Tag: Star Wars

The Last Jedi Review

I won’t keep you in suspense.  I did not like Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  I did not like it a lot.

I have seen the film twice now, my small contribution to its massive financial success.  My hopes were high on opening night, as my brother-in-law and I took our seats and basked in the glow of the famous opening crawl.  However, there was an immediate disturbance in the Force and by the end credits I felt betrayed and bewildered.  How could this story have gone so horribly wrong?

I spent much of the weekend trading messages with my friend, and fellow Star Wars fan, about how disappointing and distressing The Last Jedi was.  After picking (and nitpicking) at the details and overall tone of the movie, I began to think I was being overly critical.  After all, there were parts I enjoyed very much.

I took my sons to see it a few days later.  This time I gave myself license to enjoy the movie for what it is, a Star Wars film for a new generation, but as I sat through this dumpster fire once more it reconfirmed everything that felt wrong, from the tone, to the plot, to the characters.  I left the theater and mourned all that might have been and everything we lost with The Last Jedi.

WARNING: Beyond this point there be spoilers!

From the opening scene I was bothered by the tone.  Don’t get me wrong, I laughed.  The prank call from Poe to the First Order was hilarious.  What bugged me though was that it undercut an already thin villain, in General Hux, and completely negated any tension built from the crawl of the desperate escape.  Then, just minutes after the yucks on Hux, we are asked to care about nameless bomber pilots, and their sacrifices, when they attempt to destroy a battleship that is so formidable that it is ill equipped to deal with a single X-Wing fighter, or a squadron of bombers, or able to target a base or a starship in a timely manner.  Not to mention the fact that you can’t drop bombs in space, there’s no gravity!

Smash cut to Ahch-To where we pick up right where The Force Awakens left us, Rey standing in front of old Luke Skywalker.  We’ve waited two years to hear what Luke will say or do when he is presented with his father’s lightsaber.  In some ways we’ve waited 30 years for this moment.  And what happens?  Luke literally, and figuratively, throws it away.  Both times I watched it, several people in the theater chuckled, but I was deflated.

We were ten minutes in and it was clear that Rian Johnson was set to throw away everything that had come before.  The question that I still have is, why?  JJ Abrams proved you could make a Star Wars movie for a new generation and still deftly use the building blocks, and characters, from the original films.  To a truly spiteful level, Johnson had no interest in doing that.

Say what you want about The Force Awakens, three intriguing questions came out of it.  1) Why did Luke go into hiding and what will he say?  2) Who is Rey, who are her parents and why was she abandon on Jaku?  3) What is Snoke’s story?

Johnson’s answers in The Last Jedi?

1) An eternal optimist, who never gave up on his father (a genocidal maniac, who cut off his hand), was going to murder his nephew in his sleep for having bad thoughts.  So he went into shame hiding and renounced his religion because he couldn’t keep an emo kid from succumbing to a bad influence.  If every father (or father figure) did that there wouldn’t be enough weird rock beehive huts on Ahch-To to accommodate us all.

Oh, and what will he say?  Nothing.  He’ll toss the lightsaber away and lock himself in his room, because that’s exactly how any of us would react if a young lady showed up at our doorstep with a family heirloom and a distress message from our sister.  Then Chewy, who was dramatically underused, beats down his door and Luke learns that this girl arrived in the Falcon.  And here Johnson throws another middle finger at Abrams and cuts away instead of showing us Luke’s reaction to learning that his old friend and brother-in-law was murdered at the hands of his own flesh and blood, and Luke’s former pupil.

Oh yeah, Johnson throws more shade at The Force Awakens, and the Skywalker dynasty, by having the tantrum-throwing Ren destroy his helmet in the elevator.  This helmet was a physical manifestation of his connection to his grandfather and, just like a lightsaber toss over the shoulder, it was discarded.

Immediately following that we watch Kylo struggle with the decision to kill his mother.  In an intense and emotional moment he chooses not to pull the trigger, only to have his colleagues destroy the bridge and we watch Leia get sucked into space.  She is floating in space, Guardians of the Galaxy style, before she wakes up and space floats, Mary Poppins style, back to the exploded bridge.  Because, the Force, that’s why.

Speaking of things the Force has never done before, back on Porg island, while Rey patiently waits for her ungracious host to finish fishing and milking alien sea cows, she gets a ForceTime message from Kylo Ren.  Yeah, that’s right, they can talk to each other and even see each other, but not their surroundings.  ForceTime, available on iOSnoke 17.  Rey shoots through the stone beehive hut and we are treated to these bizarre fish nuns and now must grapple with the fact that Luke hasn’t been living in seclusion but in a Cod Commune.  I’ll just leave that there for the moment.

