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Hindmost!

Seriously: Here There Be Spoilers.

 

 

 

 

 

Last Sunday, I saw The Last Jedi.

Here, I’ll just cut and paste what I said then:

And without getting into spoilers at all, I’ll say that I walked in with a couple of big questions and got answers to both of them:

1. A Really, Really *SATISFYING* Answer. (But it was given by the least reliable character in the movie so, maybe, it’s not the real answer. But if it is the answer, it’s a good one anyway.)

2. The answer of “you know what, it doesn’t matter. Stop worrying about it.”

Here are the two questions I had:

1. Dude, what’s the story with Rey’s parentage?

2. Dude, what’s the story with Supreme Leader Snoke?

The answer to the first one hit me just right. Of course Rey’s parents were nobodies. Just like Anakin’s parents. Not some great lineage of Jedi, just one person hitting the right combination of genes and nutrition that gave them a 20% boost in Midichlorian production. The Force flows through them better than it flows through other people and, next thing you know, you’ve got yourself a Jedi. Or a Sith, I guess. (And the best part is that since Kylo Ren came up with this on his own, it’s not necessarily so. I mean, it makes *SENSE* for that to be the answer… but there’s still wiggle room for Keira Knightley’s character from Phantom Menace to be Rey’s grandmamma.)

The answer to the second one kind of irritates me. While I appreciate that Snoke isn’t supposed to be anything more than an overcomeable emperor figure (and how easily overcome!), I would have kind of enjoyed to learn that he was actually… oh, I dunno. *SOMEBODY*. As it is, we got told “eh, don’t worry about it. Dude’s dead.”

With those two major questions behind us, I’m now still chewing over the movie. Now, one thing I’ve complained about with, say, the Marvel superhero flicks is that they’re like eating cotton candy. Pleasant enough in the moment, forgotten a moment later. This movie is *NOT* like that. There was a take I remember seeing from the aftermath of The Force Awakens that said something like: The Force Awakens got the spices just right… but it was eating tofu. The Last Jedi, for all its faults, was not tofu. They got the spices right and, on top of that, they threw some serious red meat in there.

The fun part, of course, is to complain about the stuff that didn’t work. The gravity in space (not only for bombs but for bomb detonators). The trip to the Casino planet that pretty much came out and told you to feel the Bern. The admiral that picked up the idiot ball and refused to have a serious conversation with Poe about the plan. The boob creatures that put all of the trepidations about the porgs into perspective. The guy who betrayed the plan that Finn and Rose didn’t know about. The altercation with Captain Phasma. The guy who saw a new planet and decided to taste it.

All of those left me scratching my head and wondering why they didn’t have someone come in and read the script and ask a handful of dumb questions like “why aren’t they talking about this? Seems like they could talk about this. They’re right there in the room together.”

There were even some small disappointments

For one, on the casino planet, I surprised myself by finding my heart yearning to have the codebreaker that they were looking for end up being Lando Calrissian. Heck, they could even have him betray them again! That would have been awesome! As it is, it was Benicio del Toro playing the role of… I don’t even know who he was. Was he a plant? Was he the actual guy that they were supposed to be looking for? Was The Force acting in a mysterious way by giving Finn and Rose exactly what they didn’t know they really needed deep down?

For another, I kinda wished that it was Admiral Ackbar who said “Darn the torpedos!” and did the kamikaze run. They could have had him mumble “it’s a trap” before he pushed the button. This would have had the added benefit of allowing Laura Dern to come back next movie and not talk to anybody in that one too.

But, at the end of the day, the complaints that I have about the movie pale in comparison to the belly full of red meat that the filmmakers also gave me.

Kylo Ren is an *INTERESTING* character. Cranky Luke is an *INTERESTING* character. The sexual tension between Kylo Ren and Rey is *INTERESTING* sexual tension. The scene where the children told each other about Luke Skywalker defeating Kylo Ren using action figures was an awesome scene despite being a commercial for Star Wars Action Figures. And the little slave kid using the Force to help him sweep up? Hey, maybe Rey’s parents aren’t anybody. It’d make sense. There are a lot of potential Jedi out there. Or Sith, I guess.

It’s a fun movie to complain about and while I can totally understand how someone might not have liked it (and, indeed, my eyes rolled out of my head about three times)… man. I can’t wait to see the sequel. They did some really interesting stuff and I’m looking forward to complaining about the next one already.

