By R.S. Swift (London)
Not only does the new team of Disney and Rian Johnson ruin Episode VIII, I fear it may have ruined the fans love for the Star Wars franchise once and for all…
This review contains spoilers.
Let me begin this review by explaining my relationship with Star Wars, like most sane people in this world I am a gigantic nerd for anything and everything Star Wars I’m also the type of guy who would never find the time to write a full film review, only the uncontrollable, overflowing passion of a Star Wars reaction desperately seeking a space for its opinion on the most inconceivably amazing or dreadful recently launched Star Wars film could do that to me, and so here we are…
Born in 1993 I admittedly had watched the much-despised tyranny of Jar Jar Binks in those prequels – Episodes I, II and III a considerable time before I had even recognised the existence of IV, V and VI. And oh boy did I love the prequels growing up, they were my favourite childhood movies by light years – and guilt will tell you, they still are… But don’t despise me as well just yet, with a little age and with a little time I came to realise just how much better the originals in fact were.
With the franchise already taking well known criticism from its closest fans for the early 00’s prequels, George Lucas had eventually sold it to Disney, cashing in on his own creation, as the passion to make more himself was obviously inexistent.
Now it just wouldn’t be right to jump straight into Episode VIII before I briefly explain my feelings towards J.J Abrams’ reboot of Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
Episode VII definitely wasn’t perfect but I am willing to make a lot of enemies here. It was not far away from being a fucking masterpiece. The shots, the narrative, the costume, the music. I could feel the love and care flowing from this film. Never would I even consider a defecting storm trooper, I don’t know where the credit was due let’s pretend it was all on the back of Abram’s. He was genius; he succeeded in making something as old and abused as Star Wars feel nostalgic yet fresh again. He also masterfully set up a lot of mystery and exiting loose ends, mostly surrounding our brilliant new protagonist Rey and the events that transpired around Luke Skywalker and then with Ren Solo that would span between Episodes VI and VII. During the film I had my early suspicions about that winey little bitch beneath the mask of Kylo Ren but I was willing to let that slide in anticipation of the young man’s development into Episode VIII. It also shared a range of insultingly close features to its long predecessor Episode IV: A New Hope, not to mention this ‘New Republic’ which was blown to shit very quickly before the director had even bothered to build a relationship between it and his audience, I honestly felt more connected to the one minute wonder that was Alderaan, but I digress…
That very mystery and potential of the rebooted Star Wars universe that Abrams’ set up so well in the 1st is the reason its sequel Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, blasted (Just like Alderaan) this 24 year old Star-Wars-crazy man’s heart into a million fucking pieces, that’s the sad part about all this, Episode VIII didn’t make me angry oh I’d wish for some rage, it actually made me upset…
The deep exciting tone set in trailers for Episode VIII hinted at it being the best yet, this more mature, darker Luke Skywalker was calling for the end of the Jedi, how could this be!? Why would he say that, he must have good reasons, I can’t wait to find out along with the other unrevealed plot lines like Rey’s unknown parents. So many cool concepts were flooding my brain left right and centre, when really I should have been heeding his words even closer “This (Star Wars fans) is not, going, to go, the way, you think!” Well your damn sure fucking right about that Mark Hamill.
The Last Jedi started off well enough and I may be embarrassed to admit I didn’t realise it was a large steaming piece of Bantha poodoo until Ren and Rey united to confront the long anticipated Supreme leader Snoke. Well any dreams of Luke vs. Snoke, big fight night 2019 could be laid to rest, as he was disappointing, well, laid to rest. As our onscreen lightsaber wielding pair began fighting Snoke’s loyal guard in unison over his mangled disrespected corpse I honestly didn’t know what I was watching. I had lost the story and myself to time and space, I was on drugs and the high was far from pleasurable. What could it be, this psychedelic drool I was watching, was it a millennial Disney channel doing some sort of imaginary deluded Star Wars spoof? No, unfortunately this was reality, this is what Rian and Disney spat up at me.
So here’s my question Disney: If Abram’s has signed up to be the director for episode 9 then why the fuck have we been given this disgusting filler by an obviously incompetent Rian Johnson? It doesn’t make sense.
No wonder the first real lightsaber battle was so piss poor to watch, these two were yet to be trained by their lazy masters: Skywalker the Grinch that stole the force and the recently deceased carcass of Snoke. I guess that’s what you get when you allow absolutely no passage of time between the two films. It’s not the Star Wars way; if you recall all of the previous films gave some time to move things along. Where as in this the characters (like Rey for example) are standing in the exact same spot as at the end of VII. Proving to make literally no development what so ever on some of its more inexperienced characters, furthermore it would have been extremely difficult to fit in months of Jedi training for Ren and Rey anyway (like Episode VII practically promised might I add) into the films allotted runtime of 2 hours and 35 minutes, it just wasn’t enough to squeeze anything like this in – oh but don’t worry, they didn’t even try.
While we’re on the subject of time, Rey seemed to be with Luke for at least a week or two but there was this whole business that involved Poe and the resistances long-pursued suffering fleet that surly couldn’t have been endured for that amount of time. Throughout the movie its flow constantly failed to add up on numerous occasions. Finn (my once favourite character FYI) and that girl, you know the one, yes the one that should never had been cast, well they were lead on a wild goose chase because the new enacting resistance leader failed to inform her entire people of the plan which just let me tell you – lead to a lot of pointless viewing.
