Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Last Jedi: Woot!

People are worried about too much Star Wars now that Disney owns that property and Marvel and maybe even the Fox stuff (Spidey, X-stuff).  After last night, I am not so worried.  I saw folks rank Last Jedi among the very best Star Wars movies, but I need to watch it a few times to be sure.  I can be sure that it is the most enjoyable of the new ones and will rank well ultimately (spoilers below):

In the olde poste, I ranked the movies thusly:
Empire > Star Wars > Return > Revenge > Menace > Clones.
Pretty conventional, eh?  The hard part is figuring out where to put the three new ones.  I am pretty sure that after I see Last Jedi that my ranking will be Last Jedi > Rogue One > Force Awakens, but where they go in the overall scheme of things?  Not sure.

Ok, first, my reactions to the movie and then some considerations of key categories.

The movie had so much to like with heaps of callbacks and repeated themes without doing as much replay of a previous film (sorry, Force Awakens).  In some ways, this felt like a semi-reverse Empire as the Hoth scene was at the end, the big reveal was in the middle, and the escape was at the end.  Not to mention the stranger who is a friend and then betrays them--is Benicio Del Toro Lando?

It was, except for the big surprise at the end of Empire, perhaps the most surprising Star Wars movie: Snoke dies half-way through?  Wow.  The destruction of the rebellion except for a tinder/spark? Yeah, I have to invoke my favorite line of an SNL parody here: the average rebel is dead.  Yoda?  Yes!  Leia, whose only force capabilities seemed to be communing with her twin, saves herself from space!  Luke was not really there?  Nicely played--nothing gave that away until the last part of the battle with Ren. 

It left some of the biggest questions that may never get answered decisively in the movies: Snoke's backstory, Rey's backstory (Ren is an unreliable narrator at best), etc.  How were they tracking the rebels?

The usual mix of dumb and smart rebels.  Why didn't they tell Poe where the convoy was going?  This could be the worst case of Operational Security since the rebels held huge meetings to discuss strategy in Rogue One.  The defense of the base on the red salt planet (super cool visuals) was kind of dumb--their broken fighter slider things were doomed to fail--more wasted rebel pilots after Poe got many of them killed at the opening battle.  Why are the rebels always so concentrated anyway?  But also clever--Luke's distraction strategy worked great, the desperation movie by Laura Dern's Admiral Holdo (talk about short-lived) was powerful.  I am, unlike others, not so surprised it took her some time to figure it out.

The usual mix of somewhat clever and incredibly dumb bad guys.  Snoke plays Rey (smart), underestimates Ren (dumb).  Ren sucks as a leader, as his vanity and hate for Luke let the tiny spark of rebellion escape.  Hux doth suck, and should have been fired/force choked by the end of the first battle of this movie. 

Mostly, the movie was just a lot of fun.  There was a lot of humor spread throughout a pretty dark film, which, besides being the middle movie and the Hoth-esque scene at the end, makes the parallels to Empire clear.  The battle scenes were all pretty terrific, from the attack on the dreadnaught to the fight between Rey/Ren and the red guards (it took the second movie of the third trilogy to finally see those guys in action) to the short Rey vs. Luke fight to the Millennium Falcon vs Tie fighters to Luke and Ren (it loses some meaning when it turns it Luke ain't there) to the new Hoth fight. 

BB-8 turned out to be very resourceful, but my favorite droid is still K-2SO--I don't understand beeps.  Captain Phasma may turn out to be the most hyped/most wasted villain since either Darth Maul or Boba Fett.

Perhaps the most important lesson of the entire series, thanks to Yoda: one learns most from failure.  Funny for a guy who said do or do not.  But then again, contradictions were the way of Jedi instruction.

Best Animals:  The crystal foxes were not only beautiful but an important plot device (go this way!).  The porgs were done just right--humorous but not too distracting.  The horse things on the casino planet were pretty cool as well.

Rey, Finn and Poe remain fun characters that I like a lot.  I worried about Rey, and am glad to see her not turn.  

And, yeah, seeing Carrie Fisher again and again in harm's way and just seeing her as Leia was very moving.  I miss her and her dog (whowas kind of in the movie).  I don't know what they will do with her for the next movie, which was supposed to be her chance to bow out. Damn.  But cool that her daughter got some dialogue (did take me out of the movie a smidge, but that's ok).

I will probably add more as I think about the movie and as I see it again soon.  But it was a hell of a ride.   I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

UPDATE: I hadn't noticed that Luke's projection of himself was younger than he was... nice touch.

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