This morning, we all went to the Cineplex Odeon Crowfoot to watch a screening of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
It was a special screening, put on by Antosz Orthodontics. They rented the theatre at 8:00 am and gave out tickets to their customers.
We were there early: quarter after 7:00, so we got the seats we wanted. Good thing: the theatre was completely full.
I’m still buzzing about the movie. I might wait to post thoughts about it until later. It was good. I swear there was something in my eye near the end.
Some thoughts after the break. I have tried to avoid explicit spoilers, but be warned.
My opinions right after a new Star Wars movie are almost always mixed. (The exceptions would be after the original and after Return of the Jedi.) All movies have a mix of good and bad, and things that you’d do differently, or story lines that needed trimming, etc. The problem is that Star Wars movies are important, and if you have a bad movie it’s a bad movie mixed in with what you love. There aren’t that many Star Wars movies (yet), and one bad one is significant. It’s not like Star Trek, where hundreds of episodes exist and you can ignore the worst. The more time goes by, the more angry I am with the Star Wars prequels. They are just bad, and until these new movies have started being released, the scorecard was even between good and bad movies.
And the new movies are really showing how bad the prequels were. In fact, they are exposing the seams on the originals in a way. They have a modern feel and pacing that is compelling.
The Last Jedi breaks new ground for Star Wars. Where The Force Awakens was a bit of a retread of A New Hope, The Last Jedi breaks out of a number of tropes. Yes, it’s the middle movie of a trilogy, and yes it needs to be the low point for the protagonists, just like at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. But I think the big difference is that all of the protagonists have a chance to be unheroic. They make wrong decisions. They lose. They want to run away. If you combine that with the humour in the film, it is a change in tone. Yes, there is heroism, but it is earned instead of being the default. Characters want to be selfish, but are convinced to be selfless. (That’s one of the best things about the original trilogy: Han Solo’s character arc) And yet, one of the big hints at the end of the movie is that this trilogy will not be won and lost by heroes. It will be won and lost by everybody who is inspired by them.
When I asked everybody at the lunch table what their favourite part of the movie was, there were a lot of votes for the humorous scenes. The comedy in The Last Jedi is top-notch. It is hilarious without being infantile like Jar-Jar. Some is a bit… wrong. For example, the “I’m on hold for General Hux” scene that starts the film. It’s hilarious, but it assumes late 20th-century/early 21st century telephone conventions which have never been a part of Star Wars. But the rest is great. “I’ve seen your schedule. You’re not busy.” is now a part of the lingo around our house.
Mark Hamill rose to the occasion, like Harrison Ford did in The Force Awakens. He is of an age with Alec Guinness when A New Hope was made. The farmboy from Tattooine is an old man now, and he has tasted deeply of victory and failure. He tries to avoid what the Resistance expects of him and tries to remain hiding from the Force. That leads me to my favourite part of the whole movie: the scene where R2-D2 shows him… something. That scene was perfect. As an author, I often struggle to know what stimuli will prompt characters to change their minds and this was perfect. I can’t say any more. It then led to all the feels in the climax of the film.
Speaking of which, the climax plays with those tropes again, beautifully. You expect one thing, you get another. There are scenes that are homages to the original movies, but then play out differently. The entire scene with Luke Skywalker is so misleading, and yet foreshadowed expertly earlier in the movie.
I discussed the movie with Davor, a co-worker, and the part of the movie that he didn’t like was the part where Finn and Rose need to find the codebreaker. He thought it should be dropped. While I think that it is probably the most un-Star Wars thread in any Star Wars movie, it was another example of the characters learning something that then impacted their decisions later in the film. They made mistakes. They were wrong, and it costs them. But that’s what real life is like, right? And it then leads directly to the end of the film, which I alluded to earlier. I think it will be very, very important for the last movie in this trilogy (come on 2019!)
The death of Carrie Fisher weighed on it. She died after filming The Last Jedi, and immediately there were questions about what would happen. The logical thing would have been to kill off her character at some point in the movie (thanks to the magic of movie editing), but it was announced immediately that they were not going to alter the film. There were places that Princess Leia could have been killed plausibly, but I understand that the resolution of the film needed both Luke and Leia. But I did catch myself thinking a number of times when watching it: “She could have been written out there”. How this is going to impact the final movie is a mystery. The filmmakers have also announced that they are not going to “reanimate” Carrie Fisher à la Peter Cushing in Rogue One. That means her death is going to weigh on the last movie, too.
Overall, I enjoyed it thoroughly. I think it has meat on it that was missing in The Force Awakens. It explores the middle-movie low without retreading Empire. I want to go see it again.
May the Force be with you.