So… what did you think?


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Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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63 thoughts on “Hindmost!

  1. The admiral that picked up the idiot ball and refused to have a serious conversation with Poe about the plan.

    She doesn’t owe Poe a conversation or any other dang thing. Chain of command is a thing, and people died because Poe doesn’t understand that.

    Kylo Ren is an *INTERESTING* character. Cranky Luke is an *INTERESTING* character.

    I’m mulling over now if Rey is an interesting character. The problem is, after some 5 hours of movie time, she hasn’t made a single mistake. That is uninteresting.

    I questioned the directorial choices in two places. The first was when they showed the saber hilt on Snoke’s throne turning before Kylo activated it – thus telegraphing that punch.

    The second was ‘telling not showing’ – using narrative rather than Acting! – to reveal what ‘really’ happened in the initial Luke/Ben confrontation; i.e. showing the same scene three times with different voice over each time.

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    • Arguably Rey deciding to go “turn” Kylo Ren was a mistake. She was manipulated into it by Snoke and had Ben not decided it was time to get on with the Sith program of murdering his master then she’d have been screwed.

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    • Kylo disguised turning Rey’s/Luke’s saber by turning his own in his hand in the same moment, thus somehow managing to disguise his true intent from Snoke, who was too busy gleefully narrating the inner workings of Kylo’s mind to actually pay attention.

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  2. Good post Jay and I agree with a lot of it. With regards to Rey’s parentage I really really liked it. As a matter of fact Rey is, if anything, even more common in parentage than Anakin since Anakin’s mother claimed he was an immaculate conception and the music played all serious when she did so implying that she wasn’t just lying. Rey has no such Jesus implications and that was awesome.

    I will nit pick with you on the thief character selling out the plan that Rose and Finn didn’t know about. When the group was trying to hack the door Poe frantically told Finn and Rose over the communicator that the Admiral was launching transports and the thief was in easy earshot. He had also been in earshot earlier when Poe frantically told Finn that the Admiral was planning on abandoning the cruiser. When he cut a deal with the First Order the thief did indeed have the necessary general knowledge to expose the resistances clever sneak away plan. I actually approved of the overarching narrative element. While I agree it could have been defused by Holdo simply explaining the plan to Poe this wasn’t done because the arc was cutting against the standard tropes: Chain of command exists for a reason; the one in a million hair brained plan* is a bad idea because it’s generally likely to fail; and yes watching the hotshot dude who thinks deep down that the women don’t know what they’re doing fall on his idiot face was a useful theme for our times.

    Also there’s been much discussion about droid competence in our circles. R2D2 certainly bailed our heroes out on occasion but BB8 seems to be pushing it to the ceiling. How many times did that bowling ball droid flat out save the day? I mean we can dismiss repairing the weapons on the figher, that’s his job as an astromech. But jailbreaking the kiddies on the casino planet** then befriending, recruiting and getting the thief to bust them off the planet, then killing like two hundred storm troopers in a commandeered ATAT (oh good job Fin, you killed two storm troopers- robotic golf clap), that little dude really was pouring out the competence porn. I think he’s way over R2D2’s record.

    *And the plan didn’t fail because someone screwed up, it failed because it was a long shot plan. Of course the evil BB8 detected them as intruders. The only wonder is that any infiltration on large ships have ever fishing worked.

    **And seriously? Parking on the fishing beach? It would have taken like, 2 minutes to park at the actual space dock and probably would have saved them time walking to the casino vs running all the way from the beach AND wouldn’t have gotten the cops on their tail??? What.. the… hell???

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  3. The parking on the beach thing really bugged me. I can appreciate that they couldn’t get clearance to land at a casino pad (landing fees and what not), but landing in an obvious and ridiculous spot?

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  4. The admiral that picked up the idiot ball and refused to have a serious conversation with Poe about the plan.

    That’s basic Operational Security. Poe didn’t need to know the plan, so he wasn’t told it. Leaving aside the risk someone on board is a spy, Kylo Ren can read minds. If the Resistance has any sense at all, they have a strict policy of restricting critical information to avoid their secrets being given away.

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  5. Ha, I had thought I had seen that boy use the force to pick up the broom, but I thought, “nah, probably not”. I almost like the movie better now.

