Alexandra Petrache reviews the latest instalment of the beloved franchise.
WARNING: Potential spoilers
There has been an awakening – have you felt it?
I will finish what you started.
Yes, a thousand times, yes! I felt the awakening in the chills that went through my body as I got ready for the midnight showing (I could not have risked the film being spoiled for me the next day). Putting on my belt and the lightsaber to dress up as Obi-Wan, I realised it was the first ever film from the Star Wars franchise I was going to see at the cinema. I remembered a little girl ages ago saying “George Lucaaaaas” in an ecstatic voice when her dad asked her who directed the Star Wars movies, her favourites. I remember her crying the next day if she failed to get up to watch the movies on TV (they were always being shown so late at night!).
Well… cry no more, little girl.
After all this time… there is another. Another Star Wars film.
…and another one. Hmm, bit suspicious about this one – taking a tiny aspect of the story and turning it into a movie. Can we get a movie about Obi-Wan? Or Yoda? Yet Rogue One delivered well and managed to introduce new characters smoothly and successfully.
Tickets for Star Wars: The Last Jedi are on sale! Better buy them before they run out!
13th of December 2017, 6pm
It is tonight. The first showing is tonight. The past few weeks at university have been a roller coaster and time has crept by without me realising – IT IS TONIGHT!
I am re-watching the trailers and I have so many questions. What is Kylo referring to when he is suggests he will “kill the past”? His family – Leia and Luke? His past as a knight of Ren?
Is Luke afraid of Kylo or Rey? Who is Rey?
What about the porgs? And how is Chewie managing without Han?
Is Luke the last Jedi and is he turning rogue?
Let’s dissect the trailer a little bit. The scene when Kylo looks pensively through a glass panel as he oversees the construction of new weapons is reminiscent of Darth Vader. Like Vader, does Kylo think about finding the last members of his family and turning them over or destroying them? Throughout the trailer, there seems to be a parallel between Kylo and Anakin – will Kylo return to the good side of the Force, maybe by training Rey and plotting for the collapse of the First Order together?
Something makes me think the “raw power” and “something special” that Supreme Leader Snoke’s voice is describing refers to Rey’s innate ability with the Force. Like Emperor Palpatine before him, he seems to be tapping into her raw emotions of uncertainty, confusion and maybe fear to seduce her into joining the dark side of the Force. Plus, Rey’s first meeting with Luke is unravelling over a slightly different version of the Imperial March, Vader’s anthem – are the crew hinting that one of the two is going to turn rogue?
My prediction is that Kylo is going towards the good side – flying a TIE fighter among black and red ships is reminiscent of Luke flying along the first Death Star seconds before destroying it. Kylo says, “Let the past die. Kill it,” right after he can be seen smashing his Vader-like helmet against a wall, and before we see him shooting (at a First Order ship?). Is his past his grandfather and the sense of adoration he carries (carried?) for him? Are Leia’s eyes watery because of betrayal or because she sensed her Ben turned good in the end? Something makes me think it’s the latter and that she is also in danger of dying, but that she will join Han peacefully, knowing their son is no longer a knight of Ren.
Let’s see what the movie brings.
13th of December 2017, 23:59pm: ONLY TWO MORE MINUTES!
14th of December 2017 3am
This is definitely one that will split the fans: on one side you have a decent film with nice visual and sound effects and some interesting ideas; on the other, a negation of everything that is Star Wars and a reduction of the franchise to a commercial comedy.
The First Order has located the Resistance and found a way to follow their ships through hyperspace. Poe shows disobedience, as usual, and manages to buy them some time. Finn wakes up from a coma, figures out the situation they are in is a bit sticky and wants to warn Rey of the dangers, but gets caught up in saving the Resistance again, this time with the help of Rose, Poe, Maz and a few others.
In the meantime, Rey is trying to convince Luke (now old and bitter) to show her the ways of the Force. The first lesson is very valuable and nicely presented and shows Rey figuring out the connection between all the living things. She discovers the dark side of the Force and manages to scare Luke with her raw power which, he says, is similar to Kylo’s.
Rey and Kylo have an interesting connection and she desperately believes that he can be turned from the darkness. She takes some time exploring her connection with the Force, questioning Luke about the Jedi Order.
Meanwhile, Vice Admiral Holde manages to tone down Poe’s “trigger-happy” tendencies and figures out a plan to save the Resistance. New and old characters get together in the end to face the First Order and carry on the legacy of the Jedi.
“Who are you?” the voice in “The Force Awakens” asks. I really wanted to find out Rey’s ancestry. Is she Luke’s daughter? Obi-Wan’s? As the movie went on I had this sudden (albeit a bit absurd) thought: could she be Kylo’s sister? I half expected her to call him “brother” when he confronted her about her past.
The truth about Rey’s parents is that… the writers came up with a good idea. I thought “yes, this is bang-on, perfect!” However, it was very poorly presented and made no impact. What a waste of an original idea.
Character development is one of the key areas in which SWTLJ fails to deliver, and probably the most important. It is incredibly difficult to form a connection with the characters, as the makers try to awkwardly build a love triangle fit for Twilight (as my friend Veronica put it: remember when a simple”I love you – I know” was strong enough to create a powerful love and a comedic effect?”) and put characters in danger only to save them in ludicrous ways. It also feels like they got inspiration for the lines from some dad-jokes-and-pick-up-lines website. When characters died in previous films (oh, Han!) or were put in dangerous situations, I felt it strongly but now I could not care less whether they lived or not.
Out of all the characters, Vice Admiral Holdo’s arc is an interesting one; it manages to draw in the attention and develops nicely until the end. She briefly takes over command from Leia and has some cunning plans to save the Resistance from the First Order. She does not appear as a strong female character, but delivers some nice lines and, surprisingly, comes out on top in a few verbal exchanges with Poe. Good job.
Would I see it again?
No. It fails to capture the classic Star Wars spirit (or make its own, like Rogue One did). There were some parts where I almost felt a glimmer of hope, but that was almost immediately buried under a pile of embarrassment (seriously, who thought Leia’s “stunt” was a good one to pull?).
It pains me to say the part I enjoyed most was the music – the classic tunes plus some variations.
I am a silly nostalgic fan ready to leave a lot of room for experimentation with new characters and situations. Mistakes are welcome, as long as the movie is built on a good scaffold and makes its own name while being respectful of the past. The Last Jedi, however, has tarnished the franchise. Or better said, its makers have. It is hard to believe there was a single Star Wars fan in the crew that made the movie.
In short, Luke kills a fish with a spear and gets a pep talk from Rey. Finn gets a pep talk from Rose. Poe gives and gets a pep talk. Luke gets another pep talk. Kylo gets a few of those. R2 gives a pep talk. Fantastic drinking game, if you ask me. Some characters sacrifice themselves, others try to, there is an awkward love(?) triangle and some cute animals. BB-8 saves the day a few times, and there is some fleeting lightsaber work.
Star Wars is dead. Long live the cute, commercial Christmas movie relying on cuddly animals to save a franchise. Some will undoubtedly like the new-cool-kid-on-the-block atmosphere of the movie, but I rest my case that so far The Last Jedi is the weakling of the whole saga. A decent movie, but not a Star Wars movie.