Dec 28, 2017

Roundtable: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

It's safe to say that Star Wars: The Last Jedi was a divisive movie. With that, The Comics Cube's extended family sat down and discussed it.

Roundtable: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

TanyaMy initial response is the theme of the whole movie is: What does it mean to be a hero? I liked the film, I just didn't think it was as fun or as emotional as The Force Awakens.

Joe:  I felt like the main point of The Last Jedi was to let the past die. I'm excited that the modern films are building on the rich history of Star Wars and cultivating a new fan base using new characters rather than rebooting the franchise. I was impressed how The Last Jedi surprised me at so many junctures. Every time I thought I knew what was about to happen, the story went a totally different way.

JD:  I saw it twice and I understand everything Johnson was going for, I just think he could have incorporated Abram's ideas from The Force Awakens more to make it a more cohesive story.  The end of The Force Awakens and the beginning of The Last Jedi just do not line up. If Luke is there to die, and has turned away from the path, why is he in full Jedi regalia when we see him at the end of The Force Awakens? I have so many questions that are not related to plot, but story decisions. Because there are lots of things Abrams left dangling that Johnson could have used to make a better chapter 2.

Joe: I doubt the story decisions were Johnson's personal choices. Writer-Directors aren't hired to bring their distinct vision to Star Wars. They're hired to fit a mold and accomplish goals the studio has set. That's why the director of Han Solo was dismissed in favor of Ron Howard, a director they could trust to toe the company line.

JD: Johnson has a solo directing/writing credit on The Last Jedi, the first on a Star Wars film since Lucas. They have a roundtable of "lore masters" but that's it.
I was impressed how The Last Jedi surprised me at so many junctures. Every time I thought I knew what was about to happen, the story went a totally different way. -Joe

Ben: Why create a map to hide in R2 if you’re not interested in helping at all when they come? The Resistance strikes a big blow to the First Order by destroying their big base, it’s looking more hopeful, but now all of a sudden the resistance is nearly wiped out and the galaxy has lost all hope?

JD: Well, the Resistance destroyed a base, the First Order destroyed the entire government.

Ben: The government isn’t the Resistance, and they destroyed their planet-sized weapon. I can give them the loss of hope, but there’s nothing to suggest the Resistance has been almost obliterated. They can both be no-prized, but the implication from The Force Awakens for me was that the First Order was nowhere close to ruling the galaxy.

JD: The new republic was disarmed; that's why Leia created the Resistance. There is no galaxy wide army other than the First Order.

Ben: Ultimately I can forgive flaws, logic gaps, and characterization mistakes if it’s entertaining. But it wasn’t. Even the climatic battle involved the good guys running away while a hologram saved them.

JD: Which is what happened in A New Hope. Leia's hologram kind of saves everyone, right? And it inspired Luke for his mind trick in The Last Jedi. I like that a lot, but I don't want to be hit over the head with it.

Ben:  So I’m not all negative, I loved the Yoda scene. I liked everything with Kylo and Rey. Poe is interesting. I liked Rose. The throne scene fight was amazing. The bombing run was stupid (there’s no gravity in space guys) but cool. The hyperspace suicide ship was great.
 All the new characters are fine, it’s everything they did with the old that I didn’t like.

LaMar: You don't need to kill everybody over 25 years of age to make way for the future. Some stuff was hype as hell, but not enough to make up for the ripoff. 

Jeff: It's an alright movie to me, not horrible not great, just alright. There are parts of it that just seem like a waste of screen time, time that could have been used better. The plot for Finn and Rose was so pointless. Why show us everything they had to do to try to give the resistance a chance to escape only for them to fail? I wasn't surprised with Luke's death, but it was really anticlimatic way to end the movie. Having a real duel between him and Kylo Ren would been a better send off for him.

Ben: Yep, I think I like the movie way better if Luke is physically there to fight and do some cool Jedi master shit.

Max: I didn’t hate it. Thought it was the most nuanced Star Wars film so far, but I did find my mind wandering at times. Too much crammed in.  I did like that Luke had a kind of post–Return of the Jedi PTSD that led to all the business with Kylo Ren. That helps differentiate Ren’s fall instead of making Luke vs. Ren the same as Kenobi vs. Anakin. Though the most exciting action was in the first five minutes, which isn’t a good sign.

