Ladies and gentleman, below is my reaction to my first viewing of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017). This is mostly spoiler free. Following the main text are […]
Ladies and gentleman, below is my reaction to my first viewing of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017). This is mostly spoiler free. Following the main text are a list of scenes that I had strong feelings about.
Let’s get to it.
I did not like it. I walked out of the theater angry, upset, and most of all, conflicted. I have grown up on Star Wars my whole entire life. It’s been the life-blood that my secret nerd & geek side has flown and grown by since I was a kid. However, walking out of the Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, I was severely disappointed and struck down by a movie that hit some genuinely really high peaks, but fell into so many deep crevices of disappointment. I literally was cursing at the screen during moments of the movie. My palm was worn down from placing my frowned brow into it.
Starting from the top, director Rian Johnson strove to do something different, and that he did. I commend that. I sincerely appreciate the steps he took to not care what the great Star Wars fan universe thought. But with that being said… Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is not a well-structured or balanced experience.
The movie is riddled down with characters who are entirely unnecessary, I’M LOOKING AT YOU ROSE (STRAIGHT AT YOU), and gimmick comedy that is purely there to appease a youthful crowd. Throw in entire 20-minutes segments on remote planets that are genuinely boring and entirely way to over-the-top preachy and cheesy.
The best moments of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi all center around Luke Skywalker, Kylo Ren, and Rey. The moments where Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, and Daisy Ridley shed their talents on the screen are almost all quality. Unfortunately for viewers, that’s only half the movie.
The plot points centering around Leia, Poe, and Finn all come out as formulaic. The most tedious story arc to follow is that of Finn and FREAKING ROSE. In case you can’t tell, Rose is one of my least favorite movie characters of all-time. I have trusted people that tell me Kelly Marie Tran is a wonderful actress, but good god lord almighty, she as Rose is a Webster Dictionary definition of waste of space.
Her presence within the film does nothing. It’s not Marie Tran’s fault, but every single personality tick she crosses is predictable and often cringe-worthy. The culmination comes in Rose’s final interaction with Finn. I don’t know if I have ever been more furiously angry at a movie I genuinely wanted to appreciate and enjoy then at that moment.
In terms of the pacing, it reminds me a lot of the latest series of Game Of Thrones (2011- Present). Those who have seen season 7 know it had some fast-forwarding moments, but the characters, stories, and overall atmosphere of GoT universe allows it to vault past any major criticism. The same cannot be said for Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. It hopes from place-to-place and character-to-character, and the unevenness makes it seem like your flying through an asteroid field.
While many say that Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is a complete departure from the normal Star Wars tale, it still does carry many tropes that made the original trilogy so successful. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and The Last Jedi both have all their major characters separate for their own stories.
Each tale expands on each person’s personal arc; Luke training with Yoda is Empire Strikes Back is paralleled with Rey finding elder Luke on a deserted island for her own mentoring. Finn tackling with his past digressions is comparable to Han Solo facing his debts to Jabba the Hutt in The Empire Strikes Back. Kylo Ren trying to bring a rebel hero to the dark side and Darth Vader doing the same to Luke is the most obvious of the story connections.
Now let it be known, I am team Kylo Ren. I want the bad guys to win. I want Kylo Ren to come out on top and rule the galaxy. He is the most compelling character in this new Star Wars saga, mainly because is the antithesis of a normal tale of possible rehabilitation. We first meet Kylo in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015) when he is already gone dark, and from there we see him battle with the pull to become good again. It is flip of what people expect and it is delectable to watch.
Speaking of other positive aspects, Hamill back as Luke Skywalker is a delight. He goes balls-to-the-wall in his performance. He gives everything that he has. His deserter, grumpy old-man routine has charm and depth. Ridley is the same hero that the audience loves, and rightfully so. She has the same mystique and power that makes her incredibly loveable.
Back to the negatives, I have a hot take. I dislike BB8. He is serving solely as an adorable toy-selling ploy for the Disney company. There is a moment in the movie where he saves the day in the most bizarre plot hole-filled way which brought maybe the most audible moan of disgust for me.
Now, I have a deeper subconscious reason why I don’t like BB8. I came to this realization at work today, and I had to immediately tell my co-worker my logic, to which he nodded in agreement.
I don’t like BB8 because he is portrayed and acts like a puppy. The droid is always chipper, able to express feelings without words, and comes to the aid of characters when they are in need of a pick-me-up. There is even a scene with Poe where he hugs him and pets him like a pup.
Now comes something those who know me well have come to live with. I don’t like pets, and I am not a big fan of dogs. I can appreciate the cuteness and things they offer, but I just don’t have any emotional connection to pets. If you are a normal human, you love dogs and therefore BB8 fits the cultural mold; but for my Scrooge soul, it just wears.