    Look, here’s my hot-take. Wait for the fan edit. The one that completely drops the whole codebreaker subplot. Too bad, because I love Finn, but they totally wasted his talent on a subplot worthy of cheap Saturday afternoon sci-fi television. Lots of good material, but quite a bit of “meh” almost like the master director told his young apprentice: “hey, you my young foolish padawan, go and give something for Finn to do.” A big waste of Finn and his partner. A direct attempt to infiltrate the ship by them would have been better, if still a little lame. Instead, they could have had Finn escape by kidnapping the other, and then have some sideline adventure

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    • The scene in The Force Awakens where Han says “It’s true. All of it.” was really awesome but, honestly, how in the world does The Force not have a *HUGE* following in that universe?

      Is it just mostly so subtle that people think that they’re just good at stuff?

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      • Even in the prequels, when the Jedi are at their height, what is the ratio of trained force users to people in the galaxy? What is the ratio of trained force users to inhabited planets in the galaxy?

        Adjust for the fact that the Jedi tend to be cloistered on Coruscant unless they have a mission (a mission that likely involves them either talking to exclusively high-status people or going incognito), and how many people in the galaxy would have had a direct experience with Jedi, or even know someone who has? And if they did, would they have seen some of the flashier displays of force power? Light sabres are impressive, but there’s nothing overtly supernatural about using one?

        My guess is that the residents of Coruscant and the galactic political class know about the Force, but most of the ordinary people of the galaxy might not know more than the Jedi are a religious police force that uses laser swords.

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        • But you don’t need to be trained to use The Force. The kid with the broom demonstrated that.

          And even if the kid didn’t notice that something wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up with his sweeping, you’d think that there’d be enough people who notice that there were people out there who only needed to go through the motions of sweeping to get a pile of dust in the dustpan, who (somehow) always managed to grab the exact right bolt for their torque wrench without even looking, who can lift very small rocks when they think about it just right.

          Imagine a universe where burying a Saint Joseph statue in your backyard *ALWAYS* resulted in selling your house in less than a week.

          That’s what The Force is.

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            • Replay the broom scene in your head.

              Maybe not everybody can use The Force as well as a trained Jedi but there would consistently be Force Sensitives popping up here and there.

              Presumably where there is an imbalance that needs addressing.

              Maybe you wouldn’t be able to bury the statue and sell your house, but there would be a Force-Sensitive realtor who didn’t do advertising for your house, didn’t even put up a sign, just showed up with a shovel and, whammo, the house got sold within a countable number of hours.

              Eventually the other realtors would notice.

              Now just extrapolate that out to every industry. Somewhere in that building, there’s an uncannily successful person using The Force to help them succeed.

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  6. I said this on Twitter in shorter form, but my thought about the casino subplot was that I hated it was it was happening, but loved it after it was over. This sis because I think that it was the most obvious (and delicious) of all the ways this movie turned Star Wars on its head in a way I really enjoyed.

    All the SW movies up to now relied on some improbable, million-to-one harebrained scheme to overcome a 99.9% indestructible enemy. I realized when I saw Force Awakens and they had to hatch and execute yet another of these hard brand schemes to save the day that I was tired of them. I loved that in Last Jedi, it has the same kind of hair-brained scheme — but it turns out that it was the stuffy people who said “don’t do that, it’s crazy and self-destructive” who ended up bineg correct. In fact, the crazy, half-cocked hair-brained schemes come close to entirely destroying the rebellion/resistance.

    I loved that this movie was able to finally say, “you know what, let’s have the plot go a different way this one time.”

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  7. “The admiral that picked up the idiot ball and refused to have a serious conversation with Poe about the plan.”

    Let me rephrase this in a way that will illustrate why this didn’t really bother me:

    “Poe Dameron? Captain Poe Dameron, right? You want me to explain myself to you? Ok, Captain, I’ll flip you for it.”

    “Oh, look! O-9 beats O-6. Now somebody get this clown off my bridge before he gets himself thrown in the brig for insubordination.” (Setting aside, for the moment, that since I’m using the US Navy rank structure, Poe’s reduction in rank from “Commander” to “Captain” is actually a promotion…)

    I, too, loved Cranky Luke and the relationship between Rey and Kylo, and if you’re looking for a place for Lando, why not Holdo’s part? Regardless, I loved the movie enough to overlook it’s obvious flaws (saw it for the second time last night).

