Star Wars Episode 8: Clark Griswold's Jedi Adventure
August 28, 2018 3:23 PM   Subscribe

Mr. Plinkett examines Star Wars Episode 8 The Last Jedi and argues that the movie is actually a comedy of errors, like National Lampoon's Vacation (minus the actual comedy), where nothing make sense and everyone is disturbingly stupid.
posted by Foci for Analysis (257 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
Okay, I’ve not seen the film, because after they just remade A New Hope with more action scenes and killed Han Solo, and spent more screen time on Rey being comforted than on fucking Leia’s grief at her child killing her husband, my wife and I weren’t actually on board with with Star Wars anymore. But weren’t people calling this one the best Star Wars ever when it came out? I feel like I saw a lot of that about the Force Awakens after it came out too, only for that to be walked back as well.
posted by Caduceus at 3:29 PM on August 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Universal disdain for "Phantom" was not immediate either.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 3:32 PM on August 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


I feel that The Last Jedi tried to do some interesting things, but failed to actually be coherent.

I also feel like this Plinkett video is disappointing, and that Mike is probably tired of doing them, and should hang it up.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:33 PM on August 28, 2018 [11 favorites]


I thought the film was frankly terrible. Less interesting than a dirty toenail. I'd watch an episode of Lexx over The Last Jedi.
posted by juiceCake at 3:36 PM on August 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


I feel that The Last Jedi tried to do some interesting things, but failed to actually be coherent.

Yeah. It's a movie with its heart in the right place, but it's trying to communicate a television season worth of thematic development in two hours and change, which would be difficult if it was a well put-together film, which it is not.

It's really frustrating because it's maybe the best overall attempt at turning the series towards a new horizon that's appeared on film.
posted by selfnoise at 3:39 PM on August 28, 2018 [14 favorites]


The Last Jedi is my favourite Star Wars film. I got some giggles from Pinkett's prequel reviews, but this video is... lacking.
posted by Paragon at 3:40 PM on August 28, 2018 [33 favorites]


But weren’t people calling this one the best Star Wars ever when it came out?

Most of the initial reviews were from white men yelling about how women and people of color ruined Star Wars, so it's helpful to consider glowingly positive reviews as a response to that context.
posted by Emily's Fist at 3:48 PM on August 28, 2018 [25 favorites]


Luke, introduced in A New Hope as he looked at multiple suns, and soon in receipt of a distress hologram from Leia, answers Leia's call some 40 years later with a projection of his own... and in his final scene, he's watching multiple suns.

This franchise's canny hero stared at suns, plural, his entire life.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:48 PM on August 28, 2018 [31 favorites]


I liked the bit where Laura Dern's ship light-speeded through the Star Destroyer.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:48 PM on August 28, 2018 [32 favorites]


so when they were first released I basically worshiped the plinkett star wars reviews -- though even then I needed to sort of grit my teeth through the "comedy" bits to get to any of the worthwhile analysis

I couldn't really get through more than a couple of minutes with this one, which seemed more prone to meandering and poor sentence structure as a function of laziness rather than deliberate building of the Plinkett character

also his pre-prequel videos (his star trek stuff) has some lazy fanboy nitpicking that started to come out even more in videos since (and is a big problem I have with trying to stomach RLM film talk in general). more forgiveable perhaps back when he made them, which would have been at least a little before the "why XXX sucks" youtube-clickbait-shit approach to videos (which plinkett's responsible for at least in part), but anyway considering the way the conversation went around TLJ at its release I'm not really interested in watching this character do his schtick down that same very-well-trod road

and I did love last jedi, for a wide variety of reasons up to and including its inherent messiness, but since I didn't even get to the part where Plinkett made any coherent points that's sort of moot here I suppose
posted by Kybard at 3:52 PM on August 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


I also feel like this Plinkett video is disappointing, and that Mike is probably tired of doing them, and should hang it up.

The best stuff RedLetterMedia is doing right now is their re:View stuff:

Critters - re:View
Freddy Got Fingered - re:View
Ed Wood - re:View
posted by Pendragon at 3:54 PM on August 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


Yes, the re:Views are often very interesting. Best of the Worst is fun. Half in the Bag - eh, I don't really care about current movies.
posted by Chrysostom at 4:08 PM on August 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Even though the Red Letter Media video where they just read the Wookieepedia article about Darth Vader's armor was one of the funniest videos ever, I've pretty much checked out on them since Ghostbusters 2016 because it just seems like for every funny thing or good insight, the rest of it is Mike is slowly becoming every asshole Redditor with a "controversial" film opinion.
posted by jason_steakums at 4:09 PM on August 28, 2018 [9 favorites]


I enjoyed TLJ, but I'm in the category of people who believes that virtually none of the original SW films really made much sense or followed any kind of concrete narrative logic and someone who couldn't stay awake through any of the prequels, so I'm an outlier. That said, in 1983, I paid full price to see RotJ in the theater in my town 23 times, so there's something I like in these films in spite of their nonstop nonsensicality.
posted by sonascope at 4:09 PM on August 28, 2018 [36 favorites]


I liked the movie, and disliked it at the same time. I think I left the theater the way Rian Johnson wanted me to. Success?

I mean, it was a Star Wars movie. As far back as the Ewoks, people have been grumbling about the movies, canon, the seriousness of keeping the Star Wars universe intact...then came the prequels and I am just satisfied to walk out with some eye candy and a reasonably entertaining plot, even if it is full of holes and leaves you wondering what the hell you just watched.

I was OK with Luke reverting to his whiny, fussy personality after being meh as a Jedi, post-Vader. He became a grumpy, broken old man. Whatever.

Sure, the plot was stupid and all over the place, but it's got nearly a dozen hours of precedent.

Plinkett's review is fine, too. Suspension of disbelief gets harder when you're forced into it...

Unsurprisingly, based on his misogynist comedy bits in the earlier reviews, he ignored the whole female-empowerment aspect of the movie.
posted by Chuffy at 4:10 PM on August 28, 2018 [8 favorites]


More and more I turn to Filoni and his crew who have shaped the prequel-lore with Clone Wars and Rebels as my go to Star Wars fix. I just enjoy these tv serials far more and the long form story telling allows for better characterization and for me to actually feel feels about these people I'm on an adventure with. Then again, I've also enjoyed Rogue One and Solo more than the main series films. The Last Jedi was better than Force Awakens, but I still enjoyed Rogue One more than the rest. Take that with a grain of salt, but that's where I stand. I am eagerly awaiting Star Wars Resistance, it's going to be amazeballs!!
posted by Fizz at 4:15 PM on August 28, 2018 [12 favorites]


I generally enjoyed The Last Jedi but both the plot and structure of the film are total nonsense and if it didn't have the Star Wars logo stamped on it we would not be having this discussion because it would be forgotten.

Parts of the film are really clever - I liked the general theme of throwing off the shackles of the past (which I read as a subtle FU to various people who deserve a FU) but it suffers from trying to do too much without really being good at anything. And while I can overlook occasional lapses in logic and characterization, The Last Jedi hurls a couple of huge dirty contrivances straight down the audience's throat and expects them to swallow.

Having said that, I think The Last Jedi will age better than the other nuSWs films - it has just enough style and weirdness to be interesting. (self-link blog review)
posted by AndrewStephens at 4:26 PM on August 28, 2018 [10 favorites]


Paragon: "The Last Jedi is my favourite Star Wars film. I got some giggles from Pinkett's prequel reviews, but this video is... lacking."

Mine too. It's a little overstuffed, maybe, but it's the first one since Empire where I thought that they were doing something new. I love the dynamic between Ben and Rey and that it's not just a replay of Vader and Luke; they're both so much more interesting characters than their antecedents.
posted by octothorpe at 4:30 PM on August 28, 2018 [24 favorites]


I really liked The Last Jedi. I think the internet hatred for it is weird.
posted by supercrayon at 4:31 PM on August 28, 2018 [90 favorites]


I love Star Wars, but it's a popcorn movie. Citizen Kane it ain't. Let's just enjoy it for what it is hey.
posted by SonInLawOfSam at 4:31 PM on August 28, 2018


Poor little Chewie kept up for about a parsec or so...
posted by delfin at 4:35 PM on August 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


I really enjoyed The Last Jedi, I think there was a lot of amazing film craft in a nonsense blockbuster for kids. The relationship between Rey, Luke, and Kylo Ren is probably one of the strongest dynamics in any Star Wars movie.

I think what Film Critic Hulk calls "left brain logic" is killing the whole craft of film criticism for me. It is a fucking shame that apparently the best way to get video views and ad money is to keep trashing a movie that came out in December 2017 when there are 20 other movies in theaters right now.
posted by muddgirl at 4:36 PM on August 28, 2018 [31 favorites]


Yeah but "Star Wars" (1977) kind of is "Citizen Kane", or at least a Citizen Kane of the kind of thing it is. I feel like "The Last Jedi" is kinda good, and I think it makes a lot more sense on a second viewing, but a big part of the problem is that movies now are so long and flabby. "Star Wars", at 125 minutes, is already kind of long. "The Last Jedi" is 152 minutes. Imagine it with a couple of subplots trimmed out and the whole thing generally tightened up, and I think it would be a lot more effective.
posted by chrchr at 4:36 PM on August 28, 2018 [14 favorites]


Rogue one remains my favorite star wars movie. Force Awakens was good in that it was an apology for the prequels and "look we can do all the great things you loved about the originals and we can be trusted not to do that George Lucas goofy horseshit."

Last Jedi I very much wanted to like but it felt like "hey look actually there were some goofy George Lucas horseshit from the prequels we liked remember this goofy shit? let me remind you again." I would also like to excise the entire Canto Bight scene plot and the movie would be more bearable.
posted by Karaage at 4:37 PM on August 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


It's wild to me how quickly the default view among gatekeeping nerd types has become not just that The Last Jedi is irredeemable trash and a total betrayal, but that it's so awful that we should rehabilitate the prequels as a reaction to how totalizingly angry TLJ has made them. I've been in conversations with multiple different adult men about how Attack of the Clones wasn't really that bad but the new ones were even worse than anyone could have imagined.

I don't even know what these guys want out of Star Wars movies at this point. Personally, I feel as if I received one unit of appropriately Star Wars-esque entertainment for all of the 2010s Star Wars movies. I had fun, I saw some spaceships, I saw some weird aliens, the heroes had some setbacks but overcame obstacles and left the theater pleased with my choice to see the movie.
posted by Copronymus at 4:40 PM on August 28, 2018 [52 favorites]


I agree that it was too long, like pretty much all modern blockbusters, but at least all of the characters had arcs that they earned. When I rewatched the OT and the prequels in anticipation of The Force Awakens, I was really taken with how tightly paced A New Hope is. It's a mess but at least it moves briskly. I think The Last Jedi is also very briskly paced which works in its favor. But unlike ANH they had three different plots running at the same time.
posted by muddgirl at 4:40 PM on August 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


So I love me some tightly plotted, narratively consistent movies, for sure. Star Wars has never been that. It's about the characters...you love them and want them to be happy. And cool laser sword fights. I am mostly bored with spaceships blasting each other, BUT, the lightspeed maneuver was BAD ASS and it made me gasp. It was gorgeous.

Anyway, I could honestly go a solid decade never hearing a cranky white dude's SW opinions. It would be restful.
posted by emjaybee at 4:49 PM on August 28, 2018 [36 favorites]


One of the few things I thought was incisive in the Plinkett review is that TLJ would have been considerably stronger if it ended right when Kylo Ren implores Ren to join him. What a cliffhanger that would have been! And Ep IX could have taken it anywhere!
posted by Chrysostom at 4:51 PM on August 28, 2018 [11 favorites]


The Last Jedi was my favorite of all the non-original-trilogy movies. I'd probably even rank it above A New Hope, but that depends on what exactly I'm ranking. It's much better than The Force Awakens and a league above the prequels, for sure.

But for me, Star Wars has always been about visuals, fun, and not taking it seriously (see also why I like Return of the Jedi). TLJ had a fun vibe, which is really what makes it a good SW movie to me. Unlike the boring Phantom Menace or the gloomy Revenge of the Sith.

I'm not going to worry about "plot holes" or whatever because thats pretty much a requirement for a Star Wars movie...
posted by thefoxgod at 4:57 PM on August 28, 2018 [13 favorites]


the movie is actually a comedy of errors, like National Lampoon's Vacation (minus the actual comedy), where nothing make sense and everyone is disturbingly stupid

Insofar as the movie is about failure, sure. But let's look at the parallels:
-- Rey tries to save Kylo Ren and turn him away from the Dark Side (cf. Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader)
-- Rose and Finn try to recruit a hacker to shut down the tracking device (cf. Obi Wan Kenobi shutting down the tractor beam while the rest of the crew rescue Leia)
-- Poe tries to cripple the enemy fleet with some hot-shot flying (cf. Luke blows up the Death Star)
-- Rose, Finn, and Poe try to knock out the battering ram laser (again, cf. Luke blowing up the Death Star)

Unlike their franchise predecessors, they all fail, horribly, and the cost of the failure is nearly the destruction of the Resistance. And at the end, they learn their lessons and get ready for the third movie, where the effort will finally pay off.

Hell, the more I write about it, the more I like it.
posted by erikred at 4:58 PM on August 28, 2018 [51 favorites]


I really liked the last jedi as well, I'm baffled at those who loved the originals but take the prequels over TLJ. The images that were crafted were stunning, there was heart and emotional arcs to characters, it made about as much sense as they generally make (you don't see many people up in arms about how terrible the blockade of Hoth was, or how it makes no sense that the super star destroyers would run into the deathstar because it's bridge is stupidly placed).
posted by Carillon at 5:02 PM on August 28, 2018 [21 favorites]


At least it wasn’t Solo.
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:15 PM on August 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


it made about as much sense as they generally make (you don't see many people up in arms about how terrible the blockade of Hoth was, or how it makes no sense that the super star destroyers would run into the deathstar because it's bridge is stupidly placed).

One distinction that Plinkett draws, I think is that, when that kind of thing didn't make sense in the original trilogy, it's not-making-sense didn't get in the way of, nor did it drive, the dramatic or emotional beats of the film -- the star star destroyer's destruction doesn't, ultimately, impact the threat the rebel fleet is under; the blockade of Hoth begins and ends with the Rebellion unable to really fight the Empire toe-to-toe, but also with the Rebellion largely intact: status quo in both cases. Some of the stuff that Plinkett highlights here -- everyone is stuck on the ship, except for all of the people who can escape from the ship; we need to wait until we reach the base to call for help, but we're also going to call Maz now -- are things that don't make sense and yet intersect with one of the main narrative constraints of the film or drive major plot plots.

He definitely overreaches ('what are the odds Finn and Rose's shuttle would be the first one to the planet' is, for example, ehhhh), but the core point there is a good one.
posted by cjelli at 5:17 PM on August 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


*casts a trophy of a man angrily yelling at a computer*

*affixes a plaque reading "Edgiest Boy Ever" to the trophy*

*mails it to Plinkett*
posted by tobascodagama at 5:24 PM on August 28, 2018 [30 favorites]


One of the things I like about The Last Jedi is how much it is hated by people for the stupidest of box-ticking reasons. But I'm the kind of terrible person who likes to tell people that "womp rat" is racist slang for Tusken Raider, and Chewbacca is a woman (what, you are going to trust Han, the notorious scoundrel and definitely not a xenobiologist?). But also I just really liked the movie, what it has to say about stories about the "chosen one", how it looks, and I think it really works as a film qua film.
posted by surlyben at 5:25 PM on August 28, 2018 [24 favorites]


One unsettling or creepy thing I notice on YouTube -- which I use a lot and keep highly "curated" to suit my interests -- is a steady stream of videos that hate on Solo and The Last Jedi and so on.

This happened with Solo, where online buzz trashed the movie before it even had a chance to premiere. The reasons seem to be reactionary as usual -- "why are there PoC in Star Wars? why are the strong female characters?" etc etc.

The videos seem to be more than angry nerds who simply are immaturely obsessing over what at one time was a cultural product aimed at children.

Instead, the YouTube videos seem to be part of an active and perhaps decentralized campaign to just wreck the franchise.

The amount of energy and coordination that goes into these campaigns is creepy AF.
posted by JamesBay at 5:28 PM on August 28, 2018 [22 favorites]


I think any rational analysis of the plot is going to show holes big enough to drive an entire death star through.

You know what, though? It's the first one in the modern era that felt like a star wars movie. I'm okay with that.
posted by cowcowgrasstree at 5:36 PM on August 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


This is relevant to my interests, since I saw TLJ for the first time last night. I think it's great stuff, and one of the best in the main series so far. It knows when to try something new and when to reinforce what made the originals fun.

And honestly, I think the cheese factor in the original trilogy is far higher than people remember. Joel and the bots could have a field day with A New Hope. The cheese level in TLJ is low in comparison.

As for people making mistakes, that's kind of the role of the 2nd film in the trilogy, and I think it did pretty well. Empire Strikes Back was about mistakes too.
posted by zompist at 5:49 PM on August 28, 2018 [15 favorites]


Place me firmly on Team Last Jedi. The movie was fun, funny and had a fantastic send off for Luke. I love how many Star Wars tropes were inverted and really loved the idea that anyone can be a Jedi - not just people with the right bloodline. The last moment with the anonymous little kid force sweeping? Loved it.

