Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Rian Johnson, 2017)

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tenia
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Re: Star Wars Franchise (1977-∞)

#101 Post by tenia » Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:27 am

For all the stupid ideas Lucas thrown in the prelogy, it still felt massively more interesting and entertaining that this movie which goes nowhere for 152 minutes but still seems to think it's actually very deep and smart.

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Re: Star Wars Franchise (1977-∞)

#102 Post by MoonlitKnight » Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:42 am

The basic story was NOT the problem with the prequels; rather, the execution of it was. The basic story IS the problem with this trilogy (so far), as far as I'm concerned... which is undeniably problematic when it comes to a movie series that predominantly hinges on story more than anything else. It's completely undone the character arcs of Luke, Han, and Leia as established in the OT (Luke's especially; it's almost akin to someone deciding to write a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird and making Atticus Finch into a pedophile in it :| ). It's told us nothing about how its central conflict came about in the first place given how ROTJ ended. It's given us no good reason to care about its new characters. It's essentially shrunk the galaxy back down after having been expanded in the prequels. And it's pretty apparent there isn't a streamlined singular vision here as there was during the Lucas era. Abrams' stupid, short-term-minded 'mystery box' gimmick didn't suit this series at all. The skeleton of the whole trilogy's story should've been completely hammered out before a single frame was shot; instead, they proceeded with at least half of the bones still missing, so to speak. For many people, Star Wars isn't Star Wars without the Skywalker family, the presence of the Jedi/Sith, the Force, and the presence of the galactic government... and the occasional Rodian in the background :P .

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Re: Star Wars Franchise (1977-∞)

#103 Post by tenia » Wed Dec 20, 2017 5:26 am

I still strongly believe that the main issues with the movie's script isn't as a Star Wars movie but as a movie to begin with. And in this regard, I don't think Abrams is as guilty as many seems to think he is. He certainly seems like a good scapegoat, but I'd tend to think the higher powers within the current Star Wars moviemaking business are the ones to blame. I actually wouldn't be surprised if The Last Jedi emptiness is just the first visible consequence of the Marvelisation of the franchise which has started with Ep VII.

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Re: Star Wars Franchise (1977-∞)

#104 Post by nitin » Wed Dec 20, 2017 8:01 am

I actually liked this. More than any other Star Wars movie since Empire Strikes Back. But that's because I found eps 1 (Darth Maul aside) and 2 to be utterly dire, Return of the Jedi to be very average, and both Revenge of the Sith and Force Awakens to be only decent. This IMHO was a very good film, despite all the flaws (and there are many).

Maybe it's just because I dont really care about the Star Wars movies as narratives, even the two great films have hokey narratives (at least to me).

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Re: Star Wars Franchise (1977-∞)

#105 Post by RIP Film » Wed Dec 20, 2017 11:58 am

What was with all the cinematic weirdness in this one? Abrams may have had a crap script but at least he got that part right. A lot of strange closeups of anthropomorphic animals, and the framing of shots and pacing was all over the place. There's very little rhythm to the whole thing.

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Re: Star Wars Franchise (1977-∞)

#106 Post by tenia » Wed Dec 20, 2017 12:03 pm

Well, the high visual points felt better in this last one, which has some truly beautiful shots that almost looked like beautiful concept arts. I don't recall Ep 7 having high points so high.

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Re: Star Wars Franchise (1977-∞)

#107 Post by who is bobby dylan » Wed Dec 20, 2017 12:11 pm

I liked this. For me, it's in the top tier of great Star Wars films, alongside Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back and the most intelligent Star Wars film by far.

I disagree with the idea that this film is inconsequential. It continues and greatly expands upon the major idea of this new trilogy which is a meta examination of what Star Wars is and our relationship to it by having new characters who have to sort that out for themselves. Doing that means engaging with the shortcomings and blind spots of the previous movies critically and all of that is on display here.
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We got the fleshing out of the original characters into actual people, who are not solely defined by the high point in their lives. We do away with the stupid idea that one has to choose between the light and dark and replace that with finding balance between the two. We do away with the stupid idea of good vs evil and replace it with the idea that maybe there are shades of gray to this conflict as well as a world of other conflicts beyond it. We do away with the stupid idea that heroism is succeeding through sheer luck against all odds and replace that with it being about building up leadership in others, while being cautious of needlessly sacrificing them, while being willing to sacrifice yourself for the greater good. We do away with the idea that to use the force you have to be of the right lineage. We do away with the idea that the Jedi have sole ownership over the force. All of the main characters, Finn, Kylo Ren, Poe, and Rey are forced to grow and make major decisions that greatly improve and flesh them out as characters. We acknowledge correctly that as depicted in the films the Jedi are ripe for criticism. We actually expand on the Force and what it can do, since there is no reason to limit it to the actions of the few Jedi/Sith we've seen use it in a handful of films.
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Finally, to focus on a few specific things that I really liked. I loved that this is the first Star Wars movie to begin taking anything like a moral attitude toward all the death and suffering going on. I loved Luke throwing away the laser sword. He's literally come to an island to die alone and a stranger shows up saying you owe me/us something and his response is perfect and honest, fuck you. I loved Kylo Ren's anger and how he (wrongly) thinks that he can only find himself by destroying his past. When he orders his men, to shoot down the Millennium Falcon and to fire EVERY gun they have at Luke, I felt like I was watching the actions of an actual character, dealing (poorly) with their emotions instead of just a bad guy in a mask. And Luke's final truly heroic action, again becoming a symbol for the Rebellion, while also acknowledging the fiction behind such symbols, while also allowing Kylo to unleash his anger in a way that doesn't further doom him (since he can't actually strike Luke down) still leaving the door open (however unlikely) for some kind of redemption for Kylo at the cost of Luke's own life (just as he said) was very touching. Again, this improvement of heroism in this series from having been using luck to do the impossible to making a hard/compromised choice of doing your best to help and save those around you is greatly welcome.

