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Choices need to be made… (a NO-SPOILERS Star Wars: The Last Jedi review)

(Note: I actually saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi Thursday night with Max, Steph and Jenn. I had grading to do today so that slowed down the review process. This was a weird movie to review, but as always I will try to keep it spoiler free, at least until the comment. But I mean, honestly, if you’re reading this, you’re going to see the movie anyway… and probably already have.)

One of my favorite books and favorite movies is Michael Chabon‘s Wonder Boys. Yeah, I bet you didn’t expect to see a Star Wars: The Last Jedi review start off like that, did you? I’m full of surprises. Trust me, I’ll get to the main event in a bit. Anyway, there are a lot of things I like about both the book and the film (I’m talking Wonder Boys here still) but there’s one point I want to bring up from both. At one point the characters share a piece of advice that I heard often from my creative writing mentor the late Hilary Masters: “writing is about making choices.” After sharing this, one character tells another (about the fictional novel that he is writing inside the book) that perhaps a problem is that he “didn’t make any choices at all.” Everything that he possibly could put in the book is in the book… including the family lineages of all the horses ridden by the all the characters.

One of the biggest complaints people have when they see a film adaptation of a book is “but the book was better, because the movie left out ____” Wonder Boys, the movie, leaves out one of my favorite subplots entirely. In fact, several characters (the main character’s wife and her siblings) are left out of the film which would drive that subplot. Eliminating the characters that weren’t needed to streamline the story for the screen was just a choice the filmmakers made. The movie was better for it.

Choices needed to be made.

In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I’m afraid that Rian Johnson the director didn’t make any choices at all.

One of the biggest complaints people make about franchise tentpole films lately is that nothing really happens. They follow a formula and there’s not really a plot so much as a paint by numbers. That is not the problem here. There’s is certainly plot. SOOOO much plot… there’s plot just dripping out of this. There’s a LOT of movie here.

I’m glad I didn’t just review this last night when I watched it. I might have given it a really low score. I needed to let thing sink in and process. There is just so much going on. And at first I wasn’t sure if I liked that. Frankly, I’m still not. But I have had enough time to realize there are some things that I definite did like. There are also some things that I definitely didn’t.

Back when I reviewed Blade Runner 2049, I said that the film would have been better served if it had simply made up it’s mind that it was going to be a TV series rather than a movie. That’s probably what should have happened here as well. This is a 2.5 hour movie. There was enough going on that it probably could have been stretched out to eight and would have been better for it. And if it had to be a theatrical release… then some things needed to be edited out. And now that I’ve slept on it, I think I know what could have been removed in order to make it work better.

Finn!

Yeah… that’s right. Finn.

I can go into spoilers later in the comments and be more specific, but to do it without spoilers, I can say that… I just don’t care about Finn’s plot line at all in this movie. It is the least interesting thing that goes on, and honestly, it is almost entirely superfluous. I don’t want to say it doesn’t matter to the greater narrative. It does. But only because the film wants it to. With a few simple changes, the film could have been written in such a way that it just ignored him entirely.

That’s not to say that I don’t like him. He was one of my favorite parts of the previous film. Here, it just felt like he was here because he’s one of the stars of the franchise. And he needed to have something to do in order to justify paying the actor. There’s a good half an hour of content with him that honestly just belongs in a different movie entirely. If this had been a TV show, there’d just be Finn episodes. But since it’s a movie, he’s just cobbled together into the story and it comes together as somewhat distracting from the important things that are going on. There’s similarly other trimming that could have happened. But this is the big one. Had I written this movie I probably would have just left him out entirely. I recognize the issue with this as he is the sole black member of the cast and apparently Star Wars can only have one at a time (seriously, where the fuck is Lando?). But it really did feel like the film just needed to try way too hard to make sure he has *something* to do. It’s not that the plot line was awful. It just doesn’t belong in this movie… Choices have to be made.

On the other hand, there are things that I definitely did like. I’d say that Finn was the D plot line. The A plot line belongs to Rey. The B plot line belongs to Kylo Ren and the C plot line belongs to Poe Dameron. I liked all of these. But there was an integration problem.

One of my own personal chief complaints with The Force Awakens was that Rey was in fact, a Mary Sue. It’s what most of my review of that movie was about. That’s fixed here. The character now has nuance beyond “she’s the fanboy interpretation of what Luke would be from before, except now it’s a girl and she’s amazing!” There were places in this film where it felt like she struggled. There were places where it felt like she could lose. There were places where it felt like she grew. I enjoyed the way Daisy Ridley played her interactions with other characters, and there was enough going on that intrigued me that I honestly want to see more of her. In fact, there are a couple problems with this movie where they cut short some interesting things that she was doing to make room to explore the C and D plot lines… a problem that could have been alleviated by cutting the D plot. Again… choices.

Similarly, there was much growth for the Kylo Ren character. I still don’t personally like Adam Driver‘s interpretation of him, but that is just something that can’t be gotten away from given the last film. Choices were made back then that I didn’t necessarily agree with, and now we have to roll with them. Given what they were, I felt like there was definitely progression and depth in the character. Most of the things that I didn’t like with him are due to me not liking Driver’s performance. I can’t get lost in the character. I am simply too aware that it is Driver and not Kylo/Ben. That said, the choices that are written into this film make sense and in the places where his plot line touches Rey’s A plot, it really shines.

The C plot line with Poe is maybe the most interesting thing to analyze. In the previous film, I really didn’t give a shit about Poe. Not at all. He just didn’t seem to matter and I felt like “why didn’t this guy just die?!?!” And from what I’ve learned since, in early drafts he was supposed to. But they liked Oscar Isaacs and decided to keep him around, which ultimately left him not mattering at all in Episode VII. That’s sort of fixed here. He’s probably the most important part of this film. And while I did enjoy seeing his movie, it really is a different movie than the other three major plots. In fact, I may have been most invested in him as a character in this particular film, for similar reasons to the things that *I* liked about Rogue One and everyone else hated. What makes it weird is that this is the plot line that is used to tie the other three threads together. I think this is mostly because there was no way to tie in the D plot line to the A and the B, so it had to happen here. It was the one thing that could touch the other plots.

With all of the plot going on, one thing sort of suffered. The Star Warsiness of the movie. I actually kind of liked that… kind of. I like Johnson as a filmmaker a lot. I like the way in which he metatextually comments on the genre within the film. This happened a lot in Looper. What makes it weird here is that it felt very un-Star Wars. This whole movie felt tonally wrong. It felt more like his own vision of a Star Wars inspired space drama than it did like an installment of the original series. Sort of a Star Wars reimagined… only it’s not. It IS the main series. And that makes it feel weird. I typically like each installment of a film franchise to stand on its own as best as it can. Star Wars I give a little leeway to because they really are produced as chapters of of a longer work… but those chapters are generally very cohesive. They fit in place very well. This one very much doesn’t. And since I don’t see JJ Abrams following the same tonal shift in the next one… that’s going to be weird.

And it was weird in this one as well. Because about two hours into the movie, Rian Johnson suddenly remembered that he was making a Star Wars movie and collapsed the A, B and D plot lines all back into plot C. And to make it Star Warsy, he just kind of dumped a stock Star Wars set piece in. And this is the kind of thing that I expect a lot of people will love. It was very Star Warsy. And it sucked. I hated it. I love the Star Wars. But the film had sort of moved beyond that… and it was jarring to be brought back. There’s a definite point where it felt like the producers said “well, this is all fine and good, I guess… but where’s all the Star Wars? Give us some of the Star Wars here please” and so… they just did….  for no real reason.

That’s not to say that the movie is bad. This is not one of the prequels. But it’s a much more complex movie than Star Wars really has to be. Maybe more complex than it should be. The metacommentary sort of attempts to be a deeper film than I think anyone is necessarily looking for in a star wars movie. It struggles with not only the classic Star Wars themes of hope and destiny and good and evil, but also tries to delve deeper into their nature. Why hope? Does destiny exist? It also touches on issues of class, war, politics and race. And as I said earlier, it even questions the nature of the Star Wars franchise… directly. Several times. In fact, one of my most favorite parts of the movie is something that I actually jokingly suggested before that I thought would be cool. But that I never in a million years thought would happen… because they don’t let people like me write Star Wars movies. And yet, they actually did it. That said, that’s a lot of themes to deal with. And there are a lot of plots. And a lot of characters. Too many. I know most people who are fans of the film won’t think that. But I ask you… once you’ve seen it, can you tell me what Billie Lourde’s character’s name is? I’m not sure they ever said. I mean, I know because I looked it up. But I bet some significant portion of the people who saw the movie are saying “Who the fuck is Billie Lourde?” And yeah… exactly. Choices should have been made.

But it won’t matter. It’s a Star Wars. People will see it. And while it’s not as bad as a BvS or anything, but I do worry that it was pushing the envelope a little too much towards being too self-referential and self-indlugent. It wanted to do too much. It didn’t quite enter the realm of badness, but it flirted with it. And if it didn’t have a Star Wars logo on it, I wonder if people would give it the chances they will.

★★½☆☆ (2.5 out of 5 stars… and everyone will complain because clearly I should have said it was the best movie ever, but it’s not… it’s conflicting)

Spoilers are ok in comments, just make sure you clearly mark them as such. Feel free to ask me for my opinion on any of the details. I might even start some myself.

