Dim the lights, flash up the Lucas Film logo, and even before the title and scroll hit the screen, I’m in. Double sunsets? I’m a kid again.
I hear some people aren’t happy with The Last Jedi. I must admit I found Luke a little off-putting at first. His entire performance as a reclusive, curmudgeonly Jedi—one who is unhappy with his lot in life—is a decades later call back to his famous New Hope whine “But I was going to Tosche Station to pick up power converters.”
But there were heroes aplenty who stepped up. Paige Tico, for example, is a true hero. What an opening sequence! She is the Jyn Erso of The Last Jedi, sacrificing herself to destroy the fearsome weapon, the Dreadnaught. And, her sacrifice gives her sister Rose a great backstory and gives a role and screen time to a kind of nobody (or another nobody).
Glad to spend more time on that island with Luke, Rey, Chewie and Porgs. The real island, Skellig Michael, is a very cool location.
I really liked this exchange:
- Luke: What do you know about the force?
- Rey: It’s a power that Jedi have that lets them control people and … make things float.
- Luke: Impressive. Every word in that sentence was wrong.
A new generation needs to be heard, and they need to listen. Also, I’m glad that with all the talk about the Force is, no one talks about midichlorians.
So who is Rey? Is she really a nobody? There’s talk of a Chosen One; Luke even thinks Ben/Kylo was the Chosen One—nephew of Luke, son of a princess, grandson of a queen and Darth Vader. I like to think of this move away from lineage for a nobody as a democratic turn. And what of Rey? Why does she have access to Force powers? What is it about her that allows her to reach out and access the force? If she is a nobody, then are force powers an accident of birth? Can anyone have them? [There seems to be a suggestion that, yes, anyone can have them, especially in the brief moment of a stable boy on Canto Bight who uses the Force to bring a broom handle to him.] In some ways, I’m beginning to think of the Rey vs. Kylo story as something similar to Harry Potter and Hermione—a chosen one and a nobody. The chosen one thing always also bothered me about Harry Potter—how his birthright meant he was destined for greatness, even though Hermione—of mixed blood—studied harder and often knew more and so could’ve been a star if the Harry Potter system was geared more toward merit than lineage. Did you notice Kylo’s facial scar? Did you see that Rey took the ancient Jedi books? Then again, wasn’t Anakin a nobody? Will Rey be the matriarch of a new lineage?
So who is Snoke? Why is he so powerful in the Force? Who taught him? Maybe answers to those would be interesting, but then there are other questions that may not be as interesting to have answers, but they are still questions: How did he get to be Supreme Leader? How does the First Order work? If it is just another colonizing force, then shouldn’t there be rebels on every First Order infested planet?
About Kylo Ren: His smashing his helmet seems to be an end to his pretensions to being in the mold of Darth Varder. It also struck me as a move by a director who didn’t care about the marketing potential of toy helmets and Kylo Ren costumes. Will kids smash their Kylo helmets? Some more questions: Did he tell Rey that he took some of Luke’s other students with him? Is that the truth? In the Force Awakens, the story was that he killed all the other students. So was he lying to Rey or are there other former Luke students somewhere in the galaxy? If he’s lying to Rey about that, could he be lying to her about her parents? They, after all, are still a mystery? And how did Kylo become Supreme Leader after Snoke’s death? What is the line of succession? I still don’t understand how the First Order works.
Poe Dameron — good pilot, bad tactician. His inability to hear General Hux was funny at first, but it did seem a bit off as it continued—sure, Hux is humorless, but why also make him look like an idiot? I like the idea of Poe buying time. I like the idea of Poe going against command of calling off the attack and going for it, and I like the tension that it creates between an individual and the collective. But as an individual: What a bad/convoluted plan he sent Finn and Rose on. They have to go far away to Canto Bight to get a Master Codebreaker, and then that person has to agree to go with them, get them on General Hux’s star destroyer, and turn off whatever hyperspace tracking technology they have. It was all a great adventure, and I liked that it was a massive failure—it felt a little too much like New Hope, Force Awakens, and Rogue One, in which so much of the plot depended upon people getting to some tucked away switch — a tractor beam, data storage, whatever. So I’m glad the plot moved somewhere else. But Poe is the one that set it in motion, and it was a bad plan. So will he be ashamed? Will he need to redeem himself?
Rose and Finn (Kelly Marie Tran and John Boyega): Here they are on Canto Bight. Are there any other characters like them in Star Wars? One is an AWOL Stormtrooper turned Rebel with a thing for Rey. The other is a nobody maintenance worker who has a huge role in The Last Jedi in a few ways: she helps Finn see that the glitter of Canto Bight is a cover for the evils of arms dealing, she saves Finn’s life by preventing him from making the kind of foolish sacrifices that is really Poe’s bailiwick, and third she gets to voice one of the best lines of the movie: “This is how we win. Not by fighting what we hate, but by saving what we love.” I really like these two characters and how their nobody-ness embodies and furthers the democratization of the galaxy far, far away. What prevents them from having Force powers?
Speaking of Poe’s bad/convoluted plan: Vice Admiral Holdo — why not share your plan with Poe?
Also: Crystal Foxes?! Nice surprise!