Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi

Review pending

Theatrical release: 12/15/2017
PG-13; 152 minutes
Produced by Ram Bergman, Kathleen Kennedy
Written and directed by Rian Johnson

My review is still pending. In the meantime, feel free to discuss the movie in the comments section below. For a little while longer, to allow people to avoid spoilers, comments posted here will display only on this page and will not be shown in the Comment Stream.

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158 comments on this review

Del_Duio
Fri, Dec 15, 2017, 7:00am (UTC -6)
This thing's sold out for days around here but I can't wait to see it. I've heard some reaction (w/o spoilers) and everybody seems to think it's the second coming which is GREAT news.
Elise K
Fri, Dec 15, 2017, 8:00am (UTC -6)
Gotta say, I wasn't impressed. Solid movie- enough continuity nods and character scenes and finally some A-wings, my favorite of favorites) to keep me happy. I especially liked the flashback scenes to Luke and B/Ren, and the idea that Rey can be special without having important parents, whether or not it is true.

That said...

I feel like I was getting toyed with for a lot of this movie and retroactively for Force Awakens, with so many characters being set up to be important and then getting unceremoniously bumped off. I will need to ponder whether this is effective use of Anyone Can Die or whether they went overboard. I found Luke to be ridiculously tantalizing to both Rey and the audience- maybe that's the only way to handle the return of a character we've been wanting to see cut loose for 45 years- let us have our cake without eating it?

Showing the gambling town and its regime of cruelty was a powerful touch, making us think there are actually stakes to this. Too often, Star Wars defines evil as an informed attribute of powerful people, rather than showing the actions that constitute evil on a broad scale. The problem is, after 9 movies, we don't see the good guys making things any different for the common people, ever, so showing it here is either a cynical appeal, or great meta commentary showing people enjoying Luke's adventures but not experiencing any improvement in their lot under imperialist capitalism.
Dom
Fri, Dec 15, 2017, 9:11am (UTC -6)
Overall, I really liked it, but there's a LOT to process. Not a perfect movie by any means, and some of the humor felt a bit too slapstick and self-referential. But this movie took risks, unlike TFA.

Re @Elise K, I like how the movie, especially the ending, ends on the point of view of an ordinary kid. In fact, the movie had several characters who would normally have been marginalized, like Rose, take the center stage. Gives me hope that we're going to see some sort of major societal change in Episode IX, where it becomes clear that victory isn't just about killing the bad guys but also improving life for people.
Daniel S Williams
Fri, Dec 15, 2017, 6:08pm (UTC -6)
Absolutely loved this movie but it wasn't without it's problems. The biggest one being the whole side plot with Rose and Finn on that casino world. It just felt like needless filler that in the end accomplished bugger all.

Rose herself was ok right until the ending battle when she more or less screws the whole Resistence by saving Finn for her own selfish crushing on him, which came right the hell outy of nowhere. Ugh...

I really like the idea of Rey being a random nobody chosen by the Force to rise up against the mounting darkness. This more or less proves that there is no one single Chosen One. The Force brings about a Chosen One at any time when one is needed to restore balance unto itself. Anakin, Luke and Rey have all done this (although Rey's job is unfinished currently). It's a never ending cycle and unless the whole galaxy suddenly embraces the Grey Jedi philosophy by Episode IX I don't see it ever ending. This whole galactic conflict is eternal with a permanant peace being a pipe dream.
Dexter Morgan
Fri, Dec 15, 2017, 9:43pm (UTC -6)
Elise summed up my thoughts pretty good. This was a fine movie, but it was missing.....something. Whether that be the charm of Hans Solo, or good pacing, or the overall length being too long (this movie was way too fucking long). I found getting fairly annoying halfway through by the 11th scene of the Rebels lazily fleeing to the left.

Captain Phasma will go down as one of the most disappointing and useless characters in the history of the franchise. Seriously, what was her role other than to sell toys? General Hux was a one-dimensional, yelly, frowning, growly character who has 1/100000th the charisma of Peter Cushing which is disappointing because Domhnall Glesson is an excellent character actor who I think would have done very well with some better material. So you cast Laura Dern as this supposed bad ass Vice Admiral but someone has to stay behind to pilot the Cruiser to its doom (for whatever reason someone has to stay behind?) Admiral Akbar just....dies?!?! Leia can survive a bridge explosion and exposure to space.....why? Rose, ugh. The Casino planet, ugh. The Bait And Switches, ugh. Snoke dying, ugh (so much for the thousands of hours people spent into his identity, he really was extremely pointless even though it appeared he was the most powerful Sith lord we have ever seen in the franchise. What a waste of time. And how exactly did Snoke turn Kylo Ren?

What this movie did well? Kylo Ren was excellent. This was the stuff he should have had in TFA. I thoroughly enjoyed his character this time around. Rey was very good and the scenes with Luke stole the show. Mark Hamill played the role to perfection. The final battle on the salt planet was a visual masterpiece.

I dont know what to expect from Episode 9. Carrie Fisher dying changes things immensely I imagine.


Geekgarious
Sat, Dec 16, 2017, 12:09am (UTC -6)
This film felt like the result of the creators trying to throw everything but the kitchen sink in. It was certainly entertaining, and there are touches I really liked. Getting a more military sci-fi feel in the resistance fleet was nice. But there is no cohesive narrative, and that's why Disney's version of Star Wars feels rather hollow. It is just another action franchise now.
Tempeh
Sat, Dec 16, 2017, 8:12am (UTC -6)
Before going to the movie, me and my childhood friend of 40 years ate at a restaurant. I mentioned to him how most movies being made today don't have anything "new" in them. When I watch one, I feel like I've already seen it. This is how I felt while watching The Force Awakens. The old trilogy brought stuff to the screen that people had never seen before (Imperial Walkers, sarlac pits, etc.) . There just isn't much creativity going on inside these large corporations that own the big franchises. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems that way to me. They play it safe and don't take risks.
Then I watched The Last Jedi, and for the most part it was full of surprises. It took risks, including some creative ones. Just to list a few of of the ballsy things they did:
-Death of Snoke
-Destruction of the rebellion (just about)
-Leia floating in space
-New force powers
That being said, some of the Finn stuff seemed unnecessary. In particular, his over the top fight with Captain Phasma. Why would she bother to fight him while the ship is being destroyed? As a leader, she should have been managing the evacuation. The "rebel scum" line was cringy.

I would give the movie three stars overall. It felt about equal to Episode III. I have an urge to see it again, so that's a good sign.
Trent
Sat, Dec 16, 2017, 11:06am (UTC -6)
This whole franchise, especially since Disney (which has now accquired Marvel, Pixar and 20thCFox), just feels so conveyeor belt, soulless, mass produced and made-by-committee. It's art by banksters and factory robots and reliant almost wholly on nostalgia. Old-man Mark Hamil - who is amazing; why does nobody else cast him? - seems like the only real human being here, much like Harisson Ford seemed in the previous installment.
Dixie
Sat, Dec 16, 2017, 11:59am (UTC -6)
The word 'manipulative' comes to mind. Movies and television are manipulative, we all know it, and we all know that the best movies are the ones that can manipulate you without it being obvious - the ones that give us compelling characters, memorable moments, stunning visuals, emotional catharsis, and make us genuinely forget that we're just asses in seats as far as the studios are concerned.

... and then there's movies like The Last Jedi.

Without getting into spoilers, so much of this movie, so many of the characters, so many of the designs, so many of the scenes all just reeked of something developed, not by writers, artists, and filmmakers, but by executive committees trying to maximize profit margins. There are entire scenes, hell, entire subplots in this movie that just feel like they only exist to cash in on the nostalgia-factor, or because some focus group campaign found that some demographic wants to see more X, Y, and Z, and because of this the finished product doesn't come together very well. It feels sloppy, it feels soulless, and most of all it feels manipulative.
Mike
Sat, Dec 16, 2017, 12:56pm (UTC -6)
I am a guy that saw the original trilogy in theaters (saw Star wars in 77 on my 9th birthday) so I have been a fan since day 1. I was super excited about the prequels and found them to be very disappointing.

Then I got excited again about TFA, but while it was a decent Star Wars film, It left me a little flat. It was simply a rehash of the first Star Wars for the most part.

I really enjoyed Rogue One, and felt it had a solid original trilogy feel to it.

Thursday night I saw The Last Jedi and again, it left me flat. Overall it was a solid film. The special effects were excellent and the acting was solid, but it just seemed kind of dull to me. Some thoughts:

The movie was very long. As many have pointed out, they could have dumped the entire casino plot and no one would have missed it.

I was not a fan of Laura Dern's character.

I didn't like Rose preventing Finn from sacrificing himself for his friends. Luckily for all it worked out in the end. Good thing for the Resistance she was not there to keep her sister from making her sacrifice or it would have been a much shorter movie.

I liked Snoke in this movie and thought he was an effective villain, but much like Darth Maul in Episode One, he was killed off too soon.

The whole Princess Leia surviving the vacuum of space was really odd. I do not understand how that was possible. She apparently is able to fly also. Why not use those force skills earlier?

I just cannot get into Kylo Ren. I am not a fan of Adam Driver so that may be why these films don't do it for me.

Mark Hamill did great, and I thought the ending with him was very effective.

I am also not a big fan of the Hux character. I do wish he had killed Kylo when he had the chance.
I did like the guy that was commanding the Dreadnaught. Much more believable as an Imperial commander.

What was the point of Captain Phasma? Just an excuse to say that Brianne of Tarth was in Star Wars? Brought nothing to either film.

I was not a fan of Benicio Del Toro's character either. His manner of speech was kind of annoying as well.

Everything else was fine. Like I said, not a bad movie at all, but this series just doesn't have the Star Wars feel anymore.
-Mike



Chrome
Sat, Dec 16, 2017, 3:39pm (UTC -6)
I came into this movie expecting it to kind of wander off the way other big Disney franchises like Marvel and especially Pirates in the last few years. But I’m delighted to report I enjoyed The Last Jedi even more than The Force Awakens.

What works for this film is the great dynamic between Luke, Rey, and Calo Ren. Notably, even among these big established characters, there weren’t many clear cut heroes and villains, but a lot of soul searching by the Force users in this story. This works great in a film the describes the Force as being balanced by Light and Dark, with every Jedi and Sith capable of traveling down either path.

Of course, with all these force users we get the expected crowd-pleasing lightsaber fights and starship battles. But I found it was the more quiet scenes like Luke confronting his former disciple and winning without violence or anger to be one of the films more powerful scenes. Calo’s betrayal of Snoke was also a delicious payoff for the character giving the us in the audience a moment to consider Calo Ren may not be villain after all.

Another thing that worked well in this movie is that it set out to be its own story. I saw notable moments where TLJ could’ve repeated some of the same beats from Empire Strikes back but notably did not. For example, we don’t learn that Rei’s parents were Sith Lords the whole time but rather understated every people. That’s refreshing not only because it diverts from ESB, but also makes Rey’s story a bit more grounded and even relatable.

What didn’t work for me were the slower moments in the B and C plots, especially Finn and Rose on the casino planet. Not that the story didn’t have its moments, especially when Benicio del Tor showed up and pranked everyone, but a lot of it didn’t pan out into the films larger story and ended up just adding runtime. That said, I do like Rose reminding Finn what the rebels were fighting for, and there was a touching if not low-key kissing scene between the two which was genuinely sweet.

Finally the there was a moment at the end after Luke passed on where a boy on Canto Bight picked up his broom like a lightsaber while the Republic insignia shined brightly which made my eyes weld up. Although most of the resistance’s military force was devastated, the hearts of the people still looked ready to fight the good fight into the next film.

I’m giving this 3.5 stars. A worthy addition to the Star Wars film franchise.
J Fenzel
Sat, Dec 16, 2017, 8:23pm (UTC -6)
Excellent movie. A lot of ways better than TFA. Snoke's death surprised me, and saved the trilogy from running down the same old ground the original trilogy did with the Emperor. And I actually thought Rey and Ren might do a role reversal and switch sides, which is good because it kept me on edge. The last scenes with Luke were great. The casino planet stuff went on a bit too long, but overall a really good Star Wars film, one that took the story in unexpected directions and added depth to many characters. IMO one of the best in the franchise (light years ahead of the awful pap of the prequels). 3.5 out of 4
Mike
Sat, Dec 16, 2017, 9:28pm (UTC -6)
J Fenzel,

Rey and Kylo switching would have been an epic move. So much is invested in Rey that her turning evil would have been huge. Like Frodo choosing to keep the ring.
bleankness
Sun, Dec 17, 2017, 6:26am (UTC -6)
The real problem with TJ (which overall I liked a lot) is something that is happening a LOT in cinema right now, and that is what I call the retro-pancake syndrome.. it happens with these on-going stories, that a movie that works makes you realize that the previous movie is pretty bad. Like a Dan Brown novel, written just to keep people at the beach turning the pages as fast as possible so that they can get to the end and tell their friends but each page is shoddily written and you forget about each one as you rush through to the next one. I mean with the MCU, if you are a huge Civil War fan how often do you go back and watch the phase one movies? What are the chances you will just skip to the airport scene and see how cool that is? With TLJ you have a film that makes TFA even worse. For example, snoke is a red herring,simply put there so Kylo can kill him at the right time and go down his path.. but the rules of cinematic storytelling today are such that JJ (hired because he does this all the time for TV) can thread us along.. there isn't enough going on in episode seven that he could NOT reveal that Snoke was just the first BIG person Kylo had to kill to do his journey, but JJ couldn't do it in the first movie because Disney felt we needed the buildup and we needed to wonder who Snoke was between films so that he could only be killed in the second movie. So the first third of the this new trilogy is simply "biding time" and not much STORY actually happens.. same with Luke's map. Why did Luke HAVE a map? How did Kylo found out about a map? why didn't Kylo arrive on Jakku right behind Poe, and who is Lor Van Tekka? These questions are even worse omissions after watching TLJ and are just JJ's busywork, giving his movie something to do until we get to TLJ. This manner of storytelling is what guides cinematic universes and it's appalling..
John Harmon
Sun, Dec 17, 2017, 11:43am (UTC -6)
What a disappointing follow-up The Force Awakens.

I don't know if I've ever seen another movie this expensive where NOTHING HAPPENS. There was no plot.

It was embarrassing. I think it might be as bad as the prequels.
msw188
Sun, Dec 17, 2017, 12:16pm (UTC -6)
Overall, this wasn't as good as Force Awakens for me. See, in Epi7 there's a clear (recycled, but I don't care) character arc for Rey. We see how shitty her life was on Jakku, we see her get caught up in other people's bullshit, then we see her become awesome. Maybe too easily, but I don't care. The movie's big moment for Han is big for sure, but is arranged so that the true climax is really Rey vs Kylo. These are the new characters, the ones who really matter. And holy shit, the light saber choosing her (with music to match) is just an awesome moment.

As opposed to Epi8, where the Rey vs Kylo vs Snoke moment is pretty great, but it's sort of in the middle? And afterwards Rey kind of barely matters? Her stuff with Luke, with Kylo, in the end it's irrelevant, she just has to do some flying and then move some rocks. I mean, she does a good job moving the rocks, sure.

You could say that Rey isn't really the main character here, it's all about Ben and fleshing out good and bad with some of the ancillary characters. Which okay, that's not terrible. And I don't think the movie's terrible at all. I think I liked a lot of the ideas, but the overall package and execution wasn't working for me. Examples:

(+) I really love the idea of the Luke fakeout at the end. But there were so many little problems:
(-) Making it the climax (see above)
(-) Why was Poe the one to recognize it was a distraction? I get that he was supposed to have learned his lesson, but shouldn't Leia be the one to make the declaration, then maybe Poe quietly realizes she's right?
(-) Did Luke guess, or know, that there was another exit? Maybe he had a great scene beforehand talking to one of those crystal-fox things.

(+) I really love the idea of the turnaround that the lady rebel wasn't actually an asshole, and Poe was in the wrong. But there were so many little problems:
(-) Was it ever made clear why she didn't tell Poe what was happening, especially once he took armed control?
(-) As cool as this turnaround is, it kinda invalidates all the Finn and Rose stuff from a plot standpoint.
(-) Stock complaint about lightspeed ramming not being a thing until it's a thing.

(+) I love the idea of Finn meeting someone like him, and then seeing the concept of the rebellion take shape 'out there'. I also like the idea of characters honestly trying to make things better, but inadvertently making them worse. But there were so many little problems:
(-) Do Finn and Rose ever actually realize they're the ones who made things worse?
(-) The casino was a kinda boring environment; their 'adventures' there didn't work for me.
(-) Why is Phasma?
(+) BONUS POSITIVE I liked the kiss scene though. Like, she's dying, could give a fuck, and just goes for it. And he's just totally surprised.

Another unfortunate bit was that the humor was a bit more 'noticeable', but was missing as often as hitting for me.

I guess I don't know how I feel about it overall. I do like that this one feels like it takes some chances here and there. A handful of great scenes, and some good ideas in the background. But too much silly humor, too many 'nick of time' saves, too many endings, and not enough of Rey mattering.

Some great Leia though! I loved watching her give Poe a look then shooting him like the dumbass he is. And I like Poe! It's really too bad that we won't get to see Leia anymore moving forward.
Commander Jameson
Mon, Dec 18, 2017, 8:44am (UTC -6)
As the world probably hasn’t had nearly enough insights from white cis males on the latest Star Wars film, I thought I’d offer up my two cents, so be prepared for some spoiler warnings.

On the good side, as per The Force Awakens and Rogue One, the visuals are utterly astonishing, with some great and memorable touches. In this department at least, the new batch are equal to what they follow. It’s also good to see more women and PsOC take more prominent roles once again – just as they should be.

But on the minus side… where to begin?

Perhaps at the most important aspect - what is this trilogy FOR? WHO is it for? What does it aim to achieve?

With the prequels, one could charitably say that they were there to introduce a new generation to the Star Wars world, and to provide some backstory as to how the original trilogy’s characters came to be (if one was uncharitable, you could say they were merely an opportunity to market merchandise). Whether they succeeded or not is still in many ways a matter of individual opinion – I didn’t like them personally, but some do indeed enjoy them. That said, I’m part of the generation that grew up with the originals, so maybe I’m biased.

Or am I? What appears to be missing from the current batch of films, and indeed from the prequels also, is any tangible sense of MAGIC – that tingle down the spine, the goosebumps, the welling in one’s eye at those key moments: Ben freezing on being called ‘Obi Wan’ for the first time in years; Luke hearing his voice in the Death Star trench; Yoda revealing his identity by saying ‘I cannot teach you’; Vader’s final redemption as he chooses to save his son…

There are a few moments like that in the most recent two films, but I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that they’re thrown in to manipulate the audience for precisely this reason. Best example? R2 rerunning the clip of Leia’s original message to Ben from A New Hope. “That was a cheap move,” says Luke, and I’m pretty sure the audience agreed.

Instead, what we have is main characters being bumped off in an attempt to provide (cheap) shocks for the audience, Game of Thrones style. Admittedly, as a re-hash of Episode IV, TFA perhaps needed its ‘Ben Kenobi’ moment – the shock death of a main character – but now it feels (with two down in the current movie) like we’re a bit desensitised by all this. It’s become predictable. As is the rehashing of visual/plot elements from the first two films: we have an ATAT attack in this one as per The Empire Strikes Back, but this time it’s at the end rather than the beginning.

This could have been a chance to do something radically different from the first film, which was in effect a massive push of the reset button. But I don’t think it was taken.

What seems to have been forgotten is the fact that Star Wars is not about visual effects, or mysticism, or aliens. It’s about people: about families, friendships, and the decisions people take about whether to honour these things and choose the right course of action, or not.

I tend to think one reason for this is not entirely the filmmakers’ fault. Back in the 70s-80s, the Star Wars franchise was pretty much the only game in town as far as eye-boggling special effects and big screen action was concerned. Now, however, it’s much different – the relentless rise of CGI over the past two decades has meant the marketplace has become more competitive, with any number of big-budget superhero films, Transformers, Independence Days, Godzillas, Pacific Rims – you name it. This means the imperative to shoehorn in more and more action sequences – regardless of the consequences for the narrative – has become all the more important.

And is it me, or are some bits of this film just ill thought out? Most people have singled out the casino subplot and Leia’s overdue use of her Force powers as a bit of a waste of time or maybe somewhat gratuitous, but in the opening: ‘dropping’ bombs from one spacecraft to another, in zero gravity? OK, audible engine noise and explosions in a vacuum are one thing, but…

Back to TLJ - on a technical level, the film belongs to Mark Hamill, who turns in a stunning and moving performance. Daisy Ridley I felt sadly failed to live up to the promise she showed in TFA, and Adam Driver is still playing Ren as a stroppy teenager. There’s not been enough character development from the previous film, and there are too many questions unanswered – just who was Snoke, and what was his beef? What is Rey’s real parentage (still)? How did Luke’s lightsabre turn up in whatserface’s basement? There is a lot that needs to be answered in the final film, and the launchpad for the third act just doesn’t seem strong enough.

