In Theaters Now: The Last Jedi

Achariya and I had a ripping discussion on The Last Jedi today. Yes, it begins with light fangirling over Adam ‘Bae Vader’ Driver, but that doesn’t last long.

Achariya and I had a ripping discussion on The Last Jedi today. Yes, it begins with light fangirling over Adam ‘Bae Vader’ Driver, but that doesn’t last long. Tonight we’ll be seeing ‘Darkest Hour’ and will have something up on that tomorrow or Wednesday. May the Force Be With You!

Spoilers Below the Cut!

ACHA: I am watching Adam Driver clips today because reasons.

JEN: “Can you put on a towel or something.”  Rey is made uncomfortable by his flawless skin.

ACHA: But you know what that reminds me of? Men who send shirtless pictures “accidentally.”

JEN: See, I thought it was Snoke who was randomly connecting them. Which somehow makes it hilarious he would connect them then, when Ren’s fresh out of the shower and glistening. I can see Snoke snickering through his weird lopsided head…

ACHA: You know what, that is bizarre. Does Snoke even understand Unresolved Sexual Tension? But I think Snoke was lying. I think they were connected very naturally before that. Or — maybe I believe too many Buzzfeed conspiracies.

JEN: I think they were connected by their use of the force, but neither would have been strong enough to ‘transmit’ like that on their own, as Ren says at one point.

ACHA: Oh wait not Buzzfeed. The article I was reading was from Elite Daily. I think the quote I remembered was this one:

Despite Snoke claiming that it was he who connected the two of them, their connection clearly went past what Snoke envisioned, which was mostly an entrapment to bring Rey to the Dark Side and give him Skywalker.

JEN: I think we’re both right — Snoke saw the fires and stoked them but failed to recognize it was beyond his control. And I liked how Kylo killing him was foreshadowed by how he killed Han – in both situations Ren surrendered the lightsaber but a last-minute rotation killed the receiver. It underscores the kind of modern-day villain he is: one who’ll use lies, deceit and betrayal rather than brute force. Vader never pulled that because he was confident in both his power and his ability to bend people to his will. Ren isn’t that at all.

ACHA: I hadn’t thought about that. Nice parallel.

JEN: Also… Sweaty sexual tension.

ACHA: While I find Adam Driver sexy as all hell, his Kylo Ren hits me in the place that distrusts Men Online. I loved Helen O’Hara’s description of him in her The Pool review:

And then there’s Driver’s Kylo Ren, a walking, Force-wielding Reddit board. He’s still lashing out in uncontrollable rage at anyone nearby, still terrified of being beaten by a girl and still deeply, desperately insecure despite his (over)achievements. Kylo is a portrait of wounded male pride and toxic masculinity, desperate to prove himself against… well, he’s not entirely sure and he may not even care.

JEN: I can get with that. Absolutely. His whole ‘You’re nothing to anyone… except me’ is the ultimate neg, as Chuck Wendig discusses in his review. Also, this morning I was reading something that pointed out that Luke doesn’t leave footprints during his fight on Crait, and I was like OH MY GOD I WAS A FOOL FOR NOT NOTICING.

ACHA: That’s right, especially since there was so much fuss made about red footprints whenever anyone moved the salt.

JEN: And ALSO I read that Mark Hamill was 64 when he appeared in The Force Awakens – one year older than Alec Guinness was when he played Ben Kenobi in New Hope! How weird is that?

ACHA: And back then I thought of Obi Wan as ancient, older than the hills.

JEN: Me too! I wonder how they’re going to handle Leia’s death in the next one.

ACHA: That was truly the best bait and switch. “We’re going to kill a Skywalker!” — The other one dies.

JEN: I am going to sob hysterically when I see Luke as a force ghost.

ACHA: I feel like Luke wasted his best years living amid the porgs, and want to know if he’ll redeem himself in force-ghost form.

JEN: I hope so. Subject change: the only storytelling problem I can see is with Hux – I can believe he’s in charge of the First Order at 30, that he’s ruthless and power hungry enough to have made it that far, but I can’t believe he’d be that capable AND dumb enough not to know how to manipulate an emotional wreck like Kylo Ren.

