Shame about The Last Jedi, eh? (SPOILERS)

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Shame about The Last Jedi, eh? (SPOILERS)

Post by Dalty » December 15th, 2017, 10:51 am

Oooops!

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Re: So.... erm..... shame about The Last Jedi, eh?

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » December 15th, 2017, 1:09 pm

What's the shame?

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Re: So.... erm..... shame about The Last Jedi, eh?

Post by Dalty » December 15th, 2017, 1:25 pm

It was pretty awful. Had some good stuff but buried that good stuff in plenty of not so good stuff.

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Re: So.... erm..... shame about The Last Jedi, eh?

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » December 15th, 2017, 6:18 pm

I liked it. I had a handful of things to bitch about, but I came away with an overall positive impression.

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Re: So.... erm..... shame about The Last Jedi, eh?

Post by Dalty » December 16th, 2017, 2:06 am

I came out of it all over the place, thinking I had kinda enjoyed it, but the more thought I apply to pretty much any of it the more it all falls apart.

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Re: So.... erm..... shame about The Last Jedi, eh?

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » December 16th, 2017, 9:41 am

How do you feel it falls apart?

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Re: Shame about The Last Jedi, eh? (SPOILERS)

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » December 16th, 2017, 11:27 am

(I took the liberty of changing the thread title to indicate spoilers might be found within.)

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Re: Shame about The Last Jedi, eh? (SPOILERS)

Post by Space Tycoon » December 16th, 2017, 11:30 am

I may see it within the next few days or weeks. Am I now to understand there is no need to hurry?

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Re: Shame about The Last Jedi, eh? (SPOILERS)

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » December 16th, 2017, 12:58 pm

Some spoiler-heavy, disorganized thoughts of my own, cannibalized from chats with Ulic, Felt Pelt, and another friend of mine:

It felt sufficiently Star Wars to me. I can say that I liked it, though I had some issues with it.

The battle banter was sometimes cringeworthy, some of the expository dialog was a little too distractingly expository, both the First Order and the Rebels are often frustratingly incompetent, the casino planet stuff was shaky and a drag on the overall narrative, and the picture as a whole may have suffered a bit from Return of the King Syndrome.

I suspect Johnson couldn't believe his luck and was convinced this was his only shot at ever making a Star Wars movie. He may have felt, as a result, that he had to cram everything he ever wanted to do with a Star Wars movie into it.

Johnson probably could have ended the movie on Luke walking out to meet the First Order walkers. That would have been a solid ending and would have trimmed twenty minutes or so off the running time. I've noticed some complaining about the length, so that might have been a way to address it. Then again, this would have left Luke's fate in Abrams's hands, and I doubt Abrams would have offed him.

The length didn't bother me. It felt like an experience and an event. I'm glad Johnson got to make his Star Wars movie. It's not the movie I would have made. It's also not a movie Lucas ever would have made. It's stronger, as a movie, than any of the prequels. It's probably also more visually interesting. It's a mix of fan film, fan service, and competent action. Some of it works for me, some of it doesn't.

Disney's clearly satisfied with it. Beyond their giving Johnson that three-picture deal, they're taking a knowing loss on it because of its length. Fewer showings means slighter returns.

Speaking of those First Order walkers, one wonders why they didn't just set the cannon down closer. Theoretically, they're in space, and they could have set down almost anywhere. I'm sure an easy answer could be cooked up to justify it (easier entry point, a conscious decision to belabor and intimidate, following too closely behind the rebels and not taking the time to figure out where their ultimate destination would be, et cetera), but I don't think it was addressed in the movie.

I was impressed that they went the Rey's-parents-are-nobody-special route. I was hoping they'd go that way. (At the same time, I won't be surprised if Abrams walks it back.) I was also impressed with the unceremonious killing of Snoke. I liked the light-speed kamikaze jump through the First Order fleet. I liked the Finn death fakeout. The Leia floating scene was maybe a little creepy and maybe also a little beautiful. It will probably haunt my dreams.

I wasn't expecting to see Yoda. I was happy to see him. But, man, they haven't gotten that puppet right since '83. I guess it only looks right when Stuart Freeborn builds it. (There was a line of Yoda dialog where Johnson whiffed on preferred Yoda syntax, but I'd have to rewatch to remember what it was.)

It was pretty obvious Luke wasn't physically there for the final confrontation--for most the audience, too, I'm guessing--but it was smart of Johnson to establish beforehand both that a Force projection can be seen by others and that it can manipulate physical objects. (The obviousness, for me, was the reappearance of the darker beard we saw in the flashback sequences. Also, they went out of their way to let the audience know that the only known access point was the hangar door.) It's nice to get some actual movie canonical development of the Force, whatever the case. We got non-Force-facilitated flashbacks, too, which I think is a first in cinematic Star Wars.

I'm pretty sure Williams recycled his Long Goodbye theme at one point, but I've already forgotten when/where. I just remember hearing it at some point in the evening.

