The Last Jedi is a heckuva movie, to echo the famously glowing review US President George W Bush gave the FEMA manager who handled a hurricane in New Orleans. It has broken everything it touched: It broke Luke Skywalker, it broke the critics, it broke China, it broke Star Wars itself, and now it’s broken the Internet. For the last month – since the end of December – there’s been an eerie silence spreading across pop culture news websites and social media. There’s also been a loud and angry fanbase, but the professional media have been deliberately silencing and diverting attention away form this.
It’s early to call, but I think this silence will in retrospect turn out to be a very large mistake.
Of course I may be terribly mistaken when I say this movie ‘broke Star Wars itself’. The First Franchise of Blockbuster Motion Pictures is hard to kill; George Lucas gave it a darn good shot with the Prequels and yet, like Han Solo in the Special Edition, it just dodged and came back stronger. We all assume Disney will be able to crank out five, six, ten of the things, Star Wars until the world ends. They’ve only made three so far. What’s one bad film, even assuming it is bad?
It’s just that, if you’ll pardon the expression, I have a bad feeling. If you squint past the professional critics and look at the ‘underground’ review sites (a good one is Rotten Tomatoes User Reviews) you see that for some people – and we still don’t know how many, but I’m one – this is a very, very bad movie. So bad it’s killed any desire even to watch the next one for obsessive completeness (nobody does obsessive completeness like Star Wars fans; the Prequels weeded out all the weaklings).
* was just dumb, it breaks my heart at how bad this is..
* Arrgh, the more I think about this movie. The more I get disappointed. Just like Star Trek into Darkness killed the Star Trek franchise . I think this movie just killed Star War
* Such a disappointment. I think many fans who watched and idolized Luke Skywalker when they were children will be repulsed by the weak, pointless ending of their childhood hero.
* Absolutely dire. Words escape me how truly abysmal this film is. My 40 year love affair with Star Wars is finally over.
* It leaves no investment for Episode 9. None. And this is allegedly part 2 of a trilogy. But it doesn’t advance the story, apart from one character (but only just).
I suspect these feelings being expressed are real because this is how I feel. For the first time in my life I have no desire to see another Star Wars movie, ever. Worse, the movie didn’t even end on a cliffhanger. It resolved all its threads; it left its protagonists (such as they are) with neither danger nor hope. We don’t like them, any of them. We feel no impulse to care about their lives beyond this point. There’s just… nothing left. All is vanity, folly and a chasing after the wind.
There’s a very curious, clinging quality to this movie. The more you think about it, the more it gives you a cold, sick, icky feeling… a web of chaos, from moments of crystalline perfect stupidity that TV Tropes calls “Fridge Logic” (wait, how could Rose and Finn get to Canto Bight if the entire problem they were trying to solve was that no ships could leave the convoy….) spiralling into straight up “Fridge Horror” in an expanding fractal of grossness and terror (wait, he’s become Uncle Owen… wait, so Luke not only never married Mara Jade, but now his only partner is that walrus-cow monster… wait, DO we know WHAT biological purpose those things on the creature serve… wait, NOTHING in any of the first movies now matters… wait, Luke has become someone literally conducting book burning…. wait, Luke is also echoing that Imperial on the Death Star in the first movie, ‘the Jedi are extinct, their fire has gone out of the universe’, so the Empire was right all along… wait, since the Jedi are a symbol of religion, was there even an incredibly gross kind of ‘pedophile priest’ subtext going on…. wait, this movie tells children they don’t need to study in school, AND that their parents are junkers they’re better off without… wait, the OTHER moral lessons of this movie are ALSO ‘do EXACTLY what strange sketchy adults claiming authority tell you to do’, AND ‘better not to try anything, you’ll just fail’ AND ‘good and evil are illusions’ AND ‘the dark side has some good arguments and is really, really sexy’…. wait wait wait, all of this, they’re actually selling this as a movie for KIDS???)
None of these feelings are good things to walk out of a blockbuster movie with. They don’t always hit you right away, but they sneak up on you.
And yet the movie has sold $1.25 billion so far (except in China).
This phenomenon I think is interesting enough that I’m giving it a word: the flopbuster. I think we’re seeing something we’ve not quite yet seen: a movie that measured entirely by tickets sold and money earned, is a bona fide blockbuster. But there’s a quiet, delayed audience reaction – a little like mass food poisoning – of initial pleasure turning to sickness, violent retching and pain. And since it’s part of a $4 billion franchise, and it has the potential to kill that franchise stone dead, it will eventually be seen as a flop. But the true revelation of the audience distaste might not kick in until the next movie.
