Real Movie Review – Star Wars: Episode 8: The Last Jedi

To quote Jon Lovitz’ “The Critic” – “it stinks.”

BQB here with a real review of the new Star Wars flick.  Be forewarned of SPOILERS.

At the outset, I must say that I don’t think the magic of the original films, now dubbed “Episodes 4-6,” will ever recreated.  You see, from the early days of cinema in the 1930s up until like, 1970, films were basically recorded plays.  Then the young baby boomers took over and directors like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg upped the special effects game.

“Star Wars” was unlike anything ever seen before on film but since then, we have been spoiled and the biggest, most intense scenes fail to wow us.

If, “The Force Awakens” was a modern rehash of “A New Hope,” then “The Last Jedi” is a lesser version of the film many say is the best of the “Star Wars” series, “The Empire Strikes Back.”

However, while “Empire” say Luke grow and train under the wise tutelage of Yoda, “Last Jedi” gives us a rather lackluster dynamic between Luke and Rey.

The ending scene of the last film, where Rey meets Luke in a sweeping view on a remote island, gave us hope of some really intense training and wisdom passing-on, such that would turn Rey from a naive young girl to a badass, as Yoda did to Luke years before.

Alas, instead we get a very whiny old Luke, lamenting how his life has been wasted, that the Jedi Council was a lame hoarding of Force power and really the force should belong to us all and if that’s the case then they’re rewriting history because the whole premise of the series has been that only special people can control the Force and just as in life, some people when given power will use it for good and others will be corrupted by it and turn evil.

For me, it was just too much whining.  I’d hoped that we’d see Luke in some late life Obi-Wan Kenobi badassery.  Sir Alec Guinness never whined so much but Old Luke is whinier than Young Luke who just wanted to go to Tashi to pick up some power converters.

We were promised epic training and instead Luke just whines to Rey…and whines…and whines. I mean, give this script to your most basic writer and he/she would have put in some Mr. Miyagi style training montages but there was none of that.  Luke just bitches and moans about how he wasted his life being a Jedi and then eventually Rey like, just leaves.

Seriously, maybe I fell asleep but one minute Rey was on the island listening to Luke’s sobfest and then the next she’s on a ship entering the space battle.  It’s like, she just got tired of the bullshit and was like, “I guess no one’s teaching me any badass light saber moves here even though the audience would have enjoyed seeing that so I’ll just leave this depressed old fucker and go into a space battle now.”

Overall, I feel like Hamill could have been put to better use.

SPOILER – the ending, Luke does get some awesomeness in, I’ll admit that.  But I didn’t quite get the point of it.  Ren has his army blast the ever loving shit out of Luke and Luke just dusts himself off.  It’s cool and funny and then we learn that Luke’s only there in a ghostly form.  At first, I thought Luke had died in the blast and become a ghost like so many Jedi before him, but then we learn that Luke was projecting a spirit form of himself from his home on the island the entire time…which doesn’t really make sense.  And then he dies anyway so…I thought the point of him projecting himself was to keep him alive for future movies so if he’s going to die while projecting himself then why not have him die in battle?

Then again, maybe he didn’t die.  Maybe he disappeared.  Preserve a possibility he might return?  Who knows?

I have to say I think there’s a lot of back story the writers have us assume.  I think a three movie arc where the Galaxy is at piece and then Ben Solo, Luke’s nephew, trains under Luke and turns to the dark side and fucks up the galaxy by the end of the third movie would have been more interesting than just jumping into where we are now.  We are told through flashbacks that Luke became forlorn after his nephew turned evil but that story would have been better in a film than what we are seeing now.

Meanwhile, the subplot with Finn and Rose going on an adventure to a casino planet to find a hacker was silly, an attempt to give sort of a space Bond vibe, except Finn and Rose just show up in their regular clothes and look rather silly.  We learn late in the film Rose has a crush on Finn, but perhaps the two gussying up in fancy duds to infiltrate the party and Finn getting confused, maybe realizing he has options, maybe he could be with Rey, maybe he could be with Rose or what have you, might have been interesting.  Maybe not.  It all seemed out of place.