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179 comments for “Choices need to be made… (a NO-SPOILERS Star Wars: The Last Jedi review)

  1. avatar
    December 15, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    I had to stop reading for a moment to answer… “Where the fuck is Lando?”

    Quentin Tarantino recently got the green light to helm an R-rated Star Trek movie. I think this is a mistake.

    I think he should run an R-rated STAR WARS film. Bring back Billy Dee Williams. And let’s see what kind of a low down son of a bitch Lando Calrissian really is.

    /goes back to reading review

    • avatar
      December 15, 2017 at 5:12 pm

      I’d be interested in that, in much the sam was as I guess I am interested in his Star Trek. There’s a certain “gee, what will that be like.”

      but in much the same way as I felt about this. I like Rian Johnson. And I a willing to see a space opera that he puts out. But marrying it directly to the mythology doesn’t really DO anything… It’s almost better to NOT have that.

  2. avatar
    December 15, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    No mention of Hux . . . ???
    He was part of the 10%, of what I didn’t like about this film.
    Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) was another percentage of what I didn’t like, but admittedly, she grew on me, and in the end, redeemed the character.
    Porgs, make up another smaller percentile of what I didn’t like. As I said before, I loved this film and thought it was 90% excellent. I also liked the addition of new character, “Rose” (one of the Yin/Yan twins) Benicio Del Toro’s character was an interesting twist that I didn’t see coming. I almost expected him to pull a Han Solo, but alas, he never came back to help fight in the end. P.S. I loved seeing more of Lieutenant Connix in the film, and enjoyed seeing her relationship with General Leia. Her time on screen was quick, but it was also very mother / daughter to me.

    • avatar
      December 15, 2017 at 5:22 pm

      I was being spoiler free and there was no good place to put him other than that he is part of the glue tying C plot to D plot… and kinda to B.

      The problem with what you’re saying about Connix is that it isn’t “in the film.” You’re right… but you got that because you know extratextual information. She has as many scenes (if not more) with Poe.

    • avatar
      December 15, 2017 at 5:28 pm

      Yes, and I liked her, and you are correct, she does have more time, I meant time with her mom . . . but I liked her character’s upcoming importance.

    • avatar
      December 15, 2017 at 5:32 pm

      oh… and see I thought Rose was pointless. I didn’t care. I know I was supposed to care. But she was in the D plot. And she didn’t earn my caring. In a different movie maybe… but in this one

      SPOILERS
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      when they get to her sacrifice I was just like “eh… whatever.” There wasn’t enough of an emotional connection because I knew everything they’d done up until that point was pointless. Same thing with the kiss. It was clear that she was the romantic interest from her first second on screen. Because that’s how movies work. But nothing ever happened to make me WANT it. You have to give the audience a reason to ship the characters and that was missing.

    • avatar
      December 15, 2017 at 5:32 pm

      I also have to add, the 3-D was excellent in this film, and in most films, I feel 3-D is quite the unnecessary gimmick, but this worked, and worked well.

    • avatar
      December 15, 2017 at 10:38 pm

      I had to look up Connix, and I still don’t know who she is. Does she have lines?

    • avatar
      December 15, 2017 at 10:43 pm

      She had several. Which was kinda my point.

    • avatar
      December 15, 2017 at 10:47 pm

      SPOILERS
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      So, she’s the lieutenant that Poe trusts to help him distract Admiral Holdo long enough for Finn and Rose to go on the D plot line. It’s implied that she has some sort of ongoing relationship of some kind with Poe or he wouldn’t have trusted her. She also seems to be important enough to Leia that they have a couple of exchanges to show you that she is trusted and important even though she essentially does nothing.

      In the previous film she had the very important job of standing behind Leia and looking like her but younger and blonde.

    • avatar
      December 15, 2017 at 10:47 pm

      _
      S
      P
      O
      I
      L
      E
      R
      (Maybe)

      Billie is Carrie’s real-life daughter . . . 🙂
      She was in the TFA also, with maybe one line.

    • avatar
      December 15, 2017 at 10:49 pm

      I still have no memory of her. I’ll keep an eye out for her if I ever watch it again.

    • avatar
      December 15, 2017 at 10:50 pm

    • avatar
      December 15, 2017 at 10:51 pm

      OH ok, she’s the one with Arya-in-Braavos hair. I did notice she existed.

    • avatar
      December 15, 2017 at 10:52 pm

      I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be slightly less ridiculous version of Leia’s Ep.IV hair.

    • avatar
      December 15, 2017 at 10:54 pm

  3. avatar
    December 15, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    I would have dropped the C plot as well.

    A Star Wars story always focuses on the spiritual. Yes, in a very shallow way, but it is a fantasy story about believing in your Force or whatever.

    Poe’s story was, “Poe learns a very important lesson in what it means to be a leader.” That isn’t a Star Wars plot.

    • avatar
      December 15, 2017 at 5:24 pm

      oh I agree. But I found his story the most interesting. In much the same way as I liked Rogue One better than most people. Except for the last 15 min. which everyone loved and I hated.

      But I agree. It’s not a Star Wars movie. It’s something else. But that said, I don’t think the A and B stories were really Star Warsy either… other than in the places they forced them to be

    • avatar
      December 15, 2017 at 5:30 pm

      I disagree there. I think the A and B stories were Star Warsy. And there was a moment there when they could have really done some interesting things with Kylo and Rey. They didn’t completely cop out, but they did pick a safe middle path.

      I also liked Rogue One, and the last 15 minutes were kind of meh. Except for the total
      fan service Vader bit. That shit was awesome.

    • avatar
      December 15, 2017 at 5:47 pm

      I was specifically talking about the Vader stuff. It was pretty sure. But it had nothing to do with THAT movie. It was “stuff we should have put in the special edition of Ep IV.”

      THAT movie had ended. And everything about the Vader sequence unbalances it as a film. It was a war movie. A complete and touching one where everyone died. Imagine is Saving Private Ryan had been the exact movie it was… and then in the last 15 min, suddenly there’s a massive battle between Captain America and the Red Skull. I mean, sure, there could be… they’re both part of the same story of WWII. But that has nothing to do with THAT movie.

      And yes, the A and B movies were Star Warsy in a way, but there was still a lot of metatextual commentary from Johnson that doesn’t really NEED to be there. Some of MY favorite stuff, honestly… and the move I want to see, but it made it disjointed.

      But really, my biggest problem with those is that the storyline gets cut once they dovetail in order to jump back into Poe’s movie. Seriously…. there’s no explanation for

      SPOILERS
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      how Rey gets away or finds the Falcon at the end of her battle with Kylo. They blow up. She apparently wakes up before Kylo, leaves him there without killing him, doesn’t steal his lightsaber even though hers is destroyed and she could totally use it, steals Snoke’s personal ship (and like, who knew he even had a ship), and somehow escapes with it and finds Chewie in the falcon… ALL OFF SCREEN. We only know any of it because Hux says so in a single line of throwaway dialogue.

  4. avatar
    December 15, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    And I think the you’re right about this movie’s length working against it. Star Wars is just not that deep or complex to warrant 2.5 hours. Now, 2049, on the other hand, deserves its runtime. Maybe it could have been trimmed a bit here or there. But it isn’t a quick, shallow film. It needs to be savored and themes explored.

    • avatar
      December 15, 2017 at 5:25 pm

      well, if you go read my 2049 review you’ll see that in that case what I really wanted was for it to be a TV series and just not try to cram It into a movie at all. It was like 6-10 hours too short.

    • avatar
      December 15, 2017 at 5:32 pm

      Heh, point. But as cinematic as TV shows are getting these days, Bladerunner was capital C Cinema and needed to be on the big screen. A TV screen just wouldn’t have done it justice.

    • avatar
      December 15, 2017 at 5:35 pm

      yes, the visuals would have suffered. But I think it would have been more than made up for by the narrative thriving.

      as impressive as Blade Runner is visually (both of them), it doesn’t NEED to be. The story is much deeper than the spectacle. And the spectacle, while amazing, could be toned down and the story would still thrive.

    • avatar
      December 15, 2017 at 5:38 pm

      Yeah, but I don’t know how you’d get a TV studio (even an HBO) to stick it out with a Bladerunner TV series and allow it to stay Bladerunnery. They’d insist on filling it with boobs and violence. An art film is an art film. Who ever heard of an art TV series? 😜

    • avatar
      December 15, 2017 at 5:40 pm

      there are lots of art films that are tv series. No one watches them but me.

  5. avatar
    December 15, 2017 at 10:24 pm

    SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

    There was so much going on that still don’t know whether I liked the movie (though it was considerably better than Alien: Covenant, which I watched on the airplane a few hours later and made me feel much more forgiving towards TLJ’s plot holes and dumb things.)

    The movie’s self-consciousness really bothered me. I don’t care all that much about the old EU, but when Yoda shows up during (seriously) a book-burning scene to make an argument that is transparently a justification for Disney’s ditching the old canon, it yanks me way the hell out of the experience.

