Jedi Fallen Order Part 14: The Legacy of The Last Jedi

By Shamus Posted Thursday Nov 19, 2020

Filed under: Retrospectives 542 comments

Last time I said I was going to talk about what makes something “feel” like Star Wars. However, there’s no way we can get near that topic without talking about The Last Jedi, and I’m always wary of bringing it up because of how divisive it is. So before we get started, I need to head off the fight that’s been simmering since 2017. Specifically, I need to give the shove to the angry nerds and culture warriors who have made Star Wars fandom yet another front in their goddamn global slap fight. 

We can divide these folks into two overly-broad and reductionist categories:

  1. “Everyone who hates The Last Jedi is a sexist manchild that’s afraid of female empowerment and just wants endless remakes of the original trilogy!”
  2. “Everyone who claims to like The Last Jedi is an SJW cuck shill who only likes the movie because it shoves their ideology down everyone’s throat!”

These arguments take many forms. There’s the direct assault of, “Your opinion shows that you are a bad person who hates art / people.” Then there’s the more indirect attack along the lines of, “Clearly you weren’t paying attention, or you’re ignorant of Star Wars, or you don’t understand how warfare works. Therefore your opinion is invalid.”

To be clear: I’m fine if you love the movie. I’m fine if you hate it. I’m fine if you’re indifferent or you haven’t seen it. We’re friends! It’s all good!

What I absolutely cannot bear are the people who feel the need to project insidious motives onto the opposition, or who see their appraisal of the film to be some sort of position of virtue. I’m not going to mince words: These arguments are not welcome here. If you get anywhere near projecting stupidity / malice onto the opposition, or if you drag in any culture-war arguments, or if you’re obviously pissed off and spoiling for a fight, then I’m going to delete your comment without warning. I promise to be unreasonable and trigger-happy about this, because this argument has been driving me up a wall since the movie came out and I’ve basically lost my patience with the entire mess.

Why Does This Have to be so Difficult?

Based on the extensive tests I've run, you can't Force-choke people over the internet.
Based on the extensive tests I've run, you can't Force-choke people over the internet.

I find TLJ to be a fascinating movie. I don’t personally care for it, but it’s an interesting movie to examine for the way it pulls at the various threads of “What makes something FEEL like Star Wars?” It embraces some aspects of the series and thoroughly rejects others, and this reveals all sorts of differences among fans about what they’ve been celebrating all these years. 

My frustration is that we can’t ever have this analysis because as soon as the topic pops up, the angry haters and sanctimonious scolds show up and fling shit at each other until it’s impossible for the rest of us to have a reasonable conversation about laser guns and space wizards. They suck the joy out of everything by threadjacking every Star Wars discussion to serve their insatiable hunger for more chances to rage about all the Wrong People who plague the world with their constant Wrongness.  

Also, all of this applies to the passive-aggressive weenies who show up with the attitude of, “Shamus, this culture war stuff is super-important and as a society we need to talk about these things and you’re being immature by not letting us use your blog as a place to host our shit-flinging competition. Besides, it’s literally impossible to discuss a piece of art without using it as a lens to project villainy and disdain onto the Bad People in the world because that’s the only proper use of art.”

You’ve got lots of places to have your culture war. Go find someplace on Reddit to rage against the Great and Horrible Other Tribe. I’ll allow that sometimes cultural conversations are important, but there are lots of things that are life-or-death important in the world. If we’re only allowed to discuss important things then we might as well abandon all forms of entertainment criticism because we can’t talk about frivolous things while [insert global crisis] exists.

This is my website and I want this little corner of the internet to be a place where I can talk about Star Wars without a bunch of emotionally incontinent ideologues dragging us off-topic and creating endless stress and moderation headaches for me.

I’m Just Trying to Stay Sane

We are having an important battle and the outcome will be highly productive for society! We're not just fighting because we're angry children with no self-control or understanding of persuasive techniques!
We are having an important battle and the outcome will be highly productive for society! We're not just fighting because we're angry children with no self-control or understanding of persuasive techniques!

I sincerely apologize for the combative tone. I really want everyone to enjoy this discussion and this website. I realize that starting off with all this negative energy isn’t helping. I’m hoping that if I’m abrasive enough, then the Usual Suspects will steer clear of the topic rather than trying to push me and see how much they can get away with. 

