Earlier this week, I published my spoiler-free review of ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’. Well…the movie’s out now, and a lot of you have seen it and are ALREADY actively seeking my opinion on some of the super-spoilery shit that went down, so let’s talk about it. ALL of it. Fucking EVERYTHING. I’ve only seen it once as of this writing, so I know I missed a ton, but this will just be my quick hits/rapid reaction.
First, I’ll repost my spoiler-free review, then we’ll get into anything and everything ‘The Last Jedi’ below that. If you haven’t seen the film and wish to go unspoiled, stop reading this blog at the warning below.
Yesterday, I was lucky enough to attend an early screening of ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ with a really good friend of mine who you may know from “Lights, Camera, Podcast”, Jeff Lowe. He’d seen it once already, as he was at the Los Angeles premiere, and he warned me of one thing before our showing: he said this movie would be “a lot to take in”. I didn’t necessarily disregard the sentiment, but I definitely didn’t expect it to hold the weight it did at the end of the two hours and thirty two minutes this film lasted. I mean, every Star Wars movie is a lot for me to take in, really, so what Jeff said didn’t seem like it’d make this one any different. I’ll never forget seeing ‘The Force Awakens’ with my brother on opening night, and neither of us saying a single word to each other until we walked through the parking lot and got back to my car. My brother turned to me, and just said “Wow” with a smile. I responded, “Yeah”.
That was all the communication we needed! We might as well have had an hour long discussion about the movie in that moment. I have a lightsaber tattooed on my forearm, he named his firstborn Luke. We got it. We understood exactly how one another felt. Possibly…through the force. We’re lunatics, sure, but this silly sci-fi franchise truly brings us so much happiness. For me, nothing in this world brings me as much joy.
The newest installment in that silly franchise, though…jeez. It’s different…and it’s a lot to take in.
‘The Last Jedi’ is a wild ride. It’s the longest Star Wars ever released, and you can feel that while sitting in the theater. Not in a bad way, as I don’t believe it drags for even a second, but in an epic way. This movie feels like such an epic. So much happens, so many characters get their due, so many storylines are going on simultaneously, it’s a masssssssively grand-scale film. It probably features the most emotion we’ve ever seen in any Star Wars film, and provides us with a HANDFUL of moments you could argue are the best ones in the whole series. The twists all shocked me, the jokes all landed, and the pulls at my heartstrings didn’t only pull, they snapped them in half. For every darkness, there is equal light, however, and the badass moments made me want to jump out of my seat and fist pump all the way to the Forest Moon of Endor.
Everyone in this film pretty much delivers the greatest performance of their career, and I say that without hyperbole. Mark Hamill could easily get an Oscar nomination for his return to the Luke Skywalker role. Adam Driver plays the baddie better than anyone’s ever played a Star Wars villain. Daisy Ridley is even more of a standout than she was in ‘The Force Awakens’, and I didn’t know that was possible. John Boyega and Oscar Isaac reprise their roles right where they left off, as the most likable trio in cinema since Mark, Harrison, and Carrie. Speaking of Carrie, she has some soon-to-be iconic scenes as General Leia Organa that continue her legacy beautifully. Andy Serkis gives a bone chilling mo-cap for Supreme Leader Snoke that is as good as it gets. The newcomers, Kelly Marie Tran, Benicio Del Toro, and Laura Dern, are all lovely additions that fit in so seamlessly into this universe they almost feel familiar.
The new planets, weapons, droids, aliens, and entire aesthetic of ‘The Last Jedi’ are a big progression from ‘The Force Awakens, and should shut up anyone who had gripes about JJ “playing it safe” by using everything from the Original Trilogy. Crait, the white/red mineral planet you’ve seen in all of the promotional material for this film, is absolutely gorgeous and lends itself to some of the most artistic shots not only in Star Wars, but in any movie I’ve ever seen. There’s about a dozen freeze-frames from this movie I’d like to hang up in my apartment.
