Wednesday, January 10, 2018

At brunch this weekend I dropped the mic by saying that the Last Jedi was controversial.

Picture courtesy of this video cast HERE
My friend Meg holds a Sunday brunch. She loves to cook, and there's lots of opinionated people who attend said brunch. Sometimes they talk about breast pumps. At other times they talk about their own personal oppression or #metoo. This week I didn't realize that I'd dropped a bomb when I said, "The Last Jedi was a controversial film."

"How so?" asked Jessica. "I saw it with Tim, and I didn't like it but I don't like Star Wars." Tim just giggled. So I was put on the spot.

"Luke Skywalker was a great hero. He went from a no-nothing farm boy to the destroyer of the Death Star, he became a Jedi Knight, and he redeemed Darth Vader to the light side of the force. That act in itself was responsible for Emperor Palpatine's death at Darth Vader's hands...arguably the only person who could have done that in the entire galaxy. So he went from that to a fear-driven hermit who tried to kill his own nephew. People are upset."

"What?!?" piped in Shae (another guest at the brunch). "I don't get that! I saw the film too. Haven't people ever heard of PTSD? Veterans who went out and fought in wars return home, and they can't handle what they've seen and become crackpots and hermits? Has no one ever seen this, because I know I sure have!"

That's when I say, "Those strong feelings that you have about the film? That's what makes it controversial."

Shae continues to say, "I think people need to spend more time around veterans and appreciate the sacrifices they gave to our country. Then they wouldn't be so free to criticize a war hero like Luke Skywalker."

At which point I say, "Look...I get that the film resonated with you, but Star Wars is fiction. It's a space opera. They have explosions that make sound in outer space. They travel faster than light. There's a magical thing called 'The Force.' Maybe a realistic portrayal of PTSD as suffered by veterans who fought in wars is not what some audience members paid for when they bought a ticket."

This of course stuns Shae into silence. Voices around the table ask me, "Well how did you like it?" I say, "I didn't particularly care for it. The Last Jedi was a depressing film."

"Depressing because it's realistic?" someone asked.

"Maybe. I don't want my Star Wars to be realistic. I want to be swept away by plot holes and fantasy." That's my answer and I'm sticking to it.

Anyway, a dozen arguments ensue just on that one point, and there are many bones to pick with The Last Jedi. Another controversy? Rose. Apparently, she was "frumpy" for a hero and the romance between her and Finn was incredibly forced. A third controversy? How about Rey coming from nothing and no one.

Ladies and gentlemen...if you haven't heard...The Last Jedi is a controversial film. is. It divided the fan base like Moses parted the Red Sea. And that's all I got to say about that.


  1. I thought it divided the fan base because the die hard read-all-the-books, played-all-the-video game geeks wanted something different.
    I didn't think it was depressing at all. I thought it had a lot of hope to it, and a lot of action to zip it along.
    And at our house, were are still betting Rey is either Luke or Leia's daughter.

  2. Realistic? Lol It was dumb in so many ways.

  3. My only problem with it is Rian Johnson.
    Did you catch my "review"?

    1. I may have. I've read so many reviews of it that they all kind of swim together. But I will go back to your blog and read what you have to say on it to see if that's the case or not.

  4. I, for one, like the idea that Rey came from no one. Why does everyone have to be connected? I mean, we are all connected, but there's nothing wrong with a new player coming from obscure beginnings.

    I agree, it's a controversial film. Everyone is getting something different out of it.

  5. It was just a bad movie. I've seen much worse, but for a Star Wars film it was pretty weak and full of terrible holes and deus ex machina.

  6. I always wondered how people would react if The Empire Strikes back was released in the age of social media. It changes so much. I know I hated Empire as a kid. It made Luke into a whiny brat. Then there was a puppet Jedi Master. And Darth Vader is Luke's dad? That's BS! It changed the whole universe. All the rebels do the entire film is lose and they are running away at the end. As I was 12 at the time the two year wait to see the conclusion felt like a lifetime.

    In many ways, The Last Jedi is Empire. There's stupid stuff in it and a couple of plot holes just like every Star Wars film. In this one, the whole Finn and Poe parts could go away and the whole movie might be better. My biggest gripe was the running space battle that felt like a cheap way to force in the Finn's excursion.