END OF PERSONAL INTERMISSION
I think I have carried this stream of consciousness exercise out to its full fruition.
Talking with others who have seen Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, I reach same pinnacle moment in every conversation. I raise my gripes, and people agree with me. They bring the positives, and I agree with their points. But the talk ends with me not being able to look past the truly vast number of deprived points while my compatriot is capable of looking more macro and enjoy the experience for what it sets out to do.
Does this make me a movie snob? Maybe. But it’s how I feel.
Everything involving the philosophy of The Force, the Jedi, and the neighboring major characters is truthfully engaging. But the rest of the movie just doesn’t add up to enough stepping blocks for me to climb out of my hole of disappointment.
I recommend everyone see Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. Form your own opinion. Let me know what you think. Whether you like or dislike it, may the Force with you.
For some spoiler inducing reaction, continue scrolling at your own risk
STANKO RATING: C-
Some more thoughts that include spoilers. This is the ultimate scream of consciousness portion.
- I loved how Johnson explored the Kylo and Luke history. It showed Luke isn’t a perfect hero, and it explains why Kylo is the way he is.
- I was MOST excited when Kylo told his version of the tale which painted Luke looking to kill him. I was on the edge of my seat. Would have been a complete 180-degree flip and I was ALL FOR IT.
- The splitting of the lightsaber symbolizing the splitting Rey and Kylo’s journey as well as the divisive power of the Force is fantastic. Now it has to be mended, a perfect way for how the rebellion as a whole needs to be repaired from nearly nothing.
- Would love to see Rey build the lightsaber on the big screen; to my knowledge it’s never been done before. Would be cool to bring to light.
- The battle sequence with Rey and Kylo was freaking awesome. Love the new imperial guard and their weapons. Big fan.
- Bringing Yoda back (in his original sequel form) as a Force ghost figure was a very cool and well hid aspect of The Last Jedi. Using quotes to lecture from The Empire Strikes Back again highlighted how even heroes need to be reminded of some of the most important lessons.
- Follow this up with Kylo using a quote very similar to that of Anakin to Padme in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith. Very much enjoyed these subtle callbacks.
- Luke saying “See you around kid” also made me smirk
- Love Luke dying at the end. It was needed. The death of nostalgia.
- The kid with the broom at the end wearing the ring embodying the youthful “nobodies” being the new face of the Force is very much connected to a new audience coming to love Star Wars.
- HOW THE HELL DID LEIA SURVIVE A ROCKET BLAST TO THE SHIP’S COMMAND CENTER…she is floating in the cold despair of space…WHEN ALL OF SUDDEN SHE CAN USE THE FORCE AND PULL HERSELF TOWARD THE SHIP TO SURVIVE?
- This scene looks just incredibly silly and was so out of nowhere that it just made zero sense. It was always hinted that she had Force abilities, I totally get that. But to have her first on-screen in a major motion picture tangible Force-using event be surviving a blast that would literally kill anyone is just stupid. Give us some foreshadowing. Give the audience something to clue them in.
- If Leia had died there, it would have been a really cool growth moment for Kylo’s character as well. What would the guilt of his mother dying not by his own hand when it was in his control done to his psyche? Would have been fascinating.
- The stupid fish people on Luke’s island. No hint of them at all until they are used as a comic relief tool when Rey blasts a hole through her hut. Also the porgs. Why? There to be a retail Venus fly trap and that is all.
- I touched on BB8 and his overuse; no scene more prevalent than him controlling an AT Walker to save Rose (though would have been happy to see her die earlier) and Finn. Why wasn’t BB8 captured when the droid’s rebel friends where captured? The evil BB8 (another gimmick grievance) notices its trash wearing counterpart, and is in the same room when the trap is sprung.
- I really feel they tried to replace Han Solo’s comedic sass and spunk with a droid. Just not the same.
- It was completely obvious that DJ, played by Benicio Del Toro, was going to be a double-spy. Like super obvious. I can’t be the only one who thought this.
- Am I supposed to care that General Snoke died? The Force Awakens builds him up as the next Emperor Palpatine…but in the end he is nothing more than an expendable over-confident baddie. I was really intrigued to see if he could inflict some real evil, make the audience really hate him…but instead I am left wondering why do I care.
- The way Rey’s parents were revealed. I have ZERO qualms with her being a “nobody” from Jakku, but the lackluster delivery of the huge reveal left just a tinge to be desired.
- Captain Phasma. Was she there to do anything besides look really cool?
- Sorry, Carrie Fisher’s acting was lackluster. I’m sorry she has passed, but just felt her range was incredibly limited.
- Every single moment in the Casino was a complete waste of time. I DON’T GIVE A FLYING TOOT ABOUT THOSE RACING ANIMALS OR ROSE’S BACKSTORY.
Did you like Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi? Let me know below or on twitter at @Jstanko99!