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!

 

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