I finally made it to see The Last Jedi in the theater today.  First off, thanks to those of you who provided the spoiler-free reviews.  It was much appreciated.  I’ll be dropping spoilers here though, so don’t hold back in the comments  Getting that out of the way, why is this movie getting so much hate?  I thought it was amazing.

Maybe this is unfair of me to do, but I have to compare it to Rogue One.  The reason I’m doing this is because I notice that many of the same reviewers who liked Rogue One are also ripping on The Last Jedi.  I’ll probably piss people off by saying this, but Rogue One isn’t even a real movie.  I mean that in the sense that the story is weak, the characters are unsympathetic and forgettable, and it was totally dependent on the goodwill brought about by nostalgia for the classic characters.  The whole thing sort of drags for a couple of hours just so we can get to watch Darth Vader go all Jason Voorhees on a bunch of guys.  The movie had a great finale but in terms of story, it was nothing but fan-fiction.

The Last Jedi was as different as it could be and it was fantastic.  Where Rogue One was a story that really didn’t need to be told, The Last Jedi is a continuation of the original trilogy and there’s new shit that happens.  The new characters have depth, learn things, fall in love, and do a bunch of other stuff that the Rogue One characters didn’t and it wouldn’t matter if they did on account of them all being dead.  The classic characters don’t carry the movie.  One of the themes is that they’re moving on.  Going away.  We’re breaking with the past.  Where the classic characters appear and do things, it serves the plot, not the “OMG! LUKE SKYWALKER GOTS HIS GREEN LIGHTSABER!  SQUUUUUUUUEEEEEE!” factor.

What about The Force Awakens?  Is anyone questioning that this was better than that?  I liked The Force Awakens and I was perfectly willing to accept that it was effectively a remake of A New Hope (or Star Wars for the old people among us).  A reboot-of-sorts was exactly what the Star Wars universe needed.  Anyone who doesn’t get that is still clinging to the idea that the prequels weren’t terrible and hadn’t crippled Star Wars by demystifying the Force and turning Darth Vader into a crybaby jerkass.  If Rogue One accomplished anything worthwhile, it was making Darth Vader scary again.

The Force Awakens reintroduced that world and set the basis for a new story with characters who, quite frankly, I like and find interesting (mostly Kylo Ren and Finn).  The Last Jedi put them into a situation where everything has been turned upside down, the old tropes don’t work anymore, and the stakes are arguably higher than they’ve been since the final act of Return of the Jedi.

Yet somehow, it’s still hopeful.  This is the biggest contrast with Rogue One.  It went all “dark” and that’s fine, I suppose, but it was also joyless and depressing.  The Last Jedi is more similar to my favorite movie (favorite movie, period, not just favorite Star Wars movie), Empire Strikes Back.  Yeah, that movie was dark too but the difference is that there was humor (beyond one autistic robot), romance (beyond the two main characters who can barely stand each other for most of the movie holding hands on the beach before dying), and there were some legitimate surprises and plot twists (Rogue One had neither, except I guess I was surprised that everybody got killed).  Empire and Last Jedi have all of this in common.

The Last Jedi was exciting and suspenseful for the most part.  Admittedly, it ran on too long, but I remember watching Rogue One a year ago and being horrified to realize about 25 minutes into it that I wasn’t enjoying it at all.  There was never a moment like that in this one.

So what’s the problem here, guys?  Why does The Last Jedi have such a bad audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes?  Was it that everybody sucked at their jobs?  Couldn’t be that, because everybody sucks at their jobs in Game of Thrones and that’s popular.  Besides, “failure” is the primary theme of the movie.  Everybody fails. Then they learn from it.

Maybe you’re peeved because the character of Luke Skywalker was badly handled to the point that even Mark Hamill is mad about it?  First, I’ll just say that I don’t agree with his politics, so I’m not obliged to agree with his opinion on the character he plays.  Yes, Luke almost kills a young Ben Solo in a moment that his worst instincts almost took over.  Unlike his father, he decided not to kill any kids.  Yes, it was hard to see him as a jaded old man so different from the idealistic young man we remember.  But I find it believable that someone like that could become more cynical over time, particularly in the face of (again) failure.  He had forgotten what he was supposed to be, but he found it again and made it count.  Was it the way he died?  I thought it was every bit as dignified as Ben Kenobi’s or Yoda’s, honestly.

