Star Wars, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi — A Non-Review Review
So, a lot of people are asking me about my reaction to this movie. Instead of replying in twelve places, I’m going to put it all in one spot. I’m making this its own separate page that’s not included in the main post listing, rather than a regular Snark Wars post/recap entry, because it’s not really a recap, and I don’t want it messing up the Snark Wars front page. 😉 Priorities!
I must begin any and all discussion of anything in the new Sequel Trilogy Timeline with acknowledging that…I really did not especially like The Force Awakens. Oh sure, it was fun to see some of the OT actors again, and the new cast is adorable and were clearly doing their best, and it had some moments I liked, but it just…didn’t get there for me.
Reasons for this helpfully given to me by a certain subset of Star Wars fans over the years include the following:
- I liked the prequels and therefore have terrible taste in space wizard movies (entirely possible, of course, though I can’t say the idea that I have bad taste in children’s movies that are this completely ridiculous is really keeping me awake at night);
- I liked the prequels and therefore hoped that everyone would hate The Force Awakens (well, tell it to the TFA T-shirt I wore to opening day, I guess. Also, hoping that Star Wars will crash and burn and that everyone will hate it totally sounds like me);
- I had some headcanon I was committed to for the sequels and was butthurt it didn’t come through (I had zero personal headcanon for the GFFA post-ROTJ, but I’ll tell you this much: if I had had one, it sure as shit wouldn’t have looked like that.)
- I’m too quick to judge when only one installment was in, and the powers that be definitely knew where they were going with all of this (ha ha ha ha ha.)
I start with this salt not to set you up for more bitching (and certainly, I know many people whose opinions I generally share on many things Star Wars who vehemently disagreed with me about this movie,) but rather to help you understand that I did not head into this latest Star Wars Season expecting greatness or even goodness. My expectations since 2015 have been set pretty much on the floor.
So, if I must accept TFA’s version of the universe — a universe in which Han dies a man who’s regressed back to smuggling and then gets murdered by his own son, a universe where Leia is separated from her husband and child and is still having to fight the bad guys, a universe where YET ANOTHER goddamn Skywalker has murdered a Temple full of Jedi, and a universe where Luke Skywalker has essentially given up all hope — well, then I can say that, for me, The Last Jedi is certainly better than many other alternatives we could have ended up with for the middle part of this saga. My kids liked it, and my husband and I both felt really pretty positively overall. I’ll always wish this hadn’t been the setup we went with for Star Wars in this era, but it is what it is.
Anyone reading this surely knows the plot by now, and I’m not a big lengthy-meta person, so let’s break this down this way…
(Disclaimer: this is, of course, my opinion and my opinion only. Love it, hate it, you don’t have to agree with me. Keep in mind that I have gone to bat for the Sand Soliloquy, so, you know. I’m a shifty character to begin with.)
(Oh, and I’m sure my feelings will shift over time and with a few more viewings. We’ll see.)
- Thank the Dark Lord, someone brought some Weirdness back to Star Wars. Creatures, shit like Luke’s island life and the stupid Jedi tree and the Space Horse Racing and on and on. Every time a goofy creature or small child shows up in Star Wars, I gain a year of my life from the sheer pleasure of knowing how mad it makes some people. (Why yes, I am petty like that, thanks for asking.)
- The callbackery here, when it happened, was for me much more along the lines of what we’ve seen in other Star Wars content — Kylo and Rey en route to see Snoke, for example. I like the mirroring stuff, but I hated TFA’s heavy-handed “here’s dejarik for .5 seconds! Here’s that blaster ball Luke trained with — it’s still on the Falcon, obvs, why wouldn’t it be! Also remember the Trash Compactor!?? Here is Harrison Ford winking directly at the audience while he mentions it!” Like, give me all the callbacks, Star Wars (it’s what you’re about), but like…have some dignity about it, sheesh.
- Yoda giving Luke a pep talk, which essentially boiled down to “being a Jedi doesn’t mean you are flawless or will never make a mistake, and you don’t just call it a day on the concept of the Jedi entirely because of what happened. Forget about looking for the answers in some old book, we were always about more than just old lore, accept the things you can’t change and change what you can: nut up and go help that kid, damn it!” was just about perfect. I do feel bad that Yoda has had to reiterate this advice to his kids like 800 times in the last 60 years, and that he doesn’t even get to quit despite being dead for 3 decades, but we all know the Skywalkers are kinda dumb, so.
- Also Yoda smacking Luke in the head was written by me.