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Re: Star Wars Franchise (1977-∞)

#108 Post by tenia » Wed Dec 20, 2017 12:19 pm

I understand your points, but I probably could find at least one counter-argument from within the Last Jedi for each one of them, being the fleshing out / growing out of the characters, the less manichaean aspect of the movie, the view on the toll of war, etc etc. It's most of often toying with these ideas, sure, but only to turn away and not do anything with them in the end (or do the opposite of what it just says 30 minutes before).

However, I agree with you about Kylo Ren's character / acting and development. He's without a doubt (for me) the best thing of this movie, and possibly is shaping out to be the best thing of this new trilogy.

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Re: Star Wars Franchise (1977-∞)

#109 Post by RIP Film » Wed Dec 20, 2017 12:42 pm

Kylo Ren is dramatically underdeveloped though in regard to his motivations, hating Luke is one thing, wanting to kill your parents and blow up planets is another. You never feel he is completely committed to the dark side, so this is a very precarious thing to hang an entire trilogy on, since the First Order is the dramatic fulcrum and he's the leader.

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Re: Star Wars Franchise (1977-∞)

#110 Post by who is bobby dylan » Wed Dec 20, 2017 12:51 pm

I understand your points, but I probably could find at least one counter-argument from within the Last Jedi for each one of them, being the fleshing out / growing out of the characters, the less manichaean aspect of the movie, the view on the toll of war, etc etc. It's most of often toying with these ideas, sure, but only to turn away and not do anything with them in the end (or do the opposite of what it just says 30 minutes before).
I think these things were done well. I understand that others may not feel the same way. I think the older characters are unarguably fleshed out. We get to see Leia be a leader, to get a sense of her personal leadership style, and the importance she places in building leadership in other people. Based solely on the films, this is 100% new.

We get Luke's particular variation on the recluse that all surviving Jedi masters (Obi-Wan, Yoda) apparently inevitably become. I can understand that some may not like this take, but it is definitely giving the character something to be about beyond a highlight reel of his twenties. Luke was a whiny kid. He's a whiny adult. His character is also nicely consistent with the idea of the older generation letting the newer one down, hence they've got to go on an adventure themselves...
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I think the focus on the loss of life on the Rebel side in the opening battle, the introduction of an economic elite/arms dealers and DJ's philosophy definitely expand on the idea that the sum of all good and evil in the galaxy isn't completely epitomized by the conflict of the Rebels and the Empire/First Order. This is new.

I think the movie is pretty seriously committed to re-imagining the idea of what it means to be heroic in an action movie like this. Every simplistic plan that fits the heroic template of the previous movies, either entails great death and suffering, fails, or fails in a way that leads to extra death and suffering. While all the glimpses of heroism we get are specifically about individuals willing to sacrifice themselves for others (the captains of all the Rebel transports who go down with their ships, but safely evacuate their crews) Holdo's light-speed kamikaze, Finn and Rose destroying Canto Bight/freeing the horses, Rose preventing Finn from needlessly killing himself after the point at which the weapon can no longer be stopped from firing, and finally Luke getting over his own shit and sacrificing himself to revitalize the Rebellion, but doing so in a way that is cleverly thoughtful towards Kylo Ren. We also actually get the promise of The Force being something in the universe that anyone can tap into. Rey is a nobody. The kid at the end is a nobody. In the movies we haven't seen this before. Again, none of this is to say that people are right or wrong to enjoy the movie or that one can't find things wrong about it, but I don't think it's necessary for a movie or anything else to be 100% consistent in order to have a point. The movie does add stuff to Star Wars it does think critically about things that have happened (the Jedi, objectively suck as an organization) and logically asks should this be repeated in exactly the same way? The Rebels keep failing, do we need to think deeper about what they're doing? Will any of these questions, themes be further paid off in the next episode? I don't know, but to me they're present in this movie, I personally found them enjoyable and they're undeniably new (in the context of these movies) and thus they are consequential and do shift the ground in Star Wars quite a lot which is why I think some people are reacting so strongly to this film. And again, none of this is to say that anyone has to like these changes or think they were well executed, but I think they're there and at the very least provide the potential for continuing to go in a different direction.
However, I agree with you about Kylo Ren's character / acting and development. He's without a doubt (for me) the best thing of this movie, and possibly is shaping out to be the best thing of this new trilogy.
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I think that Rey and Finn were the most interesting new characters in The Force Awakens, with Kylo being a close third and Poe being a non starter because he had nothing to do. I think that Kylo and Poe get the most to do/grow in this, but did like that Finn had to find his own reasons to leave or join the Rebellion. Rey facing the truth about her parents was dramatic, but her character took a bit of a back seat growth wise compared to everyone else. I was okay with that though because the film is long enough and the real payoff for her (will or wont be in the next film) in seeing how she deals with being and reconstituting the Jedi now that she's on her own.

