Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

By Sati. Wednesday, December 20, 2017 , , , , , , , ,

(spoilers!!!)

Rian Johnson has really accomplished something incredible in the newest Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi. Something different. Something unique. In that he made Star Wars movie that is so boring even if you paid me money I'd not sit through it again. I'm not sure what is more baffling - that a film from the director of Looper is so poorly made or that a Star Wars film is such a poor spectacle.

While I did very much enjoy The Force Awakens it's perhaps the safest movie ever made. It is basically the remake of A New Hope with enough nostalgia thrown in to melt the hearts of the most cynical in the audience. The Last Jedi is getting praised in puzzlingly glowing critical reviews (critics have time and time this year proved how out of touch with the audience they are but never more than now) for its "bold" approach. I fail to see what is so bold here. All Johnson did was the opposite of fans expectations. That could have been amazing but it isn't as the execution of the movie is so clumsy, no reveal has proper impact, neither on the audience nor on the characters.

This film feels like one of the recent Game of Thrones episodes where they just try to get stuff out of the way before the big finale. Snoke? Fuck him. Phasma? Gurl we hardly knew ya even though the creators insist you are super interesting. Luke? What was even the point? The film doesn't move the story one inch. It also feels like a slap across the face for the fans of original movies, so did the fact they even thought of making a new trilogy set after the events of Return of the Jedi, but now it's even worse. Leia spends good portion of this film in coma and Luke wanders around straight up assaulting space animals and confessing to almost murdering his nephew.

Awesome.

Isn't watching Star Wars in cinema supposed to be big deal? "Event" kind of thing? The film is the opposite of good time at the movies. Not only is it boring, so ugly-looking and annoying in how it wastes potential (I was reminded of Matrix Revolutions multiple times during this film) but it actually does the most embarrassing thing a movie can do - it's filled with scenes and lines that are supposed to make the audience laugh but they don't. So you and others just sit there in silence embarrassed for all involved.

Not only that, there are not one but two scenes here that in addition to accomplishing secondhand embarrassment are also disgusting. One involves Luke miking a creature that is visibly distressed and then throwing a creepy look towards Rey. The other involves Chewbacca and porgs. It was just uncomfortable to watch, it felt out of place and I found both to be in a very poor taste especially given that Star Wars is something that kids go to see.

No wonder Hamill is throwing the most passive aggressive shade since Leto during Suicide Squad promo tour. He is utterly wasted here. At least his death scene is dignified and I imagine Hamill was so good in it because he knew that this is finally over. But the scene is still lessened by the fact it's not earned at all. Han Solo's death didn't feel particularly earned last time either but this is so much worse. Johnson doesn't know what the hell he wants to with the character of Luke throughout the movie. On one hand we have scenes suggesting showing Luke as shell of himself Logan-style. Then after extremely brief moment he is back in his hero-mode, brushing off his shoulder like a badass pimp. The whole characterization feels underwritten and disjointed. Say what you want about someone like Zack Snyder and his deconstruction of Superman - at least his films aren't so jarring when it comes to changes in tone.

Same disjointed feeling applies to all the characters here. Whatever character development they manage to accomplish, and it's not much if any, is all thrown away as practically every single scene has some ridiculous comedic moment thrown in. However no one gets out of this more damaged than Rey. In The Force Awakens Rey was this incredible heroine - before we had Wonder Woman it was Rey who depicted that amazing mixture of humanity, naivete and bravery. Before Diana crossed No Man's Land we saw Rey grab that lightsaber and ignite it in what was probably the most rousing moment in cinema in 2015. And what happens here? Rey spends majority of movie being used as a pawn to build up male characters - ignite the spark in Luke to return and for Kylo to open himself up to another person. Any development with Rey centers around her desire to know who her parents are. Johnson takes us through silly, cliche, Black Swan-rip off scenes (it's unforgivable how dull this film is when it comes to visuals) and serves up the answers that really don't change anything when it comes to her.

