Sunday, December 31, 2017

FRESH FROM THE THEATER: Star Wars - The Last Jedi

We have arrived to the last review of 2017! I managed to see the movie just before the year ends and I thought it would be a good finale. Overall I would like to say that for me this was a very tough year and I do not think I will look back at it fondly. I lost someone who was, in 26 years, the most important person in my life and I wish I had realized that a lot sooner. I did not, unfortunately, and the burden of that will live on with me for a long while, I fear. But that loss will also make me stronger, because I'll work harder to hold on to the people that are dearest to me. That having been said, I watched a movie that thought me just that: to let go. It was a wonderful lesson wrapped in an awesome movie, and I will go into the smallest of details as possible to let you all understand what I am talking about. Let us now dive into: [MAJOR SPOILERS COMING!]

Our story continues with the rebels trying to fight relentlessly the First Order, and the latter wishing to crush the rebellion once and for all. But as that goes on, Rey has finally reached Luke, who is unwilling to give up his hatred of himself for having failed Ben Solo during his training. Rey resorts to finding answers to her questions alone, while the rebellion is under continuous attack. Leia is indisposed, Poe is showed aside, and Finn has to find someone who will ensure that the First Order cannot track them anymore. In the end Ben faces his old master who has one more lesson to teach him.

I honestly don't know where to begin. The more I thought about the little details in the movie the more I fell in love with it. I was teary eyed all the way through, for obvious reasons, among them the fact that the movie re-did my favorite scene from Return of the Jedi. But I am getting ahead of myself, so let us go in order. First, Poe Dameron. He has got to be my favorite character. I just adored every little thing he did and his chemistry with Leia was on-spot. There is this endearing scene, where he hoped to be in charge and the whole movie set up how he is going to be the leader of the rebellion. He has the brain of Leia and the charm (and clothes) of Han, actually, which makes him a very likable character. He wishes to do good, he would sacrifice everything in order to win, but he learns the hard way that one cannot always go in guns blazing. He is on his way to becoming a wonderful lead character and I hope that episode IX will make great use of him!
Second is Finn, who might be the only low point of this movie for me. Don't get me wrong, I incredibly enjoyed his story. The fact that there are corners of the universe we never visited before are finally revealed to us, not to mention that his partner in the adventures, Rose, is a wonderful young gal who shows him the horrors of war reach far beyond the conflict of First Order vs. Rebels. The reason I deem it less important is the fact that Finn kind of had the same adventure in the previous movie. He embarked in something unknown to learn a great lesson. I find that he was underused, but that does not take away from the awesomeness of that plot-line, of course. The part of the galaxy that we are shown blew my mind, so yes, no regrets on that account.
Third is, of course, Rey. I just love the fact that there is no longer a balance between good and evil. I ALWAYS hated the idea of 'no feelings', like you are only good if you avoid your emotions and thoughts. Just think of Return of the Jedi, when Luke yells out "NEVER!" and then starts waving around the lightsaber like a deranged maniac... like did that look like a well thought out rational method of attack to you? And if I am talking about Rey I have to add Ben. I loved the fact that he is, in the end, a scared child, the same way Rey is. They both sought someone in their life who will show them the way, who will tell them what to do, but ultimately, they have to choose for themselves. There are no Sith or Jedi. There are people with conflicting feelings who can decide do to right or wrong. They are human. And I love that. I love how there is no logical explanation, there is no definitive line, good and bad have a different meaning and a different understanding.
Ben was easily driven to Snoke because he felt betrayed by Luke. He also felt betrayed by his parents who handed him to this uncle. And then there is Rey, who knew all her life that she is not descendant of a noble bloodline, she is just strong on her own. I f*cking loved that. I just knew it, I told everyone, come on! Not every single Jedi is a descendant of the Skywalker family! And she isn't and I adored that! Going back to Ben, I need to address the shirtless scene: I loved it. Not his body in particular, Adam Driver is a good looking guy alright, I wanted to see more actually, this grandpa pants that they have him wearing is ridiculous... I mean where is the belly button? And while thinking about this I realized why I was so content with it: the movie did not make a sex object of the women. We perceive men very differently when they are on screen naked as opposed to women. Think of slave-Leia... see my point? I think that was a good scene because it was meant to enhance his vulnerability and it did.
Now turning to the old schoolers, Leia was marvelous. I heard they cut out a bunch of her scenes, I am guessing for the next movie, and the way she gave on the mantle to Poe was done formidably. Fisher also wrote most of her lines and I am so happy she did, because nobody else could ever be Leia but her. Toward the end Luke comes to her and tells her that he cannot turn Ben, and I just adored that it was a perfect re-enactment of my favorite scene with them from Return of the Jedi, when he tells her that he will go to Vader. I also loved that Leia can use the force, there were several comic books in the extended universe that dealt with that, so I was happy to see it. [The way I squealed at the torn lightsaber with the crystal in it! Shown in the stand alone two part Clone Wars cartoon!] I have loved Carrie Fisher all my life and if there is a way for her to reach Han and Luke gracefully in the next episode, then I will let her go with a smile and a tear in my eye.
Finally, Luke. Oh boy... where to begin? I adored him. He has that same charm he did when the story was about him, but you can tell this is an old man who has seen his fair share of adventure. He was learned a great deal about the Jedi, the universe, the Force, family... he decided to isolate himself for the same reasons other Jedi did, because that is what is expected of them and yet, these characters are not like others. The world changed and with it the people who are able to wield the force as a weapon. His last graceful act is that of saving his sister and I found that moving. I loved his battle with Kylo Ren because it was reminiscent of Obi-Wan's death and as such I am convinced the Luke will still return and teach Rey the same way he was thought by the ghosts of the great masters. I also adored his interaction with Yoda!

