Five Questions–The Last Jedi

 

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This isn’t a review of The Last Jedi. However, I’ll take two lines right here–I really loved the movie and thought it was the best since Empire Strikes Back. I love jaded, cynical, 2017 Luke Skywalker as much as I loved whiney, entitled 1979-83 Luke Skywalker. He has always been hyper-emotional and in this film we see the other pole.

But enough with the review. What I write here are five questions the movie leaves me with. This is not intended in a negative way, because good books and films always stoke the imagination and bring the consumer in so he or she can ponder the story. But here are my questions.

  1. Is Snoke a MacGuffin? It’s actually okay with me if he is–if the makers of the film just did an “insert mysterious bad guy here” and he is only useful in this moment. But is there more? Are we being set up to think of him as only a plot foil and then we get the sucker punch later? I want there to be more, but I suspect Snoke was never intended to be a major plot point. This story is all about Kylo and Rey. So for now I’m going with Snoke as MacGuffin.
  2. Is The Resistance really this small? I can’t tell after a first viewing. Are we supposed to believe this is all there is to it or is it a fragment that has been cornered?  This matters to me, because if this is all there is, then my feelings somewhat change. Perhaps the galaxy wants an authoritative government that suppresses liberty. It is something to consider.
  3. What is it with Luke Skywalker and milk? Is that the key to midichlorians?
  4. Is that the last word on Rey’s parents? I am still enamored with Rey’s true identity. I know many people think the issue is settled. That might be so. It is a major moment in the movie when it seems like she and Kylo come to the agreement that her parents were nobodies. Part of me likes this, because I never really jammed on the elitist/birth blessing of Jedi skills. That always seemed just a little too much like nobility and royalty; and those are two things I despise. The flip though is what if this is a deception. Work with me–The Last Jedi parallels ESB in so many ways. In ESB Darth Vader tells a truth to Luke about his parentage, which Obi-Wan later talks about as looking at it from a, “certain point of view.” What if a different point of view paints the picture of Rey’s parents differently. The reason I say this is because I still believe Rey is Obi-Wan’s granddaughter or niece or somehow related.
  5. Is Rey a Jedi? This question, put a little differently, could read, “Does training matter at all for Jedi?” Because if she is a Jedi, she has zero training. Luke got more training from Obi-Wan in the lounge of the Millennium Falcon in the original Star Wars film than Rey has received. So is she a Jedi?

 

Predictions for the next one: Rey goes back to that island and steals Luke Skywalker’s green lightsaber. Obi-Wan Kenobi will force ghost visit Rey. If there is any justice in the galaxy, Chewbacca will be the one to kill Kylo–choking the life right out of him with his furry dexterous hands. There is another Solo kid–the one we all loved from the EU–and he will join with Rey to rebuild the order (note–Rey is playing the role of Jaina in this tale, so we need the third one to show up somehow for the story to make sense: IMHO).

Star Wars Problems

Today is May the Fourth–aka Star Wars Day.

I’m a big fan–have been since I sat in that darkened theater and watched the original Star Wars in 1977. That doesn’t mean that our favorite galaxy far far away doesn’t have some major problems.

Problem #1–Plot holes

Every Star Wars film has major plot holes. Not minor ones, major ones. Does Luke learn all there is to be a Jedi during a two hour layover on Dagobah? In a great big desert, Finn never saw Poe get out of the crashed tie fighter? Why doesn’t Uncle Owen remember Threepio?

But the biggest plot hole, in my opinion, is in what was called Episode One, The Phantom Menace. Every airport in the world, and many shopping malls and merchant districts, have kiosks where you can exchange currency. imagesI can exchange my dollars for euros if I want. The rate might not be favorable, but if I go to Europe I’m gonna need the euros. It is impossible to believe that some enterprising businessman on Tatooine didn’t have a kiosk somewhere on the planet where Gui-Gon Jinn and gang could have exchanged some republic credits for the local currency to get the parts they needed. Sure, they might have taken a bath on the transaction, but money is not their problem.

Problem #2–Doors

This is a novelty, but I see it is a problem. It is a real problem if you get your finger caught in a Star Wars door. Why are they so fast?

Problem #3–The Jedi

Two problems here. First, the Jedi are dimwitted.

Really, master Jedi, you didn’t know the Sith lord was Palpatine? Really? You never thought to suspect that it was the politician? More to the point, why would you let the student who so clearly troubled many of you and whose future was cloudy spend so much time with the known crooked politician?

You were supposed to be smarter than this. Way smarter.

The second problem is more–philosophical. When I watched the original Star Wars as a child, it seemed like being a Jedi and using the “Force” was the kind of thing that came from hard work, study, and an open mind. Kind of like success in general. But as we learn from the prequels, it really is more about elitism. You are either born with it, or you are not. That ruined the mystique of the Jedi and posed a philosophical problem inside the Star Wars universe. I am pretty sure I would be against the Jedi and their elitist tendencies. Their answer for just about every critique is “You have to trust me.” Or, to just kill you. They are elitists who abuse their power.