I do suspect that Johnson painted Abrams in some corners that Abrams won't be happy to have been painted in, which makes me a little happy. Johnson also did away with Grunberg, so Abrams won't be able to use him, again. (Rest in Peace, Admiral Ackbar. :cry: )

I like the moral ambiguity brought in by del Toro's character. (I'm assuming he will go from Chaotic Neutral to Chaotic Good the next time we see him, sort of as a warped mirror of Lando's Lawful Neutral to Chaotic Good shift in ESB.) I liked the revelation that arms dealers were playing both sides--over-obvious war-is-bad posturing or no. There's not enough good-guys-aren't-all-good made explicit in cinematic Star Wars. You sort of had to pick up that the Jedi were pretty bad in their own right from context when watching the prequels. Lucas sets it up, but I think he still sees the Jedi as the ultimate good. He only sees them as having a blind spot, I think, which may be evidence of own blind spot. (It may just be evidence, though, of his wanting to stick closer to a kind of Campbellian good/evil hero's quest purity.) I like the idea that the Jedi were edging toward the Wheel of Time's Children of the Light territory. Johnson makes it more explicit, which I appreciate.

I am terrified of having to encounter more Theroux in IX. We already got a pretty ridiculous mugging for the camera moment. I assume--and fear--he will be back.

Did I miss something, or did the BB-9E (or BB-H8, as he was referred to, jokingly, on set) stuff go absolutely nowhere? I'm trying to recall if he exposed the heroes or recognized them and did nothing or what. Del Toro's character sells them out, anyway, so it doesn't really matter. It's a potential remnant of an abandoned-at-the-script-stage repeating of tasks, maybe.

The obvious thing Abrams gets to do in the followup is defeat the First Order and decide the ultimate alignment of Kylo Ren. He will probably also get to work Lando in somewhere--maybe as a provider of safe haven or as a late joiner to the cause.

I enjoyed the interrupted 3PO having to finish out "to one" after being shooshed.

* * *

I'm coming to appreciate more and more how Johnson made it incredibly difficult for Abrams simply to remake Return of the Jedi. A lot of it seems like a conscious fuck-you to Abrams. He killed Abrams's buddy Greg Grunberg almost right away. He killed Captain Phasma, whom Abrams constantly identified as his favorite among the new characters. (Though, really, what did she really do, besides look cool? At least Boba Fett, who also mostly just looked cool, was short with Vader a couple times. That bought him a little cred.) He killed off Luke. (Luke will almost certainly show up as a Force ghost, though, so there's that.) He killed off Snoke. Leia, whom he didn't kill off, is now only available to Abrams as mythology.

By killing Luke, Johnson made it harder for the trilogy to proceed as a real continuation of the Skywalker saga, since Rey is really the central figure, and since she comes "from nobody." (Again, I could see Abrams walking this back, whether by having it be the case that Kylo Ren was messing with or by having it be the case that both Kylo Ren and Rey were working from an incomplete set of facts.)

I was a little put off by the ending with the kids, at first, but I've come to like it more. I like the end's reinforcement of Luke's "legend" talk, and I like how it shows that, contrary to Luke's pessimistic take on legends, they can have positive, driving potential. (Granted, it may be hard to buy this fully in the current political climate.) I was reminded of the only scene from Reign of Fire that I actually remember.

Anyway, I like that it reinforces the idea that the people as a whole have the power (also liked the Rose's justification for making the Finn fakeout happen; liked Rose as a character, in general, since she's probably the least self-involved person in the whole series), and I like that it pulls the rug out from under the usual Star Wars "chosen one" shtick. I like, too, that this makes it so that there's a killing-your-idols/growing-beyond-your-teacher parallel happening both within the Star Wars framework and with the people currently building said framework.

Thanks to Johnson's narrative choices, Abrams won't simply be able to make my favorite moment from The Making of the Star Saga Saga a reality:

Mariah Loomis: Writing the third film, "Here Come The Jengae," was quite difficult for Jim. He locked himself in his study for a week and couldn't come up with anything. Finally he emerged bleary-eyed one evening and said, "Just bring me the script to the first movie and a fucking Sharpie." An hour later, he had the new story finished.

* * *

Apparently, eagle-eyed viewers noticed that Rey saved the Jedi Temple books. I missed this. I like it. It makes me wonder if she grabed them astrally or if she took them with her when she bailed? I suppose we'll find out. (It's probably just easier if she stole them away. Yoda does say something along the lines of there being nothing in the temple that Rey didn't already have. I don't remember the exact lines. Depending on how it's worded, it might have been a clue.)

It occurs to me that, if Abrams really wants to, he can try to work it so that Luke isn't actually dead, since it's canonical, now, that the Force can transfer matter (rain, for example) astrally. One thinks Luke would have taken his cloak with him if he had done this, though, so it would be cheap as hell for Abrams to take that tack. Especially since the falling brown fabric has always been our visual clue for a Jedi going into Force.

* * *

The subplot involving the First Order tracking the Resistance through hyperspace and chasing them in a gradual battle of attrition was neat. It reminded me of a Star Wars version of Butch and Sundance being run down by that tracker. The rationale behind it was a little weak, maybe, but it made for some nice tension. It's apparently lifted from a modern-era BSG episode, but I've seen exactly one episode of that show. (I'd like to see more. I wasn't turned off of it by the episode I saw, or anything.)

