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Short blog posts, journal entries, and random thoughts. Topics include a mix of personal and the world at large. 

The Last Jedi is a brilliant movie

When I came out of the theatre after seeing The Last Jedi the first time, I was hugely confounded and frustrated. How could director Rian Johnson so cavalierly toss away and disregard plot-points set up by The Force Awakens? Rey's parents were nobodies!? You're not going to explain how Snoke - an all-powerful being of the Dark Side - came about? What of the Knights of Ren? How Luke's lightsaber came to be in Maz Kanata's vault?

Nothing. 

Honestly I was so disgusted with the film I couldn't bring myself to see it again in the theatre. A roman numeral Star Wars saga movie ought to follow the strings left by the preceding film, and hardly the proper place to "go a different route". For all the crap tossed at Episode 7 for being formulaic: well, it worked, didn't it? Us fans lapped it up to it becoming one of the highest grossing movies of all time. 

That was my thought process heading into a second viewing of Episode 8, which recently came out on home media. Instead of looking for satisfactory answers to questions asked by the previous film - which I knew The Last Jedi would not provide - I tried to see The Last Jedi for what it is, and not through the harsh fan-boy prism. 

The Last Jedi is a brilliant movie. 

Indeed my fan-boy expectations colored my thoughts during the theatrical release, but with those out of the way, I found the themes presented in The Last Jedi to be some of the deepest and most thought-provoking. The Force isn't some special talent bestowed only to few: It's the lifestream innate in the entire Universe. It takes no special DNA or Skywalker lineage to wield it, a concept showcased nicely in in the film by the tragic insignificance of Rey's parents.

Luke Skywalker isn't a messianic figure we've all known him to be: he's a fallible human, full of doubts and mistakes. The Jedi myth blinded him into a hubris that ultimately led to the turn of Ben Solo into Kylo Ren. Luke's self-imposed exile isn't an act of weakness, nor does it diminish the Skywalker mythos - because it's a sham. He explains to Rey that his canonization is how they got into the present mess. Yes, he supposedly brought balance to the force by rescuing his father from the Dark Side, but the Force isn't localized to such an event: it will always seek balance, with or without a Skywalker. 

Which explains the existence of Snoke. The Empire's destruction actually left an imbalance in the Force: Snoke was conjured up by the universe to counteract the immense good Luke represented, just as Rey is the counterbalance to Kylo Ren. There's no need to give Snoke a backstory: he exists because of Luke, and when Snoke got killed by Kylo Ren, Luke was then free to leave as well. 

I think The Last Jedi is definitely the most "human" of all the saga films, which I guess can be disappointing for those looking for Star Wars to be this epic space opera with fantastical provenance. I was that person, but after seeing the film a second time I can appreciate the new paradigm to the story Rian Johnson is telling. 

Of course I still would've liked further information on the Knights of Ren, and how Luke's lightsaber forsook him (or did he forsake it?) into the hands of Maz Kanata. Something for Episode 9, perhaps. 

Thoughts on Star Wars The Last Jedi

Spoilers, obviously.

So I took a few days to digest precisely everything I saw in The Last Jedi. My immediate emotions coming out of the theatre was one of frustration and oddly, anger, but I didn't know why then. The next day I digested all manners of spoiler reviews and discussion, and the picture in my head became clear. 

I was conflicted because Episode 8 disregards every question that was left to be answered in Episode 7. Luke seeing his old lightsaber after 40 years? He tosses it into the ocean after 5 seconds of contemplation. Who are Rey's parents? Simply nobodies. Who is Snoke and how he came to be so powerful? Never explained. The Resistance base planet? Destroyed in the opening act. Maz Kanata's "a good story for another time" - how she came to possess Anakin Skywalker's lightsaber? Nothing. 

I'd go as far as to say Rian Johnson had contempt for What JJ Abrams started in The Force Awakens. 

Heading into The Last Jedi I knew about the massive deficit between the critics score and the audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. I was full of excitement and anticipation because I'd thought it was major plot points and twists that are causing divide, and I'm all for a non-cookie cutter Star Wars story. Turns out I got to be disappointed at that, too. The Last Jedi is largely what I thought it would be: Rey gets trained by Luke, the First Order retaliates against the Resistance, Kylo tries to turn Rey to the dark side but get rejected, and Luke returns at the end to save the day. 

All that in it of itself makes for a good and entertaining movie - if you disregard the severed connections with Episode 7. I guess a sizable amount of fans cannot do that, which explains the low Rotten Tomatoes audience score. I can't say they are wrong: one expects a proper saga film to answer questions laid out by the one preceding it. However, I think fan's heighten expectations after two years of rampant (and fun) speculation were so on an edge that by not paying off any of it in The Last Jedi, they felt absolutely cheated.

Looking back, that was exactly my thoughts after watching the movie, and some of those sentiments stuck even after reading Rian's multiple explanations on his decisions. People suggests that upon additional viewings the film improves dramatically because all the pent up expectations were already crushed by the first watch (quite the caveat, wouldn't you say?). I'll have to see for myself when I do watch it again. 