ACHA: Yeah, I didn’t get the feeling that the First Order was very powerful, especially after Snoke dies basically by accident. Yes, Kylo moved the sword to cut him in half, but didn’t that seem too easy? I feel like the movie didn’t earn his death enough.

JEN: See, I liked it because it establishes that Snoke was never the REAL villain – he was all smoke and mirrors and a weird lopsided head anyway. Seriously I can’t let go of his head. It was like somebody got halfway through a jack-o-lantern, gave up, and dropped it.

ACHA: Hm, that’s an interesting point. Also that maybe there is no true “villain” anymore. One of the best parts of the film for me was listening to Rose after she saves Finn from nearly dying a heroic death. She says something like, “We aren’t going to win by killing what we hate, we’ll win by saving what we love.” And that seems to be the central message of this new movie — to look beyond good and bad.

JEN: Indeed! Going back to Snoke’s death: it subverted that ‘elderly mentor’ trope all the other SW movies have. And since Luke died, Snoke had to die too only because Rey and Kylo are two entirely new types of force-users. They seem to be moving toward a more nuanced understanding of the force rather than absolutes of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ – which if you think about it makes sense. There’s a point at some point in the prequels where Obi-Wan says ‘Only a Sith deals in absolutes’ which means the Jedi have to have some concept of moral relativism (killing is wrong, unless you are preventing a killer from killing more people). So Rey and Kylo have to be alone in their journey of discovery in the next movie, as Luke was after Obi-Wan and Yoda passed.

ACHA: Even Luke was looking for that more nuanced understanding. His enormous regret was instinctively drawing his sword when he sensed the dark side in Kylo Ren. And — that was a very interesting moment of self discovery that sent him to uselessly live with porgs.

JEN: Indeed! Acting before thinking – he was always a little too impulsive. Now he’s milking giant camel cow things. “I’ve seen your routine. You’re not busy.” ~ Rey, casting Force Truth-Lightning.

ACHA: It was a true mirror of Obi Wan “failing” Anakin. Oh god blue milk.

JEN: “HERE’S BLUE MILK IN YOUR EYE, FANS!” ~ Mark Hamill, probably.

ACHA: I loved the look on Rey’s face: “I’m only drinking soy from now on.” But circling back to something you said earlier, my favorite parts of the movie were when it moved beyond that very basic and simplistic understanding of good and evil that the previous six movies espoused. My favorite character was Benicio Del Toro’s “DJ” (short for “Don’t Join,” apparently) — he teaches Finn an important lesson about good and evil too. That moment where he cycles through all of the weapons that the owner of the stolen ship sold — many to the First Order, and one to the Resistance. Neither side is good.

JEN: Yes! And more to the point, that interchange and betrayal was further development for Finn. Even going back to TFA, Finn’s motivations are very simple: he either wants to get away from the First Order, or save Rey. The Resistance doesn’t interest him – very like Han in the original trilogy. People who are complaining about the middle third of the movie being slow or uninteresting are missing the important point: this is Finn’s part of the Hero’s Journey (and Rose’s too), but it’s out of order from what we’re used to seeing because of his being press-ganged into the First Order at a young age. He’s seeing the hypocrisy yes, but he’s also feeling it firsthand by DJ’s betrayal and Rose’s self-sacrifice.

ACHA: Yes. And to end with how we started, here is a picture of Adam Driver shirtless:

JEN: Yes, excellent point.

Rey’s request to towel this might be foreshadowing for her Dark Side turn. Because honestly, how could you cover that up? LET IT SHINE FORTH. 

That’s it for now, folks! Have a great day, and please check back for our Darkest Hour review, which we will discuss like adults. Probably.

Author: jennnanigans

Orlando-area writerly person.

