So how about that new Star Wars flick? (Spoilers)


#1

I saw The Last Jedi tonight and lemme tell ya, it was definitely a star war. Spoiler warning.

Summary

Impressions. Before TLJ, I didn’t know if I loved Star Wars anymore. It feels increasingly gross to be excited about anything Disney puts out, and Rian Johnson’s work leaves me cold. Also, is Star Wars “Too Big To Fail”? Is content capable of being bad once it reaches critical mass of hype and money?

Anyway, I braced myself for an okay Empire rehash but came away with a really good Return of the Jedi. Probably the best Return of the Jedi. This was clearly engineered to please as many people as possible. It’s not so much a film anymore as it is, like, the movie equivalent of a Uniqlo hoodie. I really love TLJ, but it’s seriously obscene how much payoff this movie dished out. I’m not sure if the satisfaction I feel is organic or it was implanted into my brain.

As for the characters: Rose rules. Admiral Holdo rules. Yoda was there and he rules because of course. Everyone did great, basically. The plot went to all the right places. If I could nitpick a little, I think they didn’t have to insert jokes into every other scene. And I don’t think every scene needed musical accompaniment, although in general the score was much more effective this time. Also, purge the Porgs.

What do y’all think? I’m excited to hear all your takes.


#2


#3

OK, but when does Luke tell Rey about his time in the trash compactor, recalling that he was immersed within “ideology” and that he’s been “eating from that trash all the time” ever since?

(Jokes aside, cool review gio. That was informative without spoiling any of the plot.)


#4

Wow, really? Brick and Brothers Bloom are phenomenal imo.


#5

Thank you! But I did spoil Yoda’s appearance for you so I’m sorry about that.


#6

Basically I really liked it, but here are two long takes based on seeing the film, immediately going to sleep, then writing down my having-slept-on-it thoughts

Non-spoilers:

The worst I can say about The Last Jedi is that not very much really happens. Which sounds like quite a big flaw, and it is a flaw, but it’s not much more than the old middle-film problem of having to mark time between the opening and the finale. It’s just a bit more noticeable here, since it stands in comparison to the very well-loved Empire Strikes Back and that film’s big revelations. While The Last Jedi has its share of surprising turns, there’s no comparable bombshells here, and so the film has to rely mainly on its ability to dazzle, entertain and deepen our connection to the characters established in the first film.

This, it does extremely well, with a few exceptions - Finn gets paired with a very endearing new character but their plot line, while not entirely unlikeable, feels a little too removed from the rest of the action. Given the film already suffers from a little bloat, I think I would have preferred it if they had stuck closer to the main action. I hope and expect they will get more of an opportunity to shine in the finale.

What makes The Last Jedi really work for me, though, is that it does the job the first film started of passing the baton onto the new cast, in a way that respects the source material, but is not reverent to it - it wants us to let it go and put our trust in this new bunch. Unlike Empire, which set up the finale by plunging the cast into despair, it’s ultimately a film about hope. The most desperate moments are often are punctuated and sometimes punctured with physical and verbal humour, in a way that largely worked for me (although there’s an argument that there’s a few too many of these moments). And so it works because it’s a film that doesn’t want you to despair, even in the darkest moments.

Spoilery Thoughts

To elaborate on what the film is doing thematically with hope vs despair, I think about the moment when Luke, moodily goes and then hesitates to destroy the last remnants of the Jedi by burning the tree containing the old, sacred texts. And how Ghost Yoda just cheerfully blows up the tree with lightning and basically tells Luke to lighten up, that none of that stuff actually matters. That moment crystallises the message of the film, for me. It’s telling us reverence to the old ways isn’t going to be what saves this situation, a conclusion that Luke half-arrives at but needs Yoda to tell him that that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any reason to hope. Luke isn’t wrong when he says the Jedi need to end, but what he fails to understand is that it’s all the baggage around the Jedi that’s the thing that really needs to end.

That willingness to literally set fire to the old is what makes the irreverence in the script feel right to me. The original trilogy established the force as a tumultuous battle between good and evil, and the prequels doubled down on this with its po-faced treatment of the Jedi order and its traditions.

