Or: “Because… Reasons/Script/Girl Rule/Boys Drool/SJW/$$$$”
So… Spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
You have been warned.
Over the last week or so, I’ve thought a lot about The Last Jedi and I have to say, my enjoyment of the film has decreased with time. When I left the theater, I would have given it 2.5 stars. Not great but entertaining. As I thought of the implications of the activities of the story, I got more and more grumpy with it. Now I’d give it 1.5 stars.
Why has my impression of the film dropped like this over time? Many reasons, but I’ve noticed since I started writing, my standards for writing has gotten higher. So what were the specific reasons? Here’s where the spoilers start.
- Mary Sues…. Mary Sues everywhere!
Let’s face it. We all expected Princess Leia to manifest something of the force sooner or later. But to survive having the bridge of the ship she was on blown up around here, surviving the blast, being thrown into space, start to freeze, then force pull herself back into the ship and open the door…. ummmm….. NO. Just F-ing no.
Then there’s Rey. Sure she has some skill with her staff, we saw that in the first movie. We get the impression she knows how to fight. But to suddenly go full Neo (I know kung fu) with no real training? Not to mention have such a manifestation of the force so powerful that Luke is just about pooping himself? She’s force pulling and pushing. Grabbing for light sabers in a way that took Luke training to pull off, and she’s doing it with nothing, and being equal in power as Darth Emo? I mean Kylo Ren? Again… NO. F-ing no.
Rose (why the hell are you even in this movie) who was a plumber… A PLUMBER suddenly being able to pilot those skimmers and make a death defying save of Finn? Come on… really. (Of course, Finn was a Janitor who can suddenly pilot all manner of craft like and expert becauseeee…. reasons? It’s in the script? Because Girl-Power!
And of course, Vice Admiral Holdo single-handedly, with one jump at lightspeed with a cruiser destroying a superdooper star destroyer and a dozen others in the First Order’s fleet? Well, hell son! Why not do this all the time? They could have just done this to the Death Star and won with the loss of one ship and Alderran would have been saved! The Rebellion had cruisers then. Just go full Kamikaze and be done with it. She goes from incompetent Bee-eye-tee-see-itch wasting ships and lives (blaming Poe in the process for getting them into this mess) to savior with little to no reason as to why. Again… What the fuuuuuuuuuu!!!!!???!!!! (And they got the cruiser trim without an auto pilot? pffft)
Mary Sues destroy stories. No movie can survive four of them, particularly when one goes full martyr too. Not to mention when every single boy (for there are no men in this film, only stupid smelly boys) is nothing more than comic relief and a foil for the women.
2. Darth Gollem… I mean Snoke goes down like a chump.
Okay, now this is just a cheap way out of good writing. I fully admit I larfed in surprise as he gets skewered and then CUT IN HALF by Kylo pulling a fast one on him. The problem? Darth Emo would not be capable of pulling a fast one on Snoke like that if he was as truly the puppet Snoke claimed. This is bad because there is almost no indication in the story that Kylo’s free will and desire to be good is actually growing. I mean even in Darth Vader’s conversion you got more of a tip off in that even his body posture showed he could not tolerate watching the Emperor kill his son. Kylo? Nuthin.
What makes this more egregious is that Snoke was to be this huge badass that seemed more powerful than Darth Sidious ever was. So here’s movie one. Big setup… BIG set up… then zortch! He’s dead. Now if he’s not dead, they better come up with a fantastic reason as to how, and then pay it off. I mean this is the equivalent to finding the secret tunnel to the final boss fight on level one that the game developers forgot to remove, typing in the cheat code and killing the boss in 30 seconds. Not good, and that’s what happened IMNSHO.
You can’t build up a big bad guy and then take him down after only one monologue and a show of relatively superficial force… joke not intended.
