Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker (WARNING: may contain BOXED spoilers}

#32
Rian Johnson did everything he could to rescue Star Wars from self-referential redundancy but the so-called fans wouldn't have it
Shenanigans. Rian Johnson‘s film was awful. And his ideas and execution was awful. I’m sick of hearing how he was good because he did ‘something different’. Something different doesn’t automatically equate to good. So called fans wouldn’t have it because it wasn’t good. Forget redundancy.

Dont get me wrong, I thought JJ’s ep7 rehash wasn’t especially good either. The entire sequel trilogy was a hot mess. But Johnson really screwed it up. Abrams had little chance of saving it in ep9 no matter what he did. The first movie was far from great, but not awful. However the last 2 movies were god awful. I don’t know what either director or Kathleen Kennedy we’re thinking.

I believe future Star Wars films post Skywalker saga will be in much better hands with Jon Favreau running point. But then again, I’ve heard Rian Johnson will be directing a new series so hopefully Favreau can keep him from screwing it up again.
 
#33
I just have never developed the same attachment to the new cast of characters in this trilogy. I have enjoyed much more the Mandalorian series on Disney+ which is now 7 episodes in.
Totally agree re: attachment. The original series was able to manufacture that, the new series never came close to it.

Also, Mandalorian >>>>>>>>> the entire sequel and prequel movies.
 
#34
JJ dug the grave, Rian laid it to rest, and JJ returned to take a smelly poop on top of it. It feels like a game of hot potato with who can ruin the franchise while getting someone else to take the blame for it. JJ got the last laugh in this case. Aside from all the garbage themes the new trilogy have (everything old is bad, everything new is good), they are just badly written. Search your feelings...you know it to be true.
Spot on.

The entire 9 movie saga was supposed to center on the Skywalkers. But all this sequel trilogy attempted to do was kill off the core of the original movies (because they‘re old) and introduce new characters (because they’re supposedly young and fresh).

The opportunity to do that would have been there for non-Skywalker saga movies. But when continuing a story about the Skywalkers and original core, it’s kinda important to focus on those characters, ya know? Who cares about Rey, Finn, Poe, Rose, etc?????

Instead, ep7 kills Han before we have a chance to catch up with him and doesn’t have Luke in the damn movie until the final 30 seconds (freaking brilliant).

Then ep8 ruins the Luke character by having him be nothing like he was and inexplicably quitting — even though he supposedly was still searching for Jedi temples and Sith artifacts.

Then ep9 completely invalidates the theme of first 6 movies wherein Anakin is the chosen one to bring balance to the force and his son Luke redeems him.

None of that meant a thing since the Emperor supposedly didn’t die and now Rey accomplished the feat instead.

Complete mess. And worse storytelling, cheese factor and dialog than a Lucas film — which is saying a lot.
 
#35
Shenanigans. Rian Johnson‘s film was awful. And his ideas and execution was awful. I’m sick of hearing how he was good because he did ‘something different’. Something different doesn’t automatically equate to good. So called fans wouldn’t have it because it wasn’t good. Forget redundancy.

Dont get me wrong, I thought JJ’s ep7 rehash wasn’t especially good either. The entire sequel trilogy was a hot mess. But Johnson really screwed it up. Abrams had little chance of saving it in ep9 no matter what he did. The first movie was far from great, but not awful. However the last 2 movies were god awful. I don’t know what either director or Kathleen Kennedy we’re thinking.

I believe future Star Wars films post Skywalker saga will be in much better hands with Jon Favreau running point. But then again, I’ve heard Rian Johnson will be directing a new series so hopefully Favreau can keep him from screwing it up again.
Sequels are inherently stupid. They only rise to the level of decent when the director actually tries to make a good movie that doesn't depend on referencing something else to justify its existence. The Last Jedi wasn't just about subverting expectations, it was about introducing a new idea into a series that hadn't bothered to do anything new in over 30 years. It's the only other sequel in this series (the first one being Empire Strikes Back) that stands on its own as a good movie. All the things that people hated about it have to do with its failure to live up to some imaginary standard of what they want out of a Star Wars movie. Luke didn't wreck shop, Snoke isn't the new Emperor, Rey's parents aren't Skywalkers. Who cares? These are all terrible ideas anyway which you would find out if you actually tried to write them. 99% of the ideas fans want to see were rejected because they don't have any dramatic tension in them. If Luke had rampaged through the movie carving up the First Order it would have made every other character pointless. If he had been the wise Jedi sage it would have been inconsistent with everything we saw him do in the original trilogy. What Rian Johnson did with Luke in The Last Jedi was the only reasonable option given where The Force Awakens ended. That movie didn't ruin Luke's character, it treated him as an actual flesh and blood human being instead of a poster of a superhero.

Maybe you didn't realize this but that entire movie was a return to the mythological roots that Star Wars was based on. It was a return to the heroes journey where characters have to do battle with the flaws inside themselves to grow as people. The fight scenes in the original trilogy were technically amateurish compared to what we have now but they carried so much more weight because each one was really about the characters. Similarly, every action scene in The Last Jedi was a character beat in disguise.

What's compelling about the idea of the Force isn't swinging lightsabers around its about respecting the life force in all living things. The opening scene where the Resistance sufferers massive losses and Poe gets chastised for his suicidal heroism challenges us to accept that in real life there are consequences for our actions. Throughout the whole movie Poe is learning to admit when he's wrong. This new movie just pretends none of that even happened. Their new plan is just as idiotic and unlikely to succeed as anything he dreamed up in The Last Jedi only in JJ's movie Deus Ex Machina saves the day so once again there are no consequences.

