Once again, I realize that this is far from my normal topics, but, this is my blog, so I can write what I want. And if you’re not into Star Wars, Jesus still loves you, but I don’t know if we can be friends.
If you want to go into The Last Jedi with as LITTLE Spoilering as possible, then stop reading, go see it, and then finish reading this. That said, I shall try to give as little spoilers as possible, but you have been warned.
First- I used to like the prequels. I mean, I understood why people hated them. It’s hard to watch Jar Jar Binks and NOT know why people desire to do physical harm to him. But all the same I appreciated Star Wars Ep I-III for what they were, flaws and all. But last night, when The Last Jedi finished and the credits started rolling, I realized something.
I now hate the prequels.
The Last Jedi was AMAZING in ALL THE WAYS THE PREQUELS NEVER EVEN CAME CLOSE TO BEING. My brother texted me last night and said he thought it was the best Star Wars movie yet, and I think anyone would be hard pressed to argue. It was AMAZING.
First, the visual style is gorgeous.
These film makers create ships, planets, characters and action which is truly ART. The color choices alone communicate SO MUCH and yet none of it smacks you in the face. Its only in reflection you say, “OH YEAH! They told us THIS and THIS because of what so and so was wearing, or not wearing, or what the color scheme of the room was…” etc. The scope and size of the universe is so well presented, and never at the expense of story and pacing. This is a beautiful and well made movie. Even without the dialogue, the visuals communicate SO MUCH but not in a juvenile or heavy handed way which distracts from the story. It is an amazing example of how to create the visual world of a movie and how to tell story with images instead of merely words.
When you are watching it, maybe for the second or third time, ask yourself, what colors and textures are used? What does it tell me about the characters? Not just the costumes, but the locations, the use of light, the placement of light.
Without giving away anything, I will say of the story that I don’t think anyone went in knowing what to expect.
NO ONE will get to the end of this movie and say, “Yup. That’s just what I thought was going to happen.”
In fact, I can say with certainty that the film makers knew what you would expect and USED that to misdirect you, and then to make you THINK they misdirected you, and then to make you second guess your expectation… it was, at so many times, unexpected. Even the most dramatic moments were like a well crafted joke or magic trick- in the moment you are SEEING something, you say, “OH! they did THIS…” and then you suddenly realize that they did not. This is hard to explain without spoilers. But when you see it, you will know exactly what I mean.
One of the most interesting things for me is seeing how the film makers learned, not only from the original trilogy, but also from the Harry Potter series and from James Bond films. Again, this is hard to explain without giving away spoilers, but there are moments and scenes which depart from the expected Star Wars alien war scenario and, without feeling out of place, took a page from Harry Potter or James Bond in a way which was an expanse of Star Wars and not a violation of it. Also, the showdown at the end becomes the greatest wild west showdown at high noon in the series. Star Wars has LOTS of one on one fights in its cannon, but this one ALMOST needed cowboy hats. You could FEEL the cowboy hats and you could hear the wild west music. It was epic.
There were people who complained that the previous movie was too much like Ep IV, a New Hope. Those people are whiners. The Force Awakens was great. And so was Rogue One! But even if you weren’t one of them, you were probably expecting this one to be
“The Empire Strikes Back by JJ Abrams,”
and in some ways it is. But in a LOT of ways, it is not. Again, hard to explain without spoilers, but the writers KNEW your expectation and used them to misdirect you and surprise you even when meeting your expectations. And even at the same moment when they were meeting your expectation that this was like Empire, they also shut the door on the ability of the next movie to be just like Return of the Jedi. They answered questions from The Force Awakens without letting you feel like you KNOW the answers. The same questions may still need to be answered in the next movie.
There is one moment where the very first movie is referenced VERY directly. Without explaining what I mean, I will just say that you get to watch a piece of Ep IV. If you read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child or saw it on stage, you will understand that Cursed Child made you watch previous scenes from the Harry Potter series, but it felt FORCED. Like the writers were saying, “Remember THIS from the books/movies? Wasn’t that GREAT?!”
The moment I am talking about DOES show you a piece of Ep IV. However, it is SO appropriate and so well done and well placed that it will make you a little emotional, unless your heart is cold and dead. Its not only the clearest call back to Ep IV, but it’s actually a vital piece of character development and plot movement. You will know it when you see it. It’s not a wink at the audience, or a flag being waved at the fans. It’s a moment shared between characters who were part of the first movie- their shared history, which instead of being a cheap, syrupy nostolgia shot in your Star Wars latte`, shows a deeper connection between the characters and makes a little more real for them the history they shared in the previous films. Its something a LOT of movies do wrong, but this one did it right.
This is an emotional film, with a lot more crying than you might expect from a Star wars movie, but its not the kind of distracting, whiny crying like in the prequels. Its actually just really heavy, dramatic, GOOD acting. And its at the right times and for the right reasons. But to balance, there is a LOT of GREAT humor. One thing this series learned from movies like The Avengers is how to balance humor with drama and action. Poe Dameron, who started the previous film with a great exchange with Kilo Ren, gets a GREAT bit of humor at the start of this one as well which will surprise you. One of the jokes is actually at the expense of the audience. The film makers make fun of you. Its WONDERFUL. You will know it when you see it. You’ll suddenly laugh and say “OH my goodness, I really thought that was…” and you will know that JJ Abrams is laughing at you. Luke gets in one joke which is SO funny and sarcastic that I already know people on the internet will hate it, but those people hate everything. I will echo my wife’s opinion here:
Old Luke is better than young Luke
but they don’t let you know that right away. Its revealed like a magic trick.
Because this is spoiler free, I will make this far more ambiguous than I wish I could, but suffice it to say, this movie is full of things I think we have ALL wanted to see in a Star Wars movie for YEARS. I mean, specific moments I wanted to see in Return of the Jedi come to AMAZING FRUITION here in the right ways. Call backs from the original trilogy, references to the prequels, characters and moments which you never thought they would be brave enough to do are all put into a movie which was made BRILLIANTLY as a movie should, in visuals, transitions, music, light, color, action, story and theme. The right people do the right things and it is a candy store for geekdom.
Let me know when you’ve all seen it and we’ll talk about the specifics. In the mean time, check out https://www.youtube.com/abitoforange, and don’t forget to subscribe. May the Force be with you, and, even if you’re really just a Trekker, remember, #JesusLovesYou