anything. Not his connection to the force, relationship with Luke … Nothing. But killed off here in the 2nd film, with absolutely zero reason to even care.


I like her. Really liked her in Force Awakens, but in this movie, almost every scene she was in was boring, stupid, or annoying. They tried to pepper in ironic humor which fell flat ever single time - “when Luke tells her to reach out, and she sticks out her hands …” … “And then when she tries to use the force to grab her lightsaber back from Snoke, and he makes it float past her and bonk her on the head”… Corny. We get a lot of “she’s super strong with the force”, but we never get a why. They talk about the significance of Kylo's bloodline, but hers gets teased over and over and over again throughout, past the point of interest, and with no resolution. Are we supposed to STILL be interested in this mystery come Episode IX? Cuz I’m not.


My problem with Finn is that he’s just … there. Ya know? Luke is a prodigy with the Force. Leia’s grit and determination inspires a rebellion. Han had swagger, confidence, and “street smart” hustling, resourcefulness. Lando had craftiness, charm, and diplomacy. Chewie was an excellent mechanic. Of the new kids - Poe is an amazing pilot. Rey is basically good at everything. Even Del Toro’s “DJ” is a hacker/ thief. What does Finn bring to the table? His insider knowledge of the First Order? - Except its constantly in the - “Oh, I was the janitor” capacity. There’s never anything established about him that makes him stand out or impressive. And maybe that was ok in the first film, but by now - surviving unbelievable scenario after unbelievable scenario, emerging relatively unscathed, and all the while having no specific traits to be admired or count on? … He doesn’t even have Jar Jar Bink’s goofball dumb luck.

The story

I don’t know what they were thinking. An entire film based around one space chase? … And a plot device of  “lets just hang out back here, shoot at them from time to time, and wait till they run out of fuel” - in order to drag it out? … Oh boy. As Luke would say - “Everything about that was wrong”. And then the whole side quest to find a hacker to break a code on the Star Destroyer to shut down their hyperspace tracker, which was pretty much the worst. From the little kids to the racing beasts, to … yeah. Everything. It was just a waste of time. Particularly, as it never even amounted to anything. They were given a vague description of a man to find - they sorta find him - but they never even wind up talking to him - they leave, fly back - and never wind up even partially accomplishing what the whole mission was for in the first place. Just burning up screen time.

Lightsaber Battle

Say what you want about the prequels - the one thing they got right were the epic lightsaber battles. TLJ had maybe the worst ever. Rey & Kylo dispatching Snokes nameless/ faceless Praetorian Guard samurai dudes? SOOO fuckin *yawn* I could cry. 

Direction & storytelling

What … the holy … FUCK?!?! Rian Johnson - As writer/director - he gets full blame for this bullshit. Just the shitty choices after shitty choices became unbearable. The Rey-Kylo psychic affair went from weird, to disturbing, to finally grating, as this went on what? 3 or 4 times throughout the movie? The flashback of the Kylo-Luke confrontation told not once, not twice, but THREE times, from 3 different points of view and 2 of those points of view being Luke’s … I mean, holy redundancy Batman!

Rey’s stock footage, b-roll, vision of the force … The fucking cgi critters on Luke’s planet and the crystal wolves on Crait (I thought we were done with all that) … The pacing of everything - “Rey’s NON-training”, coupled with the space chase and side quests … They went through so much trouble (over and over again) talking about getting a distress signal out to their allies across the galaxy, and none ever arrive to help, or even make an appearance … What the hell was the point?? And that ENDING! … Oh my gosh. And ya’ll were mad at George Lucas?? Never thought I’d be missing and then looking forward to the return of J.J. Abrams, but here we are. 

The classic characters

I know they are trying to pave the way for the new generation of Star Wars heroes, but the classics we know and love were treated like afterthoughts - either through actions that seemed uncharacteristic - “Leia slapping Poe”, “Luke teasing Rey with the palm leaf pretending its the force”, etc. - Or then not giving enough respect to their reunions. Luke & Yoda was good. Luke & R2 wasn’t bad, but coulda hit harder. Luke & Leia was too dialed back. So was him & Chewie. They didn’t even GIVE us his reaction to hearing about Han. His wink toward 3PO was nice, but I think myself (and most other longtime fans) really would have appreciated MORE of the classic guys interacting with each other.

So many other things … too much to name them all. Phasma got a little more shine, but again was soft served. Chewie had basically NOTHING to do. The last ground battle was the least impressive and biggest NON-battle in Star Wars history (just racing around kicking up red dust everywhere) on maybe the most boring planet in Star Wars history - “hey, this looks exactly like the ice planet of Hoth again, but let me taste the ground of this alien world, for some reason, to reveal that its actually ‘salt’, because that makes zero difference in anything” … Yeah, I dunno. 

Oh, and how the fuck do you kill off Luke? … And without even one last legit final battle scene?!?

Fuck you, Rian Johnson.

Verdict: Leave it.

If you are a Star Wars fan, then yeah - see it. You kinda have to. But even then, set your expectations very low. This was one of the worst, if not THEE worst Star Wars movie ever made.

That’s 2 Cents. Spend it wisely.

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