Ultimately I can forgive flaws, logic gaps, and characterization mistakes if it’s entertaining. But it wasn’t. - Back Issue Ben

Ben: The Luke we know goes on a suicide mission to the second Death Star because he thinks he can find the good in the second most evil man in the universe. Why? Because he’s his family. This man would not even think about killing the child of his best friend and his twin sister because he had darkness in him. Luke had darkness in him. But even if we say that’s possible, he wouldn’t then give up and run away. He’d save his nephew.

LaMar: Luke's characterization was dead wrong, off the rip. And I have a hard time believing he would just stop using the Force for 30 years. Using it to fight, sure. But altogether? Naw. And the fact that Luke goes on to be the greatest Force user ever is pretty much a lost cause now.

Ben: If you’re going to concede that Luke and young Kylo would ever try to kill each other, I like what that means for Kylo’s psyche. Luke was a father-figure and a mentor and he tried to kill him because he’s a “monster” in his own estimation of himself. His parents rejected him (again, in his own mind). So here he is, this guy who believes he’s this evil monster that doesn’t seem like he really wants to be. That’s compelling.

JD: I think Luke should have been "the pull to the light" that Kylo spoke about. Luke on the island trying to influence Kylo, like Snoke did. And when Kylo finds out he rejects both Snoke and Luke becoming something new (at least on film), neither full Sith or Jedi. But I'm trying not to armchair quarterback the entire thing.

Ben: Even with all my problems with the characterization and plot, I’d still forgive it all if Luke was physically there to hold off the First Order alone, before heroically dying to save everyone. Instead the good guys run away while a hologram distracts all those beautiful AT-ATs thst ultimately don’t get to do much of anything. From a pure entertainment standpoint, that was a huge letdown. Let him go out like a champ.

JD:  I don't agree with this version of Luke at all, but Mark Hamill owned every second he was on screen.

Ben: Hamill was great, but yes, I have a hard time reconciling the guy that risked everything to redeem his evil father, with this guy.

Scarlet:  To be honest, this was the first time I ever actually liked Luke. He always was the weakest, most boring part of the franchise until now.

Tanya: I was very intrigued by Kylo's suggestion that he and Rey form their own order. The idea of Jedi and Sith being outdated is very interesting to me.

Ben: Yes! That was ultimately the most disappointing part for me. I was so intrigued by them truly breaking the mold together. That was an exciting prospect that they chickened out on. For all the talk about this being a bold new direction for Star Wars, that was the truly bold move.

JD: My 11 year old niece called me after she saw it. She said she thought Rey was going to join Kylo and couldn't stop crying about it until the end of the throne room scene.

Tanya: The other thing that bugged me, was there any purpose to Benicio Del Toro's character?

Ben:  I guess to teach the lesson that good and evil are both part of the same machine? I assume he’ll be back.

JD:  I like Benicio and im glad he's in it, but yeah theres not much point to him. I guess Finn learned something? But at least I know what they were kind of going for with Del Toro. I sort of Lando 2.0 bit with a twist; he never double crosses the bad guys. But Lorna Dern's character Holdo was more useless than Jar Jar Binks. Jar Jar was irreplaceable in his role (what ever it was, or was supposed to be). No other character could do his part. Dern's character could be 20 different people and nothing would change. What I think would have been a far far better choice is Admiral Ackbar:
  1. Chain of command falling to a fan favorite is far more satisfying than it falling to someone dressed like a Kardashian at a red carpet premiere who we've never met. 
  2. Imagine when the plan is revealed to Poe Ackbar says "You see, Captain? The plan is a trap." Or something like that. 
  3. Him flying a Mon Calamari ship in to the super duper star destroyer would have been epic. (Though I don't know how some would interpret a character named Ackbar flying a ship in to what is essentially a flying city.)
The tracker should have been a person to discover not a thing to disable. The "plan" being secret would have actually made sense. The way it was done in The Last Jedi was way too tractor beam 2.0.

Joe:  I would have liked it if Lando was the code breaker they were originally after.

Ben: I'm glad they left Lando out of this.

JD: If it had been Lando it would have been weird that Maz didnt just say who it was at the jump.

Max: I thought it was gonna be Lando too. But in a way, I like that we get new characters. It can be a have all the same players again. And it makes the universe smaller. Also liked that Rey’s parents were just average peeps.

