BriarThrone Reviews: The Last Jedi (SPOILERS)

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BriarThrone Reviews: The Last Jedi (SPOILERS)

Post by BriarThrone » Wed Dec 20, 2017 11:14 pm

So, despite the reservations I've had about the franchise for a long time, I thought I'd give The Last Jedi a fair shake, and I thought I'd share my thoughts here.

Leading in, the previous movie had failed to thrill me. The Force Awakens was Special Effects Extravaganza, which is a term I use to describe over-produced horseshit. It ripped off bit after bit from the original trilogy, sparing only the quality. It was obviously meant to emphasize "Hey, look, it's a Star Wars movie!" because everything important in the movie had a direct analogue from the original trilogy. Sloppy and poorly done.

Before I lay down a verdict on the sequel, though, I thought I'd present a more comprehensive analysis.

What I Liked:
There was a lot to like about this movie. One storytelling trope guaranteed to get me every time is the heroic sacrifice, and there's a lot of that here. Vice-Admiral Holdo's, in particular, was spectacular and well done, but the very first bit, with the bomber crew member fighting to the very end to drop those bombs, really set me up to take seriously a movie I was ambivalent about coming in. Actually, just about everything about the space battles was great this time. Also, Finn finally got a few seconds to shine as a serious soldier for the first time - better late than never, eh? The final bit of Kylo Ren's arc for this movie was pretty solid. The set designs were good - I liked the island a lot, but I think the most inspired bit was the hidden Rebel base with the salt that went from white to red with heat and/or pressure. Great for a battle scene, so you could have great big spouts of what looks like bloody snow erupting from the white, undisturbed snow, and great for hinting at an illusion by omitting the effect. Number one, though - screw the fan theories. I thought that the handling of Rey's parentage was 100% correct.

What I Didn't Like:
OMG THE WRITING WHAT THE FUCK?! EVERYTHING to do with Luke was a disaster and a grave affront to every single Star Wars fan. Mark Hamill didn't like it, from what I've read, and I can see why. Just awful. Defied every defining trait of the character.

Also, every single authority figure on BOTH SIDES was pointlessly authoritarian. I could almost see the point of it with the First Order, but the Resistance had 400 people at the start of the movie, and Leia and Holdo both thought that they should keep their officers in the dark and beat them into submission with authority? Entire pointless, boring sections of this movie could have been cut out if someone had thought that it was a good idea to clue in the OFFICER CORPS on what the plan was! It's not like you had a great deal else to do with your time! Maybe you could have actually spared a moment from staring at screens and had that formal tribunal where you demoted the guy who was making good strategic decisions, rather than just screwing with him arbitrarily! Ugh.

Oh, and the plot contrivances. How many times in this movie did something important "just happen that way"? There's only so many times you can say "It was the Will of the Force!" before you have to admit that your writing is simply lazy.

The obvious merch mascots. The ice crystal fox things, the little bird-things... this very much puts me in mind of the prequels and their shameless product placement for the toys they're about to release.

The entire casino resort segment was nothing but a set piece showcase, and, if you think about it, was a collection of very wealthy people spending an obscene amount of wealth to not-so-subtly tell their audience "SCREW THE WEALTHY THEY'RE HORRIBLE PEOPLE LIVING IT UP AT YOUR EXPENSE!"

The character of Rose... wow. First, she was a cleaning lady, but then she apparently became automatically a pilot, because why the hell not? Beyond that, she had no purpose except to emote at things and then screw up Finn's heroic sacrifice with her selfish sacrifice, confident that the plot would arrange it so that she HADN'T just screwed everyone. And the plot immediately complied. Goddammit.

Oh, and the language. I'm sorry, but I cannot accept that "What the hell?" is something we should be hearing a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Pay some attention, guys. Maybe if you would try for some sincerity once in a while instead of trying to come up with the best way for people to snark at each other, you'd catch this kind of thing.

That's possibly the BIGGEST THING. This movie lacked gravitas. You can't tell an epic without gravitas, or this is what you get. Every moment that could have been great was ruined with a punchline. Every interaction was shot through with snark. You can see that this is Joss Whedon's influence on entertainment, but love him or hate him, Joss Whedon is good at this, and most importantly, knows when to back off and make sure every line is heartfelt and direct. A lot of this movie's faults lie in trying and failing to be a Joss Whedon film.

I'm told that the writer or director didn't intend to do this, but the plot on the Resistance side consists remarkably of a series of men making sensible decisions based on the knowledge that they had that don't pan out and it turns out that a woman had a plan all along that they should have followed blindly without question. Grrr.

Finally, there's Rey. I don't blame Daisy Ridley for this at all. She appears to be doing remarkably well with what she's given. Unfortunately, what she's given is a story about a character that gets to skip all the learning and development and struggle her predecessor endured, and that's the bit that made Luke an interesting and compelling character. He was a whiny farm kid with a minimal set of abilities, a reluctant student, and after great time and effort, developed the same abilities and resolve and general awesomeness that Rey has simply because she exists.

Overall:
My list of complaints is a lot longer than the list of things I liked, but overall, I didn't hate it. I didn't really like it, but I didn't hate it. It was a very "meh" movie that seemed like it was on the verge of being good, until you realize that structurally, the potential was never really there.

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Re: BriarThrone Reviews: The Last Jedi (SPOILERS)

Post by Jabroniville » Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:37 am

Funny, I actually felt the "Gravitas" was one of the things the movie possessed as a strong point. So much failure; the good guys in such dire straits...