    I thought they were very unfair to the character of Rose. They want a plucky asian not-conventionally-hollywood-attractive STEM female? Great! Why not let her be an actual character, instead of spending her entire introductory scene making her come across as an insufferable fangirl who sent in enough proof-of-purchases to win a contest and a small role in the movie? Then, as if they knew this was kind of insulting, they tried to make up for it by making her the secondary lead (well, maybe 3rd, since BB-8 was there) in the movie’s lamest plot which you rightly would have cut, and then they finally let her be a hero at the end, although as out-of-focus heroes go, she’s at best the movie’s third most heroic. Argh. Also wtf kind of name is Rose? This is Star Wars! At least throw an apostrophe in there! Argh. I liked her. She deserved better.

    Finally, why no throwdown between BB-8 and his evil twin?

    • avatar
      December 15, 2017 at 10:43 pm

      I don’t even like her. I mean, like I said above. I know why I am SUPPOSED to like her… but there’s just nothing there to actually care about … for all the reasons you said.

      The self consciousness of the story was all over the place. And like, I agree with you. Luke only exists in order to provide meta commentary on the Star Wars legend “what did you expect me to do, run in there with a laser sword…” etc.. and that’s kind of what I meant with the meta commentary. I don’t think it was Disney. I think it was Johnson. He does that sort of thing. And while I think it is an interesting statement to pursue I don’t really know the ramifications of writing it into the main narrative like he did.

    • avatar
      December 15, 2017 at 10:43 pm

      I mean, Looper does the same thing making a meta commentary on time travel movies… but it’s not PART of back to the future.

    • avatar
      December 15, 2017 at 11:07 pm

      Between the meta commentary here and the orgy of self-referential fanservice in rogue one…and the recycled-ness of TFA…I’m starting to think maybe we don’t need any more Star Wars movies. Which is too bad because Disney seems determined to make a thousand of them. I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

    • avatar
      December 15, 2017 at 11:22 pm

      so that’s a larger overall conversation on the nature of the franchise driven narrative. There’s an argument that ’10s pop culture is primarily about adapting the childhood loves of GenXers. Nostalgia…. revisiting IP of the past. We’re not really inventing new pop culture right now. It was my problem with GhostBusters. I never cared that the Ghostbusters were ladies. I didn’t understand why we were trying to build new Ghostbusters in the 10s at all. And Star Wars is largely the same thing. And Transformers. Etc.

      We are so risk averse that we won’t really throw money at new ideas. We are actually having some really great small and midrange films right now: Baby Driver, Big Sick, Lady Bird… all great movies that were totally original and well totally stand the testament of time in film nerd circles, but none of them are going permeate Pulp Culture the way a Star Wars did… or a Jurassic Park or a Matrix.

      The closest thing the 10s film industry has to an original big league success is the MCU stuff, and that’s not really original, it’s just adapted from another medium.

      But the demand for franchise a is so strong that Hollywood will back a reboot or sequel that was somewhat before no problem. More Jurassics. More Madmax. More Star Wars/Trek. More Baywatch? More Universal Monsters?

      This is a problem. Because what happens when we run out of nostalgia to mine? We have to blow it up. Make new stuff.

      And I think that’s where Johnson was going with this. He’s trying to say “Look, the problem with TFA is that we gave you exactly what you asked for. The same movie you saw before. But that was dumb. You’re too married to the past. So I am breaking all of your toys and we will do something new and exciting” and we know he’s going to. Abrams has Ep.IX but Johnson is in development for a new trilogy which may or may not be Ep. X-XII.

      People love nostalgia. I read think pieces everyday where people are like “why don’t we do Knights of the Old Republic” and really, the answer is “why? you have those stories. Read them or don’t. But lets do new stuff!” And Johnson figured “you know what will make them listen? Luke and Yoda.

      I don’t know if it will work. but I get it.

    • avatar
      December 15, 2017 at 11:32 pm

      I see what you’re saying, and i mostly agree and am depressed about the larger pop culture problem. In this specific case, I wish Johnson had just done what he’s setting out to do, and not had yoda give a speech about it.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 5:46 am

      This is a common theme and it was my first reaction too, I needed to digest it because there was *so much*.

  6. avatar
    KRG
    December 16, 2017 at 1:21 am

    I really wonder if the C plot got adjusted because of concern try the original conception of it was too Battlestar Galactica. At the very least, it could have used a simple dialog line from the First Order commanders explanaing why they were just chasing instead of jumping ships ahead to intercept. But that’s a minor thing.

    The D plot felt like it was an attempt at misdirection. Hey, look, here’s the Star Wars. We’re doing the “gotta flip the switch on the enemy ship” plot again, with a side of “get help at the alien bar”. It was almost the movie people were expecting right up until it slammed into a wall. (And, as you note, it was both to land and not enough the same time. They probably could have easily trimmed in by half and still had it do what or needed to do)

    I’m hoping that the C and D plots, put together end up being really important to the final story. Because it feels like they’re trying to say “here’s every crazy, hotshot type of thing the heroes did to win in the rest of the movies. And here’s why they were really dumb to do.”

    More than just being meta-commentary on the genre, to me, that sets the stage for really calling the Jedi and the pervious heroes out and building a victory on competence rather than dumb luck and manipulation. (It take feels like Luke’s story is pointing that way as well with Rey and Yoda both calling him on his lies and hubris. Then ending with him taking considered and measured action instead of crazy risks)

    Rose’s action at the end could be the set-up for the point of the last movie, in that context. Without that, through, the entire D plot was a complete waste of time, for sure.

    • avatar
      mav
      December 16, 2017 at 2:44 am

      My problem with ascribing the future of the C and D plots to “working out in future movies” is that THIS movie still has to be cohesive. There are a few things going on here. First, Rian Johnson isn’t doing Ep.IX. JJ Abrams is. This movie definitely didn’t pick up all the threads that Force Awakens did. It closes some of them, but others it just ignored. And that’s going to happen.Clearly the status quo has changed by the end of The Last Jedi, and those issues need to be dealt with. I’m fine with that. But Finn’s adventure on planet casino is not a thread on the level of Han being frozen in carbonite. it’s just not going toe to matter on that same level, and honestly, it probably shouldn’t. But whether it does or not it needed to matter in THIS story, and it didn’t. It ended up being the Flash coming out of a computer screen in BvS… and I expect its going to be as pertinent to this overall narrative as that was.

      I liked the themes that were being explored in that story. But that’s a whole other movie. And it just wasn’t dealt with here. And that happened with the other plot lines too. Too much for one movie, so even at its long runtime, nothing has space to breathe.

      • avatar
        KRG
        December 16, 2017 at 9:17 am

        It’s pointlessness almost feels like the point. It doesn’t make for a better movie, and that’s a club that he was using to hit the audience and Abrams with for the next movie. Flip the switch? Redeemable rogue? Reckless valor? Dead concepts. Shame on you for hoping for them to pan out. The dig at pod racing fans (“Hey maybe you should have cared more about the abuse going on than the fancy cars”) was probably too much to squeeze in, but for the story he was telling “inspire the kids” to hope felt like it needed to be there.

        I don’t think this movie stands on its own. It feels very much like a setup for a spike in the next movie, and puts a lot of effort into boxing Abrams in by burning everything else down. The fact that he tried to cram too much in is almost meta-commentary in and of itself.

        (I think I’m also thinking myself into a box on this and it’s pretty clear where my head has ended up, all I’m interested in your feedback, but won’t beat the horse any further)

        • avatar
          mav
          December 16, 2017 at 12:06 pm

          I don’t think it’s THAT sinister. Abrams was still the EP on this, so nothing got through without his OK. He knows where he’s going with the story and they definitely wanted to go there. There’s clearly an overall narrative they’re going with and this would be it.

          It’s more the tone with which Johnson did it that I think is odd. And the specific story beat points.

  7. avatar
    December 16, 2017 at 5:50 am

    I thought Finn’s mission was important to Poe’s story line. In fact the whole movie in some sense revolved around hubris. The thing I hated the most about Episode VII was that the rebels accepted a ludicrous plan with little discussion and no alternative. Characters just stopped having motivations so they could do something star-warsy. In this movie, Poe learns the folly of that kind of action and that was mostly positive for my enjoyment though I had to think about it for a while after. All that said, I think you’re right, Finn’s scenes could have been cut from the movie and formed an extended release or even a separate short film released alongside the movie.

    I liked this one but am still disappointed that the well-thought out character motivations and interleaving plots of Rogue One weren’t done for this movie, I still felt like things were run a bit thin (but better than VII).

    As for Billie Lourd, I think they were (smartly) priming her for an important role in a future movie, wish they ‘d had the foresight to do that with Laura Dern.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 7:41 am

      See, I don’t know that the specifics of Finn’s mission mattered at all. What mattered is that Poe had SOMETHING to fight for to encourage his mutiny against Holdo. Essentially he was trying to enact the plot to Crimson Tide. What Finn and Rose did outside of that was more or less irrelevant to him, so long as he had something to be fighting for.

      Billie Lourd certainly MAY become more important, but I don’t feel like it was really set up. I mean, Max pointed out above that (as I guessed) he wasn’t even sure who she was even after we started talking about her.