Most of the rebel deaths were red shirt deaths, so some may feel this takes away tension from the fights and that it would have been better if Finn actually had been allowed to complete his own (Holdo-inspired?) kamikaze run. Ackbar, Holdo, and Luke certainly weren't red shirts, so there's that, at least. Though Holdo is just sort of a presence all of a sudden--feeling, at least on some level, like a Leia stand-in with a fresher face and better acting chops. (I wondered if maybe her character was created, in part, to give them a way to do Leia with less actual Leia. She, like Fisher, even has Hollywood royalty as a parent. I like Fisher as an actress, but she's been out of the game for a while, and she's been seen as a production liability in the past.)

Not sure how I feel about the Holdo and Poe stuff. On some level, it makes no sense. "I like him!" she says. It runs counter to everything she's said to Poe leading up to the moment. I guess it could be tough love. She could recognize his potential.

If an apologist were looking for unspoken story reasons to justify it, I guess it might be inferred from context that Holdo likes Poe's fighter spirit and likes that he's strong in his convictions and does what he believes to be right. On the other hand--and Holdo's right to be critical of this--Poe's also an idiot who, though he flies and shoots good, gets people who trust him murdered by routinely undermining authority.

Maybe it would have made more sense for Holdo to say she that, while she likes his spirit and recognizes that there's no better pilot flying for the rebellion, Poe needs to be kept in check. (Holdo's short "I like him!" works better as-is for comedy purposes, I guess, since Poe's unconscious form was being loaded onto the escape vessel as she was saying it.) Whatever the case, he got lots of people killed and endangered even more, so the line initially came off weird for me.

That kamikaze move of Holdo's, by the way, changes everything about space battles in the Star Wars universe. One wonders if that kind of thing has been done in desperate moments before. Probably not that often. You probably need a large vessel like the one she was piloting for maximum impact, and they clearly don't have many to spare.

The destructive capabilities of a light speed kamikaze run (it's weird that there's no apparent ability to control ships remotely in the SW universe--for the rebels, at least) are hinted at in a throwaway line of Solo's in A New Hope. (I'm thinking, of course, of the "ain't like dustin' crops, boy" line.)

* * *

The Last Jedi taken as a whole didn't make me full-on cry at any point (a little welling on a couple of occasions, but that was all) or help me tap into my youth--The Force Awakens worked better for me in that regard--but I still came away from it liking it.

I look forward to seeing it again. There tend to be three phases, for me, when it comes to watching any new Star Wars movie. Each phase is usually attached to a new viewing--meaning that it tends to take three viewings to go through all three phases--but there's often some overlap. The spectacle-distracted, Hey-It's-New-Star-Wars! phase, wherein my brain is actively trying to contextualize all the new information as it relates to Star Wars as a whole, comes first. The next phase is the Hey-It's-a-Movie! phase, wherein I've had time to get past its being a new Star Wars movie and am able to appreciate it as a moviegoing experience. After that comes the Let's-Examine-Everthing-in-Greater-Detail phase, wherein I stop thinking of it as a whole and start thinking of it as a collection of various parts. Ingestion, Digestion, Analysis.

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Re: Shame about The Last Jedi, eh? (SPOILERS)

Post by neglet » December 18th, 2017, 10:39 pm

I enjoyed while I watched it. I had the strongest emotional reactions to scenes of Luke and Leia, and thought the Rey and Kyle relationship was really interesting. But while I found the characters of Poe, Finn, and Rose really appealing, the more I think about their storylines the more I find them really lacking. I’ve seen analyses arguing that Poe’s storyline dramatizes the problems of toxic masculinity and is a critique of the lone hero. And while I can see that, the way they went about it was weak. Why does Holdo withhold her plan from not just Poe but also the officers who support his mutiny? Sure, he’s been demoted, but she knows he’s likely to do something rash, so why keep it a secret? I hate stories that have characters withhold information for no reason just to create tension, and here it sets up a side plot that has no impact on the main story, except to get a lot of rebels killed. And why does Holdo wait to do her kamikaze move until half the fleet’s been destroyed? I also thought the FTL tracker wasn’t thought out well—it was built up to be huge and all came to nothing.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, it was beautifully shot, but the story itself has a lot of holes that don’t bear scrutiny.

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Re: Shame about The Last Jedi, eh? (SPOILERS)

Post by Dalty » December 19th, 2017, 2:45 am

Admiral Holdo’s character is completely pointless and superfluous. Leia or Ackbar could have carried out that role and task. To have Ackbar die, then just mention it in a throwaway line while creating another character to fulfill a purpose he could easily do is just typical of the bloat this movie suffers from.

Space Superman Leia is the dumbest and worst executed thing in 9 movies. How they got thru script and into the final edit is beyond me.

Force projection is just a lazy plot device to avoid having to package development neatly by having characters travel to be in the same location, and used as a lazy “gotcha” at the end.

