Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review – Part II

The Women of Star Wars

Women have always been an integral part of the Star Wars Saga, and as our society has evolved into being more inclusive with women and minorities, this has been reflected even more so on screen with Star Wars. From Princess Leia to Mon Mothma, Mara Jade to Ahsoka, and Padme to Rey, women have played integral roles in the Star Wars galaxy and have had a lasting impact on the overall story. The Last Jedi is no different as it adds so much value to the overall story with it’s female characters and especially with the following.

 

Leia Organa Solo

The Princess who is now a General has had a long journey from the captured prisoner who stood her ground and talked back to Darth Vader, a Dark Lord of the Sith, back when we first met her in Episode IV: A New Hope. General Leia Organa Solo has suffered much throughout this Saga and has lost much that is dear to her. In The Last Jedi we see a Leia who recently lost a man she loved and who was the father of her wayward son. She hasn’t had much time to grieve as the First Order is knocking on her door step and she along with the Resistance has to flee their military base.

Leia has to now lead a Resistance that is under attack and rein in Poe Dameron, a hot shot pilot who probably reminds her of a young Han Solo. Leia is attacked and blown into space and only through her strong will to survive and her connection to the Force is she able to rescue herself and receive medical attention. What strength she has shown just in the last 24 hours (movie time)!

Once she is contacted through the Force by Luke, she is able to recover and once again lead the Resistance in their escape. They eventually are able to escape to the Rebel Base on Crait, at the cost of many lives under her command. On Crait, Leia sends a distress signal to allies for help against their foes, but to no avail as there was no response from her allies. After a failed ground battle between our heroes and The First Order, Luke Skywalker intervenes and is able to distract The First Order long enough for his sister, Leia, to escape. Along with Leia, the newly self-proclaimed Rebellion members are able to locate a back way out of the base and escape on the Falcon with Rey and Chewie. Aboard the Falcon, Leia promises Rey that they will rebuild the Rebellion.

Leia is the epitome of try, try again and has learned throughout her life the lessons that Luke has been unable to learn throughout his. Leia has learned from her failures and has also learned the value of never giving up despite the Death Star-sized odds that she has constantly faced. Like her father, Anakin Skywalker, Leia has lost loved ones and has suffered so much grief. But unlike her father, she has not turned to the Dark Side nor has she sought revenge for the wrongs done to her. Always at the center of the Galactic Conflict, whether it is in the Rebellion against the Empire or in the Resistance against The First Order, Leia has used her talents and gifts to liberate others and strengthen the cause of freedom.

Despite not being as strong in the Force as her brother Luke has been, Leia has had just as big of an impact on the Galactic fight for freedom as Luke has. When she passes, she will be just as much of a legend as Luke Skywalker has become.

Tragically the real Leia, Carrie Fisher, has passed away in real life in 2016 and Princess Leia’s on screen story ends with The Last Jedi. Initially the over arching plan for this new Sequel Trilogy was to have Episode 9 be Leia’s story, just like Episode 7 was Han Solo’s final story and Episode 8 was Luke’s final chapter. A new story will be written to close out this final Trilogy and ultimately I am glad for the character of Leia and for the scenes she had in The Last Jedi. However, Carrie Fisher and Princess Leia will be missed for so many reasons. May The Force Be With Her – Always.

 

Rey

Rey again takes center stage in The Last Jedi and ultimately the title of this movie is hers. As Luke Skywalker becomes one with the Force at the end of this movie, he has passed the mantle of The Last Jedi to her. He proclaims to Kylo Ren that Rey will be the last of the Jedi. Which is surprising in more than ways than one. Luke has resisted teaching Rey the ways of the Jedi and ultimately only teaches her two lessons in an attempt to dissuade her from becoming a Jedi. He teaches her that the Jedi were wrong in what they did and that they were responsible for Darth Vader and for enabling Darth Sidious’ rise to power. And that he, as a Jedi, was responsible for the new Vader, Kylo Ren. So everything that Luke had done to prevent her from becoming a Jedi was overturned by his own declaration that Rey is now a Jedi.  A second surprise that Rey is now a Jedi is that she has hardly trained to become a Jedi. I can see her as a strong light side Force user, but to be called a Jedi was surprising. While Yoda did declare that Rey had all she needed to be a Jedi, I thought it was a stretch to declare her a Jedi. Rey did take the ancient Jedi texts from the first Jedi Temple with her when she left Ahch-To in the Falcon, so I think the ability to learn the ways of the Jedi and to ultimately bring back the Jedi Order; I believe that these building blocks are in place for the Jedi to be reborn. Maybe it’s just semantics at this point.

Rey’s journey takes another twist as she is tempted by the dark side. She and Kylo Ren are able to see and talk to each other through the Force while she is on Ahch-To. I believe that there are two reasons for this, one is that while a captive of Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens, Rey and Kylo have a battle of the minds as they use The Force to read each other’s minds. I would like to think that this connection carried over to allow this trans-Galactic Force conversation. Also I think that being on Ahch-To had something to do with amplifying this ability. It would appear that Ahch-To is a location strong in The Force and is able to boost The Force. (I also think Ahch-To also helped Luke project himself through The Force to Crait by amplifying his Force abilities.)