      So sure, maybe it develops into something. But if it does that will be totally incidental and won’t matter. She wasn’t given enough to do that a casual viewer can connect with her even if there’s a series of Lt. Connix spin-off films. She might as well be a new character when that happens.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 8:00 am

      both good points. Finn was Poe’s hope but didn’t need to be. Connix doesn’t have much depth yet but we know she’s been a veteran of some big battles as an officer, could have done more with her but of course… choices. They made *some* at least.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 8:02 am

      you’re referring to the same Poe storyline which could be summarized as “ignore all female officers’ orders which would have saved the rebellion and not get almost all the rebels killed if Poe and Finn hadn’t messed it up, then as soon as a male authority figure shows up instantly trust him?” They could have just left him out too, but the studio execs probably worried about not having enough male action figures.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 8:06 am

      Remind me who you’re referring to, I don’t recall Poe following anyone’s orders (though the story was about the cost of that).

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 8:06 am

      Sam: Yes. That storyline. I am mostly only interested in Poe’s storyline because everything goes wrong.

      Bryon: Male authority figure for Poe == Luke.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 8:09 am

      I interpret that very differently. Poe didn’t obey Luke but tried to maneuver in light of what he was doing in the field.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 8:11 am

      Worth pointing out that there were a lot of female faces in this movie too, I was happy to see them.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 8:17 am

      He didn’t “obey” Luke… he deferred to him. I don’t think it’s supposed to be his maleness. It’s his legendaryness. But Leia has the same legendary status (though maybe less so to Poe since he actually knows her personally).

      The point is, Poe’s entire character is “hot shot dude who disobeys orders” and the message of C plot is “you know, even if you are a hotshot. When you disobey orders sometimes people die”

      Now, in said plot, he sort of learns that “sometimes orders are there for a good reason” through Holdo’s sacrifice (though to be fair, her keeping him in the dark in a “need to know basis” was kind of artificial. Yes he was technically demoted. But she knew he was helpful and punishing him for the sake of doing it only created more problems and she should have known that). But even if that was the moment that TEACHES him the lesson, since every authority figure he has (and therefore disobeys) up til that point is female and then his first action of his new “no let me have faith in the system” world view is to “ok, trust Luke” implicitly Sam’s point ends up standing.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 8:41 am

      Eh, Luke has very special magical powers, to say that Poe “defers” to him strike me as wrong. Poe wants stuff to happen on the battlefield, and it was happening and didn’t matter who was doing it. The fact that it was mostly women he disobeyed proves that women have a significant presence in top leadership. Nothing in Poe’s story makes me think he doesn’t respect women per se, but rather the chain of command in general (which happens to be mostly female).

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 9:43 am

      Bryon Gill Yes, I did also appreciate the many female characters. This might seem like a nitpick, but I was annoyed at the clothing choice for the admiral. It seemed more glamorous than military and to me, reinforced the message that women should be pretty rather than tough and commanding.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 9:49 am

      I thought it was odd too, she looked like she was dressed for a ball. Wonder what they were thinking.

    • avatar
      December 21, 2017 at 5:43 pm

      On a rewatch there are two more problems with the sexist Poe theory. When Holdo turns the ship around he’s the first and only one to realize, and appreciate,what she’s doing. When he is the first to realize what Luke is doing, he actually quotes Holdo, waits along with everyone else for Leia’s ok (which he seeks thrice and defies once).

    • avatar
      December 21, 2017 at 5:45 pm

      sure… but those are all after he’s learned his lesson.

  8. avatar
    December 16, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    ***Spoilers***

    My only real complaints are how the movie kind of just has this weird contempt for the fandom. I don’t care who Rey’s parentage was or how Luke’s lightsaber ended up where it did or who Snoke was. But to turn all of those story beats setup in the previous films into red herrings… it just felt odd.

    I’m no stranger to people retconning or disregarding concepts they don’t care about, I read comics. But, this was just a little too much. Maybe it was a meta reference on the hubris of the fandom, I dunno, but it just seemed like such a weird sidestep coming off the paint by numbers TFA. It was, like you said, jarring.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 5:11 pm

      I think it’s important to remind fans that they don’t own the characters.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 5:22 pm

      They don’t, but when you start telling fans that nothing in your movie matters, despite allusions to it mattering, then it’s more like a dumb prank than good storytelling.

      Like, I said, I don’t care about any fan theories being disproven. Whatever. But, something about how they brushed every big mystery from TFA aside annoyed me. Like, the first film did it to stoke the flames of conversation and theories and to get people to keep consuming Star Wars tieins to find any clue they could and then go “Hah! You idiots, we tricked you! It was all a marketing scheme!”

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 5:27 pm

      They didn’t do that.

      They never indicated that Rey’s parents, for example, were anyone special. At all.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 5:33 pm

      Rey using the Lightsaber she was using, the deeper force connection between Kylo and Rey, and the films traditionally being about the Skywalker bloodline. Even if they didn’t outright say anything, it was thematically implied by her archetype. During TFA you went through that film with questions about this mysterious Mary Sue force user.

      Even Rey aside, that’s one out of three mysteries. The other being Luke’s sword and the identity of this random guy you never heard of called Snoke. Even if Snoke was just Snoke, where did he come from, why is he so powerful, etc.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 5:37 pm

      So I have a different take on this. And this starts getting to what Max and I were talking about in earlier comments.

      For background, I started saying soon after TFA came out that if *I* were writing the next movie, I would reveal that Rey’s parents were nobody. They didn’t matter. And the world is not built around Skywalkers. Sometimes heroes are just random rather than special.

      But I also said something like “of course that will never happen. Because there’s a reason they don’t let me write star wars movies.”

      But since they did, I love that it went that way. And again now we’re back to Max and my conversation. It’s not so much “contempt” for the fans. Rian Johnson clearly is a fan. it’s meta commentary. It’s telling the fans “no, we can’t just live in the stories of the past. Then there’d be no reason to do this. We must explore new avenues.”

      And that’s the kind of thing that one usually does in their own “inspired by” movie. There’s tons of shit like this in Firefly, for instance… and in Guardians of the Galaxy… stuff that directly comments on the mythology that is Star Wars in order to lovingly tear it apart. It almost never happens in the main text itself. And now it has.

      Part of it was heavy handed. Kylo straight up talks to the fans “look, her parents were just crackheads, yo… they’re not part of this story. Let your theories go and love her for who she is.” And Luke and yoda do the same thing when they burn the e̶x̶p̶a̶n̶d̶e̶d̶ ̶u̶n̶i̶v̶e̶r̶s̶e̶ original jedi texts to a crisp. They’re telling you that in order to move forward you have to let go of your preconceived notions.

      I read/watch at least two-three think pieces every week of people saying “we need to do a Knights of the old republic movie” or “I can’t wait for a Ben Kenobi movie” or “why don’t they adapt Star Wars Novel X from 1988” and the question is “why?” If you care about those stories you know them already. They’re there. Why would you want to see something that you already know.

      He’s calling on people to accept the new and enjoy the ride. Exploration. Excitement. Wonder.

      I personally thought it was heavy handed in presentation. But I felt like it might be necessary because being subtle might not work. And maybe it is necessary. Because other than me and Max, you’re the only person who I have even seen mention it.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 5:41 pm

      I’m all about change, I didn’t like TFA much because it was a reskin of New Hope. I suspect I’ll enjoy his new trilogy, but TLJ just feels too tonally different from the previous film in this trilogy for me to fully appreciate it I think.

      I do applaud the risk though, at the very least. It was a brave call, and while it will critically pay off I suspect it will take a long time for fans to get over it.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 5:42 pm

      Fans make up scenarios. They theorize. We all do.it.

      To get pissed off when said fan theory doesn’t turn out is sour grapes.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 5:43 pm

      Link: None if those things necessarily indicate anything other than her being force sensitive if they choose for them not to.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 5:46 pm

      as to the other stuff:

      “Rey using the Lightsaber she was using”

      Finn used it too…

      “the deeper force connection between Kylo and Rey,”

      doesn’t actually MEAN anything. Everyone could sense Anakin. And there are tons of Jedi. As far as you know only 3 of them (well 3.5 counting Leia) are related.

      “and the films traditionally being about the Skywalker bloodline.”

      Except you didn’t know that at first. That wasn’t the case in Star Wars. You found that out in Empire and it was mind blowing. This was the opposite of that.

      “Even if they didn’t outright say anything, it was thematically implied by her archetype.”

      Absolutely. It was a misdirection. Totally intentional and maybe my favorite thing they did. Which is what made it a GOOD thing. It defied expectation. it makes you question everything so there can be more story and not less. If she was just repeating the same legend then who cares. Why not just have one of the 18 billion Han/Leia/Luke descendants from the EU. This is why I liked that meta commentary while finding the burning of the texts heavy handed.

      During TFA you went through that film with questions about this mysterious Mary Sue force user.

      Yes… and they got me too… because even if I wanted them to do something crazy like make her nobody, I didn’t expect it. And surprising me is hard so good for them. And the Mary Sueness was very much fixed in this movie. Which I liked.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 5:48 pm

      @Mikey, but I guess that’s what I mean. We all do it. JJ knew what he was doing by making it a mystery. He knew it would be a topic of discussion and our brains would try to fill in the blanks or connect dots. That’s my feeling at least.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 5:50 pm

      But I think that’s the main, underlying, perhaps subconscious issue some people have with the movie: the story deviated from their fanfiction.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 5:53 pm

      @Mav, speaking of, I mean if we’re just going to say anybody can use a laser sword that’s fine. But I thought they were trying to point out that Finn had the potential to use The Force.

      Anyways, I guess once again though, why make it THAT saber if it didn’t hold importance? Just more misdirection?