So, wither the new trilogy? Is it merely to give us closure regarding well-loved characters from the original, and to pass the baton to a new generation? Possibly. But one wonders, somewhat cynically, whether we’re being set up for ‘Episode XI: A New Broom’ in 15 years’ time or so.

I dunno – maybe I’ll just have to watch it again to refine my opinion. But if I have to watch sodding Domnhall Gleason chewing the bleedin’ scenery again, I’m slashing the seats.
Brandon Adams
Mon, Dec 18, 2017, 11:35am (UTC -6)
The franchise developed "Lost" syndrome - just shrugging and cutting characters and threads they didn't know what to do with.

Snoke, Phasma, and Holdo being the two most obvious ones. So much buildup, so NOTHING revealed about either one of them before they're just randomly killed. Nothing interesting done with them whatsoever. I gotta give credit to Gwendoline Christie for still being able to act like crazy using just her voice and one eyeball, but...massive disappointments, both of them. Also, a very unceremonious exit for Ackbar. He deserved better.

The plot structure was weird. Way too much filler. The whole mutiny and casino subplots were pointless and easily circumnavigated by sensible decisions by the characters. Rey dropped out of the entire latter fourth of the film after being its heart and soul. Bizarre.

And I'm also left without any idea what's the gripping impetus for another movie. Empire Strikes Back at least gave its sequel a strong reason to exist (i.e. the recovery of Han). VIII just gives us a vague "rebuilding a rebellion", even though the First Order seems all but dead itself at that point.

Just sloppy writing.

There was certainly potential. The long, drawn-out pursuit could have been really affecting and the transports' destruction did get me going. The Kylo and Rey dynamic was awesome. Yoda's appearance and his decision to destroy the Jedi texts FELT right, even though I thought Force ghosts couldn't "interfere".

But there was so much squandered. The more I think about it, the more I hate it.

Ugh.
msw188
Mon, Dec 18, 2017, 12:30pm (UTC -6)
In reply to Cmdr Jameson:
See, I think Epi7 had a handful of "magical" moments along similar lines as the originals. And they were about the new characters, not nostalgia with the old. Lightsaber choosing Rey. Kylo 'thanking' dad. Little things like Rey getting super excited about a job offer - silly but fun. You could complain that it's more stale and predictable this time around, which yeah I get it, but I think Epi7 really had its heart in the right place with a lot of this.

In Epi8, I tend to agree with you a bit more. However, see below.

In reply to B Adams:
I agree 100% about the plot structure. However, I disagree about "so much buildup" with the dead characters. I mean, take Snoke. Who cared in-movie who he was? Who cared in-movie who the Emperor was in the originals? Both characters are just plot devices, existing to advance the actual main characters (Luke and Vader / Rey and Ben). I'd say they both succeeded at this, but the Emperor was better because he had a bit more time to be a true asshole to Luke, and his death was, rightfully, a major part of the climax of his film (plot structure indeed).

Phasma is a dumb character for sure, but I don't think there was any sense of "buildup" in-movie about this character. She's just another jerk for the good guys to beat up. I guess kind of like GM Tarkin, but with way less personality? Nobody cared who Tarkin was back in the originals, and I'm gonna claim Phasma is no more 'mysterious' than he was.

All of this leads me to an obvious point that I'm sure others have talked about, but it's really hitting home now for me. THE INTERNET MAKES IT HARDER TO ENJOY SERIAL MOVIES. Like, it was only people on the internet that made Snoke out to have some kind of mysterious identity / past / etc etc. With so many people making textual 'predictions/theories' about various characters, it's easy to forget that, in the movie's universe, there was no build-up or mystery at all.

I mean look, if the original Star Wars and Empire were released today, would people go to town on theories? "Who is the Emperor?" "Where does Lando come from?" "When will we finally learn more about Wedge?" "Who is Boba Fett????"
"Obviously Leia is someone important too..." Okay so that last one would have been right. But would people have complained after Return of the Jedi, that so many characters were "built up" and then wasted? But they weren't built up! Boba Fett just came in and did his thing! Same with Lando. Like, I don't care who Maz Kanata is! But I do want to know how she got the lightsaber, and apparently Epi7 did too (I assume they wouldn't have Han ask if they didn't mean to return to this at some point). It would have been nice to address this in Epi8, but maybe it will happen in Epi9.
Tarth of Brienne
Mon, Dec 18, 2017, 12:53pm (UTC -6)
I liked it but didn't love it. I really liked The Force Awakens. It took two viewings, but I thought it was edited tightly and had a great energy which overcame the lack of originality. I had also really missed the Han Solo of it all in the prequels. TFA really showed how much Han is a part of what people fell in love with the original movies.

The Last Jedi, however, is not tightly edited, and has a penchant for meandering. The movie is overlong. I wouldn't be surprised to hear it underwent rewrites a plenty in development. Han is missed. They're trying to turn Poe into the Han Solo of the new cast, but he doesn't have the same charisma or chemistry with his fellow castmates that Harrison did.

Laura Dern is offputting. She was in Jurassic Park, and she is in this. The story never gives us enough time attention to get to know her character to make us care about her self-sacrifice. Captain Phasma is another character that's underserved in this film like she was in the first. Also, if I never sea another sea cow, I'll be just fine thanks.

I do like that TLJ takes more chances, but it is a mishmash of ideas that don't cohere into one unified whole. Maybe a second viewing will help with that.
Chrome
Mon, Dec 18, 2017, 1:41pm (UTC -6)
"Like, it was only people on the internet that made Snoke out to have some kind of mysterious identity / past / etc etc. With so many people making textual 'predictions/theories' about various characters, it's easy to forget that, in the movie's universe, there was no build-up or mystery at all. "

Oh, I see now. I must've missed the Star Wars rumor bandwagon many here jumped on that made Snoke out to be a big deal. If I am remembering right, Snoke only had one scene in the previous movie, and while I think he looked cool and had potential, I certainly wasn't surprised Kylo Ren bested him on stage. Kylo, with his connection to Han, Leia, Luke, and now Rey has much more potential as a villain than Snoke ever did. Heck, the film even foreshadowed Kylo's reprisal with the lashing Snoke gave to Kylo earlier in the movie.

"It's time to let old things die", says Kylo. Indeed, says this fan.
bleakness
Tue, Dec 19, 2017, 4:55am (UTC -6)
Did this movie have any memorable dialogue exchanges that did not talk about how grand the next plot point will be?
Jason R.
Tue, Dec 19, 2017, 6:38am (UTC -6)
I am never going to see this movie. But to all the people who thought the holes in TFA were going to be filled, that Rey's miraculous lightsaber duelling and force powers were going to be explained, that Finn was going to develop into some kind of important character, that Snope's origin was going to be explained - a big and hearty HA! Serves you right.

Abrams is a charlattan, a cinematic huckster who masters the art of promising but never delivering. He comes in and sets up a bunch of mysteries to distract the audience from the reality that there's nothing there. And then he's long gone by the time anyone figures out they've been had.

This time I'm voting with my wallet.
Obi-Two Kenobi
Tue, Dec 19, 2017, 7:12am (UTC -6)
“Abrams is a charlattan, a cinematic huckster“

To be clear, Abrams neither wrote nor directed this movie. Rian Johnson gets those credits.
Jason R.
Tue, Dec 19, 2017, 7:25am (UTC -6)
Obi-Two of course. That's my point. We got all these enigmas set up in TFA like why is Rey a master lightsaber duelist and able to do Jedi mind powers with no training (despite even Anakin and Luke not having those abilities despite being uber force users) and the apologists told us it would all be explained. We asked why Finn was such a useless character and were told more would be done with him. We puzzle over Snoke's origin and significance. All would be explained said the apologists! It will all make sense!

Now Abrams is gone and what do we get? Well let me refer back to Kunni in UHF. What's in Abrams' black box Kunni? NOTHING! Absolutely NOTHING! You're so stupid! STUUPIID!!!
Jason R.
Tue, Dec 19, 2017, 7:38am (UTC -6)
Nobody cared who Tarkin was back in the originals, and I'm gonna claim Phasma is no more 'mysterious' than he was.

"All of this leads me to an obvious point that I'm sure others have talked about, but it's really hitting home now for me. THE INTERNET MAKES IT HARDER TO ENJOY SERIAL MOVIES. Like, it was only people on the internet that made Snoke out to have some kind of mysterious identity / past / etc etc. With so many people making textual 'predictions/theories' about various characters, it's easy to forget that, in the movie's universe, there was no build-up or mystery at all. "

Are you kidding? No buildup or mystery? The shadowy leader of tbe first order, appearing as a 20 ft hologram, acted by famous Andy Serkis, and it's the Internet's fault for assuming he was important? LOL. And Captain Phasma, the stormtrooper in red, the captain of the guard, acted by lady amazon Brianne if Tarth, and according to you she's just some random underling to be tossed aside?

It's like Chekov's gun. It's just basic, elementary storytelling. It would be like if Darth Vader was gunned down halfway through ANH. Utterly pointless. A waste of tbe audience's time and an insult to their intelligence.
J Fenzel
Tue, Dec 19, 2017, 8:55am (UTC -6)
One thing I'm learning here is that Star Wars and Star Trek fans are tough customers. Some people hate TLJ for the same reasons other people love it. A long time friend and big fan of the franchise, who read a lot of the SW novels, hated the fact that Luke had a moment of fear and thought about killing Ben. I didn't have a problem with that plot point given all Luke had gone through and what he had experienced. We all seem to be coming at this film wanting/expecting something far more than we would other movies.
Yanks
Tue, Dec 19, 2017, 10:04am (UTC -6)
Worse than TFA.

The visuals are out of this world, but other than that this movie dragged worse than TMP. I didn't think the score was impressive at all.

Good lord. I nodded off about 1/2 way through this too-long of a movie (2:20?)

I'm not sure I like the CG Leia. I just felt weird watching it. Especially when she didn't die during the movie. Anyone else feel funny watcher her throughout the movie?

When she was thrust into space and "made it" back to the ship, all I could think of was Mary Poppins.

It's sad when the best SW movie our of this new crop is Rogue One.

Disappointing.
Chrome
Tue, Dec 19, 2017, 10:17am (UTC -6)
"Rey and Kylo switching would have been an epic move. So much is invested in Rey that her turning evil would have been huge."

True, but they would've needed to change the title or keep Luke alive, because Rey is literally the last Jedi by the end of the film. It's to Johnson's credit, I think, that people could actually ponder Rey turning to the Dark side or at least joining Kylo Ren at a crucial point in the film. What is interesting though, is that by the end of the film not only does one Jedi remain, but after Rey and Kylo's massacre, it looks like only one Sith remains too. And we all know Siths work in pairs. Who will Kylo recruit?
Jason R.
Tue, Dec 19, 2017, 10:56am (UTC -6)
Chrome maybe I am wrong, but my understanding is neither Snoke nor Ren were actually Sith. I think the Sith are basically gone by TFA.
Chrome
Tue, Dec 19, 2017, 11:22am (UTC -6)
"neither Snoke nor Ren were actually Sith. I think the Sith are basically gone by TFA."

You're right, Snoke is just a force sensitive with dark side powers. Though, the way Ren idolizes Vader, I wouldn't be surprised if he was more interested in Sith teachings. It would be a very unique situation if by the final film no other dark side users have been trained (especially because the closing shot of TLJ leaves us to believe Rey will train more Jedi).
msw188
Tue, Dec 19, 2017, 12:37pm (UTC -6)
To Jason R:
Maybe we just have entirely different views of what constitutes build-up. For instance, you seem to take casting into account, while I do not. Del Toro and Dern were cast into this movie - should we assume that their characters have 'more to them than meets the eye'? I don't think so. But you said you wouldn't watch this movie, so maybe I shouldn't use them as examples.

I don't want to sound like I'm repeating myself too much. You assign importance to Snoke based on his appearance in Epi7 (and his casting) - I disagree. I don't find him any more mysterious in Epi7 than I found the Emperor in Epi5. Crucially, to me, no one questions the history/identity of either the Emperor or Snoke. Instead of comparing to the Emperor, you seem to compare him to Darth Vader, which I think is way off the mark based on his actual usage in Epi7. But maybe that's just me.

Or are you comparing Phasma to Darth Vader? If this is the case, I just can't see it at all. Phasma does almost nothing in Epi7, in my opinion. Even killing the villagers in the beginning is Kylo's command, not hers. She makes Finn put his helmet back on. Basically, she's a crappy boss for Finn to hate. Still, my original Tarkin comparison might not have been great. Maybe better would be Boba Fett. He 'looks' different and maybe mysterious. He maybe has some sort of grudge against Solo, or maybe he's just a bounty hunter doing his job? Like Phasma maybe has a grudge against Finn, or maybe she's just his boss doing her job? I'm curious if people think of Boba Fett's unceremonious death in Jedi as some kind of let down, as though we expected his character to 'mean something'.

"It's like Chekov's gun. It's just basic, elementary storytelling. It would be like if Darth Vader was gunned down halfway through ANH. Utterly pointless. A waste of tbe audience's time and an insult to their intelligence."

I'm not sure how to answer this. Maybe there's a reason it's called Chekov's gun, not Chekov's gunman. If the identity and backstory of every character who showed up was important and/or somehow tied to the main plot of the story, the characters very quickly become less believable as people. Like, Han Solo is believable as a character partly because his past is unexplained. The Kessel Run is not important to the main story! (In case it's not clear, I'm not looking forward to the solo Solo movie.) I'm claiming that Snoke/Emperor have clear purpose in the story, and that this purpose has nothing to do with their 'identity' or their past. I'm also claiming that Phasma sucks because her purpose is weak, and she has no personality to go along with it. I think that's different from claiming that the movie hints that she's a mystery and then fails to deliver.

For what it's worth, I DO think that Epi7 sets up some mysteries, and that some of these have so far failed to be delivered upon. The main one that comes to mind is how Luke's lightsaber was found. Another might be Rey's parentage, although I would like it if the answer of Epi8 IS the answer. Another might be the origins of the map to Luke, which I don't think they're ever going to address. In my mind, it's like there were people all over trying to find him, piecing together his path based on where he had been seen last - I don't think we're supposed to assume that Luke himself made the map. But the movie is very unclear on this.
Jason R.
Tue, Dec 19, 2017, 3:39pm (UTC -6)
I don't know that backstory is the issue here or the point. We didn't need to know the Emperor's backstory in the original trilogy to know he was important and to expect a payoff - which we got in ROTJ.

My point is that you don't create cool characters with mystery and pomp just to unceremoniously throw them in the trash. It's just spitting in the audience's face. Yes Boba Fett was also discarded, but he was not played by anyone known and was not really played up - his popularity with the fans was more retrospective and I suspect accidental as I wonder if any of the filmmakers even realized what they had with him.

With Phasma and Snoke especially the filmmakers were just pissing on the audience. Those characters are like a practical joke. Ha ha! Stupid audience thought these guys mattered!
Jason R.
Tue, Dec 19, 2017, 3:51pm (UTC -6)
By the way msw on the subject of Rey, one of the biggest problems with her character in TFA was her insane baddassery, her ability to use the force with zero training, to lightsaber duel an experienced darksider like Ren and win. It all contributed to the criticism of her as a colossal Mary Sue.

The big refrain the critics got was that something in her backstory would explain it - she's Luke's daughter being the most common explanation I heard (not that this would really have explained it anyway since even Luke and Anakin couldn't do what she did with zero training)

But like all Abrams mysteries, Rey's backstory
had its UHF moment.... the answer was a big fuck you from the filmmakers or a wizard did it, who cares right?
Tempeh
Tue, Dec 19, 2017, 4:20pm (UTC -6)
Yanks:
"I'm not sure I like the CG Leia. I just felt weird watching it. Especially when she didn't die during the movie. Anyone else feel funny watcher her throughout the movie?"

You do realize that that it was a real person, not CG, right?
Chrome
Tue, Dec 19, 2017, 5:22pm (UTC -6)
@Jason R.

Since you don't seem to mind spoilers, it's revealed in this movie that Kylo Ren was holding back on Rey at their first encounter because he still thought he could get her to join him. Snoke chews him out for it big time in this movie, too.

On Rey's combat abilities, Tatooine is a rough planet and Rey was basically surviving on her own without parents. That type of upbringing could make anyone a decent fighter. As for Rey's knowledge of the force, she seems totally inadequate in this movie, forcing Luke to start her training at square one.
DLPB
Tue, Dec 19, 2017, 7:02pm (UTC -6)
It's a cash grab. Garbage. And I don't need to watch it to know it. Any amount of decent research can tell you it.
msw188
Tue, Dec 19, 2017, 7:31pm (UTC -6)
To Jason R:
Yeah I guess it's just a matter of perception in the end. I never saw Phasma as 'played up' during the movie, mainly because in my opinion, she never did anything! As opposed to Boba Fett who was actually clever enough to catch on to Han. Similarly with Snoke, I never got the feeling that Epi7 was 'playing him up' either, although it seems at least half the internet disagrees with me.

On Rey's Force abilities, I understand the Epi7 criticisms here, but I don't buy them. I guess it's all a matter of where you draw the line on magic having rules. Like, okay, we've seen Jedi in the past require training. But wait, have we really? Luke has the session with the ball, but even then Ben doesn't 'teach' him how to do it, just says to believe and then he can do it. He gets to the trench, Vader knows Luke's got the Force rolling with him, but Ben certainly never 'taught' him how to channel the Force while flying. It just happens. No one 'teaches' him how to call the lightsaber to himself in the ice cave. When we get to Yoda, there's a tangible sense that Luke's training is about belief more than 'how'. So what are the rules on begin good at using the Force?

HOWEVER it is certainly true that Luke needs help in believing. And maybe that's the reason some people don't like Rey - she doesn't need that help. She basically already wants to believe. And epi7 makes it out like, as soon as she starts believing in the stories, she can do them. And I was fine with this, and definitely did not expect some kind of 'explanation' for it. I don't think it contradicts any previous 'rules' of the Force. But I understand people disagreeing on this, especially if they took the Prequels' version of 'training' to heart (YUCK).

As for calling her a "Mary Sue", um I guess sort of? Like yeah, she doesn't have any serious flaws in Epi7. But I still think she has personality and spunk. And she selflessly tries her best to do the right thing most of the time (like Luke). Maybe most importantly, in my opinion the actress has charisma. All this is enough for me to enjoy her and root for her. It's infectious seeing how excited she gets at the thought that Han Solo will offer her a job. Like, after all the bullshit thus far, that's the most exciting thing for her! A job!
msw188
Tue, Dec 19, 2017, 7:41pm (UTC -6)
Sorry for the double post, just wanted to add:
What about Leia? Nobody 'teaches' her about the Force in Epi4/5/6, but no one questions it when she's able to feel Luke calling out to her. More than that, she knows roughly where to go. I'm going to claim that that moment in Epi5 is awesome. It's just so cool to me that she didn't need Ben Kenobi, she didn't need Yoda, fuck it when the time comes, it just happens. She can find Luke. Rey is that concept taken to the next level. But I can understand people who feel that Rey takes it too far. I'm just not one of those people. Maybe it helps that, like with Leia, I get the sense in Epi7 that she never grasps precisely what she has done. She's still missing "control, control, you must learn control!" At least I manage to get that out of it - the scene with the stormtrooper kinda contradicts this I know.
Jason R.
Wed, Dec 20, 2017, 6:44am (UTC -6)
Msw I get it - it's about where you draw the line. For me being instinctively drawn to your twin brother who calls out to you isn't the same as expertly dueling and defeating a dark jedi in a lightsaber duel, performing jedi mind tricks or repairing starships.

My main beef with Rey isn't purely that she's a perfect character in TFA, but that she needs no help from anyone and pretty well carries the story single handedly rendering all other characters superfluous.

That is really the cardinal sin of TFA more than any concerns about the plausibleness of Rey's technical abilities. If there is going to be just one character in the story who matters (excluding the villain, Kylo Ren) why bother with anyone else? What is the point of Finn in TFA? He contributes nothing to the story!

I gather that Finn is as useless as ever in TLJ.
Dylan
Wed, Dec 20, 2017, 8:16am (UTC -6)
When you read these comments do you feel more like Rey Skywalker or Kylo Vader is writing these posts?

The view from the top of the mountain is the same, although how you enjoy the journey is up to you.

This movie was fascinating. Many moments to ponder. Also the comments made me appreciate the SW movies richness even more.

The journey of a jedi and terran is an arduous one although with a band of friends who appreciate the way every day is filled with light of many suns.

May the force be with you!


