Burn everything to the ground. Kill the past, kill the Skywalkers, kill the Sith, the Jedi, the entire fuckin Star Wars universe. On the ashes, blood and bones build something new, fresh, create a brave, new world. But don’t forget to include fluffy, little shit birds that will sell like hotcakes. Merchandise will always be king.
This is the time to let you know that I will be spoiling the HELL out of this one, so consider yourselves warned.
The previous Star Wars movie left a bad taste in my mouth; that was the taste of a stale, re-heated meal you used to love, but now tastes like shit. So, you can expect me to have had some hesitations when going to see this one. I wanted, nay, needed this to be better, to cleanse the bile from the last one. Let’s just say that it wasn’t a full blast of Listerine, but it did some cleansing. I still have some bits of porg stuck between my teeth.
In a day and age of ultra-massive studio mergers, profit maximization and marketing dictatorship, it’s getting harder and harder to find a decent, honest movie that represents its creator’s actual vision. Baby driver, Logan, Deadpool and a few other indie flicks provided said vision. SW:EpVIII is a bastard son of marketing and vision. One can see the exact moments when a studio exec would walk up to the director and say “hey, you know what this needs here? A fully marketable gimmick that we can sell by the pound/a stupid, mindless joke to break the serious tone/a pointless Deus-ex-Machina to save a main new protagonist from a justified and important to the story death, to maintain the cash flow from selling his toy-line!”. This is how we are going to get from now on our new films in a mega-franchise: streamlined and optimized for maximum impact on a viewing public mostly consisting of cretins.
“Stuff your face with popcorn, laugh at shit/fart/gross jokes, don’t think, buy OUR shit, don’t think, don’t feel, don’t fuckin care about anything, don’t think!”. Huxley was right about the future after all and we’re living it now.
However, there is another aspect of an influence present in this film, one that could be called a “meta-influence”. The influence of the fans/audience/social media.
The studio paid attention – finally! – to the backlash and the comments from all the social media about the previous film and they added scenes in this film to course-correct. Or simply apologize for mistakes made. One of the most obvious errors in ep. VII was the goddamn mask! Kylo Ren was wearing an utterly pointless mask trying to…pay homage to Darth Vader? Play Sith? Look more menacing? WTF? No one knows why he was wearing that shit, but that lead to the creation of one of the funniest Twitter accounts ever, which was so much on point, that it actually influenced the script for ep. VIII!
In a scene where Kylo comes before supreme leader Snoke – Snorkel? Snooker? whothefuckcares… – he gets the burn of all burns from his imperial CGIness. The supreme leader tells him exactly what every Star Wars fan wanted to scream at the screen:
Take off that stupid mask!
That scene was a direct call to the fans, it was the equivalent of a fourth-wall break. It affected the viewing of the movie almost to a point of making it an interactive experience, where we, the audience, were now dictating the script, creating the lines that the characters were saying. And this was not the only scene where this interaction was obvious, but I will leave it to you to find them out – consider it my Easter egg present to you.
After all this vague intro/rant, let’s get to the nitty-gritty of the matter. The story.
The story of Star Wars is that of a messed-up family running around a vast galaxy, yet somehow managing to meet at the most impossible occasions and fuck shit up for everyone else living in said galaxy. Meet the Skywalkers. In the original trilogy the dynamic of this family was utilized in a perfect way to propel a narrative, which concluded in episode VI. But still, we must suffer their story, even though by now we are so fed up from this stupid soap opera set-up that literally ANYONE ELSES story would be immensely more interesting than theirs! So, let’s dive into this heap of garbage in an attempt to find something redeeming and hope that, by the end of this rant, some short, foul-mouthed droid will be able to shut down the garbage masher.
We begin with the timeless opening scene with the yellow letter crawl and even from there on you can see the first gaping plot hole. It reads: The First Order rules the galaxy. What the actual fuckin fuck??? In the previous movie the Republic was restored to its full glory and yet somehow a fraction of the Empire, now called The First Order, managed to create an EVEN larger Deathstar IN SECRET, which was blown up by the Rebellion. That was the premise for ep. VII, it was laughable and still they went with that one. Now in ep. VIII the screenwriters completely jump the fuckin shark and dare to demand from the audience not only to suspend its disbelief, but to actually turn their brains off and swallow whatever they force-feed them (force pun not intended). How the hell does this make any sense whatsoever: in a story plot where the antagonist was almost obliterated in the previous chapter, how in the name of the grand Wazoo do they come forth in this one even MORE powerful than before?? With no justification, no explanation, no information given to how in the ever-loving fuck supreme leader Snorkel and the remains of the First Order managed to outsmart the entire Republic, the Rebels, the freagin galaxy itself and ascended to power!