Like many of the characters, Benicio Del Toro’s DJ (the hacker) is sort of cookie cutter stock.  He’s got an odd lisp but we don’t know why he’s so weird and eccentric.  Admittedly, he has the most interesting lines of the film, pointing out that evil arms dealers make their money by selling not only to the First Order but also to the Resistance.  Whereas past films showed the Empire as bad and the Rebels as unwaveringly good, this part leads us to wonder whether or not both sides are not just two faces of the same coin, that because neither will back down, the death and carnage continues and the galaxy remains in ruins while arms dealers profit.

Further, we were promised a big reveal about Rey’s parentage and what we got was a let down.  There were some clues that led us to believe that Rey was Luke’s daughter, i.e. why else would Luke’s lightsaber call to her, and if Ren’s claim that Rey’s parents were just trash who sold her for beer money is true, then there’s a lot of clues just left on the table, a lot of build up just to let us down.  I’m hoping in the third film we’ll find out Ren lied.

I don’t know if the initial “Star Wars” genie can ever be let out of the bottle again.  Although, last year’s “Rogue One” was impressive to me, so perhaps it is possible.

I think the long term problem for the franchise is the creation of a post-Vader, post-original character world.  Vader is the baddest-ass villain ever created.  Admit it.  When you first saw him force choke a subordinate, you immediately thought about the worst, nastiest boss you ever had and it scared you.

Eventually, the franchise will have to enter a post original movie world – one without the original characters, without Vader, without the Skywalkers, without the Empire….will they be able to create villains and heroes who are just as riveting?

Time will tell…but they had one shot to provide us with some Luke on screen awesomeness and they blew it.  Rey and Luke never bond, never develop any kind of friendship or master/trainee relationship…he’s basically a guy she meets who whines to her.  You’re not really left with the impression that Rey got anything out of her meeting with Luke, that she’s better for it, that she has any connection to him, that she’ll ever think about him again and and honestly, that’s a failure.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy but I mean, I’m not really in a rush to see it again.

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9 thoughts on “Real Movie Review – Star Wars: Episode 8: The Last Jedi

  1. I think you nailed a lot of it. The biggest problem to me is Kylo Ren. He’s a terrible villain. I know the actor is trying, but it’s not working. Star Wars without a strong villain is just boring.

    None of the characters but the code breaker were that interesting. Luke was so emo. I wished Rei would just light saber his ass and get it over with. The biggest problem is no good villain. Even Anakin was a better villain than Kylo.

    At least the prequels had the Emperor who still got the villain part down.

    • I thought it was a little ingenious that Ren is basically Emo Vader, rebelling against his Dad, saying Grandpa had it right…i think a three movie arc where luke trains his nephew only to be have the nephew fall might have been good. Snoke is kind of a cookie cutter version of the emperor. Above all, the interaction between Luke and Rey is disappointing. That sweeping scene at the end of the last promises a big Master/Trainee experience and it didnt happen. Luke isn’t her trainer, she’s just some cranky old man she met.

  2. Now that we’re talking about the actual film, I think you made many valid points. One point I was hoping to read, and did not, is that the whole thing felt like a weak mashup of the three old movies (4-6) in one. -Especially given the length.
    I agree about whiny Luke, but maybe that’s always his character. I found him disappointing in the originals as well, not like Ben or Qui-Gon at all.
    Darth Maul is the most awesome villain ever. They gave crippled Vader three movies of life, but created and killed Jinn and Maul all within one film. Tragic. Even Jar-Jar outlived those two.

    • True and that teaches us it is possible to invent new heroes and villains. I just think there was a lot of buildup that this would be the “Luke trains Rey” film and in reality, their encounter was very lackluster. Also, I thought the scene where Leia uses the force to pull herself out of space was the best of the film yet it didn’t make a lot of sense as she never really had much of the Force in her in the original films. Either these great force displays require years of training or they don’t and if they do there wasn’t much explanation of her force training which i guess is a nerdy point but either there are rules or no rules

  3. Woody says:

    Did anyone get the feeling that all the humor from the side of The First Order made it seem like a spoof on the star wars franchise? The humor with Luke and the resistance was good, but man it seemed like a spoof to see the bad guys “stumble” around!

  4. Woody says:

    Yeah. It just felt like other then Snoke, the rest where incompetent.

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