Like I’ve said before, I’ve got people I love and care about all over the cultural and political spectrum, with quite a few landing at the more extreme-ish ends. Their rhetorical sniping is often painful for me. Over the last few years I’ve become frustrated at how hard it is to keep this place friendly while still discussing the things that interest me.

TLJ didn’t sit right with me, but I have no quarrel with anyone who loved it, or thought it was exactly what Star Wars needed. I’m not going to try to persuade you otherwise, and I certainly wouldn’t want to take away the joy you have with this film. Love it or hate it, we’re all cool here as long as we’re all willing to accept that – as a departure from earlier works – there is plenty of room for critique, praise, and analysis when it comes to The Last Jedi.

Okay? Great. Now that I’ve set some limits, hopefully I can mention The Last Jedi without starting a war…

The Demolition Man

Rian Johnson didn't make Demolition Man. But if he did, then the good guy would have been a liability, the bad guy would have died halfway through, and at the end some supporting character would have saved the day through non-combat means. Maybe you'd like that and maybe you wouldn't, but Rian Johnson is not the guy you call if you want to follow a formula.
Rian Johnson didn't make Demolition Man. But if he did, then the good guy would have been a liability, the bad guy would have died halfway through, and at the end some supporting character would have saved the day through non-combat means. Maybe you'd like that and maybe you wouldn't, but Rian Johnson is not the guy you call if you want to follow a formula.

I said above that I’m not a huge fan of TLJ. On the other hand, I actually really like writer / director Rian Johnson. Or at least, I dig the kinds of things he does as a creator. He’s the Demolition Man of genre films. His favorite thing to do is to take a set of established tropes and destroy them by (and this is the part everyone gives him shit about) subverting audience expectations.

This is an artistically valid thing to do! In fact, that’s sort of what created Star Wars. Lucas took the classic fantasy template of castle-stormingIn case it isn’t clear: The Death Star is “the castle”., princess-saving and villain-dueling in a world of simplistic black-and-white morality, and set it in the context of a space adventure with lasers and starships. This was essentially subverting the expectations of both genres. Fantasy fans expect their heroes to ride horses and use a bow, and sci-fi fans of the time often expected something cerebral, speculative, scary, or perhaps even horrific

There was nothing apparent in the Star Wars script that would indicate that Lucas was about to smash box office records and create a cultural sensation. A lot of people thought his film sounded like a terrible idea because it didn’t fit into the expectations of the audiences of the day. In short, if you’re not willing to mess around with audience expectations then you can’t create explosive new things like Dr. Stranglove, The Godfather, Star Wars, Pulp Fiction, The Matrix, or ShrekYes, the Shrek series went to hell. But that first movie? That was VERY clever and unexpected on several different levels. Same goes for the Matrix, I suppose..

Demolishing a genre is not necessarily a bad thing. A certain degree of creative destruction is needed to keep things fresh and interesting. And if you’re looking for someone to mix up the status quo then Rian Johnson is the right man for the job.

It says 'A Rian Johnson Whodunnit', which means it's not actually a 'whodunnit', it's a subversion / deconstruction of the whodunnit concept.
It says 'A Rian Johnson Whodunnit', which means it's not actually a 'whodunnit', it's a subversion / deconstruction of the whodunnit concept.

His most recent movie Knives Out is a perfect example of this. He creates a classic murder mystery setup: An opulent setting of old wealth, a dead guy surrounded by jerks with reason to want him dead, a fortune for a family to fight over, and a detective that needs to solve the crime under some sort of time constraints. We’ve all seen that film. It’s a good concept and a lot of brilliant movies have been made using that template. But it’s also really fun if the director takes all of those expectations and uses them against us by presenting actions and situations that might make sense in the real world – or in another genre entirely – but brazenly violate the conventions of the given genre. Knives Out started with the classic Agatha Christie premise and then broke from tradition again and again, then sort of walks it all back near the end before doing one final reveal that again turns the thing on its head.

Some mystery fans might love a plot that keeps them guessing, while others might feel this story is annoying because of how self-aware it is of its own genre and how much it fails to deliver on the situations they’ve grown to love. You could say this movie reveals the differences regarding “What makes something FEEL like a murder mystery?”

Let’s look at an example of this sort of genre trolling The Last Jedi… 

Where’s Holdo?