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Re: Star Wars Franchise (1977-∞)

#111 Post by tenia » Wed Dec 20, 2017 1:26 pm

NB : I know my writings can read as if I felt I had the One Real Truth. I don't. It's just my own feelings towards the movie, and they can be perceived as overconfident because I know precisely the elements I really disliked in the movie. They seemed very numerous and very obvious to me, so I just wonder (by expliciting these elements) how some have been able to overcome them.



I think most of the themes you talk about are actually barely touched by the movie.
The best example would be Canto Bight, which is mostly a (poorly CGI-ed) action sequence with barely a short sentence about the context around it :
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Warlords making money out of it and exploiting people
The misery shown in it also isn't much different than what is shown on Tatooine in the Ep I.
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Leia ? She spends most of the movie stunned. She has pretty much no authority and doesn't manage to get what seems to be her best pilot to obey her. When he comes back, he's demoted but that doesn't change much for him. Actually, in the end, they're still BFF, everybody likes him, and he's shown as a plausible new leader for the Rebellion.
So which leadership is it showing actually ?

The same goes for DJ, which actually isn't very different from what Lando was achieving. As most "mercenaries", he's just, well, in between. Not really good, not really bad, he's just doing his stuff and that's about it. It's another thing the film barely touches and Del Toro's sums it up in one line, which isn't sending a message of something being very deeply written.

The rebels keeping failing doesn't look vastly new too. By the end of A New Hope, they won. By the end of ESB, they're almost dead. At the end of RotJ, they're having their arse kicked. But all these failures aren't much in The Last Jedi. Poe keeps doing non-sensical Hung-ho stuff, and at the end, that's our new cool hero. Finn and Rose are the ones who gets most of the survivors killed because of their pointless mission, but at the end, they have their love kiss and no other consequence. Nobody tells them "without your stupid mission, all these people would still be alive." Holdo sacrifices herself for almost no reason too : most of the rebel fleet has already been destroyed already when she goes light-speed into the Destroyer - why the Rebels never did that before ? It's so useful ! - and she's not ever named after again, so her sacrifice is again pointless.
It's a 2h32 movie that feels very empty and yet spends his time speeding through events without giving them any gravitas. I never felt this before in a SW movie.

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Re: Star Wars Franchise (1977-∞)

#112 Post by who is bobby dylan » Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:10 pm

