I saw The Last Jedi on opening night with a few friends. I'm still trying to process whether I like it or not, especially because I can't view it just from one perspective. As a writer, I like to dissect the plot and characters, and as a writer, I know how difficult it is to juggle all your characters and storylines in a sequel. As I woman, I look at the female representation of the film. And as a fan, I just want to enjoy the film experience. So, this is my attempt to work through my feelings for this film. I think the best way to do that is list my likes and dislikes. Spoilers abound, so beware.
|Look at her! She's perfect!
Oh, my Jedi! Rey is my favorite character in the Star Wars universe, so going into this movie, I definitely didn't expect someone else to so thoroughly capture my heart. She's in the middle of very dire circumstances, and yet she's bubbly and driven and smart. I absolutely adore that her story begins with her sister. I read yesterday that there will be a comic series centered on their relationship that takes place pre-TLJ. I can't wait to see where her story goes in Episode IX. I would die for Rose Tico, but I know she'd want me to live for her instead.
Porgs and Crystal Foxes
I don't even think this needs to be explained.
Leia Using the Force
I wasn't sure what they were going to do with Leia's character, so I was surprised and angry when, not too long into the movie, the cruiser she was in got shot and Leia got sucked into space. Surprised because that seemed like a terrible, meaningless way for her to go. And angry because it seemed like a terrible, meaningless way for her to go. I know this scene was fairly divisive. One of my friends thought it was the silliest. Maybe it's because I'm good at suspending my disbelief, or maybe it's because I love Leia so much that I don't care if it's silly, but seeing her use the force to save herself was incredible.
Admiral Holdo Going Out with a Bang
I think there are major problems with the Poe/Holdo storyline, but this wasn't one of them.
The Female Fighter Pilots
The first thing I noticed about this film was during the opening battle sequence, we weren't seeing the same old white guys being the heroes. There were women and people of color, and I had chills. I'd love to see this type of inclusion becoming second-nature.
The Visuals on Crait
Red salt? Very cool!
They promised me more Phasma! I know what it's like to have a large cast and not know what to do with them all, especially the baddies, but her part wasn't substantially bigger than it was in TFA, and she was dispatched of so quickly. Color me disappointed. I partly hope she's not gone, but bringing her back from a fiery fall after they already let her escape the destruction at the end of The Force Awakens would be silly. That said, I'd much rather trade Hux for her. But I guess I'll have to finally finish reading her book to get my Phasma fix.
I was one of the few who were indifferent to Poe in The Force Awakens, but in this one, he made me mad. So he grows and learns to respect the women in charge. Who cares? Why do we still need stories about men figuring out that women in authority are worthy of respect? I'd much prefer to see male characters who, I dunno, respected women from the outset. Like Finn. Less Poe, more Finn.
Sometimes, I'm in favor of straightforward villains and uncomplicated good vs. evil storylines. Here, however, Snoke's demise felt anticlimactic considering we still know nothing about him. Who is he? Where did he come from? Why and how did he target Kylo? Lots of questions that were left unanswered and left me dissatisfied. I did like, though, that the decision reinforces Kylo's villainy. He's the supreme leader, evil through-and-through. I think this cuts out any chance of a redemption arc for him, and I'm in favor of him not being redeemed.
The Lightsaber Battles/Rey's Training
There were lightsabers. That is a fact. The fight between Rey/Kylo and the Praetorian guards was neat, but it didn't live up to the one at the end of TFA. Along with this, I think, is that we didn't see Rey train at all. She trains a bit on her own, but not a lot of time passes from the beginning of the movie to this fight, so theoretically, she's at the same skill level. I really don't feel like she's come into her full power as a Jedi or a protagonist, and the movie suffers from trying to split its focus too much. I hope that gets rectified in Episode IX. The silver lining is that Kylo's decision to kill Snoke also means (I hope!) that we'll get a big showdown between Kylo and Rey in Episode IX. I'll keep my fingers crossed!
The Hearts of the Women's Stories
As you can tell, I really liked the way The Last Jedi had so many great moments involving women. However, every female character's story still revolves around a man--Rey's around Luke and Kylo; Leia's and Holdo's around Poe; and Rose's around Finn. Although I can understand this in part, the last one is the one I disliked the most. The other make sense, but the kiss at the end turned Rose's story from being about her sister to being about Finn. The scene would have been excellent without it. As it stands, I felt it did Rose a disservice.
It was just too long. I love Star Wars and will take all that I can get, but even I am reaching a saturation point. From a writing point of view, the narrative could have been streamlined a lot better. It's never good when I'm thinking, "Okay, is this the end? No, wait... This has to be the end."
ConclusionSo, after all that, I think I'm having a hard time getting a handle on The Last Jedi because usually, what I like in a movie outweighs what I don't like or vice versa. And in this case, they're pretty evenly matched. And that means I'll just have to go see it again! I'm also interested to read the novelization and see (a) if it answers any unsolved questions the movie left out and (b) if it has better pacing.
[There's so much noise when it comes to big movies like this. The majority of people I follow on social media have loved it, and sometimes I find it difficult to state my own opinions. So I wrote this to work out my feelings about the film without that excess noise but also because writing blog posts are a reminder that my opinions are valid.]