- Kylo did a dramatic disrobe and about 78 total strangers have written to me since this film came out like a day ago to tell me that they immediately thought of me when they saw this part, which cracks me up.
- I thought this movie was very pretty.
- Luke Skywalker appearing in the most dramatic and BATSHIT CRAZY STAR WARS WAY we have EVER SEEN ANYONE APPEAR EVER, fighting a guy who did a dramatic disrobe, throwing snark at his enemy, messing with his head COMPLETELY by NOT EVEN ACTUALLY PHYSICALLY BEING THERE, and then dying by becoming the Force while staring into the horizon is like…the most on-point death for his Jedi lineage yet. Like, I just can’t stop picturing Obi-Wan and Anakin crying into their hankies while being all “God, what an icon!” “That’s our boy.”
- I thought the new cast all upped their acting game this time around. (That said, a part of me dies of secondhand embarrassment every time someone says “[whoever] is Oscar-worthy in this!” Ohhhkay guys, let’s all just…calm down.)
- I appreciate Snoke being cut in half, to allow for him to return in the next animated series on robot spider legs.
- If Luke Skywalker can die as a result of livestreaming himself across the galaxy, I never want to hear another goddamn complaint about midi-chlorians ever again.
The Less Good
- This movie needed a LOT more of Luke and Artoo. 2 minutes was NOT ENOUGH, even though it was very touching.
- NO ONE LOST A HAND.
- I know we’ve got one more installment yet to bring this puppy in for a landing, but like…the options they have now are not great for me. And pretty much all of them really diminish a lot of what we’ve seen before. And also I personally have like, less than no confidence in JJ Abrams as the person to make this all tie together, so…at this point I’d say there’s a decent chance we’re just left with like 50 loose ends.
- Why was Phasma a thing? Twice? Seriously. What a waste of an interesting character idea.
- Jamming Maz in there just felt so silly, and less “Star Wars silly” and more “why?” silly. I figured this would happen to some extent because they ALREADY had a ton of characters to move around in this thing, and then they added even MORE to the mix. I dunno. It felt tacked on, like, a lot.
- Oh my God, this is the stupidest thing to pick on ever but I haaaaaaated Snoke’s throne room. It hurt my eyes! It was like…Sidious’ rec room, or like they started building the set and then forgot to finish it so they were like “whatever, red Christmas flood lights EVERYWHERE will do the trick.” Sheev already did “evil red-tinged lair” and he did it a LOT better. His even had fancy Sith art on the walls and stuff!
- I…am still not sure what to think about what they did with Snoke. I mean, wow. THAT was the guy who they were billing as “way darker than Palpatine”? I can practically HEAR Sheev cackling from the great beyond. Are we seriously never going to learn any more about what this guy’s deal was?
- While I personally am OK with the idea of Luke dying (especially in such an Extra way), I really feel like they didn’t do right by him in this film overall, which is a big problem for me. I can buy a depressed and dejected Luke who’s seen some shit, but he was so utterly hopeless and I wish we’d seen a little more levity from him. Mark did a great job with what he was given, but this Luke did not feel like Actual Luke to me.
- If they go “Episode 9: Kylo and Rey’s Big Fat Grey Jedi Wedding” after all of this, I will be forced to go Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind on this trilogy. And I don’t even really give a crap about “Reylo” or whatever. I just literally detest the idea of “balance means you need mass murderers AND nice helpful do-gooders! Nothing is really bad or good!” Nope. Nope. Nope. Don’t even get me started because we will be here forever.
- On that note, I do not appreciate the apparent love quadrangle this movie set up now. Just…why, Star Wars. No. You ruined the galaxy, you killed Luke and Han and you have to figure out what to do with this story now that Leia is gone. We do not have time for this.
- I’m still not sure how I feel about Finn’s story in this one, although I will say he has more screen time than all the spoilers I read were leading me to believe.
- Destroying Anakin’s lightsaber seems pretty appropriate for this trilogy, but it still bummed me out. Also I am 2000% sure we will never ever find out how Maz got it now. Even the story about how it survived Episode 5 in the first place is pretty weak. Sigh.
- I wish Carrie Fisher wasn’t dead. But that applies to the world outside of Star Wars, too.
I’m sure I’ll have more to say about this, so expect to see this all get updated a bit over the next few days.
(By the way, Kylo: I do sincerely appreciate your attempt to continue the Dark Skywalker tradition of Shirtlessness, but I regret to inform you that — as with pretty much everything — Grandpa did it better.)