Tornado
Wed, Dec 20, 2017, 8:56am (UTC -6)
One thing that's bothering me that I haven't seen discussed elsewhere: I'm not buying Finn's character. For someone raised from childhood to be a killing machine, he seems remarkably well-adjusted -- charming, even. Given his background, it seems like he should have at least a touch of the awkwardness exhibited by, say, Seven of Nine after her liberation from the Borg. Not to that extent of course given that assimilation is much more invasive -- but at least *something* to suggest that he's not some normal guy who had a normal life before joining the Resistance.
msw188
Wed, Dec 20, 2017, 1:10pm (UTC -6)
To Jason R:
The only other thing I'll say about Rey's abilities is, I never saw Kylo as some kind of expert dark Jedi. I think Epi7 paints him as a spoiled brat who has the Force and is surrounded by people that don't. And he's insecure to boot. And of course, he's got the injury during the Finn and Rey duels. But yeah, it doesn't matter that much. A person will draw the line wherever.

As to Rey "carrying" the story... yeah she does. She is the main character for sure. But I don't think the secondary characters are useless. Might be another perception thing, I'm not sure. Early on, she and Finn have to work together (pilot plus shooter in the Falcon) to escape. It's Finn's idea to use the poisonous gas - okay this ends up being unnecessary, but I think it shows early that he works as a useful sidekick. I'll agree he's useless in that awful Rolly-monster sequence.

In the second half of the movie, I don't know. It's easy to say, Rey resisted Kylo on her own, she escaped the room on her own, and was hiding just fine, etc. On the other hand, one could say that Rey was stuck on the base until Finn and Han show up. Furthermore, unlike Luke in Epi4, Rey has almost nothing to do with blowing up the planet. Finn is the one who singles out Phasma to lower the shields (perhaps comparable to Kenobi disabling the tractor beam), Han's the one setting the explosives, and Poe is the one shooting the stuff. But I'll agree that all of this stuff is secondary to Rey besting Kylo. But hey, that's what they are. Secondary characters.

That was all about plot. As far as character, Finn's a bit of a blank slate. Not super compelling. And Poe is a bit of a caricature, also not super compelling. Compared to, say, Ben and Han and Leia in Epi4, they fall flat for sure. I'd say Epi8 does slightly more Finn, and a bit more with Poe, but still not anything great. In any case, both characters feel more 'fun' than interesting, per se. But at the very least, I think they both feel human, with genuine feelings and emotions. This is better than the Prequels (which yeah I know, isn't really saying a whole lot).

To Tornado:
A friend of mine brought this up in connection with Finn's reaction to Rose's kiss. But I kinda wasn't buying it. I think you're right - Finn is portrayed as just a normal dude. It doesn't bother me personally all that much, maybe because we never really see how any other storm trooper acts. I'm also not sure if they're conditioned to be 'killing machines', or just obedient (after all, they're notoriously bad at killing if a character has a name). But mostly I think this is a case where the 'fun' factor is more important than the 'logic' factor. Happens throughout movies, and again it's where you draw your own line I guess. For me, this is overlookable.
Yanks
Wed, Dec 20, 2017, 3:48pm (UTC -6)
@ Tempeh
Tue, Dec 19, 2017, 4:20pm (UTC -6)
Yanks:
""I'm not sure I like the CG Leia. I just felt weird watching it. Especially when she didn't die during the movie. Anyone else feel funny watcher her throughout the movie?"

You do realize that that it was a real person, not CG, right?"

I was not aware that all the filming was competed before she passed.

Some pretty horrible makeup then. She looked terrible.
Obi-Two Kenobi
Wed, Dec 20, 2017, 8:27pm (UTC -6)
Carrie Fisher, rest her soul, was 60 and had been fighting opiate addiction for decades. There’s really only so much make-up can do.
Jericho Drakane
Wed, Dec 20, 2017, 9:02pm (UTC -6)
For me, this movie was definitely better than TFA for a variety of reasons. Yes, it wasn't perfect, and I don't think it lives up to the originals (my theater showed scenes from the original trilogy before starting the show). However, it had its own identity and took risks, which I don't think that TFA did.

For me, the two strongest parts of this film were Luke and Kylo Ren (despite Ren's stupid lightsaber).

For Luke, I enjoyed seeing his new capacity as a teacher, and the talk with Yoda was great. R2D2 was somewhat underutilized, but I really liked the callback to A New Hope with playing the old video for Luke to watch. Luke's final scene with the confrontation with Ren was just epic (WITHOUT resorting to a massive lightsaber duel, no less).

Previously, I really didn't enjoy the whiny Ren in TFA. He never felt like a threat from the moment he took off his helmet. The development he got in this film felt like it game him something that set him apart from being Just Another Sith Dude. His almost nihilistic attitude in wanting to "kill the past" gives him something like a core belief build a proper villain character around for the next movie.

To a lesser extent, I like that Rey seems to be going in a more Grey Jedi route here, and I hope that it holds true for the future. Changing the dynamic for this trilogy from Light vs Dark to something else, like Balance vs Nothing (or what have you) could help establish these movies as being truly different from the originals.

Negatives? Sure. I think Snoke was underplayed for what he was supposed to be, and I'd like to see more information about him come up later. Also, this movie managed to take from both Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi at the same time, and here's hoping that they've run out of material to copy from (please don't start stealing ideas from the prequels).
Joseph B
Thu, Dec 21, 2017, 10:59am (UTC -6)
I didn’t love this movie, but I did enjoy it.

The main problem for me — as others have already stated here — was the whole “casino” sublot which ultimately only truly connected with the last scene in the movie. Was it important? Yes — As an indication that the Jedi will continue as evidenced by the last scene. Could it have been done more expeditiously? Most defenitely!

I did enjoy just about averything involving Luke (well, perhaps not the “milk” scene); and the Rey/Kylo/Snoak stuff was all awesome. The movie had humor/pathos/action *and* surprises; and served to expand the Star Wars mythos.

It gets three-and-a-half stars from me, and slots in equal with TFA, but still well below ANH and ESB.

Can’t wait to see it again, though!
Peter G.
Thu, Dec 21, 2017, 2:47pm (UTC -6)
@ msw188,

"HOWEVER it is certainly true that Luke needs help in believing. And maybe that's the reason some people don't like Rey - she doesn't need that help. She basically already wants to believe. And epi7 makes it out like, as soon as she starts believing in the stories, she can do them. And I was fine with this, and definitely did not expect some kind of 'explanation' for it. I don't think it contradicts any previous 'rules' of the Force. But I understand people disagreeing on this, especially if they took the Prequels' version of 'training' to heart (YUCK)."

So what you're saying is that Ep 7 & 8 are basically reboots because they seem to be contradicting the 'yuck' canon established in the prequels? I don't have a problem with these movies being treated as reboots since I basically think they are, both in terms of rebooting plot lines as well as in-universe setting and logic points. The only downside of that premise is that it would mean the producers lied in order to trick people into coming to see sequels. And if they didn't lie then it means they trashed continuity, so either way there a serious objection in there. A young Jedi requiring no training to be an awesome duelist/pilot/anything not only goes against canon but in fact goes against the spirit of SW in general, which is that it takes hard work and perseverance (and yes, training) to become better-tuned into life around us and to connect to reality. It's all structured on a basic yoga-type system, and believe me these systems are built on the idea of countless hours of training and learning. You don't just end up a lightsaber duelist because you "believe" or because you grew up on a scrappy planet. That could make you good molding material but then you have to be formed. Even Mozart needed music lessons. The entire Vader arc is specifically about how training him was a risk because training him would make him dangerous should he choose the wrong path. His choice is why he became Vader rather than Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Master, but his training is why he was dangerous in the first place.

Yes, Luke had trouble believing, and that was his character arc. But Ep IV didn't dwell on exactly what Obi-Wan taught him, the story didn't have time for that. We're also later led to realize that Obi-Wan could appear to him any time, which suggests that he was receiving regular training from a force ghost. That's speculative, but since we don't see Luke even pick up a lightsaber for practice ever (like we see Rey do here) it seems unavoidable to conclude that he did so off-camera and that the story isn't about that. Even in Ep VI we see that Luke's struggle isn't so much whether he can best Vader in combat but whether he'll resort to the dark side to do so, which he does. The actual skill isn't the point. But with Rey and Kylo in Ep 7 the skill is all there is to see because she doesn't go through any change during or after the fight; there's nothing for us to learn about her there other than the fact that she's a badass with a sword for some reason. Even the choice of whether to finish him was removed by deus ex machina. And I'll parenthetically mention also that Rey regularly exhibits borderline histrionic behavior including anger, despair, and other emotions that would mostly be categorized as dark side force use the way we're being shown it. But there's no focus in the script on *what kind of person* she is in the story, or even whether she has choices to make on that score. The only thing we get is the fact that she can defeat anyone (even Snoke) and accomplish anything. She doesn't even seem to care about her own progress, barely raising an eyebrow at the crazy things she accomplishes. You can categorize that as "she has faith" if you like, but to me that's just another way of saying that the writers don't give a darn about things like personal quest (a la Joseph Campbell) and instead want her to be maximally marketable as a female action hero who can do anything. That's fine and dandy for some other film, but in Star Wars we're supposed to be learning that 'wars not make one great.' When the producers feel that they do then this is what we get.
NCC-1701-Z
Thu, Dec 21, 2017, 3:19pm (UTC -6)
Somewhere in the Star Trek universe, Shinzon is watching the Resistance leadership make one incompetent move after another and going "These morons can't strategize their way out of a paper bag."

Sadly, Poe got downgraded from badass to freaking imbecile.

And for Snoke to go out like that after all the buildup in TFA...what a disappointment. Same with Phasma.
warp10lizard
Thu, Dec 21, 2017, 3:42pm (UTC -6)
@NCC-1701-Z

'Somewhere in the Star Trek universe, Shinzon is watching the Resistance leadership make one incompetent move after another and going "These morons can't strategize their way out of a paper bag."'

Are you implying that Shinzon survived, traveled back in time and traveled to a galaxy far, far away to watch the events of this movie? I mean Q I could believe, but...
John W
Thu, Dec 21, 2017, 5:36pm (UTC -6)
When I came out of the theater, my initial thought was "I liked it, but I need to process it" By the end of the night, the movie was already falling in my estimation.

If you described the events of the movie to myself, I'd be the first to admit that it sounds great...in theory.

A slow burn of a pursuit by the First Order against the last remaining Resistance ships? It sounds tense and ripe with drama. Something like nu-BSG's '33'

Alas, on screen, it's a dull slog to the point of being borderline comedic, complete with a side quest right out on a RPG. "Go find the codebreaker, return to the fleet, board the enemy vessel, and disable the tracker! You have 18 hours!"

That's the movie in a nutshell. I liked the ideas, I liked the concepts, but the execution was wanting.
msw188
Thu, Dec 21, 2017, 6:33pm (UTC -6)
To Peter G.
Yeah see, some things I just can't agree with:

"We're also later led to realize that Obi-Wan could appear to him any time, which suggests that he was receiving regular training from a force ghost. That's speculative, but since we don't see Luke even pick up a lightsaber for practice ever (like we see Rey do here) it seems unavoidable to conclude that he did so off-camera and that the story isn't about that."
I never got the feeling that Luke saw ghost-Obiwan pretty much ever, besides what we see onscreen. I also never got the feeling that Luke got extra practice with anything offscreen during Epi4. Between Epi4 and Epi5, maybe a little bit?

"it takes hard work and perseverance (and yes, training) to become better-tuned into life around us and to connect to reality."
Well, I half-agree with this. I get the sense from Luke's time with Yoda that it is the balance, control, and "connecting to reality" that is the difficult thing that takes perseverance and training to master. But I don't see why the same has to be true for flying/combat abilities. Epi4 Luke's already good enough to fly an X-Wing and channel the Force - beats Vader with Han's help. Epi7 Rey's already good enough to wield a lightsaber and channel the Force - beats Kylo with the Chewie's help (shot injured Kylo).

"You don't just end up a lightsaber duelist because you "believe" or because you grew up on a scrappy planet."
So what makes Epi4 Luke a 'better' pilot than the other rebels, to the point where he can make it through the trench and aim without his computer?

"But with Rey and Kylo in Ep 7 the skill is all there is to see because she doesn't go through any change during or after the fight"
This is the real problem. It's not really about whether Rey is good at using a lightsaber or not, and whether or not that somehow makes more or less sense than Luke being good in an Xwing. It's about whether or not you find the Rey-Kylo duel as a natural conclusion to an arc, or you just see an already infallible character continuing to be infallible. I don't think either of us will convince the other.

The pro-Rey crowd (me) will claim that we do have an arc here, and that it's similar to Epi4 Luke's. Kid with shitty life is forced into grander tale, finds out he/she is special, and by the end proves it to himself/herself. Neither ever really 'failed' at all that much, but the arc is about overcoming larger and larger obstacles and believing in yourself more and more, until you learn to trust yourself completely and use your newfound badassery to beat the final challenge. For Luke, this is taking Ben's advice to turn off the computer; for Rey, this is seeing the lightsaber 'choose' her. There is still some challenge from each such point (actually finishing the trench, or actually fighting injured Kylo), but is it really in any doubt beyond that point what the outcome will be?

But is Rey's badassery really "newfound"? A key point for me is that Rey is continually surprised. She's surprised that her and Finn manage to escape Jakku, she's surprised that Han wants to offer her a job, she's surprised when the mind-trick works, and holy shit the actress nails the look when the lightsaber flies into her hand. So the character journey is one of self-discovery, which is a small kind of change when compared to the amazing Epi5/Epi6 duels, but I'm going to claim it's not that far off from Epi4 trench.

On the other hand, the anti-Rey crowd might claim that her 'surprise' that I'm praising is stupid - why is she surprised to succeed when she never fails? It's just an infallible Disney character winning all the time! Or they might claim that they never get a believable sense of surprise out of her, because the script doesn't focus on this. It's a surprise, oh okay we did it let's get moving escape now hug later etc. I mean, yeah maybe sort of. But how much does Epi4 Luke really fail at things? What is he bad at? Barfights, yeah. And look, I'm not going to claim that Epi7 is better than Epi4. There's lots of things Epi4 does better than 7, regardless of originality. But I still like Epi7 and I still like Rey a lot.
msw188
Thu, Dec 21, 2017, 6:49pm (UTC -6)
More:
I tried to work in some answers to some of your other points, but that whole post is already kinda disjointed and all kinds of long.

"I'll parenthetically mention also that Rey regularly exhibits borderline histrionic behavior including anger, despair, and other emotions that would mostly be categorized as dark side force use the way we're being shown it."
This is something I really found myself wishing that Epi8 focused on. Maybe would be too similar to Epi5 focusing on Luke's failings, but I think it would have been the more natural way to go. Because I agree with you - Epi7 Rey is young and emotional. She beats Kylo partly using hate, I'd say. Even though she has a 'good' reason to hate him, it's still a Dark Side kinda thing. I thought this was what Luke would focus on with her, but that it would be tough because he would have to admit that it was his hate that helped him beat Vader in Epi6. This seeming contradiction would lead Rey to question Luke, etc etc, hey let's write our own script for Epi8!

"In Star Wars we're supposed to be learning that 'wars not make one great.'"
Yeah I agree. Wasn't Rogue One pretty bad? But yeah, Epi7 doesn't have a lot to say on that score. Similarly to Epi4. Epi5 had a lot to say; Epi8 seems to be trying to say something new along these lines, but I'm not sure how successful it is. People who like Epi8 more than Epi7 can say Epi8 at least tries to say something new at all, while Epi7 doesn't have much new to say. And yeah, I agree with that to a large degree. But I think Epi7 says it's old things better than Epi8 says its new things, at least as of now.
J Fenzel
Fri, Dec 22, 2017, 8:43am (UTC -6)
Sounds like s lot of fans are upset because Rey isn't Luke, not his character type. For instance, I think Rey was genuinely tempted to join Kylo when he asked her, not because she is evil but because she wanted to belong and find her place after living on her own her whole life (it helped to confuse matters for her that Kylo had just killed the big bad guy and fought by her side). Conversely, Luke would never dream of joining Vader on the dark. His whole hope was to turn him. Rey is no Luke. And frankly I like that. Her story arc will be different, and I prefer that to a Luke-warm rehash of eps4-6.
msw188
Fri, Dec 22, 2017, 11:48am (UTC -6)
J Fenzel,
Yes, I very much liked the Rey-Kylo ideas in Epi8. I just wish that this was used as the climax of the movie, rather than Luke-Kylo + Rey can lift rocks.

I will probably watch Epi8 again in a few days, and I'm looking forward to it. Maybe now that the dumb humor won't catch me off guard as much, I can sink my teeth more into some of the movie's ideas.
Skarfles
Sat, Dec 23, 2017, 2:11pm (UTC -6)
@Chrome

'....it's revealed in this movie that Kylo Ren was holding back on Rey at their first encounter'

He never says that. Not sure where you got that from. And it sure seems like he was trying his damnedest to kill her in TFA. I didn't see any holding back.


@Peter G.

'Even Mozart needed music lessons.'

Not really. He was playing minuets at four and writing his own pieces when he was four or five. I'm not sure he needed any lessons. :) He did have some, but I'm sure he would have figured it out on his own without help. Give him an instrument, with no lessons, and he would still have been remarkable. Same with Rey. Give her a lightsaber, and who knows?

It may sound like I'm defending Rey having incredible abilities with little teaching and in a way I am, but I do agree that she was too powerful too soon.


I think this movie, and TFW before it, both suffer from one major flaw. Not enough politics. I mean in-universe politics. The original trilogy (4-6) had enough to set up the whole scenario and to let you follow people's motivations. The prequel trilogy (1-3) had (I think) more than enough, but at least it provided reasons for people to do things. In 7 and 8, it just seems like good guys vs. bad guys, with no real backstory of why this is happening.

For instance, why is Snoke in charge? More basically, who the hell is he? How did the First Order come into power? Was it because of a corrupt government or a military coup or beings from another part of the galaxy or what? How did Ren become such a powerful figure? The Resistance is fighting them. Why? It's not really made all that clear. The Resistance is good, the First Order is bad. That's pretty much all we know. Unless I'm missing something. And I'm sure someone will let me know if I am. :)

And the setup and main driving force behind this whole movie is based on a ridiculous idea. That a fleet of First Order warships can't destroy one Resistance ship, because they are too fast. That's idiotic. They could have brought in a hundred more ships and set them right next to the Resistance ship and destroyed it in about 10 seconds. Or maybe send a TIE interceptor smashing into it at lightspeed. :P

There are lots of plot-holes and nonsense in this movie, but I still liked it better than TFW. I thought Adam Driver/Kylo Ren was much more interesting in this movie. And they are just as much about him as they are about Rey. If not more so.

2 1/2 stars.
Skarfles
Sat, Dec 23, 2017, 2:14pm (UTC -6)
I don't know why I kept saying TFW for The Force Awakens in my last post. Obviously I meant TFA. LOL. I'm sort of tired, and not quite wwake, I mean awake.
Chrome
Sat, Dec 23, 2017, 4:35pm (UTC -6)
“He never says that. Not sure where you got that from. And it sure seems like he was trying his damnedest to kill her in TFA. I didn't see any holding back.”

I know it seems like Kylo was using his full powers, but if we take Snoke’s statement at face value, then Kylo wasn’t doing his best against Rey. In this movie, Kylo and Rey seem at least evenly matched, as shown by them ripping apart the same lightsaber using their powers.
Skarfles
Sat, Dec 23, 2017, 5:20pm (UTC -6)
What statement? All I saw was him telling Kylo that he was beaten by a girl who had never held a lightsaber. Nothing about anyone holding back.

