Saturday, December 23, 2017

Star Wars Saturday: The Last Jedi In-Depth Look

Last week I gave you some initial thoughts about The Last Jedi after viewing it twice. That second time, I took a little notebook and wrote down some things that came to mind. It was pretty difficult to write stuff down in a darkened movie theater, but I think I did pretty well - and I only wrote over my notes a couple of times.

Without further ado, here's some in-depth musings over the current Star Wars movie:
  • I ended up sitting next to a dad with his kids. The boy next to me was probably in kindergarten or first grade, and he didn't make too much noise during the movie aside from Finn's first appearance, when he whispered excitedly, "Finn!" The cutest moment, though, was when his dad read him the opening crawl. That's something my parents always did, and I was reminded of that when this dad did it.
  • Speaking of the opening crawl, it's said that they hope Luke will restore a "spark of hope to the fight." #NailedIt
  • I enjoyed the extreme zoom shot that opened the movie, but I was not impressed by the delivery or how it was staged. It didn't set a good tone for the movie, but fortunately it was all uphill from there. 
  • General Hux transformed in a few hours from a high-ranking, confident First Order officer to slimy piece of comedic fodder. Not a fan, but the fact that Domhnall Gleeson makes me completely forget that happy-go-lucky Domhnall Gleeson is playing General Hux is credit to his acting skills.
  • Just recently, in The Visual Guide to the Last Jedi, one of my questions about the location of Snap Wexley and Black Squadron was answered. I was so confused why they weren't in any of the Resistance retreat, and feared that even with all the screen time they got in The Force Awakens that maybe they'd been ceremoniously killed off in that ill-planned bombing campaign led by Poe. But they were just off on another mission somewhere. (I'm guessing J.J. is bringing them back in Episode IX.)
    I still was taken out of the movie because other Resistance players (the doctor who told Chewie, "You must be very brave," the thermal oscillator guy, other people that had lines) were suddenly not there. 
  • BB-8 gets the "I got a bad feeling about this" in The Last Jedi, but Poe's response is the best: "Happy beeps here, c'mon."
  • The First Order has a female officer aboard the dreadnaught!
  • I really liked Poe's overall character arc in this movie. At the beginning he disobey's Leia's orders and ends up dooming much of the Resistance fighters in the failed bombing run. In the middle he's learning to trust senior officers because they know what they're doing. By the end he's analyzing and waiting for Leia to put her stamp of approval on his plan. 
  • I thought the transitions between the first few scenes were great. Finn's "Where's Rey" takes us straight to Ahch-To, while Luke's anguished, "Where's Han" takes us to the masked face of Ben Solo. 
  • Some of my moments of glee included every time Rey said, "Master Skywalker." Anakin never earned the rank of Jedi Master, but his son did!
  • I kind of thought the submerged X-Wing would turn into a Chekhov's gun scenario, but nope, it was just fanservice.
  • Going back to the "Where's Han" moment, I was surprised to see that he didn't know. He had cut himself off from the Force that he didn't even know his best friend and brother-in-law had been killed. 
  • How many kids immediately went home after the movie and smashed their Kylo Ren helmets to bits?
  • Every time Rey pleaded to Luke on behalf of the Resistance, it came off a bit stale, like she didn't quite get it. It was strange - Daisy Ridley does such an amazing job, but those lines didn't fly.
  • Luke's comment to Rey: "What do you want me to do? Come out with a laser sword and face down the whole First Order?" #NailedIt
  • If Luke isn't using his full Force powers, the spear fishing that he does is pretty incredible - that's all natural talent!
  • Luke: "Nobody's from nowhere."
    Rey: "Jakku"
    Luke: "...All right that's pretty much nowhere." (Says the boy from The Planet Farthest From the Bright Center of the Universe)
  • The waterbottle in Leia's quarters almost seemed accidentally left there because it looked so modern and manufactured here on earth. 
  • Ben in his starfighter knows exactly where the Raddus' hangar bay is. Anybody else think that maybe he had spent some time in that ship as a kid? 
  • While Han always had to see Ben in order to react to him, Leia and Ben's Force connection is so strong they sense each other just by being close to each other. It felt different from a father-son or sibling connection because Leia carried and birthed her son, and now that same son she reared is trying to destroy where she is. (Thankfully, he can't do it.)