6 thoughts on “In Theaters Now: The Last Jedi”

  1. I have many thoughts, but overall, I loved this chapter of Star Wars! So many haters out there, and the big thing I have to ask is, why? I’m sure there’ll be a bunch of laser-bladed millennial dissections of the relative merits of the script, the acting, the humor, the casting choices, all of which were great, in my opinion, but obviously a series of sore spots…according to the millennials in my office, it seems…! But the bottom line seems to be the Gen-Xers who are somehow hurt over the supposed raping and pillaging of their precious childhood memories garnered by their earliest viewings of New Hope in the 70s. Apparently, a movie, especially a chapter in a beloved franchise, just can’t be good for its own sake, it has to weighed and measured by the standards of nerds (both young and old) who have in their own minds an impossible standard that no director can ever hope to match. I’d be interested to see what those standards are. Anyway…

    “…which means the Jedi have to have some concept of moral relativism.”

    Mace Windu is the perfect example of that. He certainly had no problem laying to waste fools who opposed the Jedi order for evil intent. Mace is also considered the master of Vaapaad, the style of lightsaber fighting that utilizes the fighter’s inner darkness and skirts the edge of “Dark Jedi”ism, so Mace was comfortable and powerful enough to dip his toes into the pool of darkness necessary to overcome his opponents with overwhelming force, but not succumb to it. Which is the revisionist version of why his lightsaber is purple, because his ability to use dark powers in fighting causes a bit of “red” in his lightsaber. Of course, it’s because Samuel L. Jackson wanted a color unique enough to be seen on the screen amidst all the blues and yellows. Both reasons totally work for me…!

    “…but I can’t believe he’d be that capable AND dumb enough not to know how to manipulate an emotional wreck like Kylo Ren.”

    My read was Hux totally DID believe he had the upper hand, the favor with Snoke, and that he was the true power behind the First Order and that an histrionic young Jedi was too unstable to do anything about it. It really wasn’t until Snoke died and Kylo force-choked Hux into submission that he realized, “aw, crap! I’m not all that…”

    “That moment where he cycles through all of the weapons that the owner of the stolen ship sold — many to the First Order, and one to the Resistance. Neither side is good.”

    This reminds me of the argument between Dante and Randal in “Clerks”, whereupon Randal posits that the Empire, completely devoid of any construction acumen, had to hire outside help who had no ideological dog in any of their fights: “Do you think the average storm trooper knows how to install a toilet main? All they know is killing and white uniforms!” I guess I never really thought about it until DJ showed them; all those TIE fighters and X-Wings come from SOMEwhere. The only nod to interstellar commerce were in Zahn’s Heir to the Empire series, the planet Kuat is supposedly where they build the giant Star Destroyers. However, I don’t agree with conclusion that purchasing fighter ships renders a moral judgement. What, the Resistance bought some X-Wings from a dealer and Finn is supposed to feel shitty about that? Is it the very action of buying a snub fighter in and of itself “immoral”, or the use of said ship for particular gain that casts judgement down upon its user? I know this argument can go on, so I’m not going to dive too deeply on this.

    “His whole ‘You’re nothing to anyone… except me’ is the ultimate neg…”

    I couldn’t call bullshit on this loud enough. Ren is a proven manipulator and liar, and Rey just accepts what he says that her parents were drunk commoners, dead and buried in the desert? There’s no hope they’ll come back, and no bodies to find, I saw it in my head. You suck. Except if you go steady with me! Well, that’s convenient… C’mon, Rey…you’re smarter than that. Yes, she did skedaddle, but in the back of her mind, she thinks she’s the daughter of drunken paupers. Maybe the show runners are waiting to double down in the last episode on her being Obi-wan’s or Palpatine’s daughter…maybe…

    “He’s still lashing out in uncontrollable rage at anyone nearby, still terrified of being beaten by a girl and still deeply, desperately insecure despite his (over)achievements.”

    I didn’t get that at all. The universe of Star Wars sees women as business owners, high-ranking politicians and military officers, fighter pilots (ps: Dear Super-Hot, A-Wing pilot ace from the beginning of the movie, I love you! Call me!!), and Jedi. Kylo wasn’t so upset that a “little girl” beat him, he hated that despite all his training, power and Snoke’s support, an untrained newb who never touched a light saber before that night on Starkiller base whipped his ass. For an emo kid with that much rage, power, and confidence issues, it was almost too much for him to bear. I don’t think gender issues factor much in that universe.

