This is my blog post about Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, the latest installment in the epic Star Wars anthology.
I have to say right out of the gate that I am not really a big fan of these recent Star Wars movies that were made in the post-Lucas era.
Disney already showed a few years ago that they couldn't finish what they started in a movie series, when they dropped the ball with the Narnia stories. Disney had signed on to do the Narnia movies. I was looking forward to seeing the cinematic interpretation that was to be created for C. S. Lewis most recognized work, The Chronicles Of Narnia.
When Disney got into a dispute with Walden Media sometime during the production of the second film (Prince Caspian), the Mouse backed out, leaving the Waldenses alone to sustain the Pevensies, and effectively killing the franchise.
So they couldn't continue. They stopped after they did #2. This proved out when film #3 (Voyage Of The Dawn Treader) didn't do so well under the auspices of the Waldenses (flying solo), and the Narnia project was abandoned altogether. Nonetheless, Disney could have picked up the pieces and done a reboot, starting where the series left off with the fourth book The Silver Chair.
But it was not to be.
The Silver Chair was actually my favorite of the Narnia series. I was really looking forward to seeing this adaptation after watching the first three come to the big screen in 2005, 2008, and 2010, and I felt like the show must go on, but alas both Walden and Disney did not.
So unfortunately it appears the Narnia series is dead in the water.
I was looking forward to the annual or semiannual trek to the movie theater to see the latest Disney rendition of Narnia, as I did with piqued anticipation of Matrixes and Hobbits.
What exactly does that have to do with Star Wars?
I mention Narnia in reference to the current massive undertaking of the Jedi saga. If this production company has already shown an inability or unwillingness to follow through and run the ball all the way to the end zone, as it did in Narnia, could Star Wars meet a similar fate?
Disney has shown it has a clear record of doing well with single feature films, but how it handles long series offerings such as Star Wars remains to be seen.
As to the The Last Jedi itself, this movie left me feeling mixed about both this particular episode as well as what is to come with future episodes.
Rather than analyze the entire movie, I'd like to look at it in reference to major characters and plot lines.
I have to get this one out, right away.
Character #1. Snoke.
Snoke. Supreme Commander Of The First Order.
Or Snoke. Off-brand of smokeless tobacco.
Or Snoke. Member of Johnboy's entourage from the Big Show.
Snoke. Who came up with that?
Like, alot of question marks in a row.
No idea about this guy. He comes in like halfway through the last movie with zero explanation. A 7-foot hologram.
Well then obviously, clearly, he's the Supreme Commander. Because hologram. Okay. That's the explanation, absent all backstory.
So he comes in halfway through the last movie... And he's lunch meat halfway through THIS current movie.
So he lasted, a whole movie, let's say. Second half of the last movie + first half of this movie. Cuz two halves make a whole. A whole lot of plot filler.
They could have done the last movie and this movie with Kylo Ren, without Snoke. I'm glad Snoke is gone. They should have made him a bad guy. A monster. But he was so in tune with the force apparently, that he couldn't even sense Kylo Ren using the force to activate that light saber for the split decision. Supreme Commander indeed. Aces.
Which brings me to...
Character #2. Kylo Ren.
Thought they did great with this guy. The hair apparent to the throne of the Dark Side (following the succession of Sidious, Vader, and Snoke for ten minutes) seems to get better and more complex as the saga progresses.
He wants to be truly bad and channel all rage toward everyone and everything that stands in his way. He seems to want to demolish and decimate and devastate.
He is so far gone, we see him attempting to eliminate his own mother Leia by blasting her ship open (sucking her out and launching her into deep space), and also attempting to destroy uncle Luke, whom he is meeting face-to-face for the first time in the field of battle on the distant planet Crait, location of the remote mountain fortress for the Resistance, and the land of white sands, red soil, and silver Vulptexes (unavailable at local pet stores).
But concurrently running through his veins is the milk of human kindness that has not yet totally dried up in his person. Although it seems only an ember in his soul, there seems to be one person who can heat up his coals and influence him.
Which brings me to...
Character #3. Rey.
Rey. Who shall remain last-nameless. Hmmm.
Nearly every major Star Wars character has a first name and last name.
And then we come to Rey.
A major Star Wars character with no last name.
What exactly would be the purpose of Rey having no revealed last name when all the other primary characters (and many secondary characters such as Boba Fett and Mace Windu) have last names?
What major Star Wars character is introduced with zero history or background about the individual?
Could Rey's story be kept away for now?
Could it be that she will later be revealed to have a family connection to Luke, Leia, Han, and Kylo?
I think there will be a revelation of this magnitude about Rey in Star Wars Episode IX.
Clues to this potential outcome:
1. Her seeming lack of last name, perhaps to obscure what her identity truly is, for the purpose of later Big Reveal
2. Her deep awareness of, and proficiency with, the Force which runs in their family
3. Her talent as a smuggler / scavenger (Han Solo's occupation)
4. Her uncanny discovery and natural command of the Millennium Falcon
So on and so forth.
I believe there in fact is a family connection, which we will discover in the next Star Wars movie.
I believe this is why Rey and Kylo are connected through visions of each other and share a deep connection.
If the visions had only been of Snoke's doing, they wouldn't have continued seeing each other after his death by lightsaber. They are clearly connected in some strong way.
I believe they could be brother and sister, that Kylo is aware they are siblings, and I believe Kylo lied to Rey when he told her that her parents sold her for drinking money on Jakku. He lied to Rey about his uncle Luke destroying the Jedi students, so why would he not lie to her about their parents?