I'm not saying you're wrong necessarily, but I don't remember anything saying Ren wasn't trying. I'm not trying to be a jerk, but if what you say is true, that changes the whole tenor of the first two films. So more proof is needed. :)

Anyone else know? I think it would almost be better if he had held back to try and convert Rey later. I just didn't see it myself.
msw188
Sat, Dec 23, 2017, 11:19pm (UTC -6)
Skarfles:
Even though I disagree about some of your specific examples, I agree on the whole - there is not enough political backstory in Epi7. I don't care why Snoke is in charge any more than I cared why the Emperor was in charge, but I do consider it a pretty serious flaw that, when the First Order blows up a bunch of planets, I have no clue what planets they were or why it matters. That whole sequence, with Huxy giving his silly hate-speech and them firing, and then even down to Finn being like "the First Order did it!" and somehow not immediately deciding to run away even faster, this is probably the worst few scenes in Epi7 for me. When I rewatched to get excited about Epi8, that was the point where I stepped away to get a bowl of ice cream. Luckily, the ice cream was delicious.
J Fenzel
Sun, Dec 24, 2017, 3:59pm (UTC -6)
Agree that TFA and more so TLJ lack political explanation as to why the First Order is bad and for that matter why the Resistance (rebellion) is good. We accept it because Luke and Leia were always on the good side, but if they were not present the movie does a poor job showing why the Resistance is happening. It's so missing one could arguably fill the void with a plausible back story in which the First Order is benevolent government trying to provide a peaceful, secure existence for its citizens, but always under threat of attack from a zealous group of religious fanatics (Jedi) whose mystic teachings tell them the First Order is evil. The only people we are presented with as bad guys, and shown reasons for their badnes, are the arms dealers and war profiteers. If you think about it that kind of implies moral parity between the First Order and Rebels. "Today they blow you up. Tomorrow you blow them up."
Brian
Sun, Dec 24, 2017, 11:12pm (UTC -6)
Star Wars taken over by corporate conglomerate and a procession of amateur "filmmakers" proceed to bumble and fumble their way through two useless movies. It sounds so cliche when written out like that but it's exactly what we have.
It's like when some Chinese company decides to reverse engineer a piece of American or German engineering and, sure, they come up with something that looks similar and even functions on a limited basis, but it quits working and falls apart within a week. That's what TFA and TLJ are. A bad copy that only looks real from a few feet away. I could write 10 pages outlining exactly what went wrong but to be honest, but I like how a poster here put it--there is no magic. The look on Obiwan's face when Luke said the name he'd not heard in years--that moment when something CLICKED in your mind and Lucas had you hooked. It's just not here.
Don't waste your money, or time.
Go watch the originals again. Watch the prequels. Watch Rogue One. Watch Star Wars Rebels. Read the Thrawn trilogy again. Do whatever you have to do to get your Star Wars fix. Cross your fingers and pray that some of the spin-off movies build on the momentum of Rogue One (which while not perfect, puts the main trilogy movies to shame).
Sid
Mon, Dec 25, 2017, 7:40am (UTC -6)
Saw TLJ Saturday. I was underwhelmed.

TFA was the safe movie to make. Essentially ANH remade. TLJ has the spectacle but once again the First Order are about as competent as bag of wet noodles. You've got a few hundred people to wipe out and yet they can't get in range. They've got a massive army, high tech, cleanly pressed uniforms... yet still. These ships only have two speeds. Slow and light speed.

Snoke is just another villain who's ugly/scarred and uninteresting. The bad guys have to wear black, and have a scar at the very least. Okay.

The battle at the end looked great, but again... if the cannon beam can punch through a huge wall why in the hell would you fly a ship that's coming apart right into the beam? You wouldn't last a second. You'd just be wasting another ship. (Wait, isn't this planet supposed to be hidden and heavily armed? Hmm)

Are the producers flipping the romantic possibilities for the next film? Rose kisses Finn. Rey has to see Ren with his shirt off. Poe introduces himself to Rey at the end of the film.

Luke - the promise at the end of TFA was thrown out, literally, at the beginning of TLJ. I almost wish they had found him at the end of this film so that he could come back in Ep9 and kick everybody's ass once and for all. Oh well.

People will say this film is not without its share of problems. I think that's an excuse. Whether it's a 'comic book' movie or a franchise tentpole or a small independent feature, basic storytelling is always in play. I'm not looking for perfect, but I am looking for a solid story that makes sense and TLJ for the most part doesn't.
Skarfles
Tue, Dec 26, 2017, 5:10pm (UTC -6)
@J Fenzel

'It's so missing one could arguably fill the void with a plausible back story in which the First Order is benevolent government trying to provide a peaceful, secure existence for its citizens, but always under threat of attack from a zealous group of religious fanatics (Jedi) whose mystic teachings tell them the First Order is evil.'

That is pretty much my whole point right there. I couldn't tell who was good or bad (though obviously I knew who was who). If had seen this movie without any knowledge of the previous films, I certainly wouldn't be able to tell who was bad or good. Neither of them do anything too terrible or all that nice either.

Some background would have helped a lot.
UBM
Wed, Dec 27, 2017, 4:29am (UTC -6)
Both TLJ and in retrospect TFA feel SO empty. You never see any people except the First Order and the Rebellion (exception: curiously isolated casino town and shaky-cam Maz Kanata). It feels like a stage play where they move painted backgrounds around. For me that removes all stakes. Who is the rebellion fighting for? Who is the first order conquering? Why should I care who wins or loses? No idea. I saw a screenshot from Episode I just this weekend - Palpatine and Anakin talking, against the backdrop of a city, ships in the sky. I'm no fan of the prequels, but I felt that screenshot summarized pretty well what's wrong with TFA and TLJ.
TFA had the scavenger planet and some more scenes, but one of the worst decisions - in my opinion - in that movie was to cut the scene at the capital planet. I felt nothing when the planets were destroyed. Who lives there? No idea, we're ony told. Violates basic "show, don't tell".
The only thing TLJ has going for it in my opionion is diversity, but it turns out that alone is not enough for me.
Rogue One, for all its problems, did much better in that department, in my opinion.

Aside rant: Really? You take away one thing from Zahn's book and it's Dreadnaughts?
Obi-Two Kenobi
Wed, Dec 27, 2017, 10:44am (UTC -6)
"If had seen this movie without any knowledge of the previous films, I certainly wouldn't be able to tell who was bad or good."

Oh really, the black-costumed caped guy wouldn't give it away for you? Seriously, this isn't rocket science, folks.
NCC-1701-Z
Fri, Dec 29, 2017, 8:14am (UTC -6)
Star Wars VII - The Force Awakens
Star Wars VIII - The Last Jedi
Star Wars IX - Who Hits the Snooze Button and Goes Back to Sleep
The Ubiquitous
Fri, Dec 29, 2017, 10:04am (UTC -6)
The Last Jedi is all over the darn place. The art design is striking, the cinematography is great, and some of the decisions are interesting. Unfortunately, the tone is uneven and the themes are lumpy. With two exceptions, characters mostly do things because the script tells them to, and not because it makes sense for them to do it. There is one really good character relationship that is satisfyingly thought through---Kylo/Rey---but something in the execution is off. It's pretty badly edited, and the story is misconceived.

It isn't really that bad. If it were a Trek movie, it would be The Search for Spock with the first three scenes of The Voyage Home tacked on for good measure.

What I disliked the most was how it deliberately subverts expectations to its detriment. Where it sets up, it invariably has a reverse payoff. Things are edited together to make you draw a conclusion, and then for no reason but to subvert your expectation the opposite happens.

To some extent, movies like this should be predictable. You should be able to watch it carefully, with an eye for detail and directorial/editing decisions, and figure what kind of things might happen. As Mr. Plinkett said, "You're not making The Usual Suspects."
Trent
Fri, Dec 29, 2017, 10:17am (UTC -6)
Star Wars is just fundamentally silly. This is the third trilogy now about a kid who, because of bad parenting and bad influences, becomes a dorky, mass murdering, black wearing, super villain who wants to conquer the universe and can only be stopped by "the light side". This might have been fresh in Lucas' original trilogy, but not anymore. It's all silly.
Chrome
Fri, Dec 29, 2017, 11:43pm (UTC -6)
“This is the third trilogy now about a kid who, because of bad parenting and bad influences, becomes a dorky, mass murdering, black wearing, super villain who wants to conquer the universe and can only be stopped by ‘the light side’.”

The original trilogy wasn’t about that at all, though. It was mostly about Luke becoming a Jedi and reuniting with his father.
msw188
Sat, Dec 30, 2017, 10:34am (UTC -6)
So I watched Epi8 again yesterday, and I'm happy to say it felt better on a second watch. It still has all the problems, sure, but somehow the silly humor is more overlookable when it's no longer unpleasantly surprising you. The early stuff with Luke, which i was slightly iffy on the first time through, came off better for whatever reason. I still wish the movie was arranged so that the climax was more about Rey, but maybe knowing that that wouldn't be the case allowed me to get more into the actual climax of the film.

So yeah, I still stand by all of my earlier complaints, but I ended up taking in the positives more on the second pass - great Yoda, conflicted Luke, Rey genuinely in search of belonging, Kylo desperate to be able to 'let go'. And as I think everyone agrees, great visuals.
R.
Sat, Dec 30, 2017, 4:15pm (UTC -6)
Just saw this and it wasn't quite as bad as I expected, though I didn't particularly care for it. It had more soul than the generally soulless 'Rogue One' but lacked the goofy charm of 'The Force Awakens'. I echo some of the above sentiment that 'Star Wars' has been Disney-fied and had whatever quality that made it unique paved over in favour of marketable assets.

One thing that really unnerves me about this new iteration of the franchise is that I have no desire to watch the new films again. I could watch the original trilogy and the prequels (yes, even 'The Phantom Menace') again without issue but I physically couldn't make myself watch 'Rogue One' again. It's a rather sad indicator of the lasting impact of these sequels. :/
J Fenzel
Sat, Dec 30, 2017, 7:44pm (UTC -6)
I think one problem we original trilogy fans have with the new movies is that we are not watching them as impressionable, adolescents. We're somewhat jaded adults now and no film can capture our imagination like the first time we saw Star Wars. The Disney-era films have all been really good I think, but none of them impacted me like SW did when I was 11 years old. Yeah, we can pick apart Last Jedi, but if we're honest we can pick apart the original trilogy too. Don't even get me started on the Ewoks, or the first 3rd of Return of the Jedi being a campy waste of time. Time will improve the new trilogy, just like it did Empire Strikes Back, which when it came out was considered a disappointment by a lot of people. But I will say that several moments in Last Jedi hit me with emotional resonance (The throne room scene, seeing the Falcon's silhouette on Crait's salty terrain), and that is a feat not too many films can achieve.
Geekgarious
Sat, Dec 30, 2017, 9:53pm (UTC -6)
A key ingredient which Lucas brought to the table and is missing from these films is the worldbuilding. The prequels, for all their problems, managed to make the galaxy feel bigger. The Disney-era films are doing the opposite, which isn’t helped by the fact that the Resistance and First Order basically feel like the Rebellion and Empire all over again. In The Last Jedi, Johnson throws a lot of curveballs at the audience by not doing what is expected. That’s nifty but becomes kind of gimmicky the third or fourth time it happens.
SlackerInc
Sat, Dec 30, 2017, 10:05pm (UTC -6)
I wholeheartedly cosign Trent’s 12/16 comment. Mostly it’s just corporate assembly line sludge, trading on nostalgia. Feh.
R.
Sun, Dec 31, 2017, 4:05am (UTC -6)
Are these films actually aimed at adolescents, though? The audience when I went to see it was composed primarily of children around the ten to twelve mark (who were suitably enamoured of those little bird-penguin things on Luke's island) and men in their late twenties/early thirties who probably grew up watching the original trilogy (who were salivating over the space battles and lightsaber action). A fairly generous audience when all is said and done. I feel like adolescents might be too wise to the oh-so-clever self-referential dialogue and the overplayed plot twists?
Objective Otter
Sun, Dec 31, 2017, 1:56pm (UTC -6)
“Mostly it’s just corporate assembly line sludge”

What exactly does this even mean? About 95% of American films have corporate involvement in some way or another. Talented writers and actors have huge pricetags which pretty much require the backing of a big company and studio. If you can’t be bothered with any specific examples to back up your critique, then you’re just coming off as biased and unintellectual.
Joseph B
Sun, Dec 31, 2017, 4:55pm (UTC -6)
Is Snoke still alive?

There are rumors out there that a deleted scene which may be included on the Blu-ray indicates that Snoke not only knew how to “Force project” his image, but that he was also concealing his true form! Rey and Ren may have seen what only what he wanted them to see.
J Fenzel
Sun, Dec 31, 2017, 8:15pm (UTC -6)
Objective Otter, agree.

Corporate does not necessarily = bad

As you say, producing quality films and widely distributing them takes big dollars. Corporate entities have them. And Disney has a good track record on good movie production.
The Ubiquitous
Mon, Jan 1, 2018, 2:56am (UTC -6)
If anything, The Last Jedi fails from having too much individual initiative, in this case on the part of Mr. Johnson. If VII played it safe because of corporate interest, VIII took risks that only someone with total creative control would---and it failed as a result. TLJ's main problems were in its worthless subversion of expectation and its failure of pacing. These are not problems associated with product-by-committee.

All you might blame Disney for would be TLJ's failed humor in which it breaks the tone of a scene by undercutting something serious with a bad joke. (This was also a problem with GotG 2.) This problem is a lot less serious than its incoherent plot and lopsided pacing.
John Harmon
Tue, Jan 2, 2018, 7:47am (UTC -6)
"What exactly does this even mean? About 95% of American films have corporate involvement in some way or another."

@Objective Otter it means these Disney movies feel like they were made by committee and lack magic. The original and prequel trilogies lacked huge corporate influence. The original Star Wars was an indie movie with a big distributor.

Lucas made a good deal with that first movie so retained his creative control for the other two. And was so rich by the prequel trilogy that he was able to make those even more his singular vision.
John Harmon
Tue, Jan 2, 2018, 7:50am (UTC -6)
Remember, subverting expectations is all that matters. Even if it causes your narrative to fall flat or makes no sense. The only thing that matters is subverting expectations. That automatically makes it good
Del_duio
Tue, Jan 2, 2018, 11:13am (UTC -6)
Saw it the other day finally. Overall, I'd say I liked it but I have to see it again for it to sink in better.

Quick thoughts:

Seemed like Rey wasn't in it that much compared to Ep. 7. I'm not one of those "SHE IZ A GURL A MARY SUE IT SUX!" people and liked the character from the other movie and Ridley does a good job.

Kylo is a lot better in this movie. The dude did a great job acting, loved it. Those mind meld conversations with Rey were pretty interesting IMO. I also thought that when he turned and killed Snoke he was going to become a good guy for real but I do like how they've set him up for the next movie.

That little kid at the end w/ the broomsaber- Perhaps he'll be older and star in the next one against a more experienced Kylo Ren who now has firm command of the Order??

Finn/ Whatsherface romance: Trash

The casino planet was a waste of scenes. Nothing here did anything for me except from maybe BB-8 pelting fuckers with coins lol.

I WISHED they would've had force ghost Yoda in this movie and when he appeared I was all YEEEEEAAAAAHHH!!!! I also like how they kept him in character from the OT and not like how they had him act in the prequels. He looked a lot more 'puppet like' in this, and that's not supposed to be an insult by any means.

Luke and R2-D2? Fucking awesome, loved it. I loved all the little scenes where Luke revisted his old pals and the Falcon. His wink to C3PO and 3PO's "Master Luke..." Awesome. The golden dice and all of that, just awesome.

I wanted Luke to come out a storming badass, and instead was surprised at what they did with him. Luke about to kill a youngling?? Damn that was a pretty big shock, I'm glad Kylo made it seem worse than it actually was. I guess it was cool but it was so far off from everything they'd already established with his character in the OT. I did like the supreme Jedi mind trick at the end but god dammit they're killing everybody off!

When the admiral w/ the purple hair went to lightspeed into the Dreadnaught or whatever it was. That scene looked spectacular. The choice to not use an exploding sound was a great one, it gave the whole thing a lot more impact. If Lucas has his way I'm sure he'll go back and make the ship go "NOOOOOOOOooooooo!!!!!" so keep his ass far far away from this thing.

Flying Leia... I didn't like it. It looked like magic and nobody ever says "Hey wow that was sort of weird wasn't it?" If they had kept it where she croaked out in the cold of space it would've been better I think.

Poe Dameron. YES! Yes finally they give this guy some shit to do and I thought all of his scenes were awesome! Maybe in the next movie they can give Poe, Rey, AND Finn enough to do instead of just some of them.

Chewie and the fried chicken thing in front of the non-fried chicken thing: HAHAHAHAH!! Basically the only joke that worked for me. That whole "Can you hear me now?!" joke at the beginning was terrible. I think if you're going to use humor in Star Wars, have the droids do it as that seems to work better.
Peter G.
Tue, Jan 2, 2018, 11:45am (UTC -6)
@ msw188,

Sorry for the late reply, I didn't keep track of this thread for a bit:

"The pro-Rey crowd (me) will claim that we do have an arc here, and that it's similar to Epi4 Luke's. Kid with shitty life is forced into grander tale, finds out he/she is special, and by the end proves it to himself/herself. ***Neither ever really 'failed' at all that much, but the arc is about overcoming larger and larger obstacles and believing in yourself more and more, until you learn to trust yourself completely and use your newfound badassery to beat the final challenge.*** For Luke, this is taking Ben's advice to turn off the computer; for Rey, this is seeing the lightsaber 'choose' her. There is still some challenge from each such point (actually finishing the trench, or actually fighting injured Kylo), but is it really in any doubt beyond that point what the outcome will be?"

I put stars around the section I'd like to discuss because it's at the core of what I'm getting at about the new trilogy. What you describe is *exactly* what is going on with TFA and TLJ. It's about a girl who doesn't know her potential yet and has to grow as a force user to overcome larger and larger obstacles. In short, it's the prototypical hero journey like a simple RPG with level-ups and all. She gains levels until she can beat the boss. At least, that's the arc they're playing out so far.

But what you describe is exactly *the opposite* of the character arc shown in Ep 4-6. Luke's arc is about a guy with enormous potential and is initially told about this uber-terrible evil Empire and how destroying it is the end-all of good things to do. He dreamt of being a rebel even before the movie starts. In Ep 4, yes, he begins the hero's journey to beat the bad guys and learns to harness his power for the first time. However here's one divergence already: he doesn't, and *can't*, do it alone. Not only does Luke not, as you suggest, never fail at anything, on the contrary: he's mostly shown to be a loser. He's stuck on the farm with no life, doesn't have the success his friends have had at the Imperial Academy (where, btw, he dreamt of joining!!) and the one thing in his life he can brag about is sharpshooting rodents on Tatooine in a speeder. Even in the Death Star Luke doesn't just 'win' by himself and in fact Obi-Wan is mostly responsible for whatever they did achieve there. The business of the princess escaping was permitted only by Vader, not accomplished by Luke and Han. The only one thing in Ep 4 Luke actually does accomplish is in the trench, and even then it's with Han's backup. So much for Luke as a Mary Sue equivalent of Rey.

But then look at Ep 5-6: Yoda's entire view of life is inherently opposed to the idea that a hero's journey is to overcome larger and larger obstacles, to 'beat the bad guy.' There is no end to how deeply we can learn from "wars not make one great"! It's the cornerstone of the trilogy, a line designed to say it's not about power. Yes, Luke initially sees his quest as being about beating bigger and better bad guys, and Yoda chastises him for this way of always looking to the horizon at what he'll accomplish next. It's not about that! It's about the now, about being connected to reality, to others. The force isn't a weapon to wield with greater and greater accuracy, and that is exactly why Anakin fell. And look at Luke's arc in Ep 5: he fails at every single possible challenge there is. He fails in the cave, fails his training, fails at Cloud City, and loses to Vader. He still thinks the force is something to use to beat up the bad guys, and that's why he is a failure at this point.

In Ep6 we finally see the "return of the Jedi", but it doesn't happen when Luke finally has the baddassery to take down Vader. That is especially not when he becomes a Jedi. He becomes a Jedi when he sees the horror of what he's done to his father through brute force, with both of them now missing their right hand and each of them partly mechanical. That moment is horror at what he'd done is when he becomes a Jedi, when he realizes that being a better killer is the worst goal. The entire film arc is about how the hero's journey isn't at all about overcoming greater obstacles and defeating everyone: it's about overcoming *the self* and mastering one's darker impulses; to be at peace; to feel the flow of life; to use one's powers to give, never to attack. It's essentially an anti-heroic story about how trying to become a classical hero is the path to the dark side. So the initial set up of this 'evil' Empire is the shibboleth that Luke has to let go of. He has to stop seeing life as being about hating some overarching bad thing.

And so here we are, finally, watching a new trilogy whose message appears to be that being the biggest and baddest ass is the name of the game. It's like watching a video about happiness and the message they give is "happiness is working your way to the top of the company!" It's the most corporate sentiment possible, no wonder these films have no soul. How much do you want to bet that the finale in Ep 9 is precisely about blowing up those terrible Space Nazis and how Good will always triumph because Evil is dumb?
Dom
Tue, Jan 2, 2018, 3:06pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G., thank you for putting into words my thoughts on the Rey-Luke comparison. You nailed it. Luke is one of my favorite film characters precisely because of the way he learns and grows over the course of the OT. Luke isn't a super hero, he's a hero who reaches a moral awakening. I like Rey quite a bit, but her story is more that of a conventional superhero.
SlackerInc
Tue, Jan 2, 2018, 6:02pm (UTC -6)
@ObjectiveOtter: "What exactly does this even mean? About 95% of American films have corporate involvement in some way or another. Talented writers and actors have huge pricetags which pretty much require the backing of a big company and studio. If you can’t be bothered with any specific examples to back up your critique, then you’re just coming off as biased and unintellectual."

I'm certainly not saying corporate interference is limited to this movie, or even a recent phenomenon (it destroyed Orson Welles's masterpiece "The Magnificent Ambersons" for instance). But for non-"tentpole" films, there is a little more leeway for the creators to just try to make something good, without it being test-marketed to death and made into a paint-by-numbers product.

