The Force Frustrations: Working Through Our Disappointment With Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Matt and Jared, both Star Wars fans very much excited for The Last Jedi, reckon with their overall mixed response to the film.
I’m going to keep this brief, because so much of what will eventually come from our coverage on The Last Jedi won’t be. But to just briefly give an introduction to what you will (at the very least) start reading — last night I got the chance to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It was one of my most anticipated entertainments of 2017, and I went into the movie with extreme excitement for what I was going to want. I was a big fan of The Force Awakens, and couldn’t wait to see what would become of the characters I so quickly fell in love with, and the story that, while far from perfect, had me very interested at the future of this saga.
Some two-and-a-half-hours later, I walked out of the theater just feeling sad — I was not a fan of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. And, if we’re being completely honest here, that kind of broke my heart. Hoping to work out why my reaction to the film was so negative, I turned to the internet, and fellow Freshly Popped Culture contributor Jared Russo. Jared and I are both big Star Wars fans and, as I quickly realized through our conversation, had his fair share of problems with the movie as well. So we did the only thing we could do: we talked it the fuck out.
Below is a chat between Jared and I, built off of a Twitter DM feed we bounced around in for about a dozen hours. The opinions we shared were still very much raw and frash (we both had only seen the film mere hours before), and more refined thoughts will hopefully hit the website in the coming days. But, for now, here’s our initial reaction to Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Beware, this is a COMPLETELY SPOILER FILLED conversation, so really don’t read it until after you see the film. Also, all tweets and links embedded in the article were also inserted into the chat itself, just for clarity’s sake. In any case, enjoy. Or, in the very least, bask in our bafflement that was The Last Jedi.
Jared: I’m more positive, but I’m also conflicted. Like Kylo Ren.
Matthew: Was Kylo Ren conflicted? I couldn’t tell the 50 times it was told to me. I still enjoyed a good amount of the movie, but the things I didn’t enjoy I REALLY didn’t enjoy. But we’ve gone over my weird distaste for Rian Johnson, so maybe this was inevitable. I really hoped this would be the one to turn it around though…
Jared: I think this is the worst thing he’s done, but you’re nuts for not liking his other work.
Matthew: I liked (though didn’t love) Brick! And “Ozymandias” is perfection, I’ll give him that. But The Brothers Bloom and Looper left me super cold, with Looper especially reminding me so much of this one (in that it had so much potential, but squanders it the more it goes along.) Ultimately, did you like this one than The Force Awakens? Or are you still trying to think through it? Both film’s had lots of issues, but I don’t think there was anything nearly as disappointing in The Force Awaken than in The Last Jedi.
Jared: I have to see The Last Jedi again to tell you, it’s tone and structure is so weird that it left me more conflicted than anything.
Matthew: Being someone who just ranted with friends for four hours about all the disappointing things that happened in it, my choice is pretty clear. But there is a lot to parse through, that’s true.
Jared: Wait, you have friends? ZING.
Matthew: Ouch, you got me there.
Jared: I will say this: I am still confounded by it and, definitely need to see it again, I can’t get the movie out of my head, which are words I never thought I would say about a Star Wars movie, to be fair.
Matthew: I’ll agree with that. I’ve been thinking and writing and talking about it for hours.
Jared: The movie ends up just feeling like a big fever dream, really.
Matthew: It’s just so…much. And the fact that both film’s take place in, like, two weeks MAX is nuts. It’s weird they don’t give any time for the action of this movie to breath. It leaves you overwhelmed, in ways both good and bad.
Jared: Maybe on the second viewing I’ll have a better grip on it and get over some stuff I was wondering about. Like how did everyone find out her parents were nobodies? How would Kylo Ren possibly know that information.
Matthew: …The Force?
Jared: This movie kind of broke every rule of the Force, and just made up all sorts of things about it which often just made my theater laugh.
Matthew: Although that was one decision I loved! If you read through my previous article, you would know I was rooting for that. Makes her character arc better, even if other things in this film made it worse in certain ways or, at the very least, didn’t give it the time of day it deserved. And speaking of things that made people laugh…OMG, THE FLOATING LEIA SCENE.
Jared: Yeah, that and everyone kept yelling “KISS!” at the Kylo and Rey scenes.
Matthew: Boy, the sexualization that people feel for those two is..something. The internet especially is adding a weird romantic current to this movie that I for one just want to roll my eyes at. Anywho, my theater mostly just clapped. AT EVERYTHING.
Jared: Mine too.
Matthew: But then they clapped at Luke revealing himself as a Force Projection (a little bit silly development, I might add), and immediately let out frustrated groans when he died 30 seconds later. I laughed so hard.
And speaking of kissing from earlier, that last Rose/Finn scene sucked, right? So much unearned with that character/relationship.
Jared: Everything that Rose said before she died was hokey, and simply did not work.
From Luke's fate to Snoke's real story to Rey's parents, we've got a few questions about certain story points and…t.co
The more I read about this movie, the more I dislike it, and I hate both myself and the internet for making me feel that way.
Spoilers! Let's get down to it and explain exactly what the end of the new Star Wars movie means. Star Wars: The Last…t.co
Matthew: That was me just thinking about it, really. And I am STUNNED at people calling it the best one, or whatever. For whatever it does right, it’s such a flawed movie, even just fundamentally. Ton of things that just don’t add up, or for whatever reason just doesn’t work.
Jared: Regardless, nothing touches those first two and nothing ever will. Return of the Jedi is the third best — don’t @ me.