    A few other observations:

    1) That grilled Porg looked delicious. Just sayin…
    2) What’s the over/under on Phasma coming back next episode with some hideous burn scars where her helm was breached by Finn’s weapon and a nasty case of “I want revenge!”?
    3) Is no one going to talk about Poe’s Legolas-like jump and slide from the crashing salt-speeder and neatly into the trench? Well, I was impressed!
    4) Is ramming another ship while jumping to light speed always an option as a hail-mary attack, or did no one consider this before that moment? “Running into a star or bouncing too close to a super nova” was always a constant threat, but totally fucking up the First Order’s day by destroying it’s biggest (and invariably most expensive…) ship with a small, third-rate cruiser on “after-burner”? There are weaponized implications here that totally blow my mind!
    5) Seriously, those Resistance bombers looked like suicide machines, custom built for zero-chance of survival in battle. My kids kept wondering if there is no gravity in space, how would racks of bombs fall?
    6) Can we have ONE competent TIE fighter pilot!? PLEASE!?
    7) For the fourteen year old sci-fi/fantasy geek in me (and my 14 year old kids), there was nothing cooler than Snoke’s red-armoured Praetorian Guard and their crazy-looking force weapons! We could have watched that throne-room fight scene for another 30 minutes!
    8) Like I need another excuse to see this movie again, now I have to look for Luke’s non-footprints in the salt!
    9) I would have really liked to have seen what’s in those old Jedi texts.
    10) The whole force-projection was cool, but I really wanted to see Luke actually there to just unleash on Kylo with some next-level saber fighting. I understand there’s another movie in the works, so killing or grievously wounding Kylo wouldn’t help.

    Soooo…here’s to waiting for two more years for the conclusion of this…nonalogy?

      1. I saw that link earlier! Holy carp, if people only put HALF that energy into causes that matter, there’d be a lot of issues solved by the year’s end!

    1. The thoughts:

      I agree, people are taking this apart at the molecular level, suggesting to me they went in with a severe expectations deficit. More than anything, for me, the movie was about letting go of unrealistic expectations from childhood and enjoying yourself. This movie will not send people back to their childhoods and undo the past 30 years. It moves the characters forward in a way that was logical and in keeping with previous characters and motivations. But hey, haters gonna hate!

      On Mace Windu: Word. I defer to your familiarity with him. I remember SLJ wanting a purple lightsaber but had no idea about how they had to finagle the canon to make it work.

      On Hux: But see, I think if Hux were really capable he would have had a plan in place for managing Ren that was more involved than waiting until he was unconscious to try and kill him. A guy like Hux ought to have all the eventualities mapped out, including the death of his superior. Because my mental picture of these two is while Ren is in his bedroom mooning over Vader’s mask and lifting weights, Hux is in his room scheming.

      On Weaponry – Agree, although I think the focus was more DJ pointing out that profiteers choose themselves and financial gain rather than choosing a side, a choice Finn was flirting with. I read a neat theory on i09 that DJ might yet turn to the Resistance a la Han in ANH and Lando in ESB and use his money to buy them more ships/whatnot.

      On gender in the universe – You’re speaking from your perspective and I respect you for it, but it’s still a different viewpoint than mine. In mine, I grew up liking Princess Leia but wanting to be Han or Luke because they just DID more, and having little boys I was playing with tell me ‘No, you have to be Leia because you are a girl.’ You need only spend 30 seconds on Twitter to encounter how toxic the Fanverse (or any fandom!) can be, even if the SW universe was clearly intended to be a place of equality. Kylo Ren is informed by that toxic culture a little, is almost a parody of the little boys who wanted to be Jedi because Jedi were powerful rather than because Jedi shouldered the galactic responsibility of law and order.