Skipping that tiny bit of insanity, we move on with the story. Luke is missing and the Rebels are in trouble, surrounded on their base by the First Order. They attempt to break the planetary blockade – sounds familiar? – and end up making it to orbit, only to be greeted by a bunch of star destroyers and an Executor-class Dreadnought ship. Now, I’m not that deep into the SW lore, but this ship looks very familiar to a mini version of the Executor from ep. VI, which – despite its heavy shielding – went out like a bitch. Guess how this one will fair… Our boy Poe Dameron goes head to head with the massive ship and contacts the baddies, requesting a one-to-one talk with their leader, General Hux. In a cringe worthy scene, we witness what counts as “humour” in the new Star Wars movies, where Poe actually trolls Hux in an attempt to buy time for the Rebels. He’s even called out from a crew member of the First Order, which tells Hux “I think he’s trolling you!”.
After Hux realizes that he’s on the mic with a member of Reddit – the bad part of Reddit – he orders the captain of the Dreadnought to destroy that tiny X-Wing. Now, as we know, tiny things tend to blow up huge things in Star Wars and that captain knows that as well. Poe goes on a crazy attack run, taking out the gun batteries on the top side of the Dreadnought, to render its ability to fend off small fighters useless. In one mad heroic dash he takes out the last gun and calls in the bombers for a bomb run, since now the Dreadnought is defenceless(!) against small fighters! OK, I need to pause here and start counting all the plot holes/logical paradoxes/straight up BULLSHIT I watched unfold before my eyes on the screen.
First off, where in the name of Siddhartha were the fuckin SHIELDS on that Dreadnought? The heaviest, most bad-ass ship of the First Order and it was open to attacks from one single X-Wing?? Even if this is somehow possible – it’s still completely implausible – why would the other Star Destroyers sit on their ass and no provide cover/assist/blow the fucking Rebel scum out of the sky? Second thing – Poe goes against Leia’s direct order and calls in the bomb run, ordering the bombers to attack the ship “Because it’s a chance we have now, to take out a Dreadnought, these things are FLEE-TKILLERS(sic!)”. In any sane universe the chain of command would be obeyed, and the pilots of the bombers would flip off Poe, turn around and go with the cruiser to their designated rendezvous point. In this fucked up place, they obeyed Poe and attacked the Dreadnought!
Now it’s gonna get a bit nerdy. We know that the Bearded One was a huge fan of old WWII movies, hence the now famous X-Wing attack manoeuvre in ep. IV. This move is characteristic of fighter jets in an ATMOSPHERE, but in space there is none, so it’s completely pointless. It’s there only to make the audience connect with a familiar image of planes shifting direction in an attack vector and it’s fuckin epically cool in ep. IV. In ep. VIII we see a different part of WWII history being re-enacted in space this time: a carpet bomb run. IN SPACE. Where there is NO GRAVITY for the bombs to FALL! (You may bitch and moan all you want that “this is justified here“, it’s still the most retarded thing I’ve seen in a movie and I have seen 2012…twice!) And yet the director/studio/marketing/screenwriter/whoeverthefuck goes all out on this one, managing to cram in a heroic death of a Rebel in a last-second attempt to OPEN THE BOMB BAY DOORS!!!
This might have looked cool 40 years ago, when it was ground-breaking and revolutionary, and the audience was not over-saturated with sci-fi films depicting zero-gee. Nowadays we have live video stream from the freagin ISS! Not to mention the fact that it has been done close to perfection in many movies (Apollo 13, Gravity, Interstellar) and TV series (watch The Expanse! NO ARGUING, WATCH IT!!). The only reason for the existence of this scene was…self-sacrifice? Showing that Poe is a maverick pilot? NOTHING! There was no fuckin reason behind this scene!!! Not even the explosion of the Dreadnought was satisfying – if anyone says the phrase “visually stunning” one more time, I will strangle you with your own intestines!
After this huge pile of dinosaur shit, we set the story in motion by having our brave Rebels jump to light speed and leaving TFO with their dick in their hands, minus one Dreadnought. Or did they? In a plot twist that NOOOONE ever expected, the bad guys let the good guys escape, only to have them followed and ambush them right when they thought they made it. But here, TFO manages to follow the Rebels through hyperspace, while in FTL!!! HOW? WHY? WHEN was this introduced? HOW (again)? WTF? Are we just now coming up with new stuff to help us propel a story that couldn’t be advanced using a logical plot? I am all for new ideas, innovation, introducing new elements in the established world, but you need to establish these new elements as well. There needs to be a small introduction, even a single scene, a reference – the “set up” – for the future revelation – the “pay off”. Script writing 101. They failed even in this menial task, shattering our immersion AGAIN and weakening the film’s ability to sell a plausible story. (I know, there is a hint of a clue presented in one line in that God awful movie SW: Rogue One, but that doesn’t even cut it as an introduction to a MAJOR plot point for this movie!)