I know my writings can read as if I felt I had the One Real Truth. I don't. It's just my own feelings towards the movie, and they can be perceived as overconfident because I know precisely the elements I really disliked in the movie. They seemed very numerous and very obvious to me, so I just wonder (by expliciting these elements) how some have been able to overcome them.
No worries. It's hard to express an opinion about art (myself included) and not come across this way.
I think most of the themes you talk about are actually barely touched by the movie.
I disagree.
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Canto Bight. The galaxy is literally on the verge of conquest by a rejuvenated fascist order and the wealthiest people in the galaxy are... completely indifferent to it. They use child labor, they mistreat animals. This is all visual. Rose in more than one sentence both introduces the idea that these people are profiting off the First Order and that part of the evil of the First Order is specifically its economic exploitation of people and that the proper response to this exploitation is to destroy it. Because of this Finn makes a decision, here and beyond to now fully join the Rebellion for ideological reasons and not just to help out his friend. Furthermore, this scene is later complicated by DJ when they're aboard the stolen ship and he reveals that the same arms dealers that get rich making weapons for the First Order also make the weapons for the Rebellion. This is setting up the idea that a resolution to their conflict maybe can't be achieved through killing each other with these weapons. Furthermore Rose's act of kindness towards the young slaves sets into motion their own connection to the Rebellion, etc.
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Leia. We do in fact get our first sense of Leia as a leader. We see that her preeminent concern is preserving the Rebellion and the lives within it. We get through the Holdo character and the other captains, that she has modeled a modest style of leadership based on self sacrifice and having to make actual hard choices about who will live and die and knowing when to run rather than fight and hope luck and pluck to solve everything. She is also clearly trying to pass these lessons on to Poe and to get him to see the conflict in these terms. It's not about her liking or disliking him, he goes on a journey following his demotion in which every decision he makes is wrong, leads to extra and unnecessary death on the Rebel side until he finally learns at the end that a Rebellion is about more than fighting, it's also about surviving, which sometimes does mean running away and it's only after he's made this realization that he's allowed to take charge.
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The rebels keeping failing doesn't look vastly new too. By the end of A New Hope, they won. By the end of ESB, they're almost dead. At the end of RotJ, they're having their arse kicked. But all these failures aren't much in The Last Jedi. Poe keeps doing non-sensical Hung-ho stuff, and at the end, that's our new cool hero. Finn and Rose are the ones who gets most of the survivors killed because of their pointless mission, but at the end, they have their love kiss and no other consequence. Nobody tells them "without your stupid mission, all these people would still be alive." Holdo sacrifices herself for almost no reason too : most of the rebel fleet has already been destroyed already when she goes light-speed into the Destroyer - why the Rebels never did that before ? It's so useful ! - and she's not ever named after again, so her sacrifice is again pointless.
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I didn't say that failure or setbacks in general in these movies is something new. I specifically said the kind of things that fail and the kinds of things that succeed and why are new. What Poe does makes perfect sense in that he is modeling the heroism of previous Star Wars movies and this movie is explicitly rejecting it as a model of heroism. Finn and Rose do not get anyone killed. Poe does when he relays the evacuation plan over a radio and DJ hears it, it is specifically his fault and of obvious great consequence to the Rebellion. Holdo's sacrifice prevents the entire Rebel fleet from being destroyed. The Rebellion specifically survives because of her actions, her action is literally not pointless. Why doesn't every army engage in kamikaze attacks at all times on everything? This is not a serious question to pose to this movie. I would also add, that what makes Poe cool, is not that he's a badass. He was boring as a badass, it's that he's matured into a leader and we have a sense of how that was achieved in a very un-glamorous way, through mistakes resulting in lots of unnecessary deaths.
Again, none of this is to say that these things were conveyed perfectly or that people have to enjoy them, but I would argue that they're clearly there and that you have to misinterpret actions in the movie to not see them.

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Re: Star Wars Franchise (1977-∞)

#113 Post by Brian C » Wed Dec 20, 2017 6:22 pm

who is bobby dylan wrote:
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Leia. We do in fact get our first sense of Leia as a leader. We see that her preeminent concern is preserving the Rebellion and the lives within it. We get through the Holdo character and the other captains, that she has modeled a modest style of leadership based on self sacrifice and having to make actual hard choices about who will live and die and knowing when to run rather than fight and hope luck and pluck to solve everything. She is also clearly trying to pass these lessons on to Poe and to get him to see the conflict in these terms. It's not about her liking or disliking him, he goes on a journey following his demotion in which every decision he makes is wrong, leads to extra and unnecessary death on the Rebel side until he finally learns at the end that a Rebellion is about more than fighting, it's also about surviving, which sometimes does mean running away and it's only after he's made this realization that he's allowed to take charge.
This certainly doesn't seem new - Leia was positioned as a leader of the Rebellion from the start of the original trilogy. At least as early as the opening Hoth scenes in Empire we see her giving orders and battle plans. Elsewhere:
We get Luke's particular variation on the recluse that all surviving Jedi masters (Obi-Wan, Yoda) apparently inevitably become. I can understand that some may not like this take, but it is definitely giving the character something to be about beyond a highlight reel of his twenties. Luke was a whiny kid. He's a whiny adult. His character is also nicely consistent with the idea of the older generation letting the newer one down, hence they've got to go on an adventure themselves...
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Well, yes and no. I kinda like the idea of this, but Episode III made clear that Obi-Wan was only a recluse because he was secretly keeping an eye on Luke. And I don't have any idea what to make of Luke. We're told that he turned away from the force, and he claims that he went to the most unfindable place in the galaxy to escape his place in it, but it's not like he fled to just anywhere - he went to the heart of Jedi-dom in the galaxy. It'd be like taking up residence in the Vatican and being insulted when people want you to do Catholic stuff.

That choice by him suggests the opposite of what he claims, that he was in fact motivated by a monk-like devotion to the Force. And his abilities in the film's climactic scene suggests that he has indeed become more powerful than anyone suggests. And yet the script up to that point - as you have in this thread - insisted otherwise. I guess to me it just seems like all this was made up as they went along without much thought put into it.
Anyway, I'll stop because I don't really want to pile on, either to you or the movie. Even the original trilogy means less and less to me as time goes on, and it never meant a whole lot in the first place, so the personal stakes I have in going after this movie aren't super high. But I kinda wish I had seen the movie like you did, because the depth that you describe is what I was more or less hoping for from Johnson. Instead, I felt like I saw a movie that any random hack screenwriters could have come up with.

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Re: Star Wars Franchise (1977-∞)

#114 Post by tenia » Thu Dec 21, 2017 4:54 am

I too have probably already said all I thought about the movie. Again, I understand who is bobby dylan points, but like Brian C, I still believe that while the movie contains these elements for sure, they're treated in a way which is too superficial (or contradictory), and the movie ends up being shallow in this regard. That's what I meant when I wrote they're "barely touched".

