A new Star Wars movie just came out and another Christmas is around so this year's Christmas party at Google was the screening of The Last Jedi, one day before the public launch.
While I really enjoyed The Force Awakens, I was pretty disappointed in The Last Jedi. It was a really long movie (2 and a half hours). Seriously, what's up with movies lately? I thought people started having super short attention spans due to Twitter, yet almost every movie I watched in the cinema this year was longer than two hours. The new director takes the movie into some new directions. He reveals that several mysterious plot points from the previous movie were MacGuffins and he makes some bold revelations about the nature of the Force. I’m in the group of people that weren’t satisfied with this. But at least the movie is beautiful, with amazing visuals. Another complaint I have is that I think they had a disturbing lack of faithlightsaber duels. The ones they had were really good, but I think they were fewer than in previous movies. Also, those annoying puffins, I mean porgs, they're everywhere and they make squeaky sounds that make you want to eat them all, just like Chewbacca did.
From here be spoilers
The story is somewhat similar to the Empire Strikes Back. The rebel base is under attack and they are evacuating, while Rey is off to train with Luke. Poe pulls off some crazy stunts and manages to destroy a dreadnought so the Rebel ships can escape.
But, they are tracked through hyperspace, via some of the worst sciencey mumbo-jumbo I've heard in a movie. The rebel ships are low on fuel, so they start off at full speed, without jumping to Warp, because they know it would be pointless, so they are just trying to buy some time. Poe tries to find out their plan, but he has been demoted to Captain, so he's not told anything.
In the meantime, Rey is trying to convince Luke to come out of retirement and train her in the ways of the Jedi. He is quite reluctant and only after much insistence on her side agrees to teach her three lessons, but he ends up only actually teaching her two, before she leaves. She also starts communicating with Kylo Ren through the Force. Even though initially they hate each other, they start bonding and get closer, encouraging each other and keeping each other company.
Finn is sent from the Rebel ships to a casino, together with a mechanic, to find a master code breaker. They get into trouble for parking their space shuttle on the beach, are sent to jail and they manage to escape with the help of another code breaker, played by Benicio del Toro, who offers a delightful performance. They set free some circus animals and then they go back to infiltrate the First Order’s ship.
The rebel ships are getting bombarded in the meantime, some of them get blown up and at some point the bridge, where Leia is, is blown up and she flies out into the cold vacuum of space. Quiet, slow, panning shot of her frozen body floating through space, only for her fingers to start moving and she uses the Force to fly back to the ship.
After receiving two lessons from Luke, Rey thinks she can turn Ren so she leaves the remote island. Ren of course takes her captive and brings her in front of Supreme Leader Snoke. Snoke boasts how he planned everything and orders Ren to kill Rey, but instead Ren turns on him, cuts him in half with a lightsaber. The two then fight off his personal guard in a pretty impressive lightsaber fight. Rey wants to leave with Ren, but he actually wants to take Snokes place. Ah, poor, naive Rey.
In the meantime, the rebels are abandoning their big ship in little transports, hoping they can get away undetected to an old Rebel base. Unfortunately, they are betrayed and start getting blown up. Admiral Holdo, who was the leader of the rebellion while Leia was in a coma, decides to turn around the big ship, point it toward the bad guys and jump to FTL. The baddies ship is sliced into several pieces and the rebels can make it to their base safely.
The Rebel base is on a salty planet, which makes everything to be white on the surface, but just under it there some red stuff. The visuals are amazing here. All the battles look really good, with the red stuff flying around on every impact, on a white background. Kylo Ren arrives soon, armed with some AT-T walkers and they are trying to kill all rebels. The rebels launch a fairly pathetic defense, but they get their butts kicked so they start retreating. And then, Luke shows up. He greets his sister, whom he hasn’t seen in a long time, gives her Han Solo’s lucky charm and then goes out to fight Kylo Ren. But, surprise, it’s not actually Luke, just his projection. He created this as a diversion, to give time for the rebelion to evacuate. But after the mock fight is over, Luke is watching as the sun sets on his planet and then he vanishes into thin air, becoming one with the force.
On the Millenium Falcon, the Rebels celebrate, because they are the spark that will light the fire that will destroy the First Order (as they've kept repeating throughout the whole movie).
The large story line of the movie was good. The parts with Rey and Ren were really great and it was really nice to learn more about them. But the rest of the movie had so many stupid ideas, that it just leaves me with sour taste in my mouth.
First, there is the scientific idiocies. While yes, this is a sci-fi movie with a magical force, it mostly still follows some scientific rules and when they get broken, you can’t do anything except facepalm. For example, the bombers which attack the dreadnaught in the opening sequence release their bombs and they fall towards the dreadnaught. In space. Bombs. Falling. In the absence of gravity. Also, the way they pretended to explain the tracking through hyperspace (mind you, by a former soldier and by a mechanic) made 0 sense. And you would think that if they have robots that can move around on their own, they would also have autopilots that can keep ships on their straight ahead course, so that nobody has to be left behind during evacuation. And lastly, how come nobody ever thought until now to attack by jumping into FTL? It seems like with that you could have easily destroyed even the Death Star. Is Admiral Holdo such an amazing genius? I don’t think so.
Then there are the jokes. Oh, the stupid jokes. When Rey gives Luke his old lightsaber, he looks at it and then throws it behind his back, off a cliff. Mark Hamill does a really good impression of grumpy old men while playing Luke. Luke at some point milks a weird alien seal-like creature. And Rey somehow always manages to interfere with the caretakers of the Jedi temple, in a slapstick comedy way. This is just not Star Wars, I’m sorry.
Then there is the whole subplot with Finn, Poe and Rose, which might as well be a PETA documentary, because they don’t achieve anything except give a moralizing lesson about the cruelty of animal racing and about income inequality. And the whole thing could have been avoided if Holdo had told Poe what’s the plan, like you know, you would it to one of your best pilots.
There are two new Force features introduced: flying in hard vacuum. While by itself it’s not very surprising, the annoying thing is that Leia does this, who has previously never been shown to do anything with the Force (except feel when Han dies). How come she can suddenly master this thing? And the other one is Luke’s holographic projection. Where did that one come from? It’s great that we learn about new abilities, but both of these things were complete Deus Ex Machinas. And let’s not forget how the big, powerful Snoke, who manipulated Rey and Ren over cosmic distances, is fooled by Ren while he is manipulating two lightsabers.
It could have been such a good movie… Oh well, let’s hope number 9, which is directed by JJ Abrams again (as The Force Awakens), will be better. Unfortunately, we have two more years to wait :(