Okay so let’s talk Star Wars
The Last Jedi, rather more to the idea of what I got from it. First off, let’s start by saying I didn’t really care for the movie. It was a beautiful spectacle at times and visually appealing. However, when you get down to the core of story-telling, again I found the newly rebooted Star Wars universe to be making such odd decisions.
So If you recall, I made a post about my lack of excitement for this movie because of character motivations. During the movie, I found it disappointing that my concerns were at times, not addressed but at other times, addressed poorly. After the movie, I sat down in my car and my friends asked me what I thought of the movie. The best and most simplistic response I could come up with was, “things happened”. The new stars, Rey and Finn often tend to be going nowhere but then immediately progress in the most inorganic fashion. I’m going to go into spoilers right now because rather than a review I want to follow up on my previous post, so here we go!
The Progression of Rey
Once again, I’m looking at our characters whom we are to follow rather than focusing on the most epic slow car-chase in the galaxy. We resume with Rey reaching Luke and she has progressed from just merely wanting to see her parents again to wanting to learn more about herself and her powers. I found Rey to be a much more fleshed out character in this movie. She tells Luke that she is here to retrieve him so that he can help fight the Order. When he asks her, “Why are YOU here?” she gives a different answer meaning that she isn’t strictly concerned about the resistance but has her own personal goals. Now some would argue that’s not very heroic of her but she’s a person who just jumped on this bandwagon so I wouldn’t expect her to be a heroine. They also explore an idea that she clings to parental figures using them as replacement of her own. WHAT?! Rey has flaws?! Rey’s character finally felt three-dimensional to me and I appreciated that.
However, what they fail to do is once again to establish what we anime nerds call, “power ranking”. Rey seems to be leveling up every day whether she is being trained by Luke or not. She is shown honing her skills with a light-saber and Luke just observes her. She practices focusing on the force during training but later, she’s lifting boulders like balloons. I think the biggest missed opportunity was her decision to just be a good Jedi, we see her struggle with the dark side hinting the dark side can take her to her parents which is why she momentarily chases it. Later Kylo-Ren tells her about her parents, meaning that in fact, the dark side did provide her the truth and yet she doesn’t embrace it. I never bought that she would go dark because the movie did not provide her with enough tendencies to choose dark, I would have considered it to be interesting but a stretch. Near the end, she can now compete with Snoke’s personal elite guards. After this amazing feat, she now can equally match Kylo in a force tug-and-pull. Again, since the movie did not establish “power levels,” based on what the story has taught us she should not be able to do these things. SO! Now that she has come to terms with her parents and refused the dark side, what does she do now? I have no idea, I’m not sure what Rey’s current goal is. Ultimately Rey ends up being an admittedly three-dimensional character but with a boring personality to me.
“Rey is still too powerful and Finn is still too useless.”
The Regression of Finn
Which leads us to Finn, now this will be a harsh one because Finn goes nowhere, but then has an arc out of nowhere. Finn was a guy who only wanted to get away and start a new life on his own. He meets Rey and decides he can’t live without her and when the movie starts, his first question is, “Where is Rey”. The “thirst-o-meter,” was too high for me to not laugh at this manufactured clinginess. He was willing to abandon the Resistance just to make sure Rey avoids getting caught up in their ever-losing battle. Now let’s say I buy his instant life-long thirstiness, then his abandonment makes sense. He’s stated that he really doesn’t want to be in this war anymore so I would understand that he has no loyalty to the Resistance when things get tough. Yet he gambles everything on this slim-chance PETA mission that – if not for plot conveniences – they would have been caught and thrown in jail. We later learn that if they had been thrown in jail then the Resistance would have had fewer causalities than they did in the movie, so what was the point? Where are Finn’s priorities if not strictly on survival and Rey? They seem to fluctuate all over the place depending on what type of person the writer needs Finn to be. Normally I wouldn’t mind him being so flat, but we spend so much time with him but I still don’t really know what Finn wants besides Rey, nor why he attempted to be a martyr at the end. What did he accomplish? To sum it up, Rey is still too powerful, and Finn is still too useless.
Kylo and Luke’s Relationship
Kylo-Ren, on the other hand, has made his decision. Even though he was bothered by killing his dad and couldn’t kill his mom, that doesn’t mean he’s a good guy! Maybe he loves his parents and was like screw everyone else, hell there are plenty of terrible people who have families because loving someone isn’t enough to make you good. To me, Kylo was always clear in what he wanted, but he just didn’t know how to get there. He was never fully loyal to Snoke but embraced being an apprentice because it was his best choice at that time. He clearly hated having to do something he didn’t want to do to be a “true Sith”. It was obvious that he was more annoyed than ashamed by Snoke’s belittling. He had the chance to be the perfect apprentice and instill good favor with his master but Kylo just realized, “I really hate this whole setup” and made the decision to end his master, assume command, and even try to turn Rey once more. I don’t doubt he regrets killing his dad because it did nothing for him, in the end, Han Solo’s death only served to be the tipping point of his indecision. I even enjoyed his sense of vulnerability by showing that he doesn’t want to be alone (despite killing off someone who asked him to come back home) by saying, “please” when asking Rey to join him. They both share this fear of being alone and that was done well!
Lastly, Luke is part of a long legacy of movies, therefore, he should have been given more attention. We needed to see who Luke was the last time we saw him and who he is now. Luke being a hermit who doesn’t want to fight for anything or help anyone was such a jarring scene. At first, I was bothered but then I tolerated it because I understood that he was distraught by failing his nephew, the only child to his sister. I can imagine that he felt such a heavy burden from it. However, when we are fed that Luke’s final decision was to kill his nephew in his sleep – even for a moment – I got disconnected from him. Mind you, this is the same person who risked his life to turn DARTH VADER, a man who has bathed in the dark force for so many years and killed many men in the name of his mater… That guy… Luke decided, “Hey I can turn him.” There was no process behind why Luke would do this based on everything we know about him. Thus, his uncertainty and lapse of conviction allowed him to lose Kylo. Now you’d think Luke would learn from his moment of weaknesses but no, he gives up and closes himself off from the force. His lack of resolve for his family caused him to fail and thus he refuses to fight for his nephew’s life like he did for his father. While he does have a motivation (be left alone) the process he takes to get there was just clunky. Insult to injury, he never has that face-to-face moment with Kylo, he uses force projection which at the time was cool but ultimately made Luke’s sacrifice seem simply half-assed. Why not lift your ship out the water and fly to the planet to personally confront your ex-student? Why not try again to compel Kylo? Why did Luke need to see an old hologram of Leia to reinstate how much he’s needed? The answer is, the story needed him to save a ship, that in the end didn’t need to be saved (but god forbid why the movie viewers weren’t told that!).
We have these plot points that literally don’t service the plot. So, you must ask yourself why were they there? Well, they should have least allowed you to learn and attach yourselves to these characters, yet it fails miserably on that front. In the end, I just have a bunch of characters whom I don’t care for. I’m just not invested in their progress because it often feels at random. To me, it’s hard to feel excitement when they gain something because the gains do not match the struggle. I know many people love Rey and Finn, and that’s okay! Bottom line is the movie relies so heavily on you loving them that without that incentive, I can’t see anyone enjoying it.