For instance, on these couple of specific points :
who is bobby dylan wrote:
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Finn and Rose do not get anyone killed. Poe does when he relays the evacuation plan over a radio and DJ hears it, it is specifically his fault and of obvious great consequence to the Rebellion. Holdo's sacrifice prevents the entire Rebel fleet from being destroyed. The Rebellion specifically survives because of her actions, her action is literally not pointless. Why doesn't every army engage in kamikaze attacks at all times on everything? This is not a serious question to pose to this movie. I would also add, that what makes Poe cool, is not that he's a badass. He was boring as a badass, it's that he's matured into a leader and we have a sense of how that was achieved in a very un-glamorous way, through mistakes resulting in lots of unnecessary deaths.
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Finn and Rose are the ones who blindly trust DJ, which is obviously played like somebody you can't trust. Because they can't do a simple thing such as recruiting the Codebreaker and instead end up with that guy, they're part ofthe Rebels being sold to the First Order.
They're in any case the ones who have the idea to sneak into Snoke's destroyers in the first place, and that's just because the Rebels admirals, for some unheard reason, don't want to tell their crew they're not brainless people leading their whole fleet to die but they actually have a plan (and a good one, seemingly).

Holdo's sacrifice ? When she cut in half the destroyer, we've already been more plenty of ships having been destroyed by the destroyer. Her act only saves a handful of them.

Kamikaze act : why not putting the ship on auto-pilot ? Or with a droid as pilot ? Why des it absolutely need human presence for what is a single action ?

Finally, Poe as mature as a leader ? How ? When ? Through which actions to which consequences ? He's part of the whole reason the Rebels went from probably 150 people to roughly 20, and that's by going behind every leader's back. His hidden plan with Finn and Rose probably got more people killed than the behavior that got him demoted at the beginning of the movie. How come then this got him demoted, despite having destroyed a Dreadnaught in the process, while the stupid sub-plot with Finn and Rose achieves nothing except more Rebels getting killed, the "secret-for-some-reasons" plan being revealed to the First Order (so the Base-Planet position gets compromised too), Holdo having to sacrifice herself and losing the main ship in the process ? This guy isn't a leader, he's a hot-headed moron that shouldn't have anybody under his orders !

While this "failure is the best teacher" could be a nice plot, do we really need to spend all this time on it ? The movie is 2h32 and spends about 90 minutes on this theme without being able to go deep on it. Couldn't have it been done in a way much more concise and efficient ?

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Re: Star Wars Franchise (1977-∞)

#115 Post by All the Best People » Thu Dec 21, 2017 5:28 am

I wrote at nearly 1600-word length about the film and the fan reaction to it here at Letterboxd; includes citations of Jonathan Rosenbaum and Jacques Rivette! And references to the TV series of Westworld and the third season of Twin Peaks!

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Re: Star Wars Franchise (1977-∞)

#116 Post by McCrutchy » Thu Dec 21, 2017 5:45 am

Can somebody please explain to me how this film was surprising or at all original? Because this is what I keep seeing, and it's something that I (so far) haven't been able to agree with, or even understand. It's really odd to see Johnson continually being praised for subverting expectations, when to me, the entire film feels manufactured by Disney, in service of their larger corporate agenda. And while Johnson is able to add some visual flair and is able to intertwine the subplots well, there wasn't really anything in The Last Jedi that I felt like I hadn't seen before, oftentimes in the original trilogy films, at that.

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Re: Star Wars Franchise (1977-∞)

#117 Post by who is bobby dylan » Thu Dec 21, 2017 12:10 pm

Can somebody please explain to me how this film was surprising or at all original? Because this is what I keep seeing, and it's something that I (so far) haven't been able to agree with, or even understand. It's really odd to see Johnson continually being praised for subverting expectations, when to me, the entire film feels manufactured by Disney, in service of their larger corporate agenda. And while Johnson is able to add some visual flair and is able to intertwine the subplots well, there wasn't really anything in The Last Jedi that I felt like I hadn't seen before, oftentimes in the original trilogy films, at that.
I don't think there's anything else to explain. Without over belaboring it, I've tried to provide some reasons why I at least enjoyed the film and found it to be different from other Star Wars films. I think people are correct that if you focus on the movie at just the level of plot and story and sort of the sum total of what the characters accomplish then the film doesn't seem like much. For me the enjoyment to be had from the movie is in seeing how far it moves and fills out the characters and there's so much in the film that does that, that it seems like the films purpose to me. Of course how effectively this registers will differ from one person to another and I can totally understand how what happens could not register for some people. All films are like this. There's no universally beloved or understood film.

Here's my favorite youtube critic with his positive takes on the film:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=If0JN8tlqUw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7UKW-dgZMU
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Finn and Rose trust DJ and they're correct to. He is committed to helping them up until the point that they're caught and will be executed. It's only then that he turns on them because he has the information that Poe recklessly communicated over the radio.