Who is she mocking? Poe? The archetype that Poe embodies? The fans who love Poe? The particular behavior that Poe is exhibiting in this scene? Feel free to argue about that forever, because the Author is Dead and this argument is all he left you in his will.
Who is she mocking? Poe? The archetype that Poe embodies? The fans who love Poe? The particular behavior that Poe is exhibiting in this scene? Feel free to argue about that forever, because the Author is Dead and this argument is all he left you in his will.

At the start of the movie, Poe is pressing the attack on the enemy despite the long odds because he’s selling the sort of “faith and hope” optimism that the original movies ran on. But beloved fan-favorite Leia was arguing against this. So we start off in this unsure space where we need to choose between the character we trust and the tropes we’ve come to expect. We don’t normally have to choose between these two things, but here we are. So then people try to reconcile this by arguing about the strategic value of what Poe was doing, but this is Star Wars and the universe isn’t designed to withstand this sort of technical analysis.

A few scenes later and Holdo is suddenly in charge. She’s making decisions that don’t make sense to us right now. Her attitude picks up where Leia left off, so if you sided with Leia earlier then you’ll probably trust Holdo. But if you tried to follow the familiar tropes then you’re siding with Poe, and he doesn’t trust Holdo. So then Poe goes to her and makes a gentle appeal, “I just want to know what’s going on.”

Holdo then mocks him for even asking. She demeans him with a smirk and calls him a “trigger-happy flyboy”. We’re here to see him save the day and she says he’s “The last thing we need right now.” This pits her directly against the desires of the established characters and the audienceOr maybe not! If you’re here to watch Poe be an ace hero that saves the day, this is frustrating. If you’re hoping for something fresh and unexpected, then here you go.. Meanwhile the shot is framed so that she is both literally and figuratively looking down on him. Then instead of answering his question, she pulls rank and puts him in his place, leaving his concerns – which are also the concerns of the audienceOr maybe not! Maybe you’re already on board with Holdo and you see her as a lifeline to pull this series out of its 40-year rut. – unaddressed.

She’s pulling rank, expressing disdain in response to a gentle appeal, keeping secrets from trusted characters, and mocking characters for embodying the heroic archetypes we love. And finally, her visual design is a little off from the white-robed leadershipLeia and Mon Mothma being the two characters that feel closest to the sort of role that Holdo inhabits. we’re used to in Star Wars, making her feel a little out-of-place. 

The filmmaker has covered Holdo in villain signifiers. The writer has put a giant flashing sign over her head announcing, “THIS CHARACTER IS A VILLAIN! SHE WILL BETRAY YOU IN ACT 3!” Rian Johnson is using genre conventions to freak us out. For a lot of people, I’m willing to bet this was completely unconscious. They didn’t know why they didn’t like her. They were just following the subtle cues that they’d learned from a hundred other movies.  

In the movies, Good Guy commanders aren’t supposed to pull rank because that doesn’t fit with the idealism of close friends fighting side-by-side. High-ranking characters always have this elder wisdom thing going on, “Look private, I COULD pull rank on you, but I can tell you’re a good kid. So here is some folksy advice that is directly relevant to your character arc…” Captain Picard did that sort of thing all the time. He was supposedly the captain, but he handed out gentle advice like he was everyone’s dad. That’s not how military commanders work, but that’s how fictional military commanders work in hippie style space-militaries like Star Wars and Trek. In movies pulling rank, keeping secrets, and mocking subordinates are all major villain signifiers.

Luke's story pulls the same trick, forcing us to choose between the characters we love and the tropes we expect. If you embrace these new versions of the old characters, you'll be okay. If you try to follow the tropes, you'll go crazy. And if you want both, you'll probably get mad at the filmmaker.
Luke's story pulls the same trick, forcing us to choose between the characters we love and the tropes we expect. If you embrace these new versions of the old characters, you'll be okay. If you try to follow the tropes, you'll go crazy. And if you want both, you'll probably get mad at the filmmaker.

In the real world Holdo’s actions would be perfectly reasonable. Low-level grunts don’t get to go around questioning the orders of their superiors. Like, just asking is a breach of protocol! It doesn’t matter how cool or well-liked you are, the chain of command exists for a reason. 

