The Bones of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

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The Bones of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

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This film is perhaps the most controversial of the Skywalker Saga. Whether you love it or hate it—and most people are on one end or the other—it certainly gives us a lot to talk about!

Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

If you missed any of the previous installments of Good Bones, you can find them here:
Episode I
Episode II
Episode III
Episode IV
Episode V
Episode VI
Episode VII

Let’s get to it!

Episode VII: The Last Jedi

Instead of the bones of this movie, let’s start with the expectations that Episode VII left us with, or what we were expecting as the bones of this film:

Expectations / Bones

The New Order destroyed the existing government and is taking over the galaxy. Leia and the new rebels will stand against them.
Finn is force sensitive.
Finn and Rey might be love interests.
Rey is crazy powerful with the Force. Snoke seems to know who she is, so she must be someone important!
Kylo Ren is a really bad guy.
Luke is going to train Rey like Yoda trained Luke!
Luke must be the Last Jedi.
Snoke must be Darth Plagueis.

The New Order and the rebels:
The rebels are obviously in a bad spot at the beginning of the film. They’re evacuating a base and running from the New Order, who outnumber and out-gun them.
Honestly, I loved Poe’s stalling tactic at the beginning. I hated that they made General Hux a bit of an idiot in this film, but I did laugh.

Star Wars has never been military science fiction. Yes, we’ve seen the military structure, but we’ve never been in the middle of it.

Until now. Poe goes against orders and gets a lot of people killed, but feels like it was worth it to take down the dreadnaught. Leia, who is clearly in charge, chastises him, demotes him, and tosses him off the bridge.

This is a logical move in regards to a military story, and I’m not saying the Leia is wrong, but we’re not used to such consequences in Star Wars. Heroes get pat on the back, and no one who can be of use is thrown aside.
When Admiral Holdo jumps in, she treats Poe like an idiot, instead of listening to one of her best pilots and leaders. Again, maybe fine for military sci-fi, but it didn’t sit well for Star Wars.

Also, it felt like forced conflict. The writers couldn’t make the chase (I’m going to ignore how dumb that was, BTW. Battlestar Galactica did it well, just saying…) interesting enough, so they had to thrown in Poe’s mutiny, Finn’s pseudo desertion, and their insane plan.
Wouldn’t Holdo share the goal with her staff? Maybe even the whole ship? It’s not like Poe is a private. He’s still an officer, and should be in on this plan to get to an old rebel base. That felt like the writers withholding information from me, the watcher, and that made me cranky.

In the end, no one comes to Leia’s rescue. No old friends or allies. Nothing in this film showed me that the galaxy is that afraid of the New Order until that moment, which is bad writing.

Poe’s growth as a character isn’t a bad arc, but it was so obvious I rolled my eyes and groaned in the theater. He made the mistake in the first scene, then makes the right call near the end. Ten-year-olds can write that.

Finn likes Rey and he might be force sensitive:
Both of these expectations are trashed in this film.
Which could have worked…but it didn’t fly for me.
Rose jumps in out of nowhere and spends the film becoming Finn’s love interest. Or friend? Wait, there’s kissing. No one is sure what’s going on with them.

I didn’t mind Rose, but the whole trashing the casino and freeing the oppressed animals (which are going to be rounded up and probably whipped later, along with the kids) felt like someone forcing their ideals down my throat.

If you want to make a statement, fine, make a statement, but be subtle about it. Don’t tell people what they should believe or think, show them a different point of view, then let them decide if they want to change their feelings on the matter.

Since when is Star Wars about hating rich people? Leia is a princess, for crying out loud.

I didn’t notice anything that leaned toward Finn being force sensitive, like they hinted in Episode VII, which I thought was disappointing. They had the kid at the very end show force powers, but not Finn? Why not?

Rey is crazy powerful with the Force. Snoke seems to know who she is, so she must be someone important!
Yes, Rey is powerful with the force, but Luke senses too much darkness in her, so she’s bad.

Also, according to Kylo Ren, she’s no one. Her parents sold her for drinking money and then left her on Jakku.
I was onboard with this, because I thought it would be cool if the force was reaching out to other beings in the galaxy, trying to reestablish itself and find balance.

Rey being no one worked for me, and I kind of like how it finally popped her stupid, “I’m no one if I don’t know who my parents are” idiot ball.

Kylo Ren is a really bad guy:
Yup. He is.

But wait, is he?

I actually loved this part of the movie. The scenes with Kylo and Rey seeing one another through the force were intriguing and eye-opening.

Seeing both Luke and Kylo’s point of view about what happened when Luke thought about killing Kylo, and then seeing the truth, was AWESOME!

That trauma is what’s driving these three films (or should be anyway). Why did Luke leave? Why are Leia and Han apart? Why did Ben Solo turn into Kylo Ren? This is a deep and poignant premise that I really loved.

Luke is going to train Rey like Yoda trained Luke!
Luke must be the Last Jedi.
Nope and nope.

Turns out Luke refuses to traditionally train Rey, and he’s not the last Jedi.

Going back to the trauma of Luke listening to the dark side and almost killing his nephew, his exile makes total sense. He inadvertently turned Ben, and blames himself for everything.

To be totally frank, THIS is the story I want to see. Showing me the aftermath kind of works, but man, if you want a heart-wrenching tale that fans will be talking about for years, give us that one.

I did love Luke’s final battle with Kylo. We got to see the grouchy old man he’d become mixed with some snark that was cool. I didn’t love that he died.

So who’s the last jedi?

We see that Leia has force powers when she pulls herself back into the ship after the bridge is hit near the beginning of the film.

There should have been little signs of this in the Episode VII. She says there is still good in Kylo, but that’s a mother talking. If they would have given us a couple of solid hints at her powers, her self-rescuing moment would have been met with cheers, instead of people cocking their heads to the side going, “huh?”

Her being the last Jedi works. Unfortunately, Carrie Fisher passed away before they could film Episode IX, so we’ll never know how that was truly supposed to play out.

Snoke must be Darth Plagueis:
Nope again.

I was so disappointed when Kylo so easily killed Snoke. (Although the scene was written well.)

Why have a cool bad guy if he’s that weak? This was maybe the last straw for me in this film. Who is the bad guy? Were they really going to throw in someone new for the very last movie of the Skywalker Saga? It made me twitch.

Other things I liked were that Finn and Rose actually failed in their crazy mission. That was kind of new for Star Wars, and it worked. I thought the fight with Rey and Kylo vs the throne room guards was great.

I also liked the two-edged sword of Kylo’s words to Rey when he says to leave the past behind or kill it if you have to. Well done there.

There’s no real mention of the balance of the force, which is what they promised us way back in Episode I. Grrr…

I think a single conversation between Holdo and Poe, where she listens to him instead of treating him like an inferior man, would have fixed a lot of this film. Sure, let him try his crazy plan. Keep him busy while Holdo work on this other plan.

The moment where Holdo dies was an amazing piece of cinematic art, but…where did that come from? Why has no one done it before? Or mentioned it as a possibility? This is just one of too many plot holes for my taste.

To me this film tossed aside or twisted too many of the expectations from Episode VII. A plot twist or two are great, but it felt like too many people said The Force Awakens was too much like A New Hope, so the director and writers of this movie said, “Fine! We’ll make it so different you won’t be able to whine about it this time!” (With some foot stomping and door slamming in there too.)

Like I said at the beginning, most people either loved this film or hated it. I don’t love it. Fresh ideas are good, but it’s still Star Wars. Respect the core material and go from there.

What are your thoughts on this film? Are you a lover or a hater?


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