It was a bit of a mixed bag at points. One of the weakest parts of the first film seems a bit righted, in that I felt Darth Andy Samberg was handled much better- kind of treated like what he IS- a petulant failure. But him & Rey both being "Predestined Force Gods" felt a bit forced and dumb. Neither seems to have "earned" any of their skill and status- with Vader, you FELT it. The guy demolished the heroes every time he touched them. Luke trained under duress and came out a capable fighter. Even Anakin in the Prequels feels like he strained and struggled to hit his level.

Rey is still pretty much a blank slate- an instrument by which to turn the plot around. Reminds me of the criticism of Liir in Son of a Witch (the sequel to Wicked)- not really a CHARACTER- just someone things happen TO.

The BIGGEST issue with the film is probably the pacing- the whole run-up to Snoke's Mothership and the explosion, the heroic sacrifice and the Dual Jedi Battle... and then we get a HALF-HOUR MORE MOVIE. It was like a complete story with another whole beginning, middle, and end tacked on. Very odd.

*eagerly waits for the credits* Wait. LAURA DERN??? I just spent half this movie lusting after DOCTOR ELLIE SATTLER?!?!?!

Though I was a bit surprised to see the First Order kicking so much ass, since I remember the heroes blowing up their Death Weapon, which is never mentioned here. I mean yeah, they blew up Good Guy Planet, but still.

Funny that this is how a character like Admiral Ackbar bites it. Fittingly enough, it's in a trap.

Leia's big "Force Move" is actually one of the most bad-ass moments. It stands to reason that she's had SOME Force Training, and they established her being much more "Sensitive" in the first of these.

The Porgs seem handled pretty well. Nobody focuses on them, they don't matter to the plot, and we even get our "Grumpy Dwarf" moment to chuckle at if you hate them.

Leia was correct about Poe at first- suicide runs to blow up ONE SHIP are rather wasteful. Though that whole last bit seems meant to arbitrarily add some drama to the situation, like we're supposed to think Vice-Admiral Volvo or whatever her name is is gonna turn out bad, or to be incompetent. She does present the film's most bad-ass moment, though- one of the greatest effects and pieces of cinema in the modern Star Wars universe. I have a feeling this is one people are gonna remember.

But seriously- who the f*ck is Snoke? He's so weirdly... just a GUY. Who's EVIL. I guess the Emperor in the first movie was Just Some Guy as well (it's easy to forget he had little backstory), but we're meant to know all this stuff about how he's twisted Ben Solo... but we never see it or get the specifics. I did like how he went out, though. Felt appropriate.

Wasn't REALLY a fan of Luke's whole character arc, nor Yoda's appearance (which should have been much more impactful- but I like how Dead Jedi still have some might), but "abandoning everything when things get tough, then pulling out last-minute saves like Achilles" is kind of the Jedi Hallmark- Ben, Yoda & now Luke.

The whole "He took the other Trainees, and slaughtered the rest" line seems to point to some EVIL FORCE-USERS coming out in Movie #3.

Captain Phasma, once again, never really mattered. A joke in the first movie; dealt with in ten minutes here. She really IS The New Boba Fett!

Debuting some new Force Powers seems pretty interesting, though- The Emperor's Force Lightning was an Ass Pull, too- so it's not without reason that the high-end Force Users of the future could pull off some unknown stuff.

Seeing "War Profiteers" in the Star Wars universe is pretty interesting- we usually don't get "the nitty-gritty" stuff like that. And of course it's a mini-subplot about Animal Abuse, Michael Vick and Rebellion Against The Establishment- though it kinda pays off in the end with the whole point of Luke & Leia's comments.

Now we just need to know where the hell LANDO CALRISSIAN is. He's like the only big name from the movies who hasn't shown up yet.

Some things that made this feel "Non-Star Wars":
* The language. Nobody said "Damn" in the original trilogy. Or "Hell". I think someone even said "big-ass" at some point to emphasize something. People spoke much more... mythically... in the Original Trilogy. Which, granted, comes off hella-awkward and actors probably refuse to say lines like that anymore.

* FLASHBACKS. Correct me if I'm wrong, but we NEVER had Flashbacks in the Original Trilogy, nor the Prequels. People TALKED about stuff that happened, but you never actually saw things like "Vader betrays Obi-Wan" or "The Emperor Twisted Him"- here, we see Luke and Ben's scrap, and it comes off weirdly as a result. It's like throwing a flashback scene into The Wire- it's just a different kind of narrative.

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Re: BriarThrone Reviews: The Last Jedi (SPOILERS)

Post by Yojimbo » Thu Dec 28, 2017 2:37 pm

Jabroniville wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:37 am
u]Some things that made this feel "Non-Star Wars":[/u]
* The language. Nobody said "Damn" in the original trilogy. Or "Hell". I think someone even said "big-ass" at some point to emphasize something. People spoke much more... mythically... in the Original Trilogy. Which, granted, comes off hella-awkward and actors probably refuse to say lines like that anymore.
"Your tauntaun will freeze before you reach the first marker!"

"Then I'll see you in Hell!"

Yeah. It's always been there, guys. Don't fret about it.

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Re: BriarThrone Reviews: The Last Jedi (SPOILERS)

Post by Ares » Thu Dec 28, 2017 4:57 pm

Right, but it was actually referncing Hell the metaphysical location, not using Hell as an expletive.