Alas, be prepared for more of this and less of a compelling, structured story, since the writers even failed at giving the story a decent push. Instead, TFO is now in pursuit of the Rebels in sub-light speed, but for some fuckin reason they can’t catch them (the cruiser and the escort ships are faster than Snorkel’s flagship [WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER FUCKING STAR DESTROYERS???] and no one in the entire FO comes up with the simple idea of jumping FTL in front of the Rebel fleet!!). In yet another out-of-the-blue introduction of a plot element, that goes against canon but follows all laws of reason, the Rebels are running out of fuel. They only have enough fuel for one jump in FTL, which is pointless since TFO will track them. So, they decide to…keep moving in a straight line at sub-light speed barely out of range of the FO’s guns. Great. Swell. FUCKIN GENIOUS!!! I went to see Star Wars and ended up watching Austin Powers!!
Moving on with this train wreck, Finn wakes up from his coma, meets Poe and prepares to jump ship in a quest to find Rey. He’s stopped by a new character, Rose – the sister of the dumbass who sacrificed herself in the bombing run. Then, suddenly, out of nowhere, Finn and Rose come up with the solution to their TFO tracking problem by literally writing a small Disney movie for 30 fuckin minutes!!! Yes ladies and germs, Poe and Rose jump ship in the middle of a pursuit using a small craft; they do a FTL jump and end up on the set of The Fifth Element. This subplot of our new couple is so over the top, that the mere mention of it will inflate this rantview like the inflation phase of the Big Bang.
And here we have another blatant studio intervention to dilute a part of the story that might actually had something to say (war is bad, people who profit out of war perpetuate it and there is no good side to a conflict, only the side of money). In a complete waste of everyone’s time Finn and Rose go to a planet to find a master code breaker to get him on board Snooker’s ship and hack the McGuffin to allow the Rebels a 6-minute window where they can jump to FTL without any tracking. Got it? Get it? Anyone got any questions? Meanwhile, all this takes place on a casino planet – possible reference to the Principality of Monaco or Macao or Las Vegas, pick your own gambling shithole – fully CGI and crammed with pointless, ridiculous and utterly forgettable characters. The only thing that is worth mentioning about this entire mockery of a subplot is the homage paid to the film “Wings” – try to spot it, it’s the only part done gracefully in an otherwise cringey part of the film.
Let us forget this bubble of stupidity and return to the main plot line for…EVEN MORE stupidity. After Emo-Kylo gets the burn of his lifetime from Gollum, he scrambles his imperial Tie-fighter and with two wing-men attacks the rebel fleet. He comes within range of the flagship and is ready to annihilate the bridge – with all the rebel commanders in it – when he force-senses Leia and hesitates for one moment. A truly great scene, depicting the struggle of a young man, torn between the bad side and the good. Aaaaand it’s ruined in one second, as the wing-man from his mini-squadron fires missiles that take out the bridge! Everyone inside doesn’t get instakilled from the blast – for…reasons – instead they’re jettisoned in the cold of space like trash before a jump to light speed. Including Leia.
Pause. Time out.
With the unfortunate passing of Carrie Fisher in December of ’16 everybody was devastated for the loss of a great actor and an even greater human being. We knew that she managed to complete filming for ep. VIII and even started some part of ep. IX, so we weren’t expecting some sort of send-off to take place in this movie. Nonetheless, it would be a great tribute to Carrie if they would incorporate a scene perhaps, where Leia dies a noble and fitting death, with impact to both the story and the viewers. When I saw that missile hitting the bridge it resonated a wave of sadness through me and most of the people in the theatre. It worked as a perfect, emotional goodbye to our beloved princess.
But NOOO! This was too good, too simple, too fuckin intelligent for a Star Wars movie!! We couldn’t let her go like that – even if this was written and filmed before her death, it was still brilliant if it ended then and there. Unfortunately, it did not. What came next was a travesty of monumental proportions, that eventually lead to the creation of a video-meme. It would be pointless to count all the stupidity in this scene – how did Leia managed to survive the blast, how did she learn to use the Force in such a way, why didn’t she sense the attack and protected everyone around her, how did she manage to re-enter the ship through a non-pressurized door, since when does SW movies use Star Trek-like emergency force field technology(!) – so I am simply going to let you suffer through it the same way I did.
But wait a minute! Where the hell is Luke and Rey? We seemed to have forgotten that crucial part of the story; last time we checked ,Rey was about to hand over Luke’s old light sabre to the grizzly Jedi master. This looks important… and they fucked it up! As soon as Luke gets the sabre, he tosses it behind his back over a cliff. How do you like them apples now? Seriously, in what was supposed to be the most important part of the movie, one of the biggest cliff-hangers in recent years, the studio and the writers trolled every YouTuber, Redditor and Star Wars fan by making this scene a Monty Python sketch. Thanks Disney! By the way, Luke’s story can be inserted at any point in the film and it wouldn’t change anything, so it’s OK if I have forgotten when exactly did we got to meet our Jedi master+disciple+walking carpet (Yes, Chewie is in this one too).