Again, this limited information of "your parents sold you for drinking money on Jakku" is much less information than is given with prominent Star Wars characters. There has to be more of her history revealed. I believe Kylo lied to Rey.
And the audience believes Kylo's lie along with Rey, because at this moment, we are as vulnerable as she is, and we are being manipulated (just as she is) to believe a false narrative by a very dark soul, because the skill of the liar is in his ability to be so convincing and persuasive.
As to his purpose for lying, Kylo would not want Rey to know Han Solo or Leia Organa, because he hates them. Kylo also knows that if Rey continues thinking she has no family roots, it leaves her disoriented about her identity, thus making her more vulnerable to the Force connection they share, which could lead to his turning her to the Dark Side.
I believe this family connection is why they were able to use the Force equally in battle against each other -- only to neutralize and cancel each other out, as demonstrated by their simultaneous collapse, equal distance thrown across the room, and the exact split of the lightsaber for which they both battled.
I believe this family connection is why Rey and Kylo were introduced in the same film where their father died. They are introduced to carry on the legacy of Han Solo and Leia Organa.
I believe that this family connection is why Luke was given another chance (before he dies) to train a Jedi, and that whereas nephew Kylo failed Luke, niece Rey was sent in Kylo's place as the Jedi which Luke was to train.
And I believe that in the same vein as Luke and Leia (at first assumed to have a romantic interest in each other) are revealed to be siblings in Return Of The Jedi, so this plot line is going to be revealed as a Kylo-Rey brother-sister relation (who are assumed to have a romantic interest in each other as was assumed with Luke and Leia).
As to her Jedi training, it is interesting that (uncle ?) Luke trains Rey just as Yoda / Kenobi had trained Luke.
Which brings me to...
Character #4. Luke.
Isolated on the far oceanic mountain of Ahch-to, Luke Skywalker has fled from the world due to his belief that he has failed as a Jedi in light of the irredeemable Kylo Ren having turned to the Dark Side.
Luke only wants to die.
Rey has come to the craggy island to FIND the Jedi, unaware she is to BE the Jedi.
Luke at first tells Rey that he wants to be left alone. He wants the Jedi order to die. Then through the Force, a connection with Yoda awakens his desire to help The Resistance via the Jedi training of Rey.
He realizes that he is not, nor can be, The Last Jedi. He realizes that his life and legacy are incomplete without another trained to arise in his place.
As she commences her training, the sequences with Luke and Rey remind me of Miyagi and Daniel from the original Karate Kid movie.
Later, she rejoins the Resistance. Just as the First Order ship shows up to Crait and battering rams the front door, they are about to raid the fort when suddenly, Luke shows up out of nowhere as expected.
Luke stands there and takes about 65855685447271084838474844832 laser blasts with Kylo shouting fire in a crowded mothership.
The smoke clears and Luke stands there like he's just taken 65855685447271084838474844832 Stormtrooper laser shots.
And it's on.
Time for the Kylo-Luke showdown.
The Fray On A Two-Year Delay.
A Thrilla On Vanilla.
The Lightsaber Bake On The Red Velvet Cake.
Kylo tells the ship and the flanks to hold fire.
Down he goes to face Luke. Flames on.
They fight fiercely and valiantly.
Matrix move from Luke.
Backbend under Kylo's saber/limbo pole.
Bob and weave.
Duck and dodge.
Twist and shout.
And then it happens.
It's now or never.
Kylo Ren braces.
Kylo Ren winds up.
Kylo Ren swings for the fences.
It might be! It could be! It is!
A lookalike Luke.
A Force projection.
Kylo slices right through a thin-air sandwich.
Meanwhile, back at the Ahch-to Ranch.
We learn that Luke has exhausted all of himself and his power of the Force to gaslight Kylo Ren.
Luke collapses and is beamed up by Scottie. Meanwhile his mantle flaps in the breeze and flies to the seas.
It's over. Luke Skywalker with the sacrifice fly so The Resistance can run the bases and smash the scoreboard.
The First Order now distracted by the lightsaber clash between Kylo and Luke, Rey demonstrates her powers as a shovel-ready Jedi when she removes the medium boulders which enclose the back side of the Crait fortress, enabling the remainder of The Resistance to escape to their getaway ship and flee the crushing wrath of the clearly unstoppable invaders.
That's alot of what happened in this movie.
I wouldn't say that I disliked this movie. I would say I have seen better, and also worse, in the Star Wars series.
I had my questions too. Like, why bring back Luke Skywalker only to kill him? Why no epic, face to face lightsaber battle with Kylo? Why did Luke have to go out like that, almost for no reason?
I am hopeful that Episode IX holds much more.
With C3PO, R2D2, and Chewbacca the only remaining members from the original movies, we now await a new Star Wars reality without Luke, Leia, Han, Yoda, Kenobi, and Vader.
We face an uncertain future in this galactic world where one Jedi prepares and one Sith pursues.
We face an uncertain future where numbers of The Resistance are shrinking while the power of the First Order is growing.
We face an uncertain future where Kylo and Rey could rule as equals or rage as enemies. Perhaps as flesh-and-blood brother and sister.
We face an uncertain future where the Jedi could turn the Sith away from the Dark Side. Or he could turn her to the Dark Side. Or they could remain as opposites in perpetuity.
We'll only know many more answers in two more years.
Till then we wait ...