The Last Jedi

 

 

STAR WARS WARS

Chapter One: The Alternate Reality Canon Cannon

Schism!

The galaxy is in chaos as separatists, outraged at the Disney Empire’s brutal treatment of Luke Skywalker, have left the Fan Federation. Operating from countless bedrooms scattered across the vast Flyover Territory they have declared a boycott of all future Empire-produced Star Wars product.

Unnerved by this potential threat to the Empire’s corporate might, Empress Kennedy has sent the hated Darth Johnson to the Outer Rim. Rumors swirl he is developing three sinister new super weapons designed to keep orthodox fandom under his thrall.

At the same time, Grand Moff Abrams races to construct the third Final Trilogy Dreadnaught even as the newly completed Han Solo Story Super Battlecruiser heads for the galactic heartland, determined to smash The Resistance before it takes root…

 

 

Writing faux Star Wars title crawls is fun! But now I want to explain why I too am joining the Separatists, and don’t plan to spend any more money on Disney produced Star Wars-like corporate entertainment product. Nor will I consider any of them as canon, starting with The Force Awakens. Oh sure, at the time it was released I went along, despite my frustration with its set-up, because I wanted to see the Star Wars universe continue to live and thrive. I now feel like a chump for having been so accommodating.
This won’t be one of those incredibly long blow-by-blow demolitions. For that I have a couple of excellent recommendations from Youtube. The best short-form rant, coming in at “only” 38 minutes is by The Dishonored Wolf and is called, “The Last Jedi: The Worst Star Wars Movie Ever Made.” It’s reached 1 million views (one million!) and if you are like me, listening to it is a cathartic experience.

For an epic long-form rant, try MauLer’s epic three-part take down. Each video is an epic 90 minutes in length. The mind boggles! No doubt he was inspired by the legendary Mr. Plinkett screeds against the Prequel Trilogy. (Quick aside: while most of Plinkett’s complaints are one target, I still have a lot of affection for the prequels.) MauLer doesn’t invent a twistedly brilliant comic character to do his narration, but his work still holds up because his points are so…er…on point. Here’s the link to Part One:

For me, the Beginning of the End came when Admiral Akbar was unceremoniously blown out into space. (Spoiler Alert!….Oops.) The End of the End came when Luke clutched his chest and died from a Force projection overload induced heart attack. (WTF?!?) The Disney spell broken, it dawned on me that the new trilogy is a dirty laundry list of epic failure on the part of the Original Trilogy characters. Starting with Luke’s fall and moving backward, here’s a list:

Luke fails as Kylo Ren’s teacher. How does Luke fail exactly? Well, first he gets a bad feeling about Kylo, then HE TRIES TO MURDER HIS NEPHEW IN HIS SLEEP. Incredibly, he fails to do this. But Kylo, in retaliation, succeeds in killing all of Luke’s other students. Wow. So much for Luke’s life-mission of re-launching a new Jedi order. Dispirited and defeatist, he abandons everything and everyone in order to hide out on a secret island and wait for death. (Apparently this new Luke doesn’t even have the guts to kill himself.)

Han Solo fails as Kylo Ren’s father. Or maybe I should say he fails to be a father, for he only seems to make an impact when he abandons his son and wife. In so doing he also fails as Leia’s husband. AND, he fails as a leader of the New Republic, preferring instead to return to the less onerous life of a smuggler. Even here he fails! He loses ownership of the Millennium Falcon (!?!) and is on the run from angry creditors and customers.

Leia fails as a mother to Kylo Ren, and in fact seems strangely unconcerned with his fate and whereabouts. Her relationship with Han having failed, she seems strangely uninvolved with him too. The same is true with her brother Luke, for even though the opening title crawl in The Force Awakens tells us she is looking for him, we never see her do so. And of course The New Order rises to be a nearly invincible superpower on her watch. Her reaction to this new threat is strange. She resigns from the New Republic government to head an under equipped Resistance fleet. (Doesn’t the New Republic have a navy?) As leader of The Resistance, her main strategy seems to be constantly running away from the superior New Order forces. Despite this tactic, the Resistance fleet is ENTIRELY destroyed by the end of The Last Jedi. The final scene sees her with the pathetic remnants of her force aboard the Millennium Falcon. A strange smile plays across her face as she tells the 20 or so survivors that they “have everything they need” for ultimate victory. And I’m thinking, “Has Leia gone insane?”

Reviewing the first two movies of the Disney trilogy, it becomes clear that some strange and extreme animus is being directed at the legacy of the Original Trilogy, which is America’s greatest fantasy adventure saga. What’s going on here? My own guess is a toxic stew of “play it safe” commercialism, pseudo-intellectual arrogance, unacknowledged insecurity, and a catastrophic lack of artistic competence. Let me explain!

Disney played it safe by remaking the plots from the OT. But this requires undoing everything accomplished in the OT when The Force Awakens begins. Even the title is weird. The Force Awakens? It was awake at the end of Return of the Jedi. What the heck happened? We never really learn. We get a little bit of backstory with Kylo Ren, but Snoke and the New Order remain shrouded in mystery. And the New Republic? It’s like it doesn’t exist, even before the Star Killer Base wipes out those 5 planets. (WHICH, seem to be orbiting each other like moons! J.J. Abrams pulled this same crappy trick in a Star Trek movie and I HATE it. Each planet would be in a different star system you idiot!)