Now things really go off the rails.  The B-storyline quickly devolves into a slow speed space chase where the First Order, who can now inexplicably track ships at light speed, can’t catch up with a ship that is right in front of them.  And this same organization who turned a planet into a weapon that could destroy other planets across the galaxy, can’t build a cannon that can reach a ship which they can see with their eyes through their front window.  They could literally step out on the deck and hurl rocks through space at the fleeing Resistance ship, but it was out of range of their guns.  If that wasn’t ludicrous enough, we have to endure a side mission (by two woefully unqualified side characters) to find a code breaker/thief who can get them on a ship to disable the miraculous technology that can be disarmed by a maintenance worker and that every janitor is privy to its location.  BOO!

While we’re on the subject, why was maintenance girl sent on this mission instead of the best pilot in the galaxy?  Maintenance girl could have stayed back and stalled and then it would have made sense for them to withhold the plan from her.  Also, why was maintenance girl allowed to pilot the speeders in the finale when there were clearly trained soldiers just sitting it out in the foxhole?  Her whole character was so contrived and this whole storyline asinine.

Switching back to things we actually cared about, Luke sneaks on to the Millennium Falcon, during a really funny exchange between Chewy and his dinner.  Luke is reunited with R2D2 and I start to think this movie might yet be redeemed by a touching tender piece of nostalgia, but immediately we are treated to more hilarity “Hey, sacred island, watch your mouth.”  This was so out of character for this version of Luke that I wanted to throw the middle finger to the screen.  You can either go with old cynical jaded Luke who has lost his faith in himself and forsook the Jedi order or go with playful banter between a droid and his master, the faithful steward and last protector of a dying religion.  You can’t have both.

So Luke decides to teach Rey a lesson (three of them actually, but she only gets two lessons).  Not how to be a Jedi but why she shouldn’t want to be.  Luke says the Force is not light or dark and does not belong to the Jedi, which is actually really well said.  I always assumed that to be true, from Obi Wan’s original explanation of the force as the thing that binds us, runs through us, and connects us.  At no point did I feel anybody laid claim to the Force but if that’s how Luke needed to teach it then I’m fine with it.  When Rey shows sensitivity to the Force and awareness of the dark side of it, Luke loses his cool again.  Rey trains herself with the lightsaber and disturbs the fish nuns again (eye-roll).

We flash back to the gamblers paradise where Finn immediately shows he cares as little for the mission as we do.  They give BB-8 some funny things to do and a whole bunch of I-Don’t-Care happens.  Poe is at odds with an interim Admiral who I can only describe as “Wouldn’t it be cool to have Laura Dern in a Star Wars Movie?  But how would that work?  Who cares, get her a purple wig and we’ll figure it out.”  Purple-hair Laura Dern doesn’t share her master plan, because reasons.  Her master plan, by the way, is to cruise by an uncharted planet with an old rebel base on it and send out cloaked ships while the First Order continues to follow their RV that’s about to run out of gas.  Did I mention they have cloaking devices now?  The First Order designed something that can track a ship at light speed but not a scanner that can sweep for escaping vessels right in front of them.

So Rey goes into a Dark Side Funhouse and then Luke catches her Force touching with Kylo Ren and loses his junk.  Rey and Luke stick fight until she takes him down and threatens him with a laser sword.  Yeah, Luke called it a laser sword.  Boo!

She tries to convince him that there is good in Kylo but Luke, who made the same argument for his youngling murdering father, would rather just lay there in the rain than trust hope.  When Rey finally sees what a disappointment Luke is, she leaves.

Of course Luke’s first thought is “I should burn that old tree and those old books.  That will show the Force.”  Yoda shows up and I squealed a little.  They even brought back puppet Yoda, or CGI’d puppet Yoda.  Either way, YODA!  He delves out wisdom after conjuring lightning and cracking Luke on the noggin with his Force Ghost cane, which we can add to the list of things we didn’t know you could do with the Force.  How are these guys losing to the Dark Side?  I’m starting to think that Force Ghosts are selfish jerks.

Skipping the “Nobody cares about the mission to disable a tracking device that won’t matter because the plan is to abandon ship anyway” storyline, Rey jettisons herself from the Falcon in an escape coffin that can be piloted into Snoke’s ship.  Snoke shows how powerful he is.  He can move people and things around at will and connect them via ForceTime from across the galaxy.  He can even foresee the future, but he can’t see a lightsaber turning on the armrest next to him.

