Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Part 14)

As Leia sulks in the command center on Crait, we see the hooded figure of Luke enter, reminiscent of his entry into Jabba’s Palace in Return of the Jedi.  It’s a touching family reunion between the two.  Luke explains that he has to face Ben and that he can’t save him.  He ends dialogue by saying that no one is ever really gone and hands her the gold dice from the Millennium Falcon.  It was hard not to feel touched by this moment.  Much like seeing Han and Chewie in action again and like seeing Han’s unfortunate death it is hard not to feel touched during these scenes with the original characters.

Luke then heads out onto the battlefield to face the First Order army.  In what seems like an anticlimactic move Kylo Ren orders ever gun available to fire on him.  I’ll admit, a part of me thought that was it.  That was the tragic and cheap ending of Luke Skywalker.  However, after a moment, the smoke clears and Luke is left standing there without so much as a scratch on him.  It’s more like a scene from Dragon Ball Z than from Star Wars.  I was happy though that Luke was still with us, at least for a brief time more.

Sometime during this Finn somehow manages to transport Rose around the explosions surrounding Luke and back into the rebel base.  Meanwhile Kylo Ren takes a shuttle down to meet Luke face-to-face.  They stand there looking at each other and Kylo Ren asks if Luke came to save him.  Luke says, “No.”

After a few minutes Poe says, “He’s doing this for a reason!”  Then he figures  out that they have to make an escape.  Apparently no one ever tells Poe the plan.

The plan is pretty flawed.  They’ve already lost valuable time since Luke didn’t actually tell anyone the plan and they’re also backed into a corner with no perceivable way out.  That is, until, they discover that the weird crystal foxes are somehow getting in and out of the base.  They, unfortunately, reach a dead end with a pile of boulders blocking the path with gaps only large enough for the crystal foxes to squeeze through.

“I failed you, Ben.  I’m sorry,” Luke calls out across the salt flats.

“I’m sure you are,” Kylo Red screams back.  “The Resistance is dead, the war is over, and when I kill you, I would have killed the last Jedi!”  This marks the first time the title of a Star Wars movie has been delivered as a line of dialogue in a good Star Wars movie.

Luke then delivers a line he’s already used once with Rey:  “Every word you just said is wrong.”  Then the movie does a very non Star Wars thing and Luke’s words become a voice over as we see examples of what he is talking about.  “The rebellion is reborn today, the war has just beginning, and I will not be the last Jedi.”  It ends on Rey lifting all the boulders out of the way so the Resistance can escape.

First we see Luke emerge from the smoke like Goku, now we see him dodge lightsaber slashes like Neo dodging bullets.  Eventually he allows Kylo Ren to stab him through the heart and he doesn’t even flinch.  It’s then that we realize Luke has been conning Kylo Ren this whole time.  He’s not actually there at all.  Kylo Ren has been duped and Luke is merely projecting himself, a technique Kylo Ren had brought up earlier in the movie.

I’ll have to admit that I didn’t see this coming.  I know I’m in the minority.  Everyone else that saw this movie, apparently, noticed that Luke looked younger, that he was using his original blue lightsaber, that his feet were not leaving red streaks in the salt.  In retrospect it was incredibly obvious but I was maybe the one theater goer that was blown away by this trick ending.

Part of me could easily feel cheated out of the fact that there is not showdown between Luke and Kylo Ren.  I could extend that to the fact that this is the only Star Wars movie aside from Rogue One that there is no point where two lightsabers touch each other.  It is the only Star Wars movie with two lightsabers where no lightsabers touch each other.

That aside, it is actually a pretty sneaky trick by Luke Skywalker.  He keeps his promise that he is never going back and at the same time he achieves closure with Leia and helps the good guys escape.  Luke vanishes after being stabbed by Kylo Ren.

This is met with exactly the calmness we have come to expect from Mr. Ren.

Next up . . . a bit more about Luke’s role in The Last Jedi and the conclusion of the film!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Part 13)

On Crait there is a touching reunion between Poe and BB-8.  The happiness is countered immediately with Rose walking around saying, “Is this all that’s left?”  Given the fire we’ve seen from Rose it’s surprising that she doesn’t punch Poe in the face since he is directly responsible for her sister’s death.  Apparently that doesn’t happen to Poe.  Poe gets a free pass in life to do whatever he pleases.

The First Order lands and stars slowly moving toward the Big Ass Door with some sort of cannon that is clearly the sci-fi equivalent of a battering ram.  This strategy doesn’t really make much sense, similar to the AT-AT attack in The Empire Strikes Back but it does a good job of building tension.

Poe then announces a grand plan to take out he cannon.  Since Poe has such a great track record at not getting everyone killed everyone blindly follows him again.  At least at this point it seems like they don’t have a ton of choices.

