Two such opposed kings encamp them still
In man as well as herbs, grace and rude will; -Friar Lawrence
Whoever you are, your feelings about this movie are valid.
Some people like Kevin Smith (and myself) cry happy tears at the emotional impact this movie had on us. Others had more negative things like this to say in the comments thread of Podcast Now, “I buried ALL my Star Wars memorabilia and held a funeral with my wife and two daughters. Yes, I cried like a baby but because the Star Wars that we all grew up on is DEAD!”
And, we thought the DC movies were divisive.
No franchise has as much sway on people’s very soul as Star Wars, and many a fanboy (self-included) and fangirl have their list of expectations of what a Star Wars film should be like. As director, Rian Johnson points out in an interview by Business Insider, “You’re going to find very few fans out there whose lists line up.” What’s important here, is that it’s okay if you didn’t like the movie. It’s okay if you hated it or loved it. None of these things make you stupid, a moron, an idiot, or any other vitriolic comment by a poster that we probably shouldn’t say on this blog.
Here are some elements of the film that people either loved or hated and why it’s perfectly valid to do so, either way.
1. The whole movie was a series of gotchas.
According to Podcast Now, there were too many times when the movie implied one thing and gave us another.
It’s okay to hate this, because you may feel like it’s too predictable in that it was trying too hard to be unpredictable. I know many felt like this was a giant middle finger to the original movies or even previous directors. Some felt like this was an “up yours” to them as fans. It’s certainly possible. High fan expectation has been evident for decades, even before social media really took off. Since it has, these expectations have certainly been known by the producers, writers, and directors, so it’s not unlikely that it was symbolically addressed in the subtext here, so yes, you have the right to hate this. The main contention is that the jump in first, save the day, and head home attitude of Luke and Han is proving to be just the thing that fails. Poe ignored orders and completed the mission, but, gotcha, he ended up getting a number of The Resistance killed off in the process. Finn and Rose are going to save the day, but gotcha, they’re really going to fail and get even more people killed. Hear more gotcha’s on Podcast Now’s video. Although, I really don’t think it was intended as a F*** YOU to the fans or past creators.
It’s okay to love this because maybe you like to be surprised. You may also see this possible dig at fans’ ribs as an, “Okay, we gotcha, and here’s a new wondrous journey we hope you enjoy.” Mystery is a large part of the magic for a lot of us.
The issue is on how much is just right for you, as is with a lot of elements.
2. The humor and pacing were jarring.
This was mentioned to me by a friend of mine, author Lesley Woodral (whose books are available on Amazon), BessY discussed this in depth in their Youtube vid. Geek Versus discussed this, and a myriad of other things, in their nearly 2-hour review of the flick, which is also a fun time that you should check out.
It’s okay to hate this, because a drastic change of pace and mood is not unlike going home after a long hard day of work and flipping on the sleep spa to relax, only to have the heard of elephants stomps made by neighbors or loved ones thump around in your head until a migraine makes you want to join the sith. You also, don’t like it when you’re ready to party, but some pooper wants you to be quiet. Poe Dameron pretends to not hear General Hux right before executing a “your mom” joke. Luke is all serious, then he throws the relic of his father’s lightsaber behind him and trudges off. The list goes on.
It’s okay to love this, because, well, I have ADHD, and this is how my mind is most of the time, jarring. Plus, you might very well have strapped yourself in for a rollercoaster ride and were pleased to get it. Humor IS the reason why the Marvel movies get less hate than the DC movies, but did TLJ not take enough time with the serious moments? I think they did, but then, I loved it.
The issue is subjectivity because humor doesn’t transcend everything, as Mathew R. Wilson tells us in his Ted Talk segment on humor. It’s divisive. I hated Knocked Up but loved This is the End. For others, it’s vice versa. Go figure.
3. It’s Leia Poppins, ya’ll.
This one is all over the internet, yet I don’t think I’ve seen anyone defend it with meaningful detail, so I will do that in a minute.
It’s okay to hate this, because it would have been a great moment for Carrie Fischer to have gone out on, and they wouldn’t have to reshoot much to make that her final curtain. Also, it is too much like a flying superhero, which makes this moment not feel like Star Wars, and Star Wars matters. #SWM
It’s okay to love this moment, because contrary to popular belief, it is scientifically possible if you include the supernatural element of The Force. It can be used to move and manipulate matter. If it can do that, it can pull in the released air around her, containing thermal energy, so she won’t freeze or suffocate to death, at least for the short time she needs to get to safety. It can also be used to Force pull the clothes she’s wearing, and therefore her, to the ship, if you don’t believe that she can force pull her organic body, that is). This would take very little energy, since there is no gravity to slow her down, especially in a life or death survival situation. Even without The Force, Anna Gosline, of Scientific American says, “In reality, however, animal experiments and human accidents have shown that people can likely survive exposure to vacuum conditions for at least a couple of minutes.” Why don’t other Jedi just fly, then? Maybe, it takes entirely too much effort to maintain levitation or flight when gravity is a factor, which is why they only use it in short bursts to jump higher or sprint, and Leia only needed one small push in an anti-gravity situation, to achieve her goal. Also, in Joseph Campbell’s Heroes Journey, dying and coming back to life is an important stage, even if it’s only a metaphorical death. This is a hearty demonstration of Leia using of The Force, and there is no reason she shouldn’t. Darth Vader is her father, and Luke had plenty of time to teach her a lesson or two. Even then, she went into a coma shortly afterward from all the trauma.
