It’s no secret to anyone in nerd/pop culture that Star Wars, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (TLJ) has been one of the most talked about, and divisive movies, in years. Love it or hate it, months later, people are still talking about Rian Johnson’s movie.
Now, I made myself a promise for 2018. I would be more positive, even if I was being critical of something, I would still try and acknowledge what was good about something. Instead of just saying something was bad, I would offer areas where it could be better.
So with that being said, TLJ, for some, is a break to the saccharin Disney/Lucas formula. Instead of giving you the fairy tale formula, the movie subverts the tropes. By removing the expected, TLJ is able to deliver stylistic action and humor while also shining a light on war, those who suffer, and those who benefit. In rejecting the power of destiny and faith, one can view the world, or galaxy in this case, as cold and heartless. Through our failure, we learn. In the end, you have a movie which, by removing all you expectations, gives you a visual spectacle, and the promise that the force could be in anyone, not just a famous sky-walking family.
And on the other hand, there are the other people . . . who have a different point of view. Who upon seeing TLJ, who were filled with murderous rage. Witnessing this quasi-nihilistic, irreverent piece of expensive garbage, sent many fans to the internet, setting keyboards on fire with their perceived righteous fury.
It was pretty though! And the sound design? Top notch! No wonder it won several Academy Awards. (see, that’s the compliment sandwich right there.)
For those who liked TLJ, I understand your POV, I truly do. It just was not for me. As someone who grew up with Star Wars, and suffered through the god-awful prequels, this was my time to see my childhood heroes again. And clearly, TLJ didn’t care about that or people like me.
So, with that in mind, I’ve decided to apply the message, themes, and general outlook of TLJ to other movies and potential sequels. Let’s see how that works.
Toy Story 4
The movie opens immediately after Toy Story 3 ends, with Andy waving goodbye to Bonnie as Woody and Buzz watch Andy drive off . . . only for him to immediately die in a car crash because Andy was texting while driving. Bonnie runs in the house screaming, leaving Buzz and Woody outside. Where they stay and get run over by a lawnmower. The movie then follows the adventures of Pricklepants and Trixie as they do . . . whatever.
But, was Andy’s mom the original owner of Jessie you may ask? Who cares! Answers are for simpletons.
Robin Hood 2
As Robin steals from the rich and gives to the poor, the tax collectors come, realizing the poor have more money, and take it. The Rich then hire Saxon mercenaries to clear our Sherwood forest. Marion berates Robin for being a cocky, hotheaded scoundrel and begins a slow carriage chase across England.
Meanwhile, Friar Tuck and Maid Marian’s hand maid . . . Lily(?) go to France, only to learn that French merchants are selling trebuchets, swords, and crossbows to both sides of the conflict! Gasp! War profiteering is bad, did you know that!?
Princess Bride 2
Wesley and Buttercup claimed to have true love, but after defeating Humperdinck their marriage becomes distant and loveless. Sadly, after five years apart while Wesley was on the high seas becoming the Dread Pirate Roberts and Buttercup was . . . I dunno, looking frosty, they learn that their attraction was only physical and theey really are different people. So Buttercup and Wesley separate. Wesley leaves Florence with Indigo, and the pair take to the high sea. Buttercup however becomes Florence’s first ruling queen with her giant Fezzick by her side. 20 years go by.
The bastard child of Humperdinck, lays siege to Florence. Amid the turmoil, a young pale girl with a black hair, scars on her cheeks, fights against the uprising. The girl, Xandra, displays experts sword work beyond her years which gains her notoriety and the attention of Queen Buttercup.
Buttercup enlists this young rogue, and sends her to find Wesley and Indigo. Xandra teams up with a rag tag bunch of outlaws and set out on a grand adventure. After a slow chase across the sea by Humperdinck Jr’s men, this lady hero finally meets Wesley and Indigo. The two men are now lovers, living as a happy gay couple in Patagonia, selling beachside antiques to tourists. Wesley is fat and bald and Indigo is a pacifist. Xandra comes to Indigo and reveals . . . six fingers on her right hand!