3. Bathos killing Pathos at every turn
Every serious moment was undercut by something humorous, or worse, the lack of courage for a new generation character to be killed is given the “just a flesh wound” treatment. Admittedly, Poe trolling General Hux in the very beginning was quite funny and well done. There were a few other humorous points too, like Luke brushing gravel off his shoulder when the AT-ATs fail to kill him… a funny Eastwood-esque moment worked well. But there were so many other times where relief was subverted by humor, or noble sacrifice subverted by G.I. Joe Red/Blue laser writing. Finn was in a point to go out a real hero and cement his place in lore history, but no. Rose stole that moment in a Mary Sue level save for the guy she had the hots for so we can get a trendy cute puppy love kiss. Shucking foot me.
4. Speaking of Lore… Let’s just crap all over it while leaving the audience in the dark.
Now some of this was explained in a video by a Star Wars super-fan that many of the things that left the audience wondering why or how things happened were in the extended media, but left out of the film. Okay, yeah. I get that. Small problem. I’m not buying the dozens of related materials just to figure out what happened. If I can’t tell why it is so from the movie, tha’s crap writing, y’all.
But here’s the real travesty. Big spoiler… REAL big.
Luke dies because…. reasons! I know I’ve said this three times this blog, but holy crapsnacking porgs on a stick! So, how does Luke survive the standoff with the AT-ATs? BTW, you see almost all of their footage in the trailer… weak Disney, very weak for something so cool. He’s doing galactic range force projection of himself. So he isn’t even there, and cannot be run through with Kylo’s Lightsaber and die. Ergo, he died because the plot said so… and Disney obviously wants to shove the original trilogy out of the way so they can go on making a new SW film every friggen year with new characters. Han was killed because Harrison Ford said he should have died in Return of the Jedi. Sure, I can see that. But to have him go down like he did in Force Awakens tarnishing his legacy as hero to one of failed father and a bit of a deadbeat loser badboy a princess fell for and a broken and messed up kid who ultimately kills him because Darth Emo is all angst-ridden. (Your name is Ben, we named the dog Kylo) Don’t get me wrong on this one point though, I like Adam Driver’s acting. Guy’s good. He’s easily the best portrayed character, but that says how good an actor he is for the crap he has been given for lines and characterization.
But to treat Luke as a broken and failed Jedi trainer who tries to murder Kylo as a child out of fear? Just wow. Mark Hamill was right to criticize this plot.
5. The biggest reason: Wasted Potential
When I was watching the film, I saw so many huge potentials for really good twists. Also, there are ways for Ep. IX to redeem the movie, but honestly, I don’t think they would or the public should let them off the hook so easily.
Potential 1: The Weapons Dealers being the real source behind the war (Oh and way to piss me off, Disney, for having the word “RESISTANCE” be the only word fully capitalized in the opening crawl. Way to telegraph for the SJW’s out there in the age of Trump) That said, it would have been a very interesting direction to go, and make it believable how the First Order and the Resistance kept having access to a seemingly endless ability to wage war across the galaxy. Seriously a good idea, new villians could be introduced and a war behind the war would have been refreshing. But alas, I’m certain that will be ignored as a throw away commentary on American Imperialism and proxy wars.
Potential 2: What if we threw a war and nobody came? If you had it where the destruction of the First Order’s fleet and the death of Emperor Snoke as well as the complete eradication of the Resistance’s fleet was the end of the war? Called on account of no materiel left to fight with? They called for help, but nobody came. Not even Luke did really. This again, opens the door for a more sneaky covert spy thing, as well as the scramble to fill the power vacuum. Who’s next in line for controlling the galaxy? The Hutts? Any of a dozen factions or races from extended lore? That’s some of the most interesting stuff there instead of painting ourselves into a corner with only having two small factions (or are they really that small and if so, we should give zero foxes about this entire movie because the losses aren’t that important) slugging it out. Ben Shapiro said it best that Disney painted themselves in the corner by making the First Order being only a repeat of the empire when all new land could be cultivated and even our old favorite characters would need to find their place in it. Newp. We just got lather rinse repeat with a smidgen of new fan service and old fan kiss offs.