The whole Luke and Rey storyline in The Last Jedi reminds us that Luke never saved the galaxy on his own. He needed Obi-Wan and Han in the first movie, he ignored his masters and failed in the second movie, and he was on the verge of failing in the third movie before Vader sacrificed himself to save him. Rey wants to find a living legend and instead she finds a person. But that's actually an incredible stroke of luck. What could we possibly learn from a hero that never loses after all? Luke's fallibilty is what makes him a compelling character. If you can't see that than you missed the whole point.

And similarly Finn and Rose come up with a plan to save the fleet and it fails spectacularly because it was incredibly risky and risky plans do sometimes fail. There are immediate consequences which require an even bigger sacrifice in the part of Admiral Holdo to prevent total disaster. Every victory is costly.

If you hate The Last Jedi its not because it's objectively a bad movie. It has three different plotlines that all reinforce the central theme. It puts all three of the new core characters in situations where they are forced to question what they're fighting for and grow as characters. All parts of the story are working together to teach us something: that good and evil are complicated and true heroism doesn't call attention to itself. Maybe its not as warm and fuzzy as unambiguous good guys vanquishing unambiguous bad guys against all odds but the world has changed since 1977. Our stories have to change too if they're to remain relevant. It's the first Star Wars movie since the original one way back in 1977 to capture that feeling that any one of us can be a hero in the right circumstances. We don't need to be descended from a royal family line or gifted with some cellular mutation. The Force at its purest level is just the power of belief. Nobody has greater claim to it than anyone else.

People get caught up in safe guarding all these extended universe "facts" because someone wrote them down somewhere so supposedly they can't be changed and I wonder if they even realize that what they're watching is fiction. It's make believe! The power of any story lies in its ability to show us something. All JJ Abrams has to say is "gee this stuff is pretty cool". Maybe you don't like what Rian Johnson had to say but it's absolute fallacy to say that his filmmaking is poor. I can see why it's convenient to believe that it's just a bad movie as that justifies for you everything you didn't like about it but what you really didn't like about it is that it changed the Star Wars mythos in a way that you don't agree with. It tried to tell a blockbuster story about some unpopular truths. I don't think Rian Johnson is a perfect filmmaker or anything but he's infinitely more interesting than JJ Abrams and we're so super saturated with pointless escapism that I applaud anybody for actually trying to take their responsibility as a storyteller seriously.
 
#36
Sequels are inherently stupid. They only rise to the level of decent when the director actually tries to make a good movie that doesn't depend on referencing something else to justify its existence. The Last Jedi wasn't just about subverting expectations, it was about introducing a new idea into a series that hadn't bothered to do anything new in over 30 years. It's the only other sequel in this series (the first one being Empire Strikes Back) that stands on its own as a good movie. All the things that people hated about it have to do with its failure to live up to some imaginary standard of what they want out of a Star Wars movie. Luke didn't wreck shop, Snoke isn't the new Emperor, Rey's parents aren't Skywalkers. Who cares? These are all terrible ideas anyway which you would find out if you actually tried to write them. 99% of the ideas fans want to see were rejected because they don't have any dramatic tension in them. If Luke had rampaged through the movie carving up the First Order it would have made every other character pointless. If he had been the wise Jedi sage it would have been inconsistent with everything we saw him do in the original trilogy. What Rian Johnson did with Luke in The Last Jedi was the only reasonable option given where The Force Awakens ended. That movie didn't ruin Luke's character, it treated him as an actual flesh and blood human being instead of a poster of a superhero.

Maybe you didn't realize this but that entire movie was a return to the mythological roots that Star Wars was based on. It was a return to the heroes journey where characters have to do battle with the flaws inside themselves to grow as people. The fight scenes in the original trilogy were technically amateurish compared to what we have now but they carried so much more weight because each one was really about the characters. Similarly, every action scene in The Last Jedi was a character beat in disguise.

What's compelling about the idea of the Force isn't swinging lightsabers around its about respecting the life force in all living things. The opening scene where the Resistance sufferers massive losses and Poe gets chastised for his suicidal heroism challenges us to accept that in real life there are consequences for our actions. Throughout the whole movie Poe is learning to admit when he's wrong. This new movie just pretends none of that even happened. Their new plan is just as idiotic and unlikely to succeed as anything he dreamed up in The Last Jedi only in JJ's movie Deus Ex Machina saves the day so once again there are no consequences.

The whole Luke and Rey storyline in The Last Jedi reminds us that Luke never saved the galaxy on his own. He needed Obi-Wan and Han in the first movie, he ignored his masters and failed in the second movie, and he was on the verge of failing in the third movie before Vader sacrificed himself to save him. Rey wants to find a living legend and instead she finds a person. But that's actually an incredible stroke of luck. What could we possibly learn from a hero that never loses after all? Luke's fallibilty is what makes him a compelling character. If you can't see that than you missed the whole point.

And similarly Finn and Rose come up with a plan to save the fleet and it fails spectacularly because it was incredibly risky and risky plans do sometimes fail. There are immediate consequences which require an even bigger sacrifice in the part of Admiral Holdo to prevent total disaster. Every victory is costly.

If you hate The Last Jedi its not because it's objectively a bad movie. It has three different plotlines that all reinforce the central theme. It puts all three of the new core characters in situations where they are forced to question what they're fighting for and grow as characters. All parts of the story are working together to teach us something: that good and evil are complicated and true heroism doesn't call attention to itself. Maybe its not as warm and fuzzy as unambiguous good guys vanquishing unambiguous bad guys against all odds but the world has changed since 1977. Our stories have to change too if they're to remain relevant. It's the first Star Wars movie since the original one way back in 1977 to capture that feeling that any one of us can be a hero in the right circumstances. We don't need to be descended from a royal family line or gifted with some cellular mutation. The Force at its purest level is just the power of belief. Nobody has greater claim to it than anyone else.