What did you really want to happen?  Did you want to see Luke Skywalker show up and start Force-throwing First Order stormtroopers onto the ceiling in an extravagant and needless sequence that completely missed the point of the story?

Maybe it’s the feminism?  I have seen a few complaints about this on the Web.  Were the females too overpowered?  I’d be happy to have that debate.  I think the women all sucked at their jobs as much as the men did.  By the end, Poe was commanding everyone and Leia was telling everyone to go along with him.  Rose got rekt saving Finn because that’s what chicks do when they love you.  Rey most definitely did not kick Kylo Ren’s ass this time.  Men weren’t denigrated in this movie at all.

Set me straight here.  What was wrong with The Last Jedi?  It greatly exceeded my expectations.  It was as beautiful cinematically as Rogue One was.  The characters were strong and interesting.  It was an exciting and engaging story.  I’m an old school Star Wars fan and I legitimately rank it my #3 favorite of the movies, only behind ESB and ANH.

Why do some people hate it?  I don’t get it.

16 comments

  1. Hoo boy, I was waiting for this post.

    Personally I loved the movie because of and despite the risks it takes. Some of the comedy was great, some of it didn’t land for me. I think the Casino plot veered a little into prequel trilogy areas for me. But it injected the Star Wars universe with some ambiguity, which makes me excited for the franchise again.

    The haters are saying that Ryan Johnson ruined Star Wars. I don’t think they’re right. I think the haters are mad because Ryan Johnson ruined the prequels.

    The prequels did 2 things to the Star Wars universe. It made ‘the Force’ something exclusive to a certain bunch of elites, making us all obsessed with the Skywalker lineage (for some reason) and it ensured that everyone and every thing could be connected and happily fit into a Wikipedia entry.

    Every character had an extended backstory that fit in with everyone else really neatly. Star Wars had just become a big mystery where we wanted to find out exactly how everyone was related to each other. The main questions we had going into this film were because we have been conditioned to ask them. And TLJ not only doesn’t answer them – but tells us that by asking those questions, we’re missing the whole point of the saga.

    What’s Snokes backstory? It doesn’t matter, not a big deal.
    What’s Luke going to do once he gets his lightsaber back? Nothing, it’s just a sword, not a big deal.
    What is Kylo’s grand plan? He doesn’t have one, he’s just a mess.
    Who are Reys Parents? It doesn’t matter.
    Then how can Rey become such a hero if she’s not a Skywalker. Because anyone can be a hero as long as you work for it.

    That’s something that my kids are excited about – much more than being bummed out because their dad isn’t famous, or their midchlorian count is too low.

    TLJ breaks the cycle of Star Wars simply being the monetization of nostalgia, and fan theories. If Rey had turned out to be Lukes daughter, then that would have been neat and tidy, but also boring. TLJ is a messy joyous leap into the unknown with the rules broken wide open and a whole bunch of new stories now possible.

    Also – that Hyperspace jump. Awesome.

  2. The main thing that bothers me is seeing dead Carrie Fisher’s face in the film. It just seems creepy for some reason.

    Aside from that, the characters were true to themselves, and Luke’s cynicism made sense, he was sort of like the anti-Kenobi, or maybe even what his father might have been.

    Kylo is sort of clueless, and Snokes is just sort of there. They need a real heavy, like Thrawn.

  3. Thrill…love ya. But you’re an idiot.

    I’ll break it down for you to two things.

    1) The entire plot is the worlds slowest police chase, where the police forgot that they had turbochargers on every single car and could jump up to or past the rebels and blow them up inside of 30 seconds.

    2) Luke fricking Skywalker milking an alien sea cow.

  4. Every character had an extended backstory that fit in with everyone else really neatly.

    Yeah, I think there is some butthurt about everyone finding out that their fan theories didn’t materialize because Johnson thought they were stupid is definitely playing a factor here. One refrain I’ve heard from a couple of different YouTube critics is “Well, I don’t see where they take the story from here. Where can they possibly go?”

    They say that like it’s a bad thing.

    What’s Snokes backstory? It doesn’t matter, not a big deal.

    Yeah, you know, I hate to bring the prequels into this but it occurred to me that Snoke played the role in this movie that Count Dooku did in Revenge of the Sith. His character doesn’t matter. His death does. It’s when Anakin executes him without following the Jedi way that he effectively crosses into the dark side.