From the trenches a soldier walks out onto the battlefield leaving what appear to be bloody footprints.  A soldier in the trenches sticks his finger in the red footprint then puts it in his mouth and spits it out saying, “Salt.”  It seems like a pretty unnecessary scene.  In doing some research it appears that the planet has red soil and it, for some reason, coated in a thin layer of salt.  That’s pretty neat and extremely cool visually but having this odd exposition seems out of place.

In one of the most visually spectacular moments in the movie a squadron of odd ships, balancing on single skis, bursts out of the base and begins their attack on the First Order army.  Great plumes of red salt burst out from behind the fighters like smoke.  In retrospect I am unclear if the red is the soil or salt at this point but it sure looks pretty.

When it looks like all is lost the Millennium Falcon comes from out of nowhere with Rey at the helm, blasting TIE fighters.  Everyone is now reunited in one glorious battle.  All this excitement is punctuated by Porgs immitating Chewbacca and being thrown against cockpit windows.

As it becomes clear once again that they are outmatched they give the order to retreat but Finn ignores it.  He decides he’s going to sacrifice himself to save the rebels and begins accelerating toward the battering ram cannon.  It seemed odd that they would kill Finn off in the second movie and apparently that was not the plan since Rose comes from out of nowhere and rams his ship with hers, a move that seemed almost as likely to kill him as what he was planning to do.

Finn runs over to Rose where she has to explain to him why she did what she did.  “It’s not about destroying what we hate, it’s about saving what we love.”  She then calls him a dummy before he kisses her and she passes out.  This is a great message but it might be a little lost in the fact that it seems like they are still going to be destroyed.

On cue the First Order army destroys the blast door and it seems like the end is in sight.  To add insult to the Resistance’s injury it is revealed that their distress signal has been received but they have gotten no response.  Leia then looks all depressed saying: “We’ve fought to the end but the galaxy has lost all its hope. The spark is out.”

This movie is really starting to be a major bummer.

Next up . . . Kylo Ren vs. Luke Skywalker!

 

 

 

 

 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Part 12)

As the Resistance tries to make its dairing escape, Admiral Holdo watches in anguish as she sees The First Order taking out transports one-by-one.  She knows she must do something so she jump to the controls and prepares to turn the ship around and ultimately make the jump to lightspeed through Snoke’s ship.  There is a precedent for this from the first movie where Han explains the delicate nature of hyperspace calculations to a naive Luke.  This is interesting in that it is the first time we ever really see a hyperspace accident.

It does raise a question though: why was this not their plan all along?  The plan, I guess, was to just slowly run out of gas until the First Order catches up with them and destroys their ship.  If the ship was doomed to destruction then why not ram the approaching ship in hopes of doing some damage?  Additionally, is it possible to do this with just one person on board?  I don’t know or understand anything about the logistics of piloting one of these giant capital ships but I’d imagine there is a bridge with dozens of people for a reason.  I had the same questions about Anakin piloting the ship to a crash landing in Revenge of the Sith.

Aboard the ship Rey and Kylo Ren are straining to use the Force to claim Luke’s lightsaber.  This results in the lightsaber being torn in two and Kylo Ren being knocked unconscious as Rey escapes.

Just before Snoke’s ship is about to be torn apart from Holdo’s maneuver we see Captain Phasma preparing to execute Finn and Rose using some sort of sophisticated cattle prod.  She is interrupted as the ship is rammed and everyone gets thrown about.

The result is a lot of madness aboard Snoke’s ship.  BB-8 somehow commandeers an AT-ST that he uses to fire at the enemy while Finn and Phasma prepare for their final showdown.  I have to say that I find Captain Phasma to be a pretty underutilized, perhaps unnecessary character.  This whole battle between Finn and her doesn’t really hold a lot of interest for me.  Their interaction in the past has been minimal and conceivably the main reason Phasma is so keen on making Finn suffer is because they threw her in a trash compactor in the previous movie.

Before Finn finishes her off she announces that he is “rebel scum” as yet another tedious reference to the throwaway line in Return of the Jedi.

Hux finds Kylo Ren passed out and appear about to kill him before Kylo Ren wakes up.  After some bickering Kylo Ren quickly asserts his power of Hux and by default becomes the new supreme leader.

I’d always considered Hux and Ren to have a work dynamic similar to that of Tarkin and Vader.   Hux/Tarkin were the governmental and military arm whereas Ren/Vader were the spiritual apprentice to the leader.   It is an interesting dynamic which becomes destroyed when Snoke is killed.   Hux is no Tarkin.  He’s a little weasel and Ren is an impulsive brat.  It’s going to be interesting to see what their fates are in the coming movie.  The relationship is like what it would be like if Vader and Tarkin were immature little babies.