The whole tracker subplot makes no contribution to anything other than plot contrivances. Canto Bight and the side mission does nothing, achieves nothing, except for allowing the movie to appear as shit as the Prequels for a while before introducing some weak, ill judged social commentary.

Phasma, again, completely fails to do anything of note. Like a shit Boba Fett.

Completely bottled the opportunity to do something worthwhile with Finn at the end. And the whole Rose / Finn stuff from “legend” to “love” is a badly written WTF moment.

I don’t mind Snoke going like that. I don’t mind Rey’s parents etc. etc. I have not been all over Reddit speculating for two years only to be disappointed. Which I imagine is behind a lot of “fan anger”. Even without those, it’s a very strange movie that makes very strange choices.

I will concede that Empire had terrible reviews and was unliked when it came out. It has grown in stature. And this movie has people talking like I have rarely seen, with a really interesting gap between critics and fans. Interesting.

5/10.

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Re: Shame about The Last Jedi, eh? (SPOILERS)

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » December 19th, 2017, 8:28 am

Dalty wrote:
December 19th, 2017, 2:45 am
Admiral Holdo’s character is completely pointless and superfluous.

I have problems with the Holdo/Poe stuff, but I don't think Holdo's character is pointless. Beyond my suspicion that Dern is there to be a surrogate Leia because Disney called for more reliably acted scenes, I think it's good for Poe's development. He's a good pilot who makes bad decisions and gets his own people murdered, and he already has enough trouble doing what Leia tells him to do. I like that there's one layer of removal with Holdo, that Poe really thinks he should be in charge in Leia's absence, and that Poe's bad and rash decisions continue to cause more harm than good. I don't know how much the toxic masculinity element some feel is there really comes in to play (the Resistance, theoretically, should be beyond that), but it does show a potential leader who is not ready to lead getting a kind of comeuppance and being reminded of his place.

* * *
To have Ackbar die, then just mention it in a throwaway line while creating another character to fulfill a purpose he could easily do is just typical of the bloat this movie suffers from.
I come from the Coen School of Hero Doesn't Always Get Epic, Dignified Death, so I'm not upset about Ackbar's death. War gets people killed--often in a flash, often without ceremony. Besides, it's not like he's Han or somebody. I know he's a beloved character, but he's only had about five minutes of screen time in the movies, and he's mostly just famous for shouting the obvious in a moment of peril.

I also think there would have been less of a removal from Leia for Poe if Akbar had served in the Holdo capacity. With Holdo, you have someone Poe has never met before. You also have someone Poe doesn't believe lives up to her legend, which makes it even harder for him to bear.

* * *
Space Superman Leia is the dumbest and worst executed thing in 9 movies.
I see your Space Superman Leia and raise you a Cowtick Surfing Anakin, Tarzan Chewie, and "Now *this* is pod racing!"

I liked it. I like, as I said above, that we're actually getting some canonical Force development in the actual movies. I think Johnson and I may have a similar take on the Force.

I'm not bothered by the scene for a number of reasons: (1) We don't know what Leia's been up to these last thirty-plus years or what kind of training she's had, (2) You weigh next to nothing in space, so it's not like she's lifting an X-Wing out of swamp muck, (3) I'm still going back and forth on the degree to which it can be shown that Leia (or any Force sensitive, really) was the fully autonomous guiding hand in that case.

I think Johnson and I may have a similar attitude toward the Force. Here's a thing I wrote a couple days ago about my developing attitudes toward notions of the Force:

Revenge of the Sith really did make Anakin's redemption more problematic than it already was. I also have a feeling that Abrams will attempt to redeem Kylo Ren in a way Johnson wouldn't have. (This is not to say that Johnson would not have attempted to redeem Kylo Ren in any way. I just feel like the approach would have been different than Abrams's. Abrams will likely go big with a sacrificial moment and give us a smiling Ben Force Ghost in the closing scenes.)

I had this idea when I was younger that the Force Ghosts we see are less manifestations of the people they represent and more the Force giving those who see Force Ghosts something familiar. Once the Jedi dissolves into the Force hive mind, I thought, the memories and essence of the person would imprint on the Force, but the Jedi who dissolved into it could never be fully autonomous or ever even really "there."

I like to tell myself that the Force is neither good nor bad (hence all the balance talk) and that it's plausible any Force user who sees a Force Ghost may only be seeing said Force Ghost because the Force deems it in some way useful/necessary. (It doesn't have to be a "reward," then, and it doesn't have to be because the deceased person who appears to manifest is fully conscious of it, desirous of it, or, again, even really "there.")

That was the way the younger, more pessimistic version of me thought. I'm more liable these days to shrug my shoulders and say it could be a little from Columns A and B or could be something else entirely. Lucas probably wanted it to be understood (1) that only the "good" guys can become Force Ghosts (as I noted in my review, I think it's complicated to call the Jedi as an organization "good") and (2) that the Force Ghosts are somewhat autonomous and are genuine manifestations of the people they appear to be. Star Wars is, of course, bigger than Lucas, so it's not as though we have to honor his specific interpretations of his texts. (Besides, the dude can't even stick to a single pronunciation for half the names he used. Also, he made the Special Editions and the prequels. But, hey, I still love 'im.)