The gender politics folks like to jump in here and project their gender arguments onto the situation. And yes, there’s this really irritating side-argument about “This is what the scene is saying about gender but you’re too [exhibiting a personality flaw] to see it” versus “The scene isn’t saying that, you’re just projecting it onto the work because you [have some shortcoming as a person]!”. It’s arguments and accusations all the way down. This is one of the reasons discussions of TLJ are so volatile: These moments that defy expectations and genre conventions mean we can’t even agree on what the author is saying. Not only do we disagree on whether or not we like a particular creative decision, but we can’t even agree on what the decision was, why it was made, or how we’re supposed to interpret it.

But look: This gender argument is a distraction because the conflict doesn’t go away if you swap the genders around. Imagine if Holdo was replaced by a square-jawed dude with a forceful personality and Rey was the one questioning himOr if you prefer, both of the characters are the same gender.. When that guy goes out of his way to “put her in her place” the way Holdo does with Poe, it would set off all the same confusing alarm bells in the audience. We’d instantly have him pegged as a bad guy and be waiting for him to get his comeuppance in Act 3. Criticisms of, “I hate him! He’s acting like a villain!” would be met with “No! He’s acting realistically! This is how a real military works!” 

So your interpretation of entire scenes can change based on how loyal you are to the tropes of Star Wars. These differing interpretations compound as the movie goes on. If you side with Poe because he’s talking like a character from A New Hope, then you’ll be against Holdo when she shows up, which means those villain cues will signify her as a villain for you, which means you’ll see Poe’s rebellion as heroic and then be confused and frustrated when it isn’t. If you side with Leia instead of the tropes, you’ll go in exactly the opposite direction. People think this is an argument over gender, or military structure, or fictional technology, but it’s really an inkblot test for genre tropes.

I’m not suggesting this is the only reason people can’t agree on this movie. This is just one fault line of many. But this is the part I find really interesting. This rift has always existed in the audience. It’s just that we couldn’t see it until TLJ came along.

This is Not an Accident!

What? This is OBVIOUSLY a picture of a woman looking in a mirror. If you're seeing skulls then get your eyes checked, idiot.
What? This is OBVIOUSLY a picture of a woman looking in a mirror. If you're seeing skulls then get your eyes checked, idiot.

Rian Johnson’s genre-bending shenanigans have caused this rift. Holdo is acting like a villain according to the established cues of the sci-fi genre, and yet she isn’t actually villainous. It’s a pretty cheeky move as a writer and I find the deliberate ambiguity to be incredibly frustrating, but it’s not like genre fake-outs are some forbidden thing. Lots of movies zoom in on someone and play ominous music, only to reveal later that they’re actually a good guy. 

Everyone argues about this scene and they shout at each other because the “other side” is apparently too dumb to interpret the scene properly, but this rift isn’t an accident. It’s not like Rian Johnson accidentally made this scene confusing for people to parse. What we’re seeing is a rift created, on purpose, by the script. Some people are interpreting the scene using the typical Star Wars genre expectations, and other people aren’tOr they’re keyed into different tropes. Or they prioritize the tropes differently. It’s complicated.. Almost every controversial scene in the movie is a result of this sort of deliberate exploitation of genre cues.

These things also tend to snowball as the movie goes on. If you see Holdo as A Problem, then this will impact how you interpret later scenes, and so on. If you’re already on Holdo’s side here, then your opinion of Poe will only get worse as the movie goes on. You can argue that an action was strategically sound or not, but there’s always some interpretive wiggle room because the two characters never reconcile, which means the director never has to embrace any particular interpretation.

You can try this sort of analysis yourself. Take a scene that starts arguments and look for the tropes Johnson is using to throw the audience off-balance.

There’s a lot more to say on this topic. I haven’t even begun to cover the “Star Wars feel” stuff yet. But I think I’ve said enough for this week and I sense a lot of people have pent-up frustrations or praise they want to express regarding TLJ. We should probably have that discussion before we go any further.

We’ll come back to this next week.

Reminder: It’s fine if you strongly love / hate TLJ, but before you comment make sure you’re at peace with the fact that many people in the comments will Hate / Love it for reasons that will feel alien to you. If you don’t know how to do that, just try to express your frustration / appreciation in terms of how it made you feel and don’t project motives onto people that disagree. (Also, resist the urge to tell people their feelings are wrong, because That Would be Silly.)

Hate on movies, not on fans and critics. (Or the director. Look, Rian Johnson really got on my nerves in this movie, but that doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy that hates me / Star Wars.) Art is tricky. Don’t make it personal. 