As Rey is talking with Kylo through The Force she sees that there is a chance Kylo can be turned back to the light. We later learn in Snoke’s throne room that this was a trap set by Snoke to bring Rey to him (much like Darth Sidious did in Return of the Jedi to Luke as he sought to turn his father, Darth Vader, to the light side. In all fairness, Luke did warn her that it wouldn’t work).  Ultimately, Kylo kills Snoke and in an amazing melee, Kylo and Rey team up to defeat the Praetorian Guards. Rey tries to convince Kylo Ren to come back to the light and to work together to save the Resistance from The First Order. Kylo instead tries to convince her that she needs to join him and they will rule the galaxy, just as Anakin tried to convince Padme to do in Episode III. Just like Padme, Rey declines as it goes against her nature.

In a last ditch effort to convince Rey to join him, Kylo tells Rey that he knows who her parents are. That they are nobody, drunks that sold her for drink money, and that they are dead on Jakku. Personally, I don’t believe Kylo and I believe that he was using whatever tactic he could to try and convince her to join him by trying to strip everyone of value from her, such as Han and Luke and her parents. Also this explanation doesn’t match up with what we saw previously in The Force Awakens with a young Rey calling for her parents to come back as they flew away on a starship. I do believe that Kylo thinks that if he can convince her that she is alone then she wouldn’t want to be without him. But thankfully Rey is stronger than that and doesn’t fall for it.

I think the question of Rey’s parents and Rey’s growing up needs to be addressed definitively in Episode 9 due to her importance in the Saga, as well as her strength in The Force. Whether she is a hidden Skywalker or a daughter of Jedi that’s been in hiding for years or a anomaly such as Anakin Skywalker, it needs to be defined as I believe it goes to overall character development for Rey. The dark side cave under the island where Rey goes to find the answer to who her parents are, up to this point was not very helpful in answering that question. Just as in Empire Strikes Back, the scene of Luke going into the dark side cave made more sense once we saw Return of the Jedi, I hope that this dark side cave scene from The Last Jedi will make more sense after seeing Episode 9.

Rey’s journey to becoming the last of the Jedi starts in this Episode and she still has much to learn. I think she learned a lot during her encounter with Supreme Leader Snoke and Kylo Ren. I think she realizes that she has more to learn, as evidenced by her final scene on board the Falcon with Leia. While holding the broken remains of Anakin’s lightsaber, she asks Leia how they are supposed to rebuild? I think the question is two fold, one part for the newly created Rebellion and one part for the Jedi Order and Leia’s answer is sufficient for both the Rebellion and the Jedi Order.

 

Rose

Rose Tico is a new character introduced to us in The Last Jedi. She is a new voice for the Saga, a voice of the common person, the non-Force user, and a voice that is just as important as the other characters. Rose represents those that want a better life and who have been oppressed by The First Order and the Empire for so long.

By the time we meet Rose in The Last Jedi, she has been through so much heartache. She and her sister, Paige, have escaped The First Order’s ruin of her home planet and have joined the Resistance. Paige was killed during the Resistance’s escape from their base in the Elenium system. Rose now has nobody to lean on and is feeling alone. She meets Finn and after a fan girl moment of meeting The Finn,  together they join up and create a plan to help the Resistance escape The First Order through hyperspace.

Rose is the person that Finn needs to meet in order to become a more rounded person. Rose is down to earth and a no nonsense type of person. She is able to teach him what’s important in life and that relationships matter. Finn has become used to running away, as we see in The Force Awakens he is constantly running from others and responsiblity. Rose grabs hold of him and doesn’t let go and in doing so teaches him a valuable lesson. One of the best lines in the movie comes from Rose, “I saved you, dummy.” She does indeed save Finn in more ways than one.

Rose is a great addition to the story and adds a lot of value to The Last Jedi. While I never questioned her character, I initially questioned the Canto Bight side story with her and Finn in which she plays a big role in this side story. Initially I thought it was a distraction from the main story that eventually doesn’t go anywhere as Finn and Rose don’t get the hacker they are looking for, then their mission fails before they can complete it and are captured by Phasma, and then that hacker eventually sells them out and they are set to be executed. I didn’t understand the reasoning for this side story until subsequent viewings. I learned that this side story is just as important for Finn as Ahch-To is for Rey. Rey learns things on Ahch-To from Luke Skywalker and Finn learns things on Canto Bight from Rose Tico. Finn’s character would remain stagnant without Rose’s influence and the Canto Bight adventure. Thanks to Rose, Finn learns not to run anymore and that people matter and can do great things, and that this is one of the reasons Finn left The First Order in the first place. Rose is a voice of reason in the crazy and chaotic galaxy.