It would be nice if Holdo had her idea earlier as more of the Rebellion would have been saved, but her action is still not pointless.

I agree with you about the ships not having auto pilot. Also, why do Jedi's need to hold a light saber, why not just fly it through the sky with their minds or do that with six of them, etc. These are nitpicks. They can be made of any and every movie. They're the kinds of things that stand out a lot when you don't enjoy a movie and don't matter when you do.

Poe's maturation as a leader is basically learning the efficacy of running away. His instinct is to always fight it out. The fact that this plays out so badly for him is why it's a lesson. He does things his way and it nearly leads to the destruction of the Rebels. Also, the issue of whether Poe knows the plan or not is immaterial. Knowing the plan doesn't change his actions for the better because once he knows it he stages a mutiny! and shuts down the transport plan so that it can't take place at all. Your take is fine that all of this disqualifies him from being a leader. I think it sets the stage for him to be one going forward. He's acting out one idea of leadership, that we've seen work before in all of these movies, it doesn't here and its complete failure forces him to change. His willingness to change and recognize the lesson he's learned makes him a leader. I mean the whole point of the movie is to not forever feel destroyed or trapped by your mistakes and failure, but to learn from them. Obviously, I liked this theme, so the fact that every story line in the movie is about it worked for me. If you didn't like it or feel it was well executed then the movie is indeed excruciating.

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Re: Star Wars Franchise (1977-∞)

#118 Post by aox » Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:10 pm


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Re: Star Wars Franchise (1977-∞)

#119 Post by DarkImbecile » Thu Dec 21, 2017 2:06 pm

The thing I don’t understand about the (thoughtful, non-red pill) criticism of this entry is how they don’t apply as much if not more to every other film in this franchise; it seems to me that the criticisms regarding undercooked characterization, tonal inconsistencies, unlikely or inexplicable strategic or tactical decisions, overly corporate/commercial influences, and so on are inextricable from Star Wars itself, not just this one film. With that in mind, it’s hard for me to see an argument that this isn’t the best directed and most visually accomplished of the series, and I’d argue that the thematic concerns here are more interesting than any of the other films.

I’m not directing this at anyone here in particular, but it generally seems like people who have a strong attachment to the films that dominated their childhood (whether the original trilogy or the prequels) are somewhat blinded by that sentiment from seeing the same flaws in those films that jump out at them from the new films. I’m sure the children of the mid-to-late aughts will feel the same about this trilogy.

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movielocke
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

Re: Star Wars Franchise (1977-∞)

#120 Post by movielocke » Thu Dec 21, 2017 2:13 pm

One of my biggest problems with secondary world creations of recent years is what I call the "magical semen theory of heroism".

That is to say, Luke Skywalker, or Jon Snow or StarLord or Aragorn or whoever is only a hero because they come from special magical semen male bloodlines.
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To see Star Wars utterly reject the divine-right theory of heroism in this film is something I find profoundly satisfying, and for that main change, I am really happy with the film.

that said, I feel like I need to really see it again, now knowing how the plot unfolds, to really try and figure out where it rates within overall Star Wars films. My feeling is that it is probably fourth, behind Empire, Force Awakens, and New Hope, but I also feel like there are a lot of eliptical resonances within the film that are going to work so much better the second time around.

This film continued the serialization remixes of the first trilogy that Force Awakens did so expertly, particularly impressed to see Kylo do what Vader proposed at the end of Empire, and take over. We've always had the "bad guy" be an underling to the mysterious higher power of the emperor/snoke, so we're in uncharted territory in the next film with how they handle Kylo.

I particularly loved Leia's use of the Force to stop Kylo from firing on her and her ship (which precedes her self rescue from space), showing she's perhaps more skilled at the telepathy than Luke or Snoke (as she uses feelings rather than relying on physical projection or words, and as Luke tells Rey, the Force is about stretching out with your feelings, not physically nor with intellect). And I like that her use there foreshadows the use of this skill throughout the film. I really liked the call back to Empire Strikes back with this force skill, and the way it was used throughout the film to take the storytelling in interesting new directions.

I also appreciated the structural parallel between Poe's film-opening standoff/distraction, and Luke's film-closing standoff/distraction. Not only was this an excellent storytelling elipsis within the body of the film, but it provides a superb contrast between the two men's goals and effects on their foes with each distraction. Poe's is impetuous and antagonizing towards Hux, and doesn't change anything. Whereas Luke's conversation with Kylo is directed not perhaps at persuading him, but at still instructing him, it is an extremely nice callback to Vader and Kenobi's showdown on the death star.

I also was left reflecting on that old line "If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine." So I'm very curious if they do something with that.

Loved opening up the economics of the galaxy, and relating back to the under-done Anakin-slavery component. and I loved that from Rose's sister, to the little boy, people can access the force. The film's whole ethos of abandoning the magical semen archetype is just something I really, really love.