But she is NOT Count Rugen’s daughter. Nope. Just a girl with six fingers. (How DARE you even think of a familial connection?! The force . . . of will, is in us all, not just an elite few bloodlines). Xandra asks Indigo to train her, but the Spaniard refuses, claiming the way of the blade only leads to more pain.
Xandra goes back to Florence to see the city has burned and Buttercup is dead. Fezzik is missing. She finds him in the fire swamp, about to eat an ROUS. He refuses to help, claiming that he loved Buttercup and has no reason to live. He finishes his meal, rhymes about the futility of life, and then steps into the lightning sand.
Xandra leads the rebellion, but amid the fighting, she and Humperdinck Jr begin exchanging letters and they bond. On the horizon, a pirate ship flying the colors of the Dread Pirate Roberts is seen! But it isn’t Wesley or Indigo coming to save the day, no no no. It’s just pirates coming to raid. Humperdinck Jr and Xandra team up to fight them in a badly choreographed high school stage level production scene that fans love for some unknown reason, and live happily ever after.
Fred Savage knocks the book out of grandpa’s hands for reading him such crap. Grandpa dies of a heart attack.
Harry Potter 8
Slender hands pick up an orb from the Ministry of Magic. A new prophecy is spoken. The children of the dual chosen are destined. One to be the new dark lord’s right hand, the other to be the beacon of resistance.
Ron and Hermione are divorced. Their kids live with her, as she is a successful editor for a magic newspaper after her investigative journalist career. Ron’s a drunk, but, he is also the new Headmaster at Hogwarts! (The Ministry of Magic wanted Harry, but he turned his back on magic. He and Ginny moved to Toledo where she sells real estate and he's a certified CPA.)
This story, despite being called Harry Potter, is about Luna and Neville’s kid, a girl named Luella. She is sorted into Slytherin house and her prefect is Harry’s son, Albus Severus.
Ron’s drunken antics as headmaster allow this new secretive Dark Lord to blow up Hogwarts! How inept! (Just like another ginger in TLJ who played a Weasley)
Fleeing into the dark Forest, the students are taught by elves and centaurs there there exists an ancient, hidden school of Magic. Long ago, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin created a school which predated Hogwarts. A place of primal power, but it was deemed unsafe. Albus Severus and Luella surmise that this is what the new Dark Lord wants!
Hints are dropped. Who is this new lord? A relation to Bellatrix? Colin Creevy who’s now addicted to Basalisk blood? WHO??!!
Ron see’s a pattern of brilliance in the new lord’s madness and convinced it’s Hermione. But, Albus suspects there is only one man who could be this new Dark Lord, the last horcrux of Voldemort, his own father . . . Harry Potter.
The students find the original school of magic, the place from whence Britain’s magic flows forth. After a CGI monster fight, the new Dark lord comes forward . . . and is promptly killed by a random student, falling into the magical wellspring before you ever learn who it is.
Upset you don’t know who the villain is? Tough, it was just taking up time anyway. Magic is in all of us . . . or something.
So, how do those ideas sound?
When The Force Awakens was finished, fans had many questions. Questions we wanted answers to be addressed in TLJ. Questions like:
1. What became of Luke?
2. Who are Rey’s parents?
3. How did Maz Kanata come by Luke’s Lightsaber? Wasn’t that lost when Vader cut his hand off?
4. Who was Max Von Sydow in The Force Awakens? Is he important?
5. Are the Knights of Ren a splinter group that Luke trained or allies of Kylo?
6. Who is Snoke?
7. How did Snoke rise to power?
8. After all of the questions JJ presented in The Force Awakens, what can I expect?
9. Will we finally get to see a meaningful moment where the original characters can mourn the icon, Han Solo?
10. Will we get to see Luke wield his lightsaber one more time and/or go out in a heroic way out?
But, as far as TLJ was concerned, the answers to those questions seemed to be:
1) Not much.
2) Who cares?
3) Doesn’t matter . . . yard sale?
4) *Shrug*. . . Nope.
