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The Last Jedi: Official Review and Opinions Thread ** SPOILERS ** — Page 261

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I swear if no one said “subvert expectations” before this movie came out, no one would think the movie was actively trying to do that. It at the very least wouldn’t be The Buzzword for TLJ criticism. Take everything in the film at face value - not in conversation about director’s intent - and there’s not a whole lot about it that plays with conventions as much as people like to say it does.

Pulling the rug out from under people only to pull it back in is the kind of pretentious thing the film gets accused of. I don’t see how that would fix the issues people are dead set on wanting it to have.**

**not that the film doesn’t have real problems

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 (Edited)

While that’s certainly true, I’m pretty sure it’s intentional. I think whether it works for you or not comes down to if you ultimately think Rian was being smart or pretentious.

I’d argue that TLJ is more pretentious than smart in this area.

Consider Lando. In less than twenty minutes of screentime he goes from possibly adversarial to seemingly friendly then traitorous to his friends to repentant and allied with our heroes. It’s a constant rollercoaster of emotion, but it is actually just a more dramatic version of the pattern that exists for each ally in the OT. Lando. Obi-wan. Yoda. The Ewoks. Each of these allies is introduced with a moment of uncertainty, whereupon their friendliness is revealed. After establishing themselves as friends they then inevitably come into conflict with our heroes and then this conflict is resolved with one or both parties learning and growing from the experience.

The TLJ allies, by contrast, don’t have nearly the same movement along this axis. Their movement is merely from antagonist to ally, and even this little movement is sometimes abrupt at the end. Perhaps Rian wanted to get right to the drama of each partnership, but in doing so he ignored the greater reason for the partnership - the fact that these characters are ostensibly on the same side. Without this baseline the drama is all we see, and it risks portraying these characters as dysfunctional.

I keep coming back to the example of Lando. If he could become a three-dimensional character as a secondary addition halfway through a movie, there’s no reason TLJ couldn’t write similarly compelling characters given an entire 2.5 hour runtime.

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There’s a difference. Lando and the Ewoks did actually did change as events moved along. They were actual adversaries that became allies. Rose and Holdo didn’t change at all, they changed the main characters views. Finn learned from Rose and Poe from Holdo. To me TLJ is about learning from failure. Decisions aren’t always black or white, there’s a whole lot of gray.

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It depends on whether you think these characters ever become more than simple narrative roadblocks. Luke’s personal arc aside the others are gone in TROS (Holdo for real and Rose being left for dead by the writers) which means they don’t get further development. A trilogy is a long format that has room to flesh out certain things, but many here have been left almost bare.

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Rodney-2187 said:

There’s a difference. Lando and the Ewoks did actually did change as events moved along. They were actual adversaries that became allies. Rose and Holdo didn’t change at all, they changed the main characters views. Finn learned from Rose and Poe from Holdo. To me TLJ is about learning from failure. Decisions aren’t always black or white, there’s a whole lot of gray.

^ " The greatest teacher , failure is " -Yoda . That is indeed the central theme of TLJ . I had a teacher , decades ago in art school ,who taught his students this exact principle ,which is one of the reasons this theme resonates so strongly with me . As for Luke being an antagonist , I would say it was Rey being the antagonist in the beginning of TLJ . Luke just wanted to be left alone , Rey antagonized him . In the end , Luke did the right thing ,heeding Yoda’s final lesson .

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Might be more suited for HAL’s thread, but it’s kind of dead so I thought I’d put it here. He mentions in his commentary that in Rey’s duel with Luke, his initial viewing reaction was along the lines of “oh, it’s Rey outdoing my hero again…” - but I’m not crazy, Luke wins the fight, right? He fairly effortlessly blocks every blow and then disarms her. She’s the aggressor, he has no intention of hurting her. She only ‘wins’ after that by drawing a lightsaber on him, and I can hardly hold it against Luke for backing away from that rather than attempting to continue to fight with a stick!

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Mocata said:

It depends on whether you think these characters ever become more than simple narrative roadblocks.

This is so nail on the head for me, it’s actually not that I dislike these characters/viewing them as antagonist vs protagonist, but at times they actively halt the plot from progressing. Rose actually becomes more of the exception here, I just didn’t like the casino planet. That and in my opinion Finn’s intelligence gets a complete nerf just to serve Rose which only diminishes his character more to me.