    But Luke being a hermit? I didn't like it at first but it makes a lot of sense after I thought about it. He's literally following in Yoda's footsteps after the rise of the Empire. Watch how Yoda acts in Empire and you see a Jedi Master that has been beaten. It takes him time to truly take Luke under his tutelage. I think that's why we see Yoda again in this one. The master is teaching the student one last time.

    Another reason we feel different about this movie is we set our expectations from books in the Extended Universe. Luke is definitely a Mary Sue in those books but Star Wars has always been too much about black and white. The Last Jedi is more about the gray and it really reset the universe for much better stories in the future. That had to happen so Disney can expand the universe beyond the Skywalkers.

    It took me a while to understand the greatness of Empire. It was always my least favorite until the prequels came out. As I got older I rewatched Empire with different eyes and began to appreciate it. I wonder if the same will happen with The Last Jedi.

  7. I didn't like the whole angry hermit thing either, especially the almost killing his nephew part, but ... the part about PTSD makes sense. In fact, that actually makes it hold together more for me. Like Kevin Long noted, I hated Empire as a kid. I don't remember how old I was, but I was right with Luke shouting "NOOOO" after Darth Vader announced he was Luke's father. I was ticked. My cousins and I considered discontinuing our "pretend" play of Star Wars after that. I mean, who wanted to play Luke, Han, or Leia, when Luke was Darth's son, Han was a popsicle, and Leia went from strong princess to wimpy love interest?
    I'm with Alex. I think Rey is actually ... Kylo Ren's long lost twin. I know that may not be the case, but she does the whole telepathic thing like Luke and Leia did, except stronger. I think Kylo Ren is full of ... you know, on that point.
    Anyway, obviously different opinion. And, don't tell too many people, but I didn't like porgs, progs - the annoying penguin creatures.

    1. LOL about the porgs ... I really wanted Chewy to take a bite.

  8. One last thought about The Last Jedi ... Did anyone else get the impression this movie was written like a TV show? The movie had too many stories to fit into a 2 hour time frame so most of it feels rushed. Change it to a 10 episode TV show and you have a great series. Did anyone at Disney give any push back to Rian Johnson's vision? The result on the screen doesn't look like it.

    I can't help but think about a Rian Johnson Star Wars TV show. Can you imagine it? Give it a Game of Thrones budget. You could have spent more time with Luke really flesh out his desperation and possible redemption. It would give Rey time to get the training montage that explains her lightsaber abilities (even if in flashback). They could have created an actual adult story for Poe, Leia, and Holdo (the opening battle happens mid-season and the Rebel Fleet escapes). Finn would initially wake up recuperating on Canto Bight and met Rose there. That could have been a big arc where we meet the kids and expand on the characters on that planet. Then all our heroes get a call from Poe. The First Order has just rediscovered the Rebel fleet and they need help. Finn puts together a rogue's gallery of people at hand. Rey tries to get Luke who says he cannot leave the planet so she leaves without him. We then see Yoda and find out Luke is already a force projection.

    Something like that.

    Anyone can do silly fan fiction to try to improve the movie but as I watched it felt like every storyline needed more time that it did not have. I really think the biggest issue with The Last Jedi is Rian Johnson made an epic Star Wars TV show and then squished it into the movie. That's why many of the scenes don't feel earned.

    That's an issue for Star Wars going forward. It desperately needs a Kevin Feige, a producer with a distinct vision of where he wants the series to go and the arrogance to force his directors to make changes. The biggest problem is I don't get the sense that anyone is steering the Star Wars ship right now.

    Instead, it felt like The Last Jedi was Rian Johnson repudiating JJ Abrams vision of Star Wars. While both men say the right words, the screen tells a different tale. It will be interesting to see how JJ Abrams responds in the next one.

  9. I hadn't heard criticism of Luke's characterization, or thought much about the PTSD angle, and it's an interesting discussion. Like Alex, my friends and I focused more on the identity of Rey's parents than anything else. I didn't find it depressing either--I thought the way Luke fought at the end was surprising and cool.