Saturday, April 14, 2018

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Blu-ray Review

I'm going to start talking about this movie in a completely backward way, and right out of the gate, point out that I had NO IDEA there was a new kind of AT-AT in the film. As a massive toy geek, counting the AT-AT as once of my favorite Star Wars vehicles (I own 4), for me to not notice there was an entirely new AT-AT in The Last Jedi was troubling for me. I didn't have to go far for an answer, as it all stems from one reason. I was disengaged. Let's start from the top now.


Star Wars: The Last Jedi marks the third moment in history that the gatekeepers of the Star Wars mythos have allowed strangers to, in a word, mess with their sand box...on a massive scale. It was one thing to allow authors to create an expanded universe in novels (which they unceremoniously wiped clean in one pitiless stroke), but quite another to allow creators to impose their vision on such an iconic and, dare I say, revered property, and commit it to film for history to judge. Whenever this happens, we assume Disney will guide a creator along a pre-determined route, allowing the creator to tell a story within guidelines already set up, much like a comic book company would do. You tell your story, but you have to remember rules set down before...behaviors...history. Move along the same time line, advancing the narrative to what is hopefully a new and exciting conclusion.

Or you can just say that everything that happened before was crap and burn it all down.

The plot points I'm about to lay out were only fully revealed to me after watching ALL the behind the scenes footage, featurettes and explanations from the Director over cut scenes and such. I'm explaining this because, while watching the movie without this running narration, I had a very different view of the film. Allow me to explain.

We get back to the very scene we've been waiting for....Luke atop the mountainside...Rey looking on with mixed admiration and intensity of purpose. She hands Luke his lightsaber, an obvious call to battle. Come and be the hero we remember. Train Rey and together, the light will triumph over the darkness and all people will be free. ...And then Luke throws the saber away.

And it was as if millions of geek voices cried out in horror and were suddenly silenced... because they were screaming into an arm rest. No one likes to get ejected from a movie theater for ugly crying.

Burn it down, Yoda. Burn it all down. 

The movie continues along with three stories.

1. The Adventures of Finn and Rose, which seems like a series of scenes created to give Finn something to do. Even when the circumstances are dire, these scenes lack weight, save for a fleeting moment at Rose's introduction. Loads of filler and wasted creature effects. LOTS of moments that went nowhere.

2. Poe Dameron: Alpha Male, wherein everyone is wrong and Poe is right, except that he's always wrong. Luckily, we have Carrie Fisher to smack him around. Nearly every scene in these sequences that did not involve space battle hurt my head, in a screaming "STOP DOING THAT" at the screen  sort of way. Again, it just feels like filler and repetitive dialogue.

3. Grumpy Old Jedi. The story of a man who nearly sacrificed everything he knew to bring peace to all the known galaxies...and just when it seemed like he was at the start of a new dawn, with hope in the hearts of millions and the enemy on the run, he has a freak out, tries to kill his sister's son and then runs off to an island to wallow in self pity.

Only after watching all those previously mentioned Blu-ray extras did I grasp all the motivations in play, but most specifically, why Luke does all the crappy things he does. It turns out the Jedi were crap at everything. The "balance of the force" means that for every Jedi, there must be Sith, and so, an eternal dance of light against dark. More importantly, the Jedi were self appointed uber-marshals, enforcing the will of "good men" across the galaxies with impunity. Actions like these, as we well know, brought about the rise of The Emperor, the fall of the federation and the death of nearly every Jedi. Luke decides that, were he to continue to be a Jedi, and train new Jedi, he would just trigger the rise of new Sith and start the cycle all over again, exposing those he loves to new dangers they are ill equipped to handle.

The takeaway can use the force and not be Jedi or Sith.

Question Mark?????

Later, Luke would project his spirit to a final battle with The First Order and ultimately, Kylo Ren, delivering a big ole PSYYYYYYYYYEEEEEECH as he disappeared from the battle field, having given the rebels enough time to escape, carrying with them the tale of the brave Jedi who stood, one against many, sparking hope across the known galaxies.

New Hope....through the tales of a brave JEDI.


Honest to God, after all that, when you watch all the extras and get past the initial grumbling in your Original Trilogy loving head, it's not a terrible's just that it sort of takes a playful wee on all the tenants of the movies we love so much. The film clearly employs the best artists this industry has to offer, creating visuals that will leave your jaw agape. ...And then the story will leave you unsettled. It's no wonder Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) had such a hard time with the material. At the end of the day, he's a man doing a job and he doesn't own Luke Skywalker (he even says as much), but you feel like you we all feel like we do...and when he does things that feel very out of character, it's upsetting. This was my takeaway. We don't own Star Wars. Someone else does. We still get to love the original three movies that raised us and these new movies, well....they belong to someone else.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is available on Blu-Ray now. Buy it for the Andy Serkis acting his ass off, the thought process behind some amazing visuals and deleted scenes, including Luke's reaction to learning of Han's death...but oddly does not include this gag reel......??????


1 comment :

  1. Yep-- that sums up my feelings on the film. I saw it in the theatre and was left with the profound sensation that the writer/director honestly didn't really care for very much that had come before his film. (Hence, the fact that he felt the need to beat us over the head with the mantra about destroying the past.)

    It's not a great film if it requires all of the DVD extras to explain the plot/motivations/etc. Johnson failed at the old writer's adage of "Show... Don't Tell" in that he didn't/couldn't deliver this in a film that was already 25 minutes too long.

    I don't plan on watching it again.