TLJ: The Resistance Story Line & Characters

This is Part I of IV in an ongoing series where I review The Last Jedi.

 

I watched The Last Jedi again over the Christmas break and I came away feeling much happier with the overall movie. The first viewing definitely felt disjointed for me, but it flowed a lot better the second time around. I understood both a) Johnson’s direction and why he could have chosen certain routes, or b) character motivations.

Now that I have two viewings under my belt, I’d like to go into a TLJ series and delve a little deeper into the different storylines and characters we met or got to know better.

 

The Resistance

The Resistance was pummeled again and again in TLJ. It’s a very dark, desperate movie for most of our protagonists. The wins for the Resistance are small, and even though they ended up destroying so much of the larger ships of the First Order by the end, I still did not feel like the Resistance by any means won or came out ahead. It felt more like they barely escaped, which essentially, is the truth of it. I think this movie showed us more about the “wars” in the Star Wars title than Rogue One.

I felt a slight stab to my heart when they released the beacon at the end of the movie but no one had come to their aid. I wonder how that will play into the next movie. Were other supporters tracking what was happening and saw them lose more and more members and realize it may not be worth it? Will they rally around when they see Rey with her lightsaber, a sign that a Jedi has returned, a sign of hope?

With the main Resistance plot, I had two slight issues with the First Order tracking the them through hyperspace: 1) It reminded me strongly of the first episode of Battlestar Galactica, almost to the point of a rip-off and, 2) it takes away the strength of lightspeed. With ESB, this was cleverly done by having the Falcon’s hyperdrive malfunction/break. With TLJ, it seemed like a cheap way to spin old plotline.

That aside, we’ve never had the Rebellion/Resistance stuck. Just stuck. Nowhere to go, losing fuel, with more and more members being killed off by the First Order. It was very painful to watch. I think this movie drove home the fact that you lose lives in war more than any other Star Wars movie. It’s something that underlies the other movies but not something that is blatantly obvious. With TLJ, you get that point in the first 15 minutes and it breaks your heart. I thought the beginning battle sequence had a slight ROTS similarity, but the death of Rose’s sister and her sacrifice for the Resistance was gut wrenching. I don’t think I’ve ever felt like I was punched in the stomach that quickly into a Star Wars movie.

Poe

Poe is given a larger role in TLJ than he has in TFA and I enjoyed his character more. Thank goodness they gave him that scene in the beginning of the movie because otherwise he would have been a sitting duck the rest of the two hours. I’m glad we got to see some more of his pilot skills and some slight humor once more when he was bantering with General Hux.

I liked having Poe as a brash pilot who thinks and knows he’s that good that he can get away with what he wants. But he also strongly believes in taking the chances they have, which unfortunately ends up losing more lives than General Organa would like.

What I enjoyed immensely was how often he was put in his place by both Leia and Holdo. I feel like a lot of fans were upset about Poe’s treatment, which I understand, because we glorified the cocky, handsome pilot with Han but are punishing Poe. It’s easy to romanticize characters like Poe who are awesome at what they, but Poe is a working member of a military organization. If you are not obeying the rules of unity of command, then you are putting lives at stake and deserve to be demoted. He made constant mistakes throughout the movie by not being patient and it cost lives repeatedly. I believe that it was nice to see his behavior is not allowed and there are consequences for what he did. He lost too many lives for one chance. Was the chance worth it? Yes. But what if every good pilot was taking chances and not listening to orders? It can’t be allowed. And if it happens, there must be consequences.

Vice Admiral Holdo

I wasn’t sure how I felt about Vice Admiral Holdo. I thought she was a good addition in the sense that it was nice to see Leia have a female friend and I liked seeing another high-ranking member of the Resistance be a female.

In my first post after watching TLJ, I could not understand why Holdo did not tell Poe her plan and strategy. I was upset about it. Yet after reading some tweets between fans, I realized that the only reason I wanted her to tell her plan was because Poe is a main character. At the same time, it contradicted what I have just mentioned about the military organization. Why should a high-ranking officer tell a brash pilot their plan? Especially someone like Poe who can’t seem to be patient and respect a higher rank?