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Re: BriarThrone Reviews: The Last Jedi (SPOILERS)

Post by L-Space » Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:58 pm

To me using 'hell' as an expletive makes more sense for Star Wars than referring to a metaphysical location.
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Re: BriarThrone Reviews: The Last Jedi (SPOILERS)

Post by Ares » Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:21 pm

L-Space wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:58 pm
To me using 'hell' as an expletive makes more sense for Star Wars than referring to a metaphysical location.
Star Wars has shown that the various cultures do have their own philosophies and religions. Even the Jedi acknowledge that when they speak of "The Will of the Force", they speak of it as a man ignorant of gravity might say that it is the will of a river to flow downhill. It's a metaphor to express their own ignorance of the deeper mysteries of the Force, and how unknowable it is. Its why there are multiple sects of Force Traditions throughout the setting, each with their own ideas on how the Force works. There is no one definitive answer.

So even with something like the Force, the philosophies of the galaxy are numerous and varied, and the idea that Corellia has their own concept of a Hell isn't really far-fetched. It's mentioned in the Revenge of the Sith novelization, and Corellians have also had stories about ghost ships and the like.

And if someone truly evil dies, whose to say their soul doesn't wind up spending eternity in the Dark side of the Force, which may as well be Hell itself, or the next best thing?

And besides, the only reason hell works as an expletive is because of its origins in religion and philosophy as a literal Hell. Without that context it makea no sense to use it.

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Re: BriarThrone Reviews: The Last Jedi (SPOILERS)

Post by Ares » Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:34 pm

But yeah, in episodes 1-6 and Rogue One, we never hear people say things like "damn!" or "shit!" or "Did you see that?! Did you see that?! That's what I'm talkin 'bout!" , or even things like "that's cool". It's just weird to hear phrases like that in Star Wars when you have several movies establish the setting and dialogue style. I just really don't want to see Star Wars get to the point where the heroes are going "Yeeeeeeah BOY!" or "I'mma light this mother up!"

Unless its the Rifftrax/MST3K guys.

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Re: BriarThrone Reviews: The Last Jedi (SPOILERS)

Post by BriarThrone » Fri Dec 29, 2017 2:45 am

Jabroniville wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:37 am
Funny, I actually felt the "Gravitas" was one of the things the movie possessed as a strong point. So much failure; the good guys in such dire straits...
Too much cutting the tension with punchlines. They couldn't let tension stand. Not quite the same thing as a depressing arc of suck and failure. Situations in Empire Strikes Back seemed dire or profound; things in Force Awakens seem shitty.
Jabroniville wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:37 am
It was a bit of a mixed bag at points. One of the weakest parts of the first film seems a bit righted, in that I felt Darth Andy Samberg was handled much better- kind of treated like what he IS- a petulant failure. But him & Rey both being "Predestined Force Gods" felt a bit forced and dumb. Neither seems to have "earned" any of their skill and status- with Vader, you FELT it. The guy demolished the heroes every time he touched them. Luke trained under duress and came out a capable fighter. Even Anakin in the Prequels feels like he strained and struggled to hit his level.

Rey is still pretty much a blank slate- an instrument by which to turn the plot around. Reminds me of the criticism of Liir in Son of a Witch (the sequel to Wicked)- not really a CHARACTER- just someone things happen TO.
Very much so.
Jabroniville wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:37 am
The BIGGEST issue with the film is probably the pacing- the whole run-up to Snoke's Mothership and the explosion, the heroic sacrifice and the Dual Jedi Battle... and then we get a HALF-HOUR MORE MOVIE. It was like a complete story with another whole beginning, middle, and end tacked on. Very odd.
The whole thing seemed oddly written and directed. Maybe if 1/3 of the movie hadn't been pointless sidequesting, they'd have had the time to make Snoke seem important, or give backstory to literally anyone.
Jabroniville wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:37 am
*eagerly waits for the credits* Wait. LAURA DERN??? I just spent half this movie lusting after DOCTOR ELLIE SATTLER?!?!?!
Oh yeah, this is a Jab post.
Jabroniville wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:37 am
Though I was a bit surprised to see the First Order kicking so much ass, since I remember the heroes blowing up their Death Weapon, which is never mentioned here. I mean yeah, they blew up Good Guy Planet, but still.
To be fair, the First Order had the resources to build a Death Star, but Biggie-Sized.
Jabroniville wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:37 am
Funny that this is how a character like Admiral Ackbar bites it. Fittingly enough, it's in a trap.
And utterly without comment. Like MOST of the supposedly important things.
Jabroniville wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:37 am
Leia's big "Force Move" is actually one of the most bad-ass moments. It stands to reason that she's had SOME Force Training, and they established her being much more "Sensitive" in the first of these.
Like this one, for example. She's dead for half an hour in the vacuum of space, then pulls a Force Resurrection out of her ass with no training mentioned at all, becomes the worst Space Mary Poppins I've seen in cinema this year, flies up to a door that is notably NOT an airlock, knocks, is let in mysteriously without killing everyone present, and then falls over, and nobody mentions it again.

