Saturday, January 13, 2018

2018-01-13

Unlike a vocal minority on the Internet, I liked "Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi." (Spoilers ahead.) I liked it a lot. In fact, I saw it a second time (in good old-fashioned 2D this time) in the theater today.

Yes, the porgs are cute but unnecessary. So what? I'll take a dozen porgs over one Ewok or Gungan. Not that I dislike the Ewoks either, but somehow having them be both cuddly and important warriors in the Battle of Endor just didn't feel right.

Yes, too much time is spent on Canto Bight, but no, I don't think it was a throwaway "side quest that added nothing to the overall plot. We learned a little about the people who are profiting from the misery of the victims of the war, and we saw Finn and Rose forge a relationship. OK, the destruction of the casino and the chase scene could've been trimmed a bit...

Yes, Leia's use of the Force to save herself from dying in the vacuum of space was unexpected and, well, unprecedented. Just because we've never seen her use the Force doesn't mean she hasn't done so, however. There's thirty years between Episodes VI and VII, and we don't know what she might have done in that period. No, she's clearly not a Jedi, but we're already aware that the family's pretty strong. This scene doesn't require too much more suspension of disbelief than the rest of the series.

Yes, it was slightly disappointing to learn that Rey (supposedly) wasn't the daughter of Luke Skywalker or Han Solo or Obi-Wan Kenobi or... anyone of any importance whatsoever. In the end, though, it makes her that much more important that she doesn't (seem to) owe her power to any bloodline. (Parenthetical remarks included because this could of course turn out to be a lie on Kylo Ren's part and something different may be revealed in the next movie, though personally I'm not anticipating that.)

Yes, I was expecting to learn more about Supreme Leader Snoke in this movie, not see him die in it with his origins left shrouded in mystery. If more is revealed in Episode IV, then great. If not, and we're never told who/what he was and how he learned to control the Force, I'll still be able to sleep at night. Either way, it was quite satisfying to see his face as he mocked Rey, telling her that Ren was going to ignite his lightsaber and kill his true enemy.

And yes, it would've been cool to have seen a fired-up Jedi Master Skywalker raising a lightsaber to battle Kylo Ren or First Order troops, to have seen him rally the Resistance fighters into battle, but this Luke Skywalker felt believable. Weary, withdrawn, gruff but still humorous... there were echoes of those other two Jedi masters in self-imposed exile, Obi-Wan and Yoda, in Luke's behavior. He may have started out reluctant to train Rey or get involved in the Resistance's fight, and ready to let the Jedi Order end, but he changed his mind on all three positions, and died with purpose.

There are points to quibble over in this movie, just as in every other movie, and you're free to like or dislike it, just as with every other movie. I wouldn't rank it the best "Star Wars" film, but then I wouldn't rank it anywhere just yet. It needs a little more time. The people who are calling for it to be removed from the canon, or accuse Disney of bending to the will of so-called "social justice warriors," need to lay off the caffeine and maybe go read some Heinlein for a bit.

See you around, kid.


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