A Few Talking-Points Regarding “The Last Jedi”

Image Credit: StarWars.com

Greetings and salutations, folks. I trust you’ve all been well since the last time our connections intermingled over the vastness of the web. I feel like so much has transpired during my sabbatical away from this spot. Let’s see, the short-short version of my timeline – according to anything “geek,” that is – looks a little something like this:

My Doyers lost the World Series *sniffles*

Stranger Things’ second season ensnared two weeks of my life

The Matrix of Leadership in this time-killing effort was then passed on to The Punisher’s inaugural first season, further derailing an additional two weeks

*thinks for a moment*

Okay, now that this list is visible someplace other than the inside of my head, it doesn’t seem like a lot. However, throw in the hustle-and-bustle of work-life, my ongoing endeavor (futile as it may be) to read a minimum of a novel a month, attempting to make my way through an unyielding backlog of single-issue comics and trades, trying to make time for the rest of Star Trek: Discovery (my unsolicited two-bits on the last few episodes coming soon), as well as the multitude of other shows my ever-growing list compels me to consume, and, well, I’m sure you’re like, “Dude, welcome to the club!” So, yes, I’ve been a wee side-tracked; but, the Force beckoned my undivided attention – twice – and so relinquished all other responsibilities to its calling, I have.

First, before we proceed into The Last Jedi, if you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing it yet, HALT! Far be it from me to be the Bantha fodder responsible for stinking-up your Star Wars experience. But, if you have seen it (possibly multiple times like I), then ahead, we will progress.

Let me begin by saying this: I loved it. I thought, as an overall “Star Wars” experience, it hit all of the notes I expected it to, coaxing me into a frenzy at several points along the way; but, that being said, it was not without its faults. I wasn’t planning on putting a proverbial pen-to-paper, and venting (the net is filled with endless amounts of whines and cheers already), but I suppose something inside forced my hand (pun intended nyuk, nyuk). Here are just a few of the things that made me shake my head in disappointment.

Supreme Leader Snoke

If there was one thing I couldn’t wait to know more about, other than Rey, it was Snoke. I was looking forward to being given something, anything – tiny morsels or bread crumbs – about this big, bad, Palpatine-type of villain:

  • Who is he?
  • Where did he hail from?
  • Is he one of the Sith, or something else entirely?
  • What is his part to play in the grand scheme of all things?
  • Who’s his tailor, and why is he dressed like Goldmember?

Alas, my desire was without propitiation. In fact, it so happens that any theories my geeky, little mind had formulated turned out to be quite unfounded. Supreme Leader Snoke was merely nothing more than a throwaway story-snippet (womp, womp). Now, I’ll presume that the powers-that-be were trying to emulate the Emperor, and that without the prequels *shudders* to elaborate on his rise to power, he’d have been a sort of throwaway, as well (one could surmise). However, unlike Palpatine, Snoke had no actual connection, really, to anyone. Not even Kylo Ren had a strong connection to him, other than being a tad manipulated for a quick stint. So, in the end, Supreme Leader Snoke was, sadly, a flashy-lookin’ MacGuffin with no real purpose other than to be the catalyst for the coolest scene in the film: Rey and Kylo taking down Snoke’s Imperial-like guard.

Luke

After his quick appearance at the end of Force Awakens, I was dying to see him train Rey, hopefully in a similar fashion to the way Master Yoda trained him in Empire. Unfortunately, we got none of that business (womp, womp). What the hell was the purpose of having Rey go to see Luke if she was only to end up training herself? And “training” isn’t even the right noun we should be using here, since the only training she got on the island was some lightsaber-wielding and a quick lesson on the definition of the Force (ugh). What should have transpired is this: Rey goes to the planet to find Luke, but he’s nowhere to be found. She finds the ancient Jedi texts, and reads them, absorbing every last word. She then takes that knowledge and trains herself, since it has been made clear that she is a sort of naturally-skilled savant with the Force. She leaves the island to confront Kylo, with everything playing-out the way it did. Then, at the end, Luke arrives at the rebel base to also confront his former apprentice, but, instead of being an astral projection, he makes his debut in the X-wing we saw earlier on the island, taking out all of the AT-ATs except for Kylo’s; aaaand what ensues (in my mind, anyway) is a jaw-dropping display of the powerful Master Jedi that he is. Boom! What we were given, instead, was faaaar less compelling (wompity, womp-womp).

Rose

I think the one aspect which propels this set of Star Wars films into their own unique category is the level of diversity we’ve been given. I la-la-loooove the effort Disney has made to be inclusive with their storytelling. Representation matters, and they’ve done a really good job of representing an array of varying cultures thus far. However, I was none too pleased with the character of Rose. I like the actress, but the storytelling surrounding her part could have been better. I think the only part in the entire film which made me roll my eyes, harder than any other part which came before or after, was when she kisses Finn, and then tops-off this “charming” and “enlightening” moment by giving us a horrible Talia al Ghul, Dark Knight Rises reenactment (ugh). If she had knocked him out of the way in order to take his place, this could have been a really powerful scene, as her sister had just died to save the Resistance mere days before. Instead, she tells Finn that she “loves” him, only having known this guy for less than a day. Aaaand she was willing to put her comrades in mortal jeopardy, something her sister had died to prevent (double ugh).

Master Hacker

I’m still baffled by the whole “master hacker” plot point, mainly because we were given a pointless cameo by Justin Theroux, only to then be given a second one by Benicio Del Toro; a cameo that could just as easily been omitted, leaving the story completely intact. It felt like Rian Johnson and Kathleen Kennedy decided to cram as many cameos into Last Jedi as possible because they thought it would elevate the story, or something. We even got a third in the form of Laura Dern, whose character also served no meaningful purpose, other than to give us a cool lightspeed-kamikaze scene. I mean, I don’t have an aversion to these little surprises as long as they service the narrative in a meaningful way. Laura Dern’s character wasn’t onscreen long enough for us to have any empathy for her plight. I know that there’s only so much you can cram into a 3-hour film, but what you do decide to use should carry depth and weight within the story. That’s all I’m saying, folks.

I think that’s enough whining for today. If you’re reading this, you’re probably rolling your eyes at your screen like I rolled mine at Rose – especially if your feelings on the matter are the diametrical opposite. But look, despite feeling a tuft of disappointments from this latest Star Warsian installment (is that even a word?), I did enjoy it at face-value (I’m not as militant in my critique as other fans). It’s a fun ride, but one that could have been better constructed, especially since it had the awesome shadow of Empire Strikes Back looming over it like a Nazgul. Additionally, if you are in the percentile of folks who loved it, you’re in good company. The New York Times gave it a glowing review, as did Forbes.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas (or a holiday celebration in whichever way you and yours choose to recognize the season), and don’t forget to watch the Doctor Who Christmas Special tomorrow night (or tonight, depending on where you’re reading this from). I will of course be back here in a few days to discuss Peter Capaldi’s exit as our current and beloved Gallifreyan, as well as the entrance of our new (and fabulous) female Doctor, which, of course, we’ll probably only get a wee glimpse of until next year. *sigh*



Categories: Film, Film Reviews, Star Wars

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