Most of the criticism of the film I've encountered from real life people has boiled down to "eww girls." Not saying that's true of everyone, but based on Plinkett's track record of hooker-killing misogyny I can't take a critique of this particular film from him seriously.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:53 PM on August 28, 2018 [20 favorites]


Hard pass on Cinema Sins and related materials.
posted by Artw at 5:54 PM on August 28, 2018 [12 favorites]


As for people making mistakes, that's kind of the role of the 2nd film in the trilogy, and I think it did pretty well. Empire Strikes Back was about mistakes too.

I know, right? On top of which, it's just... This is a movie where one of the characters -- one known for his great wisdom -- literally says, "The greatest teacher, failure is." And people are, what, upset that it has lots of examples of people failing and then either learning or not learning things?

There's too much CO2 in the damned air. Clearly Johnson's mistake is that he should have been even less subtle.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:54 PM on August 28, 2018 [22 favorites]


The Rey-Kylo-Luke half of the movie is the best Star Wars.

The Finn-Poe-Rose half is the worst Star Wars.

Which makes the movie as a whole hard to have a consistent opinion about.

(Leia giving Poe a pass for being a misogynist mutineer is the worst plot beat in any of the movies, IMO.)
posted by painquale at 6:04 PM on August 28, 2018 [17 favorites]


Ideally, a movie would make perfect sense regarding character arcs / motivation, thematic cohesion and logical cohesion. Art, especially pop art, is a messy human endeavor and is rarely perfect.

That said...

If a movie is imperfect, it is far better to fudge the logical cohesion of the plot for the sake of character and thematic cohesion than fudge either of those for logical cohesion, because character and theme are required to have a compelling story. Without them, movies are just a string of events.
posted by Groundhog Week at 6:06 PM on August 28, 2018 [11 favorites]


One unsettling or creepy thing I notice on YouTube -- which I use a lot and keep highly "curated" to suit my interests -- is a steady stream of videos that hate on Solo and The Last Jedi and so on.

This happened with Solo, where online buzz trashed the movie before it even had a chance to premiere. The reasons seem to be reactionary as usual -- "why are there PoC in Star Wars? why are the strong female characters?" etc etc.

The videos seem to be more than angry nerds who simply are immaturely obsessing over what at one time was a cultural product aimed at children.

Instead, the YouTube videos seem to be part of an active and perhaps decentralized campaign to just wreck the franchise.

The amount of energy and coordination that goes into these campaigns is creepy AF.


And like the whole cottage industry of entertainment writers catering to them! I kept seeing article after article on Google News just like ragging on those movies, from places like Forbes and such who don't really have entertainment in their wheelhouse but know they can crank out low effort clickbait for jerks. Not even kidding when I say it felt like 2016 election coverage and "but her emails" pieces, it's the same unscrupulous outlets looking for easy boosts in views.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:09 PM on August 28, 2018 [15 favorites]


That said (again)...

The Last Jedi makes perfect sense regarding character and theme. The plot logic is fudged a little - meh. I really liked it.
posted by Groundhog Week at 6:09 PM on August 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


On top of which, it's just... This is a movie where one of the characters -- one known for his great wisdom -- literally says, "The greatest teacher, failure is."

I thought at this point that Yoda was recognized as a blowhard who fucked up majorly, getting millions, if not billions, killed.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:11 PM on August 28, 2018 [13 favorites]


Is this supposed to be funny? I can't really invest an hour in listening to a guy try to tear down this movie on YouTube when so many others have already tried the same thing. They weren't worth my clicks and I'm bothered by the thought of this one getting a "view" because I clicked to see what it is, too.

Last Jedi is the best in the series. It's the most mature, it's the most sober, it's the most willing to take some risks, it's the one that owns its consequences the best. It does all that and it manages to be fun at the same time. And it gave me the War Is a Racket message that I never, ever even imagined I would hear from a Star Wars film.

I can grunt a little bit on the pacing of some scenes. That's about all I've got. And I'm sorry, but the endless thunder-whining from the manbabies of fandom and the internet has preemptively ruined any critique. There's just no separating your nuanced take on TLJ from their river of entitled rage-tears. Sorry.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 6:11 PM on August 28, 2018 [46 favorites]


I basically view the first three SW movies as canonical (eps 4-6), and all the other movies — including Lucas’ re-edits of the originals — as fan fiction.

That better enables me enjoy the whole oeuvre.

This is not because the later films were flawed (let’s set aside Jar Jat and Hayden, for the sake of argument). It’s that, in a key way, I had become “flawed” as a viewer. I was no longer in the sweet spot to fully appreciate subsequent movies. I was no longer canonical.

Those original three films struck me at a time when I was critically the target audience: 10 years old in 1977 when A New Hope came out and 18 when Return of the Jedi released. The trilogy strikes me as authentic in a way the rest of the films can’t because I was authentically receptive to them in the way I couldn’t be for the later films, seen when I was well into adulthood.

For me to gripe about the later SW films would basically just be a sublimation of, or substitute for, expressing existential angst about getting older. I don’t enjoy chewing bubble gum the way I used to, either, but that doesn’t mean bubble gum these days is worse than it was when I was ten. I’m just not bubble gum’s target audience anymore.


Nevertheless, Han shot first.
posted by darkstar at 6:13 PM on August 28, 2018 [28 favorites]


For some top tier YouTube reviewing, check out Movies With Mikey's "In Defense of The Last Jedi".

I think, even if I didn't like the film - and I haven't liked some of the films he's reviewed positively - his reviews are just on another level entirely compared to RLM.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:14 PM on August 28, 2018 [12 favorites]


I loved how TLJ was a movie about failed attempts at Star Wars tropes. Completely unexpected.

But on those failures -- I have a complicated headcanon about the Poe / General Organa plot tho. General Organa condemns the destruction of the dreadnought as a pyrrhic victory, not worth the cost. But then, to everyone's surprise, they wind up in a slow stern chase, where the dreadnought's giant argo (?) cannons may have been decisive. The first order's pursuit fleet was armed with only the usual regular old green lasers.

So my take on it is that General Organa is 100% justified in trying to shut down Poe's hotheaded recklessness -- they'd just pulled off a better-than-Hoth evacuation with zero loss of life and they had no apparent need to push their luck -- but in hindsight, there would be no Resistance if he hadn't ignored her.

And then later on, he takes her message to heart, applies it at the right moment, preserves the lives of his command, and they live to fight another day.

Fallible people acting according to their instincts, muddling through with good intentions -- this is my experience of life and I love seeing that in adventure movies. I wanted to love the prequels because they were a story of well-intentioned failure. TLJ hit that target pretty well and in layers, so I've got a lot of love for it.
posted by Sauce Trough at 6:20 PM on August 28, 2018 [29 favorites]


Er, I was 16 when Jedi came out in 1983.
posted by darkstar at 6:20 PM on August 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


man o man was the rebel alliance management terrible at leading, employing sarcasm and secrets in the face of reasonable questions, to the point that the senior crew no longer trusted them and mutineed.

i mean yay that they prevailed...
posted by zippy at 6:35 PM on August 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


I haven't seen episode 8 so I have no opinion about it. I suppose the fact that I haven't chosen to see it involves some opinion, but not a critical one, though some of the critical complaints probably had an effect on my choice to put a viewing low on my priority list.

Like this one: the early story in the video about Rian Johnson mowing his lawn but instead he fertilized it and said he was "subverting expectations."
posted by wildblueyonder at 7:18 PM on August 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


The Rey-Kylo-Luke half of the movie is the best Star Wars.

The Finn-Poe-Rose half is the worst Star Wars.

Which makes the movie as a whole hard to have a consistent opinion about.

I think I can pretty much subscribe to this opinion. There are three classes of criticism of the film that I can think of (and RLM hits on each, though not with the weight I might've given):

The first criticism is an argument against the screenwriting: everyone in the rebellion escape plot are continually making decisions that make no sense. The stupidity of this plot arc is so egregious it goes well beyond nit-picking. Some people can forgive this, because they don't put a lot of emphasis on a tightly written script--as long as the emotional content is there, it's fine. For other people (me), it was like nails on chalkboard.

The second criticism is an argument against structure: the film is bloated. Overlong and poorly paced, every character is competing for screen time to the detriment of characterization. The film felt like it had a natural ending nearly an hour before it actually ended. And I remember it flipping back and forth between plot lines in a rather awkward manner. Again, this is going to bother some people and not others. It's objectively bad but to a very subjective degree, if that makes any sense.

The third criticism is an argument against the lore (and is probably the most contentious): the film does things with the Force, with Rey/Kylo, and especially with Luke that are pretty against the grain. Personally, I liked what they did with Rey and Kylo and loathed Luke's character arc and backstory. I can see how people could have so many different opinions on all of the world building. This is pretty darned subjective.

So, looping back to painquale's comment quoted above: most of what the Rey-Kylo-Luke arc was doing was interesting, engaging, and more or less coherent, but still could piss people off from a...philosophical perspective. The Finn-Poe-Rose / Rebellion arc was an absolute mess, but a lot of people don't really mind messy. So yeah, going to create a lot of different opinions, even within a single person.
posted by Room 101 at 7:20 PM on August 28, 2018 [19 favorites]


I think it's worth remembering how often Star Wars gets saved in the edit - A New Hope was reportedly a fucking mess, which is why they had so many shots from A New Hope to reuse in Rogue One.

I'm not sure how you'd fix The Last Jedi - I don't see Canto Blight as something you can lose, it's thematically vital to the movie, and some of the complaints other people have with the movie are just insane to me - but I suspect my biggest problem with it was that it's shackled to Star Wars and honestly Star Wars kind of sucks.
posted by Merus at 7:23 PM on August 28, 2018 [8 favorites]


my biggest problem with it was that it's shackled to Star Wars

Bingo. Why are 3po and R2 in the movie? Why is Phasma there? Why is Laura Dern a separate character from Leia? Why can't Rey and Ren actually let go of the past and work together? Which would have been a hell of a twist, and genuinely unexpected! Why do there have to be lightsabers, xwings, an empire, a rebellion, a robot sidekick, and on and on and on in every star wars movie regardless of plot, characters, and theme?
posted by Ndwright at 7:40 PM on August 28, 2018 [11 favorites]


Can I still like Captain Phasma's moment, briefer and yet more bad-ass than Boba Fett's? Yes, she has a CAPE, and she can look down her nose at a WOOKIE, and her ARMOR can shrug off point-blank blaster-fire like it was a silly-string, and she is immensely self-serving while lackeying like a champ as a proper villain's heavy should.

The third movie better not have her fall into the Sarlaac pit like a chump. I want at least one throat-lift of her own underling, even tho they didn't deserve it, she's just mad, and a scenery-chewing "They're no use to me dead!" in her dialog.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:51 PM on August 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


I don't even know what these guys want out of Star Wars movies at this point.

Oh that's pretty simple. They want white guys doing wild, heroic acts, while people of color are sidekicks, and the women play second fiddle, either needing to be rescued by the guys, or dying for them.

In short, misogyny. They want misogyny.

I wonder if Plinkett was one of the people who sent death and rape threats to Kelly Marie Tran until she was chased of the internet? Based on his work, he seems like the type who would think it's a laugh.

In fact, this coming out so soon after Kelly Marie Tran's essay in the New York Times is rather suspicious. Seems almost like the standard "But the movie SUCKS!!!" response I've seen on Twitter.
posted by happyroach at 7:52 PM on August 28, 2018 [15 favorites]


Why can't Rey and Ren actually let go of the past and work together?

This isn't because it's Star Wars, it's because it's the second movie in a trilogy and they're saving that arc for the third movie.

Also Kylo did senselessly murder his father but what's a little patricide between friends?
posted by muddgirl at 7:58 PM on August 28, 2018 [11 favorites]


>Also Kylo did senselessly murder his father but what's a little patricide between friends?

Not to mention directly abetting the mass genocide in VII. Which is something of a problem with the setup from VII forward and is an issue that exists independently of The Last Jedi: it's hard to imagine how he could possibly be redeemed.
posted by cjelli at 8:06 PM on August 28, 2018 [11 favorites]


Well, I mean, Vader got redeemed in RotJ.

It's not like Luke knew anybody on Aldeeran anyway.
posted by riruro at 8:10 PM on August 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


TLJ is only a bad movie by any measure because it is held up to a standard that the original movies never had to meet (and largely would not have). Unsurprisingly, it turns out that women and people of color have to work harder to get the same results even when "work harder" means "be in a movie" and "get the same results" means "make people like the movie".

Not that they'll ever like the movie, many of the angry "fans"; the Gamergate/alt-right/incel crowd has fully, and irrevocably, turned against the Star Wars franchise at this point - witness all the hate for Solo, which had virtually none of things they were complaining about from TLJ (it did have a hero who was improbably successful at everything without any real training, which was a frequent complaint about TFA, but I guess that's okay when it's a white dude, because I never saw anyone make that complaint about Solo). Solo had some issues of its own but it was basically fine. In many ways its issues were the exact opposite of the issues of TLJ - where TLJ got ambitious and set out to do new things, Solo played it safe and leaned (overly heavily, IMO) on its connections with the originals.

But ultimately, where it all started from - starting with the complaints about The Force Awakens, which were a milder rumble but definitely led to the crescendo of bitching about TLJ - is that the movie didn't make them feel like the originals made them feel, when they were kids.

That's it. That's the core of it, every "betrayed fanboy" has ultimately been betrayed not by the franchise, but by time. They're old now. They want to feel the wonder, the excitement, the joy, they want to get sucked into the fantasy world like they did when they were 11 and seeing A New Hope the first time, and it was so easy to suspend their disbelief when they were younger and now...now it doesn't work the same way. But that's nothing to do with the movies. It's everything to do with their own age, their own lives, their own disillusionment and mortality staring them back in the face. (Every actual kid I've talked to about Star Wars loves the new movies wholeheartedly and unreservedly. The way kids do. The way all these angry nerds so desperately, furiously, bitterly wish they still could.)

As ever, the women and PoC are just handy scapegoats for these guys' own issues.

One of the most brilliant things about the movie, though, is that, as Yoda might say, "Foreseen, this reaction was." Those same angry alt-right nerds who hate TLJ? Most of them love Kylo Ren, or at the very least will grudgingly admit that they think he's pretty badass. Which should come as no surprise! Because what is Kylo Ren? Well...he's a devoted fanboy of selective parts of the past of the Star Wars Universe. He's also an entitled, whiny, aggressive brat with bad social skills and anger management problems. He's them.
posted by mstokes650 at 8:14 PM on August 28, 2018 [59 favorites]


Kylo murdered his dad, tortured prisoners, Jedi mind-stuff pretty clearly coded sexual assault, ordered a village torched... and slapped away every hand offered to him over and over again. Yes, Luke screwed up as his teacher. That doesn't excuse or justify the rest.

Fan though I am, I've always been disgusted with the "redemption" of Vader. Even as a little kid in theaters, I thought it was cheap. I was angry. As I've gotten older, it has only read worse for me. I'm not buying. And I'll concede that it's maybe possible to do a believable redemption arc for Kylo Ren, because fic and because good writers and because maybe they see something I don't see yet, but right now I just don't buy it and I don't see how I will.

And I really think the cheap, lazy "redemptions" pushed by Hollywood only encourage people to keep bringing abusers back into their lives, whether we're talking celebrity stuffs or personal relationships. We're taught over and over to give people infinite second chances. "Anyone can be redeemed, no matter how bad," we're told. And then it's on us to throw the doors open and welcome someone back after whatever measure of apology they mumble. It's expected of us. Redemptions are possible, sure, but bad redemptions only encourage people to put themselves in vulnerable positions over and over again.

I love TLJ start to finish. The single best thing The Last Jedi gave us is the moment where Rey shuts the door on Kylo Ren. And I hope to God they stick with that through the end of the trilogy. Too many people out there need to see that door stay shut.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:15 PM on August 28, 2018 [42 favorites]


happyroach: "I wonder if Plinkett was one of the people who sent death and rape threats to Kelly Marie Tran until she was chased of the internet? Based on his work, he seems like the type who would think it's a laugh.

Just to note that "Plinkett" is a character, not an actual person. The original joke was that only a deranged psychopath would be overthinking movies to this extent. I think it's fair to say this joke has aged quite poorly.

In fact, this coming out so soon after Kelly Marie Tran's essay in the New York Times is rather suspicious. Seems almost like the standard "But the movie SUCKS!!!" response I've seen on Twitter.

Seems unlikely, there was a similar delay from release to reaction video for Force Awakens. These take a lot of editing, I imagine it was being worked on for a while.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:18 PM on August 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


One of the things I like about The Last Jedi is its implicit commentary on (and condemnation of) Vader's redemption in Return of the Jedi.
"He sure murdered a lot of people, but the last person he murdered was really bad... so now he is back on the side of good? I guess?"

I was just coincidentally reading this great comment in the #metoo thread. Vader is the Louis CK of Star Wars.
posted by Paragon at 8:19 PM on August 28, 2018 [11 favorites]


I actually didn't like TLJ, and that's OK. We've all got different things we want out of our entertainment, and out of our family-friendly multi-billion-dollar action/adventure-oriented intellectual properties. I admire it as an ambitious failure, and I disdain the odious culture of alt-rightism that has put this movie in its crosshairs, but I didn't much like it as I sat in the theater.