To give you an idea of my taste in cinema, here are my top 50 movies released in the 2010s:

http://www.flickchart.com/Charts.aspx?decade=2010&user=SlackerInc&perpage=50

There are a few fairly big budget studio films in there: "The Avengers", "The Martian", "Deadpool", "Passengers", "Prometheus", "Blade Runner 2049", "The Amazing Spider-Man", "Spider-Man: Homecoming", "Rogue One", "X-Men: Days of Future Past". But 40 of the 50 cannot reasonably be called "corporate" at all; and those 10 just come across to me as far less formulaic, derivative, or designed-by-committee than either "Last Jedi" or "Force Awakens". (And note that the presence of "Rogue One" on that list proves that I don't just reflexively dismiss recent Star Wars films without giving them a chance.)

@TheUbiquitous: "If anything, The Last Jedi fails from having too much individual initiative, in this case on the part of Mr. Johnson. If VII played it safe because of corporate interest, VIII took risks that only someone with total creative control would---and it failed as a result."

I have seen this claim over and over, and it perplexes me. Sure, this movie wasn't a carbon copy of one single movie like TFA was. But there was plenty of stuff that rhymed with other Star Wars movies. So the white stuff is sand, and that makes it completely different from Hoth? Please. Luke is on a rocky island instead of a swamp, and the "dark place" with a disturbing reflection of the young Jedi is a hole in the ground instead of a tree, so it's nothing like Dagobah? The throne room is red, so it's nothing like the struggle in the Emperor's presence in "Return of the Jedi"? They're on the run from Imperial (er, First Order) ships in transports rather than the Millennium Falcon, so it's nothing like "Empire Strikes Back"? Sheesh.

"All you might blame Disney for would be TLJ's failed humor in which it breaks the tone of a scene by undercutting something serious with a bad joke. (This was also a problem with GotG 2.)"

IMO the humor was one of its saving graces. (I do agree that GotG2 was awful.)

Fundamentally, I blame corporate caution for the fact that we're inexplicably back to a small band of rebels against a mighty empire headed by a mysterious and powerful Force user and his Sith henchman, despite the routing of the Empire in the original trilogy. We are never shown how that return to the status quo came about. But mark my words, 20 years from now they will have found a way to hit that reset button a couple more times. Disney's chairman said no one alive today will be around to see the final Star Wars movie released. But I will bet you anything that whenever that time comes for our great-great-grandchildren, it will still be scrappy rebels and newly minted Jedis* fighting against impossible odds as they are pursued by bad guys wearing the same uniforms and speaking with the same British accents.

*The very name of the movie is a lie. It should be titled, like the song-naming convention that used to be popular, "(I Am Not) The Last Jedi".
James
Tue, Jan 2, 2018, 9:20pm (UTC -6)
Is Disney really planning to make a SW movie every 2 years for the next 100 years? It won't succeed, not a chance. Every franchise needs a break from time to time, if only for the reason that the previous generation always makes it uncool. Star Trek was tremendously uncool in the 70s, and Star Wars likewise in the 90s. People are going to be so sick and tired of Star Wars (as I am now) sooner or later that it will crash and burn spectacularly.
SlackerInc
Wed, Jan 3, 2018, 4:20am (UTC -6)
@James: No, every year—not every two years. But yes, every two for the “saga” and standalones in alternate years.

I agree with you, and it’s funny, because when I searched for a cite on their plans to keep cranking these movies out forever, I was thinking about how they killed the golden goose with “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”. And even though I didn’t use that in my search terms, it came up in the Wired article I found, which was written before TFA came out:

https://www.wired.com/2015/11/building-the-star-wars-universe/
————
The company intends to put out a new Star Wars movie every year for as long as people will buy tickets.

It can all go south, of course. The whole endeavor could become crass, commodified. Eventually a distributed paracosm might just feel like branded content, like every movie and TV show and Lego set is just a commercial for other movies, TV shows, and Lego sets. “We all have to be careful of the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire trap,” Evans says. “When that show premiered and was once a week, all I wanted to do was tune in. The minute they changed it to five days a week, it seemed a lot less special. Let’s not flood the market.”
————

There’s an ironic statement in that article:

————
“Star Wars is its own genre,” Kasdan says. “Like all genre, it can hold a million different kinds of artists and stories. They say ‘Buddha is what you do to it.’ And that’s Star Wars. It can be anything you want it to be.”
————

I agree with him in theory, hence my disappointment. I do wonder, although he would never say so publicly, if Kasdan agrees with me that “Rogue One” fulfilled that potential but the other two did not.
J Fenzel
Wed, Jan 3, 2018, 8:01am (UTC -6)
We can go on for another 200 comments about how TLJ is a mess, too corporate, too indie, too much "screw your expectations, fan base", too much out of place humor, too much pushing the envelope with new Force powers, etc., But this movie made 1 Billion dollars in 18 days. Yes, Dr. Evil, 1 Billion. A heck of a lot more people liked it than hated it. If it was truly a piece of crap the box office would have collapsed after the first weekend when word of mouth got out. I think we, myself included, can't see the forest for the trees when we discuss TLJ here. But it's fun to do, right?
Peter G.
Wed, Jan 3, 2018, 9:23am (UTC -6)
@ J Fenzel,

Transformers movies did well too. People even enjoyed them. What's your point?
Chrome
Wed, Jan 3, 2018, 12:17pm (UTC -6)
If we're making comparisons to older franchises, I'd at least assert this (and TFA) don't feel as corporate as the prequel trilogy, to which all can be described as expensive CGI blockbusters without much to add to the Star Wars universe. The prequels had a few nice character moments but lacked a real protagonist for the three films. The sequel trilogy is different. We have very recognizable character archetypes and a path for each of them: the underdog hero with humble beginnings, the ace pilot, the troubled son, the wise old man, the dark figure manipulating things in the background. That's why these films are getting better reception by critics.

Also, regarding corporate committees, they definitely aren't always a bad thing. Because of rejections by such committees, guess how many times "A New Hope" had to be rewritten by George Lucas? Four times! Originally it was story about a Space Commando and Han Solo was a green-skinned monster with gills. It wasn't until Lucas adapted the story to be like an Akira Kurosawa film with swordplay and ancient force masters that 20th Century Fox became interested.
J Fenzel
Wed, Jan 3, 2018, 1:35pm (UTC -6)
Touche` Peter G.

But in the case of Transformers The core fan base apparently loved it because it did so well at the box office despite the critics destroying it (I don't remember Transformers fans berating Age of Extinction but I could be wrong). In the case of TLJ, the critics love it in addition to a phenomenal box office, which suggests a general consensus that the movie was well written, acted, and produced (unlike Transformers). But it seems most of the core SW fans posting here think Rian Johnson and Disney botched it and are damaging the franchise. That's just real interesting, to me at least. I guess in one sense Johnson and Disney failed in a spectacularly successful way.
SlackerInc
Wed, Jan 3, 2018, 4:31pm (UTC -6)
@JFenzel: I’m not sure it’s so clear you can interpret the box office that way. After being burned by TFA, I vowed not to contribute to their take this time. But then my son went to it the first weekend and was very angered by it. He wanted me to see it so I would understand his ire. So he paid for both of us to see it together after it had been out for a couple weeks. I’m not sure it’s so clear you can interpret the box office that way. After being burned by TFA, I’ve vowed not to contribute to there take this time. But then my son went to it the first weekend and was very angered by ads and he wanted me to see it so I would understand his ire, and we could make fun of it together. So he paid for both of us to see it together after it had been out for a couple weeks.

That’s two tickets purchased well after word of mouth got going, one for someone who already actively disliked it, and one for someone who was very skeptical. It has become such a cultural phenomenon that it is hard to escape if you want to be able to carry on conversations with people, pro or con. I will admit that I have enjoyed those debates, so I guess it does have value for me in a weird way. I would still prefer they made them differently, however.

It’s also hard to know how many of the tickets bought after the first couple weeks were by people who loved it and wanted to go again and again. For Disney, it doesn’t matter as it’s all contributions to their bottom line. But it doesn’t necessarily tell us what percentage of people are really positive on this movie. Has there been any polling?

And even if most people do like it, the most popular movies and TV shows are usually not those of the greatest quality. I am therefore most disappointed in all the critical raves. But then, critics nearly universally panned “The Orville” and “Passengers”, and I believe they are wrong there as well.
SlackerInc
Wed, Jan 3, 2018, 4:33pm (UTC -6)
Sorry, somehow when I edited the text I dictated from my phone, it kept the rough draft along with the edited version.
Jason R.
Wed, Jan 3, 2018, 8:24pm (UTC -6)
"It’s also hard to know how many of the tickets bought after the first couple weeks were by people who loved it and wanted to go again and again. For Disney, it doesn’t matter as it’s all contributions to their bottom line. But it doesn’t necessarily tell us what percentage of people are really positive on this movie. Has there been any polling?"

I think it's pretty wishful thinking on the part of the contrarians to imagine that TLJ is anything but a roaring success, given these numbers. If you hate what Disney has done with the franchise, too bad - they are certainly not going to be changing any time soon. The empire won. Get used to it, and to wandering in the wilderness, cause you're going to be on the outs for a long time. May as well build yourself a little hidey hole in the swamp because like Yoda, you ain't leaving for a looong time.

It's why I said on the Star Trek Beyond thread that the Trek franchise still had hope, because those movies have plainly fizzled financially, which means there is potential for a rebirth. But Star Wars is going to be on this path for a great many years. If Disney had its way, we could be looking at a decade or more of this.

My personal view is that the Star Wars franchise, much like Trek, was built on a kind of lifestyle fandom that transcends momentary box office scores or any single movie. That reservoir kept Star Wars alive for years between the end of the original trilogy and the prequels, and for years more between the prequels and the new Disney films. The fans who go to comic conventions and dress up as characters, buy the novels, figurines, infuse themselves with Star Wars, they're the carriers for the virus.

What made Star Wars the pop culture titan it is today (and Disney's supposed eternal cash cow) is a reservoir that in my view, can't be replenished in today's environment and I suspect won't be.

Without that reservoir, Star Wars is mortal. Disney will milk a few billion more out of it, but it will just fade away until it's forgotten for good.

At least, that's my theory anyway. We'll see.
Del_Duio
Thu, Jan 4, 2018, 7:16am (UTC -6)
Whether or not they make a new Star Wars movie every year for 100 years or not, I will say that my initial reaction to hearing they were going to be making standalone movies at all was not a good one.

Something like, "What? Why?!"

You know how much I want to see the "Solo" movie coming out? 0%. I shit you not. And guys I LOVE Star Wars. This new one wasn't completely bad at all but I don't care for all these side missions they're going to pump out.

And as consistently good as the MCU movies have been overall, it's getting to that point where they're all starting to bleed together too. Don't kill a good thing!

I think they'll flood and kill the franchise with too many SW movies. The Originals were not only better because (a) Well, they were just BETTER but (b) We've had all this time to watch and re-watch them and dissect and revere them. Classics, all. And yes that includes Return of the Jedi which is unfairly pooped on in retrospect I feel. Ewoks aside, it has the best space battles, and some of the very best scenes of the entire line.

"Gooood.. GOOOODD!!!"

The Emperor scenes are friggin' gold still!

Rogue One this and Rogue One that. No soul. Characters that we knew going in were disposable but holy shit try to write some that the audience actually CARES ABOUT. If not for the Vader scene at the end- a huge fanboy wankfest to be sure but it was awesome- that movie would be borderline terrible BECAUSE the characters all sucked (minus the droid).
SlackerInc
Thu, Jan 4, 2018, 7:41am (UTC -6)
@Del_Duio: I'm fascinated by how nearly opposite our tastes are (except that we both apparently like the original "Star Wars" and "Empire Strikes Back"). For me, "Rogue One" is the only good SW movie Disney has released; and I loathe "Return of the Jedi"--in particular, for the cackling Emperor and his lightning hands.
J Fenzel
Thu, Jan 4, 2018, 7:54am (UTC -6)
For me it is the Ewoks in ROTJ. I just can't get past teddy bears defeating the deadly, evil Empire garrison.
Chrome
Thu, Jan 4, 2018, 9:35am (UTC -6)
Yeah, can't say I exactly bought into to all the Star Wars spin-off movies. I mean, it's starting to become like Marvel where there's so many of them you just can't find the time to see them all in theaters.

I haven't seen Rogue One, not because I have anything against it, but when I heard about it it was like "What, this isn't the sequel to the new trilogy we just got invested into? Hmm...I'll wait for blu-ray."

I have no idea whether Star Wars rich enough to sustain all these films at once (I mean, at least Marvel has a popular comics that have already been well-received to draw from). It is interesting, though, that there are enough people out there who are dismissive of the new trilogy and would rather hitch their wagons to Rogue One and the other spin-offs.
Geekgarious
Thu, Jan 4, 2018, 4:31pm (UTC -6)
@Chrome
"I have no idea whether Star Wars rich enough to sustain all these films at once (I mean, at least Marvel has a popular comics that have already been well-received to draw from)."

And there in lies the key ingredient that Lucas brought to the table - a sense of imagination and a talent for world-building. Choices in the Disney-era films like shoehorning the aliens from the cantina into Rogue One are making the universe feel smaller instead of bigger. In The Last Jedi, Johnson recreates several classic scenes and throws curveballs at the audience, but still recreates classic scenes nonetheless.

It's a real shame that the franchise wasn't given to someone with more of an imagination. I found that Rogue One just made me appreciate the radio dramas more in the same way that Star Trek Into Darkness made me appreciate The Wrath of Khan more. Or that X-Men: The Last Stand made me appreciate the real Dark Feenix Saga more.
The Ubiquitous
Fri, Jan 5, 2018, 1:09am (UTC -6)
J Fenzel

The only number that matters is the drop off rate. For TLJ, we're talking Eragon numbers, according to Forbes. 68.8 percent. That's the word-of-mouth on TLJ.
msw188
Fri, Jan 5, 2018, 1:27am (UTC -6)
Hi Peter G,
I think we're going to end up simply agreeing to disagree, but I'll try to answer some of your points.

"In Ep 4, yes, he begins the hero's journey to beat the bad guys and learns to harness his power for the first time. However here's one divergence already: he doesn't, and *can't*, do it alone."
As I tried to point out, Rey has, in some sense, less to do with destroying the new station than Luke did with destroying the Death Star. So right, he can't do "it" alone and she can't either.

"[Luke's] stuck on the farm with no life..."
Being stuck on the farm sucks, a lot like being stuck scavenging for old rusty parts to get shitty green food from your asshole boss. Epi4 does a 'better' job showing Luke as frustrated though, because Luke is (much) more easily frustrated than Rey is - he's a borderline whiner on occasion. She's not. I don't think being less whiny than Luke makes you a "Mary Sue", any more than I think being more whiny than Rey makes you an "unlikable character". In any case, Epi7 has the great scene where we see Rey looking at the old woman cleaning the parts - Rey never whines like Luke, but she does see that she is potentially doomed to a shitty life. In some ways (not all ways!), that scene is more powerful than a lot of the early Luke stuff for me.

"... doesn't have the success his friends have had at the Imperial Academy (where, btw, he dreamt of joining!!)"
I don't remember it this way at all. In fact, I remember it much more as Luke's uncle guilting him into staying to help on the farm one more year - I don't think it's ever implied that Luke failed at the Academy while his friends succeeded. He just was never able to get a chance to leave home. So I never thought of this as a failure on Luke's part, just being in an unlucky situation.

Moving on to the Epi5/6 stuff, I can't argue there. Luke's character arc in those movies is much stronger, or at least deeper, than Rey's is in Epi7. But I think you are pushing some knowledge of Epi5/6 onto your claims about Epi4. I like Epi4 a lot, and I like Epi7 a lot, because I think both are pretty good versions of a simple "Hero's Journey". I think Epi4 has a bit more going for it in some ways, and I think Epi7 has a bit more going for it in other ways.

Interestingly, Epi8 does try to make sure that Rey, having been established as a hero in Epi7, is no longer 'destined to win'. In fact, she doesn't accomplish much of anything on her own in Epi8. All she really manages is turning down Kylo and escaping, much like Luke is only able to turn down Vader and escape in Epi5. But Epi5 made this the climax, and it was amazing. Epi8 put this kinda in the middle, and it loses some power that way. That's why I (and others) have been complaining about the plot structure of Epi8.
Peter G.
Fri, Jan 5, 2018, 10:08am (UTC -6)
@ msw188,

I'll leave off the Luke/Rey comparisons because it seems in the end that it's going to boil down to "do you like him/her" and that's not a debate, just an opinion. I don't know why you want to look only at Ep 4 Luke while we already have Ep 7 & 8 Rey as a comparison, but fine.

"Interestingly, Epi8 does try to make sure that Rey, having been established as a hero in Epi7, is no longer 'destined to win'."

Where is she ever shown to have a spectacular failure? Or to even be shown to be a fool, or coming short? The main difference between the story of an epic hero (destined to win) versus the kind of hero Lucas wrote about is that the latter has to realize the limitations of who they were and to grow. In a very important sense it requires seeing yourself as a fool, to be able to laugh at your previous sense of self-importance, and to know that you'll feel this again, and again, each time you move forwards in wisdom. Do you think it's an accident that Yoda was portrayed as being so silly? He knew that if you can't see yourself as being foolish then you're going to cling to your old self.

As for Rey's particular actions in Ep 8, let's list what she does to see if you're right that she isn't 'destined to win':

-She one-ups Luke in conviction to do the right thing
-She outdoes Luke in his 'first test' by going to the dark place successfully and scaring him, showing that she's braver than he is.
-She subsequently goes straight there again, mastering it, having some magical experience, and showing how much cooler than Luke she is.
-She then decides she knows better than him and leaves. In contrast to Ep 5, here she's shown to be right whereas in Ep 5 Luke's leaving was portrayed as a sad event.
-She then approaches Kylo and Snoke just as Luke does in Ep 6, so that is on parity/
-She personally dispaches Snoke - or at least that's what it looked like, since Snoke insisted he knew Kylo's every thought and I don't see how Kylo would sneak one past him.
-Then in the fight against the Knights of whatever, she holds her own against fighters that even give Kylo (the best of them) a run for his money, and appears to be his equal.

So where in this story is she a failure, or needing anyone's help?

" In fact, she doesn't accomplish much of anything on her own in Epi8."

True, but that's because not very much happens in Ep 8. That's a story and plotting problem, rather than any statement about her inability to succeed. She comes out of every scenario in the film unscathed and generally looking better than everyone else. Even in her final encounter with Kylo she gets out ok while he's knocked out like a loser. Let's face it, she's the protagonist of a video game thus far. However we also know that Abrams likes twist endings so how this will ultimately conclude will most likely be a result of him trying to trick the audience rather than taking her character in any logical direction. I guess we'll see. Or rather others will, as I'm out of this series. It took one Star Trek reboot and two Star Wars ones for me to get the picture, so I guess I'm a slower study in Star Wars. Or maybe I'm more offended when my Trek is treated shabbily. It's probably that.
Chrome
Fri, Jan 5, 2018, 11:48am (UTC -6)
"And there in lies the key ingredient that Lucas brought to the table - a sense of imagination and a talent for world-building."

Disney did buy Lucas' stories for episodes seven, eight, and nine, so it's not like they didn't have his ideas to work from. It's also debatable whether Lucas was still bringing those things to the table in his recent Star Wars works. Lucas had been avoiding making Star Wars films for awhile after the original trilogy and only came back because he wanted to work with CGI. To his credit, the CGI in the prequel movies does look pretty good, but I'm not sure i can say the same for his storytelling. It's really debatable whether a sequel series would have done as well under Lucas as its done under Disney. I mean, at least Abrams and Johnson are Star Wars fans who are doing stories they want to tell, unlike Lucas who was apparently so tired of Star Wars he just wanted to get rid of it.
J Fenzel
Fri, Jan 5, 2018, 3:05pm (UTC -6)
Chrome, I recently re viewed the original Lucas Six films. And although at the time the CGI in Phantom Menace was considered pretty good, I was amazed at how much better the battle on Hoth looked (20 years older, stop-motion tech) than the final battle between the droids and Gungans. It seems to me, in some cases, Lucas' vision somehow comes across better when he was restrained by money and technology. Phantom Menace is like watching a video game. And the silly slapstick humor, I'm not a fan.
msw188
Fri, Jan 5, 2018, 3:08pm (UTC -6)
To Peter G:
Very interesting! We really have some opposite interpretations of several key aspects of Epi8 Rey:

"-She outdoes Luke in his 'first test' by going to the dark place successfully and scaring him, showing that she's braver than he is.
-She subsequently goes straight there again, mastering it, having some magical experience, and showing how much cooler than Luke she is."
See, I saw this as very similar (maybe too similar) to Luke failing in the cave. I mean, in the first bit, I got the impression that she lacks self-control. Luke tells her to fight the urge to explore this, and she doesn't/can't. Then when she goes down there, there's a cool visual sequence but it's not cool for Rey - she learns nothing, she "never felt so alone", ... to me this whole segment came across as failure. Not close to Luke's Epi5 arc, but definitely not epic hero either.

