This is the second of two review/reaction posts for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, you might want to go look at my non-spoiler post first, and come back to this one later. Because this is the one that has all the spoilers!
Overall, I’ll note in summary what I said in the other post rather than going into general commentary again here. Namely: the movie’s long but didn’t feel overly long to me. Several characters stood out for me with shining performances. And this was very much a “middle movie of a trilogy”, with considerable darkness of plot and galaxy-spanning stakes and ramifications. If you’re going to see this in a theater, be prepped for length.
Now then, let’s get into the SPOILERS.
HOO BOY where do I start. Let’s break this down into some overall categories, shall we?
As I said in the other post, I have seen commentary along the lines that this movie is overstuffed, and is arguably even carrying two movies’ worth of plot crammed into one. I cannot exactly disagree with this. But as I wrote in the other post, I can at least say that the film didn’t feel too overstuffed to me. Nor did it feel like it dragged at any point, really. With my writer hat on, I can see some room for tightening of story details, sure. But as a viewer, I was almost entirely satisfied with the movie we got.
The biggest plot beef I’ve seen so far is the entire B plot with Rose and Finn going to Canto Bight, the casino planet. Some commentary I’ve seen found this entire plot confusing, especially given that Rose and Finn weren’t even able to get the guy they were intending to find in the first place.
Personally, I didn’t have that problem. Dara and I talked a bit about how we found it an interesting storytelling choice–to have the attempted plan actually fail. I found myself thinking of another recent movie with a grand plan in it that failed–i.e., The Desolation of Smaug. I said of Desolation at the time that I felt it was very important for the dwarves’ plan to take out Smaug to fail, and that it was equally important that they try anyway. It was critical to their characters that they do so. I feel the same way about the Canto Bight plotline.
And hell, right in the very movie, Yoda says to Luke: “The greatest teacher, failure is.” The movie is very clearly aware of the thematic importance of failure to its story.
Moreover, even though Rose and Finn didn’t succeed in their mission, there are a lot of reasons why the sequence was necessary anyway. Tor.com has an excellent post up going into this in some depth, and I pretty much agree with all of it.
I said it in the other post and I’ll say it again here: Mark Hamill was fucking amazing, full stop. There was a lot of buzz going around a couple months ago about Hamill expressing hesitation about the script, and feeling like it was asking him to do things he felt weren’t appropriate for Luke.
But I am down with this post of The Mary Sue’s, in which Teresa Jusino talks about how Luke’s arc was for her peak Skywalker. I agree with every word of that post. In particular, the part about how the Luke we saw in the original trilogy wouldn’t have done this movie’s things, sure. But that Luke was a young man, just starting out on his hero’s journey. This Luke is a lot older, a lot more careworn, and this cannot help but impact his choices. But at the end of the day, by which I mean the end of the movie, what Luke finally chooses to do felt absolutely true to the heart and soul of his character.
I was 110 percent on board with his showing up at the base for that last showdown with Kylo, particularly once we got the reveal that he’s there only as an astral projection. Because that let him do the whole brushing of his shoulder once all the First Order walkers stopped shooting at him, a delicious little moment that I adored. I loved the look on his face as he looked up at the walkers, all “are you done? Because I can do this all day.”
And I ain’t gonna lie: that last shot of him and the binary sunset, as he vanished into the Force, had me in tears. I see what you did there, movie, circling all the way back to A New Hope.
Dear gods how are they going to do the third movie without Carrie Fisher? *sadface*
Because holy crap Leia in this movie. She was radiant. She was luminous.
She fucking Force-floated herself back onto her ship after being blown off it, because she is General Leia Goddammned Organa and she is just. That. Awesome.
It was so deeply gratifying to see her finally, finally get to do something else with the Force on camera. And to see her being that spark of hope to keep her last little crumb of the Resistance alive and kicking.
How the hell are they going to do Episode IX without her?
Another excellent post I found last night was this one on Tor.com, with a very solid theory about what Rey is and what her function is in the Force. I particularly like the end of the article:
She is the sword of the Cosmic Force, here to bring the galaxy true balance for the first time in an age.
Kylo Ren should be terrified.
Because fuck yeah. This girl is laser-focused from start to finish and it is a joy to behold.
I am quite intrigued to see that she rescued the Jedi texts from the island, and what she’ll wind up doing with them. Very curious as to whether we’ll get Force ghost Luke in the next film, giving her any more guidance, or whether she’s just going to wing it. Because so far she seems to be doing a pretty damn good job winging it!
Kylo’s Arc: Reylo? HELL NO
Let me state categorically for the record: I am not a Reylo shipper.
I see some signs in this movie that they might be trying to set up Kylo Ren for a redemption arc, the same way Vader got one. My reaction to this: fuck no. This whiny little twatwaffle Darth-Vader-wannabe killed Han Solo. I do not forget and I do not forgive. I want to see him tossed down a reactor shaft in the next movie.