It's also worth noting that the actual fully trained Jedi in this film keels over from exhaustion, in a place where he seems to feel comfortable, and he doesn't manage a Force Jesus.
Jabroniville wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:37 am
The Porgs seem handled pretty well. Nobody focuses on them, they don't matter to the plot, and we even get our "Grumpy Dwarf" moment to chuckle at if you hate them.
They seemed to be there to be "toyetic," or whatever that word is you use, but I heard that CGIing over the puffins was a lot easier than actually wrangling the puffins off the location. And obviously way more profitable.
Jabroniville wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:37 am
Leia was correct about Poe at first- suicide runs to blow up ONE SHIP are rather wasteful. Though that whole last bit seems meant to arbitrarily add some drama to the situation, like we're supposed to think Vice-Admiral Volvo or whatever her name is is gonna turn out bad, or to be incompetent. She does present the film's most bad-ass moment, though- one of the greatest effects and pieces of cinema in the modern Star Wars universe. I have a feeling this is one people are gonna remember.
If you can't afford to lose a couple fighters and bombers to take out a massive fleet-destroying capital ship that makes Star Destroyers look tiny, you've lost the war.

Holdo's sacrifice was definitely the most spectacular part of the movie, though.
Jabroniville wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:37 am
But seriously- who the f*ck is Snoke? He's so weirdly... just a GUY. Who's EVIL. I guess the Emperor in the first movie was Just Some Guy as well (it's easy to forget he had little backstory), but we're meant to know all this stuff about how he's twisted Ben Solo... but we never see it or get the specifics. I did like how he went out, though. Felt appropriate.
I liked how he died, but I don't like that he was built up as a huge threat and a big motivating factor in the lead-up to this entire situation, but we literally know less about him than we did Dooku.
Jabroniville wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:37 am
Wasn't REALLY a fan of Luke's whole character arc, nor Yoda's appearance (which should have been much more impactful- but I like how Dead Jedi still have some might), but "abandoning everything when things get tough, then pulling out last-minute saves like Achilles" is kind of the Jedi Hallmark- Ben, Yoda & now Luke.
Except it took a massive dump on Luke's character arc from the original series.
Jabroniville wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:37 am
Debuting some new Force Powers seems pretty interesting, though- The Emperor's Force Lightning was an Ass Pull, too- so it's not without reason that the high-end Force Users of the future could pull off some unknown stuff.
The Force in general seems to get more and more powerful as CGI budgets improve.
Jabroniville wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:37 am
Seeing "War Profiteers" in the Star Wars universe is pretty interesting- we usually don't get "the nitty-gritty" stuff like that. And of course it's a mini-subplot about Animal Abuse, Michael Vick and Rebellion Against The Establishment- though it kinda pays off in the end with the whole point of Luke & Leia's comments.
Literally the only part of this that interested me was the bit where the hacker inverts the apparent moral of the last half-hour by pointing out that weapons suppliers supplied Rebel weapons also. Everything else was filler that we didn't need and distracted from a real story ever really developing.
Jabroniville wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:37 am
Some things that made this feel "Non-Star Wars":
* The language. Nobody said "Damn" in the original trilogy. Or "Hell". I think someone even said "big-ass" at some point to emphasize something. People spoke much more... mythically... in the Original Trilogy. Which, granted, comes off hella-awkward and actors probably refuse to say lines like that anymore.
The Original Trilogy felt like a movie with an epic story about mystic warriors participating in what had been a gritty war movie. This didn't feel as grand. The characters felt so small.
Jabroniville wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:37 am
* FLASHBACKS. Correct me if I'm wrong, but we NEVER had Flashbacks in the Original Trilogy, nor the Prequels. People TALKED about stuff that happened, but you never actually saw things like "Vader betrays Obi-Wan" or "The Emperor Twisted Him"- here, we see Luke and Ben's scrap, and it comes off weirdly as a result. It's like throwing a flashback scene into The Wire- it's just a different kind of narrative.
Yeah, this is more something a creator would notice, but you're right, a change in storytelling style changes the way the story feels.

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Re: BriarThrone Reviews: The Last Jedi (SPOILERS)

Post by Woodclaw » Sat Dec 30, 2017 2:53 pm

I'm going to toss my 2 cents in the pot and say that the biggest "sin" of this new movies is that they're written without recognizing one basic fact: Star Wars has grown into a blob on ungodly proportions. Both then (in the late '70s and early '80s) and now the plot of every movie rely on a crapton of assumption, but the audience and the franchise in general aren't the same.
If we look at it with a critical eye, the classic trilogy is full of plot holes (Who is the Emperor? How is it possible that the Empire built a space station the size of moon and nobody in the galaxy noticed it? Etc.) but many were accepted and glossed over because they served the plot. Today, Star Wars has become one of the biggest (if not the biggest) pop culture phenomenon of the world and the lore behind the universe need to look more solid. As a result many ideas and choices in the two movies we got so far feel wrong.
For example, Snoke is as much as McGuffin as the Emperor was back in the day, but where Palpatine existed in a "narrative void", Snoke was added to an established universe and suffers from it. Another example is Luke's story arc: I can get behind the idea of him living like a hermit and becoming cynic after failing both his family and his call at once, but there's too much we don't know about what transpired over the years.
There are simply too many informations we don't have -- unless one start to read all the extras and expansions -- and a lot of problems stem from it.
Jabroniville wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:37 am
Funny, I actually felt the "Gravitas" was one of the things the movie possessed as a strong point. So much failure; the good guys in such dire straits...
It would have helped if some of it wasn't caused by some of the good guys being assholes.
It was a bit of a mixed bag at points. One of the weakest parts of the first film seems a bit righted, in that I felt Darth Andy Samberg was handled much better- kind of treated like what he IS- a petulant failure. But him & Rey both being "Predestined Force Gods" felt a bit forced and dumb. Neither seems to have "earned" any of their skill and status- with Vader, you FELT it. The guy demolished the heroes every time he touched them. Luke trained under duress and came out a capable fighter. Even Anakin in the Prequels feels like he strained and struggled to hit his level.