In a role reversal from SW:ESB Luke is now the master and Rey the disciple…or are they? This doesn’t appear to be the case, with Luke shutting Rey down and acting like an even greater emo than Kylo. The reason he self-exiled himself in Ireland – ehm…I meant Ach-To – is pretty much the same as Yoda’s exile (seems to be a recurring issue with Jedi who failed in some way to abandon everyone, not trying to find a solution to the problem and spend their last days alone and useless to all, while eating or drinking disgusting shit). Yes, he failed Kylo during his training and now blames not only himself for creating the biggest spoiled Sith-brat in the galaxy, but also the Force and the Jedi too. So he closed himself out of the Force – like it is something you can flip a switch and turn it off…Rian Johnson, HAVE YOU SEEN STAR WARS?? Due to that new fact, Luke missed out on all the shit that happened in the last movie, including Han’s death. He avoids Rey, acting like a bitter, disgruntled old man – which is fine, if you stick to that character aspect – but at the same time he throws in random one-liners that fall flat and fail to be any funny at all (which is NOT fine and makes the influence of the committee yet again very clear).
Luke’s character should have a major part to play in this movie, the audience expected that, it was only logical to have him be some sort of trainer/master/old mentor for Rey. Kudos to Johnson for not making him a cliché stereotypical character like some sort of trainer/master/old mentor… However, he took it too far and made it too weird to start something new for this franchise (coincidentally, that last sentence is the entire movie described in one sentence). Even Mark Hamill spoke out against this treatment of the character, before Big Brother a.k.a. Big Mouse threatened to black-ball him until the sun dies and he changed his statement. Still, he got to say the best line of the film. Twice!
Because of this we must follow Rey around while she follows Luke around while he follows porgs around with no fuckin point in any of this but to extend the bloody run-time of the movie!! A run-time that is with 152 minutes already way to fuckin long and needed desperately some trimming, hopefully we can get that by a fan-made edit. After all that waste of time, Luke agrees to teach her 3 things and 3 things ONLY about the Force. So, we get the obligatory training montage, mercifully not at Rocky length, but still quite bland and uninspiring. And then we come to a scene straight out of ep. V, where our young apprentice -NOT Padowan!- must fight the urge of going to the dark side (represented here by a hole in the ground…completely different than the whole in the wall in ep. V). Rey says hasta la vista to Luke and takes a nose-dive in the hole, landing in an underground pool in a cave. This cave can show our hero Force-related stuff, so Rey asks the one and only question that has been burning inside her since she can remember words: WHO ARE MY PARENTS? In an insanely clever scene, where we get to see an infinity mirror representing both 4-dimensional time-space and a quantum multiverse path, we find out that Rey’s parents are…REY HERSELF!!
At that point I seriously asked myself “is this guy trolling us or what?”. Don’t get me wrong, I liked some of the stuff he introduced in the movie, this however was an epic mistake. To elaborate my argument, we need to understand how character development takes place. A character is introduced to the audience and either via flashbacks, narration, dialogue or visual imagery his/her past is established. Then his/her arch begins, leading to a fulfilment (or not) of our expectations in his/her cinematic journey. This is called the Hero’s Journey as you can see below.
Rey’s character is somewhere around 6 here, going into 7, even almost at 8. With the revelation of her parents being…non-existent, she is either a new Darth-Jesus or something else entirely, but it is STILL not interesting enough for the audience to care about! All everybody wanted to know was her past, her origins, something that would create an emotional response from us for that character and her plight. Yes, a host of theories ranted about Obi-wan having a child, about Snoke’s playboy mansion in space, all the way up to Luke having a long-lost daughter – now that the expanded universe is no longer canon. Again, I am very much for this twist, I love how the script trolls the audience by subverting their expectations. BUT (and it’s a big one), subvert them properly, with a clever, meaningful, engaging revelation that adds something of value to the character’s arch. Not like that, like it’s a bad joke that somehow made it to the final script. It is insulting to both the character and the viewer, it looks like sloppy, lazy writing. (Coincidentally, the last line describes perfectly the entire movie, again!).
A clever twist of the canon took place in Ach-To, where Kylo would try to reach out to Rey via Force-Skype in an attempt to lure her to the dark side – and possibly get some cam-sex going. The idea was clever enough, fresh and interesting, adding to the gimmick of the Force an extra layer. If we want to nit-pick it we could say “but wait a minute, why hasn’t anyone else ever done that before in any of the previous movies/series/comic books/books?”. The short answer is: Lucas et al never thought of that. This is new, it is a small step in the right direction, so let go of your hate and follow this down a new path. So, I did. I fell for its new charm and the way it solves many problems for the story, helping propel it forward – a rare thing in this movie. Alas, like a cruel mistress that promises the moon and delivers a flaming pile of shit, this great idea will too be wasted further down the way. For the moment it sends Ray on her way to help the rebels and meet Kylo in Snorkels galactic mega-yacht.