Overall, this is Star Wars, through and through. While it takes much bolder risks than any of it’s predecessors, they all work out phenomenally, and open doors I didn’t know were there in the first place. I was actually left saying to myself, while thinking through the predictions I had for this movie months ago, “Wow. They pulled that off way differently, and way better than I ever could have imagined.” about everything.
Very few things in my 19 years of life lived up to their expectations quite as much as ‘The Last Jedi’ did. Not even sex.
Long live the mothafuckin’ Wars.
***SPOILER WARNING. MAJOR, MASSIVE, GIGANTIC SPOILER WARNING. DO NOT READ BELOW THIS LINE IF YOU WISH TO WATCH ‘THE LAST JEDI’ UNSPOILED***
***LAST WARNING, I’M SPOILING EVERYTHING THERE IS TO SPOIL***
Okay, we’re officially into the Outer Rim. Spoiler territory. I’m going to try to go through the movie as linearly as possible and give my opinion on everything, so here we go. Forgive me if things aren’t EXACTLY one after another, as I said earlier I’ve only seen it once as of this writing. I will have seen it three times by Friday morning so our recap video/podcast/whatever we decide on doing should be a lot tighter story-wise.
-I thought the opening crawl was really well written. I was confused as to how they’d possibly do this, as ‘The Last Jedi’ takes place right where ‘The Force Awakens’ left off, but it was handled well in telling the grand scheme of the war as opposed to personal character narratives. First time we’re truly getting this style crawl since Empire Strikes Back.
-Poe Dameron’s back, baby! Holy shit that “On hold” scene with Hux was funny. An even better introduction to the character than “Who talks first?” line, in my opinion. He was being super clever while doing it, too, which added to the moment, in that he stalling for time to load up his cannons. I think the space battle that followed may be the best one in the entire saga, obviously combating the Battle of Yavin and maybe the opening of Revenge Of The Sith, but this was just awesome. Paige Tico’s death was the first moment in this film that was heartbreaking, and the first of many, obviously. It was done with a character we never met, and knew for like two seconds, but still very effective.
-I have nowhere else to fit in this compliment, so I’ll put it here: Domhnall Gleeson was SOOOOOO good as General Hux in this. A pleasure to watch every time he was on screen.
-Leia flexing all over Poe for getting Resistance fighters killed was great. Carrie Fisher played General Leia Organa in ‘The Force Awakens’, but in ‘The Last Jedi’, she was General Leia Organa.
-Finally, we get our resolution to the two-year long cliffhanger: what is the first confrontation between Luke Skywalker and Rey like? Well, he took his saber back and threw it off a fuckin’ cliff. Like Luke says in the trailer, ”This is not going to go the way you think.” This movie goes right every time you think it’s going left, and twists every time you think it’s gonna turn. It’s the most unpredictable Star Wars movie by a long shot. The Porgs fucking with the lightsaber and almost igniting it was a great cocktease.
-Quick sidenote on the Porgs before we continue: they were exactly what I said they would be…fine! They were no harm, no foul! Provided a hilarious moment with Chewie, and shut down all haters who claimed they’d be the next Jar Jar Binks. They barely played a role whatsoever.
-I didn’t know how to feel about how broken Luke was upon first viewing. Part of me was saying, “C’mon Luke, stop being so closed off! Stop being so depressed and rude to Rey!” while another part of me was acknowledging the fact that, yes, this is exactly what Luke Skywalker would be doing after the traumatic events that took place during and after the Original Trilogy. I do disagree with the folks who are using the same dig on this movie as they did for ‘The Force Awakens’ however, saying that seeing the state of Luke, Han, and Leia ruins the ending of Return Of The Jedi. That was a celebration of the downfall of the Empire, and while I know the (mostly sad) fate that awaits our beloved characters, doesn’t make it any less joyous. They had many years of joy before shit hit the fan.
