Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

This post is late but as a Star Wars fan, I can't not write about this. I watched Star Wars: The Last Jedi on it's opening day and I absolutely loved it!

SPOILER ALERT!!! Please stop reading now if you haven't seen the movie and don't want to be spoiled.

What I do find interesting though is that while critics generally tend to agree that The Last Jedi is really good, audiences seem to have massively mixed reactions. On Rotten Tomatoes, as of this writing, 90% of critics rated the movie positively while only 49% of audiences did. Seriously??? I've generally stayed away from the negative critiques because I don't t really want my enjoyment of the film to be tainted but of the few negative remarks I've seen, I realized that most of the people who were disappointed in the film had certain expectations that the movie didn't meet because its story took a different path.

For instance, people felt let down that Kylo Ren didn't turn full good side, because they felt it would have been such a unique twist in the story. Other felt that Luke, as the last Jedi, should have been more willing to put himself out there and that he should have faced Kylo Ren and the First Order instead of mentally conjuring a hologram of himself. I guess this is the challenge that a megafranchise such as Star Wars faces: fans have grown so heavily invested in it that they end up having a sense of ownership and practically expect Star Wars to cater to how they think the story should flow. My cousin shared this meme that cleverly depicts this (unfortunately, no source was listed so I am unable to provide it):

Obviously, I disagree with many of these detractors. In fact, the reasons they dislike the film are almost the exact same reasons I love it. First, while it would have been cool to have Kylo Ren turn to the good side, I found his conflict in Episodes VII and VIII to be one of the most compelling storylines in this latest trilogy and its unpredictable nature makes for even greater potential. Adam Driver who portrays Kylo Ren put in such an incredible performance and you could really see and feel the continued anguish going on in his head. Also, I felt that Luke generating his hologram was a first - we've never seen a Jedi use this power before - was an incredible display of Luke's immense power.

What I also liked about The Last Jedi was how it was not very predictable (to me, at least). A large part of it was because of how the Star Wars franchise set it up through its two most recent films. In The Force Awakens, Han Solo was killed and in Rogue One, the entire lead cast was killed. Because of this, viewers aren't quite sure which character is going to be killed off next. This uncertainty keeps audiences at the edge of their seats. For me, given how the plot was unfolding, I thought that General Leia, Finn, and Rose would all die. I thought that Rey would turn to the dark side. I thought Vice Admiral Holdo was a traitor. And I also got really worried that Kylo Ren would kill Luke. As it turned out, none of these happened.

There were also many awesome moments that made me want to cheer loudly in the movies theater. (In fact, a large portion of the audience did, but I was seated at the side and most of the people sitting around me were not as vocal nor demonstrative of their appreciation so I just cheered in the inside. :)) Obviously, one of the biggest scenes was at Snoke's throne room when Rey and Kylo Ren fought together against Snoke's guards. I also loved it when Leia showed her ability to use of the force to save her own life after being blasted out of her ship. I loved Yoda's reappearance and the fact that he was able to use the force to generate a lightning bolt (apparently, generating force bolts is a power not limited to the Sith). The audience also cheered when it was revealed that Luke was generating a hologram to face The First Order. I also loved that scene at the end when the little kid showed that he could use the force.

One of the saddest things about The Last Jedi is the knowledge that Carrie Fisher has passed away and that this was her last film. In fact, because of this, I thought they would actually kill General Leia off. They almost did. But she was alive at the end of the movie, escaping The First Order with a small band of resistance fighters. On some level, General Leia's survival in this film makes things a bit sadder, because she could have still been a part of Episode IX but we know we won't see her there anymore. Towards the end of the film, when Luke (or his hologram) meets Leia, he utters the line "No one's ever really gone" and I couldn't help but think how prophetic that line was. Of course, that dedication that flashed during the credits - In loving memory of our princess, Carrie Fisher - was quite moving.

I will let the naysayers criticize this film as much as they want but for me, it is up there among the best. As is always the case with all Star Wars films, I really want to see it again. And I am sure I will be getting the DVD when it comes out. (Or maybe I should just start subscribing to Netflix).

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