Rey is still pretty much a blank slate- an instrument by which to turn the plot around. Reminds me of the criticism of Liir in Son of a Witch (the sequel to Wicked)- not really a CHARACTER- just someone things happen TO.
I think that the problem is compounded by the fact that most of the plot try very hard to make the audience root for Rey, but there's very little meat to work with. My personal WTF moment is that she doesn't have just potential -- like so many other Force users of the past had, especially in the Skywalker family -- she already has skills and abilities with next-to-no training.
I agree with the fact that both Rey and Kilo are handled their roles and abilities from above.
Though I was a bit surprised to see the First Order kicking so much ass, since I remember the heroes blowing up their Death Weapon, which is never mentioned here. I mean yeah, they blew up Good Guy Planet, but still.

Funny that this is how a character like Admiral Ackbar bites it. Fittingly enough, it's in a trap.
That's one of the "untold" bits I highlighted above: we know next-to-nothing about the First Order real size and resources. The Force Awakens presented them as something closer to a terrorist organization than a proper interplanetary power, but the destruction of their apparent trump card didn't seem to have hurted them much.
Leia's big "Force Move" is actually one of the most bad-ass moments. It stands to reason that she's had SOME Force Training, and they established her being much more "Sensitive" in the first of these.
Debuting some new Force Powers seems pretty interesting, though- The Emperor's Force Lightning was an Ass Pull, too- so it's not without reason that the high-end Force Users of the future could pull off some unknown stuff.
For me that was a big WTF, not just because of the sheer scale of what Leia did, but because I felt that it was a very clear signal that the Force is no longer a plot mover, but a plot solver.
Leia was correct about Poe at first- suicide runs to blow up ONE SHIP are rather wasteful. Though that whole last bit seems meant to arbitrarily add some drama to the situation, like we're supposed to think Vice-Admiral Volvo or whatever her name is is gonna turn out bad, or to be incompetent. She does present the film's most bad-ass moment, though- one of the greatest effects and pieces of cinema in the modern Star Wars universe. I have a feeling this is one people are gonna remember.
All true, but it felt that she was at the very least untrustworthy. While it was very clear that she didn't trust Poe one bit, she should have also known that he is a hot-headed flyguy, so not informing him of the plan just hoping that he would follow orders while other ships were blast away ... that's just dumb. On the other hand, Poe not realizing that they were fuelling up the trasports speaks volumes about how blind he was as well.
Now we just need to know where the hell LANDO CALRISSIAN is. He's like the only big name from the movies who hasn't shown up yet.
Up until the last minute I had hoped he was the codebreaker. :cry:

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Re: BriarThrone Reviews: The Last Jedi (SPOILERS)

Post by Ares » Tue Jan 02, 2018 3:38 pm

So I saw the movie yesterday with my dad . . . and we both basically hated the movie. To the point where it's seriously in competition for my least favorite Star Wars film of all time.

There were parts I liked about the film. The opening starfighter battle felt VERY Star Wars, the scene of the Falcon swooping in to save the day was fantastic, R2 using the classic recording to try and get Luke back in the game, disguising BB8 with a trash can, Luke's explanation of the Force to Ray, the use of puppet Yoda, and there were some beautifully shot moments, such as Luke's last shot in the film or the sacrifice ship ram.

Nearly EVERYTHING ELSE was a quagmire of technically well shot and decently acted stupidity, poor decisions, and Spoony-esque BE-TRAYAL.

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Re: BriarThrone Reviews: The Last Jedi (SPOILERS)

Post by BriarThrone » Tue Jan 02, 2018 7:58 pm

I saw a video yesterday that presented what I found to be a useful dichotomy: a movie can be enjoyable and it can be good, but the two are not the same. I said "meh" at first because there were some enjoyable moments, which have more power with novelty. There was just nothing of good, enduring quality about it. If it was a standalone movie, well, good try, I guess. As a Star Wars film... I've heard it argued that this was worse for the franchise than the prequels, and I can't say they're wrong.

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Re: BriarThrone Reviews: The Last Jedi (SPOILERS)

Post by Ken » Tue Jan 02, 2018 11:28 pm

Needs some Colt .45 malt liquor.
Thomas Jefferson, et al. wrote:We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

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Re: BriarThrone Reviews: The Last Jedi (SPOILERS)

Post by Ares » Thu Jan 04, 2018 7:29 am

So, I've talked with a couple of friends and had time to think the movie over a bit . . . and my feelings are pretty much the same, but the one thing I will acknowledge is that the writer/director of The Last Jedi got a pretty raw deal. The guy only has one really successful movie under his belt, namely Looper, which while a fine movie, doesn't really seem like justification to be handed the keys to the MOST POPULAR SCI-FI FRANCHISE IN HISTORY. It's like someone who just graduated college on a social science degree being elected president.

The other part was that the questions raised in The Force Awakens were not written with answers in mind. Who Snoke was, who the Knights of Ren were, the origins of the First Order, who Rey's parents were, how Maz got Anakin/Luke's lightsaber, all of these things were brought up to be expanded on in later films, but there was no PLAN for how these were going to be incorporated in. Basically it was "here's some questions, it's up to the next person to figure it out".

