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Star Wars TLJ OPEN SPOILER discussion and therapy session.
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Fri, 15 Dec 2017 18:04:36
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sorry travo but I can't talk about this movie without open spoilers, it's too much. This movie has just crippled me, I don't even know what I feel. I have never been this conflicted about a movie in my life. I have spent all day on message boards and in chats just trying to talk it through, is this good, is it bad? Here are my initial thoughts:




Good stuff is that the movie as a piece of entertainment is fantastic at times. There is a lull in the middle, the canto Bight stuff was prequel level bad. But after that from Rey reaching the ship on is some of the best, most exciting, tense, mindblowing stuff a Star Wars movie has ever done. I was on the edge of my seat, I was emotional, I was invested, that's what a movie should do. In that regard it's a success. Oh and the opening space battle is one of the best in the series as well.



The problem for me comes when really looking back and breaking down the story. The main offender is Snoke. When they scraped the EU and started fresh TFA main take away from that mysterious 30 years in between is that there was a evil dark lord that corrupted the son of Han and Leia, he destroyed Luke's school which lead Luke into exile and he helped start the first order. NOTHING IN THIS TRILOGY HAPPENS WITHOUT SNOKE. But we get absolutely no explaination as to who he is, where he comes from, what his goal is, or even stuff like proper character development between him and Kylo. When you leave such a major storyline end like that, without a care in the world, it hurts the overall story that's being told.



I understand the point of this movie was about the passing of the torch from old heroes to new ones. Does it succeed at that, for the most part yes, there are decent scenes. Poes arch is the best IMO, makes the most sense and he grows logically as a characters. Rey still feels like a random mystery, I guess she represents the any hero but she is still referred to as "special" by so many people (Luke, Snoke, Kylo) that her being a nobody flies against all character build up.



But you can't just ignore the giagantic plot points that the character we loved are still in this movie, that you spent a whole movie building up this mystery that the son of LEIA murders Han, WHY?! Kylo is the key character of this story as it relates to the Star Wars saga which everyone including Johnson claims is about the skywalker family. I don't know why he turned to the dark side. I don't know his relationship to Luke, or his parents. I don't know how snoke tempted him. I don't know anything so I DONT CARE as I should. That's the ultimate failure, the key character feels super underdeveloped. It should be the most juicy dramatic plot line, the son of our heroes turns dark, that crazy complex family dynamic could have delivered the best storyline in Star Wars but instead it's tossed aside like nothing.

Edited: Fri, 15 Dec 2017 18:10:46
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Fri, 15 Dec 2017 21:02:12
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  You could’ve used my thread for therapy. Nyaa. I’m not going to say there weren’t decisions that I didn’t scratch my head over at first.  I’m fine with what we know about Ben Solo.  It doesn’t seem anymore or less than what we knew about Anakin in the OT.   He murders Han to free himself, to allow himself to attain power.  The same with Snoke, once he realizes that he was holding him back and that he had nothing else to gain from him.  He realized that he would never attain the power he craved and recognition he felt he deserved. There may be more that we learn about this in episode nine. I have no clue how this is going to end, but I see no redemption for Ben.

  I’m with you on Snoke.  I felt a little cheated that we may never know who he really was.  He was much more intriguing than the Emperor.  I really want to know more and actually expected him to survive.

  I’m totally amazed at all of the new force powers we’ve seen.  It’s a little overwhelming at first and confusing, especially since we never saw these powers at all in the prequels with other Jedi Masters.  The force projection was really amazing plus Leia’s Way of using the force to preserve herself.

  The casino part certainly felt pointless and could’ve been better and like you said felt the most like the prequels.  The payoff for it wasn’t there.  I hate when they overdo the cgi because practical effects are usually much better.  They probably should have trimmed at least ten minutes off it.  

Overall,I really did love the movie because it pulled off so much else (holy shit at the hyperdrive through the first order.) I’m not sure how I would rank it, definitely need another viewing.  It’s just so much to digest.  But I had fun and applaud the filmmakers for the bold, crazy decisions they made.  I think Star Wars is better when it’s shaken up like that every once in a while.

Edited: Fri, 15 Dec 2017 21:04:24

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Sat, 16 Dec 2017 10:51:42
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Another thing to discuss, the conversation that Rey and Ren had about her parents.  Was Kylo being totally honest about her parents. Rey seemed to have agreed with him pretty quickly.  Or was it just a lie to get her to trust him.  Snoke mentioned using the force to bridge the two. Could he have implanted those ideas too?