    Ren’s betrayal of Snoke and decision to replace him is what’s significant in the grand scheme of things. I’m sure we’ll get a standalone Snoke movie in 2031 or something, but it’s as unnecessary as, well the prequels. You’re right. It doesn’t matter!

  5. Kylo is sort of clueless, and Snokes is just sort of there. They need a real heavy, like Thrawn.

    See, I love Kylo Ren. I would imagine that a real-life villain like that would have to be a complete “mess” as ilovecress calls him. Being an impulsive brat with superpowers makes him more terrifying to me than an overly gifted supergenius like Thrawn.

    That said, I would definitely pay to watch a Thrawn movie.

  6. 1) The entire plot is the worlds slowest police chase, where the police forgot that they had turbochargers on every single car and could jump up to or past the rebels and blow them up inside of 30 seconds.

    Ah, that’s a tactical military nitpick that you could apply to any Star Wars movie though. To wit:

    1. In ANH, why was it the entire Death Star only had three (3) TIE fighters to send out to fight the Rebels? Why couldn’t they summon the entire fleet to jump there and at least help out and provide more fighters if indeed there were only three (3) on the entire space station?

    2. In ESB, why was the Empire able to land AT AT walkers on the surface, but they didn’t simply have some TIE fighters just fly down with them? They could have had like 1,000 TIE fighters go at the shield generator and shoot down all of the transports instead of having those slow ass walkers trudge through the snow and let the Rebels escape.

    3. How stupid is it that Han was able to trick the Imperial Fleet by simply attaching the Falcon to a Star Destroyer in ESB? Can you imagine how that scene would get ripped apart if it happened in Star Wars today?

    4. In ROTJ, why didn’t the Empire keep fighting after the Death Star was destroyed? They still had 30 or so Star Destroyers and hundreds of TIE fighters. Instead, they just…left? And let the Rebels have a Care Bears Party?

    2) Luke fricking Skywalker milking an alien sea cow.

    What, you didn’t like learning the origin of the blue milk? Star Wars fans are generally interested in learning the origin of absolutely everything. Why not that? Besides, Luke was a farm boy originally. Shouldn’t be shocking at all that he’s still happy with the farm-to table lifestyle.

  7. I really enjoyed the movie and thought it was one of the most spectacular and creative use of the film medium in the Star Wars franchise.

    I think the people that criticize the film focus almost entirely on the beginning of the movie. I think it’s apt to point out that originally the movie had a washed up old baby boomer director trying to be relevant. It shows. I can’t be 100 percent sure that the shitty parts are all Howard but , let’s say I’m about 99 percent certain of which parts rian Johnson got told to suck it up and wasn’t granted reshoots.

    The film is split into a typical three act composition, but sadly the first act drags on way too long with Rey trying to convince Luke to join the rebels. You can see in that act Ron howard’s Influence because it’s campy, childish and chock full of stupid humor and stupid special effects.

    By the time the first act comes to a close, and Rey is convinced by kylo ren that Luke is an intergalactic space cuck, the rest of the movie is stunning.

    I thought that rian did an excellent job of using editing to build suspense, story to create plot twists, and flashes of brilliance with unique camera angles and new special effects.

    The cast was superb, and I thought character development was spectacular. Boyega and Del toro did amazing work turn bland side characters into compelling influencers in the film, the Asian girl knocked it out of the fucking park, and everytime I thought we were falling back into a Death Star plot I was pleasantly surprised.

    I knew Luke would have a redemption scene but short of one tell with the salt on the ground it was very fresh. The third act was a little long but I can forgive that for the effort. I really felt as an audience member the desperation of the rebels, but it could’ve been edited down about ten minutes.

    I even loved how rian played with the campy props and 1983 visual concepts of what heads up displays and interfaces looked like. He incorporated them so well it’s like they were design choices that became some of the visual development of the film.

    It’s valid to say there’s things you don’t like it roads well traveled in the plot but it deserves respect. The people complaining sound like old grumps complaining that their denny’s Grand slam breakfast isn’t exactly the way the remembered it.

  8. the Asian girl knocked it out of the fucking park

    I enjoyed Rose. She was sort of the “everywoman” to Finn’s “everyman” that made him so interesting in TFA. Nothing supernatural about her. Not a Force user. Not a great pilot. Not related to anyone but a bomber pilot who dies in the line of duty at the start of the film.