Ben: I get the appeal of reminding everyone that anyone can be special, anyone can be a Jedi. But if that was the plan all along, why hype it up to be a big mystery? I happen to believe most of the fan theories were a bit too fan-fiction, not every character needs to be a legacy kid. But, it does feel like a big middle finger to everyone that’s been speculating for two years about this, considering that’s what they were teased into doing. I had it spoiled for me so maybe that’s why I wasn’t as disappointed about that specific thing, but I can see why fans would be mad.

I like that we get new characters. It can be a bit have all the same players again. -Max

JD: Same for Snoke. I don't think we will learn anything about him unless its in a novel or comic.  Its obvious that this "write by committee" style just doesn't work. Lucas had a clear vision for the story for both of his trilogies. When I read things like "Where does Abrams take this story now?" I wonder why the hell they started a trilogy worth of story without a clear throughline.

Ben:  I can see the anger on Snoke too, but I don’t think they necessarily set up his back story as a mystery in the same way as Rey’s parents. We never knew anything about the Emperor either. But it does come off as the same, as a middle finger to fans.  I don’t personally consider it a middle finger, but if you’re a fan that’s been wondering about him for 2 years, it would seem that way.

Tanya: I like how Kylo struggled with killing his mom, but she has no trouble having her brother kill her son.
Scarlet: Because the stakes were higher for Leia. Kylo had already killed so many people, and she had so many more people to protect.

LaMar: I didn't think it was possible to be a bigger punk than he was in 7, but boy did he deliver. Adam Driver was a lot better in this movie than he was in the other one because he had more to do.

Ben: That’s why I wasn’t mad about Snoke, because the better move is to have him as the “big bad.”

Tanya: I do have to say shirtless Kylo felt out of place. I was like, what?

Max:  Is it equatable to Leia in a slave outfit? i know there was more of an in-universe reasoning for the latter, but seems both were about getting some skin on screen?

Ben: Seems like they stole Marvel’s idea about adding some sex appeal for the women, since males traditionally are going to these movies anyway.

Scarlet: Yeeeeeeah they should have gone with Finn or Poe for that then, because Kylo looks weird without a shirt...

JD:  I think kylo was getting bandaged. Hence the high waistline.

Joe: I think the scene where kylo ren has his shirt off is a call back to the SNL Undercover Boss parody. "I saw Kylo Ren with his shirt off. The dude's jacked." "Friend of mine said he saw Kylo Ren take his shirt off in The Last Jedi. Said he had an eight pack. He said Kylo Ren was shredded."

Scarlet: This is what shirtless Kylo reminded me of.

Tanya:  I'm a bit torn about whether Leia should have died in this film. When she gets sucked out into space, it felt like a very poignant fitting ending to the character. However, when she came back and flew it seemed a bit ridiculous to me. Although I loved the moment between Luke and Leia at the end.

Scarlet: I felt the same way, except I did like when she shot Poe.

Tanya: I loved that moment too. I loved Poe in The Force Awakens, but this movie I just wanted to smack him.

JD: I was ready to say goodbye to Leia, I was tearing up, she was bathed in light and then "psych!"

Tanya: I also thought it would be a fitting end for Finn to have sacrificed himself into that cannon, because I really don't know what they plan on doing with his character.

Joe: Yes. He botched his mission. Flying into the cannon would have been good redemption.

Ben: It was also hugely irresponsible for Rose to stop him because, as far as she knew, their only hope was to destroy that cannon

Tanya: But you have to save the ones you love.

JD: Yeah. Just ask Luke! He always saves the ones he lo- oops never mind.

Tanya: I like how Kylo struggled with killing his mom, but she has no trouble having her brother kill her son.

Scarlet: Because the stakes were higher for Leia. Kylo had already killed so many people, and she had so many more people to protect.

Tanya: Can we all agree the broom kid ending sucked?

Max: I'm kinda noncommittal on the broom kid. but maybe the kids in the audience would have loved it?

Ben: Speculation seems to be that it sets up Rian’s new trilogy.Which I will not be seeing, based on this.

JD: There's no way I'm missing that car crash.

LaMar:  If he would've used the Force to dance with the broom and have it move by itself, I'd be all for it.

Scarlet: He did use the Force on the broom. It was subtle. As he walks out the door and reaches for the broom it kinda floats into his hand.

LaMar: Right, but I mean like this:

Scarlet: Everybody can't be Turbo, man.

Be sure to check in on January 3 for the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Roundtable, which we will run every Wednesday until Avengers: infinity War is released!

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