Skip to main content

Non-Spoiler Review of Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi


There are some albums I buy that lift me off the floor the second I hear two or three songs, and compel daily repeat listens until I exhaust every ounce of interest I ever had in them. There are other albums I feel sort of meh about initially which grow on me over time until they become something indispensable.

What I'm trying to get at is there are some works of art that burn like incredibly bright fireworks only to vanish utterly and then there are works with enduring value. One side of ledger you have Offspring's "Smash" which I absolutely adored in 1994 and can safely say I've never listened to once since. On the other you have PJ Harvey's "To Bring You My Love" which I put on at least once every month. What's the difference?

I think there is a certain type of art that leans hard on the spectacle, the easy and cheap emotional high requiring little deep investment of emotion for a pay off. Another type of artist is willing to sacrifice a bit of immediacy for songs that reward repeated appreciation, that add meaning over time rather than lose it.


That is a long winded introduction to my basic reaction after watching Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi which I liked quite a bit even though there wasn’t a lot that had me out of my seat cheering. I do suspect, however, this is a movie I will still enjoy quite a bit next year, the year after that and on into the future.

In very loose terms (which I'll flesh out when I get a chance) the movie picks up almost immediately after the events of the first of the new trilogy of Star Wars. Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Finn (John Boyega) are attempting to flee the base of the Resistance, as the military might of the First Order closes in. Rey (Daisy Ridley), having found Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), waits impatiently for his reaction to her entreaty for assistance.

In ways both little and large, this movie never quite goes in the directions I expected, while hewing close to the outlines I assumed it would follow. It has an unusual structure for a Star Wars movie but not in terms of a WAR movie. It also feels very much like a story resting firmly on the innovations of the internet and smart phones as much as its predecessors do on WWII developments like the aircraft carrier and weapons of mass destruction. I enjoyed it last night and enjoy it more upon reflection. I look forward to seeing it again.

High points for me include the fine work Adam Driver does as the ever tortured Kylo Ren/Ben Solo, the intensity of Carrie Fisher's General Leia, and the feeling by the end of the movie of a franchise that is deliberately, firmly setting off in a new direction.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Reading Response to "A Good Man is Hard to Find."

Reader Response to “A Good Man is Hard to Find” Morgan Crooks I once heard Flannery O’Connor’s work introduced as a project to describe a world denied God’s grace. This critic of O’Connor’s work meant the Christian idea that a person’s misdeeds, mistakes, and sins could be sponged away by the power of Jesus’ sacrifice at Crucifixion. The setting of her stories often seem to be monstrous distortions of the real world. These are stories where con men steal prosthetic limbs, hired labor abandons mute brides in rest stops, and bizarre, often disastrous advice is imparted.  O’Connor herself said of this reputation for writing ‘grotesque’ stories that ‘anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic.’ This is both a witty observation and a piece of advice while reading O’Connor’s work. These are stories about pain and lies and ugliness. The brutality that happens to characters …

Arisia 2019: Wrap Report

Arisia 2019 is over!

It’s back to the real world this week after an entire weekend in Arisia 2019. I go to this convention every year, but this one will definitely be special to me. For one thing, this is the year that felt, at least for a moment, like it wasn’t going to happen. If the debacle with the e-board wasn’t enough, there was the strike at the Westin. The convention felt slimmer this year for sure. A lot of people self-selected to not come this year and honestly with the smaller, more confined venue of the Boston Park Plaza, that was a decision enormously beneficial to my enjoyment of this con.
I had a blast. I was more invested in the panels this year because I wrote a portion of them. It’s one thing to go to a panel and listen for reading suggestions, or new ideas, or people to follow on social media, but it’s quite another to put together a panel of people to create a very specific conversation and then get to sit back to see how the discussion plays out. I loved that aspect…

Reaction on Utopia Versus Dystopia

Are stories about utopias morally superior to stories about dystopias? By writing about futures where governments break down, resources run dry, pandemics run rampant, and zombies wolf down unsuspecting pedestrians, are we making those things more likely to happen?
Give credit where credit is due, +Robert Llewellyn asked a provocative question in his post to the the sci-fi community the other day. Does the preponderance of dystopian, post-apocalyptic (a word he doesn't actually use, but I feel fits his description of most zombie movies) come from the fears of the ruling class (predominantly white, anglo-saxon and rich)? Are these futures presented to us because that's the future the elites fear, one of rapidly reduced power and prestige? 
Robert quickly back-tracked from his question on whether or not dystopias are ever written by the under-privledged. Of course there are, from all over the world. There are also plenty of writers from conservative or elite backgrounds more th…