Who is Snoke?  Answer 3) You’ll never know, so shut up.

The fight scene that follows is really cool though.  Then comes the old “join me and we’ll rule the galaxy” invite.  Rey refuses and Kylo Ren tells her that he saw her parents through the Force and that they are junkers who sold her for drinking money and died penniless.  Answer 2) Well, that sucks.

Purple-haired Laura Dern tells the First Order to “Track This!” and crams her hyperdrive in the First Order’s Snoke hole.  That visual was dope.  So well done.  The audio space vacuum was amazing.  Probably the best Star Wars explosion and that’s saying something.  It almost redeemed the atrocious dialogue written for purple-haired Laura Dern.  “God speed.”  When in all of Star Wars history has God ever been mentioned?  It’s the Force.  You know, may the Force be with you.  Not God speed.  “No, don’t turn back.  Full speed ahead.”   Were they not going “full speed ahead” already?  Cause they really should have been, seeing how they were escaping and all.

I won’t even waste time and energy on the disposal Captain Phasma, since the screenwriter/director didn’t either.

The surviving spark that will light the fire that will… (too exhausted to care) lands on not-Hoth and holds up in the old rebel base.  The First Order slow marches from a distance to give Poe and company time to jump in old speeders and ramble out to battle.  Chewy, the Porgs, and Rey show up in the Millennium Falcon and lead the TIE Fighters away from the battle.  That was also outstanding.

Enter poorly thought out dialogue again “Concentrate all fire on the speeders!”  What were they concentrating all fire on before?  There are only 13 speeders, that’s been well established.  The reckless Poe calls for retreat, because Leia and purple-haired Laura Dern reformed the loveable scoundrel with secret admiration and stern reproving (boo!), but Finn charges forward anyway.  Only to be run down from behind by maintenance girl, who had retreated and then turned around to catch him from the side.  How?!  Was he not going full speed ahead?

The portable cannon, that apparently doesn’t work in space against a slowly fleeing space cruiser, blows a hole in the base.  The spark that will light the…(sigh) loses hope until Luke Freaking Skywalker shows up!  Wait, why is his hair shorter and his beard darker.  Something’s not right.  Oh well, Luke is here!  He kisses Leia on the forehead and throws 3PO a nod before walking out to face down the First Order with his laser sword.  In a dazzling display of pyrotechnics, Ren orders Skywalker blasted into salt dust.  Just For Men Luke emerges from the smoke and flames unscathed and Ren condescends to fight him.

The spark that…(head shake) follows the crystal foxes to the rock avalanche while Luke dances with Darth Poser.  Our suspicions are confirmed when Ren slices through the Force projection of Luke.  Another disappointment for what was a stunning visual.  After telling Ren that the Resistance was only beginning his projection fades away before we watch actual Luke fade away.  Because he was tired?

What a complete waste of Luke Freaking Skywalker!

Rey force lifts the boulders and rescues the spark…(growl).  Like a dozen people board the Falcon and escape.  Kylo Ren enters the base with salt troopers and finds the Falcon’s fuzzy dice projection, which somehow survives just long enough for Ren to see it, even after Luke has vanished.  When the Force awakened it must have learned new tricks.

Finally we are treated to indentured children from the B-storyline recounting the legend of Luke Skywalker facing down the First Order (even though they should be recounting how Leia used the Force to come back from the dead and fly through space) their taskmaster tells them to get back to work.  One of the boys Force fetches his broom and looks up at the sky.  Uh, I think we’ve already seen a young mistreated slave boy with Force powers.  Somebody take that kid’s midichlorian count, stat.

Unless you are a special little snowflake born in the last twenty-five yearss, this film was not made for you.  You might have enjoyed it, but this movie was the equivalent of Disney giving the keys to the car to an unlicensed Millennial, more interested in sending a funny SnapChat to his online “friends” in Asia than safeguarding the family vehicle, and he drove this piece right into a ditch.  Search your feelings, you know it to be true.

Help me JJ Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.

Star Wars: An allegory of fatherhood

Father of children (Episode I)

QuiGonnWhen your children are small, you run around the galaxy like Qui-Gon Jinn with a mostly obedient Obi-Wan Kenobi tagging along. You call the shots and mold your trusty young padawan, with the intention he’ll one day be like you. Although everyone warns you that the next phase is fraught with peril, and destined to end badly, you press on full of optimism. Alas, all too quickly, it comes to an abrupt end as you take a light saber to the gut from a mysterious dark force (adolescence).