So I can understand the frustration the writer/director might have felt, the need answer said questions and to respond to criticisms of the previous film, and on top of that wanting to play with people's expectations regarding the film.

I just think the movie did an overall BAD job of those things, along with disrespecting elements of the franchise, up to an including seeming to resent that it's part of a franchise.

To go point by point:


The opening scene is pretty good for the most part. It feels like classic Star Wars, very "The Empire Attacking Hoth" and forcing the Reb-I mean, THE RESISTANCE to escape thanks to sacrifice. It was hampered by some comedy I didn't really find funny, such as BB8 acting like he was a little Dutch boy poking his fingers into a leaky dam, or that comm-call between Poe and the Ginger General. Poe's decision to try and take out the big Imperi-, I mean, FIRST ORDER ship makes sense, but it's hard to argue with Leia about how many pilots died during the attack. And died rather pointlessly, I might add. Man those new bombers SUCK. In Rogue One we have the Y-Wings swooping across a Star Destroyer and completely disabling it, whereas here the bombers are slow as Hell, can't maneuver for shit, and have one of the least convenient bomb release mechanisms ever. Why not, I don't know, have a big red button near the PILOT they can press to drop the bombs? You know, like modern aircraft have?


Finn pratfalling out of bed and being "naked and squirting liquid" didn't really get any chuckles out of me either. I know humor is subjective, but even as physical comedy it just made me groan.


Snoke (God that's a name that doesn't have any dignity even compared to Palpatine and Porkins) talks about how the Ginger General is a "mad dog" but still has his uses, whereas the guy is a screw up who has just managed to lose one of the First Order's biggest ships, but apparently he has "them on a string", so he doesn't get Force Lightninged to death. Kylo Ren comes in and we basically get a few minutes of the director answering critiques about the Force Awakens. Kylo is called out for being beaten by a girl who had never held a lightsaber before, he gets called out for being a whiny, petulant child living in the shadow of Darth Vader, and for extra emphasis, Snoke calls his helmet stupid. So instead of trying to explain Ren's performance in some way, they basically just double down on Ren sucking, at which point he throws a temper tantrum and destroys his helmet. It . . . well, it kind of comes off as mean-spirited. Ren having a cool helmet and wanting to be like Darth Vader isn't what was wrong with the character. Him being a unthreatening emo-punktard was the problem, and instead of fixing it, they just decided to emphasize that "yep, THIS is the NEW FACE OF EEEEEEVIL!", a guy who looks like some kind of evil Force user that graduated from Hogworts. A Sith Slytherin, if you will.


The First Order being able to perfectly track a ship through hyperspace is new, but something you could see happening in Star Wars. The First Order as a whole just . . . doesn't make any sense to me tho. The Force Awakens presents them as this weird kind of terrorist group, but one the New Republic doesn't want to fight because of . . . reasons? So instead of having the New Republic fight the First Order, Leia has to form ANOTHER rebel movement, one that is apparently backed by the Republic but is somehow less well staffed and equipped than the original Rebel Alliance. But the First Order can somehow build a planet-sized super-weapon that is even bigger than the Death Star, something that took the resources of the Empire at its peak to build. And they have an apparently unlimited supply of massive space ships that are all spotlessly maintained. At least the Empire was an established galactic power that had been ruling the galaxy for 20 years. The First Order is just THERE and THEY HAVE STUFF and are evil because EVIL. And I can certainly buy an evil terrorist group in Star Wars, just give us SOMETHING to establish them a bit more in the setting.


Anyway, the First Order show up and start attacking the Resistance, killing off characters like Admiral Ackbar with absolutely no fanfare. And I hope you enjoyed the X-Wing's exploits at the start of the movie, because they've all been destroyed. So farewell icons of the franchise, we'll miss you. I will say that Leia saving herself with the Force actually worked for me. We've seen other Jedi do similar things, and it'd be kind of stupid if she didn't get SOME training from Luke. And the scene of Kylo Ren hesitating to kill his mother the way he did Han was well done, I thought. In the end tho, Leia is incapacitated and the Resistance is now on the run from the First Order.


Thus begins one of the stupidest things in the movie: the longest, most drawn out and boring chase scene in the history of film. Over 10 hours of a really big ship flying behind a handful of smaller ships. Apparently all of the ships are going at exactly the same speed, and the Resistance ships are just small and far away enough that the First Order can do any real damage to them. So the only thing the First Order can do is keep chasing them until the Resistance ships run out of gas. This is just . . . YOU HAVE TRACTOR BEAMS! Lock on to the smaller ships and take them out! Or send out another squadron of fighters to damage the ships enough that you can get them in range of your main guns. Or divert more power to your sub-lights to gain on them. This is just so stupid, and worse, boring. It's such a badly engineered ticking clock problem for the heroes to solve I had to roll my eyes every time we went back to it.


So with Leia down, we get her replacement: Laura Dern, because I can't be bothered to remember her character's name. I've heard from some sites interpret Dern and Leia's characters as some kind of Pro-Feminist message about fighting "toxic masculinity" in the form of Poe's reckless behavior, and that if Poe had just done as Dern said, everything would be fine. I'm not sure I buy that, but if that is the case it was pretty poorly done, because the character is one of the most pointlessly obtuse characters in all of Star Wars, if not THE most. Poe asked her, repeatedly, reasonable questions about what the plan was. Something everyone in the Resistance had the right to know, especially someone with his rank. And instead of just telling him what the plan was, she has to be smug and condescending about it, when all she needed to say was "we're just trying to get within shuttle range of a planet we can escape to where the First Order likely won't find us". Though that plan was kind of stupid, since it assumes the First Order wouldn't have checked out the only nearby planet for survivors, just in case. So yeah, while Poe went off on his own to engineer his own plan, I blame Dern's character to every death in the Resistance that follows her assuming control.


