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The Last Jedi is wrong about one thing. The past deserves to live.

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This isn’t going to go the way you think.

Sixty minutes in. “This isn’t going to go the way you think”. By this point, the lack of subtlety was troubling me, and I was banging my head on the seat in front. OK, OK. We get it.

Rian and Disney weren’t happy that we “got it” though. They felt the need to upgrade the sledgehammer to a full-on bulldozer and get Kylo Ren to repeat variations of the same line. Over and over. “Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to.”

Christ, I’m thinking now. Does Disney want me to forget everything they just gave me in ‘The Force Awakens’ – and worse, the Star Wars films in the first 36 years of my life?

Possible spoilers ahead.

It’s an odd message, for sure. Especially as I love change. I love different. But it’s left me fascinated. What next? Especially with JJ returning. Does it undo anything that’s gone before it? I’m left a bit confused as to whether it’s meant to be a meditation on moving forward, literally burning the Jedi order – or whether it’s an attempt to reboot some of what went before.
Throw in the fact that there’s not a lot to reboot, and I’m even more confused. And Disney are fuelling that, by making the film confused, too. Deano covers that fantastically in her LFF review of ‘The Last Jedi’, HERE.

I should start by saying I’ve seen ‘The Last Jedi’ three times, now. And, contrary to how that opening gambit sounds, I loved 90% of it. It’s scenes of wonder, far outweigh its genuinely embarrassing missteps. Never has a film so lauded been so guilty of so many own goals, I fear. But oddly I’m OK with most. And that’s what’s made it really interesting. The backlash that’s forming. Don’t get me wrong, we expect that now. I’m half expecting a backlash against Gary Oldman for being too similar to Churchill. Someone even tweeted that James Franco wasn’t really acting in ‘The Disaster Artist’ – he was just impersonating. What does that even mean?

We’re in that kind of environment now, and have been for a while. Frankly, its a bit shit.

I’ve tried really hard personally to not do the “you’re wrong if you think it’s shit/great” thing, recently. I used to do that with out realising, to be honest. Not because I thought I knew better. Just because I had too many inane conversations about whether certain films were worthy. It’s childish when I think about it – but I can’t help smirking at the ‘Prometheus’ and ‘Alien: Covenant’ detractors, that are going to struggle to justify ‘The Last Jedi’ doing exactly the same to the previous Star Wars canon. Good luck with that.

I also stopped because I’ve realised how boring it would be if we all agreed.

By my third viewing, I was forgiving the awful bits more. Maybe even laughing along like I do with the prequels now. Remembering how my childhood felt bastardised by Lucas.

I was more at ease with the troubling highlight of my first viewing. The fact that it was a double bill with TFA. And how I enjoyed that more. How it felt more complete and less gaping. I couldn’t shake how well TFA is ageing. It’s fantastic fan service – and brilliant sci-fi. Hell, ‘Blade Runner 2049’ has even made me appreciate Harrison Ford more in ‘Force Awakens’. Less wooden than I remember. More nostalgic. More respectful. Sure, it’s not as bold in its decision making, but I’d struggle to argue it was the weaker film of this new canon. (And that’s while I try and not include ‘Rogue One’ which is truly stupendous).

On the third viewing, I’d even got past the weird Harry Potter horses, and awful CGI chase – where the film itself had got distracted with why we were even at the bloody Casino. (An awful diversion, where the sledgehammer turned to…. shock horror, Politics).

The obsession with awful child actors. Slaves. Looking up at the stars. OK, OK. We get it.

I’d got past the fact they’d had the gall to do an even worse tribute (?) to Mary Poppins than they did in ‘Guardians vol.2’. Which in turn puts a lead character in a coma, only to return five minutes later. It’s a bit staggering that a film that manages Ren’s arc so well, so treat others with such disrespect.

I’d forgotten about milking weird dinosaur things, and even the temerity they had to pander to the Matrix trilogy. Really? Next Luke will brush dust off his cloak. Oh. They went there, too.

My biggest overriding surprise was that they’ve left themselves so open to parody. And that – at times – they were parodying themselves. It’s created a strange, uneven atmosphere when people talk about this film. Fans don’t know whether it’s OK to love it. There’s in house bickering not unlike the DC/Marvel stuff of the last few years. It’s all a bit…. odd. Can’t we all just get along? Or even better… not care what each other think, and have our own opinions?

Rian really does deserve credit for the fantastic moments, though. Some of what he’s achieved do feel genuinely game changing. The opening twenty minutes for example are exhilarating. I even loved the humour here – especially Poe’s – and bad lip syncing aside, the evacuation, only to be over shadowed, literally, by the dreadnaught are all kinds of awe-inspiring.

Poe’s hand break turn in the X-Wing is audacious, and the decision to be in the cockpit, albeit not enough, has huge potential for future films. Throw in the De Palma tribute, and sensational use of slow motion, and you have yourself an arresting start.

Rian’s bold enough to top it though, with Dern’s heroic decision. Which, although it makes you wonder why it wasn’t the plan in the first place, creates a phenomenal choice of editing, lighting and effects. The literal split it causes is audacious, as well as the background effects it allows for once Ren re-awakens. It’s genuinely fantastic. And you feel that scope and scale are no longer an issue. You wanted Wars in space? No worries.

My biggest concern, (not in life, don’t worry), is the dissenting voices that are now concerned JJ Abrams is returning to the fore. And worse, the ones that are now claiming ‘The Force Awakens’ was too nostalgic.

It’s being done in quite a strange way, too. Almost to justify people’s love of the new film – and it feels wholly unnecessary. When you’re up to 8/9 films in a series, can’t you just pick and choose the ones you watch? Unless you’re locked in a basement, and being force fed ‘Phantom Menace’, you never need to watch it again. It’s OK. You don’t have to light a funeral pyre and put your cloak on every time it’s on. Leave that to Simon Pegg.

I can’t tell through the venomous tweets if these people are serious. I really can’t. I’m left wondering if they’re trying to re-write history. There’s tweets saying TFA was too nostalgic. Too samey. Too safe. And I can’t abide it. I literally never read anything like that when it came out.

So where’s it all coming from now?

It’s bad enough everyone turns on something as soon as it turns out – now we need to turn on-things we loved before just to justify our love of something else?

Can’t we all just watch what we want, when we want?

Some people will say ‘The Last Jedi’ is their favourite Star Wars film ever. Although they’re people I’m glad I don’t know in real life, let them think that. That’s fine. But no one needs to drag TFA down to make that point. And if they do, they’re missing the point, aren’t they?

You’ll hear no arguments from me that the R2 hologram scene is superbly done. That the rock scene, both, but especially that last one, is stirring, and beautifully done. That Dern’s delivery of “May The Force be with you, always” is prophetic. But you’ll hear arguments for sure if you say Force and Jedi can’t co-exist.

They can co-exist. Even if Disney themselves, give you several impressions they want to distance themselves from it (seriously, was the light sabre throw for real?!) And they must. Try and watch Jedi with out the context of Force and you’ve got half the film.

If you think back three years, we didn’t believe the next two/three years would garner three excellent Star Wars films – let alone feel like we deserved them.

Enjoy them at your will, I say. Take you kids. Your parents. Your grandparents. Life’s too short. Hell, give ‘Revenge of the Sith’ another go. Like it’s 2017 incarnation, some of its fantastic.

Ignore the dark side. Don’t turn on what went before it. It’s OK for the past to live. With out it, the present and the future don’t mean very much at all.

You can also read reviews by Alan and Phil.

*’It’ was the let down of the year, so my review of that doesn’t count!

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One Comment

  1. The past does indeed deserve to live.

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