People get caught up in safe guarding all these extended universe "facts" because someone wrote them down somewhere so supposedly they can't be changed and I wonder if they even realize that what they're watching is fiction. It's make believe! The power of any story lies in its ability to show us something. All JJ Abrams has to say is "gee this stuff is pretty cool". Maybe you don't like what Rian Johnson had to say but it's absolute fallacy to say that his filmmaking is poor. I can see why it's convenient to believe that it's just a bad movie as that justifies for you everything you didn't like about it but what you really didn't like about it is that it changed the Star Wars mythos in a way that you don't agree with. It tried to tell a blockbuster story about some unpopular truths. I don't think Rian Johnson is a perfect filmmaker or anything but he's infinitely more interesting than JJ Abrams and we're so super saturated with pointless escapism that I applaud anybody for actually trying to take their responsibility as a storyteller seriously.
There is much I could add to this, but you’ve crystallized most of what is beautiful and essential about ‘The Last Jedi.’ Especially the following:

Rey wants to find a living legend and instead she finds a person.
Well said.
 
#37
There is much I could add to this, but you’ve crystallized most of what is beautiful and essential about ‘The Last Jedi.’ Especially the following:



Well said.
I still don't understand why so many people hate The Last Jedi. I left the theater after that movie feeling like I'd seen a modern classic. Every single decision felt exactly right and the ending shot to me was a love letter to Star Wars and how much it meant to those of us who grew up with those movies. Even George Lucas himself had 3 full movies to prove that he still understands why Star Wars is special and he couldn't even come up with a single scene that did that. I wish I could call up Rian Johnson and personally thank him. Then I went online and read all the scathing comments and I went to work and listened to people tell me how bad it was - - the corny dialog and bad jokes, Snoke not getting a back story, Luke being a murderer - - and I'm still confused by it. Did we even watch the same movie? And I'm struggling to figure this out because critics almost unanimously praised The Last Jedi as one of the best movies in the series. It should have been a rousing success, a daring movie that reinvigorates the series and yet here we have JJ Abrams going out of his way to retcon almost every decision Rian Johnson made and fans are praising him for it. I've seen the original trilogy films at least 20 times each. I've played almost every Star Wars video game. I played the pen and paper roleplaying game with my friends in Jr High. I am as big of a Star Wars nerd as anybody and yet so many people just regard it as a fact that The Last Jedi is some vindictive abomination and Rian Johnson set out to ruin the series and anyone who disagrees with them is either a plant or not a real fan. What is actually going on here? Since we both agree that The Last Jedi is not terrible, do you have a theory about this? What is it that people hate so much about it?

The Force Awakens was a fun movie to watch in the theater because it had Star Wars-y stuff in it but people were complaining (fairly I think) that it just aped the plotline of the original film and Rey was somehow already an incredible pilot and Jedi despite growing up on a junk world and never receiving any training. That was all JJ Abrams invention. So then when we got a new storyline that didn't copy the previous films beat for beat and Rey isn't all-powerful and Finn and Poe get something to do besides run around cracking jokes and Kylo Ren isn't just another generic badie in a mask but actually has a complicated emotional journey that's the movie that people think ruined Star Wars? People hate that movie to the extant that half the reviews of Rise of Skywalker are still taking shots at Episode 8. I mean, even the movie itself does that with Rose getting sidelined, Kylo getting his mask back, Rey getting new parents and Luke mocking his lightsaber toss.

What The Rise of Skywalker proves to me is that JJ Abrams doesn't seem to understand is that if I want to watch the original trilogy then I'll just watch the original trilogy. I don't need him to hip it up with modern effects and a faster pace. I don't need every character from the original trilogy coming back to wink at me, say a couple lines, and then disappear. All he had to do was tell an original story that got us to care about a new group of characters as much as we cared about Luke, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, C3PO and R2D2. It's hard to do that when everything feels more like a video game than reality and when you have callbacks to those other movies in every other scene. How can it be that people prefer this movie to the one that came before it? It's just one MacGuffin after another until we get to an "epic" showdown that feels lifted out of a Harry Potter story?

I do have sortof a theory. There is an element in Episode 7 and 9 that really bothers me and it's the cartoonish treatment of violence. The Mandalorian does this too. Every Marvel movie does this. Our heroes kill dozens and dozens of people without a second thought and we're invited to cheer as they do it because it looks cool and cause they're the heroes so whatever they do must be justified. They unfailingly make these hollow speeches filled with buzzwords like justice and unity and peace and then go shoot or punch dozens and dozens of bad guys until they get to the ultimate bad guy and kill them and that's it, the universe is saved one body at a time. Regardless of whatever they claim to stand for before they start killing everyone in sight, their actions state loudly that violence is always the answer. It's become so normalized in our culture that most people don't even see it as a stylistic choice.