-I absolutely ADORED the ongoing storyline about the Resistance being tracked into and after hyperspace throughout the movie. It felt like Mad Max in space or something. It was great.
-Finn’s alive! His introduction with the leaking bags was a funny gag, and his scene with Rose was extremely on brand for him; looking for Rey, but also trying to find an escape from the imminent trouble the Resistance was in. Rose crying with the other half of the necklace she shared with her sister told the audience everything we needed to know about her and then some, making her sympathetic as fuck from the start. I thought Kelly Marie Tran was A+ the whole movie. A breakout star for sure.
-Alright, time to talk about something that’ll be controversial for sure among the Star Wars fanbase. If ‘The Force Awakens’ was disliked by some for “playing it too safe”, ‘The Last Jedi’ will be disliked by others for taking too big a risk at times. Kylo Ren thinks about firing some missiles into the control room of the Resistance’s ship, knowing his mother is in there, but hesitates and doesn’t pull the trigger. TIE Fighters behind him don’t hesitate, sucking everything in that room into space and seemingly killing General Leia. She uses the force to guide her way back into the ship in one of the more magical/mythical scenes in franchise history. Personally, I was shocked, and hesitated while she was flying her way back to the ship, thinking “Ehhh, is this too cheesy?”, but then remembered I was watching Star Wars: a series of movies that originally made it’s name with extreme unpredictability. Was this far fetched? Yeah. We’ve never really seen Leia use the force physically, only telekinetically. Was it too far fetched? Not for me. She goes into a coma after this, having used up too much of her Force powers, I guess. This is when Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, played by Laura Dern, takes over. Her back and forth with Poe set the dynamic quickly – these two do NOT like each other. Gave off a huge Top Gun vibe.
-Admiral Ackbar is dead! Fuck! Rest in peace to a legend of the game. Pour one out this weekend for him.
-Leia’s hologram coming through R2D2 in the Millennium Falcon was TOP NOTCH fan service. Chewie busting down his door (which was made from the scraps of an X-Wing) was also real badass.
-Snoke BERATED Kylo, huh? Burnt this mothafucka to a crisp. He told the kid he looked fucking stupid in his mask, so ol’ Ben Solo destroys his bucket in anger, and I thiiiiiiink the cut to it after the first time after he smashes it is meant to look like Ralph McQuarrie’s original design of Darth Vader.
-Luke’s first lesson with Rey was intense, and telling of Luke as a teacher. Rey exploring the Dark Side instantly was frightening. Her finding the cave later on and going into the mirror sequence was another intense scene, where my heart was beating a million miles per minute thinking I was about to see Rey’s parents. When it was just her reflection, I started to think she may be like Anakin, only she didn’t have a father OR mother. Jeff Lowe seems to think that Luke was having her kill off midichlorians in that lesson.
-Maz Kanata’s cameo was everything I needed from her, and I think it was even a little jab at the prequels! That union-dispute line certainly seemed like it to me!
-When Kylo and Rey started connecting through the Force, I thought that they were brother and sister (by design) for sure. If there was live betting in the theater I’d put all of my money on Rey being a Solo. Their communication across the galaxy was like Luke/Leia’s from Empire Strikes Back on steroids, and it really worked for me. We find out that emo bitch Kylo is pretty swole, too. He teases something going down with Luke the night that the Jedi Temple was burned down, and my heart dropped. It was so reminiscent of Vader asking Luke if Obi-Wan told him what happened to his father, which was followed by a gutwrenching reveal, and I guess we could get right into it here.