The issue here is whether or not this provides an aesthetic so different that it doesn’t feel like traditional Star Wars, and if it does, whether or not it matters to you.
4. It’s PC.
James Moore’s last column for The Independent illustrates a few examples of people complaining that creators forced diversity at the expense of storyline.
It’s okay to hate this, because reverse racism is still racism, and there are some that claim this is what happened with this movie. If you also, hated the Finn/Rose mission or the mutiny storyline, this may have been a factor for you, as Moore’s article suggests. Even if you were color blind like I was while watching the movie, it is also very politically preachy about the have’s and have not’s of the real world. A lot of people were wanting a ride that took them far far away from reality, not one that reminds them of it. I know I stopped watching American Horror Story: Cult, because it was hitting way too close to home for me.
It’s okay to love this, especially if you felt the positive message, about hope and overcoming oppression, grab at your heartstrings. You can be a Haysian mechanic (Rose is from Hays Minor, and she’s played by an Asian.) or an orphan girl with terrible parents and be a hero. Race, gender, and social standing do not matter, and it shouldn’t matter, and if you loved the storylines, then you likely loved the inclusiveness.
The issue here is if you felt some parts of the storyline that were minority-heavy or partisan driven were just a waste of time, you might have felt like Disney was just shoving overly PC culture down your throat for no other reason than to provide diversity solely for the sake of diversity. If you liked those plots, then you probably adored the choices and themes it presented. It’s important to note, that holding either opinion doesn’t mean you are a bigot, unless, of course, you actually hate it solely, because minorities and women are main characters, which is, thankfully, a minority opinion itself, as the comments section of Moore’s article vehemently highlights.
5. It’s a different Luke.
Den of Geek reported that even Mark Hamill had concerns about Luke’s story arc and motivations, to the point that he had to basically think of this older character as Jake Skywalker rather than the farm boy we all know from A New Hope and the internet is rampant with #NotMyLuke and #MyLuke in response to that. Let’s dive in.
It’s okay to hate this, because traditionally, Luke has been a character who would risk his life and very soul to save the 2nd most evil man in the galaxy, because he believed there was still good in him. The #NotMyLukers didn’t want to see this hero now abandon everyone after giving up on his own nephew, so much so, that he almost decided to kill him, and then go off to hide like a coward in the far reaches of the galaxy, but then leave behind fragments of a map, in different locations to find him, as an attention grab, like a 15 Tweet tirade on why you’re leaving Twitter. Plus, drinking the green tit juice from a beach cow was just gross, and it would have made more sense for him to have found a way to go to Crait in person, rather than kill himself by Force projecting himself.
It’s okay to love this Luke who has struggled with a new father-like role that takes on a lot more responsibility. As a hero, he risked only himself to try to save his friends. As a Jedi Master, he took on the responsibility for the actions of a group of young people, and in one worried moment when he helicopter-Jedied inside Kylo’s soul, he found a budding Adolf Hitler. Even heroes would certainly have the urge to kill a pre-Fuhrer but would be conflicted about it with either decision. In the end, Luke chose not to do it, but by just creepily standing over a sleeping Ben with a sparked light saber was enough for him to lose all trust in the Light Side of The Force. This is a very heavy burden for Luke who feels solely liable for his padawans’ actions, the others (The Knights of Ren) of which, we will likely hear about in the next installment. Luke, feeling like he might have created another dark side using despot, feels as if he is bad for the galaxy, so he hid in an uncharted sector and cut himself off from The Force entirely. He didn’t leave an actual map, but it was believed that he was looking for the first Jedi temple, so when they put it together and some stranger shows up asking him to do the very thing he failed so hard at that he created another Darth Vader, he wanted no part of it. Of course, he threw his father’s lightsaber behind him, told her to go away, and went on about his daily routine, which involved a funny gross-out of drinking green milk. After she showed that she was going to learn whatever and wherever she could, he trained her, but ONLY to show her why The Jedi need to end. Then she, like he did in Empire, left to save her friends, and he went to burn down the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Jedi Hubris, just before ghost Yoda beat him to it and gave him some good old fashioned and much-needed guidance, “The greatest teacher failure is.” He even called him Young Skywalker. *tear* Now that Luke’s re-connected to The Force, he can likely see that The Resistance is all going to die, and he knows he’s not powerful enough to take on all that firepower in person, AND still save enough of The Resistance. For him to redeem himself AND keep the spark of hope alive for the galaxy, he Force projects himself there. This is too much for his physical body to handle, and he becomes one with the force, symbolic of the ancient ascended masters of ancient Buddhism and Taoism, which is awesome for mythology nerds like me. He went the way of Oogway in Kung Fu Panda, and the binary sunset, calling back to the very first Star Wars movie ever, when he contemplated who he was and where his place was in the Universe, and the fact that despite his mistakes in the father role, he not only absolved himself, he became worthy to become one with The Force. It was so beautiful, I cried.