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    • Three people have told me this, so far but I still think that not bringing in the guy who is so charismatic that he could mutiny and have an entire team join his side and then, even when the mutiny is over, the generals are saying “man, I like him a lot”, well, it’s a mistake to not calm him down to the point where he’s not willing to mutiny.

      I mean, if you’re not willing to shoot him.

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      • As I recall, it wasn’t so much that he wasn’t told the plan as that there was no communication that they even had a reasonable plan. I would think in a situation like that, you’d want the whole crew to know that they really do have something in mind beyond just sailing along until they run out of fuel and get captured or killed, even if you have good reasons for not sharing it.

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      • I have backed off my position somewhat thanks to the debate on nat’l sec/ military professional twitter.

        The point of view I have come around to is that while Poe was still totes in the wrong, Admiral Holdo did need to be a better communicator to all the troops as a principle of mission command.

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  8. It’s a fun movie to complain about and while I can totally understand how someone might not have liked it (and, indeed, my eyes rolled out of my head about three times)… man. I can’t wait to see the sequel. They did some really interesting stuff and I’m looking forward to complaining about the next one already.

    This is exactly how I felt about. I’m going to see it again a couple times with different friends and family members, and I’m looking forward to complaining about that stuff all over again, as well as being wowed by the multiple wow-worthy bits.

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  9. I agree with there being lots of red meat, perhaps more than any other Star Wars movie, Empire included.

    David Lynch was one of the directors who turned down Return of the Jedi; that would have been something to see. It makes some sense that Laura Dern and Justin Theroux show up in the Star Wars movie that seems most Lynch-ian.

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  10. I’ve read or heard several things in either articles or podcasts from people closer to the business that basically, Billy Dee Williams is not exactly 100% mentally and while he can handle showing up to say, a studio to do lines for a cartoon or go to a Comic Con to sign a bunch of autographs, being in a movie would be too much.

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  11. I saw it a second time with my family today, and noticed a couple things I was watching for. One:

    The guy who betrayed the plan that Finn and Rose didn’t know about.

    He did know about it! He was on the bridge of the stolen ship when Poe told Finn and Rose about the escape plan.

    The other is that the Nando Maneuver takes a while to set up, and the First Order fleet knows about it the whole time. They just didn’t do anything about it because they’re a bunch of dipshits.

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  12. Of course Rey’s parents were nobodies. Just like Anakin’s parents.

    Just like Taran’s parents. This also struck Erik Kain, who mentioned Taran Wandrerer in his review in Forbes.

    Although Anakin was a virgin birth, which is kind of remarkable even if it means his father was literally nobody.

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  13. One of the things that struck me as I was watching is how incredibly well this film makes use of Mark Hamill. He does great in comedic, over-the-top roles (see: the Joker) but can be inconsistent in other circumstances. By making Luke the Yoda of the new trilogy instead of the Obi-Wan, they gave him an opportunity to do what he’s best at, and the role sings.

    The production design was great. The original Star Wars movie were visually inspired by WW2 films, Flash Gordon serials, and so forth. Subsequent films were often just inspired by previous star wars films–that’s one of the places where Force Awakens was even worse than the prequel trilogy. Seeing this film start out with such clear visual homages to WW2 films was refreshing.

    The Casino suplot. Was terrible in just about every way.
    *It’s fine to have the characters fail, but this isn’t Game of Thrones. They could have had the plan fail without it directly resulting in the deaths of thousands of Rebels.
    *Splitting up Finn and Poe is a terrible idea–the chemistry between those two characters is one of the unexpected gems of the Force Awakens. It was one of the things I was most excited to see going into the Last Jedi, and instead the characters were split apart by a stupid stupid subplot
    *Rose is generally an interesting new character, and so attaching her to the worst parts of the movie is a stupid move.
    *Also, it felt like they wrote in a Lando cameo and then forgot to cast Lando. If you can’t get BDW in your movie then just maybe don’t put that in?

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  14. Kolohe: The second was ‘telling not showing’ – using narrative rather than Acting! – to reveal what ‘really’ happened in the initial Luke/Ben confrontation; i.e. showing the same scene three times with different voice over each time.

    I saw that as a deliberate Kurasawa homage, just like the ones in the original movie. A nod to Lucas.

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