One of many things Episode 8 got right is that it managed to convey the significance of violence. Luke considers murdering Ben Solo for just a moment and then spends the rest of his life trying to atone for it. Poe leads a heroic attack that damages the First Order fleet and gets demoted for allowing so many pilots to die. Hux starts blowing up defenseless transports filled with Resistance survivors and we feel helpless as none of our heroes is in a position to save them-- in fact their actions are what cause this to happen at all. I wonder if ultimately what makes so many people so angry about the movie is that they've come to expect easily digestible entertainment without ambiguity, where violence is cool and death is temporary, where the heroes are always right and where no one has to think all that much or engage with their emotions. The Last Jedi is a movie that goes out of its way to make the audience uncomfortable. This isn't the Luke I rermenber, we think. Why am I feeling bad for the villain? Why is this character telling me that the Resistance is no better than the First Order? But I think if you're patient enough to listen to what the movie is saying you'll find that all that discomfort is meant to be therapeutic. It's not escapism, it's a story about us - - how we sometimes hurt the people we love most of all, how violence always has consequences, even when we think it's justified. I think that what people hated about The Last Jedi is that it challenges this idea that violence is cool and might makes right which have dominated our culture for decades. Think about it: how many people do our heroes kill in that movie? They blow up a First Order dreadnought but it's a pyrrhic victory. Rey kills some of Snoke's guards in self-defense so she can escape but she doesn't succeed in turning Kylo Ren to her side and it's only Kylo Ren's desire to seize power which allows her to survive at all. Admiral Holdo sacrifices herself and the last ship in the Resistance fleet to destroy Snoke's flagship and prevent the First Order from killing what's left of the Resistance. All of these victories feel like losses. At the end they're still badly outnumbered and on the run. And in the end Luke is the biggest badass of all for rescuing his friends without even needing to touch a lightsaber. He outsmarts Kylo Ren with non-violent resistance, turning Ben's insane quest for revenge which has pulled him to the dark side against him. Maybe this is just a lesson that most in America are not ready to hear?
 

Tetsujin

The Game Thread Dude
#38
I still don't understand why so many people hate The Last Jedi. I left the theater after that movie feeling like I'd seen a modern classic. Every single decision felt exactly right and the ending shot to me was a love letter to Star Wars and how much it meant to those of us who grew up with those movies. Even George Lucas himself had 3 full movies to prove that he still understands why Star Wars is special and he couldn't even come up with a single scene that did that. I wish I could call up Rian Johnson and personally thank him. Then I went online and read all the scathing comments and I went to work and listened to people tell me how bad it was - - the corny dialog and bad jokes, Snoke not getting a back story, Luke being a murderer - - and I'm still confused by it. Did we even watch the same movie? And I'm struggling to figure this out because critics almost unanimously praised The Last Jedi as one of the best movies in the series. It should have been a rousing success, a daring movie that reinvigorates the series and yet here we have JJ Abrams going out of his way to retcon almost every decision Rian Johnson made and fans are praising him for it. I've seen the original trilogy films at least 20 times each. I've played almost every Star Wars video game. I played the pen and paper roleplaying game with my friends in Jr High. I am as big of a Star Wars nerd as anybody and yet so many people just regard it as a fact that The Last Jedi is some vindictive abomination and Rian Johnson set out to ruin the series and anyone who disagrees with them is either a plant or not a real fan. What is actually going on here? Since we both agree that The Last Jedi is not terrible, do you have a theory about this? What is it that people hate so much about it?

The Force Awakens was a fun movie to watch in the theater because it had Star Wars-y stuff in it but people were complaining (fairly I think) that it just aped the plotline of the original film and Rey was somehow already an incredible pilot and Jedi despite growing up on a junk world and never receiving any training. That was all JJ Abrams invention. So then when we got a new storyline that didn't copy the previous films beat for beat and Rey isn't all-powerful and Finn and Poe get something to do besides run around cracking jokes and Kylo Ren isn't just another generic badie in a mask but actually has a complicated emotional journey that's the movie that people think ruined Star Wars? People hate that movie to the extant that half the reviews of Rise of Skywalker are still taking shots at Episode 8. I mean, even the movie itself does that with Rose getting sidelined, Kylo getting his mask back, Rey getting new parents and Luke mocking his lightsaber toss.

What The Rise of Skywalker proves to me is that JJ Abrams doesn't seem to understand is that if I want to watch the original trilogy then I'll just watch the original trilogy. I don't need him to hip it up with modern effects and a faster pace. I don't need every character from the original trilogy coming back to wink at me, say a couple lines, and then disappear. All he had to do was tell an original story that got us to care about a new group of characters as much as we cared about Luke, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, C3PO and R2D2. It's hard to do that when everything feels more like a video game than reality and when you have callbacks to those other movies in every other scene. How can it be that people prefer this movie to the one that came before it? It's just one MacGuffin after another until we get to an "epic" showdown that feels lifted out of a Harry Potter story?

I do have sortof a theory. There is an element in Episode 7 and 9 that really bothers me and it's the cartoonish treatment of violence. The Mandalorian does this too. Every Marvel movie does this. Our heroes kill dozens and dozens of people without a second thought and we're invited to cheer as they do it because it looks cool and cause they're the heroes so whatever they do must be justified. They unfailingly make these hollow speeches filled with buzzwords like justice and unity and peace and then go shoot or punch dozens and dozens of bad guys until they get to the ultimate bad guy and kill them and that's it, the universe is saved one body at a time. Regardless of whatever they claim to stand for before they start killing everyone in sight, their actions state loudly that violence is always the answer. It's become so normalized in our culture that most people don't even see it as a stylistic choice.