Not only that - the whole connection between Rey and Ben is so clumsily shown and so hurried it becomes laughable and manages to ruin the character of Rey in the process. In about four scenes Rey goes from thinking Ben is a monster to wanting to help him. The main heroine I am supposed to root for spends a big chunk of the movie wanting to save the dude who killed Han Solo and a bunch of innocent people. What's even worse is that Ben still ends up being evil in the end and because of Rey's fixation on saving him I completely lost any interest in the character and cannot imagine rooting for her.

So that leaves Poe to root for, I guess? Or as we should call him the dude who got whole bunch of people killed but no one really weeps over that fact in the movie.

Still, while Rey is completely ruined and Poe is on a path to get completely ruined at least their scenes aren't as useless as Finn's. John Boyega is easily the worst actor in this franchise and he is now given the worst story too, filled with forced anti-war, anti-animal abuse messages and one that ends up being totally expendable and pointless. He is joined by new character of Rose who is at least somewhat likable but the fact that this, as evident by their scene near the end, was supposed to be a romance made me laugh so much since these two actors have absolutely no romantic chemistry. What the hell was that? Remember when Han kissed Leia? That was explosive. This right here? If it wasn't so cringeworthy people would forget about it happening instantly.

It's the script that is the worst thing here. There are scenes here that are so dumb I was amazed. Not that The Force Awakens where the plot is based on "Luke is like bye! BUT somehow there is a map to where he is and all that is missing is him recording 'do you want to play a game?' message like Jigsaw" had some great writing but my God....there is a scene where Leia is standing there with a gate opened for some reason and only tells others to close it as the enemy is approaching. Also Leia straight up going all Mary Poppins is probably the most cringe worthy scene in 2017 and let's remember that this is the year that included Ansel Elgort walking around the street and lip-syncing and Fassbender in entirety of The Snowman and commanding a newborn xenomorph in Alien: Covenant.

It's truly saddening that this is the farewell for Fisher's Leia. They had time to do something here given the actress' tragic passing last year. They could have worked their cinematic magic to really shape this film into the proper goodbye. While Leia has many good scenes - mostly with Holdo and Poe - after she is blown into space, why on Earth didn't they just make it her death scene sparing us this awful flight back to the ship? I'm reading that she will not appear at all in Episode IX which means we will probably learn about her death in opening crawl. I don't think this is respectable way to say goodbye to one of the most iconic characters in cinematic history.
The scene where Ben deliberates killing her was even more impactful in the trailers which really shows you how bad the editing is. Driver really carries that scene, same can be said about the majority of his scenes here, but the fast editing cuts between close ups of Ben's and Leia's are just so bizarre they take you out of the moment.

Still, Driver earns my praise for doing so much with such script. Him and Ridley have decent chemistry and after what felt like eternity we are finally treated to impressive scene where they both fight the guards. But one cannot help but wonder how much better that whole story would be if that was the turning point for Rey and Ben would return to the light right there. It would at least justify this whole movie's existence and make me curious for the next episode. Instead at the end we are exactly where we began. Is Disney too afraid to make the female protagonist turn to the dark side? Because she spent most of this film rooting for a murderer of innocent people, including someone who was like a dad to her (for like a week, but still) and wanting to save him so I'd like to inform the Mouse....she ain't all that great, dude.

Domhnall Gleeson is another standout here in that he is at least entertaining to watch. The man, who is a really brilliant actor, clearly just went "ah, screw it" and decided to go as campy as humanely possible. Benicio Del Toro does wonders with small role of a space criminal and his charisma alone makes his scenes interesting. And Oscar Isaac, who at least has more to do here than in the previous episode, gets the best delivery in the whole film with his we are the spark that will light the fire that will burn the First Order down line. That was one of the two moments in this long, dull affair that gave me chills.

