Some Thoughts on The Last Jedi

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By the end of our second viewing of The Last Jedi, I realized why it had taken so long for me to get back in the padded chair before the big screen. Despite everything that was amazing and wonderful about the film… it leaves me overwhelmingly sad. The beginning is sad, the middle is sad, even the moment of renewed hope is sad....

That general gloom makes the jokes harder to hear, leaves a bitter taste after they’re gone.
There are so many things I wanted from the movie plot wise that didn't happen and I waited this long to write up my thoughts on it so that I could shove most of those aside and work with what we were given, instead of the rewrites I would needlessly suggest (though at least one made it into the text below.

But I can like things that make me sad, so it’s still toward the top in my rankings.

And now, an itemized list of the things I like and dislike in no particular order*….
(Except the best, that's definitely first)

Vice Admiral Holdo
I always joke that I’d join the empire because they have the coolest ships, but those uniforms….
Who needs awesome ships when you can be in command of a rebellion and still wear a mf-ing halo tiara?
The fact that the ladies of the Rebellion have always been allowed to wear (seemingly) whatever they damn well please has been one of the many reasons I’ve loved the franchise. It can be ridiculous, or practical. NO ONE CARES.
And in the case of Vice Admiral Holdo, she was allowed to be utterly feminine to have lavender curls and wear a dress that had a freaking cape, and have I mentioned that halo tiara? And she’s still a freaking badass. Her appearance and skills are not indicative of anything on their own. She is everything a military leader needs to be… and she is gorgeous while she does it.
That being said, I hate that it feels as though her sacrifice was a vehicle for Poe’s growth and the diminishing factor that came with that.

The Wildlife Choices
The porgs are unsettling and their comedic value doesn’t make up for that.
Honestly, in the “Chewie can’t eat them” scene, I wanted him to either ignore the creeps and eat the thing (it was already dead, what a waste) or when he throws it down, I would have loved for them to have attacked him because they are carnivorous… or the roasted guy because they’re cannibalistic.
However, they make more sense than the crystal foxes on (planet).
Those little plot devices were pretty, but their coloring made no sense...unless they’re the apex predator on that world. Animals that camouflage to their surroundings last longest, so I don’t know why there would be a whole pack of blue crystalline critters when the salt crystals on this world are all red and white.
I did not need to know where blue milk came from.
I don’t remember what the horse analogs on Canto Bight are called, but the “be free” aspect of their momentary escape made me cringe. Their freedom isn’t real, they’ll be rounded up by morning and just be right back in the races. The futility of that, and the odd sense of accomplishment that rose has from it, frustrated me.

I tend to think that Snoke’s involvement in the bond that has formed between Reylo** was an opportunist claim of power he may or may not have had. People like Snoke (people who surround themselves with easily used people, rabid curs as the case may be) are master manipulators. They prey on any weakness they find and bend people to their will. So, sure, Snoke could have been what drew their minds together… but I like to think that was already there and he recognized it, possibly twisted or amplified it, and claimed it.
People like that puff up their power--as power is often a matter of perception and control by whatever means necessary. It is entirely possible that I’m just seeing what I want there, after all, he does manage to drop Hux like a stone from however far away he is. But he didn't see Kylo's betrayal coming, and maybe that was just the fault of hubris, but I don't think we can safely assume he was as powerful as he thought he was.
Something I would have loved, would have been if the guardy-guys were puppets, literally.
It would have been amazing to find a way to have the big ol fight scene where they won. Where one of the helmets gets knocked off and you see that there’s nothing there, that it is Snoke and he actually is that powerful. And then, when Snoke eats it, they drop, like deflating balloon men.

The Balance
One of the things that has always bugged me (along with the misconception that stormtroopers have no aim) is that Anakin didn’t move the force closer to “balance”. Because let's face it, if there’s a one for one ratio between sith and Jedi… that’s a balance.
So, as a general theme in this film, the Balance portion was rather lovely. Balance (potentially) between ragey dark, and collected light. Balance within Rey who was willing to confront and accept the darkness.
The balance of expectations/no expectations, family lineage/no family at all, all the training/next to none of the training… It’s more than just good versus evil (because let's face it, neither of those are ever pure, undistilled things.) And that is one of the many ways in which I think the series has evolved and improved.
As a whole, I am left with the belief that the entirety of the “lessons” and push toward balance, was a segue into the understanding that anyone can use the force (hey little guy with your broom at the end).

The Two Teenagers in the Room
I still have no idea how old Kylo and Hux are supposed to be. I’m sure I could do a quick google search, but, frankly, I don’t want to. Because their age doesn’t really matter for the fact that they are both the beautiful rage monsters that come with all the fun teenage desire for rebellion and also approval. They’ve been kept in a constant state of competition and have grown to hate each other because of it and the ways in which that manifests are delightful. Especially as the power dynamic has so drastically shifted now that Snoke is no longer there to protect Hux. Hux, who has to do the bidding because force choking is no joke.
That being said, the snark and hatred and general rivalry between them is one of the few pieces of (possibly not intentional) humor that worked for me.

I ship Finnpoe hard, I’ll admit that upfront so that we can get it out of the way now. But I’m 100% okay with it turning out that Finn is Bi and having him struggle through that particular love triangle.
The "Finn, Naked, Leaking, What?" interchange between Poe and BB8 was a nice moment after the depressing minutes of death and decimation directly preceding it. Like Finn, honey, let’s get you dressed.
The "how did you two" meet thing when they’re going through the plan, felt like an, "I found him first, don’t be moving in" thing. But I don’t think he needs to worry, since Finn’s still wearing Poe’s (letterman’s) jacket.

Note: I do not believe there is anything romantic in the relationship between Finn and Rey. Everything I see in their interaction is that of bonded besties. The argument that he’s in love with her because upon waking his first question is after her whereabouts doesn’t follow for me. Of the two people who actually matter in his life at that point,he’s looking right at one, so of course he’d ask about the other. And while I have no problem with Rey potentially finding love and happiness. I feel like, she doesn't need it and putting it into the story would be forcing it. She needs a family, and she’s finding that in the meager remains of the resistance.

The Final Battles
I love that Finn & co's plan failed because complexity is complex. And I loved that Finn got to fight General Phasma because she was coordinator of his abuse.
I loved the imagery of the red on that final battlefield. All the bloody visual metaphors, please.
I did not love that Rose’s fate was left in limbo because of it.

I would have liked more Benicio.

And lastly….

The thing in this film (and the series as a whole) that cancels out almost every other wrong in it is my love of the sheer amount of lady awesomeness.

Paige’s sacrifice, Rose’s integrity, Rey’s determination, Holdo’s courage, Leia’s reserve, and even Phasma’s loyalty (regardless of its misplaced nature) provide a complexity that is so often lacking in films (especially in this genre, where you’re often lucky if you get one).

So there you have a glimpse of my opinion on TLJ. I’m already over 1500-words so it’s definitely time to wrap this up.
Permission to get in an x wing and blow stuff up?

* When I write these things they’re big old blocks of text, often taken from chat conversations, so sorting through my random bounce around thoughts is a little… odd. When I get everything grouped, it isn’t always the easiest thing to put into a perfect continuity, so I’ve basically stopped trying.

** I do not ship Reylo, but the fan art that is out there is glorious.


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