      Sometimes I wish I could view these films in a vacuum away from the hype machine, maybe all back to back for the first time. I suspect I’d be less harsh had I watched this film immediately after TFA.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 5:54 pm

      I think that’s part of it, Mikey. But that was inevitable. The second Han and Leia’s kid became Ben and not Jane, everything had to change. There were deviations in TFA too and that was most accepted.

      I think the problems most people had (even if they don’t know it) are in tone. The prequels, for all their faults, are very much Star Wars movies. They fit the theme and most importantly the TONE. These don’t. Part of it has a very Rian Johnson tone… and other parts are all the fuck over the place. It ends up being very disconcerting if you’re expecting a Star Wars. And this was very much… something else… (I’d argue too many things.. in fact I did… but it was definitely “something else”)

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 5:55 pm

      Oh, I’m positive more people hate the film because it ruined their fan theory than they do for actual writing/story reasons.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 6:02 pm

      Link: So here’s the thing with the light saber… I think it’s a good microcosm of the problem you’re having. TFA never says Finn is force sensitive. In fact, Han straight up tells him that he has no idea how the force works.

      What you saw was Finn use a light saber. And because you know Star Wars expanded lore, you assume that means something. But why? Expanded Lore doesn’t mean anything anymore. Disney and Abrams straight up told you that. All that matters are the theatrical release films, and the clone wars+ cartoons. (and the NEW comics).

      So what we know is that Rey’s light saber can be used by:

      Anakin, Obi Wan, Luke, and HAN.

      The last bit being important. Empire tells us Han can use it. The EU later decided that only Jedis can use a light saber at all… and there were convoluted reasons and theories from Han having slight force sensitivity to Ben helping from beyond the grave as to why Han was able to do it that one time. BUT the films never said that Bob the janitor can’t just turn one on… that was all from other stuff… extra stuff… stuff that 99% of the Star Wars fanbase doesn’t know about at all… or care. Stuff that doesn’t count anymore. There’s clearly a button on a light saber. Apparently it turns it on. Mystery solved.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 6:07 pm

      People need to come to grips with the EU being extinct. It’s gone. Doesn’t count.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 6:11 pm

      I don’t think the EU stuff is a big deal. I’ve read very little of it myself and I certainly count as a geek. 99% of Star Wars fans…. hell, maybe 99.9% haven’t read ANY of it at all. Most people know 4 movies… MAYBE 8. That’s it.

      a 57% RT audience score on 88,426 votes isn’t coming from EU readers alone.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 6:15 pm

      I wouldn’t call it contempt exactly but I did feel like they were lecturing the audience and that was off-putting. Rose had a line at the end…something like, “It’s not about destroying what you hate, it’s about saving what you love!” ugh…make the Star Wars you want to make, but don’t use the movie itself to tell me I’m liking Star Wars wrong.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 6:17 pm

      that might have worked better if there was any reason to care about Rose’s opinion at all.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 6:17 pm

      The prequels did more to damage the story, in my mind, than this one ever could. This one added very intriguing layers to the mythos. It;s the first time where they actually indicated a possible BALANCE to the Force as they’ve HINTED was the whole point of the story.

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 6:18 pm

      Maybe you’re just taking it a LITTLE too personally.

      It’s not about you, man. 🙂

    • avatar
      December 16, 2017 at 6:24 pm

      Who, me? I know it’s not about me, that’s why I’m mad at having to sit through them yelling at other people 🙂

    • avatar
      December 17, 2017 at 7:36 am

      @Mav, see and that’s like, one of those things that i always just assumed. We usually only see Force users use them. They’re the ones who go into the caves and get the crystals that “sing” to them, etc. (Which isn’t eu/legends material, it’s something referenced in all the post-disney stuff.) So, if we’re going the route that anybody can use a lightsaber, that’s fine.

      Technically speaking, it’s my understanding that all life has space bacteria in it. Some people just have higher concentrations which makes them able to float rocks and fly around in space. So, there’s not that much of a mystery around Finn, it just felt more like the implication I guess.

    • avatar
      December 17, 2017 at 8:25 am

      The point being that while I agree the films mislead you, that’s sort of the point. It’s sort of part of Abrams’s whole “mystery box” philosophy with Star Wars. You’re not supposed to know what’s in the box. He gives you clues and invites you to guess and then the “fun” of opening the box is still being surprised.

      at least in theory.

      I will agree that this one was a little different because it was disingenuous. Usually in a mystery (any kind of mystery… like say a murder mystery) the clues are there and you can out them together, and if you miss them, then on the second read you can go and find them. This doesn’t really have that. The clues aren’t really there. They preyed on the audiences preconceived notions. based on an understanding of the genre. They’re aware enough that at this point, Star Wars is effectively it’s own genre, so they knew that they could rely on that for misdirection outside of narrative. TFA never TELLS you that Rey’s parents are important. It never TELLS you that Snoke is important. But it certainly leads you along that path. And that’s intentional. That’s the misdirection. Abrams straight up invited fans to speculate on the Rey mystery and the Snake mystery for the last 2 years. He never said “go think about this” but he constructed the film within the lore to sort of force it to happen.

      Then TLJ comes along and Johnson says “so it turns out Rey’s parents are just nameless crackheads and Snoke is… just some guy. Fooled ya!” And that’s sort of not fair. People would have been ok, if it had led to something else (Like Rey had ended up being Snoke’s daughter… or even like Biggs or Porkins daughter… or Snoke had turned out to be Jar Jar… or just a manifestation of Leia’s subconsciousness… or even if it had flipped everything and it turned out that the Rebels were the evil wones all along). But they didn’t. Basically, they built a mystery box, and when you opened it up, there was nothing in it. Just a speech from Johnson through the characters saying “look at the craftsmanship with which we made the box. You should expect one of your old toys to be in the box. You should be looking for new toys. But there was no new toy. I liked it, because for me the fun of a cultural artifact is picking it apart and marveling at it and what it says as a cultural statement. Basically, I’m the kid who wants to play with the box. But I’m a weirdo pop culture critic.

      For everyone else, they got exactly what Max said. An asshole director telling them “hey, you’re loving star wars the wrong way.” And maybe I even agree with him. But that’s not what people paid $15 to see. And they knew that.

    • avatar
      December 17, 2017 at 8:29 am

      There’s still an entire movie to add more to the Snoke story.

    • avatar
      December 17, 2017 at 8:31 am

      I don’t understand how someone saying, “look, you guys. Here’s the story. It’s not what you thought” makes him an “asshole director”.

      Maybe they’re asshole fans.

    • avatar
      December 17, 2017 at 8:45 am

      if the next movie adds to the Snoke story, I expect it will be REALLY bad. Narratively Snoke has served his purpose. He was a placeholder big bad until Kylo ascended to that. Revisiting him would be horrible storytelling in pretty much any way I can imagine it.

      Same thing with Rey’s parents. Technically Kylo is unreliable. There’s no reason to trust him. So maybe Rey really is a Kenobi or a Skywalker. BUT If that’s the case, that’s Abrams being an asshole and invalidating Johnson’s movie. At this point, it’s best just leaving it alone.

      And Johnson’s “being as asshole” because he was extremely heavy handed in the reveal and there was nothing in the box. It’s Christmas time… Christmas 2015, Uncle JJ said “Hey, look… It’s the first Star Wars movie in 10 years… and it comes with this pretty box that’s shaped like a brand new puppy. But don’t open the box. You get to open the box in 2 years.” And they left the box under the tree and made the fans look at it.

      And now it’s Christmas 2017, and you get to open the box. And there’s no puppy. And you’d probably be ok if there was a kitten in it. But there’s no kitten either. In fact, the only thing that’s in is a note from Uncle Rian than says “hey losers, stop expecting stuff to be in boxes. You’re too old for this shit. A real fan would would just enjoy the box for what it is. By the way, I’m going to make some more boxes. Come see them in 4 years.”

      Again, I liked the box. I’m ok. All of us box lovers are good. But that doesn’t change the fact that the box was empty and uncle Rian was mean about it.

      And sure, Uncle JJ is coming back in two more christmases, but it’s still kind of a dick move.

      Like I said in the review. I knew this would be a conflicting movie. There were things I really liked. There were things I really didn’t like. But it was clearly NOT designed to be a film that would be universally praised by the fans. And if they though that, then they should have known better. It’s not a Star Wars movie. It’s a Rian Johnson move with some annoying Star Wars stuff tacked in.

    • avatar
      December 17, 2017 at 11:32 am

      @Mikey, Snoke’s story will be covered in books. Just like Phasma has an entire book dedicated to her (and I assume she’s dead now, but hey maybe she also somehow survives this too.)

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:04 am

      Brandon Link Copp-Millward I want to believe that Phasma never, ever dies.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:07 am

      We don’t NEED Snoke’s story.

      Until the prequels, we didn’t know the Emperor’s. He was just “The Experor”. That was perfectly fine.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:16 am

      No, we don’t, but that’s because the original trilogy was the starting point.

      To go, “Oh, there’s this dude named Snoke and he’s bigger and badder than Sidious ever was, but you just never heard of him in the past 6 movies.” Is incredibly lame. Even if you’re fine with it from a “who cares, I don’t” perspective, it still feels like lazy writing.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:23 am

      I, honestly, wonder what the age differential between people who really dig it and people who don’t is.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:24 am

      I honestly don’t think there is one, it’s pretty polarizing between multiple age demographics from what I’ve seen in my own timeline. If there was a curve, and I had to guess, it’d probably be “Old people hate, young people love.”

