Thursday, March 8, 2018

Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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The Resistance is on the run from the First Order- with a limited fuel supply that will not last long enough for them to escape.  In a desperate move, the daring pilot Poe Dameron sends ex-Storm Trooper Finn and Rose, an engineer, on a haphazard mission to find a master code-breaker who may be able to save them.  
Meanwhile, Rey, aspiring to be a Jedi, has found Luke Skywalker and his secluded hiding place.  But convincing him to join the fight against the First Order proves more difficult than she imagined.  And as she explores her abilities in the Force, she finds herself most peculiarly and inexorably connected with the last person she could ever expect....

When the trailers said that "this isn't going to end the way that you think", they weren't lying.  Not to boast, but I'm usually pretty good with predicting where a movie's going to go.  But not so with this one!  It surprised me big time in more ways than one, which was really quite refreshing.

I seem to be one of the few people who actually really liked this movie.  If I'm honest, I don't just like it, I love it.  It's moved up to being my second favorite Star Wars movie, after Episode VI.

This is an unpopular opinion, but I stand by it.  I'll admit, the story's got some loopholes, as most Star Wars movies do.   There were somethings that maybe could have been written differently.  But the thing is... none of that really mattered to me as I watched it.  And a lot of that probably has to do with the fact that the story managed to tap into my emotions, so it won me over pretty quickly.

This movie took new characters we were introduced to in the last film and continued to develop them.  And for some, like Finn and Poe, it took them in a direction I did not expect, and I ended up liking them less for it.  Poe's lust for power and Finn's cowardice become more evident, giving them legitimate faults.  Even though I ended up admiring them less, I was alright with the development because that's how people often are too.  You meet someone and form one opinion of them, but over time their faults become more apparent, and your picture of them changes.

Rey is pretty much the same girl we met in Episode VII, but her perspective on the war is broadened throughout the course of the film.  Her talents in the Force have blossomed at an incredible rate that still falls into Mary Sue territory, but hey- you know what?  I like Rey, she's cool and nice, so I find I don't really care about that.  I wrote an article once on another blog making the case for why Mary Sues aren't always so bad, which I may or may not repost sometime.  At any rate, although I cant' deny she's a Mary Sue, I feel like she's the good kind.  

After all, when a movie character actually makes me say "Oooh!  I get to be her!", I think she deserves a little slack from me.  ;D

Kylo Ren, our antagonist/***SPOILER*** deuteragonist ***END SPOILER***  goes through some massive character development.  In Episode VII, he came off as a weak young man raging against his parents and using his idolized vision of his grandfather as a shield.  Though talented, he posed little threat as a villain due to his childish tendencies.  In The Last Jedi, this is called out by none other than his master, Supreme Leader Snoke.  And, after this reprimand, Kylo/Ben begins to show his true potential.  By the end of the film, my casual enjoyment of his character had transformed into wholehearted admiration.  He has proved himself a worthy successor in my eyes.  

As far as pacing and storytelling goes, this movie is rather long and rambling.  But it took the time it needed to tell the events that were happening, so I was okay with it.  So many times throughout this film, plans were made and then thwarted, re-worked and then thwarted again, which only amped up the suspense.  

Within the first fifteen minutes of the film, I found myself thinking, "Well, what happens next then?"  And that thought would be repeated, many, many times.  I'd make a prediction, see part of it fulfilled, and then have the rug pulled from beneath my feet once again.  

Speaking of the first fifteen minutes of the film, that brings me to the action.  I really loved the action scenes in this movie.  Well, expect for the chase scene on Canto Bight, but it wasn't so bad.  There were some cool moments in that one too.  The only reason I didn't like it was because it made me feel a little claustrophobic.  

The light saber fights were super cool, and the space battles were highly entertaining.  The visuals and computer work were quite striking, so for action fans I think this movie should satisfy.  

One thing I'll say about this story is that it is, at times, disappointing.  Luke Skywalker's current state is not only jarring, but just disagreeable.  And myself to terribly surprised by it.  Most of his actions throughout the movie had precedent in the original trilogy in some way or another.  His personality traits had just been taken to some unforeseen- but not unnatural- places.
 precedents in the previous films; his personality traits had been taken to some unexpected but not unnatural places.  

The battles don't end quite the way you want them to, and the characters don't always do what you want them to.  Overall, this movie sets up some expectations for you, then subverts them and it's not always comfortable.  But a wise character as much as says it in the film:  *** SPOILER***"The greatest teacher, failure is." ***END SPOILER***  

The characters do fail, often.  But sometimes, that's how life goes.  And what can we do but keep going and trying to do better next time?  Keep hoping that things will start to look up, and then do what comes next.  

And now for the pros and cons.


Eveything I just mentione above.  Also, as an aside, the plot of this movie felt like one of my dreams.  If you're a member of that forum I frequent, and you've read the Dreams thread, you know what I mean.  Long, complicated, desperate, and emotional... it just felt like one of my many, crazy dreams.  


There were a couple of swear words in this movie, which is odd for a Star Wars movie.   

In the casino scenes on Canto Bight there are some scantily-clad alien creatures.  

Fantasy violence throughout the film.

This being a war movie, a lot of people die, and some of their death scenes may upset sensitive viewers.  

OVERALL:  I love this movie, and I think if you give it a shot, you will too.  Unless you don't, in which case I can't help you.  ;D

Can't wait for the next film!

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-Emmarayn Redding

(Spoilers Ahead)

I've just got to say... this movie broke my ship from Episode VII.  But it gave me a new one!  While I can't exactly say that I ship Rey/Ben, I really, really enjoyed their interactions.  The hand-touch scene?  Come on!!  That was pretty darn romantic.  Of course, it's not a good idea for poor, innocent Rey to fall in love with Kylo Ren at this time.  But is it so wrong for me to hope that his feelings for her might move him to step on the path of redemption, even now?  

Also there's a ton of great memes for them.  

That is all, for now.

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