Being as there were so few, I guess I’ll mention what I thought to be the positives of this movie. At the very beginning a marvellous scene involving an unlikely resistance bomber allows us to peer deeper, granting us this never before seen insight into the struggles and impact of all men (and women wink wink) can have on the plight of the Star Wars galaxy, truly expressing that Jedi or no everyone can play their part and even turn the tide of any battle.
Rian Johnson did expertly highlight (on more than one occasion) a magnificent collection of particularly powerful scenes. Almost like a single shot image – which on a metaphorical level, represented something greater within its adapting narrative present and perhaps even subtly hinting of what’s to come in later films.
It also goes without saying – like most modern films with a budget; it is both beautiful to look at and constantly drowns you in stunning visuals.
Yet overall as a Star Wars fan I felt personally insulted on behalf of the entire fan base, not only does it render Episode VIII a complete right-off it actually threatens to put the final nail in the Star-Wars-hate coffin forever. Luke Skywalker, the original Jedi, a hero to many. The pure untainted protagonist. As most of you will know Luke is the Jedi that sees the light even where there is none. Luke just couldn’t bring himself to murder his evil, monstrous world ending father: Darth Vader, even when his wise masters the righteous Kenobi and Yoda were basically egging him on to do so. But with many years of maturity and experience under Luke’s belt he did now however apparently feel as though he could murder his young nephew for having bad thoughts from time to time. At this point it was becoming a sick joke, yes Rian and Disney you are allowed to take risks but that was outright suicidal, not only did that contribute to ruining Star Wars‘ future it has disrespected its past, do not mess with Luke Skywalker’s philosophies, how is Abrams’ supposed to patch that up in Episode IX? He simply can’t.
The disrespect for its own characters past and new was dished out generously throughout; remember the charismatic and cunning fan-favourite Admiral Akbar? Ah yeah well they quickly mentioned (with zero emotional response) that he had perished at his station on the bridge very early on, it was overshadowed by Leia who was part of the same explosion to later fly through the vacuum of space back onto the freighter, yeah you heard me. I’ve already delved into Snoke’s misuse, but Captain Phasma, oh dear Phasma, they had impressively bothered to spend time and effort building up this bitter rivalry between herself and FN21VIIIVII (that’s Finn to you and me) they wasn’t even fighting for all of 20 seconds before she lackadaisically disappeared beneath the fiery pits of death, such a waste.
Oh and remember those cool iconic fade outs that Star Wars has always used to delightfully cut to the next scene, even as late as Episode VII? Well say so long to those in addition to the consistently original and charming music scores because neither exists in this one.
I think it’s worth mentioning that for whatever reason the popular and let’s face it, always relevant R2-D2 continues to be used as some sort of C-listed cameo performance and I for one am not a fan of this decision.
It becomes unbearably tedious to watch a franchise with heaps of feedback from its past to make the same mistakes, although Episode VII was competent enough to use a beautiful collaboration of costume and CGI, VIII had chosen to trade in all of those wonderful attention to detail – costumed non-human characters for utter CGI crap.
But moving on, the climax of the film sees a meditating Luke’s spirit astral project if you will to the iconic final battle scene on Crait (which wasn’t really a battle at all in the end) that is basically a diversion for the thinning resistance to escape while Kylo Ren becomes blindingly immersed with the presence of Luke like a complete imbecile. Not even the 3 year old in the seat behind me believed anyone could be so stupid… Well Luke saves the day but the very act of doing so kills him anyway which begs the question: Why not just go there in person, do an Old Ben Kenobi and die on queue with your little line that you seemed to keep using all film “Everything you just said in that sentence is wrong” No, Rian, everything you just done in that movie was wrong, just so so wrong.
So allow me to reiterate, all of that wondrous mystery I mentioned from Episode VII was completely lost here, thrown away with the potential to create a great piece of storytelling. Rey’s mysterious parents really were nobody and Luke has literally being doing nothing but sulk on a planet he intends to die on. I put my blame on Disney and the Directors, to only what I can describe as an unwillingness to collaborate from the very beginning. It is clear Abrams and Rian did not share the same vision for the narrative of the entire trilogy and ultimately that is why this one, will always fall flat with its audience.
Is the Star Wars culture truly become some sick act of sacrificing its previous fans to the new generation each time? I am sorry to the oldies that had to endure the prequels, I think we get it; I think we finally get it. At least you can say you wasn’t misled with Episode I, they threw whatever disappointment was on the menu straight into your soup appetiser. Episode VII gave me a false hope (a new hope if you will) a delightful dish of battered crab claws before Episode VIII served up the god awful main course, a pasta dish drenched by a nasty Parmesan cheese directly manufactured from the nipple of that grotesque creature ‘Thala-siren’ who’s milk Luke seemed to enjoy so much, but seriously what on earth was that thing?
I cannot and will not believe that there was nobody high up in production that watched the finished edit and did not decide to sit Disney and the board down and say, “Look guys… We absolutely cannot use this, we need to re-think our narrative on this one and take a couple of steps back, apologise to the fans, delay release, sack the director and start re-shooting a large portion of our beloved movie. If you condemn the public to this we do not only ruin our instalment of Episode VIII we ruin the entire Star Wars franchise”.
– On the other hand it will make a fuck-ton of money, so who cares, right?
Now I have absolutely no right to tell anybody to just ‘not go and see a Star Wars film’ but if I could and if you’d be willing, please let it be this one.