Finn, Rose, and BB-8 all escape in a Lambda-class shuttle and head to meet up with the Resistance on Crait.  Poe delivers one of the more humorous lines of the movie when he hopes that the “big ass door holds out” long enough for them to get help.

Then the plan is revealed.  They’re going to send out Princess Leia’s “personal code” to try to attract allies to the Resistance to come and help them.  It seems like a pretty pathetic plan but I suppose these are very desperate times and this is the best that they’ve got.

Rose and Finn enter and Rose says, “Is this all that’s left?”  It seems like an impossible situation.  We can certainly blame Poe for the reason that their ranks are so thin.  It’s a hopeless situation and we can only sit back and wait on the inevitable arrival of the cavalry, old friends of Princess Leia coming to join in the fight against the evil First Order.

Next up . . . the cavalry does not arrive.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Part 11)

No sooner have the rebels evacuated their cruiser than the First Order immediately opens fire on the transports, blasting the undefended ships to pieces.  So far this is shaping up to be a very poor plan.  Maybe being in a larger, armed ship and being tracked was a better alternative to being in unarmed ships and being blasted out of space.

Snoke, meanwhile, it tormenting Rey and telling her that when he is done with her he’s going to go to Ahch-To and completely obliterate the island Luke is on.  In anger Rey tries to get her lightsaber but Snoke smacks her in the head with it and reclaims it back at his side.  He then shares a view of the transports being picked off one-by-one with Rey to torment her, much the way that the Emperor torments Luke in Return of the Jedi.

Rey then steals Kylo Ren’s lightsaber and charges at Snoke.  He easily tosses her aside and tells her that she has the spirit of a Jedi and that is why she must die.  This scene continues to raise the problems I’ve had with all Star Wars movies since Return of the Jedi.  If the master is so effortlessly powerful why do they feel the need to have an apprentice at all?  If I was tasked with defeating 100 two-year-olds in a battle would I feel the need to enlist a six-year-old to do my work for me?  The six-year-old would undoubtedly be able to accomplish the task but with considerably more effort than I would.  What is up with these masters of the dark side?  Maybe they just like to watch the show.  Maybe they’re just lazy.

Snoke then goes on a hubris-laced rant about how he is so great and he has seen everything.  He can see Ren’s intent and he can see that he will ignite his lightsaber and strike down his true enemy.  By this point it becomes obvious that this is not going to end well for Snoke.  Even the Emperor was not this cocky.  Sure enough the lightsaber at Snoke’s side turns, ignites, and cuts the evil master in half, Darth Maul style.

I’ll admit that this scene caught me off guard.  It wasn’t a complete surprise as Snoke’s obvious pride and the wiggling lightsaber gave it away a few seconds beforehand, but the fact that it did happen was shocking to me.  Initially I thought that Snoke spouting off about how smart he was was just a little too obvious.  Then I thought it showed how skilled Kylo Ren was in clouding Snoke’s mind to the true facts at hand.

We then see Rey and Ren, back-to-back, face the Elite Praetorian Guard who snap into action, albeit a little too late.

While we’re on the Elite Praetorian Guard, again, I don’t quite grasp why the Emperor or Snoke need some vastly inferior bodyguards.  It’s like if I, and seven other scrawny, average height men were hired to be a bodyguard for The Rock.  I guess the fact that there would be eight of us would give us some sort of advantage in numbers but at he end of the day I think The Rock would be better served to defend himself.

Imagine if The Rock could use the force.

The battle scene that follows with the Praetorian Guard is really well done.  I think it may be my favorite thing about the movie but not because of the action.  I like the fact that Jedi are once again just warriors, not all-powerful beings.  In the original trilogy we see Luke struggle to take down a wampa.  We see him nervous as he deflects three laser blasts facing down a speeder bike.  We see him imperfectly defeat Jabba’s crew, getting blasted in the hand, tied up by Boba Fett, and struggling to climb Jabba’s sail barge.  Jedi were powerful, yes, but they were not the perfect.

The prequels show us Jedi who are carrying on conversation with each other as they absent-mindedly deflect hundreds of laser blasts per minute with their lightsaber.  We see them leap hundreds of feat, fall to near-certain death only to grab onto moving speeders, and defy physics at every turn, all while not getting a single scratch.

The new movies have done something great.  They’ve shown Jedi (if you can call them that) fighting as a real struggle.  It reminds me of the lift fight from Diamonds are Forever.  In that scene we see a fight that is a real struggle.  James Bond is not some all-powerful being who blocks everything thrown at him as if he were Neo in the Matrix.  He’s someone who is a good fighter who fights someone in a very real way.