"-She then decides she knows better than him and leaves. In contrast to Ep 5, here she's shown to be right whereas in Ep 5 Luke's leaving was portrayed as a sad event."
Again, totally opposite here. In fact, she's shown to be wrong - her goal was to turn Kylo, and he does not turn. It's not as powerful as Luke's failure in Epi5, but nowhere in here did I get the impression that she was 'right'.

"-She personally dispaches Snoke - or at least that's what it looked like, since Snoke insisted he knew Kylo's every thought and I don't see how Kylo would sneak one past him."
Again, total opposite. I saw this as Kylo killing Snoke - like Snoke 'sees' that Kylo has made a choice to kill his 'true enemy', which is true - except that Kylo sees Snoke as his 'true enemy'. This is why Rey is surprised at the end - she thinks Kylo killed Snoke because he meant to turn, but in fact he killed him to supplant him as super-asshole.

"-Then in the fight against the Knights of whatever, she holds her own against fighters that even give Kylo (the best of them) a run for his money, and appears to be his equal."
Agreed, Rey is consistently shown to be equal to Kylo in terms of combat abilities. I'll just mention again though (I think I said this somewhere up the page) that I never got the impression that Kylo is some kind of master. He's just a brat who has spent most of his time being the only person in tune with the Force (besides Snoke).

"True, but that's because not very much happens in Ep 8. That's a story and plotting problem, rather than any statement about her inability to succeed. She comes out of every scenario in the film unscathed and generally looking better than everyone else. Even in her final encounter with Kylo she gets out ok while he's knocked out like a loser. Let's face it, she's the protagonist of a video game thus far."
I kinda agree with the first couple sentences here. Epi8 has a lot of stuff, but very little is 'accomplished' by anybody except Kylo (if you're like me and see him as killing Snoke) and maybe Luke (if you consider one-upping Kylo an accomplishment). And I don't like the idea that Kylo got knocked out, and she just left. We should have at least seen the scene of her making that decision. But with all of our differing interpretations of the events of the movie you posted, it makes sense that we can't agree on that final sentence.
msw188
Fri, Jan 5, 2018, 3:23pm (UTC -6)
Peter G,
My previous comment was to address your specific examples. To your more global point, I think Rey is shown to have a bit more character than you have given her credit for, but at the same time I agree that she requires less character-growth than Luke does. And even though I think she does have to come to grips with the fact that she was wrong about Kylo turning, this is less her fault than Luke's Epi5 failures were his fault. She was 'foolishlessly optimistic', while Luke was foolishlessly arrogant and rash. Maybe she's a bit rash too, but she escapes with her hand intact. Maybe here is a problem - I will contend that Rey has character flaws, but I will agree that the films have not put her in a position where she has had to pay very dearly for them. This is in stark contrast to Epi5 Luke, and a big reason why Epi5 is much better than Epi8. But part of this is what makes these films 'new' as compared to the old ones - in these films, the antagonist is a child just like the protagonist is. In other words, even though I agree that Luke and Rey are different, I think the differences between Kylo and Vader may be closer to the root of some of your problems with these new movies.

I don't know, this all just sort of came to me now. Kylo can't make Rey pay for her big mistake in Epi8, as opposed to Vader easily making Luke pay for his mistake in Epi5. Curiously, while Rey's wrong when she thinks she can turn Kylo, when it's Luke's turn to believe that he can turn Vader, he's the one in the right. Another side to all of this might be - when Luke makes mistakes in training, he has the infinitely wise Yoda to make it clear to him (and the audience) that he fails. When Rey makes mistakes, she has the flawed Luke unsure of how to handle it. So even there maybe it is the difference between Luke and Yoda as teachers that contributes to making Rey appear 'too good'.
Geekgariousric
Fri, Jan 5, 2018, 3:32pm (UTC -6)
The prequels gave us numerous new environments and vehicles. I agree that they weren't good films, but they had a ton of world-building. As did the old novels. World-building in Disney's films is almost non-existent as shown by the fact that both sides are still using X-wings and tie fighters. And we are still hearing about death star tech. It's a symptom of the obsession with nostalgia which is making so many Hollywood products feel hollow. Even Stranger Things, a pretty good show, leans way too heavily on 80s nostalgia to be great.

I think another real problem with these films is the way the overt feminist bent is coming through. In Episode VII, the only one of the big three who is presented as having had a passable life is Leia. Han has regressed, as has Luke. And Finn is almost completely disposable after breaking Poe out of his cell. The script for Episode VIII has Finn and Poe fail or make mistakes over and over. I like strong female characters - that's why I'm such a fan of the way Leia was presented in the radio dramas. But in these films, as with Voyager, it seems like there is no alpha male hero, only alpha females. This is pretty clearly Kathleen Kennedy's doing. I'll agree with the subset of disgruntled fans from the old days who feel she was the wrong choice to run Lucasfilm in spite of her impressive career.
SlackerInc
Fri, Jan 5, 2018, 4:04pm (UTC -6)
Radio dramas?

TheUbiquitous is right! I just checked Forbes, and here are the deets:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/scottmendelson/2017/12/24/box-office-star-wars-the-last-jedi-drops-69-tops-100m-losers-club/#63c3a981dc05
————
So, here’s the indisputably lousy news: Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi lost more money between its first and second weekends than any film ever, by a lot.
————

A look at the rest of the top five in that biggest drop off list is interesting:

Harry Potter 7.2
Batman v Superman
Avengers: Age Of Ultron
Captain America: Civil War
Jurassic World

All movies seen as disappointing by many fans of their respective franchises. So in actuality, the word of mouth is not so good for TLJ after all.
Geekgarious
Fri, Jan 5, 2018, 7:39pm (UTC -6)
@SlackerInc
"Radio dramas?"

Yes, the A New Hope radio drama is my single favorite piece of Star Wars media ever produced. I keep going back to these every time a new movie is coming out. More info here.

https://www.tor.com/2015/12/16/sounds-of-star-wars-the-audio-dramas/comment-page-1/
Hector
Fri, Jan 5, 2018, 8:18pm (UTC -6)
Audio is such a great medium for sci-fi, I daresay the genre would not be as creatively bankrupt it is today if books had transitioned primarily to radio instead of cinema. It would have been nice if imagination and not flashy visuals were the order of the day.
Geekgarious
Fri, Jan 5, 2018, 9:21pm (UTC -6)
That’s exactly why I wrote this.

The Sound of Her Voice: How NPR’s Star Wars Taught Me to Build My World

https://enlighteningponderings.com/2017/05/11/the-sound-of-her-voice-how-nprs-star-wars-taught-me-to-build-my-world/
SlackerInc
Fri, Jan 5, 2018, 10:15pm (UTC -6)
Huh!

I wonder if this is the same as the record (on vinyl) I had as a kid with ESB on it?
Geekgarious
Sat, Jan 6, 2018, 7:20am (UTC -6)
No, as the radio adaptation of ESB is around five hours long, consisting of 10 half-hour episodes and spans five CDs.
Ian
Sat, Jan 6, 2018, 12:27pm (UTC -6)
I watched the Last Jedi and I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about it. I don't hate the film, I don't dislike it. But at the moment I don't feel a strong desire to see it again which, I think says something.
R.
Sun, Jan 7, 2018, 12:55pm (UTC -6)
Ian, I had the same experience of this film. I held off on going to see it for two weeks (I wasn't willing to potentially have to endure another midnight premiere after 'Rogue One') and it exceeded my expectations but I actually have no desire to see it again.

As to Disney making a 'Star Wars' film every year for the next century, I say beware the Ides of March. Our beloved 'Star Trek' was in the midst of a golden age in the early '90's (three spin-off shows, a movie series and a large fanbase) and a little over a decade later it was off the air - a footnote in television history. It has yet to truly return from that purgatory. Disney would do well to heed the lesson there.
HawgWyld
Sun, Jan 7, 2018, 4:15pm (UTC -6)
Ian, that's exactly how I feel about Last Jedi. I'm glad I saw it, but I doubt I'll watch it again. Last Jedi didn't rise to the level of suck that those dreadful prequels did, but it was nowhere near as great as the original trilogy. That just leaves us with a very average movie that looked great but is ultimately shallow.
Peter G.
Mon, Jan 8, 2018, 11:24am (UTC -6)
@ msw188,

Good responses. We'll probably have to see Ep 9 to have some of these questions answered. We can count on their integrity to make sense of all this, I'm sure.

"But with all of our differing interpretations of the events of the movie you posted, it makes sense that we can't agree on that final sentence."

See, this brings me back to something I was saying in the Ep 7 thread, which is that there were multiple times in the film where I literally didn't know what was going on or why things were happening. I didn't think that was happening here but now that we're discussing this I realize that some of the 'plot points' I took away from the film weren't actually given and were my brain doing its own interpretive work. The fact that we can't agree on who killed Snoke is frickin ridiculous! And that's not your fault or mine. In fact, during the film I didn't automatically 'see' Rey kill him, but at the same time I took Snoke's word for it that he knew Kylo's every thought, and therefore concluded that if anyone surprised him it had to be Rey. The idea that Snoke would gather only some generality like "Kylo will kill his enemy" and not actually see his *every thought* would mean that Snoke is just an idiot. I automatically negated that as a possibility while watching it but upon reflection...

And then the scene with Rey in the cave, which I took to mean she was mastering something or other, and which you take to mean she failed somehow or other. So I guess it was just a light show in the end that meant nothing in particular, since we clearly can't gather anything particular from it. Even Rey during the first test, which you interpret as Rey not having control (a weakness in her), but which I interpreted as Rey not having Luke's fear (which would be a strength).

What a mess. I guess this one is just as muddled as Ep 7 was, and that's saying something considering how little happened. All of these rubbish violates basic filmmaking 101, where the audience needs to know what it is they're seeing unless there's a very specific reason to obscure it from them. But basic plot points like who killed whom? Terrible.
Brian S.
Mon, Jan 8, 2018, 4:20pm (UTC -6)
@PeterG

"I took Snoke's word for it that he knew Kylo's every thought...the idea that Snoke would gather only some generality like "Kylo will kill his enemy" and not actually see his *every thought* would mean that Snoke is just an idiot. I automatically negated that as a possibility while watching it but upon reflection..."

++

A lot of the Sith masters we know about are killed by their apprentices.

Sidius kills Plageuis
Vader kills Sidius
Ren kills Snoke

Sith masters aren't idiots.....and yet, none of them foresee the moment of their own betrayal.....even though almost all other past Sith masters are, inevitably, betrayed by their apprentices at some point.

It's not idiocy. Arrogance, overconfidence, willful blindness, perhaps, but not idiocy.

In a way, a Sith apprentice's "true enemy" is always his master. The master is the person holding back the apprentice from his true potential. The master is the person exploiting the apprentice. The apprentice doesn't become the master until he kills his master. And the Sith apprentice doesn't become the Sith master just by letting some neophyte Jedi scout do that work for him in her own flailing self-defense

Personally, I thought it was pretty obvious that Kylo Ren killed him. Snoke set that confrontation up to be Kylo's initiation. A test on Kylo's Dark Side journey. That's why Snoke wanted Kylo to strike Rey down. What Kylo did--in proper Sith fashion--was to take advantage of a rare opportunity when his master's guard was down and strike. In this universe, it's the only explanation that really makes sense.

Though I also agree that the writing and direction were poor if this many people genuinely thought that Rey killed Snoke.
JPaul
Mon, Jan 8, 2018, 4:42pm (UTC -6)
I thought this was the worst Star Wars movie I've ever seen and that's really saying something given that I always assumed Attack of the Clones was unbeatable in this regard. A few of the things I thought were ridiculous:

- A piece of technology that somehow tracks ships though hyperspace, a plot device used just to create a terrible version of the excellent BSG episode "33". I mean, why not just jump twice or more in quick succession to prevent the First Order from using the device? Or even split your entire force in a bunch of different directions and see if the device can track everything while agreeing to meet back at a specific location if not followed? Is it a device that grants the First Order omniscience or something?

- Sublight speed chases in a world of FTL. If the Resistance really couldn't jump without being followed, why does the First Order not make a short jump ahead with some of their force and cut off the Resistance ships? Or attack with faster small ships like Tie Fighters?

- Gravity bombs in outer space.

- People using the force to communicate or even project images of themselves over intergalactic distances (zero cannon for any of this even when the Jedi Order spent thousands of years investigating what was possible with the force and apparently didn't figure it out).

- The First Order somehow knows that Finn and Rose are going to a very specific planet for the express purpose of hiring someone to help them disable a hyperspace tracking system, and decides to plant a double agent right in front of their noses instead of just having them detained there or killed. All for dramatic purpose, so Finn could have his pointless dramatic showdown with Phasma and then escape.

- An ultimate master of the dark side vastly more powerful than Kylo or Rey being killed by a lightsaber sitting next to him being turned slightly and ignited via the force.

- Leia surviving minutes in a vacuum and using the force to pull herself to safety. If Leia is so great with the force, why did she need Luke, why didn't she learn the ways of the force herself and use them to fight for the Resistance?

- The Deus Ex Machina of a light speed ship used as a super weapon battering ram that destroyed virtually an entire First Order fleet... after just letting a bunch of light speed capable ships be destroyed when they ran out of fuel. Why weren't those abandoned, then set automatically or with droids to light speed ram the First Order fleet earlier?

- The idea that a planet with a big shielded cave can somehow withstand the weapons of the First Order, a group that built a planet sized weapon fuelled by a sun that could simultaneously destroy multiple planets at interstellar distances. For that matter, why not just send an empty ship to lightspeed ram the cave because apparently that works.

- The whole Poe mutiny plot that was a severely watered down version of BSG's "Blood on the Scales" and sees him not even being given a slap on the wrist. But he learns his lesson, no more trying to perform heroic deeds for him. Han Solo is rolling in his grave.

- Luke Skywalker being responsible for the creation of Kylo Ren, then shrugging his shoulders and deciding he didn't care what he'd unleashed on the galaxy and running off to nowhere hoping to die in seclusion but leaving a map of how to get there for some reason.

- Force ghost Yoda calling lighting down from the sky and acting like crazy Yoda in ESB does before revealing he is the jedi master to Luke (shoutout to redlettermedia for pointing this out in their review).

In addition, the movie is mostly pieced together from bits of Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Rey's belief she can turn Kylo and the throne room scene is ripped from ROTJ, just executed less meaningfully. The Finn/Rose plot is a rehash of ESB, just more pointless and without the quality C3PO/Han/Leia comedy and romance. The Luke/Rey scenes are a poorly done version of ESB's Luke/Yoda scenes. Horribly derivative, bad attempts at humour at moments that are supposed to be dramatic, illogical plot devices, ignoring the cannon of what has come before, this movie has it all. Absolutely terrible. I won't be paying to see another Star Wars movie that's for sure.
Chrome
Mon, Jan 8, 2018, 4:42pm (UTC -6)
I'm 99.9% they showed Ren concentrating on moving the lightsaber right before it struck Snoke. The only way you'd miss that is if you looked away from the movie for a second. Besides which, it's extremely uncommon for Jedi to kill in the movies. Typically, the Jedi incapacitate an opponent and take them prisoner. Even in the Obi-wan versus Anakin duel where Obi-wan was given orders to eliminate Anakin, Obi-wan instead left alive and helpless.

Brian S. is also correct that it's Sith tradition to kill your master. All Sith masters know it will happen eventually, so they work hard to keep the power gap large enough to prevent it from happening. You might remember Vader praising Emperor Sidius' power and cruelty on multiple occasions. Under normal circumstances, Vader would never think of challenging the emperor who was in all aspects his superior.
Peter G.
Mon, Jan 8, 2018, 6:57pm (UTC -6)
@ Brian & Chrome,

For sure it makes sense for a Sith apprentice to kill the master, but you're responding to the wrong point with that line. My belief that Rey killed Snoke was based almost exclusively on Snoke's boast they he could sense literally every thought Kylo had. While in the cinema, when I heard this, I assumed he could do just that and I wondered what in the world they could possibly do to him under the circumstances, since Rey was helpless and Kylo's thoughts were transparent. In that moment when the lightsaber moves and it strikes Snoke my conclusion was "it had to be Rey" rather than visually observing that they showed Rey doing it. Even now I have to assume the script was overblown in some way because if Snoke says he knows Kylo's every thought then either the scripting is hyperbole or else Snoke is a moron and doesn't even know what he can detect despite being otherwise crazy strong with the force. Whatever the plot facts are (and I tend to agree it makes more sense that Kylo kills him) I'm content at this point to call the result of that scene another scripting cheat where we're led to believe the tactical situation is X and wonder what can happen, and then it turns out to be Y and X simply wasn't true at all. It's utterly consistent with how the rest of the film was written, and is the go-to writing ploy of the entire Abrams family: make the audience think something, then pull the rug out from under them with "aha! NOT!" and think it's clever to make ever plot twist be a deus ex machina rather than a logical progression of well-established facts.

If I were to ever watch Ep 8 again (which I won't) when I got to the spot where Snoke announces that he knows every thought Kylo has all I'd be able to think is "no, he doesn't." Thrilling.

As a side note, there's a huge difference between general overconfidence in one's superiority over the apprentice, and between simply not even being confident in the use of one's force powers. If Snoke is so blind as to his apprentice's motives *even while scrutinizing them closely* then he was a crap villain to begin with. It's not like Kylo is even so amazing with the force that he had been secretly training in mental deception or something. No explanation will be offered for how he got away with that, I assure you. What we saw wasn't overconfidence, it was just being a dumbass. And between Snoke, Kylo Ren, and General Nazi, is there anyone in the First Order who isn't a dumbass? It's so depressing to have the Republic eliminated by these circus clowns.
SlackerInc
Tue, Jan 9, 2018, 2:01am (UTC -6)
@Peter G.: "It's so depressing to have the Republic eliminated by these circus clowns."

It is indeed (and of course they just handwaved it rather than showing how it actually happened in any detail). The CGI Tarkin in "Rogue One" was slightly Uncanny Valley-ish, but the First Order desperately needs someone of his gravitas.

@R.: Did they really have TNG, VOY, and DS9 on at the same time? Amazing. And the movie franchise was just starting to use the TNG characters then? You make a great point, although the true nadir for the franchise was after ENT was cancelled and (AFAICR) there were as of yet no plans for movies at that time.

@Brian S.: "Personally, I thought it was pretty obvious that Kylo Ren killed him."

Same here. But:

"Though I also agree that the writing and direction were poor if this many people genuinely thought that Rey killed Snoke."

Agreed.

@JPaul: "The First Order somehow knows that Finn and Rose are going to a very specific planet for the express purpose of hiring someone to help them disable a hyperspace tracking system, and decides to plant a double agent right in front of their noses instead of just having them detained there or killed."

I share many of your criticisms, but I don't think that guy was a plant. Just someone who sold them out when he got the opportunity.

I do love your snarky "leaving a map for some reason" though. That was so transparently like something out of a video game or RPG, that is there just to give the heroes something to do/overcome.

And I'm so glad to see "In addition, the movie is mostly pieced together from bits of Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi."

YES!! It drives me crazy how many people, even those who criticize the movie as much as I do or more, still maintain that it is original (just, for many people, original in a bad way). I felt like I was being gaslighted, that no one seemed to see how derivative it is.

@Chrome: "Under normal circumstances, Vader would never think of challenging the emperor who was in all aspects his superior."

Well, except that he did propose just that to Luke in ESB just after telling him he was his father.
Chrome
Tue, Jan 9, 2018, 9:25am (UTC -6)
"My belief that Rey killed Snoke was based almost exclusively on Snoke's boast they he could sense literally every thought Kylo had."

I'm not sure how you came to that conclusion, but one way you could understand the scene even assuming Snoke knew Kylo's thoughts was that Kylo changed his mind at the last instance. Personally, I'd been watching "Revenge of the Sith" in preparation for this movie and was wary of how unreliable visions can be for force users. To whit, Snoke could read that Kylo was ready to murder with intent to kill, but it was folly on his part to assume that his target was Rey.

"except that he did propose just that to Luke in ESB just after telling him he was his father."

Luke turning over to the Dark side and joining Vader is not a normal circumstance. Indeed, it wasn't until Vader proposed that Luke could be turned that the Emperor started to consider it.
Peter G
Tue, Jan 9, 2018, 10:50am (UTC -6)
@ Chrome,

"I'm not sure how you came to that conclusion"

I came to that conclusion because he literally said it. I can't remember the exact words, but he boasted that the situation for them was hopeless because he could sense his apprentice's every thought (and he assumed Rey couldn't do anything to him).