-In Kylo Ren’s telling of the story, he woke up one night and Luke Skywalker was about to kill him in his sleep. We see it in the flashback sequence, and it BROKE MY HEART. Why would Luke Skywalker, the person who saw the light in Darth fucking Vader, attempt to kill his nephew that he was training, just because he dabbled in the Dark Side a tad? Just seemed so out of character. Rey flipping out on him was completely justified, and a badass outing for Rey. When she presses him for the truth, the actual story is actually heartbreaking in a completely different sense. It turns out that Luke DID think about killing Kylo Ren, but ultimately decided against it when it was already too late. It wasn’t an attempt at murder as much as it was a momentary lapse of judgement. He knew Snoke was manipulating Ben’s mind, and that scared the shit out of him, and by the time Ben woke up it was a full blown fight. Luke being that worried, that PARANOID that he’d lose another family member to the Dark Side of the force, along with his current regret, that was so so so sad. I wasn’t as offended by the bold character choice after hearing the truth.
-I enjoyed Finn and Rose’s subplot on Canto Bight a lot, but have a feeling it’ll be pegged as this movie’s “Rathtar” scene (which I also enjoyed) in that people will complain about it not feeling Star Wars-y enough. I think those beliefs are valid, I just don’t share them. This felt like a planet from the prequels, and if the prequels did anything right, it was planets. The “coming from nothing” theme in Rose’s story obviously means a lot to this movie/trilogy as well, so it gave us GREAT foreshadowing. The aliens in the casino were awesome too!
-Benicio Del Toro’s character, DJ, didn’t disappoint (except when he was a fucking SELL OUT!!!!) and BB-8 got to be a gangster with him. For reasons we’ll get to later on, he’s definitely a parallel to Lando.
-Rey went to Snoke reeeeaaaal fuckin’ fast after that, and you knew that wouldn’t go swimmingly for her, and it didn’t. The handcuffs being applied to her and the elevator ride up were a not-so-subtle Return Of The Jedi homage, and this scene wound up being possibly the best in the whole film, possibly the best in the whole series. Snoke’s dickish comments were so hatable, and his small displays of power were so frightening, then in the blink of an eye…he’s DEAD. That’s another thing I think people are going to be outraged with. I think he’s going to be talked about in this movie like Captain Phasma was in the last. Lots of “ALL THAT HYPE FOR NOTHING?!” comments on message boards. I think that’s pretty understandable, although I’m not sure he had as much hype behind him in the actual films as he did made up by fans and cast members. I think the murdering itself was amazing, and it got a HUGE reaction out of my theater, and most importantly of all, NOBODY saw it coming. Maybe he was built up that was specifically to make this moment as shocking as it was. You wanna complain about Disney potentially following the Original Trilogy? Well, they just killed off the puppet master in the middle of the second film. There’s absolutely no way they’re following a formula now!
-OH. MY. GOODNESS. Without a doubt the most shocking moment in cinema in many years…Yoda has returned. My mouth went agape for what felt like an hour. His back and forth with Luke was as good as it ever was in Empire, and his chirp about Luke not reading all of the Jedi Wisdom books had me doubled over. He also looked great, and was almost definitely a puppet and not CGI, showing the prequels how to really do the character justice. He blew up the tree to “let go of the past” and also because Rey had already stolen the books out of it, if you missed that.
-Kylo Ren and Rey fighting Snoke’s guards…extreme nerdgasm. Probably the greatest lightsaber fight of all time. Rey dropping her own saber into her other hand, catching it with reverse grip, slashing a guard in half, then throwing it to Kylo for a one second ignition headshot, wow…I just came writing that. The back-to-back Avengers pose was something out of a samurai movie. Absolutely 100/10 scene.
-I did worry while they were fighting off guards that Luke was going to become the bad guy in Episode IX, because with Snoke gone and Kylo possibly joining the Light Side, who’s left? That was pretty quickly shot down though when Kylo asked Rey to join him in ruling the galaxy, and she realized why he did what he did. Rey’s reaction to the proposal was almost META in that she was like “Oh jesus fucking christ are we really doing this again?” which I loved. Kylo flipping the script there was such a letdown from a fan point of view, but brilliant from a filmmaker point of view.