I'm sure licensed ancillary materials lay out exactly what the Force Ghosts are supposed to be. I'm too lazy to dig, though. I also prefer to give the lion's share of my attention to what's there and not there in the movies, themselves.


Taking the above into account, I'm led to wonder if Leia was fully conscious of what she was doing. On a purely visual level, though the CG was a bit wonky, I found it to be creepily beautiful and unexpected.

* * *
Force projection is just a lazy plot device to avoid having to package development neatly by having characters travel to be in the same location, and used as a lazy “gotcha” at the end.
I'm still surprised that Luke's Force projection, in particular, is seen as a "gotcha." The movie establishes beforehand that projections (and even Force Ghosts) are tangible and that matter can transmit. Plus, Luke clearly has the darker beard (bad dye job, by the way) from the flashbacks. Do people really think Luke stopped to dye his beard before going to face down the First Order?

The thing I'm interested in, at this point, is whether or not Force projection and Force Ghost tangibility is a thing when one is not on that island. Can it be done anywhere? Does being on that island help facilitate it?

* * *
The whole tracker subplot makes no contribution to anything other than plot contrivances. Canto Bight and the side mission does nothing, achieves nothing, except for allowing the movie to appear as shit as the Prequels for a while before introducing some weak, ill judged social commentary.
I have a number of things to say about the tracker subplot and the Canto Bight scene--along with a lot of DJ speculation--but I know Ulic is working on a review and that he may cover a lot of the same ground, so I will wait until after he's posted his thing and see if there's anything left to say.

* * *
Phasma, again, completely fails to do anything of note. Like a shit Boba Fett.
Boba Fett is his own shit Boba Fett. I like it when the seemingly badass character is chumpatized. People often love it when it's done elsewhere (Bond, Indiana Jones, Guy Ritchie movies, Game of Thrones [reportedly; I keep meaning to watch it]), but I gather that people don't want it in Star Wars.

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Re: Shame about The Last Jedi, eh? (SPOILERS)

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » December 19th, 2017, 1:36 pm

I think some of the creaks and cracks that show in The Last Jedi are there because Lucasfilm weirdly let one guy with some big ideas write and direct it. It feels less committee-assembled than the other two recent Star Wars movies--sometimes to its credit, sometimes to its detriment. It's part of what makes the whole work for me, though, and it's also part of what makes Lucas's first entry work for me. It's sloppy, but it has a real character and charm of its own.

It seems like TLJ is hard for people to love 100% or hate 100%. I don't think the detractors have to look too hard to find good things to say about it, and I don't think fans of it have to look too hard to find bad things to say about it. Though I'm sure there are die-hards who are all-in one way or the other.

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Re: Shame about The Last Jedi, eh? (SPOILERS)

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » December 21st, 2017, 11:53 am

There's a chance some people are mistaking characters making choices they don't like for characters making choices that the story doesn't justify. I feel some of the big choices some viewers are upset about are justified in the script/performances, but I recognize that many disagree. There's also a chance some are letting not liking what happens to some characters convince them that they have witnessed bad filmmaking. There's also a chance that those who really like the movie are engaging in some apologism where the movie's creakier elements are concerned.

I do have a lot of stuff I want to say/speculate about with DJ character. I'm waiting for Ulic's review to make sure I'm not just repeating what he'll be saying.

* * *

I recently wrote the following (I have modified it a bit, since; pray I don't modify it further), if anyone's interested, in response to this article (apologies for the bits below that repeat some bits above):
"'I said to Rian, I said ‘Jedis don’t give up,’ Hamill explained in an interview currently making the rounds on YouTube. 'I mean even if he had a problem, maybe take a year to try and regroup.'"
Isn't giving up and heading off to Dagobah more or less exactly what Yoda did? One could argue that Obi-Wan didn't quite do this, since he followed Luke to Tatooine in an apparent silent guardian capacity. Whatever the case, Yoda was arguably the most powerful Jedi in the universe. He took a little more than a year to regroup. Even if he's waiting for the Skywalker twins to grow up, that's pretty defeatist, and it's potentially telling that he didn't personally oversee the development of at least one of them. (He also actively chose a system, if supplementary material is to be believed, with enough negative Force energy to cloak his presence.)

Anakin was also a quitter. There's some Skywalker quitter precedence, then, perhaps. People have a problem with Luke being a quitter in this movie and feel it betrays his character as established. I'll get into that in a bit, though.

Once it was clear Padme was dead and could not be brought back, Anakin's primary reason for joining the Dark Side was gone. Dude gave up, despite there still being good in him.

Vader/Anakin constantly defers to his master's bidding and mentions not being strong enough to defy him on his lonesome to Luke. It suggests a lack of autonomy and calls his commitment to moving forward into question. (A slave can work him/herself to death to complete a task despite not being committed to that task's cause.) He also clearly wants to join with Luke to defeat the Emperor, suggesting he was unhappy with the Emperor's rule.