In the prequels Obi-Wan or Yoda would simply have dispatched of all the Praetorian Guard in ten to twenty seconds, disengaging their lightsaber after the last blow was delivered, and hooking it back onto their belt before the final body hit the floor.  It made for flashy, overly stimulating and ultimately boring fight scenes.  In The Last Jedi Rey and Ren defeat he Praetorian Guard but it isn’t without considerable effort.  It would be unthinkable in the prequels that a Jedi would struggle against anyone that was not also a Jedi.

The fight scene it truly beautiful.  It’s beautifully filmed, exciting to watch, in a great setting, and suspenseful.  It has a lot of the elements that make the final confrontation between Luke and Vader so interesting to watch which is unusual because this a battle, not a duel.

During the battle there is this exhilarating feeling.  It’s like the end of The Force Awakens where you really think Kylo Ren is going to do the right thing and run away with his father to join the Resistance.  It seems like this is it.  He’s made his turn back to the light side.  We learn quickly that this is not the case and the scene makes reference to The Empire Strikes Back.  Kylo Ren wants Rey to join him.  He doesn’t want to join her in the Resistance.  He deosn’t want her to join him in The First Order.  He wants them both to die and for the two of them to start something new.

He then tells Rey the truth about her parents and what she already knows, they were nobody.  He tells her that she’s nothing but not to him.  This is delivered in the way you’d expect the captain of the football team to approach the nerdy girl who no one knew was beautiful until she took off her glasses and put on some makeup.  Thankfully, unlike movies of that genre, Rey brushes this “compliment” aside and it becomes apparent a truce between the two will not be reached.

They then fight over Luke’s lightsaber and, for the second time, Rey wins the battle and Kylo Ren is left unconscious.

It’s nice that we learn that Rey’s parents are not Luke or Obi-Wan or any of the other obvious shocking reveals we could have had.  It’s nice that not everyone needs to be related.  It’s nice that anyone can be a Jedi.  It opens things up a lot more in the future of the franchise as the Skywalker dynasty is hitting a sort of dead end.

What the final conflict between Rey and Ren is going to look like is not known but it is nice that Kylo Ren is so unpredictable.  I can see him being redeemed as easily as I can see him not being redeemed.  The dynamic between him and Rey is great and it’s great to see great characters emerging in Star Wars once again.

Next up . . . Holdo’s risky maneauver and the final showdown between Finn and Phasma!

 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Part 10)

On Snoke’s ship Rey tells Kylo Ren that she saw his future and she will help him.  He tells her that she will stand with him then he takes her before Snoke.By the way, we are now well past he half way mark in this new trilogy and I still haven’t gotten over how silly Snoke’s name is.

Meanwhile, Finn, Rey, and Benicio del Toro are on their mission to shut down the hyperspace tracker so that he Resistance may escape.  Unfortunately they are ambushed by Captain Phasma and the evil BB-8.

If they do shut down the tracker it looks like the Resistance will be too busy fighting among themselves to do anything as Holdo has begun fighting back ad there is a giant stun gun battle happening on the bridge of their command ship.  In the middle of the battle Leia walks onto the bridge in a white hospital robe and shoots Poe.

As they drag away Poe’s unconscious body Holdo tells Leia, “I like him.”  Leia replies with a smile, “Me too.”

Why?  Why does anyone like Poe?  He’s not even a lovable rogue, he’s an impulsive, insubordinate oaf who does nothing but get people killed.  He should have been killed by his own commanders years ago or at he very least locked up in the brig.  I’m not a military man but I can’t imagine that any amount of his recklessness would have been tolerated by any military that has ever existed even the results were largely positive.

Holdo tells Leia as they plan their escape that in order for the transports to escape that someone needs to stay behind and pilot he cruiser.  It’s not really explained why that is the case if they’re just going in a straight line and waiting to run out of fuel.  It’s also not explained why Leia allows her second in command to volunteer for this.  It serves the plot to show how brave Holdo is as a leader but doesn’t really make a lot of sense beyond that.  If someone was going to sacrifice themselves for this reason, why wouldn’t it be a lower level member of the Resistance.  Also, with the technology present it seems odd that they couldn’t program in some sort of autopilot.  Apparently Southwest Airlines has more advanced technology than the Resistance.

Back on Snoke’s ship he tells Kylo Ren that he though his equal in the Force would arise but he always thought it would be Skywalker.  Snoke also revealed that it was he that breached their minds and put them in communication with each other.  He then uses the Force to throw Rey into the air and announces that she will give him Skywalker.