5) The what of what now?
6) A waste of CGI money and not worth exploring.
7) See above answer.
8) Having expectations is stupid.
9) HA! Hahahahaha . . . No! FUCK your icon, we have Porgs! Plus, we have Rose’s PETA side quest to focus on! You know, the one where she saved horses but left those slave kids behind.
10) Sure . . . but not really. He will milk a space walrus and drink hot teat juice! Will that make ya happy, ya fucking nerd?!
I know some people already have arguments for these Q&A’s. I don’t care.
Like/Love/Hate JJ “Lens Flare” Abrahams and his mystery box mentality, the SOB asked some good questions. Questions I for one really wanted answers to. But, your right. A 36hr slow chase and an overly long, overly ham-fisted life lesson about capitalism via a casino planet scene was much more important than answering any of those.
I, and many others, were waiting 30 years to see Luke the the hero we hoped he’d be. Instead we got a surly, tit suckling, curmudgeon and a shit load of excuses which sounded like: “well, you see, Obi wan was a hermit, and Yoda was a hermit, and Luke felt really bad for almost killing Kylo”.
Fuck that. That is weak, weak story telling. He left a map to be found. Not a map to keep people away.
Losing Han in TFA sucked, but being robbed of the funeral, and the moment of the original cast saying goodbye to their beloved friend, and our beloved character, was nothing short of shitty. As fans, hell as movie watchers, you ride along on the adventures of the heroes. You cheer when they succeed, you suffer when they lose.
And that is the crux of my displeasure with the movie. Overall, I personally gave it a 3/5 review. It had humor, action, and was truly a visual spectacle. And I for one really like Rey and Kylo. And deep down, I like broom kid. There are several points the movie makes with which I agree. I like where it got to, I just loath how it got there.
The disrespect, disservice, and frank dismissal of the original movies and characters it what passes for edgy, but creates a division among the fans. Sure people talk about the movie, but a 50% disapproval isn’t something to be proud of.
So, as I said earlier, if one is to criticize, then one is to offer an alternative. That is why I present this:
Imagine a reworked scene at the end of TLJ, one where Luke really showed up to help the Resistance, and not a projection. Old man Luke pulled his X-wing out of the sea, popped in R2 and came in cannons blazing. He battles countless numbers of enemies from the air, taking down AT-ATs.
Luke ejects and takes up his lightsaber fighting ground troops. Kylo comes in and there is a real lightsaber fight. After wounding Kylo who retreats, Luke is tired, weak, wounded and gets overpowered by the remaining First Order. That is when Leia gives the Falcon to Rey and says “Go!”
Leia runs out the door, blaster in hand, picking off stormtroopers left and right. But also, tossing them aside with Force pushes and pulls. Leia helps Luke up and stands out there, together with her brother. They hold hands. And with their combined Force power, the two children of Vader reach into space and bring a star destroyer crashing into the planet. They know it will kill them, but it will save countless lives and give the Resistance a chance to escape.
And just as the massive, looming ship was about to crash, Luke looks at his sister, says “I love you.” She says, “I know.” He Luke smiles. And as they die, Luke looks up and sees two suns and says “It was all worth it.”
The Star Destroyer crashes in a massive spectacle of beautiful destruction. The sound goes silent as the dust settles. The camera pans back, revealing the devastation. The camera pulls further back, to see Chewie standing over Poe, Rey, Finn. He howls. Finn and Poe ask “What did he say.” C3PO and Rey both say “He said ‘thank you’”.
A tear rolls down Rey’s cheek. The Millennium Falcon jumps to hyperspace, carrying away the remaining resistance fighters. Credits.
Goddamn standing ovation.
You pass the torch, set up the new characters, leave enough of a legacy behind, and move forward.
A Long Time Ago, In a Galaxy Far, Far Away is the same thing as saying “Once Upon a Time.” It’s a fairy tale set in space. Let the hero be the hero. Let the farmboy or farmgirl bee special.
It means any of us could be a king or queen in waiting.
You just have to have hope.