We’ve seen something similar, enough that it’s becoming a common phenomenon. Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman (the floppiness seen immediately in its box office, but confirmed in its sequel, Justice League). Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and Alien: Covenant (creative talent and themes distantly related and sharing a similar sense of gross ickiness with the new Star Wars team). JJ Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness (which also shares creative talent with this movie, in fact it’s starting to feel as if the Lost team broke Hollywood).
I think The Last Jedi, though, is going to be the mother of all flopbusters. For its thematic content, primarily, for all those Fridge Horror reasons described above. If I’m wrong, though and it doesn’t…. (shivers)
The more I think about this movie, the less I want to think about it. There’s a kind of chilly vileness that seeps out of its pores and just kind of settles in your soul. It’s like Alien, but wrapped in a happy Star Wars skin. Like the evil toys in Poltergeist.
But it’s also not an especially well-made movie, and that’s something else I’d like to talk about, because I mostly focused on its thematic conflicts – and the much more interesting problem of ‘what’s going on with the silenced discourse AROUND this movie?’ – in my first post.
I wish I didn’t have to talk about this recursively terrible movie! But I need its sick, sour aftertaste out of my head, and the professionals aren’t doing their job.
The movie is a pointlessly overweight two and a half hours. It breaks down into roughly eight mediocre-to-awful acts.
1. Escape from Not-Hoth
Right from the opening crawl this movie hits you with its cheapness, its laziness, its sheer bold-faced plagiarism. The Force Awakens was nearly a scene-for-scene remake of A New Hope; this movie immediately declares that yes, it’s going to do exactly the same thing with Empire Strikes Back. The Not-Deathstar is destroyed so of course the Not-Rebels are fleeing the Not-Empire, and they have to evacuate a Not-Hoth.
This cheapness is spiced up with parody, as Poe (a Luke/Han hybrid) prank calls Hux (a very, very weak Not-Tarkin) and then blows up all the things in a massively ridiculous ‘combat’ scene that has none of the slow-moving WW2 gravitas of the originals but feels like the worst of a disposable modern actioner.
Bombers are sent in against the Not-Imperial Fleet, which DOES have gravitas – a little too much – but it sells these weapons of war as dangerous to everyone on both sides of the conflict. They explode. A beautiful Rebel pilot
(take note, this will a theme) the Not-Imperials to win a brief tiny victory. We immediately begin to see war as a bad thing. Not a terrible instinct in itself, but it raises the question of what the movie will sell us as the solution to a Star War instead.
It immediately undercuts this, though: the problem is not war, it’s just that Poe was acting too much like a cinematic hero. The problem isn’t violence, it’s heroism and action. Poe has done pretty much what Luke did against the Walkers in Empire, but he’s demoted for it. The movie declares that it is not only going to slavishly repeat Empire – it’s going to mindlessly invert everything. It doesn’t ask if it should, if there are underlying themes that maybe shouldn’t be tampered with. It has all the moral soul of a random sentence generator Twitter bot.
(We never know, nor will we ever find out, what has happened to the entire legitimate government and military of the galaxy. A more obvious and yet more interesting inversion of Empire would have begun with Leia’s forces being the massed fleet flushing the remnants of the First Order from their hidden base. You know, just like what happened in our real world after September 11, 2001, which the Not Deathstar from the last movie was a callback to. Then we’d get all sorts of interesting moral questioning about the relative merits of power! But no.)
Finn awakes, not that it matters, because this is a movie where nothing anyone does matters.
2. Not-Vader and Not-Palpatine
We meet our Not-Palpatine, Snoke. He’s a guy who looks exactly like the Emperor, in a yellow bathrobe. Is he one of the Emperor’s clones? Is he the Emperor’s long-lost Sith Master? We dunno, and the movie will never tell us. He’s just a guy. He hates on Kylo Ren, our sad, teenage goth Vader-wannabe, for being a Vader wannabe. Kylo hates on his precious Vader mask and breaks it. He says he has a hyperspace tracker, which is a thing that the very first Star Wars movie introduced (how was Vader able to track the Falcon to Yavin? a hyperspace tracker), but apparently this movie has forgotten even that and thinks hyperspace tracking is some hot new technology.
Adam Driver does a great job with a terribly derivative character. He’s a pretty good Anakin Skywalker! If the Prequels didn’t exist he’d be an interesting, original (though bad) character. But they do, and so every time we look at Kylo we just think ‘budget Anakin’.