Poe wakes up on the transport and Leia summons him over.  At this point she tells Poe the plan that he probably should have known since the beginning.  Sure, he’s an idiot, but they’re clearly huge fans of his so I’m not sure why they left him out in the first place.  It would have saved them a lot of trouble and a lot of people from being shot with stun guns.  Holdo is revealed as some sort of genius because she knew that the First Order was tracking the main ship but not the smaller transports.

As the ships blast away Holdo stands on the bridge watching and says, “Godspeed, Rebels.”  This bothered me, admittedly more than it should.  Godspeed?  If only the Star Wars universe had some sort of expression similar to Godspeed that it used in every movie for the past forty years.  If they’d developed some sort of word or phrase like that they could have had Holdo say it here.  Instead they decide to have her say, “Godspeed.”

Finn and Rose, for some reason, are brought before General Hux.  It’s not clear why until they trot out Benicio del Toro to reveal that he has betrayed them.  If you’re wondering if he’ll be a complex character like Lando Calrissian who was backed into a corner and had to make a difficult decision, don’t waste your time.  He’s not.  He’s just a double-crossing jerk and we’ll never see him again.  He won’t come flying out of the sun to save the day.  He won’t have his men ambush some First Order troops to release Finn and Rose.  He’ll just fly away.

Maybe we’ll see him again in the next movie but I highly doubt it.  He was just someone that further nullifies this entire dumb plan to shut down the tracker.

Next time . . . Snoke, Holdo, and Phasma all prepare for their roles in the final movie!

 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Part 9)

Aboard the SS Del Toro Rose is coaxed into giving Benicio her necklace as a down payment for getting them to the First Order ship.  Rose reluctantly does this and we know how important this is as this was part of a set she shared with her sister who was murdered by Poe in the first scene in the movie.

They find out that Benicio del Toro has stolen this ship and that its owners were supplying weapons to the First Order.  We know this because there are some holograms of TIE fighters on the ship’s computer.  Then we see pictures of X-wings as well and Benicio del Toro says he was supplying weapons to the “good guys” too.  He says, “It’s all a machine.”

This is potentially the largest problem I have with The Last Jedi.  We learn that  apparently this is all just one big money-making game.  Contractors are selling arms to both sides to profit.

Listen, I get enough of this living on Earth, okay?  Arms companies making profits, countries being overthrown for oil, the list goes on an on.  This is what makes living on Earth a real bummer.  I don’t need this kind of baloney in my Star Wars movie.  This could be a big plot twist in some sort of hard Sci-Fi movie but this is not hard Sci-Fi, it’s Star Wars.  This is why the taxation of trade routes was also not a compelling plot point for the Star Wars universe!

So what does this mean?  After eight movies we see that there is no good and evil?  They’re all just pawns of a secret society of wealthy elites trying to prop up a state of perpetual war so that they can line their own pockets?

Does anything that happens from this point on even matter?

After this revelation we rejoin Poe who storms onto the bridge and engages in his fiftieth act of gross insubordination but insulting Holdo and demanding answers form her.  She has him removed from the bridge but, somehow, still not sent to the brig.  At this point she probably should have just shoved him onto an escape pod and jettisoned him to the nearest (or farthest) planet.

Meanwhile Rey is getting ready to go meet Ren and turn him to the light side.  She says to Chewbacca, “If you see Finn before I do tell him–”  She is then cut off by Chewbacca roaring.  She responds with, “Perfect.  Tell him that.”  Tell him what?  Are they in love?  What is going on?

Rey then boards a tiny coffin which looks like she is preparing more for a trip to the Genesis Planet than to Kylo Ren’s ship.  She arrives very quickly at the ship and Ren is there to meet her, not looking as accommodating as she may have been hoping for.

Back on the Resistance cruiser Poe tells Holdo the secret plan they’ve been working on to deactivate the Hyperspace tracker.  Holdo is mad and Poe stages a mutiny, taking Holdo and some of her subordinates prisoner.

We are then taken to a scene with what looks like a giant ship resembling an iron coming in for a landing.  The camera pans out and it turns out it is actually an iron and they are in a never-before-seen Star Destroyer (or Dreadnought) laundry room.  Their irons look just like normal 1950s style Earth irons just on a robotic arm.  This was one of the most jarring moments of the movie for me.  I was initially tricked (as was the intention of the scene) but immediately was left thinking about Hardware Wars.  This was so blatant that it had to be intentional.  The result of this odd gag was that  I was so taken out of the movie that I didn’t even realize until the second viewing that the whole purpose of being in the laundry room was to show Finn, Rose, and Benicio del Toro stealing First Order uniforms so they could wander the ship.

Their brilliant plan for BB-8 is to put a laundry basket over him, a plan that was executed to much better effect in Paddington 2, not to mention being an overall better tonal fit for that movie.