One of many things Episode 8 got right is that it managed to convey the significance of violence. Luke considers murdering Ben Solo for just a moment and then spends the rest of his life trying to atone for it. Poe leads a heroic attack that damages the First Order fleet and gets demoted for allowing so many pilots to die. Hux starts blowing up defenseless transports filled with Resistance survivors and we feel helpless as none of our heroes is in a position to save them-- in fact their actions are what cause this to happen at all. I wonder if ultimately what makes so many people so angry about the movie is that they've come to expect easily digestible entertainment without ambiguity, where violence is cool and death is temporary, where the heroes are always right and where no one has to think all that much or engage with their emotions. The Last Jedi is a movie that goes out of its way to make the audience uncomfortable. This isn't the Luke I rermenber, we think. Why am I feeling bad for the villain? Why is this character telling me that the Resistance is no better than the First Order? But I think if you're patient enough to listen to what the movie is saying you'll find that all that discomfort is meant to be therapeutic. It's not escapism, it's a story about us - - how we sometimes hurt the people we love most of all, how violence always has consequences, even when we think it's justified. I think that what people hated about The Last Jedi is that it challenges this idea that violence is cool and might makes right which have dominated our culture for decades. Think about it: how many people do our heroes kill in that movie? They blow up a First Order dreadnought but it's a pyrrhic victory. Rey kills some of Snoke's guards in self-defense so she can escape but she doesn't succeed in turning Kylo Ren to her side and it's only Kylo Ren's desire to seize power which allows her to survive at all. Admiral Holdo sacrifices herself and the last ship in the Resistance fleet to destroy Snoke's flagship and prevent the First Order from killing what's left of the Resistance. All of these victories feel like losses. At the end they're still badly outnumbered and on the run. And in the end Luke is the biggest badass of all for rescuing his friends without even needing to touch a lightsaber. He outsmarts Kylo Ren with non-violent resistance, turning Ben's insane quest for revenge which has pulled him to the dark side against him. Maybe this is just a lesson that most in America are not ready to hear?
To be fair, the Mandalorian is at least supposed to be about a ruthless bounty hunter.
The heroes in episode 9 just seem to enjoy killing for no good reason.
 
#39
...
The heroes in episode 9 just seem to enjoy killing for no good reason.
My take on that is that in cartoons, the bad guys are nothing but targets. When you make a cartoon with real people, how much does it matter what the target's family will think when they find out that Mr/Ms Target is dead? Doesn't even fit in the plot - a minor detail to be glossed over amid all the other plotlines. Almost essential in making good cartoons, but sorry, I can't help but wonder what will become of the Target family now. That's why it's my fault if I won't play along and ignore the cartoon violence so as to enjoy the entertainment product. Any moviemaker has to make financial decisions. If they think it's okay to ignore the violence (or downplay it) in order to make a good movie, then I will exercise my free enterprise option and not buy a ticket because I prefer to spend my entertainment dollars elsewhere. The simple fact that "Star Wars" is in the title isn't sufficient to get me to spend the money anyway. You can't please everybody. I happen to think that there's such a thing as TOO escapist as a result of being too far away from reality. Ignoring things that would be horrible in reality because they don't fit the plot is a reason for me not to buy a ticket. Everyone else is free to spend their entertainment dollars any way they want. I just consider more factors than most people do.
 
#40
I still don't understand why so many people hate The Last Jedi. I left the theater after that movie feeling like I'd seen a modern classic. Every single decision felt exactly right and the ending shot to me was a love letter to Star Wars and how much it meant to those of us who grew up with those movies. Even George Lucas himself had 3 full movies to prove that he still understands why Star Wars is special and he couldn't even come up with a single scene that did that. I wish I could call up Rian Johnson and personally thank him. Then I went online and read all the scathing comments and I went to work and listened to people tell me how bad it was - - the corny dialog and bad jokes, Snoke not getting a back story, Luke being a murderer - - and I'm still confused by it. Did we even watch the same movie? And I'm struggling to figure this out because critics almost unanimously praised The Last Jedi as one of the best movies in the series. It should have been a rousing success, a daring movie that reinvigorates the series and yet here we have JJ Abrams going out of his way to retcon almost every decision Rian Johnson made and fans are praising him for it. I've seen the original trilogy films at least 20 times each. I've played almost every Star Wars video game. I played the pen and paper roleplaying game with my friends in Jr High. I am as big of a Star Wars nerd as anybody and yet so many people just regard it as a fact that The Last Jedi is some vindictive abomination and Rian Johnson set out to ruin the series and anyone who disagrees with them is either a plant or not a real fan. What is actually going on here? Since we both agree that The Last Jedi is not terrible, do you have a theory about this? What is it that people hate so much about it?

The Force Awakens was a fun movie to watch in the theater because it had Star Wars-y stuff in it but people were complaining (fairly I think) that it just aped the plotline of the original film and Rey was somehow already an incredible pilot and Jedi despite growing up on a junk world and never receiving any training. That was all JJ Abrams invention. So then when we got a new storyline that didn't copy the previous films beat for beat and Rey isn't all-powerful and Finn and Poe get something to do besides run around cracking jokes and Kylo Ren isn't just another generic badie in a mask but actually has a complicated emotional journey that's the movie that people think ruined Star Wars? People hate that movie to the extant that half the reviews of Rise of Skywalker are still taking shots at Episode 8. I mean, even the movie itself does that with Rose getting sidelined, Kylo getting his mask back, Rey getting new parents and Luke mocking his lightsaber toss.

What The Rise of Skywalker proves to me is that JJ Abrams doesn't seem to understand is that if I want to watch the original trilogy then I'll just watch the original trilogy. I don't need him to hip it up with modern effects and a faster pace. I don't need every character from the original trilogy coming back to wink at me, say a couple lines, and then disappear. All he had to do was tell an original story that got us to care about a new group of characters as much as we cared about Luke, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, C3PO and R2D2. It's hard to do that when everything feels more like a video game than reality and when you have callbacks to those other movies in every other scene. How can it be that people prefer this movie to the one that came before it? It's just one MacGuffin after another until we get to an "epic" showdown that feels lifted out of a Harry Potter story?