    Contrasted with Finn, she starts the movie only being loyal to the cause rather than friends. By the end, she makes the argument that both loyalty to the cause and loved ones is what’s going to prevail. I liked that.

    Plus her and Finn is a charming love story, something that hasn’t existed in Star Wars since ROTJ. Not sure how well that’s going to play with audiences in the interracial relationship sense in Asia, but it’s a lot more believable and less “forced” (ha, ha, ha, I hate myself) than Finn and Rey would have been.

    She’ll have a more major role in Episode IX, I reckon. Also, anyone else notice a little something with Poe and Rey there at the end?

  9. I think Luke and his family were like sharecroppers. They grew crops, not livestock.

    Why did they send TIE fighters into the asteroid field? Cannon fodder?

    Once they got the laser working, why didn’t the Death Star immediately target Care Bear world itself?

    For that matter, assuming the Rebellion was winning, why didn’t they find the unfinished Death Star II earlier? It’s pretty big, after all…

    Also dumb: Boba Fett being able to hide behind an asteroid and follow them without being detected in open space.

    Why didn’t the rebels have their own body armor?

    As for the Empire, they do keep fighting in the books, but the original films ended with its apparent defeat. Although wouldn’t the rebellion, being the more principled characters, try to use the Emperor’s death to end the war?

    What happened on Curuscant after ROTJ?

  10. Hey, WVR, check on YouTube for deleted scenes from ROTJ. There really is a scene where the emperor orders exactly what you said for nuking Endor.

  11. Idk about the Poe thing at the end, maybe you should explain it. I was on a rush by the end and missed it.

    However, one thing I noticed and wondered if someone else saw it the way I did…. was leia also an astral projection when she miraculously revived from her coma? We know Luke was an astral projection from the movie and the tell with the salt on the ground, however in the scene at the end when Luke and leia share a moment, Luke puts a memento in her hand. You remember the little charm, right? Kylo ren picks it up and it disappears, but leia clearly held it in her hand during their conversation.

    It leads me to believe leia actually died in space, or shortly thereafter in her coma and became an astral projection with her remaining connection to the force to aide the rebels to safety.

    It would make story sense because she obviously shouldn’t be in anymore movies, despite the studio saying before they knew this was her swan song that this would be Carrie fisher’s moment in the spotlight.

  12. At the end, on the Falcon, Poe sees Rey and says, “Hi, I’m Poe.”

    “I’m Rey!” Big smiles.

    Dunno. Maybe I’m reading too much into it.

    The Leia Astral Projection theory is valid. Can’t see how else they explain her absence in IX. Would be REALLY shitty if they just say “Leia is dead” in the title crawl.

  13. I was disappointing….
    One issues, between my frigging terrible hearing and the fact that the theaters speaker were turned down, i could barely hear what was said though the movie..

    Luke, putting him on the precipice of wanting to kill Ben, because he fears his strength and what he could be. Then turning him into a bitter old asshole that milks sea cows and hides from the universe. letting his failure go out and rampage across the galaxy.

    The Chase.. oh god, this was bad, STAR WARS was never big on correct military strategy ,but even my 12 year old asked “why don’t they jump in front of them?”
    Admiral Evening Dress…. was even more incompetent that Gen Hux.. and that takes some doing, run straight ahead and hid in a rathole and what?…
    Leia doing the superman routine, no hint of her ever getting any force training and then at deaths door she pulls a starlord..

    ok on the plus side…Visually WOW!>…………..
    Teh entire scene in Snokes Throne room , LOVED it!.. Adm evening dress ramming the ultramega Stardestroyer, whit her out of fuel ship.. ..WOW..
    Lukes confrontation with Kylo…floored me. right up till it was obvious he was a force projection, and luke has a coronary and dies, watching the twin suns..
    Adam Driver did a band up job, loved how is Kylo lost his shit, and just went all batshit.
    Poe, still liek this guy.
    Rey, eh Mary sue supper duper powered but not bad.
    Finn, a bit annoying but they finally age him something to do
    Rose.. pretty good..
    Luke……….i wanted to cry …..
    Leia.. yeah same.. hate losing her.
    Chewie.. that dam scene with him eating/not eating the Prog…
    R2, oh man him playing back Leias old holograph…..
    Hux, that tard is on bath salts, has to be.

    The positives, just didn’t outweigh what i thought the negatives were.

    As with TFA, ill have to see it again, maybe ill appreciate it more the second time around.

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