  • I really thought they'd killed Leia after the bridge was blown up. And when they immediately went to a scene on the First Order's Supremacy, I was mad. Is that how they're going to leave Leia? Seriously? How dare they.
    Turns out they just had something else in store for us. And really, I didn't mind Flying Leia. Everyone wanted to see her show off her Force skills, and now that she has, they're all saying, "Well not like that." Just enjoy it, people!
  • Continuing the theme of unmet (but it's okay!) expectations, I was hoping for a scene with Luke flying the Falcon. We didn't get it, but we did get a beautiful reunion between Luke and R2-D2. It could have been so much longer and I would have been okay with it. But what we got was lovely. 
  • I noticed that since the OT Luke has learned how to understand binary. He used to need a translator tablet to understand Artoo's beeps, but now he can respond to everything without one. It made his snarky "Sacred island - watch the language" line even funnier. 
  • To be honest, Luke just saying, "Artoo?" put a giant smile on my face. 
  • Did Poe really think that he was going to take command of the Resistance? It kind of felt like it while that lady was announcing Holdo's promotion. 
  • I enjoyed Holdo's "impusive flyboys" line. She brings it back later in the movie, too.
  • While Poe's character arc is easy to see, Finn's is a little trickier. He recovers, but starts to run from the Resistance because he wants to protect his BFF Rey - his allegiance is to her and not the Resistance. But thanks to his journey with Rose to Canto Bight, his conversations with DJ, and his fights on the Supremacy and Crait make him realize he's not running from the fight anymore. As a matter of fact, he buckles down and is willing to die for that fight. 
  • Numb Finn is funny. Numb Finn-while-trying-to-explain-his-plan-out-loud is even funnier. 
  • I have never been a C-3PO fan, and I thought that this movie was just the perfect amount of Threepio. He had a few quips and Poe got to shoot him down a few times. His odds (and need to get that "-to one" slipped in there) was wonderful.
  • Not impressed by Maz' cameo - it looked like a video game. 
  • I was just as confused as Ben and Rey when it came to their Force link. Ben's slide in the ship's hallway was cute. 
  • If this movie did anything, it humanized Ben and made him a more relatable character. We understood why he was filled with rage so much. While everyone wanted to be Darth Vader from The Empire Strikes Back, everyone is Ben from The Last Jedi at some point in their lives. 
  • I've been able to see artist renderings of the Jedi mosaic on the floor of the Ahch-To cave, and it reminds me of Japanese art. I couldn't tell you what style, but I like it. 
  • Rey's explanation of the force: It helps you "control people and make things...float." 
  • I loved Luke and Rey's Force banter on the cliff. When he says to "reach out" how is she supposed to know what that means? So she reaches out - literally! Her excitement at "feeling" the Force was great. I loved her innocence and his snark.
  • Luke over the past 30 years really spotted the underlying problem of the Jedi - they kept the Force to themselves, when it is actually something that belongs to everyone. The Jedi had become vain and allowed themselves to be romanticized and deified. 
  • He also summarizes the prequels in just a few sentences, and references Darth Sidious for the first time. I like seeing an OT character really make a connection to the prequels. Deal with it, haters.
  • How cute is it that Rey, when talking to Chewie, asks him to ask about Finn if he gets in contact with the Resistance. 
  • Luke says he came to that island to die. #NailedIt
  • I wonder what planet Luke's Jedi academy was on. I'm looking forward to the book series that investigates that academy further, regardless of the fact that we know its outcome. 
  • I really thought Finn was going to break out into song when the camera panned onto him in Canto Bight. That's what Star Wars needs - a musical number!
  • We should have known that DJ was too good to be true. How obvious that he was planted in Rose and Finn's prison cell. 
  • BB-8 isn't just a cute little helper droid - he's a force to be reckoned with! On Canto Bight he takes down those prison guards, and aboard the Supremacy he boards an AT-ST and mows down a few dozen stormtroopers. Don't cross BB-8, that's for sure.
  • Anyone catch that space organ that the fathiers trampled? I now know what my job would be in that galaxy.
  • I laughed at Finn's disbelieving, "Oh, come on!" after their ship on the beach gets blasted before they can reach it.
