Many among the hordes of fans, myself included, who scrambled into theatres to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi were probably not expecting what just happened. The latest installment in the space opera saga had me having a grand ole' time. The action, the lore, the visuals (all of them spectacular), and the film itself provided a worthy film to add to the Star Wars collection.
I'm not going to give a play-by-play of the film as I have only seen it once, and instead, I would rather just highlight a few things. And yes, I will be issuing spoilers when the time comes, so hold onto your golden bikinis. However, if you haven't already seen the film, why even read this?
Regardless of whatever it is I am about to write here within the next few minutes, it should be noted that the Star Wars universe is never going to be the same.
1. How to Do a Trailer Right
When it comes to producing and promoting a film, most producers have to be tactical in what they show in the trailer so that it successful in both wowing the audience and not spoiling too much of the film. Bad examples include: Suicide Squad, Batman vs Superman, Jurassic World, etc.
The reason I stress this is the fact that when Last Jedi's first, full trailer came out, it did a successful job in answering some questions, in deep need of answering since 2015, and it allowed certain scenes to appear that could either A.) not be the full scene or B.) misdirect what you thought would happen.
In the trailer, you can see what would appear to be soon-to-be-death sequences, why characters are saying things, as well as audio clips and such in the background.
Most of the audio clips are in fact spliced to play out of order and misdirect. Some clips are even extras, the same line recorded several times, and an unused clip will be used in the trailer, while the actual scene where that specific line is spoken will have a differed, quality of that person's voice as well as context.
And no, Leia did not die during the fighter pilot Kylo scene. After though, I had to stop myself from screaming in my seat because Leia. Used. The. Force.
Misdirection is key, remember that.
2. Flaw: Reshoots
I never said they were all going to be good highlights.
Several times throughout the film, I noticed how the plot seemed to be slowed down by semi-trivial moments between characters. They allowed for the story to continue, but there were moments where I was glad they only did something three times, the key number before a joke or gag becomes irritating.
Often, whenever Kylo Ren and Rey are psychically, empathically communicating, this felt like it was delaying the film from what was thought to be an expansive adventure. In reality, the film takes place in about 4 different locations within the span of a day.
The main reason I say reshoots, of course it can just be directorial style, is because a lot of the film felt cut apart and put together in different variations until finally they just decided to stop at a certain point. As such, there are several moments in the film that introduce characters for a few minutes, then jump back to other characters for a few minutes, then jump back again. Over an over, each time a shift, a different location.
A lot of the film's overtones felt very akin with Rogue One where the plot is set to a literal doomsday clock. Some things felt rushed or even too dragged out at the same time. Comparing the two: both did a successful job of reinforcing the core belief of the Rebellion and/or Resistance: "Many Bothans died to bring us this information."
And I also dreaded anytime there was a scene with Leia because I kept thinking, "This is it. This is the moment we lose her."
There were also a few flashback sequences. The main one in particular is shown in three different perspectives as the film progresses. This was also an example of what felt like cut n' paste filmmaking. By the time the third scene came around I couldn't help think, "My god again?"
The film felt very compressed, with different plot points going in different directions throughout the film, but it did successfully make me give a satisfied sigh of relief when Luke came back to confront Kylo at the end. I felt that this tied everything up in a neat little bow.
Also, everyone likes saying the word 'Hope' a little too much.
3. What Do Snoke and Rey's Parents Have In Common?
Answer: They are both nobodies. The identity of Rey's parents happened to be revealed haphazardly in the film's climax. They are said to be simple drunks who traded Rey off for more money to drink and are in fact, buried on Jakku. Another thing to point out is Snoke himself, who is presented as entirely over confident, single minded, and ignorant which does nothing important to the plot. For example, he got himself killed. At the end of the day, Snoke was just another Sith and there was nothing new to be learned from him; or if he was in fact a scarred Jar Jar Binks. However, Rey's simplistic origin is not as devastating. After all, not every great hero comes from greatness.
Really the only way for you to understand this is if you watch the film itself.
Whereas fans might have thought that Last Jedi would be like Empire Strikes Back, it really serves itself more like a Return of the Jedi film. Thematic elements and scenes were almost shot for shot parallels of Episode VI. Several plot points that I thought would take all three films to resolve were taken care of within the first hour, and it left me with this burgeoning question, "What next?"
It was almost like characters would be introduced for the first time or finally introduced and then *BAM* gone. Sometimes characters were first introduced in a way that was so obvious that I couldn't tell if it was essential to the plot or just a glorified cameo (I'm looking at you Justin Theroux).
There was one particular child that was given special attention though. I noticed him immediately. Remember him, he's important.
