I finally got to see the latest movie in the Star Wars saga yesterday and I wasn’t disappointed! I hope to see it again very soon. I liked ‘The Force Awakens’ but I was disappointed in how much it looked and felt like ‘A New Hope’. While ‘The Last Jedi’ has a few elements similar to ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ I think it stands on its own very well.
One of my biggest issues with Episode 7 was Kylo Ren. He was no Darth Vader and to me he came across more as a spoiled child who threw a tantrum every time he didn’t get his way rather than a sinister apprentice of the dark side. His costume was ridiculous as the character was perfectly healthy. Basically he was a poser. They must have heard that feedback from fans because Kylo was much more interesting in Episode 8. Supreme Leader Snoke told him to ditch the helmet early on and after yet another tantrum he did. After that point in the film, I felt Kylo began to develop into something much more interesting. He did early on what Vader couldn’t do until the end, he destroyed his master. At one point it looked like he might even redeem himself. But of course there is still at least one more movie and we need a villain so no dice on redemption for Ben Solo. I’m still not a fan of Kylo Ren but I don’t loathe him quite like I used to.
I was surprised at Carrie Fisher’s screen time in the latest movie. I was happy to hear they had wrapped filming on this movie prior to her passing. At several points in the film it looked like General Leia would be the next hero to die and it would make perfect sense to kill her off as the actress is no longer with us. But they didn’t! She survived to the end and her character had a much larger story arc than in ‘The Force Awakens’. I am interested to see what they do with her moving forward.
There are a noticeable number of women in this film with awesome leadership roles. Unfortunately this only seems to apply to the Rebellion. It would seem most women aren’t a fan of the dark side. Captain Phasma appears to be the only woman with any degree of power or authority among the First Order. It looks as if she meets her end in this episode but characters in Star Wars have a way of not being totally dead so we’ll have to wait and see.
BB-8 is quickly becoming my favorite droid of the franchise. His adorable antics in the film were fantastic and reminded me a lot of R2-D2 in Episode 3. I think the one thing I would have liked to see more of is BB-8 and R2 working together. I think there is some great chemistry between the droids but the story line really didn’t allow the two to interact.
The one element I felt went on too long was Rey and Luke. She spends a lot of time in the movie trying to pull Luke’s head out of his ass and Luke won’t budge. The writer also introduced a new trick in the force by making it possible for force users to project themselves physically across the galaxy. It’s a neat trick but I imagine that takes a lot of talent. Kylo and Rey exchange some fantastic dialog and chemistry using this interaction and this should make Luke very nervous but he appears completely oblivious to their shenanigans for most of the film. You’d think that level of force usage would be felt by him even though he’d cut himself off from the force. Guess that goes to show just how far his head was up his…never mind.
I have been surprised by some of the fan reaction to the film. While the movie went in a direction I probably wouldn’t have taken it, I think it sets up Episode 9 for a lot of potential action and drama. The second film in any trilogy has to put our heroes in absolute peril and make it seem like hope is all but lost. Indeed there isn’t much left of the resistance (at least Leia’s cell anyway) by movie’s end but each of them is hopeful. With such odds against them and with Kylo Ren now running the First Order, Episode 9 has to bring rise to the Rebellion in such a way as to defeat the First Order all in one movie. Will Kylo be redeemed? Will the First Order be defeated and the last remnants of the old empire finally destroyed? Or will there be a new order, a new balance to the force where there is no light or dark side?
I look forward to seeing what comes next in a galaxy far far away.