It should be noted that Vader was unaware of his son's existence for years and years, so one may presume he had given up/resigned himself to being the Emperor's lackey for the rest of his life up to the moment of recognition. A catalyst was required to draw himself out of his shell--same as with resistant-to-training-Luke Yoda in ESB and Luke in TLJ.

In RotS, Yoda *does* say "Until the time is right, disappear we will." Still, Yoda biding his time for twenty-plus years seems excessive and morally questionable to me, especially considering all the potentially irreparable damage the Empire did in the interim, and especially when Yoda's handling/mismanaging of the Jedi Order was arguably somewhat responsible for the Emperor's rise. It also counters Hamill's "regroup" claim somewhat. That's not regrouping. That's waiting a couple decades to let half-trained kids solve your problems for you. (Obi-Wan, at least, took a somewhat active role in shepherding Luke. Still, he kinda gave up, too, and let Yoda tell him what to do. Upon further reflection, Qui-Gon seems the least give-up-y of the major Jedi we follow. Even on his deathbed, he was telling Obi-Wan to defy the Jedi council and train Anakin. He was also the first movie-specific Jedi to refuse to let death stop him. I feel like Ulic may have a lot to say about Qui-Gon in his review, so I will cut things short in this regard.)

I feel there's an at least moderately satisfying in-story reason for Luke to remove himself from the equation/become a "quitter": he's genuinely come to believe that the Jedi contribute to Force imbalance. There's also a suggestion that he believes his own power could be manipulated to contribute in a negative way--maybe even was, in Ben Solo's case. I also appreciate that Luke acknowledged that the Jedi weren't necessarily fully good and didn't necessarily contribute in a fully positive way to the universe. (There are hints, here, to the Wheel of Time's Children of the Light.)

I liked Johnson's tweaks to the movie-canonical Force. I like the assertion that it is wrong to think of the Force in terms of its being "good" or "evil." It seeks simply to keep itself in balance. There are shades of Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil, shades of Schopenhauer's conception of the Will, and shades of the UrSkeks/Skeksis/Mystics dynamic.

We saw Luke develop quite a bit over the course of the OT. It's plausible that he would continue to develop in the thirty-plus years since. If the Baby Boomers are any indication, you can't trust who a person is as a twentysomething to be who that person will be as an elder.

It should be noted that--questionable decisions leading up to his present day or no--Luke saves the Resistance in (one of) its darkest hour(s). Ultimately, he is not a quitter. Ultimately, he does what many would consider to be "the right thing." He also removes himself (or, potentially, the Force removes him) from the equation shortly after Snoke is removed from it. I'm not entirely convinced that Abrams will not walk some or all of this back, but I hope he doesn't.

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Re: Shame about The Last Jedi, eh? (SPOILERS)

Post by Space Tycoon » December 22nd, 2017, 2:28 pm

Well I'm seeing it tonight, I'll weigh in shortly thereafter.

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Re: Shame about The Last Jedi, eh? (SPOILERS)

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » December 23rd, 2017, 12:57 pm

Some thoughts in response to the following meme, which I think is cute, but which I also hope no one is using as a QED for how they believe Luke to have been mismanaged in TLJ:

Image

On some level, Luke's decades-in-the-making fundamental about-face, followed by his eleventh hour revitalization and hero's death, is reminiscent of Arthurian lore. Arthur's latter days are mired by bitterness over the loss of his love and best friend, the rotting away of Camelot, and the rise of Mordred. He saved the world when still a young man, made some bad choices following that, and is haunted by them for years to come. In the end, though, he proves his mettle and brings things back from the brink.

Buddha, Emerson, and Orwell all had ideas about the world in their old age that differed significantly from the ideas they had in their youths. Elizabeth Warren did, too. Reagan famously started out as a Democrat and a union leader--very different from the Reagan of the eighties. And, again, Luke does come back to save the day. (Sorry to keep hammering this point in, but I think it's important.)

I also think, personally, that Luke doesn't confront the First Order as a Jedi--or, at least, he doesn't confront them as someone whose being is rigidly defined by all that is Jedi and to the exclusion of all that is not. He potentially comes closest in that moment to being pure Force, motivated more by ideas of balance than by anything else. The First Order killing off the Resistance in that moment would have thrown things severely out of whack. I like to think that, even before Luke dies/becomes one with the Force, Rey is the last Jedi.

(I also think this is solely up to interpretation and that the text can bear an interpretation or three. I think it's fully possible that Abrams will pull a Gandalf the White and have Luke come back out of the Force [in a fully physical way, I mean, and not as a Force Ghost] in Episode IX. I kinda want a Force Ghost or no Luke at all, but I don't think Abrams will let that happen.)

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Re: Shame about The Last Jedi, eh? (SPOILERS)

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » December 23rd, 2017, 7:31 pm

Potential reinforcement for the idea that Luke is serving in a balancing capacity on Crait:

I don't think anybody dies or is injured--on either side of the conflict--after Luke walks out to meet the First Order. He does it without striking a single blow, too, which is pretty neat.