Thus, leaving Luke devastated that he failed – again!- to teach somebody something about the Jedi so he decided that the Jedi must end. It so happens that Ach-To is the OG island of the Jedi, where they also keep their most precious and oldest books on Force canon.
In a tree.
It doesn’t say Groot.
Luke goes to burn it down, determined to end the Jedi once and for all, when he gets a visit from an old friend. Yoda appears in Force-ghost form and instead of stopping him from setting fire to the tree, he calls down Thor’s latest ability upgrade and burns the motherfucker like uncle Owen and aunt Beru! Yoda’s clearly off his meds as he talks and acts like the pre-Jedi intro version of Yoda on ep. V – remember the part where he wanted to test Luke’s notions about what a Jedi knight might appear like to be? That one. He trolls Luke about his failings with Kylo and Rey. Luke asks him what to do with Rey and Yoda tells him to go help her out, it will be necessary for the plot. That’s why we saw Luke’s X-Wing submerged close to island in one shot, Luke’s gonna hit the road in act three.
Meanwhile, in the dumbest chase ever…things haven’t changed that much. The rebels are still playing “The tortoise and Achilles” with TFO getting everyone bored to death. So much so, that Poe decides it’s a great time to start a mutiny, since his admiral-and-person-that-clearly-needs-a-slap-in-the-face will not let him in on her brilliant escape plan. What a waste of a great actor, by the way, having her play the role of the stubborn superior that eventually turns out to be a hero. I loved her in Jurassic Park and even more in Blue Velvet and Inland Empire, here she was so horribly miscast it hurt my eyes. Or maybe it was that damn pink hair… Anyway, getting back to the plot(ha!), Poe tries to take over the ship, forcing Leia to wake up from her emergency coma/plot convenience and blast him with only the second ever time somebody used a STUN setting on a blaster in SW. And that is after she blows up the door to the bridge where Poe is making his stand, most likely using the Force, again out of the fuckin blue! Dude, if she is a powerful Jedi, at the same level as Luke or close, wouldn’t she have helped save Kylo and try to turn him to the light side? She did you say, but she failed also because Kylo was stronger than her AND Luke? Then how in the ever-loving fuck do you justify seeing her pull that Superman routine out of her ass? ESTABLISHING A CHARACTER!! DO YOU USE IT MOTHERFUCKER??
This type of new additions of abilities to well established characters is tricky to say the least. Especially in a franchise set-up where the audience follows the story over many years into what is known as canon, introducing a new element on a well-established premise can backfire, if not done properly. It is my strong belief that Johnson tried to do that by taking the canon and passing it through a shredder, then he said fuck it, I’ll make my own Star Wars with hookers and booze.
For the next part, canon and even the entire SW idea, went out the proverbial window. See, Rey joined our merry band of misfits and went to meet his supreme Snorkelness. (Never mind how she managed to get on board the Supremacy, never mind why the throne room has a fuckin magnifying glass(!) and half a dozen of Praetorian guards from the last emperor, never mind all of that!). When she gets in the throne room she’s treated like a puppet from the Snoke, who takes her blue light sabre and puts it right next to him on the throne. In yet another revelation that comes out of the fuckin blue, Smeagol informs Rey and Kylo that HE was the provider of the Force-Skype feature, NOT Kylo. It was a trap! (cried the frozen corpse of Akbar), while Rey ends up on her knees right before Kylo’s crotch. Snoke then begins narrating the action that takes place in front of your eyes for every dim-witted numskull in the audience. He urges Kylo to pull out his light sabre and kill his enemy to complete his Sith training. Lo and behold, Kylo does the UNTHINKABLE and via the Force turns on the sabre next to Snorkel, cutting him in half!! SAY WHAT??? A bait-and-switch with no switch? A major character gone with no explanation, no reason and no consideration for his story?? Gotta love the director’s vision! Points for that sir, you just made every nerd on the net foam from the mouth!!
By pulling this fast one on the audience I believe that Johnson reveals his true intention for the franchise: No one is important, nothing matters, let’s move on with something new. So, he does and so do our heroes, in what amounts to the climax of the movie (the first of many!) Kylo-Rey fight off the Praetorian guards in a way never seen before in any SW movie. Kylo uses the light sabre in new ways, not just as a sabre, but also as a source of light – which is exactly what it is, a glorified flash light. I bet Johnson got some ideas from this chart.
If he didn’t, the next director SHOULD!!