To me, the part that was painful was how *small* it made the universe of Star Wars feel. At the end of the movie, the entire surviving Resistance is loaded onto the Millenium Falcon. I mean, it's implied that this is literally everybody. It's about 30 people, not enough to properly staff a Bed, Bath, and Beyond, let alone be any sort of galactic political coalition. Star Wars has always suffered from this in some small way – everyone of significance appears to be related to each other – but one of the things that the original trilogy (and yes, even the prequels) successfully conveyed was scale. You were peering into through a small viewpoint into the pivotal moment of a vast, galactic conflict – a conflict whose horizons offered limitless unexplored space to fill with your own imagination.

But as Kylo Ren and General Hux plied their Goofus and Goofus-er act on that salt plain on Hoth, the whole thing felt like some sort of loser Hatfield and McCoy deal. Two irrelevant, spent, parochial groups fighting each other because they don't know what else to do, while the rest of the galaxy churns on in ignorance. You can see the edges of it so clearly, and the edges cage in where the wonder was supposed to live. Luke once looked out on those two suns and wondered what adventure could be out in the galaxy for him. We wondered too, and found a taste of that adventure that exploded that wonder a thousand-fold. The only thing I wondered about in The Last Jedi is why this group of chumps – legacy characters included – was ever worth following. There has to be something else going on in this galaxy more interesting than this.

Which is a shame, because there are some great elements. The Kylo/Rey relationship is a strong element. Snoke is, well, not a great villain, but he does inspire a terrific fight scene. I liked Space Force Leia. Star Wars has never been about the accurate physics of space, and it conveyed the subtle power of the character. And I liked the new characters. Or at least, I would've had they not been marooned in plotting intended to make them look ineffectual at best, dunderheaded at worst.

I don't know if it'll ever be possible to discuss TLJ in isolation of its horrifying internet backlash. It seems risky to even say that I dislike it – however qualified that dislike may be. But I do feel that there are legitimate reasons to dislike this movie that aren't inherently despicable.
posted by workingdankoch at 8:26 PM on August 28, 2018 [38 favorites]


I enjoyed TLJ for its intertextual commentary. But it’s a bad film. Like really really bad. The entire Rose/Finn plot is useless and dumb. These extra scenes lengthen the movie and disrupt the narrative cohesion of the two arcs we care about: Rey and the Rebels. Plinkett’s suggestion to end the movie on a cliffhanger in the throne room just after Snokes death? Brilliant. The rest of his review? Kinda lame.
posted by Glibpaxman at 8:31 PM on August 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


TLJ is only a bad movie by any measure because it is held up to a standard that the original movies never had to meet (and largely would not have). Unsurprisingly, it turns out that women and people of color have to work harder to get the same results even when "work harder" means "be in a movie" and "get the same results" means "make people like the movie".

I'm sure there exist critics who dislike the movie at a subconscious level because of their gender or racial politics, since I've seen conscious examples.

However, the idea that's only a bad movie by sexist/racist measures seems about as likely to me as the idea that anyone who likes the film only does so because they favor its gender or racial statements (which I also doubt). It doesn't seem to actually engage with some of substantial criticism that's out there. It smacks of a belief that one doesn't have to so engage because obviously pre-existing political explanations cover the topic entirely. It almost raises Rian Johnson to honorary minority status. It diminishes better works that have a better claim to being minority products or providing minority representation and enjoy more critical acclaim. In short, it makes less sense than the idea that there just might be some critical failures of the film, however much you enjoyed it.
posted by wildblueyonder at 8:38 PM on August 28, 2018 [19 favorites]


May I just mansplain about a supposed plot issue for a second?

It is this one: why doesn’t Holdo just tell Poe what the plan is instead of keeping him in the dark such that he loses confidence in her and mutinees?

Look, you guys, as soon as Poe found out what the plan was he got on the space telephone and yelled about it to his friends Finn and Rose, where it was overheard by the Empire, who used the information to destroy all the escaping shuttles.

She didn’t tell Poe because it was secret and it was important that it stay a secret. When the secret was leaked, most of the Resistance were killed. That’s why she didn’t tell Poe!
posted by chrchr at 8:45 PM on August 28, 2018 [32 favorites]


To me, the part that was painful was how *small* it made the universe of Star Wars feel. At the end of the movie, the entire surviving Resistance is loaded onto the Millenium Falcon. I mean, it's implied that this is literally everybody. It's about 30 people, not enough to properly staff a Bed, Bath, and Beyond, let alone be any sort of galactic political coalition.

See, I really like this, because the thought of how they get back from the brink has exciting possibilities. And I thought it was a neat turn to have them looking to Luke, to a mythical hero version of Luke, to provide this spark the whole movie, and then in the end they find themselves reduced to nothing but a spark - and see how small a spark really is.

Star Wars has always suffered from this in some small way – everyone of significance appears to be related to each other

It's interesting to me that this movie goes out of its way to stop this particular type of small scale thinking while simultaneously feeling small in other ways! It's like, there aren't that many heroes, but those heroes can be anybody, and I feel like that will reap some good rewards as the rebellion grows again.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:52 PM on August 28, 2018 [9 favorites]


I feel like I should clarify that my criticism of Solo had nothing to do with Butthurt Manchild and everything to do with the fact that it was just an entirely unnecessary to-do list of a mediocre movie. Visual design was nice, though.

But, like… one person in a thousand or maybe zero would have ever found themselves wondering: how did Han Solo get his last name, anyway
posted by DoctorFedora at 9:26 PM on August 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


To me, the part that was painful was how *small* it made the universe of Star Wars feel.

That's probably the best, fairest criticism of the movie I've read yet. It was something that bugged me about Solo, a bit, and in retrospect you're right that it's definitely also a problem for TLJ (but largely averted in Rogue One, which may explain some of its popularity). But I'd always rather see an ambitious movie that didn't entirely succeed at what it set out to do than a movie that played it safe and succeeded. In my book, good movies attempt great things, great movies succeed, mediocre movies do neither.

I do think that's also probably why I'm more willing to cut Canto Bight some slack than a lot of people who complain about the needlessness of the Rose/Finn plot - it was useful because it showed us stuff we hadn't seen, did some actual worldbuilding, suggested there was more than just what we were shown on the screen.

However, the idea that's only a bad movie by sexist/racist measures...

Perhaps I could have worded it better, but you're definitely misinterpreting what I'm saying there. What I'm saying is that the non-sexist/racist measures by which TLJ can be regarded as a bad movie are also applicable to the other Star Wars movies - in other words, if you think it's a bad movie, you should probably be of the opinion that the other Star Wars movies are not great either; if you think that TLJ is bad and Empire Strikes Back is one of the greatest films of all time, then I'm saying that difference in perceptions is due to your own aging process at work, and due to racism/sexism, a lot of that change in personal biases is getting laid on the filmmakers rather than on the film viewers.

It's perfectly possible to have substantive criticisms of The Last Jedi, I even have some myself! But I recognize that I am holding it to a different standard than the original trilogy, which passes mostly unexamined and un-criticized in my mind, for largely the same reasons as darkstar. Unlike a lot of people, I recognize that's fundamentally unfair, and as a result I make an effort to "let go" of my criticisms of The Last Jedi. A New Hope is not Citizen Kane. It has plot holes. Massive implausibilities. (Speaking of "seeming small", anybody want to try and figure out the odds that the prisoner you need to rescue is being kept within reasonable walking distance of where your ship got parked, on a station the size of a small moon?) Characters do really dumb stuff. (Let's see...Jedi were relentlessly hunted down across the Galaxy, but you're just gonna whip out your lightsaber and chop a dude's arm off the first second a bar fight breaks out? First off, you're a lousy Jedi, Kenobi, and secondly, how the hell did you manage to not get caught all this time?) But a great many people have expended vastly, vastly more mental effort formulating and articulating their criticisms of The Last Jedi than they have of other Star Wars films. When people go out of their way to justify their dislike of one movie without examining their own biases with regard to the others, I think it's fair to see some racism and sexism at work in that.
posted by mstokes650 at 9:28 PM on August 28, 2018 [19 favorites]


The whole review seems to boil down to them being mad that, as the movie is written, it's Poe that gets everyone killed.

That's not to say they aren't generally mad that someone who has done a more subtle formal analysis of Star Wars movies than they have has decided to troll them. Still, Poe's just not the hero and that gets especially deep under the skin.
posted by ethansr at 9:29 PM on August 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


Also Kylo did senselessly murder his father

I still think there's an explanation of Han's murder in which it wasn't senseless at all, and I've been a little surprised and disappointed that no one else seems to have picked up on this reading of the scene since TFA came out.
posted by painquale at 9:43 PM on August 28, 2018 [9 favorites]


spent more screen time on Rey being comforted than on fucking Leia’s grief at her child killing her husband

Leia also had to comfort Luke when Obi-Wan, whom he knew for like a week, got killed, when her planet was blown up and her known family with it. Guess she's used to the franchise treating her that way.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:04 PM on August 28, 2018 [25 favorites]


Han was the linchpin in Chewbacca's life for like 50 years.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:15 PM on August 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Nobody ever talks about the fact that Yoda, the wisest character in all Star Warsdom, shows up in the film specifically to advocate burning your bibles.

Like, my favorite parts of TLJ were its least Star Warsy elements, the parts that just broke the fourth wall to comment on the previous films. And while I appreciate it, I can also see why that would tick off viewers with different expectations.

But also, Yoda burns bibles. It's wild.
posted by lazugod at 10:16 PM on August 28, 2018 [21 favorites]


You know what would improve the movie? Getting rid of the guys. All of them except maybe Luke (for continuity) and the Big Bad, Snoke. Drop Kylo Ren, that big sack of nothing; drop Poe, the reckless mutineer; drop Finn and whoever the hacker is and that Aryan Nazi guy who only exists to be humiliated. Keep basically all the plot details except the ones that only happen because one of these guys is a dick.

This movie would have been so much better – the Resistance is fleeing the First Order and going to be decimated. Rey gets fed up with Luke and flies off from Skellig Michael, only to be captured by Snoke (who thought he would get Luke). But! Rey finds her inner Jedi just in time, kills Snoke, and heads off to find Luke's sister. She reaches General Organa just in time to Jedi mind-tech the tech and the Rebels win, everybody cheers and heads off for a pint.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:21 PM on August 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


chrchr: She didn’t tell Poe because it was secret and it was important that it stay a secret. When the secret was leaked, most of the Resistance were killed. That’s why she didn’t tell Poe!

Especially since they had just been ambushed, the Resistance apparently was having a problem with desertion, the Order had at least one mind-reader in their pocket, and no one really knew how the Order was getting their intelligence.

What bothered me about TLJ was all the little "solutions" that get pulled out at the last minute that would have made much more sense earlier. They have no idea about the tracker until it's time to send Finn and Rose off on their adventure. Both sides have a WMD that no one is willing to rig or use until it's time for the Admiral to sacrifice herself. There were far too many asspulls. I actually saw what they were trying to do with Canto Blight, but generally failed to really pull off because Star Wars is an adventure romp that really doesn't take the time to do more than touch on any of the big ideas it references.

What I like about Kylo-Rey-Luke is that I think everyone has known a Kylo, some have even been Kylo. But you reach a point where you say, "ok, crying in your beer is understandable, but you're hurting everyone around you." The character arcs there are Rey coming to the realization that Kylo needs to save himself, and Luke coming to the realization that taking responsibility for Kylo is a bit self-centered.

Would Luke have done that? Of course. We had two whole movies of Luke's dark night of the soul. Yoda expected him to fail, Obi-Wan was resigned to failure, and the Emperor demanded his failure. It was only by another cinematic asspull that Luke did not commit patricide. Luke was always a seething ball of doubt, and that doesn't magically go away the first or the fortieth time you face it. The morally grounded twin was always Leia.

Re: Solo: It's a passable romp by the same studio system that brought us the insanely stupid Civil War. But I find it spoiled on deeper thought because almost every character moment ended up in some form of inter-textual fanservice. I find it hard to see L3 as positive considering that almost all of her opinions end up paired with an eye-roll, and her ultimate fate just ends up explaining one of the worst C3-PO gags.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 10:29 PM on August 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


I loved the movie and won't watch the video.

But yeah, the movie had this weird trait of making really lazy plotting issues, around timelines and plausibility. I swear there are a couple dozen lines they could have added that would have gotten even the worst stuff up to normal Star Wars inconsistency levels where only the bad faith types would be arguing against it.

At the end of the movie, the entire surviving Resistance is loaded onto the Millenium Falcon. I mean, it's implied that this is literally everybody. It's about 30 people, not enough to properly staff a Bed, Bath, and Beyond, let alone be any sort of galactic political coalition.

(Skip this if you don't want nerdy history comparisons that were certainly not intended by Rian Johnson.)

When Phillip of Spain tightened his grip on the Low Countries, he pushed the local nobility to a breaking point. Egmont and a few other nobles tried a balancing act without rebelling and were executed when Phillip lost patience with the local council.

William the Silent broke openly, lost his lands and fled. He had been one of the wealthiest nobles in the realm and pawned everything to raise an army to liberate his homeland. It was a failure--he could only pay it for one season and the Spanish just didn't bother fighting it. He was probably left with like thirty people at this point.

But little kids learned the story of William and mastered the force. But the resentment against Phillip remained and the Sea Beggars, who were basically glorified pirates from the poor areas and shouldn't have accomplished jack, sailed into Brielle the whole town hated Phillip enough that they raised the Beggars' banner. Starting the 80 Year's War for freedom that ultimately won independence for the Netherlands. It wasn't the top down support from William, but the bottom up support given to him, that was decisive.

We've done the fake Roman history analogies to death in SFF. There are plenty of other examples in history.

This account based on Wedgewood's William the Silent which I loved but may have forgotten or garbled and I apologize to any and all Dutch MeFites if I have totally butchered their history in the process of summarizing the cool bits.
posted by mark k at 10:40 PM on August 28, 2018 [25 favorites]


To me, the part that was painful was how *small* it made the universe of Star Wars feel.

That reminds me of another piece-
Rian Johnson has been getting a lot of heat from fans for his Star Wars debut, but I contend that he is one of the few culturally conscious writers and directors of contemporary film. The Last Jedi casts the entire Star Wars series in a new light: as an allegory for the suicidal millenarianism of late American empire.
Eli Schiff: Star Wars: Death Drive is an edgy, yet positive, critique of The Last Jedi, celebrating it as both a wonderful deconstruction of Star Wars and a paean to our nihilistic times. There might be something to it, if you consider Rian Johnson's other works. Brick has high schoolers talking like bleak film noir archetypes. Looper is set in a future where we have psychics and hover-cars, and yet homelessness is endemic, the U.S. quietly overshadowed by a resurgent China. This is the world that millennials - like the young heroes of Star Wars - find themselves facing.
All that is left for the living are pyrrhic battles over deep-seated ressentiment—played out in the ruins of ancient civilizations. Even the presumed villain, Snoke, turns out to be a paper tiger. Nothing is coherent anymore.
The way that Johnson shakes up the lore and setting of Star Wars and makes it empty is the point. Han and Luke will not be around to see the end of the trilogy. Maybe Leia, Chewie, the droids, won't be either. Maybe not even Rey, Finn, Rose, or Kylo. But the analysis does miss one thing: that kid at the end of TLJ? He and the rest of the ragamuffins of Canto Bight will inherit the Galaxy. The passing of the old cast, the destruction of the sides and organizations they fought for, hell, the cohesion of the setting itself (shadowed in the real world by Disney axing the EU with one swoop) will reboot the saga once and for all.

To achieve Star Peace, we must paraphrase Luke: it is time for Star Wars to die.

Can I still like Captain Phasma's moment, briefer and yet more bad-ass than Boba Fett's?

TFA already made her look like a chump by having her get locked in the trash compactor without a fight. What was Abrams thinking?!
posted by Apocryphon at 10:43 PM on August 28, 2018 [14 favorites]


Fandom is both why I no longer consume any media and explains St Paul’s letters.
posted by fallingbadgers at 10:48 PM on August 28, 2018 [15 favorites]


I enjoyed The Last Jedi, but I still think that Rogue One was the real Empire Strikes Back of this new crop of movies. It's honestly my favorite, the only sour note was the cgi Leia at the end but that was redeemed by making the intro to A New Hope 1000% more hilarious and awesome.
posted by drinkyclown at 10:55 PM on August 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


Kind of amazed at how many people here are still giving Red Letter Media a pass after all of the blatant "ironic" misogyny in their past Star Wars reviews. These guys haven't matured a bit in almost 10 years; in some ways, they've even regressed.
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:56 PM on August 28, 2018 [13 favorites]


All Luke wanted was some power converters from Tosche Station. And then all this shit went and happened. At least we found out where blue milk comes from.
posted by um at 10:57 PM on August 28, 2018 [10 favorites]


I loved The Last Jedi.

I walked out of that theatre feeling so full of joy that I was half way down the street before I realized “wait a second, I did not personally take part in this thing at all, why am I so happy?!?”

This movie made me literally feel a part of something bigger than myself. I had many reactions during the movie but boredom was not one of them.

Goofy physics and astronomy is par for course is any space movie and I’m here for the characters and world building.

I don’t recall ever having a feeling of just deep personal joy after watching a movie. Maybe an “oh that was nice”. This was a feeling like I had just accomplished an incredible task with all my friends and we pulled it off and it was hard but we made it yes!!!!!

And then I remembered I was walking down the street alone smiling to myself.

I don’t care about plot holes. That movie filled a hole in my very soul.
posted by sio42 at 11:10 PM on August 28, 2018 [34 favorites]


Kind of amazed at how many people here are still giving Red Letter Media a pass after all of the blatant "ironic" misogyny in their past Star Wars reviews.