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Re: Shame about The Last Jedi, eh? (SPOILERS)

Post by Mango » December 23rd, 2017, 8:51 pm

The Swollen Goiter of God wrote:
December 23rd, 2017, 7:31 pm
Potential reinforcement for the idea that Luke is serving in a balancing capacity on Crait:

I don't think anybody dies or is injured--on either side of the conflict--after Luke walks out to meet the First Order. He does it without striking a single blow, too, which is pretty neat.
I really liked how the final duel was fought. As you said he didn't land a single hit, he wasn't even there. How do we win a fight? by not being hit. How do we not get hit/avoid a fight? By not being there.
The fact that Luke expressed notions about the force being bigger than Jedi or Sith and then mentally won a duel from across the galaxy is far more in line with how I view the force to be than the silly rage-murder scene at the end of Rouge One.
People went on about how 'awesome' Vader was there. But saving yourself from the coldness of space? Projecting yourself across vast distances in order to let your opponent defeat themselves. That is awesome.

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Re: Shame about The Last Jedi, eh? (SPOILERS)

Post by Slartibartfast » December 25th, 2017, 1:54 am

Why does the map to Luke exist?

Why did Leia want to bring Luke back into the Resistance?

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Re: Shame about The Last Jedi, eh? (SPOILERS)

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » December 25th, 2017, 2:55 am

Kylo Ren refers to it a lot as a map to Luke Skywalker, and others repeat it, but it's my understanding that it's supposed to be a map to where the Jedi Temple may or may not be and that, to the best of anyone's knowledge, that's where Luke is headed. Since most people care about Luke's whereabouts and not about the temple, itself, it's thought of (and is called) a map to Luke Skywalker.

Abrams and Kasdan probably could have been clearer about it. Since Luke's found by the end of TFA, Johnson probably felt no real need to address it.

It should also be noted that the map existed in parts and that this is part of what made tracking Luke down problematic. It has been a while since I watched TFA. I can't remember offhand if there was an in-movie justification given for the map's being split up. Had Luke entrusted only a segment of it here and a segment there to make it harder for people (whether good or bad) to find him? Did Luke ever say, "Here's where I'm headed if you really, really need me, but, like, don't call unless it's an emergency?" Did Luke even need a map, himself, or did he just left the Force guide him to the temple? I don't remember to what degree TFA gives any of this info up, and I don't know if Abrams and Kasdan even felt it all that important. I think they just wanted an easy MacGuffin and a big Mr. Wu moment at the end of the movie.

* * *

In TFA, Leia mentions being foolish to think she could "just find Luke and being him home." The "home" theme gets hammered in over and over in TFA. My guess is that Leia wants to find Luke for a number of reasons, chief among them being that Luke's both a useful symbol and someone who has gotten results when going up against the Empire in the past.

The above is the most likely reasoning from a fighter's standpoint. Leia's fighting and looking for allies. Luke's a good fighter and former ally.

From an emotional standpoint, Leia may just miss her family and think she's got a better shot at getting Luke back in her life than she has at getting Han or Ben back. She may also think Luke's the key to getting her son to turn back to the Light Side. (She no longer thinks this, if her dialog is to be trusted, by TLJ.) She enlists Han to this end when Han shows up, which is a pretty foolhardy gambit, so it must have been something she really wanted. She also, perhaps, wants both Han and Luke to stop pouting over their perceived failures where her son is concerned and get their asses back in the game.

I suppose Abrams and Kasdan could have made Leia's reasons for wanting Luke back more explicit, but they probably thought people would assume one or more of the above. Abrams and Kasdan were probably banking on people taking it for granted that Leia wanted Luke back and fighting alongside her.

And why wouldn't she? The Resistance is clearly people-poor at the moment. Every little bit helps, and Luke has shown himself, in the past, to be more helpful than most.

Story-wise and Star Wars "rhyming"-wise, Abrams and Kasdan probably just wanted to establish yet another parallel with ANH. Once again, Leia is looking for a long-inactive Jedi Master to come bail her side out in a time of need.

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Re: Shame about The Last Jedi, eh? (SPOILERS)

Post by Slartibartfast » December 25th, 2017, 5:30 am

inb4, I don't want to create an Auseinandersetzung.

We were never told in TFA why Luke went to Ahch-To. ("Ahch-To" sounds like a sneeze, and strikes me as a bad name for something.) (Apparently this planet's name is pronounced "Auch Two". source: https://www.cinemablend.com/new/Star-Wa ... 03807.html )

I understand the claim that the map was split into two pieces in order to create two-factor authentication, but that doesn't explain why Luke would have created the map in the first place. If he wanted to be away from everything, it makes no sense for him to have made a map. If he meant to be found in the event that there was an emergency, then he must have had a change of heart in the time between the map's creation and the time that we see him in VII and VIII.

These are, of course, in-world explanations. And they all make the characters feel weird to me.

There is a perfectly cromulent explanation that isn't in-world, and it's the Rian Johnson chose to take the narrative in a direction different from the one that J.J. Abrams pointed it. Your mentioning of the easy MacGuffing and the big Mr. Wu moment is exactly this kind of not-in-world explanation.

This explanation is perfectly cromulent, but boy is it unsatisfying, and boy does it make the narrative feel cobbled together and made up as it goes.