JJ is back on Episode 9, and I wonder if he alters anything in the plans to alleviate the fan backlash. 

To balance out the negativity, here are some things I really liked in The Last Jedi. The fight scene in the throne room is easily the second best lightsaber sequence behind the duel of fates in Episode 1. Force ghost Yoda showing up (in original puppet form!) was a pleasant surprise and a memorable scene with Luke. Snoke's death at the hands of Kylo happened one film earlier than expected but I like how quickly Kylo has claimed agency over himself and the entire First Order. The opening battle of X-wings taking down a First Order 'Dreadnaught' ship, and the ending battle on the salt planet is visually spectacular. Lastly, I quite enjoy the additional levity and humor sprinkled throughout. 

So here's my current verdict: The Last Jedi is a good Star Wars saga movie if you can ignore what was left behind in The Force Awakens. 

Finally going to see The Last Jedi

I am finally seeing Star Wars The Last Jedi this evening, and I am chomping at the bits excited. 

The movie came out almost a week ago so going on Twitter since is like playing Minesweeper with spoilers. Try as I might to avoid them I've already been informed of a few plot points, though nothing major thankfully. The dodging and avoidance can stop after tonight and I can join in on the fun of discussing the movie.

And it appears to be a divisive movie indeed. On Rotten Tomatoes, the audience score is some 30 points lower than the critics score, which is very odd. Comparatively, the audience score for Justice League is 40 points higher than the critic score. What exactly are the fans not happy with in The Last Jedi that movie reviewers are raving about? 

I can't wait to find out. 

As I head into the movie though I'm glad opinions on Episode 8 are mixed, with people generally agreeing it's a good movie but major details are highly disagreeable. It's about time we get a non cookie-cutter Star Wars film because Episode 7 in hindsight was just a rehash of A New Hope with all the usual trappings of a "proper" Star Wars film. Fine, people love a good nostalgia trip and The Force Awakens served that purpose beautifully. I need The Last Jedi to be fresh and though-provoking, and it looks like I will get it. 

I shall give my thoughts on the next blog. Thank you to those amongst my circles of interaction kind enough to not spoil the film. Cheers.  

Thoughts on the Star Wars 8 trailer

So, about that Star Wars Episode 8 trailer...

Shut up and take my money! The trailer is spectacular; not that it was needed to get my butt into the theatre, but my interest is piqued to the maximum. I plan to watch it at least a thousand times before December arrives. 

Obviously there's tons of obfuscation and misdirections in the trailer. It'd be too on the nose if Kylo Ren kills his mother after killing his father in Force Awakens, though I wouldn't mind if that's how they send off Carrie Fisher's character. The last shot of Kylo offering his hand to Rey means there's almost zero chance Rey is the one to turn dark, cause why would the producers spoil the movie's major shock point at the end of a trailer? The scene was also a bit too reminisce of Empire Strikes Back, what with Darth Vader offering his hand to Luke to join him. 

Rian Johnson really need to do all he can to avoid any call-backs to Empire. 

Anyways, not to say I don't want Rey to turn dark, because that would be awesome. My ultimate fan-dream for the next two movies is for Rey and Kylo to team up, destroy the First Order, and then go their separate ways. Rey will then form a new Jedi academy, while Kylo will restart the Sith Order. We shall then have balance in the Force. 

The only flaw in the trailer is the Porg. I don't care how adorable it is, unless/until proven wrong by the movie, to me the Porg is nothing more than a blatant merchandise grab by a franchise that don't need it. Guardians of the Galaxy got to it first with Baby Groot; Star Wars is merely copying it. 

 

Obi-Wan anthology film is official

It’s finally official. The Obi-Wan Kenobi film is happening.

Ever since Disney bought out the entire Star Wars IP from Lucas and announced they were going to do anthology movies alongside three new saga films, I’ve been saying - along with practically every other fan out there - doing an Obi-Wan solo films is an absolute no brainer. Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan was one of the few bright spots in the prequel trilogy, and us fans are all wondering just what the Jedi Master got up to in between within the time between the Jedi purge and Leia’s distress message. 

Not confirmed is that Ewan McGregor is for sure doing it, but it’s mere formalities at this point, isn’t it. At least we hope it is: I for one will refuse to watch an Obi-Wan film without McGregor playing the titular character. 

The Obi-Wan Kenobi anthology movie may perhaps be the perfect tie-in between the prequels and original trilogy. They can bring back the same actors from Episode III to play Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru - we will no doubt be seeing a young Luke. Ian McDiarmid can reprise as the Emperor Palpatine, and the main villain can be, who else, Darth Vader himself. After the incredible and indelible hallway sequence in Rogue One, who doesn’t want more Darth Vader?

Hayden Christensen can even redeem himself to play Anakin in flashbacks. 

Qui-Gon force ghost? A brief visit to see Master Yoda? 

I for one cannot wait for a deep character-study film on Obi-Wan in what is for sure amongst his darkest days as the republic dissolves into the Empire. I’m immensely happy it’s officially happening.