I do have sortof a theory. There is an element in Episode 7 and 9 that really bothers me and it's the cartoonish treatment of violence. The Mandalorian does this too. Every Marvel movie does this. Our heroes kill dozens and dozens of people without a second thought and we're invited to cheer as they do it because it looks cool and cause they're the heroes so whatever they do must be justified. They unfailingly make these hollow speeches filled with buzzwords like justice and unity and peace and then go shoot or punch dozens and dozens of bad guys until they get to the ultimate bad guy and kill them and that's it, the universe is saved one body at a time. Regardless of whatever they claim to stand for before they start killing everyone in sight, their actions state loudly that violence is always the answer. It's become so normalized in our culture that most people don't even see it as a stylistic choice.

One of many things Episode 8 got right is that it managed to convey the significance of violence. Luke considers murdering Ben Solo for just a moment and then spends the rest of his life trying to atone for it. Poe leads a heroic attack that damages the First Order fleet and gets demoted for allowing so many pilots to die. Hux starts blowing up defenseless transports filled with Resistance survivors and we feel helpless as none of our heroes is in a position to save them-- in fact their actions are what cause this to happen at all. I wonder if ultimately what makes so many people so angry about the movie is that they've come to expect easily digestible entertainment without ambiguity, where violence is cool and death is temporary, where the heroes are always right and where no one has to think all that much or engage with their emotions. The Last Jedi is a movie that goes out of its way to make the audience uncomfortable. This isn't the Luke I rermenber, we think. Why am I feeling bad for the villain? Why is this character telling me that the Resistance is no better than the First Order? But I think if you're patient enough to listen to what the movie is saying you'll find that all that discomfort is meant to be therapeutic. It's not escapism, it's a story about us - - how we sometimes hurt the people we love most of all, how violence always has consequences, even when we think it's justified. I think that what people hated about The Last Jedi is that it challenges this idea that violence is cool and might makes right which have dominated our culture for decades. Think about it: how many people do our heroes kill in that movie? They blow up a First Order dreadnought but it's a pyrrhic victory. Rey kills some of Snoke's guards in self-defense so she can escape but she doesn't succeed in turning Kylo Ren to her side and it's only Kylo Ren's desire to seize power which allows her to survive at all. Admiral Holdo sacrifices herself and the last ship in the Resistance fleet to destroy Snoke's flagship and prevent the First Order from killing what's left of the Resistance. All of these victories feel like losses. At the end they're still badly outnumbered and on the run. And in the end Luke is the biggest badass of all for rescuing his friends without even needing to touch a lightsaber. He outsmarts Kylo Ren with non-violent resistance, turning Ben's insane quest for revenge which has pulled him to the dark side against him. Maybe this is just a lesson that most in America are not ready to hear?
You’ve offered some very compelling analysis here. I wouldn’t say I have a unified theory of my own regarding why ‘The Last Jedi’ sparked such controversy. I do think there are a number of things at work in the seething backlash that it incurred, however.

Americans love to claim that our chief values are independence and self-reliance and a commitment to democracy and freedom of expression and thought, but our culture is endlessly fascinated with the concept of “the elite.” We desire to see ourselves reflected in those who we consider to be “above us,” rather than chart our own courses and leave our own marks on the world. We may not have a “royal family” in America, but we’re always looking for one, sometimes desperately so. From the Kennedy’s to the Kardashian’s, we are historically obsessed with the powerful and the wealthy. We revel in celebrity. We recently elected a reality television star to be President of the United States of America. We are idol worshippers. I don’t buy for a second that our present cultural moment represents “the people” raging against “the elite.” We’ve just tribally organized around our elites, in opposition to “them” and their elites.

“The Skywalker Saga,” as these nine mainline Star Wars movies have become retroactively called, are about “the elite.” In many ways, they’re about a few key bloodlines and the inheritance of power and influence that follows from being born with the right name at the right place in the right time. For whatever reason, this appeals to many American viewers. ‘The Last Jedi’ dared to offer that maybe one’s name doesn’t matter; maybe heroism can come from anywhere. It’s hardly a unique message. It’s not even a terribly complicated one. But I love how Rian Johnson took JJ Abrams’ unnecessary mystery box regarding Rey’s parentage and used it as character motivation for Rey to discover that where and whom she comes from bears no influence over who she can choose to be. But this isn’t satisfying to many American viewers. Perhaps we’re afraid of such a message, that we must think for ourselves, that we must discover on our own who we are, that nobody can explain what our purpose is or what it should be.

I’d also offer that a big culprit of the backlash to ‘The Last Jedi’ might be the “Expanded Universe.” As someone who does not lay claim to Star Wars fandom, I’ve spent very little time engaging with these outside materials. But from what I’ve gathered, much of the EU essentially functions as a way to freeze the image of beloved Star Wars characters in carbonite, to preserve what fans love about them in service of moving Star Wars branded products off the shelves.

‘Return of the Jedi’ was released in 1983. ‘The Phantom Menace’ was released in 1999. That’s a 16-year gap between the first two Star Wars trilogies, but those latter movies were prequels. They obviously didn’t advance the story, and they didn’t even really clarify much about our understanding of the characters or the themes from the original trilogy. ‘The Force Awakens’ wasn’t released until 2015. That’s a 32-year gap between the end of the first trilogy and its official sequels. And that three-decade vacuum in Star Wars movies with Luke Skywalker at their center was filled with a ton of terrible Lucas-approved fanfiction in the form of “Expanded Universe” stories that starving Star Wars “die hards” ate up, calcifying their understanding of Luke Skywalker rather than, ya know, expanding it.