3. Not-Luke on Not-Dagobah
Rey meets Luke, and once again our spirits fall as we realise we’re going to play out the Dagobah sequence, but inverted. Luke is Dark Yoda. Not remotely cheerful; he does not point to the Force and say ‘luminous beings are we’, but that ‘the Jedi only had hubris’. (He presumably considers his own redeeming of his father’s soul in the name of the Jedi to have been a futile accomplishment, but this is a movie where parents are to be hated and discarded). All this leaves very little for Rey to do; where Luke could contrast his impatience against Yoda’s quirkiness and calmness, Rey only has her… what exactly DOES Rey have? Or want? She wants the war to end, I suppose? The war that’s been running for all of five minutes? She kinda wants her friends to win? I suppose? But she’s so thin a character that we are never sure quite what motivates her.
To say that Luke and Rey have zero chemistry would be to oversell their relationship. They have less than no chemistry together. Luke is bitter, angry, fearful, gross and creepy. Everything you don’t want a teacher to be. Luke swigs alien milk fresh from a walrus-cow monster’s udder to… dissuade her, I suppose? To tell her to go home, that he is thoroughly broken by one student’s fall to the darkside, that will never again become any kind of Force user? It becomes the movie’s iconic moment, in the worst way.
(This is doubly heartbreaking if you’ve seen Mark Hamill and Daisy Ridley as themselves, outside the movie. All those on-set promotional pictures. They smile! They laugh! They obviously like each other and get on well! Daisy carries Mark on his back like Yoda! They are both warm and human and beautiful and talented actors and NONE of that finds its way into the movie. None of it. It’s been etched out with a stone chisel of grimness and darkness and washed with burning acid. Luke scowls and blusters and eyeball-bulges and leers. Rey is stoic. All the goodness, gone.)
Rey badgers Luke until he angrily agrees to give her a lesson. He tells her the dark and the light are both equal (the exact opposite of what Yoda told him; but the same thing that Palpatine told Anakin, to corrupt him. Luke has decided that Palpatine was right, I guess. Thirty years later, the Dark Side has finally won.) Rey meditates and splits rocks with the force of her mojo. That scares Luke because she’s as powerful as Ben Solo was. Rey sees a dark hole in a vision, and is almost literally pulled into it. Luke is even more scared. “You went straight for the dark!” he says. He’s just told her that the dark and the light are exactly the same, so why any of this dark side stuff worries him we’re not sure. He doesn’t do anything about it, though. He doesn’t care about anything.
Rey, stoic and emotionless as she will remain throughout the movie, ignores Luke and goes to find the dark hole, down under the island. She is literally pulled in. Inside she sees a (presumably evil?) mirror. She asks to see her parents (which we’ve had no indication she cares about, as we have no indication she cares about anything) and we see herself infinitely reflected. Is she a clone? That would be a far more interesting answer than this movie cares to give us. But who knows. Is this an evil vision? Is it a good vision? Should we read this as an uplifting message that Rey is perfect and alone in the world and needs no human interaction? Or is it a dark temptation to BE alone and cut off valuable human contact? We never know, and the movie is immediately bored. Rey shows no emotional reaction to this, never asks what this vision means, and Luke never reacts either. How does she get out? What with being force-pulled in and all? We don’t know. Maybe the entire rest of the movie is her Darkside Force dream. We can only hope.
Luke explains that Ben Solo turned to the dark side because… well, we never find out. Because Snoke, I guess. Luke doesn’t care to find out or to tell us. But Luke went to see him in his bedroom one night because he ‘felt his darkness’, exposed his, uh, lightsaber, and… oh god, the subtext… and Ben became Kylo and burned everything down, and Luke ran away to Jedi Island to milk walrus-cows and worship the Dark Side and dream of destroying all traces of the Jedi and just generally be terrible.
Chewie tries to roast and eat a Porg, which is a cute birdlike thing, but all its friends are sad at him, so he wisely becomes vegetarian. I mean I would too in his case, but it’s just another little layer of fridge horror when you realise these things might be sentient and the directors literally just put this creature-murder scene into the movie as a joke and…. iiicck.
4. Not-Vader and Not-Padme
Meanwhile, Rey is getting psychic flashes of Kylo Ren, who is kind, reasonable, discursive, everything Luke isn’t. She and Kylo don’t know why this is happening, they assume it’s some kind of weird Force thing. Rey initially reacts badly (firing her blaster) but comes to… be embarrassed by seeing Kylo half-naked. He has a very well-built torso. The movie really wants to sell us Kylo as the most interesting, three-dimensional character – and he is, even though he’s psychologically as well developed as the vampire from Twilight.