You’re not wrong, but honestly, I think we all just appreciate any excuse to talk about Star Wars.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:13 PM on August 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


virtually none of the original SW films really made much sense or followed any kind of concrete narrative logic

Yeah, it amuses me when people complaining about "plot holes" in the new films, but don't see anything plotholey in things like whatever Luke's plan to rescue Han from Jabba was before it devolved into a cadcade of disjointed fuckups.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:20 PM on August 28, 2018 [14 favorites]


I guess I'm just never going to understand how Star Wars maintains its cultural place given how little of it seems to actually be enjoyed by even its fans. The first two movies are pretty much it for agreed upon quality, with the rest generally being characterized as okay to awful, with some of course claiming greater appreciation of some others, but that's often from some strange standpoint of seeing them in terms of being Star Wars movies, not movies on their own. The idea of Star Wars seems more important than the movies, and that is just weird to me for a lot of reasons.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:42 PM on August 28, 2018 [7 favorites]




Well, no one forces us to watch the bad stuff. I mean Casablanca has a big cultural place and that has only one good movie in its universe, not two.
posted by mark k at 11:54 PM on August 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


I mean Casablanca has a big cultural place and that has only one good movie in its universe, not two.

Sure, and my feelings about those first two movies aside, I don't begrudge anyone their enjoyment of them or their place in movie history, but the continued cultural importance of the follow ups, even as they aren't enjoyed to anything like the same level is, um, unusual. Compare it to the Alien movies for example, where there is much more emphasis placed on how "good" each individual sequel is perceived to be and thus affecting attendance and the movies "place" in the culture whereas Star Wars keeps trundling on without much cultural loss no matter what is put out under its name.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:08 AM on August 29, 2018


I enjoyed The Last Jedi, but I still think that Rogue One was the real Empire Strikes Back of this new crop of movies.

Rogue One is definitely Empire.

TLJ is obviously ROTJ.

A New Hope is now a different, better movie set after the events of Rogue One.

That leaves The Force Awakens as Ewoks: The Battle for Endor.
posted by ethansr at 12:09 AM on August 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


i liked it as much as i liked any of the other movies, which is a decent amount. it felt like money well and entertainingly spent.

the worst part of all the recent movies has always been the useless whiner kyle ron, because none of the shrilly squealing fanboys can see themselves in/care about a black man or a latino man, so they latch onto the tantrum baby manpain emo white guy like demented lampreys while spewing gallons of shit in every direction a woman is in. so tiresome.

also i love that the very existence of rey and rose makes them stroke the fuck out but i obviously fucking loathe how they abuse the actual women playing the parts.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:18 AM on August 29, 2018 [17 favorites]


without much cultural loss no matter what is put out under its name.

Sorry to quote myself, but I should have added that maybe the reception of Solo changed that dynamic, but it seems like there's always a new hope the next movie will recreate whatever it was people needed from those two first films.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:18 AM on August 29, 2018


I mean Casablanca has a big cultural place and that has only one good movie in its universe, not two

Obviously Casablanca was the movie length pilot episode for a Rick and Louis buddy show that never got off the ground.
posted by otherchaz at 1:43 AM on August 29, 2018 [9 favorites]


I loved TLJ. That doesn't mean that I don't think it's flawed, or that it's impossible for rational people to discuss its merits and flaws, the way that normal people can discuss other movies.

But knowledge of the dark underbelly of the current backlash, which unfortunately I can never un-know, has eroded my ability to view complaints about this movie and the franchise in general with a default assumption of good faith.

There is a particular shopping list of nitpicks which I can't take seriously because of the number of times I've seen them regurgitated as talking points in an essay about how harassing Kelly Marie Tran was bad, or whatever, but clearly Rian Johnson is Satan because X, Y and Z, and it's only natural for fans to get a little overzealous when someone literally destroys the thing that gives their lives meaning, and why isn't their pain being recognised as the thing that's most important here?

It's impossible for me not to view these nitpicks as an exhaustive list of things that rage-filled anti-fans have found that they can say instead of the things that they're actually mad about, which they can't say outside of the kinds of forums where they feel comfortable being openly racist and sexist.

Edit: I'm not even sure if they're always consciously aware that they're doing this. They may genuinely see certain things as plot or characterisation problems, when they gave the original movies a pass for the exact same kinds of issues, and not be self-aware enough to dig into exactly why that is.

I had to unsubscribe from the main Star Wars subreddit a while ago, because it has become an open sewer.
posted by confluency at 2:11 AM on August 29, 2018 [17 favorites]


I would just like to say that I have always found Plinkett's interstitial scene-setting jokes problematic, and never more so than in his Phantom Menace review. He's always laying on the weird misogynistic/transphobic stuff in his videos as "did you catch this?" jokes, and it detracts from when he has a real message.

To this end, a friend of mine created the no-bad-parts edit of the Phantom Menace review in which all of the serial-murderer violence-against-women stuff was removed. I can not recommend the original to anyone, but this video has cut the distracting C plot out and left only one hour and four minutes of thoughtful commentary.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 2:20 AM on August 29, 2018 [8 favorites]


So, I just tried to watch the video linked in the post, and got six minutes in before I had to bail.

When does it settle down into an actually coherent critique of the film? The six minutes I saw seemed designed to be jarringly irritating. Is the narrator intentionally trying to imitate the annoying, toxic fandom neckbeards that I do my utmost to avoid?

The main thought it evoked after six minutes was: holy jeez, there’s almost an hour of this?
posted by darkstar at 2:22 AM on August 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Is the narrator intentionally trying to imitate the annoying, toxic fandom neckbeards that I do my utmost to avoid?

Yes.
posted by Grangousier at 2:25 AM on August 29, 2018 [8 favorites]


I think that so much of the comedic element in the prequels was so badly mismanaged that people have come to a "don't make Star Wars funny" conclusion. While I think he was blind to how bad the Phantom Menace was, I did kind of sympathise with his point when Lucas said (paraphrasing) "People always complained about the humour in Star Wars: First it was C3PO/R2D2, then Yoda, then Ewoks."

So yeah, I think the series does need comic relief characters. I also think there's some merit to the "don't structure your spiralling-descent plot as a chain of goofy bad decisions" though I'm not sure how neatly that fits TLJ.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 2:35 AM on August 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Unlike their franchise predecessors, they all fail, horribly, and the cost of the failure is nearly the destruction of the Resistance.

and

Still, Poe's just not the hero and that gets especially deep under the skin.

made me realize. It's not Vacation. It's Big Trouble in Little China. The "star" is a dipshit and everyone pretends he isn't.
posted by mikelieman at 3:02 AM on August 29, 2018 [9 favorites]


I had to unsubscribe from the main Star Wars subreddit a while ago, because it has become an open sewer.

After a decade of enjoying home maintenance subreddits and things like that, I pretty much bailed out after the re-design. Too much cognitive load to just kill some time scanning posts. ( See Also: Digg )

MeFi, never change, ok?
posted by mikelieman at 3:24 AM on August 29, 2018


ethansr: The whole review seems to boil down to them being mad that, as the movie is written, it's Poe that gets everyone killed.

On the whole I liked The Last Jedi a lot. Less than Rogue One, to be sure, but tons more than The Force Awakens. But it really rankles that Poe Dameron's plot arch is essentially that a white guy has to cause the deaths of thousands if not millions of people in order to learn the lesson that he's not the center of the universe.
posted by Kattullus at 3:40 AM on August 29, 2018 [7 favorites]


There are many reasons I didn't like the movie, but here's the part of it that really, really bugged me:

POE: Tell me the secret escape plan!
HOLDO: No. You're a mutinous asshole who just disobeyed a direct order and got a whole bunch of people killed.

ME: Makes sense.

POE: I'm so mad about her not telling me that I'm going to mutiny and disobey orders and get a whole bunch of people killed!

ME: Story checks out.

POE: As a direct result of my actions, lack of trust, and outright mutiny, almost everyone I know is dead and the rebellion is basically destroyed.
HOLDO (chuckling): I know! You lovable scamp, you.
LEIA (chuckling): You remind me of me when I was your age.

ME: W...TF?
posted by kyrademon at 3:42 AM on August 29, 2018 [30 favorites]


One thing I like about Star Wars, conceptually, is that unlike almost all the other big blockbuster franchises it wasn't adapted from a comic book, or a series of novels, or an old TV series. It was an original film, a creation of pure cinema.

So it’s ironic that, even more than all those other franchises, it has become mired in endless arguments about fidelity to the source material.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 3:50 AM on August 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


But it really rankles that Poe Dameron's plot arch is essentially that a white guy has to cause the deaths of thousands if not millions of people in order to learn the lesson that he's not the center of the universe.

As pointed out above, it doesn't even make sense, as Poe's destruction of the dreadnaught probably helped resistance survive a bit longer. The movie is filled with little WTF moments like that, which can pull a person out of the film.


There are many reasons I didn't like the movie, but here's the part of it that really, really bugged me:

For me it was a similar moment, when Poe and others asked what the plan was and Admirial purple responds, essentially "Oh just have faith and return to your station"

That struck me as incredibly lazy writing and uninspiring.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:51 AM on August 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


The Ewoks on fire. That's what I've been demanding for decades. Is it really that hard for them to deliver on that?
posted by delfin at 3:59 AM on August 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


I enjoyed Leia flying, which made slightly more sense to me than the rest of the film. Sometimes a movie succeeds despite it's flaws, but in this case I think it failed.

The scenes that were cut are very telling.

I left the cinema with notable lack of any emotional afterglow. The movie failed to connect with me on almost every level. I did find it infuriating in the same way that working with a bad manager is infuriating.

Maybe it is a result of the modern franchise movie curse, that nothing can ever change, that the franchise must continue for ever, relentlessly, churning out product.

Anyway, here's the Ewok dog costume to lift some spirits.
posted by asok at 4:03 AM on August 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Honestly, if Poe died of internal injuries before he next movie, I think it would be a good move. Or, if you prefer, he could perish in the first action sequence. The current cast is kind of big, and TLJ struggled with giving them sufficient screen time to develop. We’re trimming out the old cast; why not kill off a few of the new to increase the sense of menace? Nix could fall down a lift shaft for the same reasons; Phasma has been more compelling in her short time on screen than all his mnites of glum scenery-chewing.

Let’s see more of the Not Hot Shots and Unchosen getting things done. Reject Fascist Myth-Making!
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:07 AM on August 29, 2018 [10 favorites]


drinkyclown: "I enjoyed The Last Jedi, but I still think that Rogue One was the real Empire Strikes Back of this new crop of movies. It's honestly my favorite, the only sour note was the cgi Leia at the end but that was redeemed by making the intro to A New Hope 1000% more hilarious and awesome."

A co-worker of mine thought that Rogue One was the sequel to Force Awakens, that Rey and Jyn were the same character and was really confused by the ending. "How do they make a third one now?"
posted by octothorpe at 4:22 AM on August 29, 2018 [10 favorites]


I guess I'm just never going to understand how Star Wars maintains its cultural place given how little of it seems to actually be enjoyed by even its fans.

There's a certain selection bias going on where cranks are not only vocal about a film, they also tend not to shut up about a film. The majority of people in my extended family liked TLJ, we're just not making the front page of metafilter for discussing that at Grandma's birthday. And I think most fandoms are built around appreciation of works that are not Citizen Kane in quality overall. Trekkies have a long tradition of ignoring more than half the primary works by comparison. I suspect you have to do more if you're a Marvel reader.

Looking at the long list of "blockbuster" cinema genres, there's at least two different modes of drama going on. We tend to forget that drama wasn't originally fiction, it was community ritual. I just saw Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, and it doesn't really have much of a plot. It has one plot twist that's just a setup so that we hear Cher sing at the climax. Practically all of the character development had been described by the first movie. Mostly that doesn't matter because either you're in for a jukebox musical with Cher and Streep or you're not. Shakespeare also didn't do much more than wave his hands at history and real-world plausibility when he needed a hook, but damn, he knew how to work the audience.

So my explanation is that Star Wars works on a ritual level, and that's a level that's always played fast and loose with realism and/or plot coherence whether we're talking about musicals, pirates, gangsters, romcoms, horror, a lot of mysteries, and especially superhero stuff. Part of that ritual includes the critical stance of pointing out how unrealistic or implausible it is. I suspect that Star Wars gets more of that than Indiana Jones because science fiction is really weird about plausibility while fantasy just isn't. (Also the roller coaster scene is arguably the least offensive aspect of Temple of Doom.)

Ann Leckie had a blog post this week about people liking stuff that's relevant here:
Now, Nora (Jemisin) doesn’t need me to defend her, and she doesn’t need lessons from me about the best way to dry a tear-soaked award-dusting cloth, or the best brands of chocolate ice cream to fortify yourself for that arduous trip to the bank. Actually, she could probably give me some pointers.

But I have some thoughts about the idea that, because you (generic you) didn’t like a work, that must mean folks who say they did like it are Lying Liars Who Lie to Look Cool.

So, in order to believe this, one has to believe that A) one’s own taste is infallible and objective and thus universally shared and B) people who openly don’t share your taste are characterless sheep who will do anything to seem cool.

But the fact is, one doesn’t like or dislike things without context. We are all of us judging things from our own point of view, not some disembodied perfectly objective nowhere. It’s really easy to assume that our context is The Context–to not even see that there’s a context at all, it’s just How Things Are. But you are always seeing things from the perspective of your experiences, your biases, your expectations of how things work. Those may not match other people’s.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 4:39 AM on August 29, 2018 [11 favorites]


1 hour YouTube video on a 2 1/2 hour movie? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
posted by grimjeer at 4:40 AM on August 29, 2018 [12 favorites]


After a decade of enjoying home maintenance subreddits and things like that, I pretty much bailed out after the re-design.

You can still view the old style, you know?
posted by thelonius at 4:41 AM on August 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


I guess I'm just never going to understand how Star Wars maintains its cultural place given how little of it seems to actually be enjoyed by even its fans.

I personally haven't enjoyed the new Star Wars films that much, but it's undeniable that a lot of people certainly have.

But not everyone wants to endlessly discuss it on the net, you know? I think most people are perfectly happy to be entertained for two hours and not give a whole lot of other thought to films. Which is fine, I'm like that on other films, just not SW, lol.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:57 AM on August 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


I was just so surprised that Luke Skywalker grew up to be Oliver Reed.
posted by valkane at 5:07 AM on August 29, 2018 [8 favorites]


But knowledge of the dark underbelly of the current backlash, which unfortunately I can never un-know, has eroded my ability to view complaints about this movie and the franchise in general with a default assumption of good faith.

From what I understand about psychology, this is true of everyone who has sampled the discussion. Unless you've seen The Last Jedi in the last few hours, what you're remembering of your experience is your memory of the memory of your experience, and those intermediate memories are shaped by your emotional reaction brought up when other people discuss it, which includes those bad faith takes. Your reaction to those gets mingled up with your reaction to the movie itself, because your brain can't actually differentiate the two (while it insists it actually can).

The ease of how memory can be manipulated by what people think must have happened implies something very dark about eyewitness testimony, something the legal profession is not entirely sure how to deal with.
posted by Merus at 5:14 AM on August 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


Shower thought: The ritual structure of Mamma Mia! 2 includes a literal deus ex machina showing up out of a chariot (helicopter) to announce that the happy ending and revels are divinely ordained.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 5:38 AM on August 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


The main thought it evoked after six minutes was: holy jeez, there’s almost an hour of this?
posted by darkstar at 2:22 AM on August 29 [1 favorite
+] [!]

They made a whole career out of this
posted by eustatic at 5:40 AM on August 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


I watched enough that I think I can give you the tl;dw: It's got a lot of problems, but at least it's not the prequels.
posted by sfenders at 5:42 AM on August 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


grimjeer: 1 hour YouTube video on a 2 1/2 hour movie? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

That people have the time for that is the crowning glory of, and damning judgment on, modern society.
posted by Kattullus at 6:37 AM on August 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


They made an entire genre out of that. In many ways, YouTube is even more toxic and cringeworthy than Twitter.
posted by Apocryphon at 6:40 AM on August 29, 2018


I thought Plinkett's reviews of the prequels were more entertaining than the prequels themselves (misogyny aside). Also, his observation about where The Last Jedi should have ended is spot on.
posted by jabah at 6:43 AM on August 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


I unashamedly love the new Star wars films. Rogue One was an awesome film. I loved that the protagonists were the people that got handwaved away in the original, the crews, the people that do the dirty work so that Leia and Luke can wear white. I also loved the other two films, in part because the heroes (I'm looking at you Poe & Finn) are shown to have feet off clay, and it's the women who do the heavy lifting (much like IRL).
I'm not gonna waste my time watching useless man babies destroy something I love so that they can get their nerd dude bro on. Fuck em.
You don't have to apologize for the things you love.
Unless you love fascism, of course.
posted by evilDoug at 6:51 AM on August 29, 2018 [16 favorites]


Trekkies have a long tradition of ignoring more than half the primary works by comparison. I suspect you have to do more if you're a Marvel reader.