The other moment was thanks to Laura Dern (who gives the best performance in the movie) and it was the only scene that justifies seeing this mess on the big screen. It's the best use of silence in 2017 and the scene is very powerful, the problem is not only is it so very stupid but it actually destroys the logic of the entire universe. In this scene admiral Holdo uses the lightspeed and as she does the ship basically works like a powerful bullet and splits Snoke's ship. Logic of that having a chance of happening (this is a movie where there is apparently gravity....in space, considering the bombs drop) aside, this just makes everything that happened earlier in the story so dumb. Why not do that with Death Star? Also why did she wait until like half of the fleet was shot down? Also why didn't she use the autopilot? So not only is the character that was just introduced killed off, she is actually pointless in the first place since anyone else, particularly Admiral Ackbar who dies off screen, could take her place. Johnson is either very stupid, irresponsible or just doesn't care. So I cannot even praise this scene because of how idiotic it was. You cannot praise the scene that undermines everything that happened in the story before it.
Dern has fantastic on-screen chemistry with Oscar Isaac, they actually have more chemistry together than any other couple in this film. Combined. I was even thinking at one point that they may be going somewhere with this - you know, since I was desperate for some actual romance in the movie since watching Rose and Finn was more uncomfortable than watching incest scenes on HBO shows - but then she blew herself up pointlessly. So maybe it's gonna be Poe and Rey? And while I loved the brief scene where they meet in the end, in The Force Awakens near the end of the film they return on the same ship. What, they didn't talk the entire flight there? Johnson creates plot holes literally everywhere in this movie.

Thankfully, what never fails are the incredible creatures and of course, BB-8. BB-8 is straight up badass this time, which is also a very silly notion and provides a lot of deus ex machina moments but it's amusing and cute enough not to annoy. And then we have the adorable porgs, unfortunately sharing one unpleasant scene with Chevie which makes me dislike him. Accomplishments all around, Mr. Johnson. I am not familiar with Star Wars all that much but I gather the fish nuns on Luke's island were a new addition and it was one of the very few things here that really worked. To be perfectly honest I'd rather watch movie about all those aliens and BB-8 than the human characters. Yoda makes an appearance in one of the very few scenes here that have heart.

On one hand Johnson is trying to smuggle in your face nihilistic nonsense, on another he serves yo mama jokes. But worst of all is that this film is simply not entertaining. I'd rather sit through prequels than this again. Hell, I would actually like to see the prequels again because I'm fairly sure they are at least  fun and are a decent spectacle. There are some nice bits here, like the people seeing Rey utilize her Jedi powers near the end and...wait. I think that's it.

Now tell me. Who directed this? Because it surely wasn't the same person who made Looper.

One thing is for sure - J.J. Abrams is either very happy or scared. Happy, because now people are praising him for his movie, having seen what Johnson gave us in this joyless mess. Scared, because he just inherited this joyless mess.

Let's hope he can save this trilogy. But after this...can anyone?

Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi 
(2017, 152 min)
Plot: Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order.
Director: Rian Johnson
Writers: Rian Johnson, George Lucas (based on characters created by)
Stars: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill

23 comments:

  1. Great review!

    Waste of time is right. Everything you said was so spot-on; my review is like a super abbreviated version of this, because I just couldn't muster the words out like you did. It felt like a chore...just like the movie. You're spot on about the Han/Leia explosive kiss scene, and how Finn/Rose romance plot was laughable and pointless.

    AND ALL THOSE STUPID COMEDIC MOMENTS. UGH UGH UGH.

    SO DISAPPOINTED.

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    1. Thank so much!

      I was honestly so shocked by their kiss. Anyone in that movie making out would make more sense than these two. It was like watching siblings, ew.

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  2. I agree with all of this. Spot on.

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  3. I'm one of those who liked the movie, but I agree with some of the things you said. That milking scene was rather disturbing, what they did to Rey is shameful and Leia should have died. To be honest, I was crying already but then she floated(?) back to the ship and I was like wtf man!

    Great review!

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    1. I was like....what? I really thought that it was her death scene.

      It actually felt a bit like Disney is riding on audience's knowledge that since Carrie died they may kill her character here too. It was in poor taste how they clearly used that to get the response from the audience

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  4. I disagree with so much of this but that's okay. I'm just glad you wrote your thoughts out! lol

    I'm actually liking this more the further I get away from it. I really want to see it again. I didn't take Rey as losing her story to want to save the man at all. I think both her and Kylo had tremendous growth, and I hope they don't abandon the force bond in the next film because that was one of the most interesting things they've ever done with the force.

