Tag Archive | Luke Skywalker

Unsolicited Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi Review


Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill
Directed by Rian Johnson
2017

Accepting reality is one of life’s most difficult challenges. Answers elude burning questions, or arrive with baggage you couldn’t expect. The wrong decision feels one hundred percent right; the right decision leaves everyone feeling wrong. These ideas form the core of The Last Jedi, an entry in the Star Wars saga that blurs the good versus evil / black against white mythos that’s been cemented in this entertainment monolith for decades. The results are dream-like, surreal, mostly captivating, occasionally bonkers—yet you witness a growth, not just with the characters but the franchise itself.

The Last Jedi picks up right where 2015’s The Force Awakens left off; Rey (Daisy Ridley) has located the hermit Luke Skywalker, whom she hopes will join the Resistance against the First Order while training her in the ways of the Force. Luke, still reeling from events in his recent past, is wary of this young newcomer and the trouble she may bring to his doorstep. Meanwhile, a power struggle is coming to light within the First Order as Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) openly doubts the abilities of Darth Vader’s grandson, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Ren is battling his own demons and is not in fact very present in mind for what the First Order believes will be the final push against General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and her Resistance. There’s internal distress on that side, too, as spicy boy pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and ex-stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega) bristle under Resistance leadership and ultimately go rogue.

Ideas that the Star Wars prequels fumbled to infamy are presented here with grace and wonder. There are also moments in The Last Jedi where they roll the space dice and come up with droid eyes. Of course, this echoes the film’s aforementioned themes—you can’t always get what you want, reality can be a bitch. Director Rian Johnson has broken away from the formulaic feel that many believe hampers The Force Awakens; at the same time, Johnson (who also authored the script) deepens the chemistry between the leads, bringing resonance to the fact this war for the galaxy’s heart is extremely personal.

And yes, the rumors are true: this might be the Star Wars with the most jokes. One liners, visual gags, even bits reminiscent of Monty Python. The levity is appreciated as it bridges the gap between emotional set pieces. Don’t forget, The Last Jedi is two hours plus. A little editing may not have hurt, but perhaps that would decrease the perfectly feverish ambience.

FINAL SCORE: Three and a half porgs (out of four).

Thirty Years Of Jabba The Hutt’s Bitchy Admin Assist

Return of the Jedi was released thirty years ago today. Thirty years—three decades!—of salty Ewoks jokes, homemade Princess Leia bikinis, and of course Bib Fortuna, who I think we can all agree is the most enduring character from the original trilogy. To this day, you can’t stop children in every country of the world from putting sweatpants on their heads and growling in homage to Jabba the Hutt’s bitchy administrative assistant.

I’m just teasing you, Bib. Thanks to the prequels, there’s an army of Star Wars characters far more useless than you. Baby Greedo, for instance.

Return of the Jedi could have been ballsier. They could have killed off someone more pivotal than Yoda on the hero’s side. The film also could have looked better; whereas Star Wars has a visual grit and Empire a dream-like quality, Jedi looks very…pedestrian. The cameras really fail in capturing the gravity of what’s happening in this world. It’s no surprise to learn cinematographer Alan Hume quit late in Jedi’s production and was never officially replaced (word has it Hume was fed up with the way director Richard Marquand was being treated by the film’s production team).

That said, the sixth episode of this nutty space saga delivers in terms of narrative conclusion. We get what we were hoping for in Darth Vader’s final turn, and the very end is just the right amount of heartbreaking when you’re seeing it through Luke’s eyes. This makes Luke a true Jedi and a man—i.e. an outer space Johnny Cash-type who can host a private funeral without shedding tear one. Han Solo, emotionally transformed as well following his human popsicle ordeal, sticks around to help the Rebels and even invokes “bros before hoes” when sorting his romantic jive out with Leia.

Of course, the only reason Han can be Unfrozen Freelance Hero here is because Lando Calrissian performs a penance for his Empire Strikes Back treachery: according to official canon, the former Mayor of Cloud City did a full year as one of Jabba’s palace guards on the off chance Luke, Leia, and the droids would somehow pull their shit together to rescue both Han and himself. Talk about bravery and/or taking one for the team. There was no guarantee there. Imagine if the Rancor had somehow eaten Luke. Then what the hell would Lando have done?

Let us also note that despite a proliferation of cutesy Muppet-related nonsense Return of the Jedi offers its share of raw moments. Jabba the Hutt is literally choked to death by Princess Leia. An Ewok eats it onscreen, prompting another Ewok to sort of get all Platoon on us. Luke goes balls out in the closing seconds of his lightsaber battle with Vader, hacking away like his father’s torso is a piñata, all the while wearing a “Bitch, how you like me NOW?” expression on his face. Yoda dies of old age in close-up, which is really powerful because this guy’s supposed to be the strongest (good) Jedi in the galaxy yet he can’t mind trick the Grim Reaper (although, based on his elongated speech patterns, you can tell he’s fighting it with every molecule in his tiny green body).