Potential 3: Rey and Kylo rule the universe. What if both of them joined forces? They easily could have. But no, let’s just recreate Luke vs. Vader all over again. The potential for them to BOTH fall to their own lusts, being that one was on the dark side, and the other having no training…. it was a foregone outcome that they could become the next imperial force. Or you could have both of them turn on the new Grand Moff Hux. I still say, despite him giving off the snotty English private school bastard vibe, Hux could become a great villain and they could join the Resistance and fight against him, AND the weapons dealers as the First Order and Resistance fall into ashes creating two new orders to slug it out.
Potential 4: Luke could have redeemed himself. If given the chance to make right his failures as yoda pointed out, and throw out the Jedi religion as antiquated and failed like Bruce Lee threw out Kung Fu to create Jeet Kun Do, that might have been something truly interesting as well. They would then have to fight against new enemies as well as the corruptive influence of the Force if given over to their baser lusts personified in the Dark Side.
I do not expect any of these potentials to be addressed or realized. I think we’re looking at those possibilities in the rear view mirror, n’er to return.
BTW. the Porgs are stupid IMHO, but supposedly there was a reason they’re in the movie that I have not confirmed. Supposedly they had puffins walking into the shots so often they just CGIed them into Porgs. If this is true, well played. If not… another log of WTF on the bonfire.
What has this taught me about my own writing? Simply put, payoffs and audience expectations.
I expected Snoke to be much more threatening and survive to the next movie and prove the build up we got in The Force Awakens. Andy Serkis is a motion cap savant and it’s a shame to waste that talent. So that’s taught me if I build up a villain, even if i just have them lurking in the background I must give them an appropriate conclusion to their own story ark and not throw them out like garbage.
There is only so much subversion of the tropes and mood you can do before the audience gets pissed at you. You cannot turn every serious moment into a joke like Joss Wheadon on speed. I remember in an interview about the movie “Iron Monkey” about the tastes of Chinese audiences. They want a little humor, a little romance, something scary, something to cry about and lots of escapist fun all in the same film. Because of that, you give them what they want. You cant jerk them around with pretending to give them a heroic sacrifice of a main character to steal it away in order to preserve the power of the unnecessary sacrifice of a minor unnecessary character (particularly because its a woman). Don’t manipulate the emotions of the audience with a beloved character’s death, but then to ‘save versus logical outcome because script’!
Do not… repeat DO NOT… violate the rules of your own universe. mmm mmm… don’t do it. You cannot go 7 movies without someone doing the obvious, “why don’t I just ram that target as I shift to hyperspace and press the ‘win’ button” only to then do it to create an unnecessary martyr, or any other reason. This violates a fundamental understanding of the Star Wars universe. It’s implied collision at lightspeed is bad, but logic dictates that would be the first weapon you’d go to when given the chance. You just make it into a missile. So in your own writing, unless you’re willing to spend the time explaining how nobody did it before (too expensive, too unpredictable, too penguiny… whatever) you don’t do it.
For example in my own setting, the supernatural events (aka the magic system) always has God or Satan behind it. (or by proxy a demon or angel) There’s no digging up magic metal or water from the ground. So that stuff is all physically hard science like we have in the real world. This can create real pickles for me at times. It also means that with steam power, you will never see walking machines or steam blimps. Physics in my setting remain the same as they do in this world, unless a supernatural force from God, Angel, Demon or Satan is involved. If I violate that, please beat me about the head and shoulders.
There are more reasons why I don’t like the film so much anymore after the fact, but this will do. As you can see, not thrilled with the new trilogy. It’s about as bad as the prequels right now and the third movie better pay off YUGE or they ain’t getting my money back any time soon. Save yourself the cash and see it on some streaming service or rental.
This is not the movie you’re looking for.
Go ahead and comment below if you desire.