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Feiereisel
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Re: Star Wars Franchise (1977-∞)

#121 Post by Feiereisel » Thu Dec 21, 2017 2:27 pm

McCrutchy wrote:Can somebody please explain to me how this film was surprising or at all original? Because this is what I keep seeing, and it's something that I (so far) haven't been able to agree with, or even understand. It's really odd to see Johnson continually being praised for subverting expectations, when to me, the entire film feels manufactured by Disney, in service of their larger corporate agenda. And while Johnson is able to add some visual flair and is able to intertwine the subplots well, there wasn't really anything in The Last Jedi that I felt like I hadn't seen before, oftentimes in the original trilogy films, at that.
To chime in and add to (though not particularly expand upon) the two thoughtful posts that have been added since I started typing this...

The "subverting expectations" praise, in my view, pertains to a few specific decisions within the film rather than to the story as a whole.
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These include: Luke's characterization and behavior, specifically his bitterness following the events of the original trilogy; the revelation that Rey's parents were of no significance; Kylo killing Snoke, the presumed "big bad" of this cycle, in the middle of the film; the explicit and repeated rebuke of the "long-shot missions" that figure prominently into the original films; the ongoing discourse about the perceived totality of "good" and "evil" characters or organizations and their actions; and the explicit social commentary associated with the good/evil discourse.

These aren't novel ideas in the history of storytelling or filmed entertainment, but they are new--or at least unexpected--relative to the tone and content of previous Star Wars movies. (The notable exception here being Rogue One, which like The Last Jedi foregrounds resolved but internally conflicted characters who are "trapped" between the ideology and reality of their particular galactic factions.) But who knows--this is a middle chapter, and it's entirely possible that Johnson's deliberate muddling of previously established narrative concepts will be tightly resolved by the end of the next film.
I would appreciate it if the point about about Disney's "larger corporate agenda" in the post I quoted above was expanded upon. Obviously I'm aware of the insidiousness the phrasing conveys, but I'm not really sure what Disney's monstrous plan is supposed to be beyond releasing a Star Wars movie every year for the foreseeable future. The franchise is a pan-generational pop-culture juggernaut; for Disney to have a very clearly delineated plan or set of goals for such a hugely expensive and historically lucrative franchise seems entirely reasonable.

I don't know. My big concern heading into these new films was that they would be plagued by empty nostalgia, and so far that has not been the case. Some new ground has been broken--especially formally--and the references to previous films have by-and-large been meaningful within the franchise's larger narrative. I'm into it, and it's nice to have it back, but Star Wars is not the only thing, and don't expect perfection from something that has always been viewed, depending on the movie, as wildly imperfect in the eyes of its creators and/or fans.

Apperson
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Re: Star Wars Franchise (1977-∞)

#122 Post by Apperson » Thu Dec 21, 2017 2:31 pm

movielocke wrote:
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I also was left reflecting on that old line "If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine." So I'm very curious if they do something with that.
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if Episode IX goes the way I think it will and have Kylo Ren be lead away from the dark side I think that moment will lead into a self-reflection on how bloodthirsty he has become in his quest to destroy the past, possibly involving some force-ghost shenanigans.

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bearcuborg
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Re: Star Wars Franchise (1977-∞)

#123 Post by bearcuborg » Thu Dec 21, 2017 3:33 pm

I would expect to see a lot of force ghosts in IX. Hayden will return-the Skywalker saga is not over.

McCrutchy
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Re: Star Wars Franchise (1977-∞)

#124 Post by McCrutchy » Thu Dec 21, 2017 10:40 pm

Feiereisel wrote:To chime in and add to (though not particularly expand upon) the two thoughtful posts that have been added since I started typing this...I'm into it, and it's nice to have it back, but Star Wars is not the only thing, and don't expect perfection from something that has always been viewed, depending on the movie, as wildly imperfect in the eyes of its creators and/or fans.
(Edited to shorten the length of this reply.)

I just feel like we have seen most of these before, that's all.
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Crabby old Luke is a million "old master" characters from a million different films, and for a guy who was supposed to have been the most powerful Jedi in the galaxy, it's surprising how much he sucked at his job. Just like Obi-Wan and Anakin, Luke couldn't save Ben from the dark side, and just like Obi-Wan, he becomes a hermit, and eventually meets someone connected to his failed pupil, who he can educate successfully, before dying, in this case, a truly pathetic death, by remote control. As has been pointed out, not only did he repeat the same mistakes his master did, but he also retreated into whiny little bitch mode for no reason, either. Luke, who grew so much as a person in the original trilogy, here disappeared to an island to shirk his responsibilities until he was shamed into action by the first person to come along. Why? Luke had Han and Leia, Luke had R2-D2, C-3PO and Chewbacca, and he had a responsibility to protect them from what would become Kylo Ren and the First Order. But of course, Johnson and Disney don't care about Luke, because he's here for fan service, to get the older asses in the seats, along with his sister. The same could be said of Han Solo and The Force Awakens, because Han was basically in that movie to ejaculate and die. Now, by proxy, we're all supposed to care that much more about what happens to Kylo/Ben because of his bloodline (Aha! There it is!), and once Abrams had established that relationship, why not dispose of the older character by having him killed?