Holdo’s sacrifice towards the end of the movie drove home again the desperation of the Resistance. They finally catch a break and head toward Crait in transports only to find themselves getting destroyed. Holdo turns around and saves the remaining members of the Resistance by sacrificing her life. I wanted to cheer and cry at the same time.

As an addition to the movie, I’m not sure if Holdo was the strongest character, but I did appreciate her end. I went from being annoyed at her to admiring her. For a short amount of screen time, that’s impressive.

General Organa

The first time I watched TLJ, I was waiting for Leia to die the entire movie which made the movie a little distracting. Some of me wishes I had known she was not going to die, because then I could have watched her scenes with more interest, instead of trying to become slightly detached because I knew her death was imminent.

There is always one scene in each of the new movies that I can’t stand, and in this one it was Leia floating through space to get back to her ship. In a way, I thought the fake-death was a fitting ending for Leia’s character. Her son does not kill her, but it still gets her death out of the way early in the film. I also think it would have made Vice Admiral Holdo’s character stronger. Instead, she survives her stint in space while somewhat frozen, and propels herself back to her ship using the Force. It was just…silly. This is one of those scenes where people tend to either love it or hate it. I am going for the latter.

I enjoyed Leia’s character development for most of this movie. We saw her as a mother, a leader, and a friend. I don’t think we’ve ever seen that combination before. In TFA she was a mother, a lover, and a leader. It was nice to see her friendship with Holdo, another woman, as I mentioned previously. Her connection to Ben showed her strength in the Force, so much so that she knew he was going to shoot her ship, but then decided not to. When she demoted Poe in the beginning of the movie, it also kind of reminded me of her leadership in ANH, when she was being rescued by two kids who needed her rescuing more than she needed theirs.

My only disappointment with Leia, and I know so many people felt like this, is that the movie did not give her a satisfying death. Since we know she will not be in Episode IX, it would have been appropriate to find a time where she could die and work that into the storyline.

Crait

The last scene on Crait was interesting, mostly because it reminded me of a Star Wars Rebels episode. I’m finding as I continue to watch these movies under Disney, I see traces of how they are pulling the canon into a cohesive unit. Together, but separate. I liked that it was in old Rebel base so it tied back to the Original Trilogy and the Vulptexes (crystal foxes) also reminded me of how Rebels often finds ways to bring animals into their storylines. The most important part to take away from this scene/ending (other than the Luke/Ben showdown), was that Poe was taking over in command. It’s almost as if Leia gives her blessing when she tells everyone to follow him instead of looking to her. It’s a small moment, but I believe it will be critical to how we view Poe in IX.

One of the most important lessons I took away from TLJ was to always do the right thing, no matter how hard it might be. I talked with a lot of people who thought the overarching sentiment was to never give up hope. Yes, I believe that is true, but I came away with the fact that you never, ever give up doing what you believe is right. Even when all the odds are against you, you keep at it because that is what will produce the hope that others need.

 

What was the lesson you took away from watching the Resistance and it’s characters in TLJ?

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This is Not Going to Go How You Think: My review on The Last Jedi

I wanted different.  I craved different. When they announced Disney would be buying Lucasfilm, I wrote about how I wanted them to pass the baton to a new set of characters and give me something fresh in the Star Wars universe.

Oh, they did. The Last Jedi is different. It’s similar, yes, to Star Wars, but they shook up the universe.

I felt that the first ½ of the movie was confusing, slightly forced, and didn’t really find it’s groove well. There were too many plot lines to follow (I counted four major ones) and it jumped around too much. The latter half more than made up for it. Once the main characters wrapped up their smaller plot lines and convened together (mostly), the movie got a lot better. Better, but very different than what I expected.

1.5 hours later…

I wrote a whole 5 page review  on a word doc that had such in depth feels and whatnot…but I’ve decided that instead, I will save them for separate posts for the next few months. That is much more easily digestible. No one would read 5 pages of my thoughts in this day and age.

Instead, I’ll highlight quick thoughts/feels/disappointments.