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:25 am

      Dale: Why? I mean, honestly why do you like her? I don’t get the attraction to that character at all. She doesn’t really DO anything between any of the films. And I don’t think she really “looks” THAT cool. I mean, she’s a storm trooper but silver.

      Yes, I get that she is Gwen Christie. But that shouldn’t matter. That character is not Brianne of Tarth. She’s just a storm trooper commander. I thought she was a massive let down in TFA. At least in TLJ she got a cool fight scene. But I don’t care about her anymore than I do about TR8R.

      Link: that’s the thing though. When did they ever say “bigger and badder than sidious ever was”

      That was the fandom. They gave you a rope and the fans decided to tie a noose in it.

      I agree, they knew the fans would go there. That was part of the misdirect. But it was a misdirect, there’s nothing in Force Awakens that says he was any more than what he was. He’s a blank slate… honestly, much like the Emperor was in ESB.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:26 am

      @Chris, I mean, he manipulated the force so that two people could communicate across the galaxy psychically. That seems pretty powerful to me. All Sidious ever did was shoot some lightning from his hands.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:28 am

      I just don’t get it.

      I think there are a lot of people very upset that their sci fi fantastic movie was given a dose of maturity and humanity.

      The Messianic hero is flawed and they can’t deal.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:29 am

      @Mikey, I also agree, Superman is terrible. :p

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:29 am

      Chris Maverick They brought her back once, to no real payoff. If they bring her back twice, that’s at least comedy.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:31 am

      I prefer my Messianic heroes to be flawed.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:31 am

      @Dale, I mean, she’s Boba Fett. “Look at this person in this cool armor who is supposed to be all intimidating an- oh, wait nevermind she got pushed into a trash compactor, or, his jet pack malfunctioned and he fell into a sandworm’s belly. But don’t worry gang, there’s TONS of stories about them in comics/books where they’re super cool. Trust us!” She definitely fulfills a “role” in Star Wars.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:31 am

      Mikey: I don’t think there’s good quadrant demos for it yet. But I will be curious about it as well. That said, I think Link is right. Casually reading crits and reviews it doesn’t appear to be breaking down on age. It SLIGHTLY breaks down on gender. But not as much as I might expect. Less so than Rogue1 or TFA as far as I can tell.

      Its more just polarizing on expectation. I knew it would be, which is why I said that. This for the most part is just NOT a star wars movie. ANd that’s tough.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:34 am

      Brandon Link Copp-Millward Fett only died once. (I know, I know; I read Tales too.) Now that she’s “died” twice, I feel like they’ve gotta make it a thing. But yeah, she’s got the “cool armor/weird weapons/quiet warrior” role down.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:35 am

      What about it isn’t a Star Wars movie?

      Is it the lightsabers or the Force? Is it the wookie? The droids and spaceships?

      It’s a Star Wars movie.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:36 am

      I played a LOT of x-wing and tie fighter games. I love a force-light/war-heavy Star Wars. So it felt like a Star Wars to me. Death to monarchist space wizards.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:37 am

      Everything they’re bitching about has a thematic equivalent in EMPIRE. LAST JEDI is a middle movie.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:38 am

      Empire: “Luke, I’m your father.”
      TLJ: “Rey, your parents are nobodies.”

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:39 am

      One of those things is incredibly awesome and made everyone’s mind explode, the other made everyone (except Mav and a few others who were rooting for it) look at the screen with a confused look on their face.

      Yes, they’re equivalent, but they’re not tonally similar at all.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:39 am

      Exactly.

      And that’s fucking awesome.

      Why do her parents have to be anybody?

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:40 am

      Because that’s dumb? Because if Darth Vader was just some dude, would that have made Empire better? Like, I don’t get your argument on this at all Mikey. You yourself may think it’s fucking awesome, and that’s cool. But most people didn’t, most people thought it was dumb.

      Nobody (to my knowledge) thought Darth Vader being Luke’s father was dumb. That’s a huge change in theme and feeling compared to other Star Wars films.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:41 am

      It’s thematically not a Star Wars Movie at all. It’s a Rian Johnson meta commentary on Star Wars as a genre. Luke so much as says so in the laser sword line. Yes the tropes are there. But they’re intentionally assembled in a way to make it thematically play against expectation.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:45 am

      It’s putting an end to the old series and ushering in the new.

      Fans NEED this.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:47 am

      I think Rey’s parents being nobody in particular is genius.

      It makes up for the “everyone went to high school together” bullshit of the prequels.

      The Force isn’t limited to the Skywalkers.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:48 am

      They do need this. 100%. But, the new trilogy didn’t start that way. If it just started off with new characters and threw Luke, Leia, Han, etc. aside I would’ve been 100% behind it. Instead, it’s trying to do both things. TFA basically said “Hey, here’s the movie you love but slightly different.” It set up expectations for the tone/feeling of the trilogy. It’s the whole Uncle JJ thing Chris said.

      I don’t think a middle movie was the right place to do this. They should’ve just done it right out of the gate, but I think they were too scared to do so. So, after they earned the trust and goodwill of the fans with Rogue One and TFA, they pull this and there’s lashback for legitimate reasons.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:48 am

      I don’t disagree with that all… but that’s still a thing where people are obviously going to be upset about it.

      “hey kids, you love Pizza, right? Lets all go out and get Pizza! It’s gonna be great Pizza! You’ve been waiting for Pizza for weeks!

      Psych! This is not Pizza! This is a pepperoni casserole! With lots of vegetables! Its better than pizza! Eat it! EAT IT!!!!!”

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:49 am

      Chris Maverick Yoda says the same thing in ESB.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:54 am

      It’s more like: “hey kids, you love pizza, right? Here’s something called Chicago Deep Dish”

      Still pizza.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:55 am

      Now I want pizza.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 7:55 am

      And if I can interject my personal SW pet-peeve: Yoda only talked “like Yoda” until he revealed he was Yoda. For the remainder of ESB he used proper word-order. And then for ROJ they decide he always talks like that? Grr.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 8:00 am

      Mikey: even if that were true, the problem is New York pizza lovers HATE Chicago pizza.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 8:05 am

      Because they’re assholes.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 8:06 am

      And the limit themselves.

      LOVE ALL THE PIZZA!

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 8:15 am

      Ok…. do you really believe that? Because your movie preferences don’t show it. I mean, you seem to mostly like “geek” movies and have a very particular taste at that (for instance you like the DC slate but bashed Thor Ragnarok) and that’s ok.

      I mean, I’m not saying that’s bad. I’m saying people like what they like. If you love pizza (which I don’t, I’m allergic) and someone promises (or even just implies) they are going to give you New York style and serves you Chicago style. You have a right to be upset. At the very least to be disappointed.

      And liking pizza at all doesn’t mean you’re going to want prime rib or sushi. I mean, have you gone out and seen Lady Bird?

      My point here is sort of how criticism works. People assume it’s universal. It isn’t at all. People are gonna like what they’re gonna like. There’s a 47th Transformer movie and 23rd Pirates of the Caribbean for a reason.

      But if you’re GOOD at being a critic, you can hopefully analyze WHY trends happen. You can start a conversation about what will and won’t work for people rather than just saying “you’re wrong if you liked(or didn’t like) this.”

      I happen to really like the Rey’s parents are nameless crackheads. That works for me. But its pretty obvious to me why a lot of people hated that. And to ignore that wouldn’t make me enlightened or intellectual. It would make me bad at this.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 8:17 am

      Oh, hey. I didn’t say that I didn’t enjoy THOR3. I just said it was pretty much a GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY movie.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 8:20 am

      I don’t fancy myself a critic. I’m just a guy who enjoys some things and doesn’t enjoy other things.

      And my taste is more than just “nerd” stuff, I just don’t talk about those things as much.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 8:28 am

      It’s much more Flash Gordon.

      But the point is, it’s not what the other Thor movies were. Which is fine. There’s no reason a person has to love Lee Thor, Simonson Thor, Messner-Lobes Thor, Liefeld Thor and Aaron Thor. And when one of them deviates greatly from the thematic paradigm or general tone of the previous ones (hey kids, Thor is now a frog/regular mortal/roided killing machine/woman) then it stands to reason that you’re going to lose people who liked the status quo.

      I wasn’t so much saying your tastes were only comic book movies. More that you certainly have to realize that there’s good reasons to be put off by getting something you didn’t order.

      The one thing that made this movie super interesting OVER TFA was that it wasn’t “more of the same.” And that’s great if you’re me…. (though I had a lot of issues… which I said… which keep this from being GOOD…. I at least found it INTERESTING…. but I actually feel the same way about the prequels. I’m the one Star Wars fan on the planet who LIKES that the whole thing is actually based on a dissagreement about trade tariffs and sanctions and campaign finance reform) and apparently you.

