THE LAST JEDI: WHY IT IS PROBLEMATIC

As you may be able to tell, I often judge my movies by how they make me feel. I tend to evaluate with my emotions much more than with logic. However, my childhood friend and fellow cinephile Travis is different. He is a man of reason and has a much keener eye for plot issues, problematic chronology, and inconsistency in story telling. He is one of my all time favorite people to discuss movies with not only because he is passionate, but because he always brings a very different perspective to the movies we see. I am so excited to have him as a contributor to the Crafthouse Cinema. Here is his first ever blog and as you will see, he has a much different view on the latest addition to the Star Wars canon.

Matt

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD…

I want to preface this by saying I liked it, but didn’t love it.  It was good, not great.  I enjoyed the quirky jokes, one-liners, goofy aliens, epic battles and expanding the boundaries of how we perceive/understand “the Force” wrapped into a family friendly flick that a viewer from any generation could enjoy.  All great stuff. Great acting from our new 3 heroes and extremely terrific performance from Mark Hamill.

I also want to acknowledge that it’s always easier to talk about all the “things” that it wasn’t and where it fell short verses all the “things” that it was and it’s triumphs…

But with that said, I didn’t leave the theater feeling the same way I did after Force Awakens or Rogue One, elated after an incredible roller coaster of emotions and an exhilarating adventure.  Instead, I felt kinda cheated and unsatisfied.  Did we not get quite a few haphazard answers/resolutions for our characters?

Captain Phasma returns at the end of the movie and Finn kills her 10 minutes later — why build her up so much in Ep. 7 to use her so frivolously in Ep.8?

Where are the Knights of Ren?  They were introduced in The Force Awakens in flash backs, but never seen or mentioned again in Ep. 8 — including when Kylo turned against Luke…

Benicio del Toro’s character…  Why not just put the red flower lapel on him and just call him the “Code Breaker?” Why was it necessary to go thru the hassle of calling Maz who tells them they must find this very specific person on this planet, only for them to come so close but end up in a jail cell next to a random guy who just happens to be capable of doing exactly what they need?  Oh ya, then has a very sincere moment when he returns the medallion only to double cross them 5 minutes later for a bunch of money and then just as randomly as he enters the movie he’s gone.

Laura Dern’s character was kind of redundant and unnecessary.  Having the conflict consistent between Leia and Poe the whole movie would have been more interesting instead of diverting that.

Rose Tico was an unnecessary character. This should have been Poe & Finn’s adventure to go on.  If she was the 3rd wheel I’d be fine with that, but introducing her as some kind of important character or love interest to Finn was wasteful.

Supreme Leader Snoke — Ummm where did he hail from? How did he rise to power? I guess I’m fine with him being dead, but we really didn’t get to fear him that much…

Rae’s parents are scrappers/bums who gave her to slave traders — end of explanation?  We spent nearly 2 whole movies, the audience and the character, both desperate to find out where she comes from.  They could’ve told us in one line at the beginning of The Force Awakens and saved us from all the wondering and additional scenes with the same simple line Kylo Ren used when he told her — still leaving us with the general explanation that it didn’t matter where said character came from (I was especially pissed about this one but MOSTLY about the next one).

Luke Skywalker has been living isolated, like a hermit, aging and bitter towards all that exists in the galaxy.  Ok, I can dig that, but how did he get there?

Lets take a step back… Where did we leave off with our main protagonist from the original trilogy?  Luke defeats Vader, he becomes a Jedi, the evil empire falls and the galaxy, for the moment, returns to peace, right?  Ok, well what does Luke do after that? He has just became a Jedi… Does he continue to develop his Jedi powers while going on countless missions/adventures to keep the peace in the galaxy and fight off other evil doers when they arise?  Does he go on to become the most powerful Jedi that has ever lived?

I doubt I’m not the only one who wanted to see Luke swing his lightsaber in battle, throw over an AT-AT walker using the Force, repel or create force lighting, or just plainly demonstrate how force strong he became.  Yes, I acknowledge that being able to create the illusion of himself from the other side of the galaxy was powerful, but it was basically an elaborate Jedi mind trick.  We never saw him do battle.  We don’t know anything about what he’s been doing for the last 30 years except he failed to train Kylo Ren/Ben Solo — that’s it.  AND, not even that was really elaborated on beyond the fact that he could sense the dark side in him, light sabers clash, explosion, boom; Kylo reports to the dark side and Skywalker goes MIA. AND, now that Luke is gone we’ll never get any of those things!

The Blue Light saber — This seems to be significant, (at least by Ep. 7 & 8) but we don’t really know why.  Here’s the timeline as I remember…

Ep. II — Introduced as Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber, nothing of note other than he appears to frequently lose it and Obi Won has to retrieve it for him
Ep. III — Obi Won defeats Anakin turned Vader in battle.  Obi Won picks up his saber and takes it with him.
Ep. IV — Obi Won gives it to Luke
Ep. V — Vador lops off Luke’s hand and with it his lightsaber which falls into the abyss…
Ep. VI — No mention that i can remember
Ep. VII — Maz gives the same lightsaber to Finn/Rae. When asked where she got it she replies, “Thats a story for another time”. Even though he has his own, Kylo Ren seems to want this saber during the battle in the forest with Rea. Maybe because it was once Anakin’s? I don’t know.
Ep. VIII — Kylo Ren plays tug-a-war with Rae for this lightsaber after the Red room battle when he seemingly could have just used the force to grab his own.  After they break it in half, Rae still feels the need to bring it home.

It’s easy for me to play Monday morning quarterback and I understand no movie (especially a Star Wars movie) is going to satisfy every viewer 100% but my 30 second pitch as the blue print for episode 8 to Disney would have been….

(Think Godfather part II- 2 timelines)
1. Flashbacks of what Luke Skywalker did after Return of the Jedi.  During this sequence we see his adventures leading up to the Force Awakens and answering the following questions; how powerful he becomes, starting the Jedi temple, how the First order rises, where Snoke comes from, where Rae comes from, his falling out with Kylo Ren, and the source of Luke’s bitterness.
2. Present time following a daring mission to rescue/save the resistance with Poe & Finn, while we see Rae train with Skywalker.

I plan to watch it again hoping some of these answers were there that I missed. Maybe I walk away with a different feeling all together.  If not, I can only hope some of these questions are answered either in the Han Solo stand alone film and/or Ep. 9.

If you have the answers to any of these that I have over looked during Last Jedi, please enlighten me.  I’m desperate for them…

Travis

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