***Please note, if you have not seen The Last Jedi yet and are one of the few who have not already read about the whole movie in detailed analysis from the hundreds of articles written in the wake of its debut, then this may contain spoilers.
When it comes to Star Wars, you have a wide fan base, from new generations of movie lovers to old. You have the fans who watched it as children with wide eyes filled with wonder and grew up loving movies. Now, as adults, these hardcore Star Wars fans have expectations that may never be satisfied. I am, of course, addressing the mixed reviews the latest installment, The Last Jedi, received from its rabid fans. No matter how well something is done, when you add to something so beloved as Star Wars many years later, the purists are going to take some issue with something in the universal rules or character development. I get it. I don't agree with the negativity in this instance, but I get it.
Although I grew up watching the movies, and even remember seeing the Return of the Jedi in the movie theater when I was about four years old (Jabba the Hutt just stands out in my brain), I would not classify myself as a fanatic. I like the movies a lot. But I'm not the one who bought the tickets as soon as they went on sale or collect Star Wars Legos. That's my husband, who is a Star Wars junkie. He's not your average fan boy, his inner geek only shines in these moments. So perhaps that is why his love of Star Wars is still intact, and he thought the newest movie was awesome. But like many, his favorite so far of the new ones has been Rogue One. It's gritty and dark. Blah, that was too sad for me, although inspiring. So on with my review of The Last Jedi.
What I Liked:
•As I've said in the past, Star Wars presents strong female characters. The strong character development of Leia was before her time, followed in more contemporary times by Jyn Erso and Rey. These woman have agency, they have character, and they are the heroes in the story. Leia as the resistance leader in The Last Jedi is emblematic of a time when women are rising and leading contemporary rebellions against an administration perceived by many to be deeply corrupt and unjust.
•I absolutely fan-girled over the connection between Kylo Ren and Rey. Not in an, I'm totally shipping over them (that's just too complex a relationship to root for), but the mystery and meaning behind that connection is fascinating. She's the light in the force, he's the dark in the force, and despite their mental connection being created by Snoke, they have chemistry and a desire to help the other one find the right side. I'm intrigued to see where their connection takes us in the next movie and whether Kylo Ren can be redeemed. Do they have a deeper connection than we even know yet? I find it thrilling.
•The dual perspectives I didn't realize I was even watching until it was posed so eloquently in an article I read, was Poe Dameron's and Admiral Holdo's. Earlier in the movie, you see through Poe's eyes, the man who wants to be a hero, who doesn't run away but takes risks and sometimes without much thought uses violence to try and win the day, and as the audience, you root for him. But then the flip side is revealed when you see Admiral Holdo's perspective and fully grasp the whole picture. I delight in such writing and the delayed awareness of how brilliant it was.
•Leia's use of the force was one of my favorite parts. In canon, she's always been force sensitive. In a dire moment when she'd die otherwise, she's able to harness her sensitivity and use it to save herself. It's truly an amazing send-off for the character and symbolic of the strength both Leia and Carrie Fisher have within.
ªAs my brother pointed out, Yoda was messing with Luke just like always. Once he drew this parallel for me, the scene with Luke and Yoda became that much more meaningful and funny. Now everyone, pause for a minute and watch this video:
What I didn't like:
•I admit, while I agree wholeheartedly that Rey's parents being junkers allows her character to illustrate that greatness can come from humble beginnings is really relevant and awesome, I was a little disappointed at the revelation. I have come to embrace it more fully, but I think the hype for two years around who her parents were was the primary reason for this letdown.
•I don't like when people I like die, so I was a bit peeved that Luke bit the dust in this movie. I get the whole, forging a path for the new generation and letting the old ways die, but come on.