After Kylo kills every redshirt in the room, he turns to Rey and asks her to join him but not like Darth asked Luke to join him. In what is surely the only part of the film that was originally written by the director WITHOUT any influence, Kylo turns the SW universe upside down. With a completely nihilistic approach he dishes everything that makes Star Wars…Star Wars. Forget the Jedi, the Sith, the Skywalkers, Snoke, Vader, everything and everyone and start new with me. This makes so much sense! Or at least it opens new and exciting ways to evolve this universe into something much more interesting than before. I say TAKE IT! However, Rey and the committee had some objections to this radical approach in the story telling. Rey refuses the offer, goes for the blue sabre with the Force and in the process, tears it in two parts, when Kylo fights her Force-pull on it.
Why would she say no to that? She’s not a Jedi, she’s definitely not a Sith, she has no reason not to trust Kylo after he saved her life and his suggestion would make her powerful enough to forge her world in any shape she liked. There is no sensible reason for her reaction, so my best bet is this: Disney is trying to eliminate all SW characters from the Lucas era to introduce its own new batch of heroes and villains. It’s only natural to do so, but maybe, just maybe the new characters that we see are
- i) either paper-thin, boring as fuck and/or forgettable as your frozen dinner, or
- ii) the characters can be new, but the main story needs to be the same old shit – good vs evil. By having Rey refuse Kylo, all we got is a meaningless transition of power from Snooker to Emo-Kylo, with no one even batting an eye! The most useless, over the top, obnoxious and laughable character – Hux – simply walks in on this whole mess, tries to say something like “I am the leader of TFO”, gets choked like a bitch from Ren and hails him as the new emperor. FUCKIN great, we are back to where we started!!!
One step forward, two steps back: The Movie.
While I was ranting about this scene, I forgot to mention that Finn, Rose, DJ and BB-8 managed to get on board the Supremacy and wasted our time for about 10-15 minutes doing absolutely nothing of consequence. Oh, yeah, captain Brienne of Tarth showed up for a while, said some cliched BS and fell in a pit of fire and died. A more interesting sub-sub-sub-plot is the STILL ongoing chase! Yes, ladies and germs, the rebels are still on the run during the throne room burly brawl and just like ep. VI the emperor shows to the young Jedi in a big-ass screen his/her friends getting slaughtered. Admiral Blue Velvet finally lets Poe in on her secret strategy, which was to simply…fly in a straight line until they reached a planet and then get on smaller crafts WITHOUT shields and land there. BEST.ADMIRAL.EVER.
So, when they board these make-shift escape pods something strange happened to physics… Suddenly the main lase battery of the Supremacy was able to shoot FARTHER ahead than before and take out the smaller ships! The main fleet – fleet…my ass, we’re now down to ONE ship – was tooooo far away, out of range for the TFO’s weapons, but small ships flying slower than the flagship…sure, like bulls eying womp rats in a T-16.
Here is where it gets interesting. Pink-haired Inland Empire does something extraordinary for a SW movie: it turns it briefly, for one fleeting moment – OK, almost for an entire minute – from a high-fiction movie to a high-science movie. See, there are two types of sci-fi movies, high-fiction movies like Star Wars, Aliens, Terminator, Independence Day etc., that sacrifice scientific credibility and accuracy for a more engaging story telling. The laws of physic in this kind of movies can be bended or even – in most cases – broken, i.e. the amazing sound effects of the space battles in SW. On the other hand, we have the high-science movies and TV-series, where the laws of physic are portrayed as faithfully and as accurately as possible – in such flicks as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Interstellar, Apollo 13, The Expanse – BINGE-WATCH IT NOW!!! Don’t get me wrong, these movies are not 100% accurate nor science documentaries, but they do promote a more hard-facts approach to storytelling than the previous category. With this been said, let’s get back on the action. In a desperate move to save her fellow rebels, admiral “We’re back in business!” goes all-out Einstein on the TFO, turns the flagship around and uses it as a RKKV.In the best scene of the movie, in one of the most beautiful scenes in the last few years – enhanced to the point of perfection by the ABSOLUTE silence that ensues throughout this sequence – the movie screen is filled with glorious physics, as we see what the impact of an object moving close to light speed would be on another object. This scene alone is worth the price of admission, it’s physics porn at its best!!!
Breath-taking, stunning, ingenious and not 100% accurate to the law of E = mc^2 , this idea was a blast of freshness in a movie where I almost fell asleep while watching it! I have only read about space ramming in P.F. Hamilton’s works and to see it on a large cinema screen was a thing of beauty. Of course, this can open a rather nasty can of worms for some people, that might say “why haven’t we seen this handy trick in previous films, why did she had to use the entire ship and not just simply send an X-wing with an astrodroid to its death, why didn’t Leia do this and go out in a glorious and heroic act” and so on and so forth. Again, stop nit-picking and enjoy the sheer awesomeness of the scene.
