Thursday, December 28, 2017

In Defense of The Last Jedi

By now it should be no surprise that The Last Jedi was an extremely polarizing film, some loved it, some hated it, me?  I thought it was an extremely satisfying film, I loved how it shook my expectations. Of course, I had expectations. We all did. I remember having movie buff conversations around each one’s theories of what was going to happen with Luke, Rey, Kylo and Snoke. Still, no matter how many theories we had, what was going to happen in the film was a mystery to us all. But boy was it fun to speculate! We should have took heed of the trailer for the film which did warn us “This is not going to go the way you think!” And that was the problem, everyone thought the film was going to go how they wanted and when it didn’t they labeled it as “bad”. The reasons people gave for hating the film weren’t truly convincing for me because they came of as either blind hatred, or simply hatred because the film didn’t make their fan predictions true. Here are some of the reasons I heard from friends and read on the internet. Do you agree with them? For those of you who haven’t seen the film yet, do not go forward, this is an article that’s FILLED WITH SPOILERS! YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!

The Film is Feminist

I understand what you’re saying with this, but it’s something that’s happening in cinema and in society in general. Women are finally being put in the forefront and given major roles in films and you primates out there who don’t agree are part of the problem. Since forever, women were always relegated to playing ‘damsels in distress’ in films, always holding the man’s hand as he went ahead and solved the problem. Well, not anymore. Cinema is changing and hopefully the world with it. Now women are leading the rebellion. Though when you think about it, Leia was always leading the rebellion, so Star Wars has always been fighting to put women in the forefront in a way. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. This is something I always applauded about The Force Awakens and it’s something I applaud with The Last Jedi. Women are in the leading roles, they are at the crux of the plot, they are making the big decisions, they have something to say, it is they who are saving the galaxy. They are not being “bossy” they are simply saying what they think and making things happen. If you don’t like that, it’s time you checked your ways of thinking. I have no problem with the ladies taking the spotlight, it’s about time.

The Porgs Are There for Selling Toys

From day one Star Wars went hand in hand with merchandising. It has always been part of the equation. It’s why Ewoks exist. Now I’ve never been one to hate the Ewoks, because dammit I’ve always dug them. Those murderous cute fur balls. And I’m not one to hate any of the creatures that pop up in the Star Wars universe (Jar-Jar Binks excluded). I mean, cute cuddly creatures have always been a part of Star Wars, and you can’t deny The Porgs are actually cute, so I don’t get this hate either. Plus they are part of the indigenous life forms of the Island, it actually makes sense that the island is so alive and filled with all these different lifeforms.  

The Comedy Doesn’t Fit

Again, most of the things people hate about The Last Jedi have always been part of Star Wars, take for instance the comedy in it. Some have gone as far as calling it “intrusive”, as if it didn’t belong. Others felt like The Last Jedi was closer to Spaceballs than Space opera? Hey people, wake up, there’s always been comedy in Star Wars. Remember Luke saying “I used to live here you know” and Han replying “You’re gonna die here, convenient!” Or how’s about Lei calling Han a “Nerf Herder” or Yoda acting all goofy? So what if Poe calls General Hux, Hugs? So what if Luke has funny looking nuns helping him out? So what if Chewbacca has a funny moment with the Porgs, a little comedy has always been part of the Star Wars formula. It’s never overbearing. 

Leia Using The Force

Leia Organa has always been strong with The Force. It’s why she hears Luke’s voice in her head when he called her while hanging from the rafters of Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back. It’s how she “felt” that he hadn’t died inside the Death Star when it exploded in The Return of the Jedi. So why does it create such a reaction when she finally uses it to save her life in The Last Jedi? Is it because audiences thought she looked stupid or silly floating through space? The Force has always been used by characters to float from here to there, why wouldn’t Leia use it to save her life in that particular moment? Also, for me it was a cinematic, symbolic and moving resurrection of Carrie Fisher and it became an impactful moment for me in the film.

Luke Would Never Become a Murderer

Now this point here is about interpretation. The big deal here is that Luke pulls out his sword on Kylo to kill him because he considers him too big of a threat. You have to remember, Luke only considers killing Kylo for a second, only because he’d seen Kylos future and he knew all the chaos and destruction that Kylo was going to bring to the entire galaxy, all the millions that would die under his yoke as ruler of The First Order. But Luke only considered killing Kylo, he didn’t actually do it because Luke knew Kylo might have some good left inside of him. Same as Darth Vader had some good in him left at the end of Return of the Jedi. And don’t give me the “Luke would never do that” shtick because Star Wars has always been about that inner turmoil we all go through, that battle with our inner demons and our dark side. I can feel the conflict within you, but remember, Star Wars has always been about that very thin like between the Light and the Dark.

The Casino Scene is Too Long

The Casino scene on Canto Bight is actually a very important scene in the film, in fact, it’s the one with the most social commentary. It’s the scene that’s making a statement about the society we live in. Child slavery does in fact exist in our world, and its one of those things that’s extremely wrong with our reality, yet there it is. If director Rian Johnson wants to make a comment about that and take a good chunk of the film to do it, then so be it. It’s a statement that matters. And it’s not unheard of in the Star Wars universe either, The Phantom Menace shone a light on similar subject matter by having Anakin be a slave child as well. And who’s profiting from those races? The rich scum of the earth, who sell weapons of mass destruction, to both sides. So yeah, there’s something to be said there. On top of that, it’s an amazing sequence filled with a bunch of creatures! I didn’t know where to look at with so much coolness up on the screen. It was on part with the Cantina scene going all the way back to A New Hope, so yeah, it fits right in there in Star Wars universe.  