So Poe, Finn and Rose have a Skype chat with Maz, in what my brother described as the kind of video you watch while waiting in line for a ride at Disney World, something that was suppose to be entertaining and exposition-y, but was just . . . really dumb. She also got my hopes up that the contact she was sending them to meet was Lando Calrissian, but why would you bring back an actual example of diversity from the classic setting, the badass gambler who blew up the friggin Death Star II? This leads to the Casino, an extremely pointless bit of padding that seemed to exist solely so that the film directors could go "Hey, war profiteering is bad, and so is animal cruelty". To which I say: no shit. Trying to shoe-horn a political message about the 1% in a Star Wars movie worked about as well as the political message about the Bush Administration George tried to make in Revenge of the Sith. So between the unnecessary messages, some more really stupid schtick (hey look, BB8 gets mistaken for a slot machine, and later uses the coins inside of him as weapons, that's not stupid), the heroes getting arrested for legitimate reasons (because neither of the brain trust knows where not to park), and a really pointless chase scene, the whole Casino scene becomes a HUGE bit of padding, especially in light of what this plot point ultimately amounts to. And Benicio del Toro is just . . . weird. He's basically just playing the Collector if he was a thief.


Meanwhile, Rey is trying to convince Luke to return with her. I have to admit, I'm not sure whether or not I like his tossing the saber over his shoulder or not. But I will say that pretty much every scene on that island winds up being pointless. The film completely butchers Luke's character, which is a shame because Hamill is acting circles around Daisy Ridley, doing his absolute best with what he's given. But the entire island scene is full of very dumb padding (Luke milking an alien, doing ridiculously over the top fishing), most of which contributes little to the film.

There were a couple of good parts. Luke explaining the Force to Rey worked well. R2 showing Luke the old recording of Leia was brilliant and touching. Luke's eventual discussion with Yoda was fun, even if I disagree with what Yoda was saying. But overall the island scenes were just another waste of time.


Rey's time on the island just serves to reinforce how there really isn't anything to her character but Mary Sue traits, such as her Force potential that scares Luke. Luke doesn't really train her the way Yoda did him, and yet she's shown to be vastly more competent and powerful than Luke was at a similar time in his life, even after training from two legendary Jedi like Yoda and Obi-Wan. Her little trip to the Darkside circle wound up being more filler because NOTHING IS ACCOMPLISHED by her going there. Remember when Luke had a similar experience that was heavily symbolic about how he has the potential to become another Darth Vader, to become that which he hates? Well, none of that here. We just get a whole lot of Reys. Rey is all. Rey is everything.

The conversations she has with Kylo Ren were semi-interesting, and actually worked towards building sympathy between the two. But again, it just butchers Luke character with the idea that the guy who managed to pull Darth Vader out of the depths of the Dark Side would look at his nephew and be so scared that he'd consider killing him, brief moment of weakness or not.


So Rey goes to redeem Kylo while Finn, Rose and del Toro go to MacGuffin the ship tracer so the Resistance can escape. Only its time to subvert the audience expectations: Snoke is killed off unceremoniously, having been a sixth-rate Palpatine to Kylo's third rate-Vader. The random criminal Finn and Rose recruited turned out to NOT be a true companion and sells the Resistance out. Poe's daring plan and mutiny serve only to put the Resistance in danger. Captain Phasma returns, basically to allow Finn the chance to contribute positively to the film, and dies as she lived, making no real mark on the franchise.


So in what I'm guessing we're suppose to interpret as Poe's fault, the First Order sees the Resistance's shuttles trying to escape towards the nearby planet. Why the First Order wouldn't have seen them in the first place is a mystery, but again, I still blame Laura Dern's character for this. And to try and paint her as even more of a saint, Dern had bravely decided to stay behind and continue piloting the last doomed command ship, and bravely waits until a good 6 or 7 of the escaping shuttles get blown up before she remembers "oh right, I'm in a ship and can do something", after which she turns around and sends her ship on a hyperspace flight through the First Order fleet. Much like how the Force Awakens had hyperspace jumps into a planetary atmosphere, I'm pretty sure that goes against the rules they established for hyperspace travel. But I will say that it looked cool and got rid of an annoying character.


So Ren and Rey wreck the Red Royal retinue, and we get the "we can rule the galaxy together" moment, that culminates in the duo simultaneously Force pulling Anakin / Luke's lightsaber, until it breaks in half. While I'm sure the intended metaphor was different, it basically looked like a pair of bratty kids fighting over a toy and breaking it, which is not a bad metaphor for the state of the film franchise. They likely meant it to be more that the old fans struggling to hold onto the past would only destroy the franchise, but I'll get to that later.


So the Resistance lands on Not-Hoth, the First Order lands their walkers and begin their attack, and the Resistance have to break out some old B-Wings to try and destroy some bunker buster weapon. It naturally goes bad, but Finn decides to try and make a heroic sacrifice to save his friends. The man who believed in no cause except saving his own skin, who once ran from danger, now runs directly into danger to save the lives of those he cares about, in the cause of freedom. And then Rose knocks his ship off course with her own.