From the awesome we now return to the stupid in the film’s climax – second, third. I’ve lost count, the damn thing should have ended 30 minutes ago. The remaining rebel ships, that survived thanks to Holdo’s dying act, land on the planet and the last members of the alliance hide in a fortress in a hollowed-out mountain. A giant metal gate is their only protection against the oncoming TFO, now under new management. Kylo sends a shit-load of AT-ATs and some Tie-fighters to wipe out the last remainders of Luca’s SW to snuff out the dwindling premise of the old storyline. Fine, let’s get it over with. But Leia stands up for the bearded-one and sends out a distress signal “to all the friends of the Alliance”, which gets no response from ANYONE in the ENTIRE galaxy! If this isn’t a loud and clear message to the studio execs, screaming “NO ONE GIVES A SHIT ABOUT THIS STUPID WAR ANYMORE!” then I don’t know what it is.
Nonetheless, the rebels put up one last desperate stand and prepare to go down fighting. Poe, Finn, Rose and some redshirts go out in rusty old space trikes – without any visible armament on them – and try to take out a host of AT-ATs. Since they have no X-Wings to provide aerial cover, they become easy targets for the Tie-fighters that swoop down on them and pick them out like sitting Banthas. Our heroes look doomed – again, for the umpteenth time! – when Rey and Chewie in a Millennium-Ex-Machina-Falcon appear and for reasons unexplained draw ALL Tie-fighters away from the ground assault. How fuckin convenient, wouldn’t you say?
At this point TFO clearly had enough of this shit so they bring out space-Gront (“it’s Deathstar tech” (sic!)) to bring down the gate, so they can finally go home and watch the new season of Rick and Morty. Finn though decides to become a last-moment hero – and the only character in the film that gets a character arch – by going head-on kamikaze on the ram. I must confess this twist woke me up in the theatre and for a second there I was hoping that Johnson had the cojones to kill a main character in a meaningful and story-wise appropriate way. This action would make Finn’s journey a worthy escape from the plot-clatches of evil, indifference, cowardice and selfish behaviour grasping him in the beginning of ep. VII to a heroic act of self-sacrifice, redemption and ascension. Guess what happened… No, you can’t, not by a long shot.
In the last possible second, right after we see another scene of hard-physics (the heat from the massive laser melts away part of the space trike as it gets closer to the point of emission) Rose rams Finn’s ship – which could potentially kill him – because she didn’t want him to die now that SHE LOVES HIM! WHAT.THE.ACTUAL.FUCK? Who in their right mind – talking to you Mickey-execs! – read this part and said “Yep, that looks like a great idea! Let’s have Rose mumble some shit about love right after she stops him from saving his friends. Makes our boy Finn look heroic but doesn’t take him out of the game while at the same time we have a new love story going on.”. I remember screaming “Fuck you!” at the screen and the biggest surprise was that nobody told me to shut up, go to hell for interrupting or dissing their favourite film. I guess they too wanted to say the same thing but were in shock from the stupid they witnessed. How much more of a beating can our sanity take from this film?
Enter Luke. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Skywalker…walks in! (No, seriously, he simply walked in the fortress like nothing happened). He hands Leia the dice adorning the cockpit in Han’s Millennium Falcon and steps outside to meet his former apprentice in a mano-a-mano stand-off. In yet another ultra-cool moment for a film that has more tonal shifts than Axl Rose’s voice, Luke stands still in front of all the AT-ATs, calm as a coma. Kylo goes nuclear just by seeing his former teacher – some bad blood was introduced between them in the part where Luke was on the island, but nobody gives a fuck about that plot thread, it was weak as fuck. He orders ALL AT-ATs to fire on that target and keep firing until he tells them to stop. What ensues is pure badassery, with lasers pulverizing Luke’s position relentlessly for quite a while. It takes Hux growing a pair and calling off Kylo’s madness by ordering the crews to cease fire. Kylo clenches his fists as we wait alongside him for the smoke to clear and reveal Luke’s vaporized remains. And then we get this.
I fuckin clapped. Rian Johnson might be a complete tool and has fucked up most parts of this film, but I must give him this one. It was brilliant.
The brilliant part didn’t last long though, since right after this most epic gesture a Jedi ever made, we see Kylo getting down off his AT-AT to face Luke, who looks a bit…younger? o.O What gives? Kylo pops his Red Cross light sabre and Luke turns on his blue…wait, what? Isn’t that the one that got torn in half on Snoke’s ship? Oh no. It’s all a hoax! Luke’s not really there, not physically that is. Remember his X-Wing in act two? Psyche! It was a counter Chekhov’s-gun. Luke’s here using the latest new trend in the Force: projecting his image over far, far, far, really, really, truly fucking far away distances. Kylo is so pissed at him that doesn’t even notice his change in appearance nor his blue light sabre. He pounces on him, landing a hit in mid-section at one point (how is that even possible if he’s a projection?) until Luke’s had it with this motherfuckin nihilistic Sith and this motherfuckin 40-year old mandatory convention appearance nightmare. He goes out all-Kenobi on Ren, bracing for the hit and the end of this long and arduous, slavish contract with Lucas/Disney. Kylo does him the favour and we see him vanish into thin air before two setting suns on Ach-To.