    1000000% agree on the editing and Leia Poppins. That was just bad. I don't know what they could've done to change Leia's story though. I definitely think we'll still see a lot of force ghost Luke in the next one, but I really have no idea what they'll do with her.

    The porgs were cute. I feel bad for making fun of them after seeing how happy they make my child. lol

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    1. Yes if the world needs something....it's more of my thoughts :)

      I don't know I just feel Kylo ended up in the same place and rey now has this ugly stain on her character after caring for this dude more than for Luke

      Yes porgs are super cute!!!!

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  5. Well, I guess we'll agree to disagree.

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  6. I agree with parts of your critique, but not all. I tried to just go along for the ride on first watch, and not think about the faults until later. Star Wars movies are meant to be enjoyed first and foremost. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion/experience though.
    After some deliberation, I gave Last Jedi a 3 out of 5. I liked it, didn't love it. The lack of back story for Snoke and the small amount of screen time for Gwendoline Christie are frustrating, and the jokes definitely were weaker than in Force Awakens. I hope Lawrence Kasdan returns as screenwriter for E9- he brought humor to E7

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    1. Yes but here the faults of the script where filled with such errors of logic it was preventing me from enjoying the movie

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  7. Great review, Sati. This thing was an absolute mess, and just about all of its problems start with the script. They really should've taken their time to actually go back and refine this thing, as opposed to jumping straight onto production with a rushed and poorly thought out first draft. And that GoT reference feels especially apt here, this is totally ill-advised big budget fan-fiction, just as the latest seasons of that show were.

    I feel sorry for Hamill having to come back and butcher his own character after so much time has passed...

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    1. Thank you!

      At least he got a good death scene...hopefully JJ brings him back as a ghost or something because this was very disrespectful

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  8. Nice review! The Last Jedi was one of the weirdest movies I've seen in a sold-out theater on opening night. Luke/Rey/Kylo were the most engaging parts making us all hoot, holler, and laugh (even though there were moments I didn't like), while Finn/Rose/Poe's storyline vacuumed all of the energy out of the room like a Dementor. You could feel everyone being into the movie one second, and then blindly staring into the abyss the next. That said, after I saw it again, the parts I disliked I ended up liking more, but I hope it's not because I'm grasping at straws to just like the movie more.

    I can't imagine how they are going to write out Leia. I hope it's something like one of the characters mentioning she's battling with the Resistance somewhere else, and not just a blurb on the opening scroll that she died.

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    1. Thank you! It's just an outrage they stuck Oscar in that storyline like that but it did not suck the energy out of the room...at least for me :P:P:P

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  9. Yeah, this sounds like one I'll avoid

    The prequels aren't actually that bad if you can get past the silly creatures and the horrid CGI. It really shows the rise of Palpatine perfectly, I really liked that aspect of it.

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    1. Yeah Palpatine's arc was well done there! Also I really love McGregor's performance in prequels

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  10. Yup and yup! McGregor isn't the BEST but he did a great job. Even Neeson did. TBH, and this is probably blasphemy, but I like the prequels more. The awwwwwful dialogue in the originals and the cringe-worthy humour just ruined it for me. And I jsut couldn't understand why people were so obsessed with this word. Obviously I am inthe minotiry!!!

    Give the prequels a whirl. They are better than you remembered, especially that Palpatine arc.

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    1. Yeah once I watch five hundred thousands of things Isaac appeared in I will :)

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    2. Hehehehe =] Ow, my rib hurts, don't make me laugh!! =P

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  11. Yeah, I'm with you here. The first time Rey and Ben "spoke," I knew the film wasn't going to be for me. Your film has a $200 million budget and the most creative way you can think for two characters to speak to one another is to look off camera and talk aloud, without showing the audience their perspective? THAT'S what you do with $200 million?! It's so silly.

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    1. I couldn't believe it. It sounded interesting the way he described the way he saw her but not her surroundings, but we saw none of that. It was so strange, but not good strange. The whole connection between them wasn't well explored either. Just a massive waste of such potential.

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