I liked:

  • The new twist on Star Wars. They gave us more to explore and more to think about. They opened more of the Force with the visions and the ability to be in more than one place – it almost had a TCW/Rebels feel that way. TCW and Rebels were always exploring new aspects of the Force and this just gave us more to chew on.
  • I’m glad her character didn’t fall to any kind of petty stupidity or need any man to rely on. That said – her chemistry with Kylo Ren! Oh man, they’ve got some good chemistry. When he asked her to go with him, the sensible part of me was saying she should not but the emotional part of me was saying GO GO GO! Her showdown against Snoke showed how untrained she is, but when she battled with Kylo Ren, it was one of the best scenes in the movie.
  • Do you think it’s true that her parents were nobodies? At first, I didn’t want to believe it, but now I’m becoming okay with it. They are trying to move away from the Skywalker legend (which they banged over our head a million times) so perhaps this is a way to show that the new hero can be a nobody (possibly a nod to Anakin who was also a nobdy).
  • Speaking of Snoke – he is no more and no explanation on who he is either. Great death though. I liked how he kept manipulating Kylo Ren. In the beginning he mocked him for his mask and said he felt the conflict, but when he needed something from him, he immediately turned the tables and said he was completely turned to the dark side. Butttt he didn’t see Kylo Ren killing him. Alas.
  • I loved how this movie explored that the Jedi Order was a horrible institution. I like how Rey was unafraid to confront the dark side, but still stay true to the light side of the Force. The fact that Ren’s conflict continues to grow is an interesting aspect to explore. With the Jedi order ending, we can now observe how the Force interacts with people, as could have been shown with that little kid at the end of the movie.
  • The little boy – how important of a role do you think he is going to play? Or do you think he’s only to show that a nobody can be strong in the Force?
  • I loved DJ. I loved seeing a smuggler, who was out for himself and went with the money. I must admit that I kept waiting for him to turn good or help them, but he didn’t, and I liked that he didn’t. We had that with Han and seeing someone only wanting to save their own skin for once was, strangely, refreshing.
  • The emphasis on animals. Anyone else notice that and find it interesting?

I didn’t like:

  • Leia’s floating scene. I think this went up there with the Rathtars for me. A few of my friends liked it because they said it spoke to the mysticism of the Force. I thought it was laughable. It also was a very appropriate place to kill her character. We all know at this point that Leia is not going to be in IX unfortunately. It was said that VII was for Han, VIII was for Luke, and IX was going to be for Leia. But now it’s turned on its head and IX will be … none of the three original heroes. So instead of ending her character in an appropriate place, they instead had her Force float back to the ship and live through the entire movie. Agh.
  • Maz. Why was she needed in this movie? Just because she was in TFA doesn’t mean she had to also be in TLJ. And being on the run while trying to talk to the Poe, Finn, and Rose? What? The whole sequence was bizarre.
  • The multiple storylines. Four storylines was a lot for the first half! I think Canto Bight could have been very interesting, but instead it felt forced due to the fact that the movie was constrained by time. If they had expanded it, made it more of a nod to Ocean’s 11 or a James Bond movie, it could have been fascinating. Instead, I think we lingered far too long with Poe and Vice Admiral Holdo and the Finn/Rose storyline was crammed into the movie.
  • I am not completely sold on Luke’s reason for becoming a hermit. I understood Luke’s shame and his reason for ending the Jedi Order. What I don’t understand is why he deserted his friends and family because of this. I could not match that up with the Luke from the OT. Even in ROTJ, where he is much more serious than the previous movies, he still has that optimism about himself. And for someone who spent 20 years of his life yearning to know his real family, I doubt he would have given up on Leia and disappeared on her.
  • Why didn’t Holdo tell Poe of her plan? Everyone is dying and no one has hope and she keeps this a secret? It doesn’t make sense. Can anyone shed some light?
  • The Force hologram/being in 2 places at once? I liked it and didn’t like it. I liked it because, like I mentioned, it gave us more things to explore and understand about the Force. What I didn’t like (and I might be in the minority here) is that I think it kind of cheapened the ending. It would have been so much cooler if Luke was actually there in person with all the blaster bolts trying to destroy him and facing Kylo Ren. Instead when I realized he was not there, it made me feel a little cheated.

Now that I have those brief thoughts out of the way, get ready for my super long post that I just wrote to be broken down into segments over the next few weeks.

 

Let’s discuss! Can’t wait to see what everyone else thought.

The Last Jedi Teaser Trailer and Speculations

We FINALLY got our first trailer for Episode VIII today and I have to say, I’m a little disappointed.  With only around 8 months left to go until the movie is released, I expected a little bit more.  It didn’t really give me much to chew on.  Most of us knew that Rey would train with Luke for a good portion of the movie so seeing those scenes didn’t rivet me in any way.

