Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Part 15)

After Luke reveals himself to be tricking Kylo Ren we cut back to Ahch-to where Luke is shown struggling to perform this new Jedi Force Projection trick that Kylo Ren alluded to earlier in the movie.  Kylo Ren reveals that by merely doing this trick you could die and Luke does just that.

We see Luke stare off into the distance at two suns.  We don’t know for sure if these are Ahch-to’s two suns or if it’s some sort of hallucination the boring miserable planet that Luke hated being on for the first twenty years of his life.  Either way it is a beautifully shot scene and call back to the original Star Wars movie.

Immediately both Rey and Leia seem to feel Luke’s passing.  There is not a lot of grief, mostly just calm reflection by both of them.

I’m not sure I really like this end for Luke Skywalker.  I can understand that what he did must’ve been some pretty advanced level Force use but how and why did it kill him?    I’m not sold on the fact that Luke needed to die, at least not in this manner.  If he truly wanted to help out, much like Holdo, wouldn’t he have been of much more use alive?

If Luke had died selflessly to protect Rey, Leia, or whoever else needed protection by sacrificing himself that would have seemed more necessary.  I just have a very hard time wrapping my head around why this would have happened this way.  Why does Luke, who always rushed to his friends’ side and believed in the redemption of anyone turn into someone who abandons his friends and loses faith in his own nephew at the first sign of straying to the dark side.

Seeing Luke die is tough.  It’s less jarring than the death of Han Solo but it is still tough.  Tougher, however, is seeing who Luke has become.  Han and Leia have not changed all that much.  They’re both the same people they’ve always been, just sadder.  Luke seems to go against everything that he ever stood for in the original movies.  The question remains: why?  Because of that one time he failed?  That seems like a really weak reason even for a young Luke Skywalker who was no stranger to whining.  That one failure just makes him say, “Okay, I’m done with that.”  Then he walks away from it all and allows Kylo Ren to just kill everyone?

And why does Luke die?  Is the exertion of this projection task just so much that it will kill anyone?  Does he die just because he feel like it and he’s had enough?  When Yoda dies you get the feeling he was just using the Force to extend his life to help Luke.  Luke is roughly 850 years younger than Yoda.

After Luke’s death Kylo Ren storms the base and makes eye contact with Rey just as she about to fly off in the Millennium Falcon.  Along with her flies off the possibility of there being a real lightsaber battle in this movie.  Kylo Ren finds the dice from the Millennium Falcon and picks them up only to see them disappear in his hands.  This leaves me with a lot of questions about how Luke’s whole Force Projection trick works.

On board the rebel ship Poe meets Rey for the first time and they have to comment on it because I don’t think any viewers of the two movies realize it until it’s brought up.

Star Wars Episode VIII The Last Jedi screen grab

Finn goes into a drawer to get blankets for Rose and we see that Rey has stolen all the Jedi texts in a final act to really piss off the Force nuns.

Rey asks Leia, “How do we rebuild from this?”

Leia responds, “We have everything we need.”

The camera then falls back and we see everyone chatting, smiling, and laughing as if it were the end of The Return of the Jedi.  It’s unclear why anyone is doing anything other than suffering from intense levels of dread and despair.  Nothing has gone right for the Resistance and they’ve been cut down to about two dozen people at this point.  Things are bleak.  We all like an underdog story but unless some of those bums they were trying to call to help them on Crait show up it’s going to be impossible to believe any story line that leads this group to victory against the hugely powerful First Order.

The movie ends with the slaves back on Canto Bight.  We see a little boy use the force to bring a broom to his hand, something that would make Master Obi-Wan “very grumpy.”  We’re left to believe that the Force can be used by anyone, a bit of a departure from the genetically passed down Force trends of previous movies.  This is why Rey’s parents don’t matter.  This is, apparently, the hope Leia may be referring to.

Personally, I’m thinking they can’t wait for the slave kid with the broom to grown up.  They’re going to need to do some pretty intense planning before we can hope for a happy ending to Episode IX.

Next up: In Conclusion . . .

 

 

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 the 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 every 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!