The Last Jedi

**BE WARNED: This post contains spoilers. Unfortunately, not the spoilers I was hoping for.**

OK, so—Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I’ve seen it once, last Thursday, and I’m still undecided. I feel like I need to see it again, now that I know the story, to confirm what I like and don’t like about the movie.

I’m pretty firm in the opinion that I like Rogue One better. (You can read my appraisal here.) And I think I like The Last Jedi better than The Force Awakens, but that’s where I want an additional viewing to confirm.

Here’s what I liked:

  • The cast: Specifically, the new characters of Finn, Rey and Poe (and BB-8). The characters and the fantastic actors who play them were one of my favorite things about The Force Awakens. The characters really get a chance to develop, independent of each other, in The Last Jedi. (And at 2.5 hours, there’s opportunity for development. I believe this is the longest running time of any of the Star Wars.) And a few sub-points:
    • Chewbacca: Not a new character, but it’s a new actor inhabiting Chewie’s fur. The nuances and differences are super-subtle, but I think the Finland-born actor Joonas Suotamo does an excellent job of honoring the character work originated by Peter Mayhew, while putting his own stamp on this legendary Wookiee.
    • Poe Dameron: I have no problems playing favorites. Oscar Isaac’s Poe is a definite favorite. IMHO, he’s a worthy recipient of the Han Solo “scoundrel-fly-boy” mantle.
    • And the rest: Really liked Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Kelly Marie Tran, too. And yes, I’m only focusing on the Resistance actors. I’m one of those people who always wants the good guys to win in the end. (Sorry, Domhnall Gleeson—you’re a lot of fun as General Hux, but you’re with the First Order, so, you’re out of luck).
  • The setting(s): One of the main reasons I want to see The Last Jedi again—it might be the most visually appealing of all the Star Wars. The mining planet Crait, the island on remote Ahch-To where Luke has been spending his time—each is stunning in their own way. When I was younger, I used to want to escape to Hoth when I wanted to hide away. Hoth has been replaced by Ahch-To. It’s warmer, it’s definitely much greener, and there doesn’t appear to be any Wampa.
  • Luke Skywalker’s storyline: I don’t have any complaints about Luke Skywalker’s thread in this movie. I was very satisfied with how his character was woven into this new trilogy. But the overall story leads me to…

What I didn’t like: (here there REALLY be spoilers!) It all relates to a lack of resolution. Let me break it down…

  • Rey’s parentage: We are told in the movie that Rey’s parents are nobodies. Just some folks who sold her off for drinking money. Fine. If that is indeed the case, and not some subterfuge being perpetuated by Kylo Ren, I still feel like we’re owed something. Some flashback to complete the scene from The Force Awakens, where we see Rey as a small child being handed off on Jakku. Otherwise, why would you tease that scene?
  • Snoke: Dude has obviously been around a long time. He looks like he’s pieced himself together from mortal injuries before. Yet, he gets eliminated in this movie, and there’s no reference made to who he might be. Frustrating.
  • Princess Leia: I’m still so saddened by the loss of Carrie Fisher. We all know that she can’t be in the next Star Wars movie, which makes her role in this movie so poignant. There seemed to be so many opportunities to bring her character to a fitting and honorable end in The Last Jedi. But no. All I’m going to say, is, the pressure is on the storytellers of Episode Nine. How do you remove Leia’s character from the story in a way that does her character justice?

So, I would like to see the movie again, minus the expectations noted above. And then see how I feel about it.

Since Star Wars is one of the hugest commercial ventures out there, I’m sure that’s music to the filmmakers’ ears.

Rogue One

rogue-one

So, I saw Rogue One on Friday. And I’ll try to keep what I’m about to write spoiler free. Since it seems I’m inherently unable to write a straight-up review anyway, that shouldn’t be too hard.

I feel kind of bad that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hasn’t received the same level of hype as Star Wars: The Force Awakens. (Though, to be sure, the amount of hype out there is more than sufficient.) Because I thought it was a really good movie, possibly a notch above last year’s offering. I enjoyed Rogue One more than The Force Awakens.

All of what I’m about to write has been touted before, so I don’t think I’m spoiling anything: Rogue One is meant as a stand-alone story. There’s no crawl at the beginning, signaling it’s not part of the (now) seven-episode Star Wars story arc. Which I guess is why it’s not getting the same amount of hype as Episode Seven, or (I can only imagine) what next year’s Episode Eight will get.

A nice byproduct of the lessened hype: I didn’t need to implement the same level of planning as I did for The Force Awakens. Husband Tim and I prefer to watch the standard viewings—no IMAX or other vertigo-inducing formats for us. (Even though the IMAX poster is probably my favorite of all of them). So it was pretty easy to secure tickets for an early evening show, and we had our pick of seats in the theater.

Here, in no particular order, are the reasons I enjoyed Rogue One:

  • No cliffhangers. Unlike The Force Awakens, with everyone still wondering about Rey’s parentage, at the end of Rogue One, I was left satisfied that this story has concluded.
  • The director, Gareth Edwards, also directed 2014’s Godzilla.
  • Rogue One sufficiently explained something about the Death Star that had always bothered me.
  • Rogue One is a really good war movie, with the characters finding strength they didn’t know they had, making sacrifices, and doing a bunch of stuff for a greater cause than their own individual interests.
  • One of the first trailers for the movie led me to believe the filmmakers might try to make the lead character, Jyn Erso (played by Felicity Jones), a knock-off of Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. Which would have been a shame, because there’s no need to borrow from another storyline—Star Wars has the architecture for great female characters. So I was relieved that I didn’t get that sense at all. I loved the character and Jones’ portrayal. My only comment is that I wouldn’t have minded seeing a few more female combatants in the Rogue One crew.
  • K-2SO. I’ll try to keep this brief. Hands-down my favorite droid in all of Star Wars. While I love R2-D2, and was just as captivated by BB-8’s cuteness as most everyone else, K-2SO is everything I love in a mechanical humanoid character. It’s almost as if Douglas Adams’s marvelous Marvin the Paranoid Android got reincarnated into a reprogrammed Imperial security droid.
  • K-2SO, part two. Alan Tudyk. A.k.a. Wash from Firefly. Alan Tudyk is K-2SO. I’m going to make a fool of myself geeking out over Alan Tudyk. So I’m going to stop here.

Anyway, if you like war movies, and Star Wars, go see Rogue One. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.