 

Phasma

Phasma is my personal favorite character in this new Sequel Trilogy, unfortunately she doesn’t get the screen time she deserves (in my opinion, lol). She has so much potential and is such a cool looking character, I’m sad that she only gets a few minutes in each movie to shine. I’m hoping she survived the fall into the fiery depths of Snoke’s mega starship, so as to make a comeback in the next movie. Hey, she survived the destruction of Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens! We didn’t see her hit the ground and die, it’s possible that she landed in a soft spot, a trash compactor maybe, and was able to escape in time. I think JJ Abrams should put Phasma in Episode 9 to show her tenacity in that she is able to constantly survive these crazy situations. We’ll see what happens.

UP NEXT:

Finn Grows Up, Poe Becomes a Leader, Supreme Leader Kylo Ren, and more.

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Star Trek Beyond

STBeyond

I have enjoyed these new Star Trek movies that have rebooted the franchise and taken the story off in to a new direction. I think JJ Abrams has brought new life into a franchise that was slowly dying off. I feel that Beyond was a good addition to this new storyline, and that the movie franchise is headed in the right direction.

I had a mixed reaction to this film, as there were a lot of story elements, action sequences, and new characters that I really liked. There were also story elements, action sequences, and new characters that I found to be  boring and uninteresting. Warning: There will be spoilers discussed below.

First the boring and uninteresting. I found the film’s villian, Krall, to be the same ol’, same ol’, which is too bad as Idris Elba is a great actor. There was nothing new or creative about him in this film. What we get is a former good guy that experiences a crisis and becomes bitter. He feels wronged by Starfleet and then seeks revenge on the establishment who did him wrong.

The next boring thing is something I was surprised that I found it boring. The action sequence of the Enterprise being completely destroyed, once again. While I’m guessing if this was the first Star Trek movie I’d ever seen, I would find this scene gripping and shocking. However, how many times has the Enterprise been destroyed? In my eyes, too many to make it relevant anymore, and they always rebuild it, and they always let Kirk be the Captain again. There is no drama to this event happening, as it continues to be portrayed over and over again. In fact the rebuilding of the Enterprise at the end of the movie was glossed over and they showed it happen in about 30 seconds. I think I would be more surprised if they made it through a movie without the Enterprise being destroyed at this point.

Another boring plot point is the crew being held captive on the planet and having to be rescued by Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty, and the new girl. There was no drama to it. You knew it was going to happen, and the way they were freed wasn’t that exciting. Also, the lack of Uhura’s screen time is almost criminal. She was such a strong, fun, enjoyable character in the previous two movies, and to have her relegated to the role (or lack of a role) in this movie is probably the worst thing in this movie! It’s like the writer, Simon Pegg, went back to the 1960’s and relegated her to a backup character.

Ok, just so you don’t think I hated this movie, which I didn’t, I will praise the film for it’s fun and interesting parts! First of all, the introduction of Jaylah is a good addition to the franchise and I hope she is brought back for future Star Trek adventures. I enjoyed the extra screen time that we got for Bones and Spock together, as well as Chekov (RIP Anton) and Kirk. I think that having an ensemble cast with actors and characters such as these of the Enterprise crew can make it hard to divvy up screen time and plot points between all of them. (but still, Uhura needed more screen time!)

I liked how the film started off with Kirk being bored after being in space for over 2 years, because I’ve always thought that it would get monotonous real quick. I enjoyed how Kirk was able to find his motivation to stay with the Enterprise and refocus on his career.

I liked how they found the old starship, USS Franklin, and had to resurrect it and get it up and running in order to escape the planet. The end chase scene through the city and the subsequent fight between Kirk and Krall was pretty intense and it was a great way to end the conflict.

Oh, and no Carol Danvers? Another missed opportunity, as she was a great character in the last film, Into Darkness.

Some things that I liked in theory, but thought it didn’t work well in the execution of it. First of all, the Beastie Boys defeat the massive enemy invasion? I love the Beastie Boys, I grew up with them and have all of their albums. I thought the inclusion of their song in the first Star Trek was clever and appropriate. However, in Beyond it seemed forced and too simplistic of a way to defeat the highly advanced, technological threat of Krall and his army. Maybe if the crew would have been listening to Sabotage while fighting the enemy and defeating them in a different manner? I could get behind that.

Another thing was Kirk riding the motorcycle through the enemy camp while no one could pick him off. I like the visual of him tearing it up and avoiding the enemy, but I’m pretty sure my 15 year old son could’ve taken him out at some point during the 10+ minutes of riding around the camp.

So with all this being said, I did enjoy the film and I’m glad they are doing a fourth film in this new Star Trek universe. I’m curious to see how George Kirk will play into the story. Knowing JJ, there’s some alternate universe/time travel element to it. If Spock can meet up with his future self, then Kirk can meet his dad, right?

Of the three new Star Trek movies, Star Trek Beyond is my third favorite. I put Star Trek Into Darkness as my favorite, then Star Trek, followed by Beyond.

1- Star Trek Into Darkness

2- Star Trek

3 – Star Trek Beyond