      But that doesn’t change that this movie was sold to the fans as “more of the great star wars that you’ve come to know and love” and it really just wasn’t that. And it’s kind of disingenuous to pretend that it was… just like it’s disingenuous to pretend that Thor3 was thematically in the frame of 1 and 2.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 8:34 am

      They literally put “this won’t go the way you think” in the ads.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 8:38 am

      The only way I see this changing the “feel” of SW is that the fool-hardy decisions fail at first, and then everyone gets a second chance to make it right. The old way was “fool hardy works, unless it’s act 3 of the 2nd movie.”

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 8:42 am

      @Dale, they should’ve used the Wookie Shuffle

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 9:01 am

      but ads aren’t the movie.

      TFA absolutely takes viewer expectations formed over the last 40 years and sets you up to believe that Rey is part of a grand design. Snoke too… That’s why Link thought that. I mean, he’s not an idiot. He spent his like learning the rules that LucasFilm set up for him, and followed the roadmap that they clearly asked him to follow by dropping very obvious breadcrumbs on the street in front of them.

      Then when he got there. TLJ says “nope. You read the map wrong! we never SAID Rey was anyone… you just assumed that” and that’s kind of brilliant. But, Johnson could have just revealed that in a satisfying and organic way. But he didn’t. Instead he chose to do what Max was complaining about. He literally had Luke, Kylo and Yoda… three characters that he knows the audience respects as being wise and godlike… berate the audience for being stupid enough to chase breadcrumbs.

      I’d say look at two other similar examples that have the exact same reveal. The first is obvious Blade Runner 2049.

      SPOILERS!!!
      SPOILERS
      SPOILERS
      SPOILERS
      SPOILERS

      That movie directs you to think K is the child. It knows you know the rules of Blade Runner. It knows you know the rules of science fiction and fantasy in general. And it leads you down a path to assume (as K does) that he is some great and might chosen one. Luke… Neo… Moses… Jesus. But then it says “Nope! Wrong, it was this girl!” But it does it in a pleasing way that makes you question your expectations and marvel at how you missed the hints but see that they’re there.

      A second series that does this is Harry Potter.

      SPOILERS!!!
      SPOILERS
      SPOILERS
      SPOILERS
      SPOILERS

      The books repeatedly straight up tell you Harry is the chosen one…. over and over again. But in the end it turns out that there’s nothing special about Harry. He’s just the hero because Voldemort assumed he was, and it might as well have been Neville who the vague prophesy also matches. It’s pleasing and subtle… and actually a lot of people just miss it.

      Johnson didn’t want you to miss it because his main theme isn’t so much “hope will save us all” which was the Star Wars way all along. And it certainly isn’t the secondary theme of “We all have a destiny!” which also has always been part of Star Wars. Johnson’s main theme is “do not be too connected to your expectations. Delight in the unknown!” and I like that theme, but he really did straight up have Kylo, Yoda and Luke tell the audience “And you’re STUPID if you don’t see that! Stop being stupid! This is some good shit right here!!!” He all but told them to stop living in their mom’s basements and that they needed to go out and get laid.

      Star Wars is a beloved property. Obviously. The hatred for the prequels is mostly because “this changes a bunch of stuff that I love and… not in a good way” I definitely think TLJ is better than the prequels, but there’s still a massive paradigm shift here (Which we’re all acknowledging) and the movie really does call out the fans for not getting on board. Again, like Max pointed out…. Yoda’s “page turners they are not” is a direct dig against the EU fans. It was maybe subtle. A lot of them might not have seen it that way directly. But tonally it was there in a way that BR2049 and HP7 didn’t do.

      And I don’t think the ads “sorta warning you” to expect the unexpected really is enough to tempter that. Not for a lot of people who hold this with religious fervor.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 9:08 am

      Other than midichlorians (which they’ve steadfastly ignored since) prequels didn’t change much. I thought they were hated because Anakin’s fall was supposed to be epic… but he was just whiney.

      Come to think of it, AotC doesn’t feel like a SW movie until the 3rd act either.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 9:13 am

      Other than the obvious (Jar Jar, Anakin) the prequels are altogether bad movies. Badly written, badly acted, badly paced, badly plotted, bad dialogue. Just bad.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 9:17 am

      I think the prequels continue to grow on me over time. Also, I’m like the only person who doesn’t hate Midichlorians.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 9:20 am

      Oh! And, also: I would argue that the “your parents were nobodies” is just as devastating to Rey as “I am your father” was to Luke.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 9:40 am

      Mikey Wood says: ” I would argue that the “your parents were nobodies” is just as devastating to Rey as “I am your father” was to Luke.”

      I agree there. I liked that bit. Her parents weren’t just “nobodies” they were crackheads. “Your mom was a crack ho and she sold you for a cheap rock without a second thought and then died in the gutter like the trash she was.” I loved all of that.

      Where it starts becoming too much was him explaining more after that. Because when he goes into “you’re not special. You’re not even really part of this story. What’s with the fucking hubris of thinking you’re special, bitch?” it starts becoming a commentary on the audience following the breadcrumbs that Abrams laid out for them.

      Its a subtle difference. But I think the second paragraph accomplishes the point of making the audience question their expectations. The second paragraph tells them they were wrong for trusting in the director. So instead of rejoicing in the mystery box, and feeling a sense of wonder, Johnson has set them up to feel shame.

      And they’re reacting to that.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 9:44 am

      Where’s this “crackhead” thing coming from? This is the seven tine I’ve seen this.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 9:44 am

      (okay, maybe the THIRD but, still)

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 9:45 am

      Kylo Ren says something about them having sold her for drugs, i think?

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 9:46 am

      yeah, he never calls it crack. But he tells her that they were drug addicts who sold her for more drugs.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 9:46 am

      I just assumed that the “you’re nothing Rey” bit was a set-up for the next movie, where she finds out that she’s actually the daughter of some super-special person or has some other spectacular origin story. However, I’m kind of tired of all the “you’re nothing if you’re not the descendant of someone ‘special'” (all that matters is genetics crap) like in the Lion King.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 9:47 am

      I was just about to address that on Reuven’s comment below (since it’s a a sidebar)

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 9:48 am

      No, he said they were junk traders who sold her for drinking money.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 9:51 am

      Right… that line. So you’re arguing there’s a difference between them being crackheads and alcoholics? I think the key thing here is that they were addicts who didn’t give a shit about her other than what she was worth for getting a fix.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 10:10 am

      Well, yeah, there’s a difference.

      Anyway, I, like you, loved that.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 10:14 am

      @Chris, were they Spiceheads? Hooked on Glitterstims? Death sticks? We need answers. (I just wanted to list all the ridiculous Star Wars drug names I could.)

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 10:17 am

      Honestly. I don’t think it matters. They called them drunks because that’s Disney approved. I use crackhead because it’s funnier and this is my blog and like being mildly amusing.

      But if it were a period piece they’d be opium addicts and would have sold her for laudanum.

      Star Wars has different foods and drinks than we do. You know. Blue mill and all. So the point (to me) isn’t so much what substance they’re getting fucked up on. It’s that way they were big enough addicts to sell their kid for more of it.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 10:54 am

      I feel like the fact that they were nobodies is true, but that Kylo was playing it up and exaggerating, in part, intentionally in order to undermine her self-confidence, and in part because he’s an over privileged child of literal and metaphorical royalty, and thus doesn’t actually understand the difference between scum and who the ordinary people of the galaxy are.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 1:46 pm

      I also, I’d been second guessing myself for 2 full days, but I just googled to see if anyone else had noticed, and The Ancient Jedi Texts weren’t burned (Yoda trolled Luke so hard) so how’s that fit into Johnson’s destroying-everything-and-laughing-at-fanboys scheme?

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 1:54 pm

      Yeah. They’re behind her in the cockpit on her last scene. “We’re burning down the EU. But if you want to read the old shit it’s there”.

      I’ve talked about it earlier. But it might be on someone else’s page not mine.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 4:34 pm

      Maybe all books just look like that? haha

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 5:14 pm

      I’m sure it’s the same ones. Yoda even says she has them. “There’s nothing in that tree that she doesn’t already have” or something like that.

  9. avatar
    December 17, 2017 at 5:23 am

    I could totally imagine a storyboard meeting where Rian says about the fate of major characters in the film “let the past die. Kill it, if you have to… hey that’s good I’m gonna use that. “

  10. avatar
    December 17, 2017 at 8:52 am

    Kudos to Disney for their commitment to actor diversity. It’s about time we saw a Star Wars speaking role given to a woman with the biggest, most-distracting nose in existence. May the Shnoz Be With You. Jesus, that thing was like the bow of a Star Destroyer. Leonardo DiCaprio could perch on it to say he is the king of the world. I have no idea what her lines were, I was frozen in fear when her beak of destruction endangered anyone near her. She probably has it insured.

    • avatar
      mav
      December 17, 2017 at 11:20 am

      Honestly, I’m not actually sure who you’re talking about.