They are spotted by an evil BB-8 who is not fooled by their terrible plan.

Overall this attempted break in begins on a largely comical note.  For some reason this whole thing plays out like a lighthearted heist.  I’m not saying there’s room for humor in the Star Wars movies.  The Force Awakens did a great job re-introducing humor into Star Wars after the serious prequels that were even less funny when they tried to be.

To me this whole scene seemed like if the prison escape scene in A New Hope had Yakety Sax playing the whole time.

Next time . . . CONFRONTATION!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Part 8)

Back on planet Ahch-To, Luke is getting more comfortable with opening himself back up to using the force.  He uses it to connect with Leia and it is a touching scene where, despite being incapacitated, she whispers, “Luke.”  We don’t get a lot of time to see these two interacting as siblings once they find out about their common ancestry at the end of Return of the Jedi.  It’s really nice to see them on screen “together” in this movie and see the love that they share for one another.

While he is connecting with Leia we see Rey and Kylo being mind-linked again, this time as Kylo is shirtless. She is immediately distracted and asks him to cover up but he ignores her and they start bickering.  She asks him why he hated his father and doesn’t really receive a satisfactory answer.  He then asks her if Luke told her what happened the night he destroyed the Jedi temple.  We then see the same scene again from his point of view, Luke clutching his lightsaber with a mad look in his eyes about to bring it down upon Ben Solo before he is quickly able to block the attack and escape.

He then tells Rey, “Let the past die.  Kill it if you have to.”

Rey then leaves and goes to the Sarlaac-esque pit by the ocean where she inspects the opening before being sucked in.  She emerges in some sort of underground cave where there’s a freaky mirror sequence with infinite Reys in each direction.  It’s a strange, interestingly filmed scene which reminds me of something that would have been in The Star Wars Holiday Special had The Star Wars Holiday Special been good.  It has that same sort of quality as an aside.  I kept expecting her to see Jefferson Starship playing a concert or seeing one of the Reys in the mirror morph into Diahann Carroll and sing a song.

The mirror sequence is odd.  It seems out of place in a Star Wars movie, though many will likely compare it to the cave sequence in The Empire Strikes Back.  The odd things about it is that it’s narrated by Rey.  Things aren’t really narrated in Star Wars.  The flashbacks are the same way.  This movie is dark and sinister and reminds me more of a scene that would be in The Lord of the Rings, not necessarily Star Wars.

She then returns to Kylo, explaining her experience in the pit and it feels like an odd romance is starting to brew.

As they reach out and try to touch hands Luke barges in and blows the roof off of Rey’s hut.  Rey is angry and asks Luke if he tried to murder Ben Solo.  They then engage in a brief fight with various weapons culminating in Rey nearly killing Luke with a lightsaber.

Luke then tells his side of the story, this time in more detail.  We get to see a third flashback to the event, this time with Luke not looking like a deranged lunatic but rather a sad old man who had failed his nephew and his student.  The ending is the same with Kylo destroying the temple and leaving it in ruins.

Rey then suggests that hey work together to turn Kylo to the light.  Luke warns her that this is not going to go the way she thinks but she, in young Luke Skywalker fashion, ignores her master and heads out to save Kylo Ren nonetheless.

This segment on Ahch-To ends with Luke marching toward the ancient tree, torch in hand, to burn it down and the ancient Jedi texts with it.  He hesitates for a moment then, ultimately, is interrupted by Yoda’s Force ghost.

“Master Yoda,” Luke says, perfectly encapsulating his annoyance and chagrin at being caught in the act.

Seeing Yoda again caught me completely off guard.  I was not expecting it in the least.  Much like seeing Han, Leia, and Luke again part of me was really thrilled to see Yoda again, even if he was acting like a crazy person.  Apparently thirty years of being dead starts turning Force Apparitions a little loopy.  I guess I can’t really fault him for that.

Yoda senses Luke’s hesitation at burning down the tree and the sacred Jedi texts.  Luke is like a child, looking to get attention by threatening to burn down the tree.  Was he doing this just to have Yoda swing by?  If that was his tactic it worked.  When Yoda senses Luke’s hesitation he summons some lightning and burns the tree down himself to Luke’s horror and befuddlement.  Yoda then cackles like an insane lunatic and does a little jig.

Luke and Yoda exchange some words, Yoda giving Luke some wisdom about learning from failure, and they just sort of watch the tree burn as Luke lies beside his former master.  The music, the lighting, the scene all feel odd to me but at the same time liberating.  Much like seeing Han Solo and Chewie together again in The Force Awakens, it’s hard not to enjoy seeing Yoda school Luke again on his bad attitude and poor decision making.