This will be more fun if you go in with with a good attitude. Thanks in advance!

 

Footnotes:

[1] In case it isn’t clear: The Death Star is “the castle”.

[2] Yes, the Shrek series went to hell. But that first movie? That was VERY clever and unexpected on several different levels. Same goes for the Matrix, I suppose.

[3] Or maybe not! If you’re here to watch Poe be an ace hero that saves the day, this is frustrating. If you’re hoping for something fresh and unexpected, then here you go.

[4] Or maybe not! Maybe you’re already on board with Holdo and you see her as a lifeline to pull this series out of its 40-year rut.

[5] Leia and Mon Mothma being the two characters that feel closest to the sort of role that Holdo inhabits.

[6] Or if you prefer, both of the characters are the same gender.

[7] Or they’re keyed into different tropes. Or they prioritize the tropes differently. It’s complicated.



From The Archives:
 

542 thoughts on “Jedi Fallen Order Part 14: The Legacy of The Last Jedi

  1. MerryWeathers says:

    The Last Jedi is definitely my favorite of the Disney Star Wars movies because it’s the one that tries to be an actual film with a clear vision on the story it wanted to tell.

    Though contrary to most people, I don’t consider it to be bold, risky, or even different in a particularly unique way for Star Wars, I see it being different in the sense the plot is mostly character driven (circumstances are set by the characters rather than the plot) with some very specific themes tying all the storylines together which feels new but it’s still a Star Wars story.

    All that said, it’s definitely no masterpiece but it is solid. I don’t consider all the storylines in the movie to be on the same level but the weakest parts were simply inoffensive to me. I also think this is the second Star Wars film that could have benefited the most from having some of it’s deleted scenes restored.

    1. Gethsemani says:

      I very much agree with you. To me TLJ is essentially just ESB for the sequels. It is a movie that subverts its predecessor by turning several of the prior movies conventions on its head. Han hasn’t gone all idealist, he’s still trying to pay off his debt and only sticks around because his ship doesn’t work. Luke isn’t a great Jedi and needs training. Vader is Luke’s father! TLJ does similar things by showing us how Finn is still trying to escape the FO, Poe is actually a hothead and not a great leader and Luke isn’t interested in mentoring Rey.

      It doesn’t nail all of what it does, but I think it deserves a ton of credit for trying to shake up Star Wars and re-imagine what it could be for a new generation.

      1. Orophor says:

        I agree it is very much the ESB of the ST. Overall I liked it, though one part really felt off even with the Rashomon style multiple versions: Luke trying to kill Ben, it just doesn’t seem like something he would do. Not the same guy that redeemed a youngling slayer.

        1. Daimbert says:

          I think it presented it well as a brief temptation that he immediately felt guilty about afterwards. It was just misinterpreted.

          Luke felt rage towards Vader and was even tempted to kill him before pulling away in RotJ after all, so I didn’t find it that out of character.

          1. Falling says:

            It might be presented as such, but the action is more than a brief temptation. If this was a modern drama, Luke pulled a loaded gun and pointed it at his sleeping nephew. That’s not a brief temptation- if people get that far, we tend to lock them up.

            Luke vs Vader contextually is very different when you consider Luke went to save Vader or die trying is constantly baited to fight and refuses. Even when it seems his friends planet side are dead or captured (the shields are still up) and the Death Star is shredding the Rebel fleet. Still Luke refuses to be baited. Only when a momentary lapse allows Vader into his mind and then threaten to corrupt (not kill, mind you) Leia that Luke finally snaps. In the incredible strain and pressure he finally snap due to his own accidental betrayal of his sister to Vader and the idea of her becoming evil because of him. Only then he snaps and then pulls back.

            TLJ Luke was about to cap his nephew on the basis of a bad vision (future always in motion? Not anymore, I guess.) And we were given no examples of Kylo’s bad actions prior to Luke’s near attempt at murder. (Movies being a visual medium, this is a big, big swing and a miss for how drastic Luke’s action was. We needed to SEE Kylo being evil prior to the nearly attempted murder.

            1. MerryWeathers says:

              I would say it’s more like holding a gun over a sleeping person but not pointing it at them, which is more in line with Kylo’s view of the event.