(As an aside, just personally, I would have loved to see Luke get off the damn island for a bit. Like many people, I was hoping for a Han/Leia/Luke reunion, if only for a short while, but The Force Awakens mortally wounded that idea, and now The Last Jedi has really delivered the death blow.)

And I would suggest that Rey's bloodline matters just as much if not more. It's mattered for two films of this trilogy, and it matters to her, personally. And in any event, she came to her present station by dumb luck, which is otherwise known in most films as "destiny", which isn't exactly a merit-based system. The statement that her parents might be "nobodies"--a dubious assertion, considering it came from Kylo Ren--isn't really enough to say that The Last Jedi isn't concerned with bloodlines. Remember, also, that Luke casually mentions that Ben Solo took some of Luke's other students with him as he left. Ostensibly, these people are at least semi-powerful Jedi-in-training, and where are they? Have they been killed? Are they in the First Order? No, they're nowhere, that's where, because this trilogy, like the previous trilogy, is becoming all about one "bloodline", and this is emphasized through the intriguing "force link" that Rey and Kylo have, as well as the fact that Rey and Finn don't even see (and barely even mention) each other again until the end of the film.

The other things you mention: Long-shot missions: Doesn't the Resistance end up in another one of those, anyway? Don't, Rey, Kylo, Hux, Poe, and especially Finn and Rose end up in ludicrously dangerous situations where they should die, but miraculously survive? Of course, Vice Admiral Holdo isn't nearly as lucky, and Johnson even disposes of Admiral Ackbar, but then neither of them were in their twenties or thirties, and the young audience isn't likely to be pining that hard for a Laura Dern doll, are they?.

As for characters being good or evil, you can draw fairly exact parallels between Luke in The Empire Strikes Back and Rey, as well as Kylo and Vader/Anakin in Return of the Jedi, right down to Kylo killing Snoke to [strike]save Rey[/strike] overthrow him. As for the timing of this, that's down to the writers, and if they know what they're doing. For myself, the way the scene was structured and set up, along with how it was drawn out and eventually dragged on, made it painfully obvious what was going to happen. After all, I doubt Disney/Lucasfilm would have sanctioned killing Rey in such a deliciously evil fashion.

And this is where the corporate agenda comes in. First of all, the series has a taste for blood regarding original trilogy characters that is all but absent from any of the new characters. Han sacrificing himself is okay, but now Leia is dead in real life, and then The Last Jedi comes along, and ends with Luke "fading away" a la Obi-Wan in Star Wars, which in all likelihood, means he's dead, as well. And I'm sorry, people can fall back on "Force Ghosts" as much as they like, but Star Wars isn't Ghostbusters or The Frighteners, so either Episode IX is going to feature an extremely odd tonal shift, or Disney is pushing the audience to dispose of the Skywalker saga and get used to the franchise without the characters they have loved for decades. I was ready for that in Episode IX, but I certainly would have preferred that two or all three of them survived, and their ultimate fates were left open-ended. It seems very dismissive to blot out these heroes simply because they've gotten old--you would think our present generation would have a bit more sense, if not sensitivity, than that.

On the other hand, all of the new, young characters (read: new toylines) seem invincible. Perhaps one of them will die to end the trilogy (likely Poe, if I had to guess), but it does seem interesting that in spite of so many new characters coming in, all of them, in this dangerous, wartime situation, are allergic to death. The original trilogy sort of suffered from this, at least we had the whole "frozen in carbonite" thing to keep people guessing for a while.
I guess I could go on, but to be honest, I'm tired. :) You are right to a certain point that really neither The Force Awakens, nor The Last Jedi have gone the way I wanted, but I could accept that if the films got to their destination down less well-traveled paths.

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Brian C
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Re: Star Wars Franchise (1977-∞)

#125 Post by Brian C » Fri Dec 22, 2017 1:42 am

I don't think I'd be so quick to claim victory on
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the magical semen front. Maybe I missed something, but the whole basis for believing that Rey's parents were nobodies was that Kylo said so, right? But how would he really know? I wouldn't rule out that we're being set up for a reveal of her true lineage in the next film. Hopefully she won't be revealed to be conceived by midichlorians again, at least.
DarkImbecile wrote:The thing I don’t understand about the (thoughtful, non-red pill) criticism of this entry is how they don’t apply as much if not more to every other film in this franchise; it seems to me that the criticisms regarding undercooked characterization, tonal inconsistencies, unlikely or inexplicable strategic or tactical decisions, overly corporate/commercial influences, and so on are inextricable from Star Wars itself, not just this one film.
Well, I would agree. Speaking just for myself, of course, I never had a strong emotional connection to any of the films in the series. I was far more excited for this as a Rian Johnson film than as another Star Wars entry, and it's on that basis that I feel disappointed. A mediocre Star Wars film on its own terms is hardly worth remarking upon at this point.

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