Also, Yoda doesn’t quite glow the way the ghosts did in Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi making me wonder if there is some significance to that.  You can sense the faintest blue glow around Yoda but it’s barely visible.

In the Timothy Zahn book, Heir to the Empire, Obi-Wan appears to Luke as a Force apparition a final time to say goodbye.  In that book it is stated that there’s some sort of time limit on how long you can come back as an apparition.  This apparently is not canon.  It also changes the stakes as Luke will no longer be able to gain wisdom and training from his deceased former master.

It makes me wonder if we’ll be seeing more of Yoda and Luke in the next movie.  I wouldn’t think Yoda would make an appearance but I could imagine seeing Luke one last time to coach Rey for one final confrontation.

I know that this is the eighth part of this review but SPOILER Luke dies.

Next time . . . BETRAYAL times TWO!

 

23 New Pokémon from the Hoenn Region Available Later Today

Niantic just made an announcement on the official Pokémon GO site that they are releasing 23 additional Pokémon from the Hoenn region into the game sometime later today.  These will all be brand new for me as my encyclopedic knowledge of Pokémon ends abrupty at #151.  Part of the excitement of Pokémon GO has been discovering the new generations that came out after I’d finished my run with the card game in the late 90s.  Despite many of these Pokémon being old enough to vote they are new to me.

Niantic’s official announcement states the following:

Trainers,

Starting later today, 23 additional Pokémon originally discovered in the Hoenn region in the Pokémon Ruby and Pokémon Sapphire video games will begin appearing in Pokémon GO for the very first time. As you’re out adventuring with friends and family and exploring your local neighborhoods, be sure to share your favorite moments and photos using #PokemonGO on your social media channels.

—The Pokémon GO team

This brings the total number of Gen 3 Pokémon to 100 with 35 left to go.  Many people were a little put off by staggering the release of the Hoenn region Pokémon but I think it’s going pretty well so far.  We’re almost two months in and I have plenty of hunting and farming left to do even to complete the Pokédex with what’s available right now.

I’m looking forward to seeing what new odd-looking creatures I’ll be introduced to later today!

Pokémon Go Community Day Impressions

Saturday marked Pokémon GO‘s first Community Day.  Community Day was announced more ahead of time than a normal Pokémon GO event, however, it only lasted three hours.  This was a bit of a bummer for those of us that were working between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM CST.  This seems to be something they’ve already remedied for the next event giving us over a month to plan for February.

I was able to play for about 20 minutes on my way home from work, largely while I was getting gas.  Luckily for me this particular gas station is always a hot spot despite being sort of in the middle of nowhere.  I was able to catch two shiny Pikachus which wasn’t too shabby.

It’s worth noting that I’m seeing a ton of Tauros around after not having seen them at all in about six months.  My theory is that they may be rotating Gen 1 Pokémon soon.  I have nothing to back this up but that’s what I’m going with.

The February event, announced today, will feature Dratini as the special Pokémon.   With a month’s notice I’m looking forward to actually participating this time around.  Despite Dragonite no longer being the most sought after Pokémon in the game this should still be fun.  I must admit I don’t care all that much about the special moves but to catch a ton of Dratini would always be welcome.  Considering my record for Dratini caught in a single day probably stands around three I’m looking forward to bulking up on candies.  Rumors are out that this may mean shiny Dratini as well, something that would be very nice as a special release.

I was finally able to get out and do my first Kyogre raids this morning and things worked out very well.  It was unusually warm and the forecast said rain despite not much more than a drizzle.  This lead me to catching two weather-boosted Kyogre, matching the number of Groudon I caught during the incredible harsh weather we had here the month it was out.

This also took me up to 100 Legendary Raids.

The new update has some great features.  The best feature is fixing the bug where you scroll to the top of your Pokémon screen any time you do anything.  Additional features include sorting the Pokédex by region and finally grouping the incubators together.

One odd change is the size of Pokémon.  For some reason Pidgey now is about half the size of Snorlax.  They listed this as an improvement to the way Pokémon scale.  This seems much more like a bug to me.

But nothing makes me prouder than finally completing my 300 Tiny Rattata Medal.  The reward for this medal is that I can resume ignoring Rattata again and I’ve got to say it feels pretty good.

I’m 2.5 million XP away from Level 40 and I’m looking forward to ignoring a lot of Pokémon after I hit that milestone.

I’m looking at you, Weedle!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Part 7)

As Finn and Rose sit in their prison cell they lament about how they weren’t able to reach the master codebreaker.  Then, in the shadows, they hear someone say, “I can do it.”  The mystery voice is revealed to belong to none other than Benicio del Toro doing his best Benicio del Toro impression.