READ MORE more about why I’m such a crybaby.
The issue is whether or not you wanted to see a flawed hero dealing with moral dilemmas and regret for past mistakes. This was a major factor of the divisiveness of Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman. If you aren’t a mythology nerd, and/or you wanted to see Luke go out, with a REAL lightsaber a-blazin’, you would have been disappointed in the peaceful fade.
6. The mutiny plot could have been resolved with a 30-second sidebar.
This was discussed in the Geek Versus podcast with much hilarity.
It’s okay to hate this, because this entire conflict could have been resolved with a “30-second conversation” between Holdo and Dameron. If you hated this, you might have thought this was an attempt to jam in feminism at the expense of good writing, such as was mentioned above in number 4. Telling Poe about the plan would have prevented Finn and Rose from risking their lives needlessly for a mission that failed anyway, which was made worse by DJ hearing Poe tell Finn that Holdo was fueling up the transport ships. When DJ sold them out to the First Order, all of those lives blown up on transport ships were on Holdo, because she was too headstrong.
It’s okay to love this, because the character motivations were clear and believable. Poe was too Dam(eron) stubborn about “jumping into an X-Wing and blowing things up.” He had a lot of leadership potential, but his jump in head first attitude got too many people killed, at the risk of obsessing over a mission. He was demoted, as a result, and for good reason. Holdo had a mission to complete, as well, and the details were on a need to know basis, in case there was a mole. Poe further reinforces the fact that he can’t be trusted to do the right thing, when he starts a mutiny and blabs the half of what he figured out to Finn and Rose, and therefore, DJ, and therefore The First Order. Poe learns his lesson and one of the major themes of the movie, failure is the greatest teacher. His character arch goes from charging in at all costs, to saving lives and choosing his battles, especially when he decides to follow the foxes out of the caverns.
The issue is whether or not you buy that people really are that stubborn, and even if you do, whether you expect such flaws from your heroes in a fantasy setting far far away from here.
7. The casino mission failed.
This was mentioned in Geek Versus’s podcast, this article on Den of Geek and The Angry Joe Show ranted about this to an extent. PopSugar.com did a piece called, The Last Jedi Could Have Been Better If This Character Had Died.
It’s okay to hate this, because we like to see our heroes win. Setbacks are okay, but not when it costs several lives to an already dwindling Resistance. If we didn’t have the #6 problem, we wouldn’t have had this failure of a plot thread that dragged, with a “Jumanji” style stampede and a preach about class warfare. Why was DJ just waiting for others to get arrested to escape, anyway? Their mission failed, and it doesn’t make sense for Rose to fall in love with Finn in less than a day. They could have had a better reason to get Phasma into the movie, and for a much longer time, and her death was disappointing, so was Finn not dying.
It’s okay to love this, because, as Geek Versus says, “Rocky gotta get beat down first.” This subplot didn’t drag, if you believed in the themes presented in it, and the giant horse race getaway was fun for the kid in me. I liked the mention about how rich weapons manufacturers get richer off both sides of a war. This is something people need to take a long hard look at today. They made the mistake of parking illegally for the sake of time and got arrested, so they never got to meet up with the person they intended to. DJ (played amazingly by Benicio Del Toro), having already been arrested, was likely using the opportunity to take a nap, before escaping, when he saw an opportunity in them to make money. Trusting him was another mistake. People are flawed and complex, and so should our art imitate that. Rose adored Finn before she even met him. Finn didn’t want to be the person who did the wrong thing, but he didn’t see himself as the hero that she saw, which is why she met him trying to desert a second group. He eventually learned to do the heroic thing, but he hasn’t learned to choose his battles, something Poe had to learn the hard way a few times in this movie. Phasma’s appearance was full circle for Finn to prove that he is not where he came from, another great theme in this film, and the battle was a good bit of side-action. It’s also very likely that we’ll see “Chrome Dome” in the next film with an eye patch or something. The trip to Canto Bight was a good idea to bring in Finn and a new character. It made sense for them to make the trip, and it wasn’t a loss completely, because their heroism, helps keep the spark of hope alive, as seen in the force sensitive boy with the Rebel ring, who helped them escape by letting all the horse things out. Rose’s line is very powerful, “That’s how we’re gonna win, not fighting what we hate, saving what we love.” Yes, that sometimes involves fighting what you hate, but this is a very important approach to life’s battles, and yes, I teared up.