Kylo tells us the true moral of the movie. “Let the past die, kill it if you have to.” He’s had experience in doing just that. We want to agree; Luke’s been saying exactly the same thing.
Kylo tells Rey to despise her parents, which were her one redeeming feature of interest: “They were nobodies. Alcoholic junk traders who sold you for drink. You’re better off without them.” Respect for parents and generations has been Star Wars’s running theme, the thing that separates it from thousands of forgotten lesser movies. In one stroke it is gone.
Kylo casually negs Rey to pick her up. “You’re nothing, but not to me.” We’re meant to find him interesting and complex and attractive. He makes us want to vomit.
This movie. I do not even. There are not words for the badness. The fractal, cascading layers of badness within badness.
This movie IS Kylo Ren. It thinks it is Rey but it is Kylo. Sulky, hateful, born to heroes and all the love and money in the world, showered with praise. No reason in a galaxy to have gone bad, but just did. For lulz, I guess. Sneering at us to love it or hate it even though we feel nothing, sneering at the past, preserving all the wrong things, knowing it is nothing like the idols it worships, despising itself for worshipping them and finally smashing everything to bits in a wave of hate.
This movie is hate. Hate is the only sincere emotion that propels it.
Finally Rey decides she’s going to go turn Kylo to the Light Side and Luke does the Yoda “not ready you are!” thing and Rey does the “fire up the converters” thing and goes to the arms of the dark side boyfriend she doesn’t love, or at least is kidding herself she doesn’t love.
Oh and then Luke is so angry about this (despite this being literally the marriage of the light and dark, two sides of the same force, etc, that he’s enthused about to her) that he goes to burn down the Jedi Tree which holds the ancient Jedi Books which he’s for some reason never read though he came to this island to vanish and die so why did he even pick the most famous Jedi site in the galaxy if he’s just going to hate on the Jedi like would Martin Luther go retire to the Vatican just so he could sneer at the library without reading it and then burn it all down ARGH THIS MOVIE SO WRONG FRACTALLY WRONG.
But Yoda appears and burns the tree for him, which is kind of cool because Yoda trolls better than anyone. Yoda tells Luke that Rey already possesses the knowledge in the books, which is funnier in retrospect because in the end we see Rey literally stole the books, but in the moment it plays that 1. Rey needs nobody because she’s Awesome Perfect Action Barbie Girl whose sole life lesson is ‘learn to need nobody, you are already everything’, 2. Nothing she did since coming to the island mattered EXCEPT getting picked up by a skeevy loser guy, 3. Teachers and schools are totally stupid, kids. Go have a high school fling instead!
5. The Slow-Speed Chase
Meanwhile the Not-Rebel Fleet is being chased, incredibly slowly and pointlessly, by the Not-Imperial Fleet, in a sequence which is obviously designed to rip off the Falcon’s hiding in the asteroid belt in Empire – a sequence that was much more interesting in the original. There are no cool space worms here. Not even Mynocks. Literally just two fleets parked there side by side, one shooting and the other with fuel running out.
Kylo blows up the fighter bay and ruins Poe’s X-wing. He tries to blow up the bridge but hesitates. It doesn’t matter (because nothing in this movie matters). Admiral Ackbar, who we didn’t even know was in this movie until now, dies instantly. Just for fun, I guess. That’s…. that’s up there with shooting Jimmy Olsen in Batman v Superman, right? Just a completely gratuitous, needless death, just for…. for the fans? It’s sure not for new watchers! But this is a movie that prides itself on making the fans angry, so… who knows. Just cold and icky and cynical and pointless.
Leia floats in space. Dead, we think. A great sendoff for Carrie, we think. But no! Her eyes flicker, she Force-pulls herself to the hangar door, which is opened right onto a hallway (how do you literally open an inner airlock door like that, what) and…. after this amazing feat of Force usage, she spends the rest of the movie in a coma. Because… no, there is no because. Because Nothing Matters.
A purple-haired admiral who we’ve never seen before takes Leia’s lines and is angry with Poe. He wants there to be a plan. She tells him no, he doesn’t need to know the plan. The Not-Rebel fleet is running out of fuel and can only jump to hyperspace once. But the Not-Imperials are tracking them, somehow.
5. The Useless Not-Cloud City Subplot
Meanwhile, Finn has a tracking device he’s somehow got from Leia (it’s half of a necklace, Rey has the other half, it’s so Rey can find them? It reaches across the galaxy; it’s quantum, I guess. But why does she even need to find a random ship in space, don’t they have rendezvous points and bases???), which we the audience think might be how they’re being tracked. So get it off the ship! we think. Finn goes to do exactly that. A young maintenance tech, Rose, stops him and fangirls at him and then hates at him and Tasers him and ruins everything. The tracking device is never mentioned again. Finn forgets he has it. Leia forgets she had it. Rey never needs it. It falls into the black hole of lost plot threads.