  • People complain about the Canto Bight scene, but not only was it good for Finn's character development, it also was needed for a change of pace and to provide some cushion in time in the movement of the story. 
  • When Ben and Rey have their conversations, all the background noise is muted. That's how you can tell when the link is over - the background noise comes back. There's also that interesting "Force noise" first introduced in The Force Awakens.
  • Luke actually moves a lot better in his old age. And at the same time, it isn't unrealistic, either, like Count Dooku's moves were in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. (Yup, I used a double negative. Sorry, Mom.)
  • When the back of Yoda's head appeared in the foreground as the camera panned to the left, I was really, really hoping to see the backs of Obi-Wan and Anakin, as well. But it was just Yoda. Which was okay, in the long run. 
  • Speaking of Yoda, I'm going to blame the Star Wars Show (and my own speculative nature) for ruining the surprise for me. At the live-streamed world premiere of The Last Jedi that was shown on December 9, they interviewed Frank Oz on the red carpet. Well, why in the world would they be interviewing Frank Oz, known for being quiet and reserved in real life, unless he was in the new movie? 
  • In my opinion, the Luke-Yoda scene feels a little out of place, but that's not a bad thing. It just takes me to a different movie - The Empire Strikes Back - when Yoda is instructing Luke. And as always, Yoda comes out with some amazing, quotable lines that I'll be seeing on t-shirts and art for years to come. I think Star Wars fans who are teachers (like me) are really going to latch onto a few of them, like
    • "The greatest teacher, failure is."
    • "We are what they grow beyond. That is the burden of masters." (Sidebar: this quote is very similar to what Kakashi says in the Japanese anime Naruto Shippuden.)
  • I think Rian Johnson is interesting for playing out the Poe-Holdo scenes by making us believe that Poe was in the right the whole time and Holdo was hiding something, when actually Holdo was in the right and Poe just needed to sit down and take orders. Of course, that does greatly help his character development - and also teaches us something, too.
  • I want to know what message Chewie would have passed along to Finn from Rey! The point ended up being moot since Rey and Finn met up before Chewie and Finn did, but I'm still curious since we never establish the type of relationship Rey and Finn are trying to be.
  • I absolutely loved the iron misdirect. I actually thought to myself, "Man, that space ship looks way too much like an iron. Do better, Star Wars." And then it turned out to actually be an droid iron. They got me.
  • They kept talking about DJ being a "codebreaker." In Legends days he would have been called  a "slicer," and I just think that's such a cool name. I wish they'd used it. 
  • I didn't catch it the first time, but BB-8 tries to mask his presence on the Supremacy by hiding in a trash can and making mouse droid beeps! 
  • I suspect that in an earlier script, Finn and Rose met up and/or rescued Rey on the Supremacy after her big fight with Ben. People have complained that Finn and Rose's mission on Snoke's ship was pointless, but maybe it wasn't initially? I was very surprised that both Finn and Rey were on the ship in separate missions and never crossed paths.
  • Oh, Phasma. You deserved so much more in the movie. Or you deserved much smaller marketing. One of those two. 
  • If Star Wars has improved anything in the nine movies it's done, it's the anguished screams. Rey's scream as Snoke holds her down and tortures her, as well as Ben's scream when he realizes Luke's plan on Crait, are both incredibly effective. 
  • Leia finally shoots a blaster again! Plus she finally gets into Poe's head that Holdo's mission was never to be a hero - it was to lead the light. 
  • Following Snoke's death and that legendary throne room fight with the Praetorian guards, I thought that Ben and Rey were going to join up. But it's clear that their visions for the future are still way off: Rey is still holding on to the the hope of developing what still exists while Ben is just hoping to get rid of everything in the past because the people of the past have let him down so much.
  • That kamikaze lightspeed crash was so well executed. Anything with a lack of noise just makes it even more effective. And it was beautiful. I want that on a poster.
  • Remember how many stormtroopers there were on that hangar when Finn and Rose were on the ground, about to be executed by space ax? Then they're all gone after the kamikaze lightspeed crash except for a handful? Yeah - the only reason Finn and Rose survive is because Phasma had them on the ground. Thanks, Phasma!