The logistics HOW she pulled that off is a mystery. Finn was going in a straight line towards a target. Rose would have had to fly her ship off to the side, swung around, and then hit Finn from the side. It just . . . makes no sense how she pulled that off, even within heroic fiction. So she saves his life, and the First Order use their weapon to blow up the door. When Finn asks why she did that, she says, "We aren't going to win by killing what we hate. We're going to win by saving what we love." And then plants a kiss on him before passing out.

I just . . . WAT? The pair showed absolutely no romantic chemistry throughout the film. And "saving what we love"? You mean the way Finn was heroically trying to do just now? Rose, you realize you would have just doomed the entire Resistance if Luke hadn't decided to finally get off of his ass and do something.


Speaking of which, Luke finally does something heroic. Now, with the foreshadowing of the X-Wing beneath the water, I thought maybe Luke actually had flown there, maybe he'd pass the ship on to Poe, and that he'd finally get to be a badass Jedi Master. Instead, he basically serves as a distraction for a few minutes and dies from what amounts to a heart attack. Now, the scene of him staring out into the twin suns as he fades into the Force was a amazingly done, but WOW. THAT'S how Luke Skywalker dies? Alone on a distant world after having let the galaxy go to pieces because of an extremely out of character moment of weakness?

Shame on you Disney. Shame on you.

So no Luke is dead. Han is dead. And Leia is alive. The exact opposite of real life. That is . . . I'm not sure if it's ironic or just tragic. Probably a bit of both.


So the Resistance makes their escape, with the Falcon, R2, 3PO and Chewie being some of the only actual tangible pieces of the franchise left intact. And what have we learned?

Well, for one, don't count on your allies. The Resistance's call for aid ended with them abandoned and alone, so its better not to rely on your friends.

The main message of the movie seems to be "don't hold on to the past". Snoke, Kylo Ren, Luke, Yoda, all of them talk about how everyone needs to let go of the past and move on. Which sounds like the creative team saying "Look, quit griping about how this isn't your old Star Wars. Let go of the past, we're going to be doing new stuff here, and your fanboy whining isn't helping anything".

Which is hilariously un-self-aware on multiple levels. First off, Star Wars is a FRANCHISE. One that is completely built off of what came before. If you want to divorce yourself from the past, start a new franchise.

Secondly, Star Wars fans have never had a problem with changes to the setting or taking the franchise to unfamiliar places. Knights of the Old Republic is a prime example of doing something different with Star Wars that still captures the flavor and essence of the setting. Star Wars fans aren't against change, we're against BAD change, BAD stories, and stories that mishandle beloved characters.

And for all of its desire to cut itself from the past, The Last Jedi is pretty much a re-tread of The Empire Strikes Back in much the same way The Force Awakens was a re-tread of A New Hope. The main difference being that the Walkers attack on trapped Rebels happens at the end of the film rather than the beginning. Other than that, we have the Rebels/Resistance escaping from a base under Imperial/First Order attack, one that includes a trip to a wealthy location where they befriend a former criminal who ultimately betrays them to the bad guys. The main hero of the series spending most of the movie in some isolated place with a quirky Jedi Master learning about the Force, including a visit to a location strong with the Dark Side. The hero and the villain have a deep connection that culminates with the villain offering to train the hero so they can rule the galaxy together. The film ends with the heroes on the run, effectively beaten, but with hope for the future.

Ultimately, as a Star Wars film and a regular movie, The Last Jedi is a mess. Even for a Star Wars film it has a lot of plot holes, and unlike previous films it has a LOT of pointless padding. There's no quiet moments, no moments where the characters really talk and banter, none of the chemistry building scenes that made the original trilogy so much fun. They try a couple of times between Finn and Rose and Rey and Kylo, but they all fall flat, especially since they all are more about exposition than character building. Overall, this might be my least favorite Star Wars film of all time. It makes me wish we'd just seen more Rogue One style side stories if this is the direction they're going.

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Re: BriarThrone Reviews: The Last Jedi (SPOILERS)

Post by Ares » Thu Jan 04, 2018 7:35 am

Ken wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 11:28 pm
Needs some Colt .45 malt liquor.
The movie could definitely drive someone to drink. I might need to pour myself some of Qui-Gon's Gin.

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Re: BriarThrone Reviews: The Last Jedi (SPOILERS)

Post by bsdigitalq » Thu Jan 04, 2018 3:51 pm

Ares wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 7:29 am
The other part was that the questions raised in The Force Awakens were not written with answers in mind. Who Snoke was, who the Knights of Ren were, the origins of the First Order, who Rey's parents were, how Maz got Anakin/Luke's lightsaber, all of these things were brought up to be expanded on in later films, but there was no PLAN for how these were going to be incorporated in. Basically it was "here's some questions, it's up to the next person to figure it out".
Gotta love good ole JJ Abrams and his "mystery box" mentality to just about everything in storytelling. :roll:
When Finn asks why she did that, she says, "We aren't going to win by killing what we hate. We're going to win by saving what we love." And then plants a kiss on him before passing out.

I just . . . WAT? The pair showed absolutely no romantic chemistry throughout the film. And "saving what we love"? You mean the way Finn was heroically trying to do just now? Rose, you realize you would have just doomed the entire Resistance if Luke hadn't decided to finally get off of his ass and do something.
What impeccable logic from Rose. Justin Trudeau would be so proud.

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