What else is there to say? The movie did three things that made it stand out for me: one, it heard the complaints people had with episode VII. Two, it gave us something of the past and used it to move forward. Three, in certain places it directly spoke to the audience, but I was OK with that.

I've read somewhere that this was a movie about letting go of the past and moving on, for people who do not want to let go of the past and move on... and I find that to be spot on. Is the movie perfect? No. They could have done a lot more with Captain Phasma, Finn could have been used in different ways, Kylo could have shown more body... (hehe), some jokes felt ill-timed (making me feel like I was watching a Marvel movie instead) and although I liked the pacing I would have been completely fine with this being a 2 hour movie like the others. This is all the criticism I can think of and that after three hours of discussion with the other seven people I saw the movie with. I loved Vice Admiral Holdo and her contribution to the fight, I loved how so easily we put Snoke aside, like, no, there is no greater evil, there is no ultimate villain, let that notion go! I loved the creatures, I especially adored the nun-like dinosaurs taking care of the island where Luke lived. I laughed so hard at Chewie's every scene, and teared up when he hugged Leia... I don't think I will ever get tired of that. The music too, oh my god, the music to these movies deserves every award in my opinion. I just... I love this series.

Watch it? Yes. You might like it or you might not. And that is it. There is no real argument here because people will always find something to complain about. Think about this: the original trilogy did not disappear just because the prequel trilogy came out. If you don't like this series, you are in luck, there is plenty of Star Wars out there for you without it. Me, on the other hand, am a fan of this story and I just cannot wait to see where it will lead next!

Until the next item on my list!

_ _ _ _ _

Rey - Daisy Ridley
Finn - John Boyega
Poe Dameron - Oscar Isaac
Kylo Ren - Adam Driver
Leia Organa - Carrie Fisher
Vice Admiral Holdo - Laura Dern
Rose Tico - Kelly Marie Tran
General Hux - Domnhall Gleeson
Chewbacca - Peter Mayhew
C-3PO - Anthony Daniels
Supreme Leader Snoke - Andy Serkis
Luke Skywalker Mark Hamill
Yoda - Frank Oz

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