Rose is a Weak Character

There’s something to be said with Rose as well. Aside from the fact that Disney is making a huge effort to make these films ethnically diverse by including people of all colors and nationalities in their films, Rose also fulfills the role of representing the working class. Her character (as well as Finn’s who used to mop floors on the Dark Side) show how anyone of us can make a difference and become a hero, we can all do something important with our lives if we chose to. And that’s also a statement that matters. She saves Finn from sacrificing himself unnecessarily. And it’s her dead sisters medallion (which she unselfishly gives up) that ends up saving the day at one point. So, I guess she isn’t as weak a character as you all might think.  

They Shouldn’t Have Killed Off Snoke

Star Wars is famous for killing off cool villains. Remember Darth Maul and how we all thought he was the coolest looking villain in Star Wars? Remember how we thought we’d be seeing a lot of him in future films only to see him get sliced in half in The Phantom Menace? Or how about Boba Fett dying in the Sarlacc Pit? The same can be said for the good guys. I mean, I was so freaking sorry to see Qui Gon Jinn dying in The Phantom Menace! Of course I was as shocked as the next guy when Snoke bit the bullet, but come one guys, Lucas had been playing that game since forever. Plus, I like the fact that Snokes death shook things up to the point where we have ask ourselves what the hell is The First Order going to do now? In this movie no one is safe! I loved that about it. 

The Film is Boring

Now this is just a lame ass comment. Really, a film that gives us juicy character development and has all these amazing events taking place, how can you even say this film was boring. Rey meets Luke, The First Order is on The Rebels ass, Finn almost bites it, Snoke is split in half… and that freaking battle in Snokes Throne Room, that scene is the reason they invented phrases like “worth the price of admission”. This comment about the film being “boring” seems like blind hatred to me. Moving on…

It Doesn’t Feel Like Star Wars (It’s Too Disney)

This isn’t true in my book for various reasons, but number one being that Disney has actually made sure that these films feel a lot like the first trilogy, like those first three films that came out. Some mentioned that some of the creatures were too Disney, namely the caretakers, the crystal doggies and the Porgs…to that I say whatever, Star Wars has always had cute little creatures. How could it not feel like Star Wars when The Last Jedi shares similarities with both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi? It has Luke and Leia. It has The Millenium Falcon, Yoda, C3-PO and R2. This is very much a Star Wars film my friends. It’s another brainless excuse to spew blind hatred.

So that’s my take on it dudes and dudettes. I think that what is going on is the film destroyed all theories and didn’t give audiences exactly what they wanted, which is what The Force Awakens did. J.J. Abram’s film gave audiences exactly what they wanted. The Last Jedi did the opposite of that and to me that’s the genius of it. J.J. Abrams is apparently going to direct the next one, so let’s see what he does with this universe left in tatters. Maybe audiences will like Episode 9 more because J.J.’s the kind of director who loves to give you guys what you want, but to me Rian Johnson made a bold and risky film and as a result ended up making one of the most talked about entries in the franchise. To me that’s something worth noting.

The risk taker, destroyer of worlds, Rian Johnson. 

When Empire Strikes Back was released, it had a similar reaction to The Last Jedi. Audiences thought it was too dark and like Last Jedi, it wasn’t immediately loved by all.  What we need to remember as audiences is that in Hollywood, the second film in a trilogy is always the one in which everything goes to hell. This is the chapter in which everything becomes complicated and sad and all our heroes are left in dire straits. This is all done so that it all resolves itself in the third and final chapter. This is George Lucas 101. This is screenwriting 101. So, don’t worry my friends, I’m sure Episode 9 will be a bit more uplifting and J. J. will be considered the savior of the Star Wars universe because his film will be the “happy ending” to this new trilogy. I also bet that like Empire Strikes Back, decades down the road, The Last Jedi will be considered by many as one of the best in the series, mark my words. 


teddy crescendo said...

I whole-heartedly agree with everything you said, i just thought the movie was 2-and-a-half hours of stunningly perfect film-making magic of the highest order and calibre. BTW, Happy New Year Francisco, have a great 2018 pal.

Franco Macabro said...

Glad you enjoyed the article Teddy, Happy 2018 to you too and thanks for reading all these years.

Unknown said...

You can certainly try and justify this film however you want. Everyone is entitled to that. But your recollection of ESB is a little skewed and comparing that to TLJ holds no water. ESB was hated by CRITICS, the fans loved it. And only after time did the critics come around to realize how great it was. Now in this case fans by majority hate TLJ, and in time the critics will once again come around and this will go down as the worst SW film to date. I think you will begin to understand this once the Blu-Rays sales are abysmal.

Zam Naqvi said...

I honestly haven't watched this movie but upon reading your review, I think I should. :)

Oscar Fernandez said...

Fantastic blog. Thank you for your lovely sharing

Helen J. Selby said...

Interesting post and writing technique is also perfect . Liked it .

Franco Macabro said...

Thank you Helen J. Selby!


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