There are over seven hundred episodes of Star Trek across the various series, and that's not counting the movies. It would be a miracle if they were canonically consistent across all of that, and I can assure you that that miracle did not happen. Plus, there are episodes that simply don't deserve to be part of canon, for various reasons. WRT Marvel, not only does the continuity get insanely complicated, with alternate timelines popping into existence and popping back out but characters somehow surviving from those alternate timelines (looking at you, Age of Apocalypse) but you have the recent Secret Wars, not to be confused with the 80s Secret Wars, in which the ultimate upshot was "we will turn continuity into a sort of chimæra of the versions of different characters/groups/stories that we think will sell best." And that's not even getting into what you might call retcon wars; read the TVTropes entry for Actually a Doombot for a sample.

As for the bit of pop culture under discussion, I'll stick to my comments in the FanFare thread. I will note that, when I posted something to FB about the "plans" to crowdfund an angry-fan version of TLJ, I got two objecting replies: one from a cousin who just didn't like it and with whom I agreed to disagree, and one from someone in my local RPG group who went on for some length about his problems with it with very little participation on my part.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:02 AM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


Halloween Jack: I was expecting a different episode, in your link about episodes that don't deserve to be Trek canon.

Not surprised by the series, though.
posted by SansPoint at 7:04 AM on August 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


I was at a show where the person on stage asked us to shout out our favorite Star Wars characters. All I could think of were my favorite ships. I realized that I don't really have any favorite Star Wars characters, and they're the least interesting part of the world Lucas built. I liked The Last Jedi exactly as much as I liked all of the non prequel movies. I'm not sure what that says about Star Wars or my taste, but they're basically all...fine. I mean, high on the Good end of fine, but other than the baffling ball-dropping of Phantom-through-Revenge, they're all fine.

Tho this might explain why I couldn't be bothered to see Solo, featuring the Wolverine of the Star Wars universe. Or is that Boba Fett?
posted by UltraMorgnus at 7:14 AM on August 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


If you have only seen The Last Jedi once, I recommend watching it again. The second viewing for me sealed it as potentially my second or third favorite film of the entire franchise. A lot has already been stated about the film, so I won't launch into a discourse on what makes the film (in my opinion) so wonderful.

I will say I loved how the film kept me guessing, even though the film often paralleled aspects of the original trilogy films (mainly Empire and Jedi); which is exactly what The Force Awakens did; the difference being TFA followed the drum beat of A New Hope pretty closely, so much so, that I pretty much figured out most of the major plot beats before I even saw the film (from the trailers, etc). When I tried to do the same with TLJ, I was just noped, noped, noped, repeatedly. The result was something wonderfully fresh for my well seasoned Star Wars eyes.

And yah, I ain't touching the Plinkett review with a 30 foot pole. The disgusting misogyny in his original Prequel Trilogy reviews still make me want to vomit since I watched some (couldn't finish it all) years ago. I found some of his critiques then, similar to critiques often fired off today, in that they rely upon superficial or simplistic perspectives of what's being critiqued. I still remember a complaint that there's no protagonist in The Phantom Menace; which overlooks Padme, the Jedi, etc.
posted by Atreides at 7:37 AM on August 29, 2018 [11 favorites]


They made an entire genre out of that. In many ways, YouTube is even more toxic and cringeworthy than Twitter.

I get alt-right, neo-Nazi YouTube suggestions regularly. Even though I aggressively flag and remove ("I don't like this video") they just keep popping up.
posted by JamesBay at 7:39 AM on August 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Say what you want about Rose and Finn, they were the only ones in the movie who acted like heroes. You know, the reason people watch campy movies like Star Wars. Everything else is a mess. Luke is now a grumpy old turd. Leia is a grumpy old turd. General purple-hair delivers all the heroic inspiration of a department manager at Home Depot. Poe is a busybody. Rey is a reactive unrelatable plot device.

Rose and Finn? Went on a noble mission, had pratfalls, made progress, eventually were betrayed, and then there's a fight with the bad guy at the end. The part people hate is the only part that was actually a Star Wars movie, goofiness included.
posted by FakeFreyja at 7:40 AM on August 29, 2018 [12 favorites]


Bloxworth Snout: "One thing I like about Star Wars, conceptually, is that unlike almost all the other big blockbuster franchises it wasn't adapted from a comic book, or a series of novels, or an old TV series. It was an original film, a creation of pure cinema."

But it was very heavily influenced by source materials. In many ways, the original film is just a remake of Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress. Lucas's callbacks to old adventure serials and World War II films are blatant.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:44 AM on August 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


zompist: "This is relevant to my interests, since I saw TLJ for the first time last night."

And posted a review of it, I notice. Spoilers: zompist liked it more than me, but has good points.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:47 AM on August 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Luke is now a grumpy old turd.

Luke is the cranky old shaolin master. This is wonderful and exactly right.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:01 AM on August 29, 2018 [25 favorites]


Luke is the cranky old shaolin master. This is wonderful and exactly right.

And, like Yoda in Empire, he is exactly not what Rey (or the audience) is expecting.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 8:07 AM on August 29, 2018 [22 favorites]


Chrysostom: "Bloxworth Snout: "One thing I like about Star Wars, conceptually, is that unlike almost all the other big blockbuster franchises it wasn't adapted from a comic book, or a series of novels, or an old TV series. It was an original film, a creation of pure cinema."

But it was very heavily influenced by source materials. In many ways, the original film is just a remake of Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress. Lucas's callbacks to old adventure serials and World War II films are blatant.
"

I've never found a good list of all the films that Star Wars ripped off was a homage to but it's got to be in the hundreds. I mean off the top of my head: The Searchers (and other Ford Westerns), Dam Busters, 12 O'Clock High, Metropolis, 2001, Lawrence of Arabia, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Yojimbo, Triumph of the Will, Stage Coach, various Errol Flynn and Douglas Fairbanks adventures plus bits of Foundation, Dune and random Heinlein stories. Lucas is a lot like Tarantino, another filmmaker who loves to copy bits and pieces of older films into his works.

For whatever you think about the Canto Bight scenes, I love that Johnson remade this shot from Wings because it felt like something that Lucas would have done.
posted by octothorpe at 8:10 AM on August 29, 2018 [11 favorites]


I was OK with Luke reverting to his whiny, fussy personality after being meh as a Jedi, post-Vader. He became a grumpy, broken old man. Whatever.

This, actually, is what I found most moving—and even in a way, appealing—about TFA and TLJ. When I saw Luke pull back his hood at the end of TFA I lost it. Because suddenly it was 1977 and I was watching Luke with my dad and it was 2015 and I was old, my dad was gone, everything was changed. And while Luke's broken misanthropy in TLJ isn't likable, it moved me because that's life. Luke, Leia, and Holdo are all my favorite characters in TLJ and they really made it for me because they're all like "Man, I have seen some fucking shit."
posted by octobersurprise at 8:12 AM on August 29, 2018 [15 favorites]


Saw TLJ in theaters, shortly after having eaten some truly remarkable edibles, and loved it to pieces. Saw it at home a while later, somewhat less altered, and was like "well this is kind of a mess but it's still fun." I loved the scenes on Canto Bight but wished the plotline that got us those scenes had made more sense. I loved that Poe got chewed out by the entire resistance for doing dumb shit that got people killed, but wish he hadn't received unearned forgiveness — it was really ambitious for the filmmakers to make "when everything is really serious sometimes you just got to follow orders without knowing why. Yes, I know how that sounds, but it's true." the message of a Star Wars flick, and they shouldn't have pulled their punches at the end.

Anyway. Mainly I'm commenting because it seems like a lot of people here are showing disrespect for "admiral purple," but lemme tell you, my life would have been incomplete if I had never gotten to see Laura Dern with purple space hair firing a laser gun and saying "pew."
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 8:12 AM on August 29, 2018 [15 favorites]


For whatever you think about the Canto Bight scenes, I love that Johnson remade this shot from Wings because it felt like something that Lucas would have done.

I've seen that dolly shot a bunch of times before, but I totally missed that Johnson was quoting it in the Canto Bight intro. Nice.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:15 AM on August 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


lemme tell you, my life would have been incomplete if I had never gotten to see Laura Dern with purple space hair firing a laser gun and saying "pew."

A thousand times this.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:17 AM on August 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


Force Awakens was good in that it was an apology for the prequels and "look we can do all the great things you loved about the originals and we can be trusted not to do that George Lucas goofy horseshit."

Last Jedi I very much wanted to like but it felt like "hey look actually there were some goofy George Lucas horseshit from the prequels we liked remember this goofy shit?


This is so fascinatingly different from what I took away from those two movies; I didn't think of them in relation to the prequels at ALL. To me, TFA was a love letter to the original trilogy, unabashedly embracing and celebrating everything about them. TLJ was a break-up letter to the OT, enjoying the nostalgia of happy memories but recognizing how even in the happiest of them, the cracks were showing.
posted by solotoro at 8:25 AM on August 29, 2018 [13 favorites]


Gosh, it's odd how the movies that featured women and POC in major and lead roles are getting so much backlash from the fan community, isn't it? That certainly comes as a surprise.
posted by scrump at 8:26 AM on August 29, 2018 [14 favorites]


Also: we're having a conversation about The Last Jedi, but no one is talking about porgs.

let's talk about porgs they're important.

Luke Skywalker has decided to spend the final chapter of his life permanently fucked off to the grimmest, most remote, most fish-milkingly awful place he can find — but when he gets there it's filled with delightful space birds. Dude is trying to throw a multi-decade mope — and yet, here's these fucking sentient puffins, obsessed with keeping the place all ship-shape and homey, willing to get quite adorably furious when anyone messes up their cheery birb village.

So even while all this grimdark space opera nonsense is going on, even when we've discovered that the jedi order is really a type of disorder, even when war profiteers are making stupid fortunes selling tie fighters and x-wings, even when angsty teenagers with magic powers are blowing up planets, life, uh, finds a way. To be cute as fuck.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 8:34 AM on August 29, 2018 [31 favorites]


Rogue One didn't get any backlash. Did it?
posted by Apocryphon at 8:35 AM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


The Last Jedi is the best of the Star Wars movies, and scratching at complaints about it almost always leads to scratching at some incel or gamergater bullshit. That is all.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:41 AM on August 29, 2018 [12 favorites]


(By which I mean the screeds about it. Obviously it's not perfect and I'm not attacking anyone here or people making nitpicks.)
posted by Navelgazer at 8:50 AM on August 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


Basically, assholes ruin everything.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:02 AM on August 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: shortly after having eaten some truly remarkable edibles
posted by nakedmolerats at 9:30 AM on August 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


I still think there's an explanation of Han's murder in which it wasn't senseless at all, and I've been a little surprised and disappointed that no one else seems to have picked up on this reading of the scene since TFA came out.

That explanation is good, but I think there's even more you can take it even further.

Kylo knows he needs to kill his father to really embrace the Dark Side, but he's not sure he can do it. When he holds out his lightsaber to Han and asks for help, he's telling himself it's a trick to lure him closer for the kill. But part of him is hoping Han will take the lightsaber and kill him, ending his struggle with the Light/Dark Side.

But deeper down, it's a sham. Because if Han moves to take the saber and kill his son, Kylo Ren will think, "Aha! He never really loved me," and strike his father in anger. But if Han doesn't try to kill him, he can think, "Pathetic excuse for a father! You're too weak to even do this much to save me!" and use that scorn to kill his father.

I'm not sure we even know which of these Han chose, but Kylo Ren knew.
posted by straight at 9:32 AM on August 29, 2018 [9 favorites]


I remember when the Star Wars Trilogy was just an excuse to cozy up on the couch on a rainy day and kill 7 hours while drinking wine and eating pizza and feeling warm waves of nostalgia and comfort wash over.

That Star Wars Feeling is dead in the ground, it's dead in the ground, it's dead dead dead dead dead.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:36 AM on August 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Porgs are awesome.

But I do have to wonder about how bad the Falcon is going to smell after a few days' worth of porg droppings accumulate. Especially for poor Chewie with his sensitive nose...
posted by Sauce Trough at 9:43 AM on August 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


Porgs sucked. There, I said it. I guess they are true to Lucas' conception of milking the spin-off merchandise tat to the last drop but they still sucked.
posted by biffa at 9:54 AM on August 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


For me, all Star Wars movies have stuff in them that's not great. What matters is does it have any stuff that is great and makes it worth watching. For me Last Jedi definitely had plenty that made it worth watching:

* Luke taking his old lightsaber and tossing it over his shoulder in revulsion and scorn. What a marvelous way to go with that cliffhanger from the previous movie and a perfect introduction to where he is at. Don't know how anyone can watch the original movies and think that this turn for his character isn't completely plausible.

* That moment of shock when Kylo is on the verge of killing his mother, can't bring himself to do it, and then watches his wingman apparently blow her up. Wow.

* The gorgeous red/white salt field and all the nifty ways it is used, from the beautiful trails left by those ridiculous ram-shackle speeders, to the "bloodsplatter" of Luke not getting killed by a zillion lasers, to the footprints Luke doesn't leave.

* Holdo and Leia being adults vs. Poe being a manchild screwup. (And yeah, the way they turn around and forgive him sucks, but they at least gesture toward it being that Leia sees he's learned his lesson.)

* The fact that Luke wins without compromising his vow not to leave the planet, and without killing anyone at all.

* The way Kylo defeats Snoke in a psychic combat portrayed with words rather than posing, grunting, gurning and psychedelic effects.

* That jaw-dropping shot of lightspeed ramming the star destroyer. That's one of the most incredible sci-fi shots in history and worth any amount of backfill explanations for why they don't do that all the time yada yada.

That's more than I get from a lot of Sci-Fi movies that I enjoy.
posted by straight at 9:56 AM on August 29, 2018 [33 favorites]


re: Rogue One, I'm beginning to think that I saw a different movie than everyone else, because aside from some of the visuals and Tudyk-bot, everything about it was dreary and forgettable. The characters were all flawless ass-kickers and tech experts that we're supposed to believe are rag-tag underdogs, with the acting range and personality of cardboard. The Vader scenes were embarrassing fanservice, and the CGI zombies were *jarringly* bad.

I had misgivings about The Last Jedi, but there was a lot I loved in spite of its flaws; I feel compelled to revisit it, and I'm excited to see where it goes next. Rogue One just made me bored and tired.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:57 AM on August 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


Rogue One absolutely had a backlash in the moment, based largely around the same "lolsjw" stuff that the usual suspects had previously complained about in TFA. When TLJ came out, though, it became a convenient prop for folks to beat up on TLJ with. See also: prequel revisionism.

(Although I think most of the prequel revisionism is coming from people who actually grew up with the prequels and thus are nostalgia-filtering it just like older Star Wars fans do with the OT.)
posted by tobascodagama at 10:19 AM on August 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


But I do have to wonder about how bad the Falcon is going to smell after a few days' worth of porg droppings accumulate. Especially for poor Chewie with his sensitive nose...

i hope there is yuletide fic this year about a background character with an intergalactic etsy shop that sells fancy bespoke porg diapers
posted by poffin boffin at 10:22 AM on August 29, 2018 [7 favorites]


> kyrademon:
"There are many reasons I didn't like the movie, but here's the part of it that really, really bugged me:

POE: Tell me the secret escape plan!
HOLDO: No. You're a mutinous asshole who just disobeyed a direct order and got a whole bunch of people killed.

ME: Makes sense.

POE: I'm so mad about her not telling me that I'm going to mutiny and disobey orders and get a whole bunch of people killed!

ME: Story checks out.

POE: As a direct result of my actions, lack of trust, and outright mutiny, almost everyone I know is dead and the rebellion is basically destroyed.
HOLDO (chuckling): I know! You lovable scamp, you.
LEIA (chuckling): You remind me of me when I was your age.

ME: W...TF?"


She DID get an entire planet killed though. RIP Alderaan.
posted by Samizdata at 10:22 AM on August 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


> Bloxworth Snout:
"One thing I like about Star Wars, conceptually, is that unlike almost all the other big blockbuster franchises it wasn't adapted from a comic book, or a series of novels, or an old TV series. It was an original film, a creation of pure cinema.

So it’s ironic that, even more than all those other franchises, it has become mired in endless arguments about fidelity to the source material."


Well, not too many creations of pure cinema go back and change themselves though.
posted by Samizdata at 10:23 AM on August 29, 2018


> Halloween Jack:
"Trekkies have a long tradition of ignoring more than half the primary works by comparison. I suspect you have to do more if you're a Marvel reader.

There are over seven hundred episodes of Star Trek across the various series, and that's not counting the movies. It would be a miracle if they were canonically consistent across all of that, and I can assure you that that miracle did not happen. Plus, there are episodes that simply don't deserve to be part of canon, for various reasons. WRT Marvel, not only does the continuity get insanely complicated, with alternate timelines popping into existence and popping back out but characters somehow surviving from those alternate timelines (looking at you, Age of Apocalypse) but you have the recent Secret Wars, not to be confused with the 80s Secret Wars, in which the ultimate upshot was "we will turn continuity into a sort of chimæra of the versions of different characters/groups/stories that we think will sell best." And that's not even getting into what you might call retcon wars; read the TVTropes entry for Actually a Doombot for a sample.


You know, Lucas pays someone to track Star Wars canon. That doesn't help.
posted by Samizdata at 10:28 AM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


I gotta ask since it's been bugging me, in Rogue One was Cassian's plan/orders to kill Galen really just to take a sniper rifle thingy and sit out in the rain in the rocks in hopes Galen would, for no reason at all, come outside? Of course he did, so good plan I guess, but shouldn't there have been something more to it somewhere, or did I just miss something?
posted by gusottertrout at 10:29 AM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


> Chrysostom:
"zompist: "This is relevant to my interests, since I saw TLJ for the first time last night."