Poe gets involved and tells the two to take a spaceship, which has an individual hyperspace drive and can’t be tracked (wait, then why is the fleet not using these to evacuate everyone? For that matter, why don’t all the ships simply jump in different directions? They can’t all be tracked, surely? But none of this will never be mentioned again) and go to a casino planet, to find a spy/codecracker, to…. honestly, this is all incredibly idiotic in the extreme… to eventually get onto the bad guys’ ship (wait, don’t they have point defense? won’t they just shoot them down…? and the fleets are still following anyway and don’t they only have like an hour’s fuel ARGH MY BRAIN NO STAY IN MY HEAD) and turn off the tracker gizmo, which is conveniently only on one Not-Imperial ship, and we know this incredibly strategic-level secret how? you know, the exact kind of secret data that drove the original Star Wars and cost an entire Rebel operation in Rogue One? I dunno, we just guessed or Finn’s magic janitor skills let him know all the secrets instantly SO INCREDIBLY STUPID ARGH.
This entire sequence just felt like it was lifted from an entirely different draft of an entirely different movie, one where there was a different McGuffin and it made SENSE. Here, in the place it’s been shoved and crudely wired in, it does NOT. But anyway. The space chase is so boring we’re glad of a little diversion. Adventure at last!
So we use our ridiculous plot-breaking spaceship and go to the casino planet, and it’s basically Tattooine from Phantom Menace, there are some not very weird aliens in a casino and space camels and space camel jockeys who we are told are slaves (wait, so absolutely nothing has changed from the Phantom Menace era, what) and Finn and Rose make rather a cute couple but then Rose lectures him on how the casino people are all weapons traders selling to both sides (literally what, THAT IS NOT HOW WARS WORK, seriously, look up World War II which is the template for the whole Star Wars deal, WEAPONS FACTORIES ARE NATIONALISED in big wars, YOU DO NOT SELL TO BOTH SIDES, seriously, LOOK AT THE ENTIRE COLD WAR, AMERICA BUILT MISSILES, RUSSIA BUILT MISSILES, THEY DID NOT SELL THEM TO EACH OTHER, good lord, do ANY reading or just even be born before 1989 or just Google ‘arms control’ and this whole stupid movie plot falls apart). She lectures Finn on this as if he’s known no suffering in his life. Update: Finn was literally abducted as a kid, he was a literal slave and he started Force Awakens seeing his friends die in front of him. Yeah. And he’s also a black man. But he needs a lecture on privilege to take him down a peg. Okay. This movie.
(This MUST have been written for two entirely different characters, in an entirely different movie? In a first draft. And just cut and pasted here. No thought given.)
Then we’re arrested literally because of a parking ticket, which would be a great gag in Family Guy’s Blue Harvest, which is what this movie half of the time thinks it is. Then we meet the wrong code cracker (which is fine because the real one was a ridiculous Sean Connery ripoff) and he’s Benicio Del Toro and he’s dodgy and he ends up betraying us all. But not before dropping his philosophical wisdom on us: the Not-Empire and Not-Rebels, they’re all the same, all corrupt, better not to get involved, just serve yourself.
It’s literally Rose’s philosophy AND Dark Luke’s AND Kylo’s AND Giggling Arsonist Yoda’s AND probably Action Figure Barbie Needs Nobody Rey’s (if she had one), which means it’s probably right? But coming from this guy we’re supposed to think it’s wrong? Whatever.
But there are cute slave kid camel jockeys and cute space camels and so we go to the slave kids and free the…. camels? Wait what? Yeah. We free the camels, but not the kids, who will of course be horribly punished or killed. It’s almost exactly like a terrible replay of the most terrible part of Phantom Menace, the bit where the Jedis gamble the life of a kid and then take the kid away and never come back to free his mother. The kid then turning into Space Hitler because of this. But we’re supposed to see freeing the camels as uplifting. Okay.
The space camels rampage everywhere! Randomly, pointlessly, violently. They break stuff. They smash casino tables. They probably kill innocent people. It’s great fun! It’s literally a riot! It’s deep and political! Perhaps it’s a metaphor for the financial crash! It’s for kids!
