Saturday, December 23, 2017

"The Last Jedi" Review

There will be spoilers.

1. It was a complete waste a time with hardly a redeeming quality.

2. There was no chemistry between any of the characters.

3. Unlike Episode Seven, there was no functional or adult-level humor. (Cute penguins screaming next to Chewy doesn’t count.)

4. The storyline was clunky and confusing, centered on a series of random chases. Characters would get in binds and immediately get out of them. In one case, two heroes were imprisoned, they complained and fumed for a few seconds, and then learned that a fellow prisoner conveniently(!) had the key to get them out. (They were imprisoned for less than a minute!) In another case, the little round robot mowed down professional soldiers by spitting coins at them. Later, it operated one of those robot brontosauruses. (How does a ball roll up a machine as tall as a three story building?) You need to give the audience time to FEEL stuck, anxious, hopeless; you can’t just put them in a prison one second and give them the keys the next. You can’t just incomprehensibly save them. They had forty years to think up these movies!

5. There wasn’t any character development, and, no, I don't consider Kylo Ren’s ceaseless vacillation between lightness and darkness "development."

6. Shoddy world building. The setting of Skellig Michael was wasted. It’s a craggy, remote island. It makes no evolutionary sense for there to exist giant lactating dinosaurs.

7. Overall, it was psychologically stupid: Yet more blather about forces of light versus darkness, good versus evil, and how the main characters must make a choice. (Can't we move on to new moral dilemmas?)

8. Villains were cartoonishly evil, weak, petulant, and completely unscary. Rogue One’s villains had charm and were rational, and they were far scarier because of it. Cersei is scary because she has a complex backstory and a functioning human's psychology. The Jungle Book managed to make Shere Khan scary because his hatred for humans was relentless and came from someplace real and legitimate. All it takes is a little humanizing. You can’t just have your character be evil; you have to have something BEHIND the evil.

9. This is going to sound alt-rightish, but it seems each frame was choreographed to create an image of post-racial multicultural serenity. It just seemed too obvious and politically “of the moment.” (Can't one be for multiculturalism and critical of an overly sanitized, Disneyified presentation of it?) Since this truly is a connected galaxy, doesn’t it suggest that there would likely be a lot more miscegenation, or there’d still at least be some racial congregating? I’m not calling for a whitewashing: it would seem truer if non-white races dominated scenes or the main character list. I’m thinking of the first Blade Runner and Cloud Atlas as sci-fi movies that dealt with race in a more thoughtful way.

10. There is almost no continuity to the story line. Every new movie is a standalone episode with little connection to the previous and probably little connection to what will follow. This is the same problem with Christopher Nolan’s otherwise-okay Batman series. There is no larger story; just a series of episodes, each of which builds off the previous, but are not part of larger cohesive, unifying, and far more gratifying whole. Perhaps the only thing planned is that “the good guys win.”

11. The Yoda cameo was unnecessary and derivative. Yoda was brilliant in Empire Strikes Back. He was an original character. With real wisdom. We got to watch the mentor-protege relationship between him and Luke unfold. But yet again Star Wars brings back a character for the sole purpose of stirring nostalgia. Why can’t there be a new Yoda (who at the same time is nothing like Yoda), with a new original character, with new meaningful wisdom? Also, when you're dead, you're dead! You can't just bring back characters whenever you need them. What's next, Han Solo’s voice echoing from the clouds? The mentor-protege relationship between Luke and Rey was nonexistent. She experienced no changes despite ticking off some boxes on the typical "heroine's journey" chart: visits to a mentor, visits to a netherworld...

12. I have nothing nice to say. Rey is crush-worthy, but her talents were misused.

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