              Both Vader/Ben scenes play out in essentially the same way, Luke’s loved ones are being endangered by someone he’s related to and if he kills that person then he gets to save them but he doesn’t go through with it because “doing bad stuff for the greater good” is not in his character. Luke’s greatest achievement (redeeming Vader) is paralleled with his greatest failure (creating Kylo Ren).

              That also wasn’t the first time Luke acted quickly based on seeing a vision and Force visions/prophecies themselves have been established as being inevitable and self-fulfilling (Anakin trying to prevent Padme’s death is ironically what leads to her death). While I don’t think Kylo did anything bad during his time in Luke’s Jedi Order (he was brought to Luke in the first place because Leia could sense he was becoming more and more suspectible to the dark side), it’s implied that Luke and Ben’s relationship was already troubled from the start and what happened that night was the boiling point.

              1. Falling says:

                “I would say it’s more like holding a gun over a sleeping person but not pointing it at them, which is more in line with Kylo’s view of the event.” I don’t think so. He ignited his lightsaber on a prone ‘opponent’. There’s only one further step which is to swing or stab… aka pull the trigger.

                “That also wasn’t the first time Luke acted quickly based on seeing a vision and Force visions/prophecies themselves have been established as being inevitable and self-fulfilling”
                I don’t think they’ve been proven to be inevitable and self-fulfilling except if you try to prevent them from happening. We’ve seen two cases of impatient/ reckless attempts to thwart visions. But in no case have we seen a ‘wait and see’ approach. If anything, we see a regression with Luke’s character. In the past he was willing to rush out and rescue his friends despite being told that ‘always in motion the future is.’ Now he’s willing to murder over future visions?

                It would make sense to have Luke have developed a different sort of flaw overtime: overconfidence- having rescued Vader, the galactic terror, he thinks he can save anyone and bends over backwards trying to rescue Kylo from his corruption. That would flow from his experiences in the past. It doesn’t make sense that he would start capping sleeping nephews because of bad premonitions. His success rate precludes that. (You’d have to do some serious characterization heavy lifting to get to where Luke is in TLJ and the film is simply unwilling to do it, preferring to handwave and ‘tell’.)

                1. MerryWeathers says:

                  I don’t think so. He ignited his lightsaber on a prone ‘opponent’. There’s only one further step which is to swing or stab… aka pull the trigger.

                  The instinct to kill immediately left as it happened “like a fleeting shadow” in Luke’s own words. Ben woke up at the worst possible moment and misinterpreted that Luke was about to kill him.

                  I don’t think they’ve been proven to be inevitable and self-fulfilling except if you try to prevent them from happening. We’ve seen two cases of impatient/ reckless attempts to thwart visions. But in no case have we seen a ‘wait and see’ approach. If anything, we see a regression with Luke’s character. In the past he was willing to rush out and rescue his friends despite being told that ‘always in motion the future is.’ Now he’s willing to murder over future visions?

                  Luke in the hut was the reckless/impatient attempt at thwarting the vision, he stops once he realized what he’s doing but it’s too late and ironically sets off Ben’s path to the dark side. I don’t see it as a regression but history repeating itself.

                  It would make sense to have Luke have developed a different sort of flaw overtime: overconfidence- having rescued Vader, the galactic terror, he thinks he can save anyone and bends over backwards trying to rescue Kylo from his corruption. That would flow from his experiences in the past. It doesn’t make sense that he would start capping sleeping nephews because of bad premonitions. His success rate precludes that. (You’d have to do some serious characterization heavy lifting to get to where Luke is in TLJ and the film is simply unwilling to do it, preferring to handwave and ‘tell’.)

                  Luke does admit in the film that he developed a hubris and thought everything would be fine while training Ben because he believed in his own legend, that he was infallible. I also don’t think the film just “tells”, we obviously see all the bad things Kylo does in the movies and Luke mixes in his beliefs with the lessons he gives to Rey. One subtle detail I liked is that Luke never attacks anyone after his Jedi Order got destroyed, as if to make sure nothing like the incident at the hut would ever happen again.

                  1. Falling says:

                    “The instinct to kill immediately left as it happened “like a fleeting shadow” in Luke’s own words. Ben woke up at the worst possible moment and misinterpreted that Luke was about to kill him.”
                    It’s not a fleeting shadow when you actually draw your weapon. There are so many self-checks prior to that point in time. Or at least there should be with a normal person, and all the more so for a person who has supposed to have gained some sort of mastery in the Light side of the Force. The difference between the thought crossing your mind and actually pulling your weapon is a big deal. (And especially for an unarmed sleeping relation.)