And posted a review of it, I notice. Spoilers: zompist liked it more than me, but has good points."


You know, it is canon that Sith ascend the hierarchy by killing their masters. Kinda self-defeating in the long run, but, yeah,,,
posted by Samizdata at 10:32 AM on August 29, 2018


Everyone ready for the pro-TLJ backlash when episode IX comes out? Gonna be the most interesting revisionist gymnastics since the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:33 AM on August 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


I would think that the porg poop problem (say it three times fast!) would be taken car of by a robot with a single, rather depressing function.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:35 AM on August 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


> biffa:
"Porgs sucked. There, I said it. I guess they are true to Lucas' conception of milking the spin-off merchandise tat to the last drop but they still sucked."

Apparently, they were more a conception of "There's bloody puffins everywhere and we can't get rid of them. Killing them is flat out, so let's work them into the plot." or so I have read.
posted by Samizdata at 10:39 AM on August 29, 2018 [9 favorites]


Why not just have space puffins instead of CGIing over them? Practical effects and the natural look is in vogue right now.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:41 AM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]




That's still not as natural as just keeping them puffins!
posted by Apocryphon at 10:53 AM on August 29, 2018


I love porgs, so there.

My kiddo doesn't get many comments on his other Star Wars shirts, but the Porg shirt? People love it every time.

I don't know why it's cool to like stupid laser swords but not porgs.
posted by emjaybee at 10:54 AM on August 29, 2018 [8 favorites]


Lightsabers are played out, agreed. If anything, TLJ has Luke disdainfully tossing them aside and doesn't use one at all, which is progress for the franchise.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:58 AM on August 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Why not just have space puffins instead of CGIing over them? Practical effects and the natural look is in vogue right now.

That would be a weird choice to make for a Star Wars movie. If I recall, only once has an actual animal appeared onscreen in a SW movie without costume or prosthetics (e.g., elephants dressed as banthas) to make it appear alien, and that was the snake that Luke sees in Yoda's hut in Empire.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:01 AM on August 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


puffins live in the north atlantic, not ahch-to. using real puffins instead of space puffins would have therefore made the last jedi totally unrealistic.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 11:08 AM on August 29, 2018 [11 favorites]


here's these fucking sentient puffins, obsessed with keeping the place all ship-shape and homey, willing to get quite adorably furious when anyone messes up their cheery birb village.

Are you mixing up the porgs and the little froggy cassocked caretaker bipeds who got all grumbly at Rey when she shot up the stone hut?

(looking those caretakers up on Wookiepedia, they are canonically female. sigh. ffs. tho I guess in a movie that's largely about women patiently explaining and coping with other people's explosive fuckups, they are thematically on-point)

but sentient porgs! On first viewing I did not read the porgs as sentient and in fact I read the Chewie porg-eating scene as the porgs begging for food. Because they looked just like my chihuahua does when I have fried chicken.

After watching this handy youtube I noticed that it was a porg that first spotted the crystal foxes from the Falcon, and it wagged its little wings like seabird Lassie. So maybe they are sentient! In any case, those little dudes must have hyper-HD vision, with those giant lenses and retinas...

My kiddo doesn't get many comments on his other Star Wars shirts, but the Porg shirt? People love it every time.

I am a big-boned 40+ year old dude and I rock a porg t-shirt that never fails to get attention.

If I ever star in one of those "big dudes with little dog" videos I am going to wear my porg shirt to demonstrate extra self-confidence.
posted by Sauce Trough at 11:11 AM on August 29, 2018 [7 favorites]


also puffins, unlike porgs, are kind of crap at maintaining and repairing buildings.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 11:11 AM on August 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


> Are you mixing up the porgs and the little froggy cassocked caretaker bipeds who got all grumbly at Rey when she shot up the stone hut?

Agh, busted. Oh well.

for reasons stated upthread I am not to be trusted as a source of accurate or reliable information about major blockbuster movies.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 11:14 AM on August 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


fan edits i would genuinely like to see:

Rose and Finn, minimal everyone else.

Rose, Rose, Rose, and her arc, somehow done without Canto Bight.

Rey and Luke, minimal everyone else.

Leia and Holdo, no Poe.

Luke, porgs, and Vader, minimal everyone else.

Chewie, porgs, crystal foxes, minimal humans.
posted by zippy at 11:32 AM on August 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


Thank you, Room 101 and painquale -- thinking about the Luke/Rey/Ren and Leia/Finn/Rose storylines separate from each other really clarifies my ambivalence about TLJ, and makes me more open to recognizing the good parts. So while I was sad about the path that Luke took after ROTJ, it did feel like a real story arc and character development, and I'm interested to see where Rey and Ren wind up in the next film. But the other parts still feel dumb and lazy to me -- it was more than just plot holes, it was nonsense beyond all my capacity for suspension of disbelief.

And while I am furiously disappointed with a few friends who have parroted the anti-sjw arguments, and agree that toxic fanboys have poisoned a lot of the discourse around the film, the notion that this underlies all criticism of the movie is ridiculous and insulting.
posted by bjrubble at 11:36 AM on August 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


only once has an actual animal appeared onscreen in a SW movie without costume or prosthetics

Don't forget the majestic ducks of Naboo.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:37 AM on August 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


Don't forget the majestic ducks of Naboo.

Shoutout to the Wookiepedia editors who categorized the article about ducks under "Species of undefined sentience" and requested a citation for the statement that ducks exist somewhere in the galaxy.
posted by Copronymus at 11:54 AM on August 29, 2018 [9 favorites]


I think that so much of the comedic element in the prequels was so badly mismanaged that people have come to a "don't make Star Wars funny" conclusion. While I think he was blind to how bad the Phantom Menace was, I did kind of sympathise with his point when Lucas said (paraphrasing) "People always complained about the humour in Star Wars: First it was C3PO/R2D2, then Yoda, then Ewoks."

Eleven year old me saw the Phantom Menace and was not amused at... well, anything. Nine/ten year old me saw the original films and was not amused by C3PO, or by Yoda's introduction as a bumbling old rascal, or by the Ewoks. These characters weren't bad (Yoda is still one of my favorites), but Lucas's attempts at comic relief always fell flat, even when I was a kid.

I contend that C3PO has *never* been funny, that R2 and Yoda and the Ewoks are cute, not funny, and that Han Solo is basically the only source of real humor in the original movies.
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 11:55 AM on August 29, 2018 [8 favorites]


**also, Leia being constantly over it all was pretty funny too**
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 11:57 AM on August 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


So while I was sad about the path that Luke took after ROTJ, it did feel like a real story arc and character development, and I'm interested to see where Rey and Ren wind up in the next film.

For what it's worth, the Luke we see is wrapping up a character arc that was approximately six years long. Luke's life wasn't spent as a hermit on Ach-to, that didn't happen until after Kylo Ren destroyed the Jedi Academy. While we won't get a cinematic telling of Luke's life after Jedi, that story will and is being told in the expanded universe.

One thing that a lot of people overlook in criticizing choices made by Rian Johnson in TLJ is that a lot of them were predetermined by J.J. Abrams choosing to end TFA on a cliff hanger, not to mention, the setup of the universe and our characters in TFA.

For example, Luke has to be in a bad place when Rey finds him. Why? Because why would Luke Skywalker leave his friends, his sister, brother-in-law Han, and so on, in a crux for years without coming to their aid? He left his Jedi training to save them. He would not simply turn off his communication device on a whim and go for a walkabout the galaxy. Thus, Johnson had to write Luke in a manner to explain why the Luke Skywalker we knew was not already out there with the Resistance, facing down Snoke, etc....etc. The result is TLJ Luke Skywalker.

Another example, there are complaints about character developments, i.e., why is X still like Y?! Why doesn't Y care about this topic?! The Last Jedi literally takes place less than a week from the very first scene in The Force Awakens. Why should Finn care about the Resistance when in TFA, he only cared about Rey? It's his love of Rey that drives him to Canto Bight, and then it's Rose and Canto Bight which pull Finn into caring about the Resistance - completing his arc from First Order defector to rebel.

So anyhoots...perhaps the great tragedy was the caretaker party scene being cut out (the third lesson that Luke promised) which would have showed us Luke dancing with a bunch of bird people.
posted by Atreides at 11:58 AM on August 29, 2018 [15 favorites]


But also, Yoda burns bibles. It's wild.

He's just fucking with Luke; the books already... flew the coop.
posted by ethansr at 12:05 PM on August 29, 2018 [8 favorites]


You see the books in a drawer in the Falcon toward the end of the movie.
posted by octothorpe at 12:07 PM on August 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


For example, Luke has to be in a bad place when Rey finds him. Why? Because why would Luke Skywalker leave his friends, his sister, brother-in-law Han, and so on, in a crux for years without coming to their aid?

It's what Yoda did, so it makes some sense that Luke would do similar. The boy didn't have no good models.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:27 PM on August 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


She DID get an entire planet killed though. RIP Alderaan.

I think you mean she was forced to watch her home planet get killed in a situation where she was powerless to do anything to stop it and then spend her emotional energy soothing Luke's feelings about Ben dying when she ought to have been allowed to mourn the loss of most or all of her family and friends. (I suppose at some level she must have perceived even then that Luke was some of the only family she had left.)
posted by straight at 12:33 PM on August 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


Kylo murdered his dad, tortured prisoners, Jedi mind-stuff pretty clearly coded sexual assault,

I don't disagree with this, but I have wondered what factor(s) weigh most heavily in us reading that scene as assault versus what Vader does to Leia in IV. Is it because we read Vader as a robot? Because they're not the same age? Because he's not presented as a sadboi like Kylo is? Because we've come further in reading and contextualizing assault since IV came out?
posted by nakedmolerats at 12:37 PM on August 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


octothorpe: I've never found a good list of all the films that Star Wars ripped off was a homage to

Have you watched this breakdown of Lucas's inspirations?
posted by hanov3r at 12:38 PM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


Han Solo is basically the only source of real humor in the original movies.

What? Vader is (darkly) hilarious in the OT:
  • "I find your lack of faith disturbing."
  • "You are in command now, Admiral Piett."
  • "Apology accepted, Captain Needa."
  • "We would be honored if you would join us."
  • "Perhaps you think you're being treated unfairly?"
  • "The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am."
posted by The Tensor at 12:39 PM on August 29, 2018 [16 favorites]


TLJ being a boot through several dumb unopened mystery boxes presented in the diminishing-returns nostalgia fest that TFA was will be made even more interesting once J.J. Abrams retcons bits of TLJ to bring back Snoke and turn Rey into a hidden royal or whatever
posted by Apocryphon at 12:46 PM on August 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


I also really enjoyed TLJ. I loved that it was specifically about undercutting Star Wars tropes. I think it faltered somewhat in the most ambitious moments, and I can't fault it for that -- better to go for something and not quite get there then to settle for mediocrity.

It felt like the Rose/Finn and the Poe plotlines were making big points that needed more room to breath. I loved the former's focus on who suffers and profits from war, but I didn't love that it was presented as a comedic diversion/James Bondesque casino caper.
I loved that Poe's plotline explored the dangers of lone wolf heroes who think they can and should take justice into their own hands. But it just didn't have enough time to really be felt -- there wasn't enough time to linger on the claustrophobia of the pursued fleet, and the kinds of decisions the people on those ships made, and what the consequences were. It was too neatly wrapped up and I wish it had a lot more time to breath.

Also I'm not sure the story was well-suited to Poe, who in the previous movie seemed like a loyal listen-to-the-general type. I think the plot would have been better given to Finn, maybe, since he has (or rather should have) an entire subplot about trusting authority after his experience in the first order. Similarly I loved Rose but didn't think she needed a romance with Finn to validate her story. I think Finn and Poe have much better chemistry. I think the way in which the movie used its supporting cast was a weakness. The Rey/Kylo/Luke part was fantastic.

Anyway, like I said, the parts that were weak(in my mind) were the plots were Rian Johnson was trying to inject some real sense of morals into a Star Wars film - just because he didn't have time to fully explore this. But I totally applaud what he was able to get into. I really wish he were directing the next one too, so he could have room to flesh this out more.
posted by Emily's Fist at 1:03 PM on August 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


... Also, the biggest flaw in all of the sequels is failing to actually explore the implications of Finn's backstory. Someone give Boyega a standalone Star Wars film because he is criminally underused.
posted by Emily's Fist at 1:20 PM on August 29, 2018 [11 favorites]


What? Vader is (darkly) hilarious in the OT:

Don't forget, "He's as clumsy as he is stupid."
posted by Chrysostom at 1:21 PM on August 29, 2018


Yeah, the Alderaan scene established how the Empire intended to rule, and now that we're past Rogue One there's not any doubt that he was lying to Leia about preferring a military target.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 1:25 PM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


> straight:
"She DID get an entire planet killed though. RIP Alderaan.

I think you mean she was forced to watch her home planet get killed in a situation where she was powerless to do anything to stop it and then spend her emotional energy soothing Luke's feelings about Ben dying when she ought to have been allowed to mourn the loss of most or all of her family and friends. (I suppose at some level she must have perceived even then that Luke was some of the only family she had left.)"


If she had just shoved down her morals and flipped though, there's a chance Alderaan would still be there, as the object lesson would not be needed.
posted by Samizdata at 1:48 PM on August 29, 2018


The video, and several comments in this thread, talk about the mistake of Holdo not telling Poe the plan. But even if you grant that that is a mistake, the movie gave me a pretty strong impression that she was acting out of inexperience, and not totally confident in her ability to lead. Like, she's thrust into command in the middle of an everything-on-the-line situation, and right off the bat Mr. Mutiny is in her face demanding to know more. The "just have faith" line was bad, but was it bad writing or a bad speech from a new leader? The reaction shots after show me she didn't really sell it. But can you blame her? A lot of experienced commanders would've found that situation challenging. She was in hour 0 of the job.

That's not to say she wasn't qualified. Qualified people make mistakes when they're suddenly doing things outside what they normally do. The rest of the movies show she has exemplary traits for a leader in other areas. The fact that she's maybe not the most diplomatic on the bridge makes her more human and three-dimensional to me. But this is another one of those conversations that's difficult to have in the context of less honest criticism of the film.

Like, it's really telling to me that the video compares Holdo to Picard (unfavorably). I'm a recent Star Trek convert; I watched both TNG and DS9 for the first time over the past couple of years. For my money Sisko is a way more interesting character because we see a lot more sides to him: he's diplomatic when he can be, but pulls rank when he has to, and meanwhile has interesting family and romantic relationships too. We get that because the environment of DS9 frequently puts him in a wider variety of situations, where nobody is doing anything wrong but people on the station want different, irreconcilable things, and he's forced to be the decider between them. Picard rarely has to deal with conflicts like that. Don't get me wrong, his diplomatic leadership style is a breath of fresh air compared to the straight militarism of a lot of other sci-fi, but TNG often lets it all be just a little too comfortable for him.

What situation was Holdo in? Definitely not Picard's, being a long-time, well-known leadership figure in charge of a famed ship. So why should she act the same way?
posted by brett at 1:53 PM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


If she had just shoved down her morals and flipped though, there's a chance Alderaan would still be there, as the object lesson would not be needed.

Wait, what? Tarkin's order to go ahead and destroy Alderaan even after being given the name of the rebel's base (which he doesn't find out is a lie until later) makes it clear that there was no chance her 'flipping' would have prevented the destruction.
posted by hanov3r at 1:55 PM on August 29, 2018 [16 favorites]


On the flip side, maybe Holdo didn't go far enough in penalizing Poe- maybe they should have summarily executed him for mutiny- or more plausibly since this is a Disney movie, he could have redeemed himself for his mistake by being the one to crash the ship in a heroic sacrifice, leaving Holdo to play the role of Mon Mothma in IX and one less main character for the plot to manage as well.

Though most plausibly they could've just gotten a droid or program or a freaking remotely operated non-sapient drone to do it because it's 34 ABY and doing the Bruce Willis in Armageddon thing should be horribly archaic and unfashionable by now.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:03 PM on August 29, 2018 [2 favorites]




Yah. Tarkin was going to blow up Alderaan no matter what Leia told him.

As is, somewhere it's referenced that the Empire actually had a series of planets it intended to blow up, such as Mon Cala, and I think, Mon Mothma's homeworld of Chandrila, too.

The fact that she's maybe not the most diplomatic on the bridge makes her more human and three-dimensional to me.

This is the real trick of it - criticism of Holdo's choice not to tell Poe her plan (and well, Leia's plan, too) is really a matter of leadership preferences in the viewer. Holdo as the commanding officer has every right not to tell Poe her plan, especially if he is not relevant to it being executed. In hindsight for the viewer, we know that she probably should have told Poe her plan, but at the time being, there was no actual reason that existed that demanded she do so out of leadership style preferences. We also know that Poe had never served under Holdo, so neither were familiar with each other's leadership preferences. So there you go.

Arguably, some of the Holdo criticism (not in this thread) has popped up as either implied or implicit misogyny, i.e., "What type of admiral wears a dress?!" (ignoring General Leia's dress for the entire movie/Mon Mothma's white gown while leading a military mission planning session.)
posted by Atreides at 2:26 PM on August 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


I think there's a middle ground in the Holdo / Poe situation that most discussions of it don't really consider. There are definitely reasonable arguments to not tell him the plan, most of which have already been mentioned here. But I don't grant that there was a reason not to tell him that there was a plan at all, even if the details of the plan itself must remain secret. "Have faith" is not a sufficient implication that any action will be taken besides staying the course. This is a situation where it's been made clear that staying the course makes destruction just a matter of time. For all his flaws, I find Poe's mutinous decision understandable -- for all he knows, the leadership has guaranteed certain death.
posted by Expecto Cilantro at 3:21 PM on August 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


I wanted to address some of the Canto Bight pushback. The Rose/Finn story is the heart of the story. Rey is great, but she is up on some lofty mythic hero plateau. Rose and Finn are on our level.