They brush him off as useless until he manages to open the cell and just walk out, a feat he was presumably saving for an audience.  He then helps them escape through a floor panel which they leave wide open for easy tracking by the police.

When they emerge from the underground they are in the stables where the fathiers are housed.  They are nearly reported by one of the slave children until they show him their ring with the symbol of the rebel alliance.

The children then help them set all the fathiers free and then the dumbest scene in the movie unfolds.  All the fathiers just rampage through Canto Bight, destroying everything in their path.  They are not only fast creatures but seem to be impervious any sort of injury as they barrel through breaking glass, stone, and wood.  All the while Finn and Rose are riding them, somehow not being thrown from the beast.

The dumbest scene in the movie leads, of course, to the dumbest single moment when they dash past a weird, multi-dozen-breasted woman who lets off an operatic tremolo-heavy shriek.

As I’ve said, this was the dumbest scene in the movie.  This got me to thinking, what are all the dumbest scenes in all of the Star Wars movies?  After a few minutes of consideration here’s what I’ve come up with:

Episode IV: A New Hope – The scene where Han tells them to let Chewbacca win the chess game.

There’s nothing wrong with the sentiment, it lets the viewer know that Wookiees are really strong as if that wasn’t evident already.  The part that always bothered me is when Chewbacca put his arms behind his head as if he were too cool for school.  It’s the equivalent of looking at he camera.  Even as a child this scene bothered me.

Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back – The scene where the Ugnaughts play keep away from Chewie with C-3PO’s head.

It’s hard to pick the dumbest scene in the best movie ever made but here you have it.  Seeing Chewbacca fumble around trying to get Threepio’s head back is more sad than comical.  Having him threaten to rip their arms off or just roar at them to scare them away would probably have been a bit cooler.

Episode VI: Return of the Jedi – The scene where the Ewok steals the speeder bike.

This moves the plot along but the seeing the Ewok for as long as we do and the chase that happens could have been left out.

Runner up: Chewbacca’s Tarzan yell.

Episode I: The Phantom Menace – The scene where R2-D2 saves the day and gets a medal.

This was a tough one but I still feel a tinge of embarrassment run up my spine every time I see R2-D2’s name read off of his frame and he is given an award even though he’s just a robot.

Runner up: Most other scenes in the movie.

Episode II: Attack of the Clones – The scene where they have to jump through the droid assembly factory.

C-3PO’s head and body getting swapped with battle droid parts are topped only by revealing that R2-D2 can suddenly fly!

Runner up: The dumb diner scene and the shape shifter.

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith – The scene where Bail Organa rides a hot rod.

Bail Organa, racing through Coruscant during this pivotal moment in galactic history should be a scene high on emotion.  Unfortunately it’s impossible to feel anything other than amusement as he races through the city in his 1950s style car with fins.  Even the most serious look on Jimmy Smitts’s face can’t distract from the unintentional hilarity of the moment.

Runner up: The scene where Obi-Wan rides that big, dumb lizard creature and any romantic dialogue between Anakin and Padme.

Episode VII: The Force Awakens – The Rathtar scene.

This whole scene played out like an episode of Red Dwarf.  don’t get me wrong, I love Red Dwarf.  However, like I want my science left of out Star Wars and left to Star Trek, I want my silly alien creature encounters aboard a ship left to Red Dwarf.  While watching this scene I felt like I’d already seen it 100 times and was eager for it to end.

Episode VIII: The Last Jedi – See above.

After all of this Finn and Rose are nearly a their ship when they see it blown up.  They quickly circle back until they nearly run off of a cliff.  Rose sets the fathier free and says, “Now it’s worth it.”

Just as they’re about to be captured BB-8 and Benicio del Toro fly by and rescue them.

If this class of people had ever been mentioned in any Star Wars movie prior to this one maybe this scene would make people say, “Hell, yeah!”  However, this entire thing is set up just minutes earlier to be knocked down.  Here’s a bunch of terrible people you can hate — and they’ve been punished!  Yay!  Finn doesn’t even have any idea what this place is and has to be told by Rose.  They trash the place just to trash it.  It’s sort of like the scenes in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where they injure and destroy the personal property of the yuppies next door.  We’re supposed to be happy because it’s the 1980s and we hate yuppies but what did they actually do besides have overly modern (for the 1980s) decor in their house?

I feel the same way about Canto Bight.  I don’t know anything about these people and I don’t care about them either way.  All I know is that when Benicio del Toro and BB-8 showed up I felt like cheering.  Not because they were making their escape but because I was glad to never have to see this dumb place again.

Next up . . . we learn what really happened between Luke and Kylo Ren and the return of . . . YODA?!?!