Don’t get me wrong – my favorite types of movies have some kind of intense training period in them when the trainee becomes a hero.  I’m actually MOST excited about the training of Rey in TLJ.  I just think the trailer was little light on content for being pretty close to the release of the movie and was hoping for a lot more.

Poe and Finn were barely in the trailer and seemed like an afterthought (Finn especially), so I do hope that they get more screen time than the trailer suggests.  I loved seeing BB-8 again, my favorite droid, and was super sad to see Poe’s x-wing blow up!  I hope he makes it out okay.

Where was Kylo Ren?  We only got a very brief shot.  (Also, how did he get his mask back? Is this going to be one of those weird unexplained things like how Maz got Luke’s lightsaber?)

I liked seeing the Jedi Order symbol…really excited to see where that goes.

The most important and puzzling line is Luke’s declaration that “I only know one truth. It’s time for the Jedi to end.”  NO LUKE NO WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?  I think that scene is from him being on the mountain top too long.  He’s turned into a curmudgeon and the line is probably in the beginning of the movie.  Right after it, Rey will say, “Are you nuts? I didn’t come all this way to hear you say that,” and he’ll go, “Oh yeah, you’re right, what was I thinking? Let’s begin this training.”  Hahahaha, but seriously, I have a strong feeling the line is in the beginning of the movie and it’s following a similar format to Yoda/Luke in ESB – where Yoda did not want to train Luke, but in the end gives in.

The Midi-Chlorian Center did a nice round up of the new poster and photos from the movie, so head to their page to check it out.  I can’t wait to see who Rose is and what her story will bring us.  I hope she’s a good addition.

Here’s the trailer for those of you who don’t know how to search on YouTube. 😉

 

Thoughts guys?  I feel like there really isn’t much to discuss, unfortunately.

Haiku Me Friday! BB-8 Stole My Heart

The soccer ball droid Orange and white bouncing ball Emotions are clear

The soccer ball droid
Orange and white bouncing ball
Emotions are clear

Shout out to my favorite droid!

I felt a little guilty the day I realized BB-8 was my favorite droid, which in all honesty could’ve been when I saw the first TFA preview ever, way back on Thanksgiving of two years ago.   The way he was rolling along Jakku’s surface, a blur of orange on white, made me think, “A soccer ball droid!  So cute!”

But everyone loves Artoo!  Artoo is the fan favorite and I get it, but for some reason I never connected with him.  I think one of the main reasons is that Artoo was familiar to me by cultural context – I knew who he was before knowing who he was.  Just like I knew the quotes “I am your father”, Darth Vader, the Force and a few other Star Wars references before seeing the movies or becoming a big fan.  So though Artoo was cute, he was, well, Artoo Detoo.  Always there.

But BB-8 was a surprise for me.  A round droid?  How genius!  And then when I actually heard him for the first time in TFA, my heart stopped.  BB-8: we were meant to be!  I want my own BB-8 so badly.  I love how he portrays his emotions, especially when he thought Poe had died.  When he sees Poe is alive and goes to greet him – aggggghhhh I’m jealous!  I want BB-8 to greet me like that.  Oh and don’t even get into his flame thumbs up.  Melting heart…

I know you are all wondering now if I have the Sphero BB-8…I do not.  I’m not sure what I would do with it.  Plus, our dog Yogi would probably have a field day with it and BB-8 would quickly become BB-ate.

My husband did get me a BB-8 carry on last year for Christmas even before I saw TFA because I liked the droid so much.  I love my carry on!  He comes with me on every vacation and I love posting photos on Instagram saying “Come on BB-8!” just like Rey.  It’s the small pleasures in life, okay guys??  ARM also had an adorable BB-8 dress (and Darth Amethystos christened her Baby-8) but she’s too big for it now, alas.

Okay.  Done effusing about BB-8.  But tell me – who’s your favorite droid?  Let’s have a droid lovefest.

bb-8-peeking-out

Begun, A New Era Has: My review on The Force Awakens

I predicted I would love the movie yesterday and not be able to say anything but great things about it. While I did love and like it a lot, it took a while for me to get into it.  Longer than I thought and I did find some parts that did not sit well with me.