32 years is a long time. Hell, I’m 32 years old, and much has happened already in my lifetime. The world around me has changed. I’ve changed. I’m not the same person I was ten years ago. And I don’t imagine I’ll be the same person ten years from now. Or thirty years from now. But I’m not a character in a movie adored by millions. I can’t be frozen in time the way Luke Skywalker was in the minds of many, who cling to Luke’s heroic arc in ‘Return of the Jedi,’ or read of Luke’s heroic adventures after ‘Return of the Jedi,” as if he were an ageless and static symbol, cast in carbonite, an action figure, a toy, and not a person who would no doubt evolve as he was beset by the rigors of responsibility and the weight of his legacy.

Personally, I’ve never understood the fan worship that Luke Skywalker has received. He’s not a particularly interesting character. And apologies to Mark Hammill, but Luke wasn’t a particularly well-acted character, either. At least, not in the original trilogy. It’s one of the reasons I was deeply surprised and delighted by ‘The Last Jedi.’ Hammill did extraordinary work on that film, the best of his career. And the character was also more interesting than he’d ever been. I really admired Rian Johnson’s flat-out refusal to indulge the infantile fantasies of a certain subset of Star Wars fan. How terribly boring it would have been if, thirty years later, Luke Skywalker was exactly as we’d left him.

Even JJ Abrams, fan servicer extraordinaire, understood this to some degree. He didn’t put Luke Skywalker on screen until the final scene of ‘The Force Awakens,’ but his script had the sense to explain Luke’s absence as a result of the character grappling with the kinds of difficulties and failures that come with age and responsibility. Rian Johnson picked up that open-ended question and elegantly crafted a response to it.

Johnson’s “original sin” within the Star Wars universe might actually be in how clever a writer he is. He delivered a compelling and plausible narrative around Luke’s exile, and then he built a fascinating meta-narrative on top of it about the dangers of hero worship and the need to chart one’s own course. So not only were a lot of Star Wars fans treated to an evisceration of their childish fantasies, they were also told that it might not be healthy to treat Luke Skywalker like an idol. And when one’s identity is so thoroughly wrapped up in the idolization of some figure of import, a perceived attack on the idol becomes a perceived attack on oneself.
 
#41
To be fair, the Mandalorian is at least supposed to be about a ruthless bounty hunter.
The heroes in episode 9 just seem to enjoy killing for no good reason.
That's fair, but it also says something about the current state of our culture that so many people are praising The Mandalorian and saying "more of this is what I want from Star Wars".
 
#42
You’ve offered some very compelling analysis here. I wouldn’t say I have a unified theory of my own regarding why ‘The Last Jedi’ sparked such controversy. I do think there are a number of things at work in the seething backlash that it incurred, however.

Americans love to claim that our chief values are independence and self-reliance and a commitment to democracy and freedom of expression and thought, but our culture is endlessly fascinated with the concept of “the elite.” We desire to see ourselves reflected in those who we consider to be “above us,” rather than chart our own courses and leave our own marks on the world. We may not have a “royal family” in America, but we’re always looking for one, sometimes desperately so. From the Kennedy’s to the Kardashian’s, we are historically obsessed with the powerful and the wealthy. We revel in celebrity. We recently elected a reality television star to be President of the United States of America. We are idol worshippers. I don’t buy for a second that our present cultural moment represents “the people” raging against “the elite.” We’ve just tribally organized around our elites, in opposition to “them” and their elites.

“The Skywalker Saga,” as these nine mainline Star Wars movies have become retroactively called, are about “the elite.” In many ways, they’re about a few key bloodlines and the inheritance of power and influence that follows from being born with the right name at the right place in the right time. For whatever reason, this appeals to many American viewers. ‘The Last Jedi’ dared to offer that maybe one’s name doesn’t matter; maybe heroism can come from anywhere. It’s hardly a unique message. It’s not even a terribly complicated one. But I love how Rian Johnson took JJ Abrams’ unnecessary mystery box regarding Rey’s parentage and used it as character motivation for Rey to discover that where and whom she comes from bears no influence over who she can choose to be. But this isn’t satisfying to many American viewers. Perhaps we’re afraid of such a message, that we must think for ourselves, that we must discover on our own who we are, that nobody can explain what our purpose is or what it should be.

I’d also offer that a big culprit of the backlash to ‘The Last Jedi’ might be the “Expanded Universe.” As someone who does not lay claim to Star Wars fandom, I’ve spent very little time engaging with these outside materials. But from what I’ve gathered, much of the EU essentially functions as a way to freeze the image of beloved Star Wars characters in carbonite, to preserve what fans love about them in service of moving Star Wars branded products off the shelves.

‘Return of the Jedi’ was released in 1983. ‘The Phantom Menace’ was released in 1999. That’s a 16-year gap between the first two Star Wars trilogies, but those latter movies were prequels. They obviously didn’t advance the story, and they didn’t even really clarify much about our understanding of the characters or the themes from the original trilogy. ‘The Force Awakens’ wasn’t released until 2015. That’s a 32-year gap between the end of the first trilogy and its official sequels. And that three-decade vacuum in Star Wars movies with Luke Skywalker at their center was filled with a ton of terrible Lucas-approved fanfiction in the form of “Expanded Universe” stories that starving Star Wars “die hards” ate up, calcifying their understanding of Luke Skywalker rather than, ya know, expanding it.

32 years is a long time. Hell, I’m 32 years old, and much has happened already in my lifetime. The world around me has changed. I’ve changed. I’m not the same person I was ten years ago. And I don’t imagine I’ll be the same person ten years from now. Or thirty years from now. But I’m not a character in a movie adored by millions. I can’t be frozen in time the way Luke Skywalker was in the minds of many, who cling to Luke’s heroic arc in ‘Return of the Jedi,’ or read of Luke’s heroic adventures after ‘Return of the Jedi,” as if he were an ageless and static symbol, cast in carbonite, an action figure, a toy, and not a person who would no doubt evolve as he was beset by the rigors of responsibility and the weight of his legacy.