So summary: this entire subplot comes from the wrong movie, misunderstands the history of war and its own universe, achieves nothing, and it ends up just wasting Finn and Rose (who it’s already made seem petty and horrible because of her wrong-headed lectures), eventually dropping them on Kylo’s ship via the Hand of Plot. The lesson is: Kids, don’t try anything! OBEY AUTHORITY AT ALL COSTS. DON’T REBEL. DON’T BE CREATIVE. DON’T DO ANYTHING. OR IF YOU DO, JUST MAKE RANDOM CHAOS. BUT IT’S ALL MEANINGLESS ANYWAY. FEAR. HORROR. HATE YOUR PARENTS. DESTROY THE SACRED. ALL THINGS MUST END. RUIN WILL COME BY YOUR OWN HAND.
It’s okay! It’s a movie for little kids! Put it on while the parents are out of the room!
6. The Not-Emperor’s Throne Room
So Not-Luke flies to not even bother rescuing her friends, they don’t even rate on her radar, but to turn her not-even-boyfriend (Finn doesn’t rate on her radar either) to the Light. Which, as previously established, is EXACTLY the same as the Dark, so there’s really like no point is there? Just burn it all down burn it all down burn it.. ahem. Anyway.
She lands on the ship (Kylo waves her in, I guess, but why do so many random driveby spaceships keep landing on the Not-Empire’s battleships in the middle of a fricking WAR? It’s just silly). They meet and go to Budget Bathrobe Emperor’s throne room, which LITERALLY appears to be one of Ralph McQuarrie’s rejected concept art sketches for the ROTJ Imperial Throne room.
I mean literally, this is a thing these movies do. Just steal old-school Star Wars concept art and pretend they came up with it.
But this one is worse than the ROTJ throne room. It looks cheaper. You know how the ROTJ throne room looked kinda disappointing, like compared with even A New Hope’s deathstar there was no sense of scale, it was just this one tiny set?
This one looks worse. Flat, tiny, and the walls and floor just all painted red.
So. Bad. So cheap. So fake.
It all goes as well as you might expect. Not-Emperor says almost exactly the ROTJ Emperor’s lines. He’s been manipulating Rey and Kylo’s Force chats all along! And watching? Their budding young love. To, uh, what, just, okay, moving right along. He levitates and Force-tortures Rey a bit (torturing the girl is a repeated theme of these new movies. For kids!) She doesn’t show much emotion. Not-Emperor tells Kylo to kill her. He switches on his lightsaber, and in a surprise move surprising exactly no-one, kills Bathrobe Emperor instead. Just slices him in half. Well done. There’s an entire potentially-interesting villain down the drain, just like Darth Maul in Phantom Menace. Didn’t we learn a thing from that movie? No we did not. In fact we’re trying to reproduce all the Prequels’ flaws as well as photocopying the Original Trilogy AND insulting them, it seems.
There’s a little bit of mutual massacring of some red armour guys, played like a dance, just for bonding. A perfect date! Blood everywhere. Red blood, red armour, red walls. Is this movie trying to tell us something about the futility of war? Apparently not. It just likes a literal bloodbath.
It’s for kids!
Wait, we wonder. Were THOSE maybe the Knights of Ren? Did Kylo just massacre his actual darkside Jedi school friends so he could impress his junker nobody girlfriend? We don’t know and the movie doesn’t care enough to tell us. But if they were, man, that was cold, even for Dad-Killer Kylo.
It’s for kids!
So world’s most boring villain just gone like that, does that mean Kylo has turned to the side of lightness and smooching? No of course he hasn’t. He just wanted his boss’s job. Oh. Okay.
But he gives her the Vader speech! Like literally. “Join me, and together we can end this destructive conflict and rule the galaxy, as abusive goth emo negging MRA role model boyfriend and, useless junker nobody girlfriend! We will crush Hux! Who a snail in a coma could crush. Look, it’s not my fault the stakes here are a little smaller than in the real movies.”
She considers this for a moment, and says…
—- ZIIIIIPP TIME STOP REAL TALK TIME —
Okay. So right here, the movie throws away its ONLY interesting card.
What if Rey said yes?
It would make PERFECT thematic sense! Luke’s walrus-milk swigging cynicism about dark and light being the same! Death bombers of boomy doom being the badness of war! Cynical lockpicker guy’s “it’s all a rich people scam”! All of it would come together! Dark boy and light girl embrace and end the conflict!