-Here’s another possible point of contention among the fanbase: Rey’s a nobody. Legit nobody. Her parents were alcoholic junk dealers that sold her for booze. She’s not a Skywalker, she’s not a Kenobi, she’s not a Solo, and she’s certainly not a Palpatine. I’m pretty sure I said I’d be disappointed if she wasn’t one of those prior to the film’s release, but with how the scene was handled, I am most certainly not disappointed in the slightest. It was such a gripping realization for Rey, and dismissed the narrative that you need to have special parents to be strong with the Force. This trilogy is showing us that anybody in the galaxy can be special. Genes have little to do with it. I stand behind Rey being a random ONE THOUSAND PERCENT. I never thought I’d love such a supposed “let down” so much.
-Back to the Resistance running away from the First Order, Poe taking charge of the ship from Holdo after she didn’t give him any information on what they were doing then tried to evacuate was pretty crisp. It seemed like a Han Solo move if Han didn’t mostly just look out for himself. Leia then waking up and shooting Poe was EXTREMELY her.
-BB-9E was another character, who, like the Porgs, didn’t deserve any of the outrage it got. The most inoffensive thing imaginable.
-I felt personally betrayed when DJ outed the Resistance escape pod plan to look out for himself. Had to hold myself back from yelling “OHHHHH YOU MOTHERFUCKER”. If I ever meet Benicio Del Toro, you best believe he’s catching these hands.
-BB-8 in the AT-ST!!! What a little ball of badassery! The whole theater went wild when it was him.
-Finn vs Captain Phasma was a good fight sequence that went to great when you could see her eye smashed up through the helmet, and she said, “You’ve always been scum”. Finn’s response of…”Rebel scum” gives my chills chills, and makes me want to enlist in the Resistance right fucking now. Remember how I said I had to stop myself from yelling a second ago? I had to stop myself from jumping out of my seat and fist pumping here.
-Now it’s time to talk about one of the most amazing moments in Star Wars history, and one of the most gorgeous shots in cinema history. Vice! Admiral! Amilyn! Holdo! Ho lee shit. If you haven’t seen the movie and are just here reading the spoilers, this bad bitch stays behind on the Resistance cruiser to distract the First Order, and when she realizes they’re going to pick the escape pods off one at a time, she turns the cruiser around and enters lightspeed INTO THE SUPREMACY! ABSOLUTELY DUSTS THAT THING IN HALF! I get that some people will be like “Wha, wha, what a pothole, why didn’t they do that do the Death Star? Why don’t they do that all the time?” BECAUSE NOBODY THOUGHT OF IT, ALRIGHT? NOBODY REALIZED YOU COULD DO THAT. IT WAS UNLOCKABLE DLC. I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO TELL YA, IF YOU DIDN’T ENJOY THIS YOU HAVE A BIG OL’ DUMP IN YOUR PANTS. The stunned silence the film takes you to while showing the lights shining through the ships, casting shadows on the galaxy was just breathtaking. Vice Admiral, we salute you. Thank you for your service and sacrifice.
-Now we’re just about ready to talk about Crait! There was so much anticipation for this planet from all promotional material, and it lived up to the hype in it’s entirety. The Resistance barricaded themselves behind one giant wall in the crystal cave, with the Vulptexes (the crystal foxes), and the First Order set up camp with their super-up AT-ATs and a gigantic laser. Poe’s story arc comes full circle here as he initially sends the speeders out but decides it’s not worth the lives lost so he pulls them back, which was a sweet bookend on his character in this film, and Finn also came full circle as he decided to give his life for the Resistance, and not run away from the danger surrounding them. Rose saves him and gives him a kiss (very cute!) and then almost dies (not cute!). This movie was a complete roller coaster with the acceptance of deaths that just didn’t occur. Speaking of deaths, the time has finally come to talk about it. It’s time to talk about what Luke Skywalker did on Crait.