Rose is small and smart and adorable, and has a heart of steel. The initial scene with Finn is brilliant; it establishes her moral authority and brings Finn back to the right side. And her statement about fighting to save what we love— when she's already lost almost everything— is deeper than the leaders' clumsy invocations of faith and hope.

Finn got most of the "bumbling hero" bits that Luke (or the bots) got in the first movie, and it's clear that he needed a lot of work to become a real hero. He gets it here, thanks to Rose and their mission. It doesn't end up well, nothing in the movie does; but it puts him in the right place for the conclusion to the story.

And Rose's one line in Canto Bight— about the beauty of the place being built on war profiteering— is infinitely more penetrating than all of Lucas's attempts in Eps 1-3 to explain the corruption of the Republic. (And DJ's cynical addition adds more nuance than I think Star Wars has ever had.) Without this sequence, it's just a war movie.
posted by zompist at 3:37 PM on August 29, 2018 [13 favorites]


thinking about the roles of Holdo and Poe more, I can definitely see the reasons not to tell Poe jack. But the writing is (perhaps intentionally) poor at showing Holdo has any plan, that the people in the bridge believe that there's a plan, and that any necessary elements have at any point been communicated with anyone.

So when I kvetch about this, it's not about Holdo (or Dern), it's about why the writers felt it necessary to create this ambiguity.

Holdo has been second to Leia for some time, so everyone would surely know her and her leadership (we'd see the trust and communication).

But in the writing it seems like she's just been dropped into the middle of things, no context, no connections, and everyone is waiting for her to say either "there's a plan but all i can share with you is X" (where X is some useful thing) or "there's a plan and it is X and I need you all to do your jobs," and maybe not "trust me and oh I know your kind you're a bad person good day and i clearly haven't convinced many other people of my plan either because hothead mcmeatwich convinces multiple bridge and support staff that i'm gonna get everyone killed" ...

that seems like a decision the writers made.
posted by zippy at 3:59 PM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


The fact that Poe asks "that's Battle of Whatever Holdo"? in surprise seems to indicate, in universe, that Holdo has won at least one significant, high pressure battle before.

Poe also directly disobeys Leia's order as his first act. That, to me, removes a lot of the argument over what Holdo should have told him or if she deserved his trust. Poe thinks he knows better than two women who vastly outrank him.
posted by nakedmolerats at 4:00 PM on August 29, 2018 [11 favorites]


oh, that's an excellent point. i missed that.

i retract everything except hothead mcmeatwich.
posted by zippy at 4:02 PM on August 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Two irrelevant, spent, parochial groups fighting each other because they don't know what else to do, while the rest of the galaxy churns on in ignorance.

So you've seen the TLJ Reddit threads too?

I felt a bit disappointed by the Plinkett video (speaking as someone who has enjoyed most of the preceding ones), and more than a bit surprised by how vehemently negative it was. The Last Jedi Half in the Bag episode was somewhat more positive (or at least ambivalent) and also more interesting. The original Plinkett videos were basically the RLM crew wanting to say something about the prequels and choosing to do it in the voice of a senile lunatic, whereas this one felt more like they asked themselves, "how would this senile lunatic, whose personality we've established pretty well over the past few years, himself feel about this movie"? Which is a different and (as far as I've concerned) vastly less interesting thing.

Full disclosure - I thought The Last Jedi was a hot mess, and repeated viewings just sort of confirmed it for me, and I'm fully on board with the folks in this thread who have been pushing back against the idea that the only/primary reason people don't love it is because they are basement-dwelling fascists.

What workingdankoch said above about the Star Wars universe feeling small resonated with me - and I think that the speed at which the action moved actually exacerbated that. The way that Rose and Finn jump away from the fleet and get back to it again after their Las Vegas planet adventure, the speed at which the Imperial forces get down to the planet surface with their AT-ATs, contrasted for me with the way in which Empire managed to make traveling, even in spaceships with hyperspace capacity (admittedly spotty on the Falcon through much of the film), feel like a journey, and a journey you enjoy watching. It reminded me a bit of how I felt watching the last Game of Thrones season - people are where they need to be for the next set piece/face off.

It felt at times that the cramped feeling was maybe a deliberate move? When the Rebel survivors call for reinforcements after they reach the base and the dialogue makes a Big Point of the fact that the message had been received but that no one was going to answer/come to help, or when the ships were being picked off one-by-one during the chase scene, I assume that that was Rian Johnson's way of upping the ante or creating a sense of tense claustrophobia - which backfired for me, since it seemed to detach the drama onscreen from any broader significance. I was just watching a handful of people trying to survive - and the only four of them who had names and dialogue had already demonstrably proved their plot armor (Leia's force flying, Poe being the *only* survivor when the fighter bay blew up, Finn and Rose both survived their suicide run against the Energy Ram thing), rather than watching a clash between rival ideologies seeking to subjugate or save entire worlds. But for some people maybe the emotional investment flows the other way, I dunno.

It's not a terrible movie. For me it's in the same basket as, say The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies - messy as hell, but I don't regret watching it. It was clear that there were professionals trying to do something challenging and creative, I just feel that in the end their reach exceeded their grasp.
posted by AdamCSnider at 4:12 PM on August 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


why doesn’t Holdo just tell Poe what the plan is...
The First Order shouldn't've been able to track the Resistance thru hyperspace.
All they needed was one line asking whether somebody in the fleet might be passing information to the other side, and all Holdo's secrecy would've made sense.
posted by cheshyre at 4:35 PM on August 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


If she had just shoved down her morals and flipped though, there's a chance Alderaan would still be there

Whether or not that's technically true, this type of blame-the-victim movie logic is the worst thing Hollywood has inflicted on the world in recent decades. That it leads to assigning any amount of blame to Leia in this example just highlights its inherent absurdity. Only villains should think that way.
posted by sfenders at 4:37 PM on August 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


For me it's in the same basket as, say The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Wow, harsh. It wasn't *that* bad.
posted by sfenders at 4:38 PM on August 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


I know this is incredibly minor, but in the book it's The Battle of Five Armies (no "the"), and the change really bothers me.
posted by Chrysostom at 4:42 PM on August 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


For me it's in the same basket as, say The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Wow, harsh. It wasn't *that* bad.


I mean, maybe I liked TBotFA more than you did? It felt like a natural comparison to me - not a terrible film, some good action, a lot of eye-rolling, some of the high emotional moments hit, others didn't, comedic elements fell completely flat for me. Admittedly, TLJ didn't have anything as supremely awful as Alfrid.
posted by AdamCSnider at 5:06 PM on August 29, 2018


The smallness of the Galaxy could be made quite compelling. In the original, all you saw was Tatooine, and the Death Star. The frontier and the hidden fortress. This suggested that the Galaxy was full of adventure and possibility, that there was myriads out there.

The problem is this is a sequel trilogy. You can't simply reboot it back to that minimalist setting. At least, not without doing some work. J.J. Abrams failed to do that work, failed to explain why the New Republic is so feckless it allows the First Order to retreat to the Outer Regions and oppress sentients there, why there's a Resistance rather than simply pro-Republican partisans. Rian Johnson exacerbates this by doing away that entirely and framing it that in a matter of days after the first film, the Republic has fallen apart (just because three planets in a Galaxy of trillions blew up?) so much that all they have is a smattering of capital ships and one B-Wing squadron? Were they that incompetent?

Yes, yes, there's a novelization and tie-in novels and comics. But c'mon. Putting the lore in the instruction manual or codex is lazy when you're trying to present a whole new series of films. I'm not asking for interstellar parliamentary set pieces, but they should at least explain what the heck these Star Wars are about. How did we get from the original trilogy to here. You can't ignore all of that and expect audiences to just accept "good vs. evil, got it" wholesale. It lacks verisimilitude. That's why the Eli Schiff article is compelling to me. It calls out the new movies for having seemingly pointless struggle between hollowed-out armies- both sides cosplaying in the fashion of previous golden ages- while the rest of the universe shrugs. The Galaxy has become Tatooine- a great desolation, where mobsters and lone virtuous hermits dwell. It reminds me of the post-fall Galactic Empire of the Foundation series, or the callous neo-medievalist world of Dune. A galaxy of wonders buried in the ashes of past glories.

The prequels at least made the Galaxy feel lived in, feel teeming. The execution was often shabby, drenched in bad CGI, but at least they attempted to make it feel BIG. And granted, maybe that's more appropriate for the pre-civil war time period, a golden age, rather than the new civil war sequel trilogy. But you still have to show some work for how you got from point A to B. Imagine a drama about what challenges faced America in the late 1980s, and then a followup that jumps to the modern day. Shouldn't we get some idea of how exactly things reversed so quickly? And speaking of real-world relevance- the prequels' politics were unsubtle, often incoherent, and dated- but well-intended. (The last two movies, after all, were a product of the War on Terror.) They attempted to show how civil war and demagoguery leads to tyranny, and we did get a few genuinely good moments out of it. "So this is how liberty dies... with thunderous applause" is a genuinely great quote.

Should the sequel trilogy attempt to do the same in a way that could easily get dated? Hell no. But they should at least try to explain what the star wars are all about. How did the Republic go from beating one Empire to being swallowed by another, lesser version? Where did they go wrong, how did they lose the trust of the people? A little bit of complexity- without the Lucasian digressions into old Sith lords whose relevance aren't even explained offscreen- would do wonders for the world-building. Without it, we can understand why the Sith are bad- but what makes the Resistance or whatever they're calling themselves next better? What will they do differently that won't be undone another thirty years down the line? Without that context, without understanding both who the protagonists are fighting against and what they're fighting for, we arrive at Schiff's words: "There never was a light or dark side. There was only ever power."
posted by Apocryphon at 5:08 PM on August 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


But in the writing it seems like she's just been dropped into the middle of things, no context, no connections, and everyone is waiting for her to say either "there's a plan but all i can share with you is X" (where X is some useful thing) or "there's a plan and it is X and I need you all to do your jobs," and maybe not "trust me and oh I know your kind you're a bad person good day and i clearly haven't convinced many other people of my plan either because hothead mcmeatwich convinces multiple bridge and support staff that i'm gonna get everyone killed" ..

Thank you, that beautifully explains my problem with Holdo. Mind you I like the character and wish she would have stuck around, while Leia piloted the cruiser to her death, but damn if Holdo wasn't terribly written in that scene. While I'm not crazy about Poe's actions, I definitely think a case could be made for them because the way she was written was just terrible.

So yeah, a single line or two about "We have a plan, but it's risky and we think spies are aboard, so we're playing it close to the chest, I'll let you know when it's time. Until then return to your stations and do your jobs, because I need you to hold steady, now more than ever...may the force be with you. "

To me, that sells the hell out of Holdo taking control in troubled time, and if Poe does mutiny against that, it more clearly illustrates he's being a selfish ass and needs to be taken down a peg.

Plus Poe not knowing what Holdo looks like, while clearly being aware of great leadership is just weird. Sounds like something a low-level tech should have asked Poe about in that scene and then he speaks admiringly of her actions at that battle.

Nitpicky? Perhaps, but it feels like there's many moments in the film where I can see what they're trying to convey, but they don't sell it, I don't feel it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:31 PM on August 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


Mind you I like the character and wish she would have stuck around, while Leia piloted the cruiser to her death, but damn if Holdo wasn't terribly written in that scene.

What I was thinking was - they killed off Admiral Akbar and the bridge crew early on - why not have him survive, perhaps wounded, and have him do the suicide run? He's a known character, it would probably have the same emotional weight - one of the old characters passing, a hero of the last war sacrificing themselves at the beginning of this one - that leaves Leia free to do whatever they needed her to survive to do (see Luke one last time, then whatever role she plays in the final film), and we get to keep Holdo around and actually get to know her?

I liked the idea of Holdo as a competent, well-known battle commander, but we we essentially just get one line to establish that and we just didn't get enough time with her - her sacrifice was breathtakingly visual, and Laura Dern put everything she had behind making that character real in her interactions with Leia especially, but I felt a bit the way I did at the end of The Force Awakens about Captain Phasma (who I assumed at the time had died in the destruction of the battle station). It felt like the waste of a new character who had potential for development. If they'd kept Holdo around they could have her interacting with Poe, learning to work together despite the way their relationship started perhaps, meeting Rey (I feel like that could be an amazing relationship), taking the reins of the rebellion when Leia passes the torch....
posted by AdamCSnider at 5:46 PM on August 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


meeting Rey (I feel like that could be an amazing relationship), taking the reins of the rebellion when Leia passes the torch....

Yasss, that would have been amazing!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:51 PM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


Obviously Casablanca was the movie length pilot episode for a Rick and Louis buddy show that never got off the ground.

You may have been joking, but...

You know, it is canon that Sith ascend the hierarchy by killing their masters. Kinda self-defeating in the long run, but, yeah,,,


The ol' Klingon Promotion™.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:26 PM on August 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


Personally, I thought Holdo was fine as written; I just thought Dern's performance fell short. I don't know much of her other work, so I don't know whether I blame her or the direction she was given. But everyone around her was acting as intensely as you would expect when the fate of the universe is at stake, and I thought she just came off as way too sweet and gentle and low-key. I dunno; maybe that was the point? That Poe and the others wrongly underestimated her because she didn't act like you'd expect a military commander to act? But it was the movie's weakest point for me (and I'm a huge fan of the movie in general - I've completely lost track of how many times I've watched it.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:34 PM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


Hmm, I'm just the opposite - I liked Dern's performance, I just felt the character was under or poorly written. I definitely would have liked her to stick around as the Resistance leader in IX.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:00 PM on August 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


Holdo's secrecy would've made sense

It made sense just fine: I'm the commanding officer and you're whatever you were just demoted to. You're not the helmsman, you're not navigating. You have absolutely no reason to know the first goddam thing about what my plan is except what affects your actual duties, and you have no right to demand anything of me. Get back to your job.

It makes her more insistent on formality and rank than Leia, but that's about it.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:33 PM on August 29, 2018 [8 favorites]


Just dropping in to strongly recommend Claudia Grey’s YA novel “Leia, Princess of Alderaan”, in which you see her as a teenager learning how to be a princess, meeting and becoming friends with Holdo. It’s so good, and the last couple lines are so sad given what happens to her planet.
posted by skycrashesdown at 7:35 PM on August 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


Holdo is trying to win a war, Poe is trying to be the hero of an action movie.

I love this and I love it more with how it plays with fan responses because of course Holdo should try to win a war but of course we know Poe is an action movie but they can't both be right. I also get that me being amused by your response to Rian Johnson's headgames if you didn't like this part of it is going to make you like it less and I'm sorry because I want everyone to love the good parts of this as much as I do.

Two ancillary observations:

First, I love the introduction of Holdo. I assumed Poe was second in command but she comes out of nowhere. She doens't look like a military leader and she doesn't talk like one and in the language of cinema this is a thing I've seen before: The bureaucrat or aristocrat or other incompetent trying to lead the army and becoming an obstacle in the way of the manly man of action. But then they mention she was the hero of the battle of whatever so that crosses some wires and I laugh at myself. Of course a competent command can look and sound and dress like Laura Dern and I've fallen for a gender-based head fake. Despite movies--in which successful generals are always either (1) instantly inspiring or (2) abrasive then inspiring--lots of actually successful generals have the personality of a bureaucrat or engineer or mediator. So I trusted her track record, Poe didn't get past her appearances, and he screwed up.

Second, I think fans would be more forgiving not if Poe got some sign that there was a plan, but if the audience got a sign. The playing with appearances is totally a thing, as in having the great Jedi look like a muppet. But I'm pretty sure that even at 10 years old I instantly got, long before Luke, that Yoda is the guy because that's how movies work. If we'd been privy to the secret meetings between Leia and Holdo and the operational security concerns as to why they couldn't even hint there was a secret escape plan, I don't think anyone would be arguing against that. You might still see a leadership gap with Holdo being non-inspirational or misreading her crew's discontent but arguing that Poe was owed an explanation or at least a good hint wouldn't happen, because he wasn't.
posted by mark k at 8:08 PM on August 29, 2018 [8 favorites]


Metafilter: It's not like Luke knew anybody on Aldeeran anyway
posted by Barack Spinoza at 8:50 PM on August 29, 2018 [7 favorites]


What? Vader is (darkly) hilarious in the OT:

"You are in command now, Admiral Piett."


I think the biggest failing of the prequels is that there isn't a single moment in the three films that gives me any reason to believe Anakin could ever become that guy.
posted by straight at 9:15 PM on August 29, 2018 [18 favorites]


Second, I think fans would be more forgiving not if Poe got some sign that there was a plan, but if the audience got a sign.

Yep, it's fine if Holdo doesn't think much of the newly demoted Poe. But for the audience to get a "we will are the spark that will light the fire, now return to your post and do exactly what you've been doing" speech is just lazy or forgetful writing IMO. Narrative tension would come from seeing if and/how the plan works out, but we got nothing, possibly because there was a lot more going on.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:54 AM on August 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


Saw TLJ in theaters, shortly after having eaten some truly remarkable edibles, and loved it to pieces.