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Sat, 16 Dec 2017 15:28:19
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travo said:

Another thing to discuss, the conversation that Rey and Ren had about her parents.  Was Kylo being totally honest about her parents. Rey seemed to have agreed with him pretty quickly.  Or was it just a lie to get her to trust him.  Snoke mentioned using the force to bridge the two. Could he have implanted those ideas too?

Nah that's what she knows, she repressed it. Maz says the same thing to her before. The entire point of the movie was to show that anyone can be a hero. That Star Wars belongs to everyone not just the skywalkers. While that is a nice message and all it feels like I am getting metacommentary about the state of the franchise rather than a space opera tale. This movie is too ham fisted in its messaging and doesn't fit well with the rest of the saga.

It has bold ideas and I applaud it for that but it feels like it's own outlier. The slate is now clean for episode 9, they can do anything but it feels like the setup is just the most basic good v evil battle ever. Kylo can't be good so now he is just bad guy dude. Rey is super woman and always good. Empire Vs rebels again. For all the bold stuff this movie did all the end did was setup the exact same thing we have seen for a ton of movies but now with all your favorite characters dead!

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Mon, 18 Dec 2017 08:35:06
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Watched the movie yesterdayevening.

Not sure where I stand on it.  I didn't mind the long conversations.  What bothered me more is how the whole movie the Rebellion was running away and always barely, just, managed to escape.  That's just too much good fortune, no mather how much the Force needs balance.  It reminded me of the third trilogy of Thomas Covenant by Stephen Donaldson.  There's nothing interesting about seeing the good guys run and flee for hours on end.

As for Snoke, I agree it's a pitty he went with so little known about him.  There's this vacuum where we're left with no highest level of Force users.  Both sides have some brute power, but with no guidance.  I'd love for the last movie to close it off, with Jedi and Sith somehow finding a middle ground, thus bringing the force into balance, but Disney will never let that happen, as it would make it more difficult to milk the franchise till the end of time.  I'm not saying I didn't like Ren usurping the First Order or how they pulled it off, but Snoke really needed more depth and back story.  I sense a spin-off movie here.

Also, what was up with muppet show Yoda?  He didn't speak right, and after CGI Yoda this just looked horrible.

I liked the casino bit.  Not so much how they trashed it, but I enjoyed it.  It's a different side of the Star Wars universe you've never seen before.  I enjoyed it more than the obligatory 'trench run' with the Millenium Falcon in the salt mines.  We've seen enough of those already!

As a piece of entertainment I must say that I enjoyed it, but it felt a bit off.  I guess it's just in some kind of uncanny valley where they want to be like the original trilogy so badly, but they're trying too hard.  I also felt that the humour was a bit too slapstic and omnipresent for SW.  I thought I was watching Pirates of the Caribbean at times.

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Mon, 18 Dec 2017 08:40:38
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avoiding for spoilers (abuot a movie I don't give a shit about WTF?!)


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Mon, 18 Dec 2017 16:28:29
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Do you not think the rebellion should be the underdogs in the second movie?

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Mon, 18 Dec 2017 19:23:23
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Of course they need to be. You can't be the rebels and not be the underdogs. I just think that they could have come up with better than an evacuation with a narrow escape, then another slow escape with an evacuation, followed by yet another evacuation.