“The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force.” - DV

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sade1212 said:

Might be more suited for HAL’s thread, but it’s kind of dead so I thought I’d put it here. He mentions in his commentary that in Rey’s duel with Luke, his initial viewing reaction was along the lines of “oh, it’s Rey outdoing my hero again…” - but I’m not crazy, Luke wins the fight, right? He fairly effortlessly blocks every blow and then disarms her. She’s the aggressor, he has no intention of hurting her. She only ‘wins’ after that by drawing a lightsaber on him, and I can hardly hold it against Luke for backing away from that rather than attempting to continue to fight with a stick!

You’re right! Just goes to show how that thought process goes, especially over time.

Well done. I will disengage self-destruct initiative.

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NeverarGreat said:

Luke immediately throws away the lightsaber and shuts himself in his hut, refusing to help Rey or the Resistance.
Rose, despite her initial fangirl attitude, actively thwarts Finn’s escape attempt in the process and then accuses him of being a traitor.
Holdo immediately gives Poe a dressing-down and refuses to let him in on her plans, to the point that he believes that she is an enemy.

I don’t really agree. Luke’s character arc is sort of the entire point of the movie, I don’t think changing it would be a good idea. And with Holdo, she’s not an antagonistic ally, she’s functionally a straight antagonist until the end of the movie.

Rose is the only character here where this really applies well to, but even then I wouldn’t consider her an antagonistic ally. More of an ally who gets off to a rough start with Finn. Especially because Finn is clearly in the wrong trying to abandon ship.

The short of it is that Rian was so enamored with subverting expectations that he forgot to make the allies of the film likeable from the outset.

It really sucks that “subverting expectations” has been so associated with the Last Jedi. It wasn’t Rian’s governing mindset making the movie, it’s just something he said once behind the scenes and the marketing department plastered that soundbyte everywhere.

sade1212 said:

Might be more suited for HAL’s thread, but it’s kind of dead so I thought I’d put it here. He mentions in his commentary that in Rey’s duel with Luke, his initial viewing reaction was along the lines of “oh, it’s Rey outdoing my hero again…” - but I’m not crazy, Luke wins the fight, right? He fairly effortlessly blocks every blow and then disarms her. She’s the aggressor, he has no intention of hurting her. She only ‘wins’ after that by drawing a lightsaber on him, and I can hardly hold it against Luke for backing away from that rather than attempting to continue to fight with a stick!

Absolutely. I have no idea what HAL’s opinion is or even if he’s the one you’re talking about, but I see that sort of take a lot on the internet.

While they’re fighting, Luke gives Rey a light tap with his metal pole (?), which shows that Luke’s in total control of the fight. Rey is leaving herself so open, and Luke is so far above her in skill, that he’s able to playfully hit her. If it were a real fight, if Luke actually felt like he was in any sort of danger, he could have made that deadly.

She only gets (what appears to be) the upper hand because she cheats and pulls a lightsaber, but I still doubt that she even has the upper hand. I’m sure Luke would’ve been able to pull something and “win” against her, especially because of how he’s depicted in that moment. But when a weapon as deadly as a lightsaber is involved, one of the two of them probably would’ve ended up dead. Probably Rey, but that’s still not what Luke wants to happen.

Death of the Author

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After three years and people are still throwing shade at this movie.

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SparkySywer said:

NeverarGreat said:

Luke immediately throws away the lightsaber and shuts himself in his hut, refusing to help Rey or the Resistance.
Rose, despite her initial fangirl attitude, actively thwarts Finn’s escape attempt in the process and then accuses him of being a traitor.
Holdo immediately gives Poe a dressing-down and refuses to let him in on her plans, to the point that he believes that she is an enemy.

I don’t really agree. Luke’s character arc is sort of the entire point of the movie, I don’t think changing it would be a good idea.

My suggestion wouldn’t have changed Luke’s character since his training of Rey would still be designed to show her the error of the Jedi and not for the goal of helping her become a Jedi at all.

And with Holdo, she’s not an antagonistic ally, she’s functionally a straight antagonist until the end of the movie.

That would be fine if Holdo was some sort of potential ally that Poe needed to convince to join the Resistance, but she’s acting as the head of the ‘good guys’. Casting her as an antagonist until the abrupt turn at the end doesn’t endear her or more importantly the Resistance to the audience, which is the whole point I was trying to get across. Establishing clear sides in a conflict is basic storytelling.

Rose is the only character here where this really applies well to, but even then I wouldn’t consider her an antagonistic ally. More of an ally who gets off to a rough start with Finn. Especially because Finn is clearly in the wrong trying to abandon ship.