Counterpoint, on the strength of Tartokovski's Clone Wars cliffhanger, I dropped a hit of acid and saw Revenge of the Sith at the midnight opening.

Man, was that a waste of a good hit of acid.
posted by mikelieman at 4:52 AM on August 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


But for the audience to get a "we will are the spark that will light the fire, now return to your post and do exactly what you've been doing" speech is just lazy or forgetful writing IMO.

Whatever one thinks of the turn I don't think it was that. I mean the whole movie dealt with uncertainty, not knowing who someone was or what they believed. Holdo, Luke's wake up call for Kylo, Kylo and Rey, Finn and Rose at the casino thinking they needed the rose guy, then a couple twists when they went with DJ instead, Luke again freakin' out Kylo but not really being there, and even the majority of the plot dealt with things that didn't go as they seemed in how the movie was resolved, essentially spending time showing the audience why things aren't what they seem.

Putting the audience, roughly in Poe's place not knowing whether or not Holdo and Leia had a plan or what it may be seems entirely the point, not lazy or forgetful. I imagine they'll probably do something similar in the next installment, maybe showing Rey and Phasma are clones or some such. I mean I don't follow the lore at all but that certainly seems something they could have been hinting at. Phasma in a line of "failed" clones, Rey the success at getting the force or something. In any case, not trusting what you see/think is a purposeful theme, enjoyable or not.
posted by gusottertrout at 5:21 AM on August 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


> hanov3r:
"If she had just shoved down her morals and flipped though, there's a chance Alderaan would still be there, as the object lesson would not be needed.

Wait, what? Tarkin's order to go ahead and destroy Alderaan even after being given the name of the rebel's base (which he doesn't find out is a lie until later) makes it clear that there was no chance her 'flipping' would have prevented the destruction."


We know this. She didn't.
posted by Samizdata at 7:14 AM on August 30, 2018


At least, not without doing some work. J.J. Abrams failed to do that work, failed to explain why the New Republic is so feckless it allows the First Order to retreat to the Outer Regions and oppress sentients there, why there's a Resistance rather than simply pro-Republican partisans. Rian Johnson exacerbates this by doing away that entirely and framing it that in a matter of days after the first film, the Republic has fallen apart (just because three planets in a Galaxy of trillions blew up?) so much that all they have is a smattering of capital ships and one B-Wing squadron? Were they that incompetent?

Abrams did, but he failed to wave a neon flag around it. Shortly after the destruction of Hosnian Prime (home to the New Republic) and the news is being disseminated within the Resistance war room, C-3PO makes an off hand remark about how the New Republic's fleet was wiped out. Some part of me wants to say someone else makes a point of explaining that the Resistance is all that remains. Your complaint about failing to establish the background of why the NR failed to annihilate the Empire (sew the seeds for First Order) is definitely fair. It's been covered a lot in the EU, but the EU should not be required to sustain the cinematic storytelling choices. Johnson does reference, however, in the opening crawl of TLJ, that the First Order is attacking all across the galaxy and only the Resistance (size = "band") is really left to confront it directly.

Again, to a certain degree, some of the criticism leveled at Johnson is over decisions that originated with TFA.

Should the sequel trilogy attempt to do the same in a way that could easily get dated? Hell no. But they should at least try to explain what the star wars are all about. How did the Republic go from beating one Empire to being swallowed by another, lesser version? Where did they go wrong, how did they lose the trust of the people? A little bit of complexity- without the Lucasian digressions into old Sith lords whose relevance aren't even explained offscreen- would do wonders for the world-building. Without it, we can understand why the Sith are bad- but what makes the Resistance or whatever they're calling themselves next better? What will they do differently that won't be undone another thirty years down the line? Without that context, without understanding both who the protagonists are fighting against and what they're fighting for, we arrive at Schiff's words: "There never was a light or dark side. There was only ever power."

The trick is, should a movie be required to drop an exposition over the last 30 or so years since the last one? Deftly handled, it could be done, but it could also come across as quite clumsy. At no point in the film were there ever any major characters introduced who acted in a manner that required them to know this information in the context of the film. Incidentally, it took 3 films to explain how the Old Republic became the Empire, a feat that the original trilogy never dared touch upon outside of a short conversation about the dissolution of the Senate and regional governors. Additionally, we don't need to know details about the Resistance because we know our hero, Leia Organa, is its leader. More so, symbology is used to establish the good and the bad, be it the X-wings flown by the Resistance or the TIE Fighters and Stormtroopers of the First Order. We know because we know Star Wars' language, instantly, here are the good guys and the bad guys, and we can generally trust the film not to deceive us through this usage of visual language.
posted by Atreides at 7:58 AM on August 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


So while we're beating long-dead horses, why the hell did Leia have a fakey british accent only in the Alderaan scenes?
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 8:54 AM on August 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


Leia has that problem where she unconsciously mimics the accent of the person she is talking to.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 9:32 AM on August 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


Or that Fisher knew that Lucas couldn't direct actors and was fucking around to see if he'd say anything.
posted by octothorpe at 9:38 AM on August 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


Also cocaine is a hell of a drug
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:39 AM on August 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


The trick is, should a movie be required to drop an exposition over the last 30 or so years since the last one? Deftly handled, it could be done, but it could also come across as quite clumsy.

I think a lot of the setup and exposition problems with TFA especially come from consciously trying to avoid all the abysmal-handled Trade Federation/Senate shit from the prequels.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:14 AM on August 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


Leia’s code switching.
posted by EarBucket at 10:21 AM on August 30, 2018 [9 favorites]


> I imagine they'll probably do something similar in the next installment, maybe showing Rey and Phasma are clones or some such.

I think I'll be kind of annoyed if Rey turns out to be one of many Rey clones, partially because I don't want that delightfully weird scene in TLJ of the infinite line of time-delayed Reys to just be foreshadowing, but mainly because "mysterious superpowered character named Rey who's revealed as just being one of a very large batch of clones" is something that's already been done.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 10:49 AM on August 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


Carrie Fisher blamed the dialogue for her quasi-British accent in the Tarkin scenes.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:33 AM on August 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


We know because we know Star Wars' language, instantly, here are the good guys and the bad guys, and we can generally trust the film not to deceive us through this usage of visual language.

The problem, as I see it, is that by doing a sequel trilogy where the heroes in the previous movies seemingly screwed up, and done so offscreen (unlike the heroes of the prequels, most of whom are dead), we're stuck having to accept this repeat. Okay, so Han Solo's arc is being undone with him being a ne'er-do-well. But Leia and Mon Mothma and co. couldn't successfully build a better Republic? Maybe this can be explained by the villains simply being too powerful, thus driving the challenge. But again, that makes little sense- the First Order is a marginalized group of extremists- how did they get all these guys? How did they make a superweapon even more powerful than the Empire's? We're just told to accept all of that.

I think a lot of the setup and exposition problems with TFA especially come from consciously trying to avoid all the abysmal-handled Trade Federation/Senate shit from the prequels.

Sure, but they could also have added some simple lines of dialogue or even just tantalizing references. ANH referenced the Senate, mentioned the Clone Wars, and that was in the background for decades before the prequels clumsily explored them. I deplore Abrams for doing an in-universe reboot in a barely-sketched out manner.

For example, Luke has to be in a bad place when Rey finds him. Why? Because why would Luke Skywalker leave his friends, his sister, brother-in-law Han, and so on, in a crux for years without coming to their aid? He left his Jedi training to save them.

The way you phrased made me think of an alternate TLJ. Maybe after having come so closely to falling, Luke withdraws himself because he's afraid of falling further to the Dark Side, and Kylo wants to find his uncle not to kill him, but to turn him. So to save all, Luke fled all. And so the Rey/Luke dynamic becomes one where she has to protect him, reversing gender tropes of damsel in distress. Obi-Wan is the one who has to get saved in this picture.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:56 AM on August 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


So while we're beating long-dead horses, why the hell did Leia have a fakey british accent only in the Alderaan scenes?

The same reason why Padme uses a similar stilted accent as Queen but doesn't as a handmaiden or senator. It's a form of diplomatic formality.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:01 PM on August 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


Maybe this can be explained by the villains simply being too powerful, thus driving the challenge. But again, that makes little sense- the First Order is a marginalized group of extremists- how did they get all these guys?

No no, they keep saying, where Snoke came from and how he became powerful isn't important, you're looking at it all wrong.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:26 PM on August 30, 2018


I don't want that delightfully weird scene in TLJ of the infinite line of time-delayed Reys to just be foreshadowing

I don't blame you (that was also one of the scenes I liked from the movie), but literalness is pretty much a hallmark of the franchise, so I wouldn't put it past them to go that route, but Johnson does like cons and tricksy stuff, so there'll probably be a few twists in there somewhere too.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:32 PM on August 30, 2018


No no, they keep saying, where Snoke came from and how he became powerful isn't important, you're looking at it all wrong.

It's important for figuring out what the setup is and what the stakes are. It could also provide information as to why the good guys- or at least the side they're on- got into the mess in the first place. This is good article that explains why the new movies have been world-building in a less than satisfying way-

Hollywood Reporter: New 'Star Wars' Trilogy Is Failing Galactic Politics 101

Choice excerpt:
Instead of the rest of the galaxy springing forth to get revenge on the First Order, under the Republic’s injured but far-reaching rule, no one seems to care (a point that becomes critical during the film’s climax). So why should we care? We spent the entire original trilogy caring about the political future of the galaxy only for it to become undone almost entirely offscreen. Not to mention that we’ve never been given time or reason to understand either the ethos of the Republic or the First Order. When Kylo Ren and the codebreaker DJ (Benicio Del Toro) suggest that both sides are evil and corrupt, how are we to know that’s not the case? The rest of the galaxy, based on its inaction toward these two small bands of people, seems to agree.

Yet, the entirety of the struggle in The Last Jedi counts on audiences caring about the success of the Resistance, which quickly seems to re-adopt the name and iconography of the Rebellion. But who are they rebelling against? A galaxy that doesn’t care?

[...]
Am I the only one who feels like we are watching an increasingly irrelevant squabble between two factions that have long since forgotten their goals and are only left to faintly echo the past?
Anyway, the reason why I'm making such a fuss about this, to go back to an earlier question about what Star Wars fans are really about if they hate everything Star Wars. It really is the idea of the series. That's what great fiction does, it creates a universe just as compelling as the plot itself. The individual works within the franchise can be taken and left on their own accord. And that's why a coherent background to the universe is so important. It becomes as much of a character as anyone else. The article above explains how Star Wars achieved this: "slowly revealing more about its world and the complicated politics that define it." So from monomyth and a hero with a thousand faces, it became a breathing, living, semi-cohesive world teeming with millions of sentients and stories within it.

I think a lot of people may watch the new movies as just films on their own, and that's fine! I just think that others are choosing to evaluate the movies as works within a larger setting. There's definitely a trend towards that as entertainment consumerism kicks into hyperdrive- like comic books, shared settings used to be just a nerd thing, and now it's super mainstream and for mass audiences, witness the MCU. And so there are some criticisms to be made as to how TFA and TLJ fare within these larger settings, though they may be separate from criticisms as standalone movies. It's all very intertextual and meta and so on.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:45 PM on August 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


> but literalness is pretty much a hallmark of the franchise, so I wouldn't put it past them to go that route.

I mean I know that this is the series where they basically just straight-up named Luke Skywalker's secret bad dad "dark father," and I know this is the series where all the plot beats from the first movie were lifted from a Kurosawa flick, but, like, Rey deserves something at least a little bit better than this.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 12:52 PM on August 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


I agree that one fault of the new movies is that the political context isn't clearly or consistently established. The original trilogy can be somewhat forgiven for its WWII in space setting, and the prequels sort of explore the notion that trying to galactic-scale political structures is hard. TFA and TLJ really doesn't deal with either.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 12:52 PM on August 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


I read the Infinite Reys scene as her looking at her own timeline—she’s looking into the past, if only a few seconds’ worth. She wants to see her origin, but the mirror insists that it’s her present that is important.
posted by EarBucket at 1:04 PM on August 30, 2018 [8 favorites]


Yes, that is the appropriate way to read that scene and I will be so so mad if she turns out to be a clone.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 1:10 PM on August 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


Let it be known, creators of Star Wars: If you do a particular thing one way instead of another way, you will face the internet wrath of an angry stoned recluse.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 1:11 PM on August 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


Force visions are often figurative, such as Luke becoming his father. (Although now that time travel is canon, are we sure that Luke isn't his own grandfather?) Which is one reason why I'm not all that impressed by people reading too deeply into concept art with Ben and Vader.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 1:26 PM on August 30, 2018


I refuse to believe the current creators will make Rey a clone. That's just a bridge so out there, not even JJ Abrahams would take it there. Especially the deeply important reveal that she came from "nothing," but is still awesome. That would be such a terrible decision.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:42 PM on August 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon: I mean I know that this is the series where they basically just straight-up named Luke Skywalker's secret bad dad "dark father,"

The name "Darth Vader" came first (Vader came from "invader", compare Darth Sidious and "insidious") and the whole idea that Luke is his son didn't occur to George Lucas until he was rewriting Leigh Brackett's original Empire Strikes Back script. And the idea that Luke and Leia were siblings didn't come to Lucas until after the second film.
posted by Kattullus at 1:57 PM on August 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


I've been saying for a couple of years now that Rey is obviously the love child of Chewbacca, Boba Fett, and Willrow Hood. If you look the the background of archival making-of footage, the clues are clearly in the background of her hovel.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 2:09 PM on August 30, 2018


Sith Lords rising is just a recurring hazard in the SW galaxy. Didn't y'all play KOTOR? The Sith are invariably terrible managers, but you have to hand it to them for stick-to-it-iveness.

It's true we don't know the details of how Snoke rose, or how he rose so fast, but c'mon, these are WWII movies, figure it out. Or look at our current political environment. Besides, when the series tries to spell it out (namely Ep 1-3), it does a crappy job. It's an epic about a cyclical battle against evil; it's at its best when you start at the bottom of the cycle and move up.

(Revan from KOTOR is a yet another ex-Jedi; making Luke's belief in TLJ, that whole Jedi/Sith thing was a mistake, not so outlandish.)
posted by zompist at 2:37 PM on August 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


TiL that Ice Cream Maker Guy has a real in-universe name. This should not surprise me, and yet it does.

Also, kinda surprised nubs isn't in this thread.
posted by hanov3r at 2:39 PM on August 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


I just need Gonk's origin story, that's all.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:16 PM on August 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


Second, I think fans would be more forgiving not if Poe got some sign that there was a plan, but if the audience got a sign.

I agree. But I also think that another actor - one more suited to the role and the style of the film - could have easily conveyed the subtext of "There is a plan" to the audience without having to spell it out. But she kind of just smiled and gently read the line as if she was saying, "Blueberry pie is really delicious, don't you think?"

Re: Leia's changing accent, Padme did the same thing. When she was speaking as Queen Amidala, she had a phone a English accent that she didn't use when she was just hanging around. And yes, I know that part of that time it was actually the handmaiden, but she did it when she was herself, too. So, I assume this is just common practice in royal statecraft of A Galaxy Far, Far Away.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:06 PM on August 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


This thread is really making me re-apprise Force Awakens. I liked that it actually felt like the Star Wars universe, didn't like that it was basically a soft reboot of the first movie. But I'm really seeing that Abrams left a lot of things in such a way that Johnson was left holding the bag.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:19 PM on August 30, 2018 [6 favorites]


In particular, by ending the film on Rey extending the lightsaber to Luke, Abrams basically forced Johnson to pick up the story immediately at that point instead of having the traditional time-jump, which would have allowed some room for the war to progress in whatever direction Johnson felt like. I mean, I guess he could have finished that scene, then had a time-jump, but that would have felt really, really weird.
posted by The Tensor at 10:00 PM on August 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


Meh, he totally could jumped a few years and dealt with that scene in a flashback. But movie would have obviously flowed differently
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:20 AM on August 31, 2018 [2 favorites]


Re-watched Last Jedi last weekend, and one other thing is that Adam Driver is just fantastic. He packs a lifetime of disappointment in his dad into his demand that they "Blast that piece of junk out of the sky!" I always think there's something much more frightening and real about a villain who is brittle, who strikes harder not out of cruelty, but in anger, resentment, and fear that he might not be strong enough to win. (He kind of reminds me of Tilda Swinton's White Witch in The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe.)

He's so good giving the speech to Rey about how they should ditch the past and join forces. Darth Vader is a great villain and all, but I never for one instant ever thought Luke would take Vader's hand and join him. Vader is just too EEEVIL. But Kylo was actually kinda making sense and I didn't know what Rey was gonna do.

(And Rey's horror, her, "No, no, not this, don't do this..." is also just perfect; she totally nails the sinking feeling of thinking it was over and that they'd won, except no, how can the universe be so perverse?)
posted by straight at 3:39 PM on September 7, 2018 [7 favorites]


The name "Darth Vader" came first (Vader came from "invader", compare Darth Sidious and "insidious")

Darths I would pay to see added to the next Star Wars script

– Amorata
– Doors
– Ept
– Veigler
– Apickle
– ClownMakeup
– Conceivable!
– Disposed
– Jeera
– Laws
– Comfortableshoes
– Continent
– Training
posted by zippy at 1:51 PM on September 12, 2018 [5 favorites]


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