Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi

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We saw the new Star Wars movie last night. I'm glad we went, mainly because we finally found out a few answers to the questions raised by Episode VII. The Last Jedi had its exciting moments, a few funny moments, but overall, I found it unsatisfying.

Like many Tulsans my age, I saw the original Star Wars at the original Southroads Cinema and was an immediate fan. Somehow I missed seeing The Empire Strikes Back until years after it premiered, but I saw Episode VI on opening night with a bunch of MIT friends at a multiplex in Boston's West end. The prequels came along during the childhood of my oldest kid, but I think Episode III was the first one he got to see in the theater; I still remember with a smile his comparison of the machinations of Senator Palpatine in Episode III to then-Mayor Bill LaFortune.

(The Southroads Cinema was a free-standing building operated by the General Cinema Corporation, which stood roughly where the parking lot for Party City is now. I think it was still a single-screen theater at this point in its history. In the early to mid 1970s -- after the demolition of the grand downtown theaters and before the construction of the Williams Center Cinema -- the Southroads and the Continental were the grandest places in town to see a movie. Stanley Kramer's Oklahoma Crude, which starred George C. Scott and Faye Dunaway, both at the heights of their respective careers, had its world premiere at the Southroads in 1973. The Southroads was eventually "twinned" and then closed in 1993.)

Over at The Daily Wire -- Ben Shapiro's news and commentary website -- I found some worthwhile commentary about this movie specifically and the franchise generally.

First, here's a non-spoiler essay by Shapiro about the cosmology of the Star Wars series: "'The Force' in 'Star Wars' Is Stupid and Immoral":

But more than that, the Dark Side vs. Light Side nonsense prioritizes feelings over behavior. Hate doesn't lead to evil. It depends on what you hate. Lucas says hate leads to suffering. Well, hating the Nazis didn't lead to suffering. As Proverbs 8:13 says, "To fear the Lord is to hate evil." And passivity doesn't lead to decency. Gandhi urged the Jews to try passive resistance against the Nazis. That was moronic.

Worse, the morality of the Force creates the worst sort of moral equivalence. It's the same idiotic logic that leads every show these days to include some character chiding the prospective hero about not killing the bad guys, lest they become the bad guys. If you use hate to kill the Emperor, the Emperor has won, this logic goes.

Really? What if you use hate to kill the Emperor, then turn around and don't use hate on the civilians? Was it better to sit there in a cave while millions of voices cried out and were suddenly silenced on Alderaan? Wouldn't it have been slightly better for Obi Wan not to have retreated to his cave monastery?

The vision of the Force in the Star Wars galaxy is morality-free. It's feelings-centered, which is another way of saying "selfish." Who cares about your feelings? Go kill the Emperor using whatever means you have at your disposal. And it turns out that shooting lightning from your fingertips and Force-choking is a slightly more useful skill set than Jedi mind tricks that don't even work on Jabba.

The site has also published some spoiler-laden reviews and essays on the latest film:

SPOILERS in my comments after the jump:

I found myself nodding in agreement with James Barrett's list of fan complaints. Adding to that:

It was a crime to end Admiral Akbar's life in such an instantaneous and meaningless way.

Laura Dern's purple-haired admiral was an annoying waste of a character (whose name I don't recall and can't be bothered to look up). With her coiffure, dress, and body language, she looked like someone you might spot at a fashionable cafe in Napa Valley, sipping chardonnay and trading catty remarks with her girlfriends about an absent member of their circle. She was a far cry from the fierce khaki-clad action heroine of Jurassic Park. Only a few minutes after her appearance, it was still unclear whether she was a coward or a fool or someone noble and wise. Her parting from Princess Leia was awkward, and lacked the weight of what was about to happen. The emotional groundwork hadn't been laid for her suicide attack on the command ship. Akbar would have been better positioned for a noble farewell speech and going down with his ship.

Snoke: What the heck? He looked like the CGI cartoon he was. He'd have been better off left as the enormous hologram of Episode VII. In the prequels we found out why the Emperor was so hideously ugly, but we have learned nothing about Snoke, except that he wasn't Force-filled enough to notice a lightsaber at his elbow. And now he's dead. How did he come to power? What did he want with power? Why did Bill Weasley -- always knew he was a pompous fink -- go to work for him?

There is a spoof Twitter account called Emo Kylo Ren. Yep.

I will probably go to the theater to see Episode IX. Or maybe I'll just read some spoiler reviews so I know what happened to the characters I don't care about.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on December 27, 2017 11:52 PM.

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