                    If this is how Luke is still responding, it’s a wonder Luke is not a Sith with a trail of bodies behind him. (The series has long lost the idea that Jedi use the Force for knowledge and defence, never for attack.) Luke has learned nothing and if he’s learned nothing, his path down the Dark Side should be more advanced.

                    “we obviously see all the bad things Kylo does in the movies ”
                    That’s all post Luke’s actions. For Luke to pull his weapon like that and not feel like we are breaking Luke’s character, we need to be shown what Kylo was like [b]before[/b] Luke attacked. That’s the part that must be shown to make the scene work without breaking Luke’s character arc from where he landed at the end of Return. (That’s all we have to go on, after all.) I saw the trailers and I was down for a depressed Luke that’s given up on the Force. I was curious to see how he got there. But what we got was inadequate, nothing that explained to me why Luke would change so drastically.

                    I think the sequels started a weird point where all the significant character arcs happened off screen and the film hardly bothers to play catch up to say why we are where we are. It just is. Empire is back. Rebels are back. And Luke’s a depressed maniac- let’s goooo!

                2. Joshua says:

                  I concur that a more realistic flaw that would have emerged naturally from the OT is having Luke be overconfident that he could “fix” Ben. Hell, you could even have nearly the same story if Luke’s attempt to fix Ben only made things worse, and he retreated to isolation out of despondency, and that would work with the established canon instead of clashing with it.

                  1. MerryWeathers says:

                    That’s what happened in the movie

                    Luke: “And I became a legend. For many years, there was balance and then I saw… Ben. My nephew with that mighty Skywalker blood. And in my hubris, I thought I could train him, I could pass on my strengths. Han was… Han was about it, but… Leia trusted me with her son. I took him, and a dozen students, and began a training temple. By the time I realized I was no match for the darkness rising in him, it was too late.”

                    1. Joshua says:

                      Did it? I’ll grant you that one then. I seemed to recall that Luke approached Kylo when he was sleeping, and THAT was when he first saw Kylo’s darkness and tried to off him. I’ll be honest that since the movie adopts the Rashomon-style narration of multiple accounts with some slight twisting of the truth by Luke, and the fact that it’s been 3 years since I’ve seen the film, it’s hard to recall exactly what the TRUE sequence of events was.

                    2. Falling says:

                      That’s told to us, not shown. The only thing that is shown to us is Luke about to go ham on his sleeping nephew. All the character work necessary to get us to that point is missing.

                      In theory, I don’t even mind that Luke got to that state, but I need to see how he got there. Handwaving with a vision (which Luke already knows are unreliable) is less than compelling. Execution matters.

            2. Daimbert says:

              It might be presented as such, but the action is more than a brief temptation. If this was a modern drama, Luke pulled a loaded gun and pointed it at his sleeping nephew. That’s not a brief temptation- if people get that far, we tend to lock them up.

              The order as I remember it is that he went into the hut, had the vision, saw that the at least most obvious way to end all that horror was to kill Kylo, briefly started to do it, and then immediately — in something like seconds — thought better of it and felt really guilty that he even considered it. It was that moment, however, that Kylo woke up to and assumed that Luke really WAS going to kill him. For Luke to be briefly impulsive when faced with a threat that struck to his core IS consistent with what he did in RotJ, as is him stopping when he realizes what he’s doing. If anything, he realized it faster here than in RotJ (where he needed to link to him becoming Vader through his actions to snap him out of it).

              1. Falling says:

                Did he learn nothing from RotJ?
                But even if he learned nothing, what he’s doing is still inconsistent to the OT (without the corresponding leg work that would take to show how he got to that state.) The context with Vader was massively different, which I explained above. Brief impulse that crossed his mind? No- he actually pulled his weapon and ignited it. On the moral event horizon, he’s crossed so many- all that was left was to pull the metaphorical trigger.

                How is murdering his nephew in his sleep the go to instinct for Luke? As opposed to subduing him, imprisoning, exile, etc? Maybe talk it through to find out what’s going on. That this was Luke’s go to response shows me that he has become a person that shoots first and asks questions later. There is likely a trail of dead bodies across the galaxy because Luke is the Pre Cog Executor is on the war path. Yes, he says it was temporary, but given what we are shown was his instincts, and there were a myriad of options to deal with it, his actions speak a lot louder than his post hoc rationalization.