"Luke turning over to the Dark side and joining Vader is not a normal circumstance. Indeed, it wasn't until Vader proposed that Luke could be turned that the Emperor started to consider it."

I'll address this one just because I'm interested. I don't even know that Vader asking Luke to join him in Ep V should immediately be considered to be Vader hoping to turn Luke to the dark side. In fact, in many ways it feels more like Vader was looking for a way to free himself from the Emperor, and who knows past that what he wanted. By Ep VI it becomes clear that the Emperor is pleased about Vader's idea to bring Luke in to turn him, but it isn't stated overtly why he's pleased. We do know he's trying to make Luke angry enough to kill his father, but we don't know how this reflects back to the one scene with the Emperor in Ep V.

My assumption is that the good in Vader was there from the start, suffocating but wanting to be freed. I think that Vader's overture to Luke was rooted in a real desire to be with his son rather than merely a ploy to kill his master and become the new master. Likewise, I think he was likely rather transparent, and when he proposed to the Emperor to turn Luke the Emperor probably saw immediately that Vader's love from his son was clouding his judgement and he decided that this same love could be the screw to turn to break Luke. The Emperor clearly saw Vader as being too weak in general, and certainly on account of this in particular.

So to me it's not so much that the Emperor wouldn't have otherwise considering trying to turn Luke, but rather than Vader's conversation with him revealed to him Vader's weakness and therefore suggested a line of attack to bring Luke to the dark side. In a way Vader might have even been daring the Emperor to bring his son to him to see if the two of them couldn't overcome the Emperor anyhow. It would surely have been a plan that was inherently threatening to the Emperor so that challenge might have attracted him as well. And indeed, at the end of Ep VI Luke and Vader teaming up is exactly what happens. But the action in Ep VI makes so much more sense, because just before Vader betrays him the Emperor is utterly absorbed with torturing Luke; he's basking in the thrill of punishing his enemy, and his focus isn't at all on Vader. Contrast with Ep 8 where Snoke has his eye right on Kylo and still has no clue what's about to happen. With the Emperor it really looks like overconfidence and arrogance, whereas with Snoke it just looks like pure incompetence.
Skarfles
Tue, Jan 9, 2018, 11:30am (UTC -6)
It's pretty clear in the movie that Kylo killed Snoke.

Snoke says. 'I see his mind. I see his every intent. Yes, I see him turning the light saber to strike true.'

And while Kylo is raising and turning the lightsaber in his hand, simultaneously the light saber by Snoke starts to turn. So he was masking what he did from Snoke by turning both light sabers at the same time.

Then Snoke says. 'He ignites it and kills his true enemy.'

Snoke assumes it's Rey, but then Kylo does a little hand motion and the light saber by Snoke ignites instead, killing him.

Just to clear things up :D
Peter G.
Tue, Jan 9, 2018, 12:16pm (UTC -6)
Not sure how you're all missing it. Skarfles provides the quote just above (thanks for that):

"Snoke says. 'I see his mind. I see his ***every intent***. Yes, I see him turning the light saber to strike true.'"

I put some stars next to the relevant phrase. Assuming this is the actual quote then I wasn't imagining things. There's no wiggle room in the phrase "every intent." If Kylo has an intent to deceive and is deliberately moving two lightsabers at once to sneak in a kill move, then clearly Snoke *does not* see his "every intent" but only some of his intent. So basically the only way to read this scene is that Snoke is full of it and simply has a weaker use of the force than we're led to believe. In other words, he's stupid or incompetent. As I mentioned, I took it as a given while watching that this wasn't the case so when he said this I took it seriously and assumed Kylo couldn't have had any intent that was unseen. That only left Rey. I'm not married to that conclusion and recognize now that it's probably not what they were intending, but it's a serious scripting and directoral gaff that they directly provide a reason to believe Kylo cannot do it, followed by Kylo apparently doing so but in very unclear and blurred manner. It's sloppy storytelling.
Chrome
Tue, Jan 9, 2018, 1:07pm (UTC -6)
"There's no wiggle room in the phrase "every intent."

Unless Kylo killed Snoke in the heat of passion and had no intent. That happens all the time in the real world. And really, who would blame Kylo for getting suddenly upset after Snoke was talking down to him this whole scene (and the scene prior with the two of them). Besides, I would say that reading intent is much less specific than actually reading thoughts as you paraphrased it above.
Peter G.
Tue, Jan 9, 2018, 1:57pm (UTC -6)
@ Chrome,

"Unless Kylo killed Snoke in the heat of passion and had no intent. That happens all the time in the real world. And really, who would blame Kylo for getting suddenly upset after Snoke was talking down to him this whole scene (and the scene prior with the two of them)."

Yes, that's a great point! And it would have been nice if this is what they had shot and shown in the film. A definitive moment if him losing his temper or having one of his classic flare-ups (that make Stormtroopers run away) followed by suddenly doing something impulsive that he hadn't planned would have made a lot of cinematic sense. But no such flare-up is depicted, no sudden tantrum leading to a murder is shown; all we get it quick images skipping from one character to another and no 'event' we can latch onto as the trigger that sets Kylo off. Flip back to Ep VI and watch the shot of Luke losing it and force-pulling the lightsaber to himself to strike down the Emperor: clear as crystal storytelling where we see that Luke has given in and wants to cut the Emperor down. What we got in Ep 8 was just an editing jumble and no characterization to go with the action. For all I've said about Rey's lack of an arc in this film, I've neglected to put much thought into what should have been Kylo's arc. They've certainly put in some effort to establish that he has random and intense tantrums, so why couldn't they have made it clear this was one of those and it prevented Snoke being able to foresee it? Having Kylo's emo storming be the very thing that overcomes Snoke wouldn't be a half-bad way to go about it, but we simply don't see that here and so even Kylo is robbed of what should have been his character story. Instead we're mostly treated to ham-fisted comedy between him and General Nazi.
Joe
Tue, Jan 9, 2018, 2:19pm (UTC -6)
Is it bad that I've seen Episode VII and have no idea who Snoke is? It makes me think I shouldn't bother with VIII.
Davidw
Wed, Jan 10, 2018, 4:11pm (UTC -6)
There are a lot problems to the basic story here.

First, there are three different stories. And they really don't have anything to do with each other in terms of the larger story.

And each story has some real fatal flaws:
1) The Las Vegas scence is mainly action, and it's meaning is all done in brief exposition
2) The' Po shouldn't take so many risks' is arbitrary. Should Luke not have risked the life of piolets to knock out the death star? Are we just talking bad risk assessment here?
3) As great as Hamill is, ultimately his final conclusion that we don't need the Jedi is of course ridiculous. As with the end of Rey's and Kylo's conversations. What starts out as a great affirmation that anyone can be a Jedi turns into bizarre remarks about putting on a shirt.
Dom
Thu, Jan 11, 2018, 1:53pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G., yeah, figured that was just another Dark sider being overconfident, but that is pretty sloppy if the actual line was "every intent." I think that's the problem with a lot of movies nowadays. They try to raise the stakes by saying "something can't happen" and then proceed for that "something" to happen just to shock audiences.
SlackerInc
Thu, Jan 11, 2018, 4:15pm (UTC -6)
"Luke turning over to the Dark side and joining Vader is not a normal circumstance. Indeed, it wasn't until Vader proposed that Luke could be turned that the Emperor started to consider it."

Okay, but when you said "Under normal circumstances, Vader would never think of challenging the emperor who was in all aspects his superior", I thought you meant that he only did so impulsively, sacrificing his own life, because he was overwhelmed by love of his son whom he saw being killed by the Emperor's force lightning. When in fact he had earlier proposed to Luke on Bespin that they join forces, kill the Emperor, and "rule the galaxy as father and son".

(BTW: Leia can use her previously unseen Force powers to Mary Poppins her way through space and into an air lock after being on a ship that's blown up, but the Emperor is powerless to do anything about being thrown off a scaffold?)
Darren
Fri, Jan 12, 2018, 3:34am (UTC -6)
Episodes VII and VIII have their moments, and aren't exactly unenjoyable to watch. But what upsets me more is how, taken together, they're making the fabled sequel trilogy play out. Many people dislike the prequels, and I can understand why (even though personally, seeing as I and III are my top two favorites, it might be that I favor the prequels over the originals). But it's difficult to deny that the prequels were distinct from the originals, yet simultaneously integral to the saga as a whole. (Not necessary, granted, but fitting and even enriching--particularly III.)

The sequels so far though (and being two in, I can't see that there's much hope now), to me, are just the opposite: they're informed (copied?) far too heavily by preceding films (the originals), and yet nonetheless manage to come off as supplemental and disconnected. For instance, if you showed someone a space scene from VIII (someone who somehow wasn't aware of the sequels), with the right one, you could probably fool them into thinking they were seeing a deleted scene from VI. Which is to say, if the First Order and the Resistance in VII were already too akin to the Empire and Rebel Alliance from the originals, in VIII, they basically *are* the Empire and Rebel Alliance. So a big thematic chunk once again involves a small, ragtag fleet trying to overcome a great and evil regime. (And visually, the designs of the ships aren't even that distinct.)--

Meanwhile, only some of the characters in VII and VIII seem original (like Finn, arguably Poe, and now Rose). Otherwise (and I imagine this was quite deliberate), Rey is the new Luke; BB-8 is the new R2-D2; Ren is the new Vader; Snoke is the new Sidious; Maz is the new Yoda; and so on. (And of course I get that these characters are not outright copies of the formers, be it in motivations, personalities, backgrounds, or even actions. But they're variations on them, just as if someone was like "hey, the characters in the originals were so great, let's come up with new but similar characters for the new generation of fans".)

So among other examples, the sequels come off as too similar to preceding films; yet they also manage to feel disconnected. For instance, notice how regarding the prequels and the originals, nothing of real significance was mentioned as backstory in the originals that wasn't shown in the prequels. The sequels, in contrast, are partly built upon quite major and, to the characters, quite personal events that happened in-between the originals and the sequels. (Like Han and Leia getting married but then separating; their son falling to the Dark Side; and Luke training a new generation of Jedi, only to have tragedy strike and then go into seclusion such that no one even knows where he is or why precisely he left.) With such new and unseen backstory, what all happened in the originals and prequels practically becomes secondary; but for a nine-part saga, such just shouldn't be the case.

And I have to say as well, a lot of what the sequels give us really "undoes" what came before. I mean, with the sense of absolute victory that we witnessed at the end of VI (and the virgin birth of Anakin and the "Chosen One" prophecy from I and the other prequels), who would have imagined that a few decades later, the Empire and Rebel Alliance would basically be back? That a New Jedi Order would be over after it had barely begun? That Palpatine would in essence be replaced by Snoke? That Han and Leia would be separated ... with Han back to smuggling, and Leia seemingly so sorrowful (and without much, if any, Jedi training)? You could say that this is just my (and others') opinion; but with an ongoing saga that's supposed to move a story forward through distinct themes, to "reset" and "undo" to things that came before just isn't the way to handle it.

Now, having said all that, I hardly think the sequels are all bad. Both VII and VIII so far have had some very nice moments, and I was and remain interested in what becomes of Rey and Ren. (And unlike some--perhaps even many--I didn't object so strongly to Luke's arc in VIII. In particular, I thought his final confrontation with Ren--not so physical, but more psychological--was quite good, what with giving the galaxy hope again and all ... acting to save, rather than destroy and all. And somehow even his death felt okay, and as opposed to sad, strangely fulfilling.)

Yet whenever I think of the complete saga, I imagine it will always be just I - Vi, because to me, the sequels have just copied the preceding films too much (particularly the originals), while simultaneously disconnecting themselves too much (especially from the prequels, but nonetheless from the saga as a whole.)
Dom
Fri, Jan 12, 2018, 9:08am (UTC -6)
@Darren, exactly my problem with the Sequels from Day 1. Thor Skywalker actually just posted a video about this on YouTube. I think the Sequels would have been much better off if they'd introduced some truly different storyline, such as an alien invasion or the New Republic having to fight an insurgency. Because after ROTJ we were invested in our heroes and their goals. They wanted to set up a New Republic. The Sequels COULD have been about our heroes fighting to preserve the peace they'd won in ROTJ against a new threat. Lucas himself always spoke of the sequels as a story about moral ambiguity and the difficulty of running a government and securing the peace. It would have felt like a natural culmination of the story. Instead, Episode VII was a reset button.
Matt
Fri, Jan 12, 2018, 6:26pm (UTC -6)
The problem is, I don't think Disney is interested in a natural story progression or anything like that. If they continue to do the same thing - lightsabers, evil empires, jedi heroes - then it's guaranteed hit. They don't need or want to do anything other than play it safe.
PM
Sat, Jan 13, 2018, 4:26am (UTC -6)
Want to sign my petition for Jammer to write his review of The Last Jedi before Episode 9 comes out?
SlackerInc
Sat, Jan 13, 2018, 3:36pm (UTC -6)
@Darren, I can't wrap my mind around "Phantom Menace" being your second-favorite Star War; but I agree that "Revenge of the Sith" is really good (even with that cringe-inducing "Noooo!"), and your points about the overall arc of the trilogy of trilogies and unseen backstory are very solid and thoughtful.

@Dom, that's interesting about what Lucas intended for the sequels. That could have been really interesting! Or maybe it would have had its own problems; but one thing's for sure: simply hitting the reset button and going back to scrappy rebels facing impossible odds against an all-powerful fascist regime? That's as lame as it gets.

But as Matt says:

"The problem is, I don't think Disney is interested in a natural story progression or anything like that. If they continue to do the same thing - lightsabers, evil empires, jedi heroes - then it's guaranteed hit. They don't need or want to do anything other than play it safe."

This is precisely why I vowed after TFA not to buy a ticket this time. But I ended up doing so anyway to hate-watch it with my son, as I described upthread. I do think the sharp dropoff after the first weekend indicates that Disney's "play it safe" approach might ultimately not be so safe after all. I think they could have made a compromise that would have actually been the best for their long-term bottom line: look for talented writers to give them scripts containing certain necessary elements (droids, X-wings, light sabres, blasters, the Force seedy/wisecracking guys with hearts of gold, blue milk) but otherwise to get creative moving forward.
Brandon
Sun, Jan 14, 2018, 3:45pm (UTC -6)
"Want to sign my petition for Jammer to write his review of The Last Jedi before Episode 9 comes out?"

I laughed.
J Fenzel
Sun, Jan 14, 2018, 8:53pm (UTC -6)
I actually feel bad for Jammer. No matter what side he comes down on the Last Jedi, it seems half the people posting here will tell him he got it wrong. Doh!
JPaul
Sun, Jan 14, 2018, 10:55pm (UTC -6)
Phantom Menace is not a great movie, but I'm beginning to believe it has been a bit unjustly maligned for a few reasons.

1) The special effects look horrible by today's standards but were worthy of Oscar nomination at the time. They haven't aged well but people thought they were great at the time because they were ground breaking. And the space effects still look fine.

2) Some object to the political talk that begins the process of explaining how the Republic started to transform into the Empire. I suspect these are people who just want wall to wall action and are the the same ones so happy with TFA and TLJ, movies that don't spend a single minute to explain the political situation.

3) Many Star Wars fans just start frothing at the mouth when you mention Jar Jar Binks and consider Phantom Menace unwatchable just because he's in it. He's a a bad character that doesn't fulfill his purpose (comedy relief), but if you can ignore him somewhat the rest of the movie isn't as bad.

4) Midi-chlorians. Some fans hate that Lucas took away the mystery of the force and made it into a scientific thing. Yeah, it wasn't a good decision, but it's literally one brief mention used to establish that Anakin is the most powerful force user ever found. Just pretend Qui-Gon actually said something more vague like "he has the most powerful concentration of the force I've ever sensed" and you'll be fine.

As far as I'm concerned, I'd rather watch Phantom Menace again than either TFA or TLJ. TFA and TLJ completely ruined Han, Luke and Leia and have horrible derivative plots that seem to be leading nowhere interesting. TPM at least has a few decent moments like the Pod Race, lightsaber duels with Darth Maul, and Palpatine slowly enacting his plan for galactic domination.
msw188
Mon, Jan 15, 2018, 1:18am (UTC -6)
JPaul,
Of course everyone enjoys different things, but I think your claims about people's problems with Epi1 are off the mark. I mean yeah, all those things you mention suck, but they would all be overlookable in some other movie. The real problem with Epi1 (and Epi2 and Epi3 to a large degree) is that there are so very very few moments with any characters feeling like actual people with personalities and emotions. I can remember two total moments of genuine emotion from characters in Epi1, and one of them is JarJar getting excited that they're going back to Naboo. That's a bad sign. The other is Obiwan getting pissed when Liam Neeson is killed. He even gets a moment to stew about it behind the red energy thing. And then as soon as they start fighting, the emotion gets sapped out almost immediately and its back to being boring choreography.

So yeah, people get bored by the seemingly convoluted politics in Epi1, but that doesn't mean they just want mindless action. I mean, Epi1 has plenty of that as well anyways. I think people want characters that feel like real people. A movie focused on Jedis who control their emotions at all times is boring. Even Yoda in Epi5 had some genuine personality to him, and a sense of humor. When the characters in Epi1/2/3 occasionally let their emotions show through, the writing is so awful that it almost never feels like an actual person (lots of Anakin). A movie about political maneuvering can maybe work in any context, but the moves need to be made by, and/or affect, characters who feel like real people.

In comparison, Epi7/8 may have far more simplistic/familiar plots and emotional beats, but the point is that they have emotional beats at all. And the characters mostly feel like people, or at least archetypes of people instead of archetypes of monks. I've brought up Rey's excitement for the job offer numerous times, so I'll go with a different example this time: the escape scene for Finn and Poe. Mindless action? Some thin plotting? Maybe, but for many viewers this is overlookable when you have two characters that can feel genuine joy (Finn and Poe after shooting the canon) and can argue sounding like real people (Poe: we gotta get my droid. Finn: WTF).
J Fenzel
Mon, Jan 15, 2018, 11:07am (UTC -6)
@msw188 - you nailed it
JPaul
Mon, Jan 15, 2018, 2:40pm (UTC -6)
And this is my huge problem with what most people like in movies. As long as the characters are interesting and well acted and there are a few legitimately funny moments the plot doesn't matter. People like TFA and TLJ more than the prequels because they like the characters of Rey, Finn, and Poe more than Anakin, Obi Wan, and Padme.

For me, plot is more important. A story about corruption in the government allowing Palpatine the opening he needs to manipulate the Trade Federation into starting a civil war that he leverages into becoming the Chancellor and eventually Emperor is compelling. It's a whole lot better than a story about a terrorist group that sprung out of thin air and apparently has the resources to build weapons a thousand times more powerful than anything the New Republic has. One of these plots seems authentic and very real world relevant while the other feels pulled from a poorly written comic book.
msw188
Mon, Jan 15, 2018, 3:45pm (UTC -6)
JPaul,
I agree that the overall backdrop to the plot in Epi7/8 is bad, borderline awful. I don't think that's the same as the plot as a whole being bad in those movies, but if you can't get past the setup then yeah it's hard to get into the movies for sure.

Still, I think you're overselling Epi1 a bit. "A story about corruption in the government allowing Palpatine the opening he needs to manipulate the Trade Federation into starting a civil war that he leverages into becoming the Chancellor and eventually Emperor is compelling." To me, this sounds compelling, but Epi1 doesn't end up portraying this very well. You mention corruption in the government - I don't remember this being shown at all. You mention Palpatine manipulating the Trade Federation, but is manipulation really compelling when one of the parties seems to have no motivation or intelligence? Did he actually manipulate them, or does he just control them somehow? They pretty much just do whatever he says! General Hux and Phasma are pretty cartoony and dumb for sure, but those Trade Federation guys are just terrible.

There are more problems in the details as well. I don't think I ever figured out what Palpy's actual plan was, and whether any of the actions of the protagonists ever cause him to alter any of it. Did he want the Trade Federation or the Naboo people to win that battle? Or did he not care which, as long as there was some conflict? And how does this lead to civil war, anyways? Whom does Epi1 show as being sympathetic to the Trade Federation's claims? Or do they even have any claims, besides hating taxes...? If the Jedi had never sent anyone to Naboo, would there have been a battle at all? Does Palpy want the Senate to know there's something going on, or not? If not, how does he plan to get the vote of no confidence for the Chancellor? If so, why does he tell the Trade Feds to kill the Jedi who were sent to see what's going on?

Maybe the problem is best summed up as follows. A plot-heavy, character/emotion-lite movie can be okay, but if that's the case, the plot is going to automatically come under more scrutiny. Some good Star Trek episodes could probably be viewed in this way. But Epi1, if viewed in that way, does not hold up very well in my opinion.
JPaul
Mon, Jan 15, 2018, 8:44pm (UTC -6)
Palpatine's plan is very simple at first - cause a trade dispute to make current Chancellor Valorum look bad and force him to resign, thus opening up the position of Chancellor for himself.