Matthew: Revenge of the Sith is the third best. And DO @ me, cause I’ll defend that film and it’s stuffy ass self any day.
Jared: You’re insane.
Matthew: Also, working on a list about film’s problems. this what I got so far:
- The Finn Rose Romance Is Awful
- What was even the point of their story
- Everyone fails, which gets kind of annoying
- Snoke Meant Nothing, So Cool I Guess
- Poe’s plot fizzles
- Leia force flight, yuck
- Luke’s death is unnecessary
- Phasma death is a goddamn waste
- Benicio del Toro is useless
- That casino scene entirely is useless
- Yoda scene is weird
- It rushed as fuck, with the entire film being like two days max
- The backstory still makes no sense, and no effort is made to illuminate ANYTHING at all about The Force Order, Knights of Ren, etc.
- Snoke powers are hella inconsistent
Anything else you think I missed?
Jared: I don’t know, I don’t think Luke’s death wasn’t unnecessary, and BB-8 got shit done.
Matthew: BB8 was, no joke, the highlight of the film for me. He was great the whole way through.
Jared: Yeah, so he wasn’t a failure at least.
Matthew: Obvious hyperbole on notes I’ve merely jotted down. And, if you want to be technical, he was on the Finn/Rose mission, which failed horribly. But he definitely was the only one trying his best there!
Jared: He is really on pace to out-do R2 at this point, which is nuts to me. Also, more Poe, please. Everyone, just make him the leader of the rebels.
Matthew: To be fair, R2 has been given shit to do in these last two movies. His scene with Luke in this one was a high point, though. That “Binary Sunset/The Hologram” just works, man.
Jared: What was Luke’s third lesson? We only get to see two of them. Why was that a thing that dropped off? His second lesson was basically one big long rant anyways.
Matthew: I really wish they did more with Luke and Rey. It also sucks that Luke dies without ever reconciling with her. Their last scene they share is their big fight.
Jared: They could have done more with Rey in general, like I thought she would be trained to lift his x-wing out of the water ala Empire Strikes Back, but she just goes and lifts the rocks with no problem at all. There was no struggle in her training with the force. And Kylo Ren killed both Han fucking Solo and his master, like I have a lot of problems with him as a character…but Jesus, Adam Driver is the best actor in all these movies so far.
Matthew: They are all really good actors, and deserved more here IMHO. Mark Hamill especially really brought it big time.
Jared: A lot of the humor was very modern internet jokey stuff that like doesn’t fit with the other movies too, which bothered me.
Matthew: I was okay with the humor. I thought the first scene with Poe and Hux was really funny, and fit Poe’s character to that point.
Jared: And as much as Rian Johnson pushed his direction forward for the franchise, it’s lack of traditional feeling makes the whole thing so off for me, like I’m still wrapping my head around his blending of styles. I really need a second viewing.
Matthew: Yeah, I’ll be seeing it again, even if I disliked it the first time. But my problem is not only that it is a weird Star Wars movie, but it also is just a really shitty sequel to The Force Awakens. To people who didn’t like that movie, I’m sure that’s a pro. But everything Johnson did seemed to be spitting in the Face of what Abrams was setting up. Part of me wonders if Abrams agreed to come back NOT because Johnson made him excited about the trilogy, but because he was hoping to right the ship again on the story he set up. Then again, I feel like Abrams maybe didn’t have plans for the overarching story to begin with, which might speak more to the failures of the trilogy itself rather than just The Last Jedi.
Jared: I read in interviews J.J was so jealous of his script and was like “Damn, I gotta get back in there.” But listening to the score alone, this movie is aces compared to Force Awakens. John Williams, please be immortal for all of us.
This is the best summation of things so far, I think.
Matthew: On a completely nitpicky level, where the fuck did The First Order get the AT-AT’s they were using on the salt planet? Their fleet was decimated, and their main ship destroyed. Where did all the additional firepower come from? The vagueness surrounding everything to do with The First Order and the Knights of Ren was tough in TFA, but this was Johnson’s chance to provide some actual context for the group. instead, just left me even more confused about how powerful they are. The vagueness surrounding everything to do with The First Order and the Knights of Ren was tough in The Force Awakens, but this was Johnson’s chance to provide some actual context for the group. Instead, just left me even more confused about how powerful they are. It’s two movies in, and I still don’t know WTF even are The Knights of Ren. Are there others out there? Is it just Kylo now? What about the other lightsaber dude’s we saw with Kylo during the flashback in TFA? UGH, TOO MANY QUESTIONS FOR A TRILOGY WRAPPING UP IN ONE MORE INSTALLMENT.
Jared: I think I might be over Star Wars for a while. This should have been a home run for us, and it wasn’t and now I’m disappointed and underwhelmed by this entire thing. Things like Luke’s whole shoulder brush thing? It was just too much for me, man. You know what?
You should re-type this whole thing up and post it on the website.
Matthew: I’m using a lot of this to work out my thoughts for a bigger article. It’s been helpful — if there’s anything you can say about The Last Jedi, it’s that it lefts a lot to be talked about.
Jared: Just post this entire conversation cleaned up. #content.
Matthew: I might, I’ll go and think about it. Maybe post it as two Star Wars fans making the horrible realization they were disappointed by a movie they really expected to love?
Jared: Do it.
Matthew: And I will.
And I did. Stay tuned for more of our thoughts on The Last Jedi in the days ahead. Like I said, there is a lot to break down here, and this was very much just the start of it.
Originally published at Freshly Popped Culture.