Also, Leia foecing her way back to the ship is stupid. I agree it's SF, but this was near fantasy levels of wrong.
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Thu, 21 Dec 2017 14:00:37
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My thoughts on the movie after two viewings, it's a good movie but not a high ranking Star Wars and the first Star Wars movie that I felt was trying to be it's own movie first and part of a saga second.
Rian Johnson's vision and how it serves his movie and not the saga.
It feels like RJ had a message he wanted to tell no matter what. The writing began with that message and every aspect of the movie was tailored to tell that message no matter if plot points where thrown out, no matter if characters are acting differently than previously established, all that matters to him is that his message gets across that this is a movie about dealing with failure, forgetting the past, and accepting a new generation of heroes.
This message isn't told in a subtle way, instead he hammers the point home with dialogue that lays out the message clearly like Kylo literally saying to "kill the past!". Poe's story is about him learning that being a leader means knowing when to retreat is told through characters repeating this message and Poe convinetly entering situations where he can learn from his mistakes. The movie basically stops and delivers a ham fisted message about corporate greed and how the little person gets treated like garbage, for no reason at all. The movie ends with random kids playing with action figures to deliver the message that anyone can be a hero, the parallels to the Star Wars fan has the subtlety of a wrecking ball.
No Star Wars movie ever delivered its themes like this. Star Wars is a modern myth, the themes naturally get picked up on through identifiable tropes that relate to us all. The movies didn't have to hammer points to us, the story was enough, the message came across through the action of the story. This movie feels like the story serves the message and not a message that comes through the story.
This also leaves the saga in a strange place because this movie feels more like a finale than a second part of a trilogy. It feels like RJ wanted no part of sticking to an established story and wanted to do his thing no matter what. this would be fine with a new trilogy but this is the saga of the skywalkers , when Disney decided to continue the episodes and bring back the original cast it's kind of implied that this trilogy fits with the rest. TFA did, but TLJ sort of ends that connection and is a clean break for one last movie, it's odd.
Kylo Ren poor character development
Many seem to love Kylo Ren's journey in this movie but I don't get it. Instead of making this character go places we have never seen before we end up in the most basic boring place possible, with him just being a bad guy. TFA sets up incredibly juicy possibilities for drama with having the son of Leia murder Han and being the reason Luke goes into hiding. This isn't just any villain, this is a villain with the deepest possible ties to our favorite characters, and exploring that relationship could have lead to amazing storylines, instead RJ throws all that out.
Kylo Ren has no proper backstory, I don't know his motivation. His relationship to his family is so poorly done that there is no real emotional connection when there should be. Some argue Vader had no backstory, that is right but he wasn't a main character, he was just a villain. As the movies went on Vader's story got fleshed out but his purpose was to give Luke his primary obstacle and let Luke's character grow. Kylo is not serving other characters, his story is as important as Rey's but he is being treated with the depth of a random bad dude.
The Luke scene is not enough to give him proper motivation. What happens that night is because Snoke was corrupting him for years, that needs to be explored. Who was Ben before all this, did he love his uncle, was he always dangerous? What were his traits, what were his goals, why would the dark side tempt him? I know nothing, he is just a whiny brat that is disappointed in his family, why? who knows.
Instead of exploring that family dynamic RJ decides to make a literal connection to Rey instead. They are both two sides of the same coin, both damaged looking for something from others but that's as far as that relationship goes. When Kylo and Rey are fighting together the movie is at its best, the possibilities of where their relationship can go is endless, and what happens... the usual "join me and we can rule the galaxy". The same thing we have seen over and over in this saga, the most boring possible outcome. This time though between two people with an artificial connection.
Rey is the very thing the movie tries to go beyond.
TLJ is about moving from the past to the future with new ideals, mainly the force belongs to all and you don't need to be born into a famous family to be someone. Basically stop the hero worship. True,Rey is a nobody, that part is fine, but she is absolutely a chosen one that is not like everyone else. The movie clearly states that the force creates an equal light side user to counter the strength of Kylo being a dark side user and Rey is that CHOSEN one.  Everyone in both movies express how special she is, "I've only seen such power before in one other!". "The lightsaber calls out to you!"
The climax of the movie is Luke saying "I will not be the last Jedi" and Rey using her super powers to save all the normal folk from certain death. Thats great for Rey, it shows she is ready to be who she is destined to be to save the resistance but it goes against the anti hero worship message as now she is the only one who can battle Kylo Ren, she is their only hope. Not only that any potential for unique storylines involving not plain good or evil is thrown away for the most basic of good vs evil battles. Rey having overcome her one weakness is now all good and all powerful, I have no idea where her character is even going to go, just as a teacher? The second movie is supposed to set up the last one instead they leave her with no real obstacles to overcome.
Luke Skywalker, what works and doesn't
Luke is the most complicated character to critique because he comes with the most expectations and emotional baggage. Luke is our hero, all of us had our version of what Luke would become after the movies. whether it's from the EU or just what you wished him to be. No matter what RJ put on screen someone was going to be upset. So I do give him credit for tackling that head on and making that the focal point of his storyline, his story is about how our heroes may not be what we expect and they have their own failures.