The pseudo-intellectual arrogance of the filmmakers expressed itself in several different ways. Rian Johnson showed his hand early with his “Your Snoke theory sucks” tweet. Why did he feel the need to crap all over fan enthusiasm? Because he doesn’t have anything to offer except to “subvert audience expectations.” And so he kills Snoke off early, and we don’t learn anything at all about the evil genius who brought down the New Republic.

Then there is the lecture on morality that DJ the thief gives Finn and Rose after their pointless adventure on Canto Bight. Because both the Resistance and the New Order buy spaceships from the same slippery arms merchants DJ lectures our two Yobos not to define the conflict as a simplistic battle between “good” and “evil.” I imagine that Johnson, and Kathleen Kennedy behind him, congratulated themselves on transcending the simplistic moral paradigm of the OT, and for bringing a new maturity to the Star Wars universe. Which makes me want to hit both of them in the face with a cream pie full of rotten eggs. Here are the reasons this pair have no idea what they are doing:

The Good vs. Evil moral landscape of the OT isn’t a problem that needs to be fixed, it’s a major reason the movies turned into the phenomenon they did. They were escapist entertainments that never condescended to the audience, never took themselves too seriously, and were full of humor and high spirits. Now that’s entertainment!
George Lucas addressed moral complexity in the Prequels. Whatever faults those movies have, Lucas dramatized a conflict where two imperfect sides get into a war that has tragic results. So the Star Wars universe already has moral complexity, thank you very much.
Worse, DJ’s lecture makes no sense. The New Order is all bad, and the Resistance is all good. What the hell is he yammering on about?

Finally, as Johnson had his Snoke tweet, Kennedy had her “The Force is Female” tweet, where she and some girls wearing T-shirts with that phrase posed for a photograph. Oh dear. We’ve just come to a big can of culture war worms. For now anyone who criticizes the movie is officially a sexist. Maybe some of those pissed off fan boys really are sexist, but just take a minute to imagine the public reaction if George Lucas posed with some boys wear T-shirts saying “The Force is Male.” Just imagine! (So much for escapist entertainment – the Disney trilogy is very much of the moment, and I suspect will age badly because of it.)

Onto secret insecurity – here I return to what terrible failures Luke, Leia and Han turned out to be. Failure has become their defining trait, and I can’t believe that an accident. This problem is so pervasive it even infects new characters. In a recent interview Johnson said he had Snoke killed so that he wouldn’t put Kylo Ren in the shade. Good grief. The Disney trilogy creates a bunch of new characters, all young and pretty, and all meant to be our new heartthrobs. But since it (rightly) suspects they aren’t that good, it does everything it can to sabotage the competition. Very sad, all around.

As for the catastrophic lack of artistic competence, I have a wealth of options, but I’ll choose a small yet significant example, one that deals again with Finn and Rose. When they first meet she tells him, and us, that he’s a cult celebrity what with his being the first ex-Storm Trooper to join up. Not only is Johnson committing the “Script Writing 101” crime of telling instead of showing, he is actually contradicting himself. For moments earlier we see Finn wake up from a coma and wonder around the ship. Despite trailing medical tubes squirting mystery fluids everywhere NO ONE PAYS HIM ANY ATTENTION. Johnson, if Finn really is a celebrity, SHOW US. That way you build Finn up and you make Rose’s introduction less awkward. As it is her fandom comes out of nowhere so she comes off as an oddball with an obsession. No one else gushes over Finn, so what’s her deal?

OK, I could go on and on and on and on. But I’ll stop here. Thank you for listening, and May The Force Be With You!

Sean Ledden (Apr 2018)

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7 comments to The Last Jedi

  • I blame it on the studios behind Star Trek and Star Wars for empowering J.J. Abrams in the first place. LOST was not very good, had no plan from the beginning (they just made it up as they went along), and frankly, it’s the same with ST and SW. I have some hope for SOLO, but I haven’t even seen TFA and TLJ other than one time each in the theater, and I have no hope for the next episode in the current trilogy.

  • Sean

    I never watched Lost, but I remember when it was a pop culture phenomenon, like Twin Peaks. And then the series wrapped up and fan disgust was everywhere! But I missed out on all of that. 🙁

  • You’re about to experience it with the next SW film.

  • Chris

    Reading your work and watching the first 7 minutes of the first video has already encapsulated everything I found wrong with it. I can’t wait to heave the remaining 31 minutes + 90. I won’t even watch it again through my hands like a horror movie if it happens to come on TV in 20 years. Unfortunately I feel I’ll have to keep watching the next episode to complete the car crash rubber necking. Sad statement I know. But keep the reviews coming just the same.

  • Guts3d

    Great review! You make a lot of good points which I will pretend that I can follow without re-watching the movies. When I saw Luke about to kill his nephew in his sleep, I too was open mouthed. A Jedi would never murder someone in his sleep!!! Remember the fan outrage with “Revenge of the Jedi” where fans MADE them change the title to “Return of the Jedi” because a Jedi wouldn’t stop so low as to want revenge?

  • Sean

    Thanks for the reminder. I had forgotten all about the “Revenge”/”Return” thing. (Oh, the shame!)

  • Yeah, I remember that especially because the original title, “The Revenge of Khan,” was changed to “The Wrath of Khan” to prevent brand confusion with “Revenge of the Jedi.” And then it became “Return of the Jedi” and the Star Trek production team decided “Wrath of Khan” was cooler anyway. 🙂

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