Father of teenagers (Episodes II & III)

obi-wan-chosen-oneAll of a sudden you are a flustered and befuddled Obi-Wan, strapped with a moody, angry, slightly whiny padawan who thinks he knows everything. You see the great potential that Anakin possesses, but fear you are going to have to kill him before he reaches it. When Anakin isn’t busy not listening to you he is hanging out with shady figures who are bad influences. Inevitably comes the conflict that ends with you, literally or figuratively, screaming at him, through weary tear soaked eyes, “YOU WERE THE CHOSEN ONE!” while he growls up at you wallowing in his resentment and remorse. [Disclaimer: this isn’t indicative of all teenagers just those that eat and breathe.]


Father of adults (Episode IV: A New Hope)

ObiWan LukeYour reward for those tumultuous Anakin years is a much more willing subject, Luke. You are older now and a little wiser and more patient. Your apprentice understands he doesn’t know everything and is eager to learn what you know.  He is at times impatient, wanting to possess skills and knowledge it has taking you a lifetime to acquire. Still, you are grateful for a second chance and a more receptive vessel. While you want to instruct him in all things, you wisely decide that it’s best he learn for himself. As scary and painful as it may be, when the time is right, you will choose to leave him alone.


Father of Adults part II (Episodes V & VI: Return of the Jedi)

Yodahut_STAlthough he is grown and more experienced, he will still seek for guidance. The years have given you additional knowledge that can benefit him but are too old to go chasing around the galaxy. If he wants your wisdom he’s going to have to come to Dagobah and put up with a heaping spoonful of your craziness, and eat whatever crap you cook up. If he shows the slightest disinterest or lack of faith you can hit him with your cane and say bad things to him and he just has to take it because you are old. Do or do not, there is no try.

One day you’ll fade away and all you can do is hope you’ve prepared him well enough to deal with crazy old Anakin and the dark side better than you did.

Happy Fathers Day!












The Theory Awakens

Like most of you voluntarily reading this, I love Star Wars. One of my most vivid childhood memories is going to see Return of the Jedi in theaters when I was six (I wanted an Ewok so bad). I watched Empire Strikes Back on HBO repeatedly one summer, seriously every time it was on (Obsessed I was). When I was eighteen and hungry for more Star Wars I read a series of books that were set several decades after Episode VI and was able to catch up with Han, Luke and Leia as generals, parents and Jedi masters. I dreamed that one day I would see those stories on the big screen and on December 18th that dream will become a reality. I still cannot believe it.

I have followed the news and consumed the promotional materials and trailers like a wampa at a free tauntaun buffet. As JJ Abrams is famously secretive, there is still much we do not yet know about the story for the new film but I thought I would take a stab at guessing the identity of some of the characters and the plot. This is strictly my theory based solely on the trailers and the interviews I have read from the cast and crew, so these cannot be considered spoilers (The odds of me correctly guessing the plot are approximately 3,720 to 1). And yes, I put way too much thought into this.

The Force Awakens

First, I believe that Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, is without a doubt Luke Skywalker’s daughter. They have purposefully withheld her last name and from the international trailer we hear her say she is waiting for her family. Furthermore in an interview Ridley said her character was abandoned on Jakku when she was five years old. Combine that with the knowledge that the First Order is the re-incarnation of The Empire and has been hunting Luke Skywalker as the despot who murdered the noble Emperor Palpotine and spread chaos through the galaxy (which I believe will be the propaganda The First Order uses to recruit people to their cause). Giving further credence is the fact that we have not yet seen Luke and much focus in the marketing has been on Rey.

We know from Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy that Episodes VII, VIII and IX are a continuation of the Skywalker saga so we are going to be introduced to the next generation in this film. Could she be Han and Leia’s daughter? Sure, and she would still technically be a Skywalker, but why would Han and Leia, who are still clearly around and capable, abandoned their daughter on a desert planet? It doesn’t make sense.


What does make sense is that Luke had a child and for her protection left her on an isolated desert planet just as was done for him. Luke separated himself from her so she would not be hunted and nobody would know of her relationship to him. Meanwhile, Luke goes off and lives in seclusion to hone his connection with the Force like his mentors Yoda and Obi Wan. And this is where the action picks up in The Force Awakens.