Here, everything is presented as a bit more messy, a bit more human, while (mostly) avoiding a ‘both sides’ style analysis. When DJ lectures Finn and Rose on the realities of wartime profiteering, it feels like a moment of earned skepticism about a sharp divide between the ‘Good Guys’ and the ‘Bad Guys’. It helps us understand his later betrayal, but it doesn’t expect us to forgive it. There’s no redemption for him, yet at least.

And then, when Kylo Ren kills his own master, for a moment we are left to wonder for a few minutes whether this could be turning into a redemption scene, a whole film too early. But in the end, the film doesn’t ask us to forgive that this is a tyrant and a murderer as in the end of Return of the Jedi. If Kylo Ren gets a redemption, it’s going to have to be more complicated than a switch-flick back to the light side.

I think what is most likely to divide people is the amount of time the film spends being dismantling or outright mocking things previously set up as weighty in the past. But just because of those themes of letting go of the past and trusting in the new that I find that tone succeeds.

It works for me when Snoke basically turns out to be an overconfident space-jerk in a Gold Lamé dressing gown. It delighted me when General Hux’s attempt to establish himself as a credible villain are punctured every time by the script. And I grinned through Luke Skywalker’s performance, initially deflating his legendary status set up as an expectation in the first film, and in the end, living up to it all the same, but only as his final act.

Even the weakest plotline of the film, Finn and Rose’s casino exploits, worked for me on some level - set up to be another standard issue Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy, it turns out to be exactly that, but not in the usual way. A resort for the ultra-rich and decadent, the glamorous veneer of which initially takes Finn in but doesn’t fool Rose for a second. It’s still standing by the time the pair leave, but it was pleasing to watch the trail of chaos left in their wake. And that final shot hints at the start of a revolution on a grander scale than the resistance, which could be a fun thing to watch.

I thought this was a good Star War


#7

Me and my housemate saw it together and have been going back-and-forth on the whole

“reverence for the old ways” thing. I felt like, to a certain degree, the film was following Ren’s “let the past die, kill it if you have to” credos, especially in light of The Force Awakens so closely following the template of what a Star Wars film is “supposed” to be. It felt like this film was aggressively confounding expectations – You thought Rey handing Luke his lightsaber was a big deal? Psyche, he just tosses it over his shoulder and walks off! Excited to find out how Rey’s parents are? They’re nobodies, who cares, no big mystery after all! You thought this was a snow planet like Hoth? Nah, it’s a salt planet, and this sequence is at the end, not the start!

It felt to me like a punk thing, in terms of cultural tide turning. In order to do something different, it had to reject what had come before entirely, in order for something new and interesting to emerge from the ashes. The Last Jedi at times perhaps didn’t give enough pay-off for certain things set up in the last movie (although it did wrap up a lot of stuff, which surprised me, given this is the middle of the new trilogy). What I love and what you said that rang true, was something that I thought resonated with Twin Peaks earlier this year, in its deconstruction of the hero myth. Except in this case, there was a rejection of legends but not of hope, instead of descending into nihilistic Lynch hell as Agent Cooper did in not becoming cognisant of his place as a well-intentioned but misguided Good Guy. My pal is more in thrall to tight story structure so he wasn’t as on board with the constant defying of expectations and messiness of some things; he didn’t like all the Dougie stuff in Twin Peaks, either.

Really excited at the idea that, with Snoke out of the way, we’re going into uncharted territory with the volatile and impulsive Kylo Ren in charge of the First Order, instead of a level-headed schemer ala Palpatine. Loved Super Saiyan Luke. Could’ve maybe done without Leia nearly dying in space (in a visual that really recalled Guardians of the Galaxy and, uh, that’s not great), Rose was a great addition to the ensemble, Laura Dern’s hair was A+.

I love Porgs.


#8

I was a fan.

As others have spoken to before,
this movie really moved the trilogy from “morr Star Wars movies” to “a new generation’s Star Wars.” The lightsaber is being passed to a new group of heroes as our old idols step aside. There’s a cool bit of storytelling that’s playing on how myths and legends propagate through societies.

I had a few knocks: there were a few too many jokes in serious moments, Leia’s space Force moment was…i dunno, I thought that was a fair way for her to pass. The space Monte Carlo was just a hair too on the nose in tone while running a bit too long. Benicio del Toro was a welcome surprise.

On the plus side, there was some TERRIFIC shots. The hyperspace killing blow was jaw dropping, as was the AT AT staredown.