The Force Awakens reminded me of a new pair of shoes.  It was a little uncomfortable at first, something different that I needed to get used to.  But once I had worn it for a significant amount of time, the shoes melded to my feet and I love them.  It tooke a while for me to accept that this movie was the beginning of a new era in Star Wars: new characters, ships, and storylines to get used to.

I felt like the first 2/3 of the movies was story building – a lot of it.  To the point that sometimes I felt that it was a little slow and it was uncomfortable.  Though we were in the universe of Star Wars, it was different.  The galaxy had aged 30 years, the Empire is resurrected in a new form as the First Order, and we aren’t sure what has happened to the Rebellion.  The war that we thought was over is far from over and the Resistance, surprisingly I thought, is still a small faction (albeit more organized) trying to overthrow a large government.

General Notes – Spoiler Territory Ahead

The strengths of this movie pulled from the Original Trilogy with its humorous quips  and little touches that devout Star Wars fans would notice (there were definitely some EU shout outs as well).  The humor mostly came when Han was on screen, so I’d like to see how they are going bb-8to keep the humor going now that he’s dead.  I’m guessing Poe since he had that bad boy funny streak.  The format was like A New Hope in that we followed BB-8 on this journey, similar to how we followed R2-D2 and C-3PO previously.  I loved BB-8 and I understand why everyone fell in love with Artoo when Star Wars first came out.  I want my own BB-8 droid.

The Falcon appeared early in the movie and was the main mode of transportation, but man oh man, does it get beat up.  I cringed every time it hit the sand, but it kind of brought a realness to the situation that I appreciated.

I did not notice the soundtrack as much as I thought I would.  I feel like all the other Star Wars movies had distinct themes that you could go return to and love.  Duel of the Fates, Imperial March, Luke and Leia, Battle of the Heroes, etc.  I didn’t notice anything in The Force Awakens that had me rooting for a new tune.

Once everything was established, and we knew and understood the new characters Finn and Rey, the story began to take off.  The last 1/3 of the movie was Star Wars fun, with a big space complex to destroy (round per usual, but this time in the form of a Death Star converted to a large planet), a lightsaber fight, and some loss of beloved heroes.

In typical Star Wars fashion, there were some plot points that were nicely glossed over that left me scratching my head.  Such as:

  • Where did they get Luke/Anakin’s lightsaber?  Maz Kanata smoothed that over and basically said it was “a story for another time.”
  • Why was the lightsaber “crying” and Rey heard it?  Is this part of the maz kanata lightsaberForce?  Why did it give her all those images?
  • I would have liked to know more about the Republic that was destroyed by Starkiller Base.  It sounds like it was established at the end of ROTJ, but was it an actual governing force in the galaxy?  Is the First Order still the reigning government, or was it similar to a civil war or the Prequel Trilogy with the Separatists and the Republic?  But this time the Republic is the smaller group and the First Order is the larger?
  • R2-D2 basically shutting down didn’t make sense.  It was a neatly thrown in plot point and then he conveniently “woke up” at the end to help the Resistance find Luke…huh?

Characters

I loved Rey.  Rey was my favorite character, no question about it.  They didn’t try to make her a forced “strong female protagonist” as most of Hollywood seems to be trying to do right now.  They made her relatable, a real human being where you understood her actions and the consequences.  She could be male or female, which is what I loved.  There was no push on the romance and even now, I can’t figure out if her and Finn are going to become an “item” or if they are just friends who’ve been through a lot.  I want to know more about her history.  I’m guessing her parents were taken from her?  But who was dragging her away?  Is she somehow related to the Skywalkers?

Mr. Reticent noted that he thought her being captured by Kylo Ren was a Rey Kylo Ren gif“damsel in distress” situation, but I highly disagree.  It made sense with her character.  It allowed her to battle Kylo in the Force, come out victorious, and feel the Force awaken within her.  If they captured Han, it would be a little pointless.  If they captured Finn, there would be so much hullabaloo with him being a previous stormtrooper that there would be too much First Order protocol involved.