But things go wrong for Palpatine when the Jedi interfere and threaten to resolve the trade dispute, thus making Valorum actually look good (Valorum is the one who asked the Jedi to intervene). Even worse, the Trade Federation (who just want more profits) start to get cold feet once the Jedi are involved. Palpatine sends his apprentice Darth Maul to take care of the Jedi and prevent Padme from ever reaching the senate to make a request for intervention, but he fails.

Once Padme reaches the senate and makes her plea, Palpatine is forced to use his influence to stonewall the process. He then expertly manipulates Padme into turning on Valorum, a man who did what he could to help Naboo, by insinuating that he is weak and needs to be replaced. Padme reluctantly agrees with Palpatine's plan due to the time sensitive nature of her request. She is only leader of one planet but it's enough of a justification to pull in the support of many other worlds who sympathize with Naboo's plight in calling for an election, one that Palpatine winds up winning.

Ultimately Padme winds up solving her own problem with the help of the Jedi, Gungans, and and 8 year old Anakin Skywalker (sigh), but the damage is done. The outcome of TPM seems like a victory for the good guys because the Trade Federation's blockade is defeated, but it's really the beginning of Palpatine's domination over the Senate, the Republic, and eventually the Empire.

I get that not everyone is going to appreciate this aspect of TPM given its many other flaws, but unlike TFA and TLJ it's a movie with a nice plot to build future stories on top of, Palpatine's slow, steady manipulation of key players and events until he controls everything.

Now contrast this with TFA where the bad guys simply flip a switch on a planet sized murder base instantly putting themselves in the same position that it took Palpatine three movies and another 20 years of slow burn to reach. It's lazy writing just to reboot the franchise to the same point it was at circa ANH because rehashing the original Star Wars in a new movie is what would make Disney the most money after they spent $4B buying it from Lucas and needed to recover their investment as fast as possible.
Peter G.
Mon, Jan 15, 2018, 11:04pm (UTC -6)
@ JPaul,

Excellent synopsis. Few people are able to coherently describe Ep 1's plot, and that is indeed a partial strike again what is otherwise an incredibly deep story. I do think there's merit to playing the movie to appeal to different kinds of viewers; the detectives can plumb out the intricacies of the plot while the main audience can enjoy the themes and the action. From this standpoint I think the prequels were paradoxically much more adult than the originals, even though he claimed to have made them for his children. The problem with the direction of the movie (and lack of script editing) is that even the simple line of the plot is hard to trace. It's fine for the nuance to be hard to parse, but even the basic plot is hard to parse.

Another thing I'll add to your synopsis is that the trade dispute around Naboo was crucial because not only did it make Valorum appear weak (because Palpatine secretly stonewalled all efforts Valorum made to resolve it) but also because the sympathy created for Naboo in the process gave the senator from Naboo a huge boost in visibility and credibility. We're led to understand that Palpatine shouldn't have stood much of a chance against the like of Bail Organa - a hugely popular figure - but that this crisis gave him a timely boost to popularity exactly at the right time. That, of course, and the fact that he no doubt had countless senators in his pocket or under his influence. To be frank my theory is that Palpatine's hidden influence was already enough to make people vote for him, but if a small-time senator with little visible support was suddenly the victor in a popular vote it would look super-suspicious, so timing the vote to happen during this crisis would allow the senate and even the general public to explain away his victory as having been related to the Naboo incident. Brilliant.
msw188
Mon, Jan 15, 2018, 11:08pm (UTC -6)
JPaul,
Man, it's great that you manage to get that out of Epi1. I just can't see it. The Trade Feds want profits, and somehow blockading and invading Naboo accomplishes this? For some reason the Gungans will be affected too? Palpatine originally planned on Valorum being kicked out without anyone from Naboo reaching the capital? Padme agreed to some plan of Palpatine's? I can't remember if he offered her anything or she agreed to anything, especially since, as you admit, she goes back and somehow saves her planet without his help. And the net effect for the Trade Feds is that they somehow are allowed to continue with some kind of vendetta against Padme?
Dom
Tue, Jan 16, 2018, 8:54am (UTC -6)
The Trade Federation was blockading the planet because they were protesting a tax on trade routes. It’s right there in the opening crawl. Basically, think of the Trade Federation as a multinational corporation, or like the old East India Company. It would be like Exxon seizing Singapore if the United Nations taxed profits on trade through the Straits of Malacca. Probably not going to happen today, but big companies like the EIC did engage in paramilitary activity during the heyday of colonialism.
msw188
Tue, Jan 16, 2018, 9:29pm (UTC -6)
Peter G,
"Palpatine secretly stonewalled all efforts Valorum made to resolve it"
Is this mentioned or shown in the movie at all? Like ok, Valorum sent the Jedi (it would have been incredibly helpful to have a scene of him sending them off with an explanation and instructions). Were there other efforts of Valorum that Palpatine sabotaged? I remember him asking for time to send a ship to figure out what was going on. But wasn't Padme or somebody like, well whatever my people will all be dead by then?

"We're led to understand that Palpatine shouldn't have stood much of a chance against the like of Bail Organa - a hugely popular figure - but that this crisis gave him a timely boost to popularity exactly at the right time."
I don't remember this either. Maybe this was in Epi2? Also, how did this crisis boost his popularity? He didn't do anything! Padme and a couple Jedi fixed it without him! I understand it made Valorum look bad, but not that it made Palpy look good.

Dom,
Yes, I remember the opening crawl saying that the Trade Feds were upset about taxes, or tax routes, or something to that effect. But your example doesn't make sense for the movie because the movie doesn't make the goal clear. Was Naboo actually a hub for these trade routes, so that controlling it would allow the Feds to control the trading (like in your example)? But Naboo didn't look like a trading hub. Was Naboo the one in charge of collecting the taxes? They didn't look like tax collectors either. Were the Feds trying to show their displeasure to the Senate? If that was the case, why are they keeping the blockade a secret? Is the goal to keep the invasion secret until it is successful? Why are they listening to Palpy? What did he do, promise to keep the Senate busy until they were done invading? Well that didn't happen, so why do they stick with him after the movie is over? In fact, how are they not arrested after the movie is over?

None of these questions matter all that much if the rest of the movie is good, but it isn't. And I can't seem to get into the plot of this movie when there are so many details seemingly missing.
SlackerInc
Tue, Jan 16, 2018, 9:31pm (UTC -6)
@JPaul: "Some object to the political talk that begins the process of explaining how the Republic started to transform into the Empire. I suspect these are people who just want wall to wall action and are the the same ones so happy with TFA and TLJ, movies that don't spend a single minute to explain the political situation."

I definitely agree with you on this (although I guess to be fair to TLJ, there's a little politics at the casino). I think this is a mostly unrecognized strength of the prequels in general. But there are other knocks against TPM besides the ones you acknowledged. Such as the fact that Jar-Jar is not just offensive, he's racist--and the same goes for the obviously Jewish merchant. Or the idea that Anakin built C-3PO (not to mention his growing up on Tattooine makes it even more problematic for Luke to be "hidden" there). And it was just a terrible idea in general to show Darth Vader's origin story as a cute little moppet.

And although I like the idea behind the politics in the prequel trilogy ("this is how democracy dies--with applause"), one problem with it is that it means most of the action we are shown is basically a big MacGuffin, a ruse to distract people from what Palpatine is plotting. And that saps it of real stakes. (For this reason, I have always found it strange that they did a whole series on the Clone Wars, a conflict that literally has no point in and of itself.)
SlackerInc
Tue, Jan 16, 2018, 9:35pm (UTC -6)
P.S. Is there a thread or threads anywhere on this site for general sci-fi discussion? If not, Jammer, you should start one! I have some ideas for comparison of different SF franchises or tropes/themes that don't fit into any of the episode or movie threads.
Dom
Wed, Jan 17, 2018, 10:30am (UTC -6)
@msw188, some of those questions aren't really answered, presumably because Lucas didn't think the audience wouldn't care. But a lot of them are. Sounds like you haven't seen the movie recently, but there's more there than it might seem at first glance:

"Was Naboo actually a hub for these trade routes, so that controlling it would allow the Feds to control the trading (like in your example)? But Naboo didn't look like a trading hub. Was Naboo the one in charge of collecting the taxes? They didn't look like tax collectors either."

Ultimately irrelevant. The reason why it was Naboo is because Palpatine wanted the sympathy vote in his bid to become Chancellor. There might be some backstory about Naboo having mineral wealth, etc, but that's not the point of the story.

"Were the Feds trying to show their displeasure to the Senate? If that was the case, why are they keeping the blockade a secret? Is the goal to keep the invasion secret until it is successful?"

It wasn't a secret. That's why the Chancellor sent Jedi to negotiate with the Trade Federation. The invasion was secret. Even then, my understanding was that it was less that the invasion was secret and more that the human rights abuses were secret. The whole point was that a blockade was a tense situation but an invasion was beyond the pale.

"Why are they listening to Palpy?"

That's backstory to the film. It's not answered directly, but probably more than one could reasonably expect. Why does Vader listen to Palpatine in ANH? Why does Kylo listen to Snoke? To some extent, TPM begins in media res and we just have to accept it.

"What did he do, promise to keep the Senate busy until they were done invading?"

Yes, Palpatine did explicitly promise this.

"Well that didn't happen, so why do they stick with him after the movie is over?"

Again, Palpatine DID keep the Senate preoccupied. That was the whole point. The Senate didn't respond promptly. They were talking about setting up a committee and investigating. Then there was the vote of no confidence in the chancellor.

"In fact, how are they not arrested after the movie is over?"

Did you even watch this movie? The Trade Federation leaders WERE arrested after it was over. They're being marched onto a New Republic ship and a Naboo guy comments that he hopes he rots in jail or something like that. And the Trade Federation did not stick with Palpatine afterwards. In Attack of the Clones, they join Dooku, thinking he's leading a separate army. Dooku says they are still upset Palpatine left them out to dry after the events of TPM.

I get that TPM has its problems, i.e. acting, pacing, etc, but I don't think the political situation is nearly as complicated as people make it out to be IF you pay attention. That's the thing with the Prequels, they demand you pay attention. The problem is the films aren't entertaining so it's harder to feel emotionally invested.
msw188
Wed, Jan 17, 2018, 1:39pm (UTC -6)
Dom,
Thank you for your responses! You're right of course, I haven't seen this movie in many years. But even back then, the main bit I never understood, which I think you sort of answer but not really, is the issue with the Feds still being around in Epi2. I THOUGHT I remembered them being arrested at the end of Epi1, but I definitely remembered them being in Epi2, so I thought maybe my Epi1 memory was faulty. So wait, they somehow got arrested at the end of Epi1 and were let off? Or somehow escaped?? And they're still making robots, and involved in making a death star! Even if there's some line in the movie making sense of this, to me this is just bonkers! How did that trial go? How was the hologram partner never brought up? Again, in a movie where characters>plot, this wouldn't stand out so much as needing more explanation.

"The reason why it was Naboo is because Palpatine wanted the sympathy vote in his bid to become Chancellor."
I get why Palpy would pick Naboo. I don't understand why the Trade Federation would agree to it.

"Why does Vader listen to Palpatine in ANH? Why does Kylo listen to Snoke? To some extent, TPM begins in media res and we just have to accept it."
I can accept individuals listening to their masters, even including the awful Darth Maul. I can also accept that, if someone somehow became the Emperor or "Supreme Leader", then the Empire or "New Order" would do what he says. But I just can't wrap my mind around an independent organization portrayed as taking orders from someone outside their organization for no clear reason.

"It wasn't a secret. That's why the Chancellor sent Jedi to negotiate with the Trade Federation. The invasion was secret. Even then, my understanding was that it was less that the invasion was secret and more that the human rights abuses were secret. The whole point was that a blockade was a tense situation but an invasion was beyond the pale."
This is beyond my understanding too. Like, if the Feds are just upset over taxes, why go beyond the pale, as you put it? Shouldn't they WANT to negotiate?

I keep returning to the Feds because an earlier post considered the plot of the prequels stronger than the newquels. In the prequels, we are supposed to have a master string-puller manipulating the people around him to eventually make himself emperor. But for manipulation to be engaging, the victim has to be compelling, or at least competent. Unfortunately, the Trade Fed's are portrayed as bumbling morons for the most part. For manipulation to be intellectually stimulating, the victim has to have some logical motivation that is taken advantage of. It's not an interesting manipulation if the victim simply does whatever the string-puller says! That's just giving orders, not manipulating someone. But in the prequels our only motivation for the Feds is a nebulous 'we don't like taxes'. This feels so disconnected from them agreeing to, say, killing Jedi negotiators and violently invading a planet, that it comes off as arbitrary.

Contrast this to the 'manipulation' that goes on in Epi8. Here, we understand that Kylo wants to be a badass but is conflicted because we've seen Epi7, plus we see him get talked down then fail to kill his mother. We also understand that Rey is noble and proactive, and we have the precedent of Luke saving Vader to mind. Apparently Snoke does too (not sure how he understands Rey to be honest, no one is going to call Epi8's plot amazing), so he sets up a situation where Rey is tricked into coming to him. We have independent characters with independent characteristics and motivations, and a 'master' is able to arrange things so that other characters think they are furthering their own goals, when in fact they are furthering his. With the prequels, do the Trade Feds really see killing Jedi negotiators, invading planets, and killing Padme as furthering their own goals?
Dom
Wed, Jan 17, 2018, 3:00pm (UTC -6)
msw188, by the way, nice to have a productive chat online! The internet has been such a disaster zone when it's come to talking about Star Wars. Here are some more thoughts:

"I THOUGHT I remembered them being arrested at the end of Epi1, but I definitely remembered them being in Epi2, so I thought maybe my Epi1 memory was faulty. So wait, they somehow got arrested at the end of Epi1 and were let off? Or somehow escaped?? ... How did that trial go? How was the hologram partner never brought up?"

Your initial instinct was right. Somebody (I think a Naboo royal advisor) brings this up in an admittedly clumsy line of exposition in E2. He basically says the courts didn't convict them, implying corruption of some sort. Again, the Prequels do require a lot in terms of remembering names, places, and catching those types of expository lines. It admittedly took me a while to piece it all together. That line required you to remember who Nute Gunray was, for many viewers 3 years after having seen TPM.

"I get why Palpy would pick Naboo. I don't understand why the Trade Federation would agree to it.... But I just can't wrap my mind around an independent organization portrayed as taking orders from someone outside their organization for no clear reason."

If you REALLY want to know, the novel Darth Plagueis does go into some of this, explaining why Naboo was valuable, how Palpatine manipulated the TF, etc (although the book is no longer canon, it's one of the better books and actually does help make senes of the Prequels). However, I'm fine just saying there's some backstory we don't see in the film. I mean, while the Sequel Trilogy has gone WAY too far in avoiding any world-building, I also get that the whole movie can't be political exposition. TPM kind of does this half-media res, half-introductory world-building dance that probably isn't very satisfactory overall.

I do agree that the Prequels bungled the story of the Trade Federation, Confederacy, etc and never gave them a motivation. The story works better if you just accept that something happened behind the scenes to get them manipulated, and accept that it's really the story of Palpatine the manipulator manipulating the Jedi, and the rest of the government - and people at large - letting him get away with it. This isn't the TF story, it's Palpatine's.

As for the Sequels...

"we understand that Kylo wants to be a badass but is conflicted because we've seen Epi7"

I guess. He says he feels the "pull of the Light" in TFA, but who knows what that means. It's just exposition. I guess he is reluctant to kill his parents, but that's not exactly about making the "right" choice so much as not making the "wrong" one. Kylo's choices are pretty much "do outrageous evil thing" or "don't do outrageous evil thing". We never see him tempted to be compassionate or to help a lost puppy dog.

Adam Driver is a MUCH better actor than Hayden Christensen, but when it comes to moral complexity and compelling character arcs I find Anakin's Faustian bargain much more interesting. Anakin has to decide between his wife and the Jedi (and his "brother" Obi-Wan). He has to choose between his duty to the Jedi and his impulse to save his mother. Those are truly tough choices, arguably no right or wrong, and it's no wonder the kid was so messed up.

As for Snoke being some sort of master manipulating others so skillfully. Well, you saw what happened to him in the throne room. He manipulated his ego into being so incompetent. If he *really* could read Kylo's mind, how did he miss the fact that Kylo was thinking about killing him? At least when Palpatine became overconfident, his attention was focused on Luke and he had no reason to suspect Vader.

Snoke to me is what the TF seems to be for you in the Prequels. He's this unexplained plot device that drew Ben Solo to the Dark Side for Reasons. I don't know enough about Snoke to even say what his motivations really are. Does he want to kill the Jedi, become a new emperor, buy better slippers? And what is his relationship with Ben? Is Snoke more a cult leader or political leader? Did Ben ever look to Snoke as a father figure, or just as a boss? Granted, we'll probably get some 400-page novel in a few years chronicling Snoke's entire life, so maybe that understanding will come with time.
Peter G.
Wed, Jan 17, 2018, 3:21pm (UTC -6)
@ Dom & msw188,

The main difference between the stories in the prequels and sequels is pretty straightforward. In the prequels Lucas had very detailed plot details and world-building, with too much content crammed into crappy editing and storytelling, and so it was hard to glean the story points from the action onscreen. It was a story-concept triumph coupled with a screenwriting and editing disaster.

The sequels are almost the opposite in every way. They had no story to tell, no ideas about the world to speak of, no planned character arcs and no message to speak of. It was a one-thing-happens-and-then-another-happens action story based on the Star Wars universe, where many mysteries (or failures of disclosure) are set up but where the trail of breadcrumbs leads nowhere. They did a fine job editing the films into easily digestible paint-by-numbers progression - and in this they overcame the problems of the prequels - and in exchange didn't bother with content. It's kind of a like a well put-together flashy commercial you can't quite tell what product it's supposed to be selling but you know it looks cool anyhow.

All suspicion to this effect was confirmed by Rian Johnson, who admitted that he was handed the reigns with nothing to go on. Abrams hadn't had any arc in mind, answers to questions, or concepts in mind. It was just "hey, it's yours now! Do whatever you want, we don't have anything for you," and naturally he felt lost because he had to continue someone else's story that had become the cinematic equivalent of a mad lib.

So Dom, the answer to who Snoke is or why he did what he did is simple: there is no answer. Oh, someone will no doubt monetize his story in a novel, but the creation will be all theirs. The Snoke that appears in the films doesn't need a reason or an identity: he's just there to be evil and then die. The same goes for the First Order, what happened to the Republic, for why there was a map to Luke, and finally about Rey's parents. Johnson said that he considered all options when deciding who her parents were and concluded that it didn't matter who they were since he didn't want the force to always be about bloodlines. So he wrote that her parents were nobodies; in other words, it doesn't matter, like all the other mysteries. What was the purpose of Luke's lessons? It doesn't matter. Why did Luke randomly die in the end? Doesn't matter - aside from the fact that Hamill no doubt insisted on being out of the next one since he hated this one. Why did the Republic fall so easily? Doesn't matter. The list goes on. It's hard to feel the impact of how much things matter when none of it matters. So far the only thread going into Ep 9 that seems to actually matter is the relationship between Rey and Ren, which is fine and one of the things they did well in Ep 9. Beyond that maybe we'll see another retread of the rebels overcoming the evil Empire.

Dom
Thu, Jan 18, 2018, 12:31pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G., I'm not quite so down on the Sequels, and I do think they have something to say, but in a very naval-gazing way. Whereas the OT and PT had something to say about life and politics, the ST has something to say about Star Wars as a pop culture franchise and fandom. TLJ spends a lot of time deconstructing Star Wars tropes, which is interesting as far as it goes, but doesn't really inform my worldview. The movies are fun, but not quite as deep as Lucas'.
SlackerInc
Thu, Jan 18, 2018, 4:47pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G: "So Dom, the answer to who Snoke is or why he did what he did is simple: there is no answer. Oh, someone will no doubt monetize his story in a novel, but the creation will be all theirs. The Snoke that appears in the films doesn't need a reason or an identity: he's just there to be evil and then die. The same goes for the First Order, what happened to the Republic, for why there was a map to Luke, and finally about Rey's parents. Johnson said that he considered all options when deciding who her parents were and concluded that it didn't matter who they were since he didn't want the force to always be about bloodlines. So he wrote that her parents were nobodies; in other words, it doesn't matter, like all the other mysteries. What was the purpose of Luke's lessons? It doesn't matter. Why did Luke randomly die in the end? Doesn't matter - aside from the fact that Hamill no doubt insisted on being out of the next one since he hated this one. Why did the Republic fall so easily? Doesn't matter. The list goes on. It's hard to feel the impact of how much things matter when none of it matters."

Heh, while I think your point is well taken, it reminds me of a monologue in the little-known (and vastly underrated among most of those who know it) movie "Rubber":

https://youtu.be/Cghg-QyTP_M?t=70

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