  • I love the smallest gesture Hux makes to get his blaster when Ben is unconscious on the ground, and then Ben wakes up. Sorry, Hux. You have to deal with Force chokes and being Force pushed into the sides of control rooms a little longer.
  • So BB-8 is just Poe's pet? That belly scratch was insanely cute. When I meet BB-8 I'm going to try to do that. 
  • That "salt" scene with Major Emmatt (who is in a bunch of the "Journey to The Force Awakens" books and I'm glad he's still in the fight) is strictly there to show you how the footprints of people on Crait leave red marks. And then when Luke shows up...he doesn't make footprints. (The signs were all there, yet I was still surprised to find he was Force projecting himself there!)
  • The new recording of the Death Star escape music is so epic. I love it so much, and it is placed in the perfect spot of this movie. 
  • A lot of the Resistance plans in The Last Jedi end up being seemingly pointless in the end, but isn't that life? While it seems like it didn't do anything, it actually progresses the character - not the plot. And there was a bunch of character development by the members of the Resistance: Poe learns to be a leader (he tells Finn that the attack run on Crait is too costly and to break it off), Finn learns to stand up and fight instead of run (he is willing to commit suicide to save the Resistance from doom), and Rose fights for the people (person?) she loves instead of the things she hates (she despises war mongers and traitorous snakes in the First Order but risks her life to save Finn from certain death). 
  • I did genuinely think they were going to kill Finn - all signs were pointing to it. I'm so glad they didn't.
  • It was interesting having Rey's climactic scene in the middle of the movie. As a result, she kind of disappears for 30 minutes before magically popping up again in the Falcon and then moving rocks. (Remember what she said the Force was? #NailedIt)
  • And then, there's Luke. Luke, Luke, Luke. He was in total control of this entire showdown with Ben. Be honest - we've rarely seen Luke in complete control in any of the movies. Even when he defeated Vader, he did it while out of control. I can only think of three times in the OT when he had control: 
    • Blowing up the Death Star,
    • Blowing up the AT-AT by himself, and
    • Throwing away his lightsaber and declaring himself a Jedi.
  • All of those instances were short and sweet. Here, it's the entire end of the movie. That pep talk with Yoda really worked!
  • I said that I wanted to hear the "Luke and Leia" theme in this movie if Luke and Leia reunited. They did, and that music came back! I was so excited. (I think I said, "There it is!!!") in the theater. Their scene was more poignant, I think, than the reunion between Leia and Han in The Force Awakens. And when he kissed her on the forehead, it was so sad because of reality.
  • There are so many long shots right on Luke's face. Mark Hamill has always been amazing at showing his feelings right on his face, and Rian took advantage of that in this movie. (Remember how I was so worried that Mark Hamill would ruin the movie by overacting? I'm so glad my worries were unfounded. So many people are saying that this was the best live action performance of his career. It came at just the right time!)
  • Have there always been two suns on Ahch-To? Or is he seeing the twin suns of Tatooine at that point? I'd prefer the latter.
  • My reaction to Luke becoming one with the Force at the theater: hands up, gasp, disbelief. 
  • My reaction now: I'm really close to acceptance. I'll be more accepting of it if he appears in Episode IX as a Force ghost, pestering Ben. (He does say, "See you around, kid." before he disappears.)
  • If Luke had to die, I'm glad it happened this way. I'm glad he didn't get struck down by a lightsaber or blaster bolt or explosion. Instead, he goes, according to Rey, with "peace and purpose." For a man that has dealt with so much angst in his life, it's wonderful that he finished in peace.
Those were all my notes! The more I think about the nuances of the movie, the more I like the movie. I'm excited to read more about those small details of the movie, because it shows how complete the movie was. 

As for rankings, I need to wait a few months to place it down. I believe it will be in the top half of my rankings, but I'm not sure yet where in that half it will be. Just be patient!

Thanks for reading this blog, as well as all of the Star Wars Saturday blogs for 2017. If you haven't read those blogs, they're linked down below. I really enjoyed making these again, and am glad for a little break before we all start ramping up for Episode IX! 

May the Force be with you!


No comments:

Post a Comment

Keep it short, keep it clean!