If it it's not obvious, I give this movie an A+. I think I've become a bigger Star Wars fan than I was ever before because I feel like it can be used to inspire those who have decided to become rebels in their own right, who are fighting for the light. I actually had written this review shortly after seeing it, but the page closed on me and I lost it all. So while that was a bummer and it's taken me an extra week to re-write it, reading some of the smart analysis on the movie has clinched my love for it. Here's a quote from an article written on Bitter Gertrude by Melissa Hillman that just makes the meaning behind the film that much deeper:
"The nearly all-white, overwhemingly male, privilege-based way of thinking that celebrates war culture and toxic masculinity and that created the First Order has to go, both in the larger world and as it’s internalized in our hearts and minds, and in its place will be something entirely new, created by diverse young people who are walking away from war culture, walking away from toxic masculinity, walking away from systems of privilege ... The future is brown, and female, and brilliant, and fierce, does not give even one single fuck about the way things used to be."
When I first met my husband, hell, even when I married him, I had no idea he was such a huge Star Wars fan. While I knew he loved the series, it wasn't really until Disney bought the franchise that he began the geek out. So probably needless to say at this point, I saw Rogue One, the newest installment in the Star Wars world, this past weekend.
I've always been a Star Wars fan as well, but not to his level. Lately, Star Wars always seems to be on in the background when he's home. But I grew up watching them, and so I was really excited about the Force Awakens when it came out last year. I wasn't so much about Rogue One. While not technically a prequel, it is a precursor to events and ties in so well it is effectively a prequel to the Death Star plot line. And even though as a writer I've written my own prequel, I do have a hard time getting excited about them. But when I saw the one line played many times in commercials leading up to the release, when Jyn Erso says, "Rebellions are built on hope!" I was so sold. It's been a bumpy 2016 for our country and I am feeling entirely rebellious.
What I liked: Once again, Disney (and the franchise itself) has no problem with women characters being strong and self-sufficient and having full agency over themselves. The fact that the two newest movies feature females as the main protagonists and so many geeking out men didn't bat an eyelash, makes me supremely happy. Girl power!
Felicity Jones. I love her. I want to see more of her. There was not one moment while watching her that she was anything but Jyn Erso to me. Her physical and emotional responses were lively, deep, and wrought with fiery emotion, while other times it was more nuanced within the glimmer of her eye. She's angry but vulnerable. More than anything, she's inspired. I got just as much delight seeing her deliver the, "Rebellions are built on hope!" line watching it in the movie as the first time I saw it in a commercial. Having more context just made it better. Sometimes scenes that seem momentous in trailers don't pan out in the reality of the scene, but this one did for me.
Apparently, certain scenes that depict rebel alliance characters from the original movies were actually from never before seen footage. And yet, it was seamlessly woven in. My husband and I discussed the presence of the characters and the possibility they were other actors who looked liked the originals as we were leaving the movie. Yet, it turned out it was actually them!
The story stood on its own despite the audience knowing where it was headed. The relationships between the characters truly came to life. K-2SO, the reprogrammed imperial droid that pals around with our main gang, is by far the best comic relief from a droid ever with his charmingly honest at times, Sheldon Cooper-like responses. The relationship between Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus was one of my favorites. I loved their banter, their obviously loving back-having support. It reminded me a bit of the brotherly bond between Luke and Hans. My husband, though, wondered if perhaps they weren't gay, which has apparently been a topic discussed, at least by Comicbook.com. If they were, more props to the film for integrating diversity, but whether it was a brotherly bond or lover's bond, it was touching.
The battle sequences were epic. I nervously gnawed at my nails while not a moment was wasted of onscreen time. And the Darth Vader scenes were pretty wicked.
What I didn't like: The CGI for Grand Moff Tarkin was a bit funky looking.
It was sad. Don't get me wrong, there was a lot of hope. But it was also sad. Sniffle.
K.M. Randall writes fantasy and paranormal for both a general and young adult audience. Her debut novel, an epic fantasy called Fractured Dream, launched in June 2014, and her second book, The Reaper's Daughter, launched May 2015. Randall also published Fairytale Lost, a prequel to Fractured Dream, as an exclusive on Wattpad. She blogs about dreams, female heroines, and activism and its relevancy to the literary and fictional world. And when in the season, sometimes she just likes to talk about Halloween. She is currently hard at work on the second book in the Dreamer Saga series, Shattered World.