“I feel like I’m being torn apart.” -Kylo Ren
I am conflicted about this movie. On the one hand I loved it, on the other I felt it was too long and some of the characters weren’t who I was anticipating them to be.
I’ve also spent the better part of a month deciding whether to even put up a post but my love for Star Wars won out and I can only talk to my own friends for so long before talking the topic to death.
*From here on out there are spoilers, you’ve been warned*
One of my biggest problems in the new Star Wars trilogy: no one seems like the characters they should be.
Han, was more Luke than Luke has been. And Luke is more like our first glimpses of Han. Different motivations of course, but it is as if the two characters switched souls somewhere along the way. Leia, C3P0, Chewbacca, and R2D2 are the only ones who seem like they are supposed to be.
It’s not because I don’t like these characters, instead, it has a great deal to do with not seeing what has happened to them, only being filled in briefly about their development as they interact with the new characters.
I think, once more books, comics, tv shows, etc… start coming out and filling in the gap between Episode VI and VII I’ll discover that I really like the direction the new films are going in.
Another quick note, I did not feel as emotionally invested in the Poe, Rose, and Finn storyline as I did concerning Rey, Luke, and Kylo. In fact, I felt like the resistance storyline was more a distraction to the central storyline this time. I think it was because there’s more mystery surrounding the other three and metaphysical ramifications to the overall storyline regarding what could have been revealed about the force and why the Jedi should end.
That said, I liked Rose really well until the very end when she suddenly decided her new love interest was more important than saving the Resistance: a move that felt completely out of character. It felt like it also missed Finn’s moment to shine and make his character become more impactful.
Interrupting the Flow
I have several standards I use to determine how much I like the movie. One of them is in world believability or how close the story sticks to its own worldbuilding rules.
In The Last Jedi (hereforth referred to as TLJ) there were several moments where characters had something or said something that reflected our own world too closely. In books like the Wheel of Time this can be fun because it’s like putting a puzzle together trying to figure out the real world influence but the author has built it into the narrative and world history.
The Star Wars galaxy has always been on its own plane of existence, sure, there was a game similar to chess but it was different enough to be believable. To the best of my knowledge we never saw ying and yang symbols or heard the utterance of “Godspeed”. And no one ever ploughed into a string of porch lights during a chase.
A final note on these mental interruptions: I often know if a movie is going too long if I mentally think, how much longer does this movie have? Which I did, on several occasions when I was watching TLJ.
One of the scenes I greatly appreciated was the opening battle. I appeared to me to have a good deal more strategy to it instead of: here’s a small target that will blow everything up if we hit it with a small blaster cannon.
I also enjoyed the nod to Rose’s sister and Leia simultaneously using the force. I believe the yin and yang necklace was a hint to that.
While the other Star Wars movies have always been implicitly about hope. TLJ and Rogue One both discussed this more openly. They are both grim movies compared to the typical tone of what I associate with a Star Wars film, but I like it because it helps the viewer understand just how large the stakes are and that there is no guarantee of success.
I am being harsh on this film and I know it. For example, I love Marvel’s movies, not because they’re masterpieces, but because they are fun.
Star Wars has a special place in my heart which makes any little issue I have with the new films so much bigger than I would otherwise hold a movie to. And at the end of the day, TLJ is still a good movie. It’s beautifully done. It has good messages. It has characters I am growing attached to (thought I would have hoped for more Holdo than what we got in one film, I liked her character a lot).
And at the end of the day, even in the face of darkness, light still persists.
And that my friends is why this movie matters and why even my dissatisfaction doesn’t outweigh the whole.