Finn, played by John Boyega, is a Stormtrooper with The First Order. He sees some things that make him question the propaganda he has been fed his whole life. Possibly the torturing of Poe Dameron, played by Oscar Isaac, or the burning of the settlement by Captain Phasma, played by Gwendoline Christie. Finn helps Dameron escape from a star destroyer and he himself is shot down in the process, crash landing on Jakku. He meets Rey, who has returned from a successful scavenging run inside a fallen star destroyer, just as TIE Fighters show up and start blasting the Hoth out of everything. They escape in the Millennium Falcon where they meet Han and Chewbacca. “Chewie, we’re home.”

Uncle Han has been searching for Rey since they learned of her existence and needs her to help find Luke and bring him back out of hiding because there is a emerging threat to the galaxy. The new quartette travel to a distance planet to speak with the pirate Maz Kanata, played by Lupita Nyong’o, as they believe she has knowledge of Luke’s whereabouts, or possibly because she has his lightsaber. Or both? Kanata, who lives in the temple with all the flags, fills Rey in (and also the audience) as to some of the events of the last thirty years and a bit of her family history and why Luke left her. (I’ll hedge my bet slightly here and say that since Kanata is described as a pirate the temple might not be her base of operation, it could very well be the headquarters of The Resistance and Han is taking her to Aunt Leia.)


In the meantime, Captain Phasma and The First Order shows up and starts wrecking shop outside the temple. Troopers capture Han, Chewie and Finn but just in the nick of time they are rescued when Poe Dameron and the rest of The Resistance show up and an epic X-wing/TIE Fighter battle ensues. LeiaTFAGeneral Leia, who orchestrated their rescue, arrives and is reunited with Han. Rey meets Aunt Leia and Finn officially joins The Resistance.

The First Order is forced to retreat and Captain Phasma must report their failure to General Hux, played by Domhnall Gleeson. From interviews by Gleeson and Abrams, Hux is an ambitious General who has his sights set on running The First Order. His rival is the Vader fanatic Kylo Ren, played by Adam Driver, who is the disciple of Supreme Leader Snoke, played by motion capture wizard Andy Serkis. Kylo Ren, if that is his real name, is obsessed with Vader and the dark side and collects Syth relics. He wants to finish the work of his grandfather to bring order to the galaxy and turn Luke to the dark side. “Nothing will stand in our way. I will finish what you started.” That’s right I said it, his grandfather. Kylo Ren is none other than Han and Leia’s prodigal son. Boom! (Whaaaaaaat??)

Snoke is the master behind the scenes and while General Hux is focused on completing and activating their terrifying weapon (a new Death Star) from the Star Killer base on the ice planet, Kylo Ren is tasked with hunting down Luke and any potentially Force-sensitive life forms, a.k.a. his cousin.


While General Leia, Admiral Ackbar (that’s right, he’s back), Poe Dameron and the rest of The Resistance address the impending threat posed by the new Death Star; Han, Rey, Chewie and Finn continue on the search for Luke.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Ph: Film Frame © 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved..
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Ph: Film Frame
© 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved..

I have no idea what happens from here but this is how I would love to see Episode VII end. Kylo Ren catches up with his father, his cousin and Finn on a remote forest planet where both parties believe Luke to be hiding. Ren attacks them and cuts off Han’s hand (it’s Star Wars, you know it’s gonna happen) and is bearing down on Finn. Finn produces Luke’s lightsaber (which he’s only wielded a couple of times) and prepares to defend himself. Ren soundly defeats Finn and is about to end him when out of nowhere a cloaked figure appears and Force pushes Ren through about a dozen trees with power and intensity we have never seen. The figure turns to Rey and Finn and removes his hood to reveal a grizzled and bearded Luke Skywalker. [Cut to black] Bring on Episode VIII!


Things I hopeI’m Luke Skywalker. I’m here to rescue you.”
star-wars-imax -Han and Leia are indeed together in this movie.
-Leia will have honed the Force and will have senses and abilities of a Jedi
-Rey has Darth Plagueis’s staff.
-Supreme Leader Snoke turns out to be Darth Plagueis.
-We see the bones and skull of a certain Gungan Senator in the background of a shot.
-Any character who says “midi-chlorians” is immediately dismembered and thrown down a long shaft.

Things I fearI’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
-Finn is Lando Calrissian’s son. That’s just stupid.
-Rey built BB-8. It was idiotic to have Anakin be the creator of C3-PO, don’t do that again.
-Han dies in this movie.
-Chewie dies in this movie.
-Luke has turned to the dark side.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. What do you think is going to happen? Comment below or on my Facebook page or tweet at me. #EpisodeVIITheory