I’m really enjoying how this movie is playing with some of the tropes we came in expecting. Kylo Ren/Ben Solo continues to be a fascinating character. Our realization of his turn being caused by Luke’s moment of fear was compelling. We understand why we reacted immediately like he did, but also why Luke was so scared in the first place. Speaking of, Hamill was incredible.

I’m really excited to see more of Daisy Ridley’s Rey moving forward.This text will be blurred.

My thoughts are a bit jumbled now, so I may return to straighten things up tomorrow once I get to a computer.


#9

This might sound like I’m being critical of this movie or the franchise or its fandom but it’s something I legitimately like about all of it.

I feel like parts of this movie were included as conscious reminders that for all the self-serious religious mythos, historical allegory, and literary archetypes, Star Wars is goofy and dumb and it always has been. And I kind of love that.

It’s like, yes these villains were modeled after Nazis, and yes there are people who earnestly observe the tenets Jedi as their religion, but we also haven’t forgotten about that Donnie and Marie Osmond Star Wars Special. It’s a hammy fantasy about space wizards and space cowboys for kids so lighten up and enjoy these porgs, you nerds.

*edit: Also I just realized that one of the big reveals was literally the same twist as in (potentially MAJOR spoiler for another movie) Blade Runner 2049. I won’t specify WHAT that shared plot point is (unless someone asks).


#10

Yeah I agree, the more time passes the more I’m of two minds regarding the extra levity. Star Wars is a goofy, hammy fever dream thing. Still hate porgs though.


#11

Porgs are very good


#12

I really enjoyed this film. Luke is the type of PC that abuses a level 2 mirror image spell and makes it OP.


#13

I really liked The Last Jedi. In many ways it was exactly what I wanted out of a modern Star Wars film. I was expecting a rehash of Empire but in the end I got both Empire and RotJ in one film, which potentially leads to a more interesting third chapter. I’m kind of disheartened by the fallout by some of the diehard fans about certain questions posed by TFA not being answered but I blame that on JJ Abram’s ‘mystery box’ approach to hyping up stories. I think it stems from a deep misinterpretation on what Star Wars has always been about. Overall I was fascinated and thrilled by how fast and loose the movie played with the established formula.

More than that, it’s a movie where each of the characters has an arc that essentially boils down to finding the capability to empathise with another character, no matter how wrong or bad they seem to be. I loved that Luke’s fall from grace (and Ben’s subsequent fall) was all down to a momentary lapse of judgement rather than some big character death.


Anyone else tear up with the moment of Leia in space. I’m not sure if I see it again, i’ll just see an old woman floating through space and it’ll look dumb. I thought when Yoda first pulled out his lightsabre in AotC on first viewing that it was awesome but I quickly did a 180 on it when I saw it a second time. But seeing Leia come alive just really grabbed my heartstrings in an unexpected way, and I’m trying to unpack why I had that emotion to it.

I think you’re expecting Leia to die throughout the entire movie. Even right up the end. It would be so easy to do and would presumably make things easier for the next movie. But at the same time that’s such a cheap way of thinking for such an iconic character. It’s kind of beautiful that in Star Wars she’ll live to fight another day. And so in the cold vacuum of space, she comes alive. I’m getting kind of teary just thinking about it.

But yeah, I loved it. It was magic seeing it with a full house.

Big laughs when Luke receives the lightsabre.
Big gasps at the hyperspace decapitation.
Big cheer when Luke winks at C3PO
Biggest cheer when Luke emerges from the red dust and casually brushes off his shoulder. My god Mark Hamil is a god damned legend.


#14

I have a lot of thoughts!

  1. I’ll start with structural:

The moment I walked out of the theatre, I felt like I’d just marathoned a full season of prestige TV. Not in execution, but in density and in confidence of its own self-contained arc.

The Last Jedi honestly owes so much of itself to the past decade of television and media and what struck me is how much Johnson & crew desire to capitalize on THIS medium: the blockbuster season movie, the audience tuned in to thick narrative HBO structure, the franchise fiction conducive to MCU future-casting, the Hollywood-budget full spectacle only available to someone with these resources. The Last Jedi is, to me, emblematic of this era of pop culture filmmaking and that’s exciting.