Today, as a thirty-four year old recovering Tattooine addict, life with Return of the Jedi is a little bittersweet. G. Lucas can’t stop scribblin’ on his movies with CGI, and right now Jedi—the most recent Star Wars outing that’s more fun than slog—suffers worst of all. Great musical sequences altered and/or erased in favor of ham-fisted crap. Sarlacc penis. Blinking Ewoks. Prequel Hayden painted over Sebastian Shaw. Tiny Jar Jars. It puts a damper on everything. Yo dawg, where my Yub Nub at?

I guess it’s like an old girlfriend. You remember the good times, before she took that hard left and decided the moon cult was more important than you. What can you do? Complain about it on a blog, I guess.

At least Bob Fortuna remains in all his original 1983 glory. Kay one-a wunga indeed, my friend.

Another Artistic Photo Of Plastic

Here we see the heavily-rumored conga sequence from J.J. Abrams’ forthcoming Star Wars movie wherein Luke dances with himself, Lando Calrissian, and a bunch of dead people.

Slayer’s Reign In Blood Totally Synchs Up With Star Wars

Way back in 2006 I conducted a year-long “study” wherein I tried to find an album that synched up with the original Star Wars a la Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz. My “findings” can still be viewed here; a much more concise and readable overview of the entire affair, however, is available via this sexy thing.

Green Day’s American Idiot ultimately proved itself to be Star Wars’s Dark Side OTM, but I’ve always wondered: Is there anything that synchs up to the same degree that isn’t an eyeliner-laden anti-Bush rock opera? Now I’m ready to continue the search, because I don’t have a job or a girlfriend or any responsibility that would prevent me from further dilly-dallies in sensory deprivation.

Welcome to the Great Star Wars Synchronicity Project Part II: Ewok Boogaloo. This time, it’s personal.

Last night I sat down with Slayer’s Reign in Blood, that satanic heavy metal delight from 1986, and fired up the original original Star Wars to see what magic would unfold. Per my previous experimentations, I started the album immediately after the second drumroll in the 20th Century Fox fanfare. Behold, the eighteen moments of synchronization I witnessed:

– the phrase “destroy” in “Angel of Death” is heard as the word “destroy” in the opening text scroll is approximately mid-screen

– the opening scroll fades away just as the breakdown in “Angel of Death” begins

– the Tantive IV flies onscreen the same moment “Angel of Death” resumes its normal speed

– a drumroll in “Angel of Death” occurs at the same moment the droids are seen reeling from an explosion (it looks like the drumroll made them shake and shimmy)

– Darth Vader strolls aboard the Tantive IV to survey the body count as we hear the lyric “angel of death, monitor the kingdom of the dead”

– “Piece by Piece” begins at the same moment Princess Leia shoves that disc into R2-D2

– a closeup of Darth Vader’s face appears at the same moment we hear the lyric “no emotion, death is all I see”

– the phrase “a flash” is heard as the stormtrooper fires his stun ray at Princess Leia

– the lyric “the only one way out of here” in “Piece by Piece” is heard as the droids are seen getting into the escape pod, and the song ends at the same moment a laser blast explodes over C-3PO’s head

– “Jesus Saves” plays through the entire sequence where the jawas save R2-D2 from, uh, hours of rolling along to nowhere in the desert

– the guitars in “Criminally Insane” start at the exact moment R2-D2 begins shuffling through the sandcrawler

– “Reborn” begins playing the same moment we first see Luke Skywalker (Luke = the rebirth of the Jedi)

– the lyric “I can’t control my destiny” is heard as the doomed Uncle Owen is in closeup (Uncle Owen has no control over his destiny to become a charred corpse via angry stormtroopers)

– the lyric “leave you ripped and torn” is heard as C-3PO is in closeup (Threepio is seen ripped and torn at various points during the Star Wars trilogy)

– the opening thunderclap of “Raining Blood” is heard the moment Luke gets up from the dinner table to run off in a huff

– the lyrics “awaiting the hour of reprisal, time slips away” are heard as Uncle Owen is seen looking for Luke (“He better have those droids in the south field by midday or there’ll be hell to pay!”)

– the final really loud thunderclap of “Raining Blood” coincides with R2-D2’s alarm concerning invading sandpeople

– “Raining Blood” stops at the exact moment the sandpeople drop an ostensibly dead Luke Skywalker on the ground

Pretty trippy, but nowhere near as synchronized as American Idiot. The hunt continues. I’ve acquired a lot of new music since 2006 and I’m sure I can find something that blows Green Day out of the water (even though I may have concluded the exact opposite in the past).