IS SHE RIGHT OR ISN’T SHE! WILL HE TURN OR WON’T HE! WILL THEY BE BAD! WILL THEY BE GOOD! WHAT WILL HAPPEN we’d all be like EEEEEEK THAT’S A CLIFFHANGER DAMN THIS MOVIE I HATE IT BUT I MUST SEE THE NEXT
— ZIIIIP —
Nah, we’re not doing ANY of that because that would be interesting and give us a cliffhanger and this is the Movie About Futility And Meaninglessness, Told In The Most Clinically Boring Way. She just says ‘no’ and
7. Hyperspace Suicide!!!!
Then the terrible purple-haired admiral whose plan was literally just to cloak some escape pods (WHICH WE’VE ALREADY USED TO HYPERSPACE TO SPACE CAMEL CITY WHY DID YOU NEVER USE THEM ARGLEBARGLE SO STUPID) and get to a stupid abandoned Hoth Clone base (WHICH THE NOT-EMPIRE CAN LITERALLY SEE IS RIGHT THERE SERIOUSLY PLANETS ARE NOT HARD TO SPOT HOW STUPID ARE THEY ALL) and, I dunno, she hadn’t thought further than that! Poe’s plan was so much better! But no, Poe tried a mutiny but it didn’t work so Leia shot him with a stun gun and then Purple Admiral
(There is a LOT of suicide in this movie. Suicide bombing, even. It’s okay! It’s for little kids! One more layer to the unfolding Fridge Horror fractal.)
Kylo’s ship in S U P E R A W E S O M E ANIME SILENT SLOW MOTION! Cutting it right in half! MEGA KILL!!! DEATH FROM ABOVE!!!!
wait wasn’t this looking like an antiwar movie at the start? with the bombers and all?
NO WAY BRO GIGA KILL!!!! KILL ALL THE THINGS!!! SOO AWESOME!!!! DEVIL FINGERS!!!! MAXIMUM OVERKILL!!! ROCK!!!
wait, what, shouldn’t it have done a lot more than that, and wait, doesn’t this break hyperspace forever, just like that pointless interstellar beaming JJ Abrams put in the new Star Treks, yes of course it does but never mind
IT LOOKS AWESOME!!!! JUST LIKE DARTH MAUL’S DOUBLE BLADED LIGHTSABER! AMIRITE!!! YEAH!!! KEWL!!!
and yet this warp-factor suicide bombing (it’s for kids!) doesn’t COMPLETELY destroy the ship, it just bumps it a bit and there’s some fires, so Finn and Rose can fight Phasma (you remember her? The completely useless toy-insert super-stormtrooper from Force Awakens, who literally only comes back to this one to die again) and Rey escapes Twilight Boyfriend and we jump straight ahead to
8. Escape from Not-Hoth, Part II: Salt Flats Boogaloo
To maximise the leverage on this movie’s sublime creative bankruptcy, we get to reenact the battle of Hoth – AGAIN – yes, which we just did, the ‘we literally cannot not imagine anything for ourselves’ symbol with which we started the movie.
We land on a planet called Crait. Not Krayt, which is an actual word from Star Wars, but Crait. “It rhymes”, as George Lucas would say.
There are no Krayt Dragons on Crait, because that would be cool. It has some kind of foxes instead. Blink and they’re gone.
It’s white. It has a rebel base on it. The Not-Empire has Imperial walkers. It looks exactly like Hoth. It’s “not Hoth”, but really, it’s Hoth. It’s probably literally another unused production sketch from Empire.
It’s salt, not snow, and there’s red dust underneath so BLOOD SO MUCH BLOOD ALL WILL BE BLOOD THE END OF DAYS THE BLOOD MOON CALLS ALL SHALL END IN HORROR
(it’s for kids!)
and the Not-Rebels are holed up in this base and they have skimmers exactly like the Hoth ones but without guns and with a useless foot so they can STIR UP THE BLOOD RED TIDES OF DOOOOOM
(it’s for kids!)
and okay so some of them have skimmers? But the others can’t get out! They’re trapped! There is absolutely positively no way out except the front door, because that’s totally how you design military bases, and the Walkers are coming (despite there being no planetary shield) and they’re bringing up, of all things, a stupid miniature Death Star Laser Cannon (wait, they have THOSE now? Doesn’t that break all the universe too? Are these on all the First Order’s ships? Why don’t they use them in battles? Does the Republic have these? What?) but no they’ll only use it as a battering ram, literally they’ll call it a Battering Ram Cannon (SOOOO STUPID is this Lord of the Rings? In Space? is this literally what we’re trying to do now?)
and all the skimmers, with bits literally falling off, are racing towards the walkers to…. do what, exactly? Use harsh language? Who knows. This is The Movie Where Nothing Means Anything, and anyway Finn gets a better idea and decides to suicide ram
(suicide! It’s for kids!)
the laser cannon, because at least that will HELP, and he’s almost about to but Rose knocks him away, which, great for those two, I guess, except that Finn probably still likes Rey, not that there’s been any indication of that anywhere in this movie. “We’ll win this war not by fighting what we hate, but by saving what we love!” says Rose, kissing him, in an incredibly awkward kiss and an incredibly awkward sentence that is supposed to sum up this movie that has been ENTIRELY about burning books, desecrating ancient religious sites, despising parents, ignoring teachers, killing mentors. So much saving and loving has gone on in this movie.
