Monday, January 8, 2018

The Last Jedi (a movie review?)

Yeah, the question mark up there is legit. I think this is going to be less a review about the movie and more about a review of Rian Johnson, who thinks he is way more clever than he actually is.
But there will still be spoilers.

But let's get the most obvious question out of the way: Did I enjoy the movie?
Well, yes, yes of course, I did. It was, after all, Star Wars, and it did, as Leia would say of Han, have its moments.

But it also had its moments.
Like why are all of the resistance ships running out of fuel at the exact same moment. That this is a question that I was having during my first viewing of the movie is wrong on so many levels. I mean, when did fuel become a thing? Luke hyperspaces all over the galaxy in his x-wing during The Empire Strikes Back, and there's never a mention or need for fuel, which is good since Dagobah would have been a lousy place to find a gas station. And Han flies the Falcon between star systems without a need for fuel. And I'm not even going to touch the idea that the fuel consumption rates on all of the Resistance ships would have had to have been basically the same no matter the size of the ship (WTF!) for them all to be needling empty at the same time.
Clearly this was a plot contrivance by Johnson, who seems to believe that stupid ideas are justified if they provide for "cool" moments. To be fair, this is also a problem Abrams has.

So was all the dumb of this "chase" scene worth the moment when Holdo hyperspaces the Resistance command ship into Snoke's star destroyer? I don't really know. That was a cool moment, but my thoughts leading up to it revolved around: This is so dumb. And it was kind of painful to watch all of that the second time. Not the hyperspace moment -- that was still cool -- but all of the chase leading up to it.

I also think it's a little weird how Poe is kind of constantly running up to people and greeting them with extreme enthusiasm, "Hey, Buddy!"

And I could go on, bit by bit, with the things that poke at me, but let's just not do that. I'll sum it up this way:
There are no moments like that whole fuel thing in the original trilogy. There's no point where I stop and think, "Wait a minute... That's kinda dumb." The thing most like that is the dianoga in the trash compactor, but there are legitimate explanations for that, so I have to shrug it off. You can't shrug off the fuel thing, not after eight other movies have failed to mention a need for fuel and, not just not mentioned it, demonstrated a distinct lack of that need.

That's just an example of the kind of thing Rian Johnson must feel is clever but really just isn't.

However, that's not the thing that bother me most. None of the logic problems that Johnson introduced are the things that bother me most. No, what bothers me most is Johnson's lack of respect for the story. Not the Star Wars story but story in general.
Here's the thing:

In the movie, Kylo "reveals" to Rey that she's a nobody. No one from nowhere. And that would be fine if... It would be fine if it was the truth. It would be fine if it was Kylo lying to Rey to get her to join him. It would be fine if Kylo was just wrong, that he read things the wrong way. It would be fine if there was a story reason for Kylo to tell Rey that. But... there's not.
And Rian Johnson doesn't have any say in the matter.

In a recent interview Johnson revealed that the only reason, the ONLY reason, he had Kylo say that is that he believed it was the thing that would most piss off the audience. He wanted to get a rise out of them. This puts him on par with George RR Martin in my book. "I want to piss off my audience because it's fun so I'm going to kill this character they all love." He further revealed that Abrams is the one who has final say in who Rey really is and nothing he wrote about it actually matters. Sure, maybe Abrams will decide to go with it, but Abrams isn't bound by anything that Johnson did. I suppose that includes the death of Snoke (another stupid moment, cool or not).

Which reveals the further problem of no one being in charge of these things. There's no controlling vision. You can say what you want about Lucas and the prequels or whatever, but, logically and plot-wise, all of his movies work together. He knew what he was doing and had a vision for getting there. The new movies, despite being completely entertaining, are beginning to feel piecemeal... because they are. This is something that Disney needs to get a grip on before the franchise begins to drift apart. They need to actually take a good look at what Marvel has done in keeping all of their movies moving forward within a unified vision.

I suppose I feel about the whole thing the way Mark Hamill put it when he said he didn't agree with any of the choices Johnson had Luke make but, after all, it's just a movie. That and, despite the enjoyment factor of Force Awakens and Last Jedi, I would much rather have seen what Lucas had intended to do with these than watch clashing egos slowly erode the franchise.


  1. And I'm really grateful Lucas had nothing to do with this or the last film.

  2. Really? I loved it. All of it. It was everything I ever wanted from Star Wars but never really got. I like Rey being nobody and not some Skywalker cousin and I really hope that sticks. I don't care why Rian Johnson did it because she's a kickass character and I want her to be a kickass on her own, not because she's Kylo stupid Ren's long lost sister or something. I don't even care about the fuel thing because the ships have to be powered by SOMEthing.

    I'm glad Lucas isn't involved anymore. I know you prefer his stuff but I just don't. Sorry.

    1. Jeanne: I suppose we'll have to wait and see as to the stickiness. I think it's going to come down to whether or not Abrams is as willing to discard what Johnson did as Johnson was willing to discard what Abrams did.

      And, sure, the ships have to fueled by something, but that doesn't mean they need "fuel." And I don't care if they need fuel. It's not the need for fuel that's the issue; it's that all the ships "ran out of gas" AT THE SAME TIME!

  3. I loved the movie (and Poe is my fav ever in ALL the films), .....but yeah I agree with a lot of the issues you had. The biggest one for me is that Snoke has zero backstory. Like who the heck is he and where did he come from!? I feel like he falls flat as a villain.

    1. Mich: Yeah, I didn't know where to go with the whole Snoke thing. I feel fairly confident that Johnson didn't like Snoke and just killed him. It's another of those things where we'll have to wait and see how Abrams deals with the fact that Johnson whimsically killed off his villain. There definitely needs to be some kind of explanation about who he was.

      I should reiterate: I did not not love the movie. I just have to not think about the details too much or I get annoyed. But not as much as with Force Awakens and the hyperspace cannon.

  4. Hmmm. Interesting. Things I'd not considered.