Your speculation about Leia's motivations for bringing Luke back into the fold seem to me similarly cromulent, but also similarly unsatisfying by the metric of a plausible in-world narrative.

Han's leaving the narrative makes sense to me only by the lights of a not-in-world explanation: Harrison Ford wanted out of the Star Wars franchise. By the lights of an in-world explanation, though, Ben kills Han in order to prove to Snoke that he really is evil. This would be more satisfying to me if we knew who Snoke was, but we're not going to get to know much more about Snoke's mysterious influence, and why Ben would want to impress him.

That's about enough for now.

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Re: Shame about The Last Jedi, eh? (SPOILERS)

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » December 25th, 2017, 10:05 am

Slartibartfast wrote:If he meant to be found in the event that there was an emergency, then he must have had a change of heart in the time between the map's creation and the time that we see him in VII and VIII.
I don't think we're ever told in the movie that Luke created the map, just as we're not told why Luke went to Ahch-To. Abrams and Kasdan may have done this on purpose, either to give the next team as white a card as possible or to underscore their assumed We're-Not-the-Prequels message by keeping things nebulous. ("Look, Ma! No Midi-Chlorians!") Maybe both. It could also just be that they were being sloppy or that they were told to let the book and comics writers fill in the gaps, but I think it's more likely that felt they had some kind of mandate to build mystique.

Lar San Tekka had the map segment, presumably, for some time, regardless of who created it or why it was created. If Luke entrusted it to him, he may very well have had a change of heart in the intervening years. Luke's whole philosophy appears to have shifted since we last saw him, which I buy. It may have changed even more after he got to the island and began to dig around in the texts. If he had a change of heart about being located by anyone at all, why didn't he leave? That's a good question. He may have thought the possibility of anybody really needing/wanting him to return remote. He may have simply not wanted to be anywhere else. He may also have had some trouble with follow-through, as he did with burning down the library. (He may have been "trapped" there, to some degree, either by the Force itself or by his inability to move on properly. This could get into silly territory, though, so I'll keep it parenthetical.)

(Luke appeared surprised that Rey found him. If Luke, himself, gave Lar San Tekka the map fragment, it could be because he wanted to distance himself from everyone but Lar San Tekka and only gave him the information he gave him because he only wanted him, specifically, to come to the island, and even then only for study. It could also be that he felt betrayed when Rey showed up. That's all pretty silly, too. It requires a lot of reaching and conjecture.)

I prefer to stick to the movies and not rely too much on ancillary material. I'm not sure if any of this is covered in any greater depth outside of the movies. I see that Wookieepedia says two potentially conflicting things about the map. On the "Map to Luke Skywalker" page, it says Lor San Tekka (the Von Sydow character) "was given a portion of the map by Skywalker." (The citation claims this information comes from Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia, but I don't own it, so I can't check it.) The page for Lor San Tekka, on the other hand, says, "San Tekka, who retired to a spiritual village on the planet Jakku, discovered a fragment of a map that could lead to Ahch-To."

Granted, Wookieepedia is run by fans. The starwars.com page for Lor San Tekka (this one's a bit more official) says this:
After the Battle of Endor, San Tekka helped Luke Skywalker recover secret Jedi lore that the Empire had tried to erase, and Leia Organa hopes the old scout can now help find her brother. Following decades of adventure, San Tekka retired to live simply on Jakku, where he follows the dictates of the once-forbidden Church of the Force.
A moviegoer shouldn't have to read the ancillary material, though, and I don't really think it's necessary in this case. The viewer gathers from watching that Lar San Tekka has some mystic-y ideas about the Force, that he's understood to have some connection to Luke, that he has a key bit of information about Luke's possible whereabouts, and that he, like Leia, appears to think it necessary to track down Luke. "I've traveled too far, and seen too much, to ignore the despair in the galaxy. Without the Jedi, there can be no balance in the Force," he says. Luke, as per Johnson, clearly doesn't agree.

Johnson suggests that Luke is either familiar with Jakku or has been there with his "That *is* nowhere!" (potential paraphrase) line. I suppose one might also read it as Luke saying it's nowhere because he's never heard of it, but I don't think that's the case.

I'm not sure to what degree Abrams was or was not on board with some/all of Johnson's subversions, and I'm not sure to what degree Johnson's reins were free. He says he was allowed to do things the way he wanted to, but he may have been told he had some directives to hold to when he came on board. Lucasfilm almost certainly had a general direction for the new series from the get-go. I sometimes forget that Abrams started out as a writer, and I take it that he likes to take things in some kooky directions, himself, and also likes fakeouts. (This is what I've picked up, over the years, regarding his TV material, which I've seen very little of. One episode of Lost is it. I've mostly just seen movie Abrams. I have read that he knew he wouldn't get Ford on board without having the "Han dies" carrot dangling from the outset, but I don't know that this is true.)

Even if Abrams was always on board--but, out of an innate sense of populism, decides to walk back various things--I see some people coming away from Episode IX being simultaneously mad that the whole middle movie was "wasted" and appreciative that Abrams came back to (in their minds) right the ship.

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