The laser cannon melts the door (why don’t they just fire it again? But it will never be mentioned again) and suddenly Luke appears!
Did he bring his X-Wing? We don’t know! He hugs Leia (who has done absolutely nothing all movie except be glum and despairing and shoot the one proactive and hopeful character, Poe). He stands in front of Hux’s stupid Hoth-surplus Imperial Walker and taunts him! They shoot! There’s laserfire everywhere! Luke must be dust! “Did you get him?” says Hux’s lieutenant dryly. Nope! Luke is untouched! Kylo appears and fights him with a lightsaber! Luke just taunts him. Strike him down and he’ll just be a ghost and haunt him like his father Han! (Who we have not seen as a ghost, and who has not haunted his son.) “See you around kid.”
It’s kinda cool! But meaningless! It does nothing! And Luke was just… delaying them? While the others escape through a hole they previously didn’t see was there, but Rey suddenly landed her Falcon and Force-pushed the boulders blocking it! That’s it, her ONE contribution to this ENTIRE movie was to lift some boulders, that they could have just blown up with a single hand grenade? And…. wait, the entire Not-Rebellion now fits on the Falcon? That’s called ‘losing all your troops’, I think?
Never mind! We have a hard-won moment of meaningfulness! Kylo and Rey share one last Force moment! He really, really wants her! He’s sad! So sad! He’s the most interesting character in this movie and he’s a genocidal teenage Twilight vampire boy. But she’s, nope. That would be an emotion and she doesn’t do them. The Falcon door closes and “the spark that will ignite hope in the galaxy” (what? how? what part of any of this utterly futile nonsense has even LOOKED like hope?) lifts away! Through the vast Not-Imperial fleet that’s still right there in orbit, but we just don’t care.
And then we see Luke, still on his walrus-cow planet. It was all fake. Fakey fake fake. He made a Force hologram and only pretended to be awesome. He’s actually useless. And he just wants to spread a nonsense story about how great Jedi are, even though he hates Jedi and wants them to die and watched as Yoda burned their temple and didn’t teach Rey anything except futility and bitterness and hate and Palpatine’s philosophy that the light side and the dark side are the same.
SO STUPID. SO POINTLESS.
But there’s more. And then he dies. Of Force suicide, I guess
(suicide! futility! falsehood! it’s for kids!)
and twin suns shine and it’s so beautiful and so pointless and so stupid.
Luke’s dead and with him all of Star Wars, right back to 1977, because everything in this movie was stupid and wrong and terrible and meaningless and accomplished less than nothing and the Empire was right all along.
But wait! One last scene!
Space Camel Slave Kid, looking up at the stars on Casino Planet, with a Republic ring that Rose gave him, force-pulls a broom (exactly like Anakin Skywalker) and starts sweeping the Space Camel stables and, no doubt, dreaming of genocide and galactic conquest and Jedi youngling murder, if there were any Jedi left which there aren’t because Rey sure isn’t just because she stole some books she probably can’t even read. (Can you read ancient Sanskrit?)
It’s all a beautiful circle, you see. Like a zero.
This movie cares so little for any of its main characters, that just to bring that point home it’s going to close, for its one final iconic image, on a character who wasn’t one of our main group (who we know nothing much about anyway). Just to say ‘haha! The Force could be anyone! Interesting things could be anywhere! But certainly not anyone we want you to get to know or care about! And anyway it’s still probably Space Hitler. Kids, don’t dream. Dreams are bad. The monsters come when you dream. See ya round, kid.’
It all adds up to nothing.
Well, nothing and a sick, icky taste in your mind, that gets worse and creepier the more you think about it. And everything good that once was Star Wars, gone.
This movie. Please let it just stop.
Fortunately, the real universe is kinder than the cinematic one, and it stops.
I’m sorry you had to read this. I had to write it just for personal therapy, to try to wash the ick off my soul. I watched this movie, and I’m sorry I did, and I hope whoever was responsible doesn’t make any more like it. They can’t fix what they’ve done, but maybe they can stop damaging anything else?
If there’s justice in the universe, please don’t let history call this movie ‘good’.