Personally, I’ve never understood the fan worship that Luke Skywalker has received. He’s not a particularly interesting character. And apologies to Mark Hammill, but Luke wasn’t a particularly well-acted character, either. At least, not in the original trilogy. It’s one of the reasons I was deeply surprised and delighted by ‘The Last Jedi.’ Hammill did extraordinary work on that film, the best of his career. And the character was also more interesting than he’d ever been. I really admired Rian Johnson’s flat-out refusal to indulge the infantile fantasies of a certain subset of Star Wars fan. How terribly boring it would have been if, thirty years later, Luke Skywalker was exactly as we’d left him.

Even JJ Abrams, fan servicer extraordinaire, understood this to some degree. He didn’t put Luke Skywalker on screen until the final scene of ‘The Force Awakens,’ but his script had the sense to explain Luke’s absence as a result of the character grappling with the kinds of difficulties and failures that come with age and responsibility. Rian Johnson picked up that open-ended question and elegantly crafted a response to it.

Johnson’s “original sin” within the Star Wars universe might actually be in how clever a writer he is. He delivered a compelling and plausible narrative around Luke’s exile, and then he built a fascinating meta-narrative on top of it about the dangers of hero worship and the need to chart one’s own course. So not only were a lot of Star Wars fans treated to an evisceration of their childish fantasies, they were also told that it might not be healthy to treat Luke Skywalker like an idol. And when one’s identity is so thoroughly wrapped up in the idolization of some figure of import, a perceived attack on the idol becomes a perceived attack on oneself.
That is a very interesting take. Rian also directly addressed this contrast between the human character of Luke Skywalker and the mythological cultural figure he has become within his script. That's the subtext present in every interaction between Rey and Luke but its most beautifully illustrated in that final scene when the kids in the stable are playing with their action figures and telling stories and you can see how the magic of storytelling makes them believe they're going to leave their own tiny little corner of the galaxy some day and have their own adventures. We got to see Luke's journey firsthand and see his stumbles along the way but to these kids he just represents hope. And I guess that collision of myth and reality was outside the boundary of what some people felt Star Wars should say. To some people we go see Star Wars to remember what it's like to be a child again. I do think there's a place for that in entertainment. But I also think it's unfair to insist that Star Wars can't ever be anything else. It's equally important to outgrow the stratified good/evil framework that is the hallmark of youthful naivete and learn that the world is filled with complexity and ambiguity and difficult decisions with permanent consequences which cause even the most high-minded among us to question ourselves.

That moment early in the movie where Luke takes his father's lightsaber back from Rey and looks at it quizzically for a moment then tosses it over his shoulder is actually incredibly powerful. In that moment Luke is being reminded about his bloodline and his friends, about that first meeting with Obi-Wan when he learned about the Force, about confronting Vader in the Cloud City, about his failure with Ben Solo and the ongoing war he's turned his back on. For a moment he's tempted to switch it on and become the hero of his younger days again but then equally quickly he remembers why he gave it all up and how he's lost his faith in the Jedi code. The conclusion he comes to is that the lightsaber as a symbol of justice or peace or devotion to a cause has become meaningless. He already defeated the Empire and it just came back in a different form. As a boy he knew that if he could just get off Tatooine and become the pilot he was born to be than he'd be able to forge his own destiny and take on the whole Empire himself but as a hardened old man that lightsaber is just a symbol of pain and loss and violence begetting more violence. It's as crude and barbaric as a blaster to him. That's why he tosses it over his shoulder. The fans who insist The Last Jedi is a terrible movie just see that moment as a childish sight gag or as Rian Johnson raising a finger at this symbol of all that is pure and right in the galaxy but it's so much deeper than that. There's a whole lifetime's worth of regret in that moment.

And I don't think the movie sides with Luke there either. Rey eventually convinces him that he's not a failure and he does still have something to fight for. When Luke eventually does confront Kylo/Ben he has become the wise master and Kylo is the impetuous youth, so caught up in his own narcissistic inner struggle that he'll burn the entire galaxy to the ground just to get revenge on his crazy uncle. That scene mirrors the one at the end of The Empire Strikes Back where Luke rushes to defeat Vader without realizing he's both physically and emotionally unready for the challenge. Yoda tries to tell that version of Luke that Jedi use the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack. And what does Luke do at the end of The Last Jedi? He uses the Force for knowledge and defense while Kylo uses it only to attack and thus Kylo defeats himself. Maybe some people see the destruction of the Death Star or the defeat of the Emperor as more satisfying conclusions for movies but emotionally, a climax that highlights exactly why the light side of the force is still stronger despite the dark side allowing people to read minds, choke and intimidate rivals, and shoot lightning out of their fingertips was all the resolution I needed.

What I want to say to the people who hate The Last Jedi is that there's so much depth and humanity in that story if you just give it a chance. More so than the space ships and laser swords which have been imitated a million times over, the Force as an idea is what makes Star Wars so timeless and that's what was front and center in Rian Johnson's movie.
 
Last edited:
#43
Finally got around to seeing it. I found it a satisfying end to the saga but a mess of a movie on its own. At more than a few points I found myself wondering why what I was watching was essential. I don't think every movie needs to be 2.5 hours and this certainly did not.

I feel like the expanded universe outside of the original trilogy was far more satisfying than any of the prequels or sequels we got. But the good news is the 9 film arc is over. The universe is still cool and now it is a property that can branch off a dozen different ways free of it's own trappings. Mandalorian seems like a good start. Rogue One was probably the best in theater property that came out since Empire and while that is tied to the original film it shows that there are great stories to be told inside the world we know.