I know I've said this before but I'm done going to see these movies.
Lets start with what was great about The Last Jedi.
1) It was enough of an "event" that during Christmas weekend when I needed a few hours escape from family it was seen as an acceptable excuse.
Now that we've covered what was good about this high budget piece of Disneyified fan fiction let's reflect on what didn't work.
The truth is I know I fall squarely into that old guy, Gen Xer category of people who saw the original trilogy and nothing will ever live up to it be it because of nostalgia or some new director's desire to railroad a perfectly good galaxy.
I blame myself for continuing to watch these films. I've known since The Phantom Menace that nothing will ever live up to the originals. George Lucas created a galaxy, characters and a story that should have been enough. He created two iconic films in A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back and one completely acceptable albeit understandably flawed film in Return of the Jedi. We always knew Lucas had more in mind for this story. We hoped for something that was somehow equal to originals and sadly it never quite materialized.
It's shocking how disappointing that realization has been. You would think we could just be satisfied. Many will argue that point to defend TLJ and The Force Awakens but I see it another way, we should have just been have with Parts IV, V & VI and called it a day. Instead I lined up for the rereleases!
As yes, remember those? Many of you probably don't but way back in the late 90s Lucas remastered the originals and rereleased them into theaters. I went to all three. I was in college then. It was amazing. Except, well, the remastered parts.
Then the prequels arrived and a dark sadness covered the earth. It's probably fair to say that the arrival and disappointment of the prequels was as disappointing as Sauron slowly sucking the life from Gondor. There was such hope for those films. Vader: The Early Years. Fett: The Early Years. The Death Star. Where did Luke and Leia come from. Who was their mom? Where did Ben Kenobi come from?
Seldom if any of these questions were appropriately answered. Fans were instead dealt Jar Jar, Digi-yoda and Hayden fucking Christiansen who rightfully so still has trouble getting work anywhere where people with memories live.
However, as much as the prequels may have been disappointing there is something to be said for it being Lucas' vision. That vision after all gave us everything we love. We can't forget that and we must respect it.
Conversely we now have two of the final three episodes in the can and neither of these episodes have very much at all to do with Lucas' original vision. Obviously thats a good thing but it also doesn't mean that just because Lucas isn't behind the wheel that whatever fanboy (guy named Ryan who insists on spelling it Rian) knows what he is doing either.
Most of my distaste for what Rian Johnson did in this film has to do with Luke Skywalker. You can totally understand why Mark Hamill got into it with Johnson over the story arc for Skywalker. How does possibly the single most important character in the history of cinema spend his last battle as a hologram? How does he suffer the same fate as Ben and lose control of such a promising young pupil?
Everyone is quick to point out how not derivative this latest episode is, whereas TFA was entrenched in nostalgia and clearly that couldn't be further from the truth. The film ends on Hoth. End of story.
Also what are those ice dogs and why do I care? Sure the Ewoks were arguably annoying and unconvincing as an army equipped to battle storm troopers but at least that fit in the story. And please don't tell me their reason for existing was to show everyone that there was a way out of the cave. You got 3P0 and R2 over there growing rust, you got a Jedi in Leia growing moss and none of them can tell that there is a way out?
In The Last Jedi, instead of spending the necessary time building upon a story that fit into the Star Wars galaxy that we have all spent decades crafting, instead invited all of us to begin giving a shit about a handful of new characters who we have no reason to sympathize with. Meanwhile J.J. Abrams spent all of TFA introducing us to other new characters that I was much more invested in and was hoping desperately to see them expanded upon.
But alas, it was not to be.
The purchase of the Star Wars franchise by Disney may have resulted in a big payday for Lucas but it resulted in the Mouse deciding that Lucas' original vision for the films wasn't as good as it could be.
I can't believe I'm defending him here but this galaxy was his baby. We are all guests in his house and The Last Jedi is not part of that story. At the end of the day I'm more angry at myself for once again spending money on a ticket to a film that isn't Star Wars. It never was, never can be, never will be and I wish I hadn't wasted my time with it.
It's a testament to the original films that I now spent time writing these thoughts down but that is the power of what we're talking about. Star Wars was everything to us and unless you are old enough to remember when those original three films were the only ones in existence you probably will never understand what it means to see their memory tarnished.
And with that said I am sure that when the next film arrives I will go to the theatre, pony up my $15 bucks, get my double-butter popcorn and enjoy the fact that I have two hours of darkness and silence away from my family.