I have gone back and forth on the ending. I have read some fantastic posts on why his final act works so well for his character and it has changed my mind a bit. Of course my first reaction is that I want him there physically, not just to have a real battle but have true stakes for him and Kylo. Plus I want to see Luke in action.
What RJ did though was pretty damn cool and it allowed Luke to present himself as we the fans and the other wish he would be even though he is not that person anymore. He inspires the Galaxy by his final act which is mastery of the force which we have never seen before. It's quite beautiful but it works because Luke is broken and why Luke is broken didn't really get explored as well as it should.
When Luke becomes a Jedi at the of ROTJ it's the moment where he learns self control and peace. The brash young man that had some emotional outbursts had thrown aside with his lightsaber, he learned his lesson, he became a Jedi. In the next 30 years you'd think he would build on that, not become so afraid of his OWN NEPHEW that he reverts to young luke and act impulsively. It's sort of a betrayal of his character, why, only to serve the movie RJ wanted to make. I would be willing to buy all this if they properly showed how Luke could reach this point of fear, but instead of giving proper backstory to Snoke and Kylo Ren they ignore it all.
The other issue I had and this is going to be a nitpick, the entire final moment didn't hit me emotionally because the trick was something so out of left field that I was thinking more about "what did he just do?" than being in the moment. Also him passing away came at a point where I saw no reason for him to die so instead of being emotional that my favorite character has just died I was thinking "wait he died?!" Sometimes simplicity is better than complexity. I felt robbed of that emotion in my first viewing because the scene was played out like a big trick rather than a straight forward emotional scene.
Snoke and the fakeouts
Another directing technique overused in this movie is setting up the audience to expect one thing and change it up and give us something else. Used sparingly it can be a very effective technique but if used repeatedly it becomes cheesy. We have the Leia death fakeout, the Finn death fakeout, the Luke is not really there fakeout, the Rey is a nobody fakeout and the Snoke is actually not important fakeout. Most of these are no big deal but Snoke shows that they had no real intention of building any real connections to the past.
TFA sets up this new trilogy by showing us that Snoke is responsible for EVERYTHING that has transpired in the last 30 years. Why is there a First Order, because of Snoke. Why is Ben evil, because of Snoke. Why is Luke in hiding, because of Snoke. By removing him before exploring any of this it shows they never cared to properly bridge the movies, his only purpose is to be an empty narrative ploy to recreate the setting of the OT.
He was also a credible threat, for the few minutes he was on screen he was menacing and dangerous. I feared for Rey, I felt she was totally outmatched. The moment where Kylo kills him is fantastic, one of the best moments of the movie. That said I didn't feel anything for Kylo because I don't know what his relationship to his master was. It was a character growth moment with no real emotional backing.
Without Snoke the fake empire is a complete joke run by bumbling idiots. Hux is a total buffoon. Kylo is a whiny little brat not capable of leading anyone. We are supposed to be afraid of these guys? This is the worst collection of Star Wars villains ever assembled.
The rest I will post in bullet points:
  • Poe had the best character development in the movie despite it being very heavy handed. His role in the movie was an interesting one and I can see him being a good leader.
  • Finn and Rose, jeesh, I kind of get what they were doing with these story but the execution was awful. The Canto Bight scenes were prequel level dreck.
  • The terrible training of Rey does not help in repeat viewings. She at the very least gets a few lessons on what the force is and it's history but those scenes offer nothing for the audience. At the least Yoda's scenes in empire deliver the viewer timeless words of wisdom and insight into the force. These scenes combined with Canto Bight really make the movie drag in the middle.
  • From the moment they are all on the main ship till the end the movie does fire on all cylinders and is fantastic. It's tense, exciting, and big events are happening. For all the shit I give RJ with the way he handled the story he deserves praise for the action and sense of adventure. When the movie is on it's ON.
  • Don't mind the comedy it adds personality to the film. The only time I felt it was bad was during Canto Bight where again it felt like TPM stupidity of just stupid cartoons doing stupid shit.
  • Yoda was great, the effect was jarring at first but as the scene goes on they tone down the CG and it's just the puppet. It's nice for them to reunite but this moment opens loads of questions like why didn't Yoda help Luke out with Ben and Snoke...
  • Hyperspace ramming, amazing. Holdo is a total throw away character though, should have been Leia or Ackbar. Or a character with enough story to give a shit about.
  • Luke and R2 was my favorite scene, I tearmed up. For one moment Luke was Luke.
As one movie TLJ is very good. It has central themes and archs for every charater and executes them well. As part of a saga and the middle part of a trilogy it's not a good entry, it's determined to tell its story despite it not fitting in with the rest. I don't know where they go with IX, this movie is basically an ending, not a middle. Kylo Ren is all bad and can't be redeemed. Rey overcame her flaw and is now all good and the clear hero. Light vs Dark again. Rebels vs Empire again. The trilogy didn't go anywhere interesting, and if JJ tries to go somewhere interesting he only has one movie to do so.
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Thu, 28 Dec 2017 06:10:08
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I finally saw The Last Jedi. I enjoyed it greatly.  👍

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