  11. avatar
    December 18, 2017 at 8:42 am

    I have all kinds of opinions on different things, but at work so am only touching on this one that people are getting twisted about. [Other thoughts on twisting later]
    How do we know that Rey’s parents are nobodies? Because Kylo told her? Why should we believe he knows the answer, and if he does, is telling the truth? He’s trying to get her to join him. Sounds like a key spot to manipulate someone’s emotions regarding family. Maybe they are nobodies. Maybe they’re quite important but not Skywalkers. Maybe they’re Luke with an unholy union involving Phasma and Snoke.
    Think of it akin to what Vader did at the end of Empire. Well sure, he said he was Luke’s father but (I know a lot of you may not be old enough to remember the waiting years between Empire and Return of the Jedi) for three years people weren’t sure whether to believe it or if Vader was manipulating Luke.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 8:44 am

      My theory is that Rey was an immaculate conception, that’s why all the images in the mirrors were her.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 9:48 am

      i think it’s more that facing her dark side entailed facing her aloneness in the universe, symbolized by accepting that her parents are nobodies. as in, would she embrace the dark side for a chance to belong somewhere

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 9:49 am

      they COULD reverse it. Kylo is inherently untrustworthy. But I don’t want them to. Despite my reservations with the WAY johnson handled it and insulted the audience (see above thread by Brandon Link Copp-Millward) I think that by simply reversing it, you do more harm than good. And I like that she’s “not special”

      If Abrams reverses it and re-retcons her into a Kenobi or something for IX, then the message becomes “no, you REALLY DO have to be born special… and that last movie by some guy who isn’t me doesn’t matter at all!”

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 9:58 am

      @Troy, Rey was created by Snoke’s advanced manipulation of midichlorians. Confirmed.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 11:02 am

      I’m not saying that they should reverse it. Just stating that simply because it was said does not make it so.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 1:25 pm

      I kinda thought it was a dick move of him to tell her they were nobody. (Which…of course, he’s evil.) But they’re not nobody…they’re REY’S PARENTS. They’ve gotta have some good DNA at the very least. Just because they don’t mean anything to the galaxy’s greatest monster (or the audience) doesn’t mean they shouldn’t mean anything to Rey.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 1:27 pm

      I think my complaint is, Rey’s parents being “nobody” kinda reinforces the idea that only Skywalkers are somebody.

    • avatar
      December 18, 2017 at 1:28 pm

      I disagree with that part. Because Rey clearly is somebody despite what Kyle said. I’d agree with max if they reversed it though.

  12. avatar
    December 19, 2017 at 7:02 am

    “This is a 2.5 hour movie. There was enough going on that it probably could have been stretched out to eight and would have been better for it.”

    This.

    • avatar
      December 19, 2017 at 7:06 am

      I think what would have really helped is that if Rose and FInn were more or less removed from this film entirely. They screwed up the pacing and their D-Plot storyline wasn’t given enough room to really breathe or be as meaningful as it probably should have been.

      I would have just killed that plot and then given them a spin-off movie later where they had a very similar storyline that was 1.5-2 hrs on its own… And cut TLJ down to 2 hours or so.

    • avatar
      December 19, 2017 at 7:11 am

      Yes! I couldn’t remember, or care, why Finn was in his Bacta bubble, and I was just as disoriented about his awakening as he.

      From there, anyone could have facilitated “dropping the shields”/”getting the codes”/”finding the golden idol”. Their trip to the casino gave a larger scope to social justice commentary which made me care more about Rose than Finn.

    • avatar
      December 19, 2017 at 7:14 am

      Effectively, Finn and Rose could be “Rogue Two”.

    • avatar
      December 19, 2017 at 7:22 am

      I tossed together a treatment of what I would have done differently to “fix it” by splitting R&F into their own movie for another forum the other day.

      Maybe I should clean it up and post it as its own blog.

    • avatar
      December 19, 2017 at 7:33 am

      Even with the commentary, that entire location was far too Earth-like and not Star Wars-wierd. Completely missed the opportunity.

  13. avatar
    December 24, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    In something of a first, I disagree with almost everything you said here (both good and bad). In fact, the only part where I found myself full agreeing was the part about Billie Lourd. I had that exact thought about 3/4 of the way through the movie.

    • avatar
      December 24, 2017 at 12:48 pm

      So does that mean you thought it was exactly a 2.5 stat movie but liked what I hated and hated what I liked?

    • avatar
      December 24, 2017 at 12:49 pm

      I’m still digesting it, having only finished watching it less than 3 hours ago, but I’m leaning towards “yes, that is exactly what I thought.”

    • avatar
      December 24, 2017 at 12:55 pm

      I had hat feeling too. And now having had a whole couple weeks it may be as high as 3.0… probably a little below that.

      I didn’t so much hate anything. Even plot d. I just think it didn’t belong in THIS movie. I have a whole rant about how I might “fix” things that I never posted because it’s all spoilers.

    • avatar
      December 24, 2017 at 12:59 pm

      *Spoilers*
      .
      .
      .
      .
      .
      .
      Mostly I disagree on the Finn part of your commentary. I thought the payoff of the D plot was by far the strongest payoff of any of the four plots you mentioned. About the only better payoff, in my opinion, was the E plot, which was an offshoot of the C plot (Laura Dern’s wild ride).

      Looking at those four plots and primarily considering payoff, my order from favorite to least favorite is D, B, A, C. The last is particularly harmed, IMO, by the fact that Leia is still alive at the end of the movie, making the growth by Poe feel like it doesn’t have a lot of story benefit (real life death of Fisher changes that, but that isn’t part of the movie).

      I also felt like Driver’s performance was brilliant and that his turnaround between TFA and TLJ was nothing short of miraculous.

      (Tried to keep this commentary spoiler free, but it just became too awkward)

    • avatar
      December 24, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      E is not a plot… that’s a character quirk.

      as for Finn and D plot resolution. That’s part of the thing that I’ve written and not posted. So I don’t want to go into details. Maybe I’ll do it next week.

    • avatar
      December 24, 2017 at 1:02 pm

      oh… and Driver was BETTER in this one… I wouldn’t say brilliant. I didn’t hate him as much as as I did in TFA. And I’d even say he was maybe “good” but he won’t be winning any awards.

    • avatar
      December 24, 2017 at 1:06 pm

      Yeah, fine, not exactly E plot. It probably is just part of the C plot as you envision it. I kinda feel like there were two plot lines interweaving the C plot, one about Poe and one about Leia, and Laura Dern’s character was the glue between the two. Thus, I have trouble describing that scene in the framework you presented.

    • avatar
      December 24, 2017 at 3:35 pm

      Yeah, I’m aware of this argument. And I even agree with it. That’s what he was trying to do. I just don’t think it came across as effectively as he wanted. For the format that it is, that needs to be the movie… it would work well in my proposed version which I’ve been hinting at where I’d split it in two. It comes across as hastened and artificial in this one. And in such a way that was sure to put off people.

      I mean, people can defend the film all the want. The honest truth is, the second it was over I said “Well, this is going t be divisive” and it really didn’t have to be.

  14. avatar
    December 24, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    I ENJOYED the meta complexity of it all. That was an absolute strength in my book.

    Star Wars has been many things to many people, but until TLJ it’s never been particularly smart or thoughtful.

    • avatar
      December 24, 2017 at 3:37 pm

      See, I don’t agree with that. The prequels are actually very thoughtful. Yes, Johnson is probably overall a better director than Lucas. But Lucas was absolutely trying to do something. The first was an allegory on the nature of religion (and everyone hated it) And the other two (especially the Clones… which is everyone’s least favorite) was about how politics can lead to war and how all of Star Wars is actually about term limits, international trade regulations and campaign finance reform.

      there’s lots of thinking. people just didn’t want it.

    • avatar
      December 24, 2017 at 3:38 pm

      Chris Maverick yeah, it was too subtle. At least for dense people like me. I would’ve liked the movie a lot more if the politics had been more front and center.

    • avatar
      December 24, 2017 at 3:41 pm

      I mean Beniccio Del Toro comes right out and says “yeah, it’s about this” but it really is in the most boring part of the movie. Objectively. I mean, yes… I get that some people liked that part and fine… but objectively, it’s the D plot. Like if I were going to map the narrative out for a class… that’s where it would go. And if someone tried to argue that it was the A narrative, I would probably not grade them very well. It just isn’t treated like that. And that’s a problem.

      As I said all throughout this article. “choices”

    • avatar
      December 24, 2017 at 3:54 pm

      See, I liked this as being a movie about the IDEA of Star Wars. Like – what is it about Star Wars that resonates with us? What makes it STAR WARS?

      Johnson comes down hard against “its Skywalker Family drama” and in favor of “imagination and hope”

    • avatar
      December 24, 2017 at 3:59 pm

      right…. as I said. Johnson’s entire gimmick (and why I like him) is that he does meta-commentary on a genre. But Looper isn’t Back to the Future IV or Twelve Monkeys II. It just comments on them. So pushing the meta commentary into the main franchise and then selling it as the franchise is… a hard pill to swallow.

      I’m not saying you can’t do it. You totally can. But he knows damn well that what people were BUYING was part 8 of the 9 part Skywalker movie. So even if he gave them something arguably better than that (and it is arguable) if that’s not what they ordered, that’s a problem.

      See my comments about pizza earlier.

    • avatar
      December 24, 2017 at 5:03 pm

      Attack of the Clones was my favorite of the prequels.

    • avatar
      December 24, 2017 at 5:19 pm

      See, I appreciate the shit out of that because I’m a troll at heart.

    • avatar
      December 24, 2017 at 6:34 pm

      I didn’t like the “it’s about this” aspect at all. Sure there should be a spy or a double-agent or some conflict, but overall I would like simple escapist aspects like good vs evil. Don’t try to muddy that up with politics of both sides of a war machine. But that’s just personal taste, not about the storytelling.

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