I thought Han was still Han, though I did feel like the movie was staged for his death a little too much (who called that?).  I liked his quips, his camaraderie with Chewie was still the same, and I thought it made sense that he was separated from Leia due to their son going to the dark side.  We couldn’t have Han and Leia madly in love because his death would be that much harder.  Abrams and the writers wanted to separate the audience from Han, to not make it *that* hard on us when he died.  Though I didn’t cry when he died, totally expecting it, I did get teary eyed when Rey came off the Falcon and had that moment with Leia.

Though the driving force of the movie was Luke Skywalker, it was frustrating how little they spent on where he had been in the past 30 years.  I know he disappeared due to the failure of his training and starting a New Jedi Order, but it was rushed.  It seems a little out of character for the Luke we know…wouldn’t he have at least stayed in touch with his sister and Han?  I hope we find out much, much more of his backstory in the upcoming films.  When I saw the last shot, I honestly thought, “Oh darn, the movie was just starting to get good.”

Finally, Kylo Ren.  Or, Ben Solo (interesting EU nod).  I went back and forth throughout the movie on whether or not I liked him.  On the one hand, he was not nearly as imposing or intimidating as I’d expect Kylo vs. Finnsomeone on the dark side of the Force to be.  On the other hand, I loved the character struggles he seemed to go through.  It added more layers to a dark side character that we’ve only really seen in Return of the Jedi.  Knowing Kylo was once good and even admits that he’s struggling when it came to his father was an interesting twist for Star Wars.  Vader never admitted he struggled with the light side.  I’m confused as to why he wore the mask, other than to emulate Darth Vader and his obsession with him.  Funnily, and I’m not sure if Abrams meant this, but the tantrums Kylo Ren threw were so much like Anakin that I wanted to pat him on the back and tell him he’s more like Anakin than he knows. I loved Adam Driver’s acting when it came to that moment when he killed his father.  I felt there was a real struggle within him, but when he made his decision, you could see this slight change in his face and oh, it was so perfect.  By the end of the movie, I wish we had more of Kylo and I’m interested to see where he will go in his training with Snoke.

Supreme Leader Snoke.  Where do I begin?  This was my one major gripe with the movie.  I thought he was a horrible addition.  It looks like he jumped straight out of a Tolkien novel/movie, with some zombie thrown in.  I can’t figure out if it was because he was so large or because of his species (whatever he is), but I thought he wasn’t believable.  Every time he came on the screen, the movie felt disjointed and took a step back, instead of forward.  I am curious as to whether it’s because he was so large, which made me think he just looked stupid.  When we see him in future movies, I hope that he is a normal height and not a hologram.  I wanted to see more of Kylo Ren and less of Snoke throughout the movie.

General Hux was like he came straight out of an EU novel: a typical Imperial General.  What I liked most about him was that he seemed to be an equal to Kylo and had no problems calling him out, another difference from the Empire in the Original Trilogy, where everyone was terrified of Vader (shhh…don’t tell Kylo that).  Captain Phasma didn’t have as large of a role as I was hoping, but I appreciate the shout out to female stormtroopers and the fact, again, that Phasma could have been male or female.  Maz Kanata was a nice replacement for Yoda/wise mage, but I’d like to see more of her.  I hope she continues to pop up throughout the new sequels, but is a true guiding force.  General Leia was not given as much screen time as I would have hoped.  She was the same, yet different, but they didn’t explore it much.  She had more of a cameo role than an actual part.  Poe Dameron was interesting and I hope we see more of him in the future.  I think he will be a really strong character, but more please.  More of Poe in the next movie.

star-wars-7-force-awakens-kylo-ren-captain-phasma-general-hux

I believe it took a while for the movie to establish itself, but once the foundation was built, it took my breath away.  Abrams did a great job clearly defining that the baton was being passed onto a new generation, which was one of my highest hopes.  I did not want a movie that only focused on Han, Leia, and Luke again – and this did not disappoint.

The only parts where it fell short for me was the lack of the mystical in the Force and Snoke.  I felt that the Force has always been such an important factor for Star Wars and guides all the movies, so to say, but it wasn’t strong within this movie.  I think we’ll see more of it coming up in the sequels and I certainly hope so.

Overall, I give The Force Awakens a solid B+/A-.  I’m seeing it again tonight so will hopefully have a better understanding and opinion of it once done.

 

Okay, phew, done.  LET’S DISCUSS.