-Luke and Leia’s final conversation was incredibly emotional. This is honestly what got me the most, because when they were talking about Han and how a person’s never really gone, I was interpreting it differently, thinking about the late Carrie Fisher. Say what you will about her outlandish, wild, party animal lifestyle, but she was a great role model of mine in how openly she spoke about mental illness, and how she helped normalize it and end the stigma behind it. So her death hit me hard, and this discussion about death, knowing it was one of the last times I’d ever see her play one of my favorite characters in film history, hit me REALLY hard.
-The actual fight between Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren was amazingly done. I was confused about why he looked more put together on Crait, and why he had the blue lightsaber that was destroyed just a scene earlier, and why his boots weren’t moving the sand like everyone else’s…but in the end, he was projecting himself across the galaxy to buy the Resistance time. This entire sequence featured the most beautiful cinematography I’ve ever seen. I want to hang canvas prints of the shot of him sitting down with Leia, him facing the entire fleet alone, him standing across from Kylo, saber ignited, and him watching one final Binary Sunset all over the place. His Matrix-esque evasion moves to refrain from showing that he was a projection were so cool, and even more believable when you find out the hologram thing. Afterwards, though, well, this deserves it’s own bullet point…
-Luke Skywalker, in my opinion, died the most perfect death imaginable. It was sad, but not tragic, like Han Solo’s. It felt justified and earned. It didn’t even really feel like a death to me, because he didn’t just “die”. He became one with the Force. I could cry right now thinking about how beautiful it was. He exerted all of the energy and Force power in his body for one final act of rebellion, and vanished like his mentor. It was the Luke Skywalker I wanted to see in this film, showing how wise and powerful he truly was, all of these years after Return Of The Jedi. His lines to Kylo were perfect. “Today, the Rebellion is reborn” will go down as one of the most iconic lines ever said in the franchise and the “See ya around, kid.” threat was possibly my favorite thing Luke has ever said. I would put everything I’ve got on us seeing Luke as a Force Ghost in the next movie, too, so don’t be too upset – we haven’t seen the last of my friend Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker.
-Rey uses the Force to lift boulder after boulder in the mean time, freeing the Resistance, and loading them onto the Falcon. Rey finally meets Poe Dameron, and from their 2 second interaction I could sense major chemistry, so that may be a love interest explored in IX. Leia talks about pushing forward, and then we cut to one of the random young boys from the Fathiers stable on Canto Bight grab a broomstick using the Force, further pushing the idea that Luke will not be the last of the Jedi, and that there are many more out there…even if they come from nothing. Upon first viewing, this felt a little too post-credits sceney for me, and I would’ve preferred it ended on the shot of the Resistance on the Millennium Falcon, but I have a feeling it’ll grow on me. I don’t think the boy himself is significant, by the way, I’m pretty sure it’s just the ideal.
That’s about it, folks. That’s ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’. As you could tell from this blog, I adored the shit out of this film, but I know not everybody will. Some of the decisions made will anger specific sects of die-hards, and things could get contentious around the nerdy parts of the internet. I really do believe the fanbase could be split on this movie, yet I don’t understand how anyone could truly dislike it. It’s just a gut feeling. I’ve already seen some complain that it left them with a feeling of uneasiness when leaving the theater, not the “lift me up” feel ‘The Force Awakens’ gave them, and to that I say: you have to see that was done purposely. You don’t feel stoked at the end of the Empire Strikes Back, either. This is the darker film in the trilogy. I’ve got complete faith in JJ Abrams to pick up what Rian Johnson put down and close this Skywalker story out with a bang. This also puts MASSIVE trust in Johnson for his own personal trilogy. To be accommodating of others, I’m gonna ask that we all give it two weeks before we openly talk about spoilers on Twitter and all of that. I know a lot of people see movies on Christmas with their families, so just wait until AT LEAST the 29th to be safe. I’ll answer questions and all of that on Twitter, but try to be vague in what you’re referencing.