I just saw the Star Wars: The Last Jedi yesterday, in one of the smaller cinema halls of the place I usually visit. I guess 2D viewers are now regarded as secondary citizens. The 3D versions get the biggest halls, with the best chairs and the best sound.
But I don’t care about 3D. Upgrade it to not need glasses anymore and I’ll give it another shot.
The blog post about the previous movie took a while for me to get out as I waited for a second viewing, but I thought I’d get this one out as soon as I had seen it the first time.
As for the movie itself, it was quite a mixed bag of emotions for my part. I actually didn’t like it much in the first third or so. Much like the same kind of disappointment I felt when I saw The Force Awakens for the first time. The inital battle felt a little bland and they still relied too much on classic elements of the original trilogy. I was really afraid that it would once again try to match many of the beats of the next movie from back then, which is widely regarded as the best of them all – The Empire Strikes Back.
But luckily it did manage to break out of this shell in the last half and actually surprise me with a few scenes I didn’t see coming. It was as if the director Rian Johnson (who was also the writer) knew that he had to do something to break that curse, and he sure did. Especially the final confrontation used a daring idea I liked, even if it really pushed the boundaries of what we knew jedis could do so far.
That doesn’t mean that I turned completely on a dime and now think it’s a marvelous movie. It still has its problems and at the end of the day, I believe that even though it is indeed a better movie than the The Force Awakens, there’s still room for improvement.
Time to move into spoilers.
The things I liked
I somehow liked how Leia was blown from the bridge and into space, yet she managed to sort of float all the way back to safety and recuperate – but it did raise a lot of questions. I take it that it was thanks to the force that she could survice and float in space, but I would never have guessed that the force would be able to do that. Also, wasn’t she supposed to have renounced all use of the force, or is that just me?
Kylo and Rey sometimes had a telepathic connection and I liked those scenes a lot. It made it possible for them to discuss their situation without having them go for each others throats, and it made for a titillating mystery too. Why could they do this? Was Luke doing it? No, it later turns out he didn’t. Maybe it was because they were siblings? No, also wrong.
As Kylo brought Rey to the red room,
the emperor Snoke revealed it was him.
The death of Snoke was a great surprise, especially after starting a scene that felt like a lukewarm clone of earlier confrontations with the emperor in the original trilogy. Kylo had enough of being called out as a loser and used multitasking to pretend killing Rey while also turning the lightsaber handle next to Snoke, then turning it on to cut him into two halves. I loved not just how that took a contrived emperical clone out of the equation, but also how it made Kylo an open question as to how he wanted to proceed afterwards.
This immediately led into the fight against the Pretorian Guards, Kylo and Rey back to back. This is what I had always wanted from this new trilogy – going in entirely different directions. After the fight, Kylo decides to clean the table of rebels too and asks Rey to join his cause. Of course. What else could have happened? Kylo joining up with the rebels, all of whom pardons him for his Darth Vader charade, leaving only General Hux in command? Not a chance.
It was a little disappointing, but also inevitable. Still, an awesome scene.
And I really loved when Laura Dern’s Admiral Holdo hyperspaced into the Supremacy ship. The absence of sound at first was perfect, as was the mysterious imagery. It more than made up for her condescending behaviour towards Poe Dameron while Leia was unconscious.
The white salt desert in the end that turned red wherever it was disturbed made for some nice visualization too. Especially when Kylo and Luke finally stood toe to toe.
That Luke turned up in the end and was reunited with Leia was all well and touching, but after it was revealed that he was a projection, how in hell could they touch each other when nobody could outside in the salt desert? Could he just turn his solidity on and off at will!?
But ho ho, I really liked how they all shot at Luke’s position. It was just my kind of crazy, even if it was so obvious that Luke wasn’t affected by it.
That kid in the end, using force on the broom – I wonder if we will see him in the new trilogy that Disney has commissioned from director Rian Johnson?