That said: I do have to admit, Adam Driver does a great job playing him. I don’t hold his character’s being a twatwaffle against the actor. ;D
And I did like that Snoke engineered the whole Force-link between Kylo and Rey, that Rey did see conflict in him that she tried to reach and resolve, and that the two of them together against Snoke’s entire cadre of guards were a symphony of lethality.
I am very curious now as to how Kylo will handle being the new Supreme Leader. He does still have that conflict within him, and he’s not as stable as Vader. We have seen in two movies now that he has an explosive temper. I really have to wonder if we’re going to see him crack somewhere in the third movie.
And I’m just waiting now to see how many First Order officers he winds up Force-choking. Though I maintain that Kylo only wishes he could cut a swath through an officer corp the way his granddaddy did. ;D “APOLOGY ACCEPTED.” Muahaha.
Dara and I have decided that Captain Phasma is clearly this trilogy’s Boba Fett, i.e., the character who’s supposed to be a mighty badass and yet is cruelly underutilized in the actual movies. I am a bit disappointed in this. The Mary Sue was crankier.
As I said over in my other post, I really liked this character. I also really liked Tor.com’s commentary about her, and how she fits into our expectations for female military power. Or doesn’t fit, as the case may be.
I’m totally curious about the battle that Poe mentions when he sees her, and what her history is with that. And since we only get a glimpse of her lifelong friendship with Leia in the movie, I’m thinking I may go have to track down the novel in which she appears, Leia: Princess of Alderaan.
Much has been made over these critters. For my part, I found ’em cute enough, but ultimately uninteresting. Though I did giggle at the one little interaction they have with Chewie, looking all sad-eyed at him about to eat one of their flock.
And I am deeply amused that we have porgs to begin with because the film crew couldn’t keep the puffins out of frame! They were filming on an island with puffins on it for all of Luke’s island time, and by law they were forbidden to interfere with the birds. So they decided to run with it, and CGI them into the movie.
Now I get to make jokes about the Millennium Falcon coming down with a bad case of the porgs. I am at peace with this.
As long as we’re talking about underused characters, Chewie does seem like he’s getting punted to the sidelines. I’m a little sad about that. But he is a character from the previous generation, so I can’t be too sad about that. As long as he does get to show up and contribute in the third flick. If he’s going to be flying around with Rey on the Falcon, let him do stuff! More stuff than just flying the ship and growling at porgs.
Where the Hell IS Lando, Anyway?
The Mary Sue wants to know where the hell Lando Calrissian is in this trilogy. I feel they have a sound and solid point.
A quick check of starwars.wikia.com indicates he hasn’t been killed off in any of the recently released new canon materials, and that they were in fact considering making Lando be the “master codebreaker” character. Rian Johnson apparently felt like the character still had a future.
So where the hell IS he?
Oooookay yeah fine the rolly droid is pretty adorable. It’s official.
R2-D2 and C-3PO
Less presence for these droids in the movie than I might have expected, and I’m fine with that. Particularly given that Artoo’s scene with Luke is awesome. I adored him whipping out that old holo of Leia to drive home his point to Luke. 😀
Force ghost Yoda
YAY! Speaking of small characters who are delightfully capable of puncturing holes in Luke Skywalker’s bullshit. (heart) (heart) (heart)
“Read them, have you? Page-turners they are not.” Hee hee hee hee.
But even more, Yoda cheerfully calling down Force lightning on the tree once Luke waffled about whether or not to destroy it himself.
I talked a bit about Snoke above, and I’ll add here that I actually like that Kylo killed him. I didn’t see that coming, and in retrospect I really should have. Because he was clearly the Palpatine 2.0 of this plot, and we didn’t need that. The Darth-Vader-wannabe killing the Palpatine-wannabe is a much more interesting choice.
Still, I am rather curious about the character’s background and how he came to power. I expect this will eventually show up in a novel if it hasn’t already.
I actually wound up kinda liking this guy more than I thought I would, which is to say, any. Poe’s pissing him off by calling into his bridge and then promptly ignoring all of his bluster pleased me considerably.
I also liked Hux’s desperate “long live the Supreme Leader” gambit to get out of being Force-choked. Let’s see if he manages to survive the third movie. Possibly by orchestrating an assassination attempt on Kylo.
The Visuals on Crait
Goodness, I loved the stark contrast of white and red on Crait, once the Resistance took over the abandoned Rebel base there. It was Hoth-like and yet so very not, with all those geysers of red shooting up into the sky at every impact upon the salt flats.
Apparently those crystal fox critters on Crait are called vulptices, singular vulptex. I actually liked them a bit better than the porgs, because a) foxes!, and b) they actually contributed a bit to the plot by providing the clue as to how to actually get out of the base. I really liked the crystal look of their fur.
Last But Not Least
That’ll do me for now for my own commentary, but here are a few more articles off The Mary Sue and Tor.com that I liked from last night:
The Mary Sue
So now I’ll turn it over to y’all, talk to me in the comments! What are your thoughts on the movie?
Editing to add #1: Fixed a broken link in the section about Vice-Admiral Holdo. I was missing a quotation mark in one of the URLs there.