  1. The Last Jedi is the most anime.

It’s a movie interested in motion driven by character intent rather than the needs of its act structure. It gets messy and there are messages that it puts forth that frankly don’t tie anywhere, but part of that is due to a structure that values achieving the emotionally-charged moments and working backwards. It’s very anime, and not always good, but god I love it and I think it ends up working out successfully.

Also the hyperspace blast and the doorcracker laser: both aesthetically anime as fuck???

  1. I’m running out of steam here but I want to briefly touch on the running themes here, as well as my excitement that a Star Wars movie actually has coherent themes worth reading into:

The subversion of heroism: Hot-blooded action hero types are chastised by women more than once that war is not won by dying heroically, but by surviving and resisting and paying towards the future. God fucking bless.

The rejection of idolization: Objects have no worth except for the feelings we invest in them, and that changes all the time, and that applies to the Star Wars franchise to a fan as much as it does to Rose’s necklace or the Jedi scripture!

Fuck the establishment: So much of this movie is interested in having that debate about whether the successors should replicate the actions of the past or burn it down. Luke has excitingly harsh words about the prequel trilogy’s Jedi Council, and Kylo Ren’s conflict is thrillingly motivated and impulsive and oh-so anime. The fact that the movie closes on the orphan children makes me glad: tearing apart the casino city was a fleeting victory, because they will always build more cars and enslave more beasts, but it delivers the point that what the Rebellion accomplished there was far longer-lasting.

Anyway, that’s it, I’m done. I could go on and on about this movie and that makes me glad. It’s not a perfect movie by any means, and I intentionally hold back on the parts I disliked, but wow – The Last Jedi is good in a way that I don’t think of Star Wars being good. I’m thrilled for the future.

(But not for Episode IX because that production sounds like a fucking trainwreck.)


#15

Not sure how I felt about it. Just gonna do some bullet points for some of my thoughts:

  • The editing in the first half is needlessly on the nose. Cut to scene after relevant character is mentioned, contrast shots between Kylo and Leia, etc. it doesn’t feel natural.
  • Holdo and Rose serve a good narrative purpose in the central theme of not throwing your life away for pointless heroism, though they don’t do much outside of that.
  • Something about the dynamic between Rei and Kylo didn’t have nearly the same impact that it did in TFA. I can’t put my finger down on why.
  • Porgs are a funny contrast to Chewbacca but are otherwise really obvious marketing fluff. Sorry!
  • The middle bit on the casino planet was filler. Very well acted and directed filler.
  • There’s a recognition that Snoke is a really boring retread of Sidious and that’s why he’s used as a stepping stone for Kylo, but Kylo himself isn’t a very compelling figure as a central villain.
  • I can’t tell if the movie agrees or disagrees with Kylo’s main philosophy. Maybe it’s saying he’s going about it the wrong way?
  • The resolution to the Finn vs Phasma fight was uh, comically bad and a betrayal of the potential conflict the character could have about his origins.
  • Finn doesn’t do much. I don’t think Rei has much of an arc. They both do big things in the movie but which aren’t pivotal to their character growth.
  • The entire last scene on the Hoth-alike planet was visually interesting but was absolutely excessive. The events of it leave almost nothing for episode 9 to work with.

It sucked having a moment during this film where I thought “this is falling really flat for me” but there it is.


#16

Yeah I agree with the filler complaints and the fact that the final scenes felt like they wrapped up too much. I think that was part of the defying expectations thing: you think we’re gonna follow what Empire did, cos this is the second film? Surprise, it ends on hope! The Kylo-killing-Snoke turn surprised me, and I’m honestly excited – so long as they do something interesting with it – to see Ren as the villain of the final film, since he’s not a Snoke/Emperor Palpatine-style master schemer. He’s an impetuous, impulsive child, so what does that look like when he’s the one who wants to rule the galaxy? Does Hux manipulate him into being useful, or does he become a complete kamikaze nihilist? That said, it might’ve been nice to uh know what Snoke’s deal was…


#17

I think the way the film plays with this is what it does most successfully. Both Kylo Ren and Luke Skywalker understand things need to change, that the past needs to die, but they both have different answers to how and what conclusions to draw from that.

Kylo turns it into a sort of nihilism. Destroy it all, leave a blank slate which, of course, he is best suited to fill.

Luke comes from a spirit of guilt and despair. He sees how the old ways have gone wrong so many times and decides they need to be destroyed.