The things I didn’t like
In general, the attempts at humor and gags were very much hit and miss. Some were really great, like Luke dusting himself off after having been heavily shot at, or Rey cutting off a stone that smashes a wagon held by caretakers below. However, most of the gags felt a bit too silly, even for Star Wars. I too like when a movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, but not when it’s not par for the course in the franchise.
Luckily these moments are rare enough that they’re not too grating.
Another general complaint is the music. As always, it was composed by John Williams and as such it was of course fantastic, but it often had too strong a presence at times. There were a lot of scenes where it didn’t really need to be so boisterous.
The story of Finn and Rose Tico felt almost redundant at times, and it didn’t help much that I didn’t really like Rose all that much to begin with. What was supposed to be a funny gag that she zapped Finn after proclaiming him to be her hero, just made her look like an untrustworthy bitch. Probably my bad, I know, but it was a first impression that lasted for me.
So Finn was once again almost superfluous and now together with another. Their trip to the casino to find the master thief looked like something out of Valerian & Laureline, and the attempts at humor such as BB-8 being mistaken for a slot machine just fell flat. Later Finn did have a few moments such as the fight against Captain Phasma (that was about time) as well as trying to sacrifice himself in the ramming cannon, but for the most part he didn’t matter much to the story.
I wonder if Finn will once again be useless in the third movie, just for the sake of completion?
After Kylo had killed Snoke, General Hux tried to reject Kylo as the new leader of The First Order. He had to be force choked before he accepted defeat. But even so, they were arguing in a manner that made it clear that Hux never had much respect for Kylo.
It’s not so much that they had this problematic relationship, it’s just that after Snoke died, the spot for the truly intimidating leader felt conspicuously unfilled. It was an unusual situation for a science fiction series notorious for its powerful antagonists. It was like two minions were left behind and now slapping each others hands while trying to handle the controls. Were we supposed to take either of them seriously?
Hux was an incompetent hack, and Rey had already handed Kylo his ass in the previous movie.
It was also a bit of letdown how the question about Rey’s parents was completely devalued. It just faded into the background in a few dialogs, like it was never important to begin with. Same thing with the origin of Snoke. As soon as he was dead, it was no longer interesting who he was to begin with.
Who cares, he’s dead now and thus out of the picture. Let’s move on.
The porgs were too obviously placed to sell toys to kids, and they were heavily pushed upon Chewbacca to give him something to do as to not make him completely superfluous in this movie. It was too blatant that Chewbacca now felt like a sidekick without a hero, and giving him these porgs didn’t help much in that regard. Now he was just an unintelligible pilot. In fact, he felt even more useless now than Finn.
Okay, he did rescue Rey after Kylo and hers lightsaber malfunction party, but still.
One thing I’ve already seen a lot claim on the internet was how fantastic Luke was. I too also liked Mark Hamill’s acting and he was great in the final confrontation, but I didn’t like him much on the island. He was too grumpy and rejecting, even more so than Yoda was, and when he finally did agree to show Rey the ropes, he didn’t get to show her much of anything. Then she just kind of gave up on him and left him to his own business. Does that sound like the master we hoped Luke would be for his new apprentice?
And in the end, after he had performed an incredible projection across several light years, apparently he was so exhausted that he just died a jedi ghost death, cape sinking and all.
I don’t even know what to think of that.
Some parts of his story was fine, like how he almost instantly regretted trying to kill Kylo but then it was already too late, and the confrontation against Kylo in the salt desert was also really awesome. But all things summed up, I was hoping for more Luke action than that.
Even if it’s obvious that he will be back as a jedi ghost in the next movie.
Benicio Del Toro’s master thief didn’t do much for me. He didn’t get enough screen time to do much else than constantly remind me of Marvel’s superhero movies. When he betrayed Finn and Rose, it was mostly just a meh moment. I wonder if he’ll be back in the next movie?
Rey had been nerfed a bit since the previous movie, but she still had her Mary Sue moments. The most severe of them was when she lifted that enormous pile of rocks to free the remnants of the rebellion.
Just like that, huh? Again, think how difficult it was for Luke to learn this trick.
Finally, I miss Lando.