Bittersweet Symphony: Thoughts on “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

I went and saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the eighth episode in the saga this past Thursday night.  I wanted to wait a few days A) to avoid spoiling for others (warning there may be spoilers in this post) and B) to ruminate on my thoughts of the film.

I titled this post “Bittersweet Symphony”.  Those that may catch that reference it is the title of a 90s song.  And I think that title sums up my feelings on The Last Jedi.  On it’s own, it’s a really good film.  But in comparison to the previous film (The Force Awakens) and even more so the saga as a whole, it is very bittersweet.

This is no fault of director Rian Johnson.  He made his film and I was impressed (that was the word I immediately thought of when walking out of the theater) by the decisions that he made and the path he took.  On it’s own, this film immediately found and went its own path.  In the context of the third trilogy, it feels like in many ways it departed (good bad or indifferent) from what was established in the previous film.  A lot of people have brought up these thoughts (dismissing Rey’s parents as nobodies, killing off Snoke with no real explanation of who he is and how big a threat he is) as well as other thoughts (not explaining where a lot of the resistance leaders were after TFA, killing of Captain Phasma with little screentime, etc) It felt like Rian Johnson took a lot of TFA and just scrapped it to tell his own story.  Which is fine, it’s his right as a storyteller to do that.

Hence the bittersweet feeling.  As I kid, I dreamed about what episode VII, VIII & IX would be like.  As a teenager I heartily read through the Thrawn trilogy and the Dark Empire graphic novels and a lot of the EU (Expanded Universe) books.  Even though it seemed like there would never be that sequel trilogy, there was all this other media that told the further adventures of Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, Lando, Wedge and the rest.

When Disney bought Lucasfilm from George Lucas and went away from his treatment of the sequel trilogy (he had written up a treatment) and went their own path, I don’t think I realized it at the time but I especially do now.  We will never (unless that treatment is turned into novels/graphic novels) know what George Lucas had in mind for the further Skywalker adventures.  While we get these new films and such (which I’m not complaining about and I do enjoy in their own right) it is sad that the EU that I loved growing up is dismissed and more importantly that George Lucas, the man who dreamed up this universe, never got to finish the story.  That would be like C.S. Lewis not getting to write the last 3 books of The Chronicles of Narnia or J.R.R. Tolkien not getting to finish The Lord of the Rings and someone else coming in to write those books.

I wonder if Disney wouldn’t have been better off just having Johnson direct this entire trilogy (like they’re doing with the new one after IX) than to come in after Abrams like he did and then discard a lot of things Abrams had developed.  Regardless, it is a film that has developed a lot of buzz (positive and negative) as the flashing “Opening weekend” lights have started to fade.

I am sure I will see it more times.  And I’m sure my thoughts and feelings about the film will continue to settle.  But I think the feeling of bittersweetness will stick around with this film (and I think in some ways it will do so with Episode IX as well).  I mentioned this before, for kids growing up, this is their Star Wars trilogy like for me the original trilogy was and for others the prequel trilogy.  They will view this trilogy differently from me and that’s okay.  For me, it reminds me of an “alternate timeline” and that somewhere else the EU or whatever Lucas had in mind are out there as well and are legitimate timelines of how the Star Wars saga continues.

There’s so much of a thought out there now that it’s extremes, you must absolutely love something or hate it.  That shouldn’t be the case.  People can have opinions (especially something subjective like movies and art) that cover a wide range of perspective.  When it comes to The Last Jedi, I can enjoy it as a film and still fill bittersweet about the story it tells in itself and the saga as a whole.

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Thursday Quote Day: Yoda

In honor of the new Star Wars film releasing today, here’s another quote from our favorite Jedi Master Yoda:

“When 900 years old you reach, look as good you will not.” (Yoda The Return of the Jedi)

Thoughts on the Second Trailer for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

Last night the second trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi dropped.  It dropped with only a few months before the film debuts in December and having watched it several times and had some time to think about it.  Here are some of my thoughts…

1.) I mentioned after watching the first trailer that the film has an “Empire” feel.  This one really cements that  Granted that’s to be expected with the training of Rey, the fight with AT-AT 2.0 (I know they have a name but can’t think of it off the top of the head) and what appears to be Kylo sort of asking Rey to join him ala Vader to Luke at end of Empire.

2.) Showing Finn in battle with Phasma is stark contrast to the first trailer which had him in a stasis pod which is good.

3.) I still don’t know what to think about Luke.  I’m less concerned with how they’ll treat Luke after this trailer but there is still that concern.  I guess part of it is coming in with the “Legends” stories still in my head of how they treated Luke post Return of the Jedi and how it appears he’s treated in the Disneymovieverse.

4). There were a few shots that looked like Rey had a white lightsaber…which I think would be good because that means she built her own lightsaber.  I could be wrong and she still has Anakin/Luke’s old blue lightsaber and the lighting was such to make the blade color seem white in some shots.  If she is to become a Jedi then she should build her own lightsaber.  But then I guess the argument is to be made in the film is she going to be a Jedi or is the order done now.

Overall this trailer sold me more on the film than the first trailer.  I’m still a little wary but we’ll see come December how things go.

Thursday Quote Day: Bart Simpson

For this week’s “Thursday Quote Day” and for Star Wars Day, here is a quote from Bart Simpson:

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, contrary to what you’ve just seen, war is neither glamorous nor fun. There are no winners, only losers. There are no good wars, with the following exceptions: The American Revolution, World War II and the Star Wars trilogy.” (Bart Simpson The Simpsons)

Thoughts on the “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” Trailer

Today the first trailer for Episode 8 in the Star Wars Trilogy The Last Jedi released.  It was a long time waiting for a trailer compared to Episode 7 The Force Awakens.  Since this is a first trailer this is just a glimpse into what’s in store but I do have some thoughts:

1.) There is an “Empire” feel to this trailer.  It feels like Rey will have her “Dagobah” time with Luke.  From the training to the “what do you see”? I do hope at some point if it’s this film or Episode IX that she builds her own lightsaber.  Every one else in the saga has built their own lightsaber, it would make sense and only be right that she constructs a new lightsaber just for her.

2.) There looks like there will be some sweet space battles.  That was one thing lacking in The Force Awakens was great space battles.  Hopefully that will be remedied in this film.

3.) Finn in stasis (or whatever that was) reminded me of Han in carbonite freeze.  I wonder how much of Finn in this film will be still unconscious/recovering and how much will be him participating.

4.) I’m guessing there will be more Poe which hopefully will be connected to the space battles.  More time with him and Black Squadron will be a definite plus.

5.) The “Jedi to end” line is the one that has me scratching my head and partly concerned with the track of the film (and Episode IX).  Granted that’s what the director Rian Johnson wants is to leave it so vague like that.  What I hope is that it doesn’t actually mean the end of the Jedi.  I think that would be a mistake and would be wrong.  In a way if that happened, the Emperor would have succeeded.  He wanted to get rid of all the Jedi and if Luke sees to its end then what the Emperor wanted to happen would’ve happened.  Maybe it’s a moment of crisis and with Rey the Order is restored.  I don’t know.  Out of all the things in the trailer that concerns me.

There are a lot of feelings.  I think the main one (and I tweeted a GIF of it) was “What?”  There are a lot of “what?” moments.  To be honest given how things are I’m very excited but I’m also a little anxious.  It feels like trusting someone to handle a very priceless artifact and seeing them carry it to you.  You’re excited to get it but at the same time worried they might get careless and drop it.  The verdict will come in December.