4. Flaw: The Film Did Not Deliver On the LGBTQ+
Now, when you are making a film with a LGBTQ+ character, it is not necessary to scream out their sexuality or gender identity. However, in Last Jedi the only character we knew was in fact queer was Vice Admiral Holdo, but you might not have even known that if you hadn't read all the prequel novels that came out this year in anticipation for the film.
In a previous Star Wars novel published earlier this year, set chronologically right after the Battle of Yavin, a young Princess Leia has a conversation on romance with her new friend Amilyn Holdo. Upon hearing Leia say she's only interested in "humanoid males", Holdo replies, "But that just seems so limiting."
In previous articles and interviews, JJ Abrams said that he believed queer storylines would be coming to the Star Wars mythos, even suggesting that one of the romance storylines involving two of the main characters had been revised to be an LGBTQ+ romance instead of a heterosexual one.
I'm not trying to sound like I'm whining, as I know everyone who will disagree with me on this will think, but if you promise to provide inclusivity and then fail to deliver, all it does is birth resentment.
As soon as people realized that the Finn x Poe ship was a thing, it became a mastered queer bait, joining the ranks of other shows and films that marketed themselves to LGBTQ+ audiences knowing people would watch in the hopes that two characters of the same sex would end up together; Ex: Sherlock.
It's not difficult to create, darlings, but if you're having difficulty, maybe hire some queer POC to do your writing.
Further Reading: I would also like to point out that this linked article's conclusion is entirely ignorant, but it's information can be considered.
5. Luke Skywalker:
Oh my god, I love Mark Hamill, but really I love Luke and Mark Hamill. Hamill's portrayal of the character has been an excellent example of 'A Hero's Journey'. Last Jedi's version of Luke is a bit more like Anakin Skywalker from Episode III, but I love it nonetheless. George Lucas once said that Luke was the most powerful Jedi in existence, often revered as it, a point even self identified by Luke in the film, and this was shown at various times where we finally see Luke do more than "lift rocks".
His movement is less sluggish, and more "I'm going to do this with the most menial amount of energy possible. I know I'm powerful, but I'd rather not get into it right now."
His fight with Kylo Ren, an example of the magic of modern movie technology, showed just how much Luke can do. His quick dodges and swift retorts reminded me of Yoda, and also gave a visual of how much Luke has learned over the years. The moment Luke's appearance is revealed to be a Force induced hallucination is one of the greatest moments of the film. However, if you look closely, his no longer grey beard and hair should be a noticeable "duh" when this trickery is revealed.
Misdirection is key.
I do appreciate the fact though that Luke's storyline in the film was one of conclusion, drawing on elements from the original trilogy, rather than just presenting him as Rey's version of Obi-Wan. The film ensured that Luke's story would conclude on a note that didn't sound sharp, and I cannot wait to see him again in Episode IX.
Several moments provided Luke with the steps to redemption. His conversation with R2, whose only scene in the movie is here, pulled at all of my heart strings because all R2 had to do was replay Leia's original message from New Hope. The scene where Luke is conversing with Yoda's ghost provided some insight into not only what Force Ghosts can do, but also the fact that even after all these years, Jedi Master Luke Skywalker stills need some advice from one of his masters.
The introduction of new characters and conclusion of the action provided a whole new terrain for Star Wars to grow on. The film's conclusion left me with hope for the franchise's future as well as the different directions they could now go in, but I cannot help but wonder if perhaps Last Jedi wrapped up too many plotlines. What's next to do? Where to explore? Who to fight?
If you've seen the film's end, you understand why the film is called Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The only thing that keeps nagging at the back of my brain is Carrie Fisher. Without her, the series will definitely not be the same, and I am having a hard time imagining how they will continue. We love you General.
At the end of the film, Leia does not die, so with it being confirmed that she will not be in Episode IX, how will Leia exit? My theory is they will do a time jump forward with the final film of the sequel trilogy, and it will be revealed that General Leia Organa passed on between the two films.
A theme of the film is that of what becomes of a legend. Luke Skywalker is cynical when it comes to his failures because he's "the great Luke Skywalker", Rose Tico refers to Finn as a hero, which he denies being such, we can see Leia slowly pass the torch onto Poe at various moments in the film, and when there are no legends anymore, how does one have Hope? At the film's end, you see children playing with toys, acting out Luke Skywalker's adventures. After the children are forced to disband their story time, one of them, the one I mentioned earlier, starts to clean and summons a broom to him via the force. He looks up at the stars and we see the possibility of new adventures and heroes arising within Star Wars and most importantly, the Force is not dead.