Thus, ends the story of Luke Skywalker, the best Joker we ever had.
After this Kylo goes nuts, hunts the rest of the resistance inside the cave-fortress but they have escaped by following some Miyazaki-knockoff foxes to a back door. Rey was waiting there to show her new level-up skills, lifting some rocks and serving them drinks in the Falcon.
Wrap your mind around this: The entire Resistance Alliance can now fit inside the Millennium Falcon. They fly off into space and we see the last scene: a young slave-kid on that hideous casino-planet holds a broom and gazes to the stars in the sky. Kid holds a thingy and twists it to reveal a rebel insignia. End titles.
What just happened? Did Johnson said to us that the ep. IX will take place 20 years after this one, since the resistance is all but gone and the future generation of rebels-without-a-clue-or-cause is still in elementary school? It remains to be seen in J.J.’s next opus lensus flareous.
Why have a I written 8130 words for a movie that was screened two months ago? Why should you read this dissertation sized post in a blog? (I also chose to write the review rather than make a video on YouTube. I wanted to force the new generation to re-learn how to read, how to focus and absorb information in a slower pace, hopefully understanding it more efficiently.). Here’s why.
Star Wars is no longer just “a movie”. It has transcended that status many years ago thanks to the masterful marketing campaign of the bearded-one and the cult status appeal of the original trilogy. When your movie is quoted as the name for an antiballistic missile protection concept by the third dumbest POTUS in history, then it’s no longer just a stupid sci-fi flick. SW is nowadays an integral part of Western culture, whether you like it or not. It has earned a place in our collective narrative with universally recognizable characters and deep-cut influence in numerous aspects of our life. From a linguistic/translation point of view, SW acts as an intersemeotic source text for a translation/rendering of meaning across different cultures, different histories, religions, social status, financial status, education, etc. You can go to almost any country in the world and say the name Darth Vader, Obi-Wan, Han Solo and even if you don’t speak the local language you will get a reaction of recognition.
Story telling is a quintessential part of human culture. Early humans gathered around the fire in their caves to listen to the stories narrated by the eldest of the tribe. This form of social interaction was vital to the survival and development of our species. It allowed us to create mythologies based on collective memory, paved the way to our modern-day history and, most importantly, educated and sculpted the minds and ethos of the audience. Stories became our expression of wonder, of doubt, of curiosity and imagination. Without them we would still be living in a primitive animal-like state. The art of storytelling provided humans with the means to preserve, absorb and expand knowledge, leading to the birth of rational thought and science.
In the last 50 or more years, cinema and television have become the most influential forms of storytelling, surpassing easily and almost replacing in many cases the book as the primary form of narrative. We still have written books, but in the age of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook most people wait to see the movie based on the book, rather than read the source material. In this sense, movies are now shaping our collective narrative far more intensely and effectively than books. The screenwriters and directors are now the elders sitting around the fire, weaving the thread of the story for the tribe, us, the audience.
And we need them to tell us a good, meaningful, intelligent, thought-provoking and interesting story.
With the looming prospect of a mega-merger of film studios by one or two hyper-companies – such as Disney – the distribution of totally controlled content is no longer a fringe idea. If you have only two companies running the show, you cannot expect much in terms of freedom of expression, innovation, imagination and intelligence in movies, especially if that goes against the company’s goals. That goal is usually a simple one: maximum profit. If the last 1o years of mainstream cinema are an indication of a turn in story telling from intelligent script-based stories to visually overwhelming shows of sound and fury, then we need to reconsider a great many things. Major studio releases – such as the entire MCU series of movies, the abominable Transformers movies and the struggling DCEU – have more impact on the collective narrative than all the other movies of the same era combined. In doing so, a trend of stupidification is visible in these movies. Story telling takes a back seat to an onslaught of striking -but devoid of meaning- images, explosions and pointless one-liners. With every movie like that humanity is becoming a bit more stupid, we lose another part of our collective IQ. One might go even further and claim that we have reached that tipping point of stupid, culminating in the recent election of Donald Drumpf as POTUS.
This is the reason why I wrote this insanely long review. I wanted SW:TLJ to be a clever movie, a push forward in our ability to tell stories of great imagination. Not only because I love the Star Wars movies or because I was disappointed by the last two instalments in the franchise, but because I knew that we needed a break from the stupid, from the committee-controlled narrative that suffocates our thought process and leads us to a world where Idiocracy is a documentary, not a comedy.
If one movie could that, I thought, it would be SW. To my dismay, I was wrong.
PS: Chew on this baka!