The Last Jedi

Due to various real world issues, it took me nearly a week to see The Last Jedi. I was really glad when I finally got to go just so I could dive into all the spoiler talk that so many people were already engaging in. Everyone I follow on social media has been very considerate about not hitting people with unexpected spoilers, but the longer anything is out, the fewer aspects of it are considered truly spoiler-ish, and bits and pieces start to leak through.

I had also heard that the film's reception from the fans had been kind of mixed so far. Many people on my feed seemed to love it, but YouTube also decided to add things like Angry Joe's "Top 10 Reasons Why The Last Jedi Made Me ANGRY" to my recommendations... as I joked to my pet tank: "I wonder what he thought of it."

The general, spoiler-free tenor from the naysayers' side seemed to be that it was too different and did too many things that didn't really feel like Star Wars. I wanted to keep an open mind but used this as a cue to temper my expectations; though different actually sounded good to me, especially since I thought that one of the biggest and fairest criticisms of The Force Awakens was that it retread too much ground from A New Hope. I wanted Last Jedi to go in a new direction.

Movie poster from starwars.com

I'm writing this on the same day that I actually saw the movie and setting the post to be published next week, when I'm away for a few days. Maybe my feelings will have mellowed a bit by that point, but right now I'm unfortunately feeling kind of disappointed.

I didn't mind that things were different, but the whole film was just waaay too fragmented for me. As I saw someone else put it: It's one thing to subvert expectations now and then, but it's something else to try and do so all the time.

There were things I enjoyed: There was some fantastic cinematic imagery as well as some great character moments. Mark Hamill acted his damn heart out. Rose was a cute new character. Etc.

However, it felt like every time something cool happened, it had to be followed up almost immediately by something else that was weird and took you out of the moment. Think this is a serious and important moment? Let's make a random joke! Looks like a beloved character just died dramatically? No wait, they're miraculously alive but nobody even bats an eyelash at the strange circumstances of their survival! You think this new character is going into a specific direction? No, they are something completely different! On and on it went.

Surprises and about-turns like this are fine and even powerful in moderation, but when one relentlessly follows the other, it just makes it impossible to feel emotionally invested after a while (because the outcome of every scene essentially becomes random). The film repeatedly gets you to care about things just to discard them shortly afterwards and then goes off into a completely different direction. It's as if it was their top priority to not be predictable, so they took it to the point where the plot just became a mess. I'm surprised it got so many positive reviews from the critics to be honest, because Star Wars or not, the sheer amount of emotional bait and switch in this movie just strikes me as bad film-making. Here's hoping Episode IX will be better.


  1. Wall of text incoming. :P

    In my case it helped that I was able to identify a lot (and I mean a lot) of the plot elements beforehand through listening to the soundtrack. It's something I started doing with The Force Awakens; listen to the film's soundtrack and see what plot elements there are which can be worked out.

    So when going to see the film I had already got the majority of "what the..." moments out of the way. I imagine my gut reaction would have been a lot more volatile had I gone in completely blind.

    But anyway.

    I know that the Original Trilogy of Star Wars didn't explain anything about the origins of the Empire or about the Emperor or anything like that. They just exist, the Emperor is powerful, and we're left to accept it. That's more than fine for a film from 30 years ago.

    For films in 2015 and 2017 to have as little attempt at explaining the situation as this would also have been okay... except for the fact that the modern audience is far more used to in-depth storytelling in TV shows and films than there ever really used to be. Heck, Star Wars itself is responsible for this attitude with the Prequels giving many (indeed, too many) answers.

    As I said on Twitter, I also really don't like how there are just so few species coming across from the other trilogies. The Mon Calamari and Sullustan we see returning aren't species in their own 'right'; they're individual characters, simply there for the sake of reference. Rogue One was guilty of this as well, but at least we got to see a different take on Mon Calamari (white skin due to living in polar regions on Mon Cala).

    The new species introduced since 2015 are okay, but they're nothing special. The vast majority do feel and look far more like costumes than they do actual living characters to me. The sheer amount of Abednedo characters is also getting rather tedious; there have been six individuals of this species seen across both films, far more than of any other non-humanoid race, and this is including two different Resistance pilots; Ello Asty who died in the attack on Starkiller Base, and C'ai Threnalli, who did everything but die in TLJ.

    I get that they're proud of the animatronic they've created so they'd justifiably want to give it some screen-time, but it's just getting silly at this point.

    But yeah, the worldbuilding in general has been a sore point across both Sequel films so far. The political state is damaged beyond repair, we're now beyond 'back to square one', and the films just gloss over it.

    While it is possible to research a certain amount of details, one should only feel they 'need' to do research if you are interested or invested in the story, not as a last-ditch resort to get crucial answers that the films do not want to give.

    1. I'd also say that the set up of the original movies needed less set up than the sequel trilogy does, both because the sequel trilogy is giving us a more complicated (but very poorly explained) set up and because it IS a sequel.

      It's one thing to drop us into a world and give us an Empire and rebels. It's another thing to return to that world, thirty years after the Empire was defeated (or began to be defeated) and give us a super-powered Imperial remnant (with a completely unexplained name), a new Republic that's ignoring them for some reason, and a group of resistance fighters. The set up alone raises a whole lot of questions (most of which don't seem to be answered anywhere, some of which are answered in tie in books that end up raising MORE questions.)

      And that's before we get to problems like Snoke.

      Or the fact that the original trilogy has been kind of rendered pointless. Oh, you defeated the Empire. Too bad that didn't actually do anything for the galaxy.

      The technology has also gotten wonkier. Star Wars was never hard sci-fi, but the new movies are asking their audience to believe in some pretty unbelievable tech. (Starkiller base being the worst, but the gravity drop space bombers in TLJ are pretty bad, too.)

      I want to like the new movies, and I do like the characters, but there's something very...I don't know... darkest timeline fanfic about it all. (And I hate to use that comparison because there is some very good fanfic out there, but I'm not sure what else to use.)

    2. @Cal: I can't say that "not enough aliens" is something that occurred to me personally while watching, but on hindsight it's certainly true!

      @Both: The lack of continuity with the original trilogy bothers me too. I was kind of willing to forgive it in Force Awakens because I figured they were dropping us in cold, making it a bit of a shock that remnants of the Empire were still going so strong, with more explanation to follow later, but at this rate it's not looking good. The original trilogy didn't have much context either, but like you say, you'd expect more from a sequel.

      @Depizan: Those bombers really bugged me too! I'm used to Star Wars not caring about science and usually willing to just shrug it off, but gravity in space was a whole new kind of weird to me...


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