They both go through an important change in the film. Kylo’s nihilism becomes complete when he realises that it includes his master, that is what will finish his ascent. Luke, through his conversation with Yoda comes to understand that just because he has lost his reverence towards what he thought was sacred, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t hope. His despair turns to hope and in that he is able to pull off what he does in the final act, give that hope a chance to take hold.

At least, that’s what I took away from it. The film is nodding at both and saying ‘Yes, let the past die, but use that as a way of making something new and better!’ and Luke understands it in the end, while Kylo of course doesn’t.


#18

Overall, I really like it. Some of the highest highs in the entire series. I have plenty of nitpicks I could list, but I’d rather just point out the broader problems that this otherwise great film has:

  • Large portions of the humor don’t land correctly or are just poorly written. Many of these examples feel written for a quippy or quirky character from a Marvel movie, and don’t really meld well with the Star Wars universe.

  • Poe and Finn don’t really have much role to play but the film still feels obligated to give them ample screen time, needlessly bloating the film’s length.

  • While you can invent reasons regarding there being a potential mole in the crew or something like that, there’s no real good explanation for why Holdo doesn’t tell the crew about the salt planet earlier.

  • They brought Phasma back through miraculous circumstances just to once again have her not play much of a role and get killed (again).

  • Too many cuts to Porgs. (I’m pro-Porg, they just overdid it.)

Pretty much everything of the main plot surrounding Rey, Kylo, Luke, and Snoke is excellent. We finally got a proper representation of Yoda for the first time since the original trilogy, not just in the use of the puppet, but in his mannerisms and personality. Conveyance of character through action. And Rey’s parents are nobody. I was really afraid that they would make her a Skywalker or the child of someone else and I’m so glad they didn’t.

EDIT: Am I supposed to be blurring out spoilers? The thread title indicates spoilers but then every other post seems to be doing spoiler tags anyways.


#19

On the whole I liked it, but it made me think more than I was expecting. That is a good thing, but I wasn’t in the right mind at first so I think I’ll like it better on repeat viewings. That said, most of my problems are more structural than story. The porgs…ugh, they just gave me minions vibes and should have been left out entirely. Though Chewie should have eaten them all, I was so disappointed by that unnecessary scene.

For the spoiler stuff

I love that Luke sees that the Jedi need to end. Since the prequels showed us the hypocrisy and downfall of the order, I’ve felt that the Jedi have been wrong for a long time. My only issue is that Luke really didn’t explain it enough. The Jedi Order leading up to their downfall were so concerned by the concept of “light” and their holy separation from society that they tolerated so much evil. I could go on about how the Jedi are analogous to real-world organized religion, but I’ll save the rant.

I also love the reveal of Rey’s parentage. It is the perfect foil to Ben Solo’s. The entire movie story has been the story of the Skywalker dynasty and her place as the eventual (I assume) end to that dynasty makes me really excited. It frames the rest of the series as the repeated rise and fall of the Skywalkers whose selfish ambition has destroyed so much of the galaxy and I hope it ends with an army of nobodies tearing it all down…though that might just be me projecting my socialist revolutionary dreams into this.


#20

Can we talk about Holdo (the woman who took over command when Leia temporarily dies)? Specifically about how she dies?

It really bothers me that Holdo dies. It seems to undermine much of the movie’s message about not rushing to be a hero in a self-sacrificial way. Holdo could be a counterpoint illustrating the right way to throw your life away for a cause (i.e. as a last resort) but even before her plan fell apart at the last minute, she had always planned on going down with the ship (and never seemed to discuss alternative options with anyone or even let them know what the plan was).

It’s fine if Holdo is meant to be flawed; she was certainly at least as justified in her actions as any of the rest of the crew (who all screw up royally), but her death is too cool in a movie that rejects cool deaths. It’s framed as her redemption; she shows that she’s a Good Person in the end by pulling the most macho move imaginable. I’d be fine with that if the point was that at the end of the day, Holdo is just like Poe but more experienced and higher up the chain of command. But it feels like the point is that driving big spaceships into other big spaceships at faster-than-light speeds is smarter than sneaking around trying to be a (relative) pacifist. I’m not really sure what Finn and Rose’s plan was, but at least it didn’t require them to die.

I liked the movie; I’m just kind of hung up on this bit.