Problem #4–Padme 

I may rant a bit here. Padme starts off strong in The Phantom Menace, and is truly one of the only bright spots. By Revenge of the Sith, however, she is reduced to cliche lines and weeping, a shrinking violet that provides no real plot progression other than the emotional turmoil for Anakin.

This is a problem for me on two fronts. First, Natalie Portman is one of the finest actors in any galaxy, and she was criminally underutilized. Why not make her character more active in the inevitable break away of Anakin Skywalker? Why not give her something to do? Why not make her more than a trophy, wielded between Anakin and Obi-Wan.

The second problem for me is the heritage of Padme. She is the forgotten voice. So much of the Star Wars vibe is the father-son relationship, but they miss a real opportunity with the legacy of Padme. Neither Luke nor Leia know of their brave mother, her courage, the work she did to save the Republic, and ultimately how Anakin betrayed her—a betrayal which led to her death. This problem can be fixed with the upcoming films, but I doubt that it will.

Problem #5–Storm/Clone/First Order Troopers

The obvious one is they can’t hit anything. But that isn’t my problem. That the bad guys never learneUnknownd to aim is a common theme since the westerns of old. No, my problem is, what is the all the plastic armor for? It doesn’t protect against basters. It doesn’t protect against Ewok rocks and sticks. It doesn’t protect against a karate chop to the throat. It doesn’t protect against a punch in the face. It doesn’t protect against being thrown into a tree. It serves no real purpose, as I can tell.

 

Problem #6–I can’t quite seem to get enough of it. 

Ooooh Jedi

Can I go ahead now and buy my ticket(s) for Star Wars VIII? It is set to premier 15 December 2017.

But that is not the important part, at least not now. The important part is the subtitle: The Last Jedi.sw-the-last-jedi-tall-b

Not much to speculate about yet . . . or is there?

‘The Last Jedi’ most definitely refers to Luke at some level. It is taken from what Yoda told Luke, “When gone am I, the last of the Jedi you will be” but it doesn’t have to be just Luke. Seriously, there are several options to consider.

  1. Jedi is a plural word as well as singular. Perhaps the films thrust will be the the the last Jedi who have been in hiding somewhere that come out and defeat the baddies.
  2. Last might refer to the end of the fighting order of Jedi, and the beginning of something new. Luke had failed in trying to rebuild the Jedi, and has now discovered that the Jedi need to go away in favor of something else, because apparently Jedi always take the galaxy, one way or another, into war.
  3. Rey is a good candidate for the Next Something New who learns from the last Jedi. I have already speculated that in this film Luke buys the farm. My original understanding was, after seeing Han Solo die, that in order Luke would die, then Leia. I still think that might be the order. I promise you when there is a Leia death scene, I will be bawling my eyes out like I do ever time Spock saves the Enterprise in The Wrath of Khan. They all die, and Rey is left as the last one. Then maybe her and Finn get together and have lots of little Jedi.
  4. It might be a return of Obi Wan Kenobi. They’ve been setting us up with these force ghosts things for a bit–all the way back to the original. Remember–“If you strike me down and I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” Kenobi is the ‘first’ Jedi we ever meet in this universe, and maybe he is also the ‘last’ we ever meet as well. His ghost comforts Luke after Yoda dies, and then that is it. Remember kiddos, Ewan McGregor’s voice as Obi Wan is in The Force Awakens. Oh, and so is Alec Guinness. It would be so awesome to somehow see Mark Hamill and Ewan McGregor in a scene together–maybe fighting together. Can I buy my ticket now, please?
  5. There must be an explanation of why Luke left the known galaxy. It is perhaps, Kylo Ren killed Luke’s best student, the last remaining Jedi of his academy. And perhaps, that last Jedi was none other than Kylo’s twin sister, AKA Jaina. I’m still trying to get Jaina Solo in this movie, because she was my fave from the EU.
  6. Be prepared for doubling meanings. Return Of The Jedi featured the graduation of Luke Skywalker as a Jedi because he faced Vader and did what Obi Wan and Yoda couldn’t do. He defeated both the Sith Lords. “I am a Jedi, like my father before me.” But it was not just his return, it was also the return, the redemption, of Anakin Skywalker as a Jedi. Having seen the prequels as we have, when Luke is on the ground writhing in pain from the Emperor’s force storm, Vader probably sees Padme’s face and hears Obi Wan’s words. He can smell the surprise in Mace Windu. He understands Count Dooku’s dilemna. He returns as a Jedi. But also, the ‘religion’ if you want to call it that, returns as well. Now they are back. Expect multiple meanings.
  7. We need to prepare ourselves for a possibility that this film, this entire film, might be a flashback kind of movie that is all about Luke and Kylo with no Leia, No Rey, No Chewie nothing but Jedi and Sith machinations. In this possibility, the last Jedi might well be the story of how all the Jedi died.

See, this is what happens when you give a nerd something to think about. I mean, if I am this bad over three words–The Last Jedi, imagine what I might do if they dropped a trailer on us.