Director: Rian Johnson
Writer: Rian Johnson
Cinematographer: Steve Yedlin
Producer: Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman
by Jon Cvack
Continued from Part 1...
Admittedly, the first thirty minutes of this movie are pretty good. It started with a strong space battle sequence; arguably the best since Eps IV-VI; not at all feeling as though it was trying to steal elements from what had already worked. I was digging Rey’s journey to Luke, with Luke offering possibly the second best performance of the film, even with the hackneyed plot of being The Old Wizard Who Retired into the Woods. Counter to some, I enjoyed the breast milking scenes and the little Porgs that looked cheap with their puppetry, as it was honoring what Lucas originally created.
I immediately resented Finn and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) as Rose was perhaps the most boring character of any movie in the entire series; lacking even an iota of dimension. Still, it was forgivable and it was all looking up, as though the movie I had been waiting for since The Phantom Menace (1999). And then Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) failed to fire his Proton Torpedoes to destroy the rebels, leading the other Tie Fighters to launch theirs, which hit the brig where Princess Leia is stationed, and as the explosion incinerates everyone around her, sucking her out to space where she appeared dead, I was thinking - given Carrie Fisher's passing - this was the greatest way to end a character. Except, turns out, she wasn’t dead.
I can’t begin to express the physical reaction my body had, as when Carrie Fisher somehow opened her eyes in negative 500 degree Fahrenheit space and raise her fingers, using the force - which she had never been used in this way before - to pull herself back into the ship, I thought it might have been a joke; that maybe, as little sense as it would make, Luke was dreaming about this moment. It’s been nearly a week since I’ve seen the film and I still do not understand why in the world they would have this happen. It is such a ridiculous and absurd moment, not just in the Star Wars canon, but in all of popular action cinema, that I immediately knew it was over. I had 90 minutes left of viewing and if this was allowed to happen then there would be other issues as well. Leia’s literally unbelievable escape set the precedent for the series, and the rules and laws which govern it; that is, to do whatever it wants. Defenders of this scenes were eerily similar to Trump’s Red Hats demanding NFL players stand to honor our troops, then ignoring Trump's endless derision for John McCain.
It never gets as bad, but seemingly countless moments reach the precipice. BB-8 progresses from a droid and into a Jar Jar Binks-like character, not acting as the deus ex machina just once, but at least two times, once using coins he assembled from a casino to shoot down stormtroopers (because people thought he was a gambling machine - as though they’ve never seen a droid which is one of the most ubiquitous devices in the entire world), and the next functioning straight out of Rocky and Bullwinkle, in which Fin is certainly going to die under an AT-ST where a grenade launcher blows up the cabin just in time, not at all hurting BB-8, who then uses wires to march the machine to a ship they can steal.
Although Rey only meditates and finds herself falling into a black hole, along with twirling a spear around and chopping a lightsaber with a rock, she develops the skills of a veteran Jedi within maybe a day or two, capable of fighting Snoke who’s a veteran Dark Jedi and moving a thousand tons of rock and boulders to save the rebels. This seems a victim of benevolent sexism in that she’s turned into an illogical figure where rather than watching her go through the intense training to become a Jedi, showing that women too can put with tremendous amounts of emotional and physical pain, they instead expedite her skills to avoid all that and make her as badass as fast as possible.
Most illogically, aside from the Battlestar Galactica rip off is why The First Order, although only needing to wipe out these remaining 400 or so Rebels, prefers to shoot down the ships one by one rather than just destroying the lead transport. Why chase them through hyperspace and do anything other than slaughter them all, given how much firepower they had (not to mention the fact that the rebels always seem to win)? It makes the whole premise of the narrative silly and illogical, enough to make you question this entire plot. I haven’t even heard of a defense on this one, as even in Battlestar Galactica the Cylons knew to take out the Battlestar Galactica ship first.
Finally, is the fact that Yoda’s ghost can now set trees on fire and hit Luke in the head with a cane, while Luke is able to meditate himself into a hologram, taking the original trilogy ghosts beyond a level of spiritual guidance, and in a direction that essentially allows writers to do anything. Why not just get killed if you can come back and do these types of things? Why didn’t other Jedi’s meditate themselves into fighting ghosts from the previous films if it’s such a powerful tool? Why not meditate themselves into the Death Star and destroy it that way rather than sacrificing all the Rebels? Again, the problem isn’t that it exists, it’s that it disregards - and disprects - all of the history that came prior.
Even one of these problems could have made the film feel disconnected, though with over five major problems, it positions episodes VII-IX to be as removed from IV-VI as I-III. The thing that makes me furious is that there was no reason for these holes or ignorance to exist, and that’s where the feel of art by committee dominates the overall story. This is not a world that was imagined by a singular man, but created by people’s whose primary goal is to make as much money as possible, and no rules about ghosts or physics is going to stand in that way. That’s what gets me aggravated with the Star Wars fans. Similar to Trump supporters who don’t care that he criticizes the 1st Amendment for the country they love, Star Wars fans don’t care what people do with the story they love so long as it includes all of the bells and whistles. You’d think they’d be the ones most enraged; though at 50% on Rotten Tomatoes and from all of the discussions I’ve had, I think more might be coming around.
BELOW: Arguably the stupidest thing I've ever been asked to accept in a popular film
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