The issue here is whether or not you like flawed heroes that fail, and whether you believe a fangirl can fall in love with her hero, even though she met him running away. The proselytizing on class warfare and choosing your battles is another factor that separates a lot of fans.
8. There were a lot of scenes and lines that were a lot like the original trilogy.
It’s okay to hate this, because it’s too much like the original trilogy, even the lines. Changing the color of the throne room doesn’t help. Both Rey and Luke leave their training early to save their friends and confront their rival. They both said to their adversary, “I can feel the conflict within you,” and they had conflict in themselves, too. They were both shown their friends dying through a window by a cantankerous and overly-condescending jerk, who later tortured them. Their adversary eventually killed their evil master. There’s a moment where they’re on a Hoth-looking planet. Having some guy shove bits of the ground in his mouth to tell us, “It’s salt,” doesn’t change that the suped-up ATAT’s don’t look that much different than they did in Empire.
It’s okay to love this, because it helps us understand that this is the same Universe, and in mythology and The Heroes Journey, stories happen in cycles. This cycle is decidedly different. We have a different Luke and very different twists on somewhat similar setups. Just as EC predicted, this is different, with some similarities, and this new theme is expanding the Universe and giving us much more complex characters than ever before, providing a stronger message. Henry points this out in another video. Yes, there are some similar lines and visuals, but the outcomes take us on a, dare I say it, trek that is not like we’ve seen before, and similar narrative structures are a part of any classic storytelling anyway. This isn’t a love letter to the original trilogy, but it does pay it its due homage.
The issue is, again, how much is too much in similarity. There is plenty of similarity, and plenty of variety to choose from.
9. Snoke is a nobody and Rey is a nobody.
Geek Versus had a conversation about this, and many a fan theory was crushed as evidenced by many irate posts.
It’s okay to hate this, because almost any sort of backstory about Snoke would have sufficed, even if it didn’t fit with fan theories. Rey’s lineage was built up very strongly by ber compelling pull to Anakin’s (yes, Anakin’s) lightsaber, as well as, the memory of her parents taking off without her, and blacking out everything else before that. They built it up for a big reveal. Rey has such ability and power with ZERO training and even more with a couple of lessons. Why is this? Shouldn’t there be a reason for this? Nothing was just a letdown, and there was no real character development.
It’s okay to love this, because sometimes, people don’t have a special lineage. Sometimes parents are just awful, and it is a potent message that The Force doesn’t belong to anyone. It was meaningful for us to have that build up, just like most orphans hope about their real parents. We saw the let down through her own eyes and felt the disappointment right along with her. This was her development. This was why she was almost tempted to join The Dark Side. She was let down, and now she has even more questions about what she’s supposed to be. She had to choose her own path, which is even more significant, because, that this means heroes can come from anywhere. Villains like Negan from The Walking Dead can have been ex-Teacher/Coaches. We didn’t know much about Palpatine, either, until the prequels. Also, it’s likely that Kylo is just guessing, and this may not be the truth, but honestly, I hope it is. This is a let down, fitting the failure motif in the learning experience of this movie. Granted, this isn’t her failure exactly, but it took the wind out of her sails about who she is and what she is “supposed to do.” She then has to realize that it’s up to her to decide. This gives strength to so many battling their pasts to overcome and move beyond them. The Force doesn’t belong to anyone. It’s inside all of us, and we are the masters of our destiny. Where we come from is irrelevant. I love this message, and I want more of it.
The issue here is if you wanted your epic story to have important reveals about lineage and backstory, or whether you enjoyed that the mundane and sometimes terrible pasts can motivate to be more, to be saviors in our own right.
This movie is not exactly escapism, which is a let down for some who wanted it. It’s highly symbolic, of not only the common threads of classical mythology, but also classic storytelling. So, just as Friar Lawrence remarks in Act 2 Scene 3 in Romeo and Juliet about the similarities of flowers that heal us by smelling them, but kill us by eating them, there is both good and bad within human beings, and sometimes we need to use a little bad to get some good done. Will we see our heroes tame the Darkside within them to be assertive when necessary? I hope so, but keeping the Jungian shadow inside us in check is the crux. Dr. Who is a good man, but beware when this good man goes to war.
Two such opposed kings encamp them still. In man as well as herbs grace and rude will. And where the worser is predominant. Full soon the canker death eats up that plant. -Friar Lawrence