      Grilled Porg – I feel terrible but also thought that. IT’S LITTLE FACE! IT’S LITTLE TREMBLING LIP! That is the face Herzog makes when I have forgotten to give him some of my bacon.

      Phasma – I wondered myself. It’d be pretty badass!

      3) I didn’t! I will have to look when I see it again.

      4) I think it’s the last resort ‘FUBAR’ option. I’m guessing the Resistance doesn’t have money falling out its ass so losing that cruiser would be a significant blow to their effort. That was also one of those ‘OH SHIT’ moments in the theater that was so great! The Holdo Maneuver!

      5) I’ve heard the gravity thing mentioned before and I forget what someone came up with to explain how it worked. I would have guessed they just programmed the bombs to head for the ship. Or something. But yes it did look like they fell out, WW2 footage-style.

      6) There were at least two competent TIE fighters who fired on the cruiser bridge and killed Akbar – nobody counted on Leia busting out the FORCE though!

      7) YES. What they wore reminded me of the Prince’s armor in Bram Stoker’s Dracula! SO COOL.

      8) The only acceptable excuse for watching Star Wars again is you want to. Nothing else is required because this is AMERICA.

      9) YES.

      10) I feel like the Kylo ass-beating we’re going to get in 2019 will probably make up for Luke not wrecking him now. But yes, despite Kylo’s glistening hotness and lush flowing hair, somebody needs to teach that kid some manners.

  2. “A guy like Hux ought to have all the eventualities mapped out…”

    I think you’re giving Hux way too much credit! But maybe he should; I mean, that character is obviously fanatically dedicated to the First Order and their mission statement of…being galactic bullies, I suppose? But being THAT lethally clever would put Kylo always a step behind, and Kylo is the supposedly big boss/villain, not Hux’s maniacal military administrator! It amuses me to wonder if this would have been the same dynamic as young Tarkin and Vader! Imagine it, them always bickering, Anakin kinda emo and histrionic in his youth, so probably still a bit of a whiner when he donned the Vader mask (according to wookiepedia timeline, he was 22 years old, which makes him 41 at the Battle of Yavin, and 45 when he died during the Battle of Endor. Shit, when Darth Vader was my age…he’d been dead for two years…!), and 30 year old Tarkin, driven and diabolical, both jockying for Palpatine’s succor, and maybe misplaced love from a father-figure! I would watch a movie on those two throwing plates of food at each other in the Imperial mess hall for hours…!

    Fyi, Tarkin’s first name is “Wilhuff”. Lucas went out of his way to make sure the Nazi parallel was unmistakable, nes pa…? There’a also a series of books on young Tarkin that are set to be the first EU sources to be official canon outside the 8 movies!

    Anyway, Hux is no Tarkin, it seems…

    “…I think the focus was more DJ pointing out that profiteers choose themselves and financial gain rather than choosing a side, a choice Finn was flirting with.”

    I didn’t catch that before! Once again, another reason to see it again and find all the pieces I missed.

    “You’re speaking from your perspective and I respect you for it, but it’s still a different viewpoint than mine.”

    Fair enough. I get that.



    1. I’ve always like Tarquin and Vadar’s uneasy detente, but Hux and Kylo just don’t have the same chemistry. I think it’s because I saw a comment somewhere that was to the effect of ‘I can’t take Hux seriously because he seems so young and childish, I keep wanting to say put your dad on the phone, son.’ So that unfortunately informed my view of him. And Ren – whew!
      I saw that about eating Porgs! HA!
      Sidenote: I saw a fascinating discussion in the I09 comments where one person made the point that RJ should have had Akbar do everything Holdo did instead so the character’s death would have been earned; but then someone else pointed out that if Akbar had given Poe and order, the latter would have followed it without questions because A. Akbar was a known hero and established quality, and B. Holdo was a woman. So the audience (including me! I admit it!) were less confident in her decisionmaking and would sympathize with Poe. I thought that indicates a MASTERFUL understanding of the audience! And might be why so many people are pissed right now – RJ used their own biases concerning female leadership against them and they never saw it coming. BRILLIANT!

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