I mean, though many have argued that Finn is a de-facto member of the Resistance after TFA, TLJ makes it clear that he didn’t actually sign up for it and is only interested in Rey. I wouldn’t say he’s clearly in the wrong for not yet being ready to fully sign on to the Resistance, and even if he was, he’s one of the protagonists so an audience is primed to give him the benefit of the doubt.

The short of it is that Rian was so enamored with subverting expectations that he forgot to make the allies of the film likeable from the outset.

It really sucks that “subverting expectations” has been so associated with the Last Jedi. It wasn’t Rian’s governing mindset making the movie, it’s just something he said once behind the scenes and the marketing department plastered that soundbyte everywhere.

Perhaps I should have used ‘creating a postmodern deconstruction of Star Wars’, which would be more accurate. And this could have been just great, except that it often comes at the expense of basic storytelling techniques. Obviously this works for some people who are on board with these antagonistic characters, and that’s good. But a large amount of the audience did not get on board, and personally I think that was an entirely avoidable problem. Rian has been on record saying that the mark of success for him is a divisive film which is either loved or hated, and I disagree.

It’s possible to make a great, interesting piece of art that is also well-regarded by most of its audience. The Matrix. Blade Runner 2049. Jurassic Park. The Sixth Sense. It just requires the desire to place appeal on equal footing with message.

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Ever since Luke’s appearance in The Mandalorian I’ve noticed several videos on YouTube praising the scene and using it as an excuse to throw further shade at TLJ. What’s the deal with that?

Seriously, I don’t understand the online vitriol.

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fmalover said:

Ever since Luke’s appearance in The Mandalorian I’ve noticed several videos on YouTube praising the scene and using it as an excuse to throw further shade at TLJ. What’s the deal with that?

Seriously, I don’t understand the online vitriol.

Apparently some people just wanted action hero Luke in the sequels, and The Mandalorian has ‘fixed’ his character by giving him some lightsaber action.

In my humble opinion, they’re all knobheads.

“Remember, the Force will be with you. Always.”

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Yeah. I nearly had the opposite thought. It felt like “wow why is the scene treating Luke like he’s this angelic figure?”
But then it all made sense when I remembered… “hypocrisy, hubris.” This is the Luke that island Luke looked back on and felt embarrassed by. Not because he was altogether wrong, but because of his pride.

Well done. I will disengage self-destruct initiative.

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I don’t find it strange at all that people would prefer heroic Luke over failed and depressed Luke. What I think is a bit unfair is that people tend to put the blame squarely on TLJ and Rian Johnson, when in fact it was TFA that established that Luke ran away when the galaxy needed him the most. Even though I’m not a fan of Johnson’s treatment of Luke, I’m not sure I could have done it much better in his shoes.

In my opinion the entire ST treated pretty much all of its characters – both old and new – absolutely shamefully.

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That’s one criticism I’ve never quite grasped. What does it mean to treat a fictional character “shamefully”?

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It means different things for different characters. Obviously the common thread is that there was never any sort of character arc for any of the key players. Things set up in one film were abandoned or outright negated in the next. Luke, Rey and Snoke tend to be most often mentioned when it comes to this, but really it is true across the board.

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Hmm, I guess I can see that Snoke has no arc at all, but I don’t think he was ever supposed to be more than just a prop for Kylo Ren, an actual main character. He has no more or less of an arc than Yoda or Obi-Wan in the OT, who exist to serve Luke’s character, or Dooku and Grievous in the PT, who similarly are static character who serve plot purposes and at best foreshadow elements of Anakin’s future. There’s only so much you can do in seven or so hours. Luke on the other hand has a pretty major arc, all about forgiving himself and re-embracing the Jedi - if he was already that way at the start of TLJ, I don’t think it’d be so divisive. I certainly agree there’s a perceptible change in direction between movies, but I feel like that’s a different complaint to static characters.

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I never once complained about characters being static. My point is they are inconsistent.

As for Luke’s arc, he certainly has one over the course of TLJ. It is his saga-spanning arc that I take issue with.

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That’s like all entirely TROS’s fault, though. All they had to do to stick some sort of landing for the ST overall was just not undo TLJ. Because TLJ doesn’t contradict TFA at all, it just had unpopular answers to the questions TFA posited.

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Sorry, I interpreted “never any sort of character arc” as meaning static characters.

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NFBisms said:

That’s like all entirely TROS’s fault, though. All they had to do to stick some sort of landing for the ST overall was just not undo TLJ. Because TLJ doesn’t contradict TFA at all, it just had unpopular answers to the questions TFA posited.

Yes!

Well done. I will disengage self-destruct initiative.