                1. Daimbert says:

                  I think you’re reading in too much that that is somehow his “go to instinct” rather than it being a reaction to the horror of the vision he just had? If you have a vision that says that unless he is stopped someone will kill millions, and that vision also suggests that killing him now would stop that, you’d probably be momentarily tempted to take that option. And we know that Force visions can suggest actions as well, or at least that you can consider actions to see what change they might have (Yoda’s comments on Leia and Han, for example)

                  1. Falling says:

                    I don’t believe I would because I do not believe a person’s path is inevitable, and I believe that people that do horrific acts can change. Though it may be very incredibly difficult that it may seem insurmountable, yet there still is the possibility (for fictional examples, see Gollum and Saruman.)

                    More importantly, this is something Luke believed (see his refusal to want to kill Vader despite both his mentors saying he will fail if he does not.) And Luke’s faith that Vader could change was rewarded. What an incredible success! He stood against the face of the empire. (As far as the OT is concerned, the Emperor seems to operate from the shadows while Vader is the boots on the ground.) He faced the galaxy’s most fearsome monster and turned him to good. How could he not think the same of his nephew whom he likely saw a small child rather than behind a faceless mask and first described to him as ‘more machine than man’. How could he think Kylo is beyond saving before even seeing Kylo perform evil actions when he thought Vader definitely could be despite having very many examples of Vader’s cruelty and evil actions. How is Kylo more wicked than Vader in Luke’s eyes? TLJ fails to show this.

                    But even supposing I did have a temporary temptation, I think you are downplaying the move to action. There is temptation in terms of desire to do evil and then there is actually putting that desire into action. Luke went straight to action- he immediately crossed over without any sort a moral quandary.

        2. Sartharina says:

          The only reason Luke didn’t kill his father was because Palpatine was sitting there reminding him that would be the Evil Thing to Do.

          Luke and Anakin both struggled with violent impulses fueled by self-righteous arrogance and struggled to control them. Sometimes those impulses were used heroically, 9ther times less so. But unlike in the EU, Luke became less arrogant and confident in his “rightness”, not becoming some moral Mary Sue.

          Amusingly, I find them to be interesting deconstructions of the Standard Bioware Hero (predating the genre, of course), with the Protagonist Power but without Perfect Protagonist Morality, and the universe doesn’t treat them as The Special.

    2. Rho says:

      I will disagree on two grounds. First, the keyword there is *wanted*. As in, I agree Rian Johnson did have a story he wanted to tell – but also believe he did not succeed. The actual story as such is incoherent and relies far too much on contrivance because R.J. didn’t, and doesn’t, have a strong foundation in world building. He has real talents but the plot as it actually unfolds reads much like a first draft that needs a great deal of work, not a finished story.

      But second, it’s clear that Rogue One and Solo at least began life as distinct stories with their own clear vision & etc. In both cases, Disney trimmed their sails and probably way overdid it. Reports are that much of the dark elements of RO were trimmed out, and while the film was overall still a success you can see from the early trailer than significant reshoots were made. With Solo, Disney apparently hacked the story to pieces, kicked off the directors, and functionally redid the whole thing.

      1. MerryWeathers says:

        I actually enjoyed Solo, the movie’s production was worse off than Justice League’s so it was a wonder to me that the final product managed to come out at
        least above average.

        1. Rho says:

          Specifically to address this: I agree that Solo is not really a bad movie, but it is a bland one. Lord and Miller intended to make one kind of movie – and I would probably at least have found that more interesting whether it was bad or good. The film as released is kind of a generic blockbuster-by-numbers, but is ultimately less than the sum of its parts. However, I’ve never found any real evidence that the movie as originally shot was bad. Instead, Disney realized that it wasn’t going to be the kind of safe movie they wanted. That doesn’t make the film bad per se but it’s got a big identity crisis as far as doing anything well.

          1. MerryWeathers says:

            I do agree with you, Solo was okay but I do feel the Phil Lord/Christopher Miller cut would have been much better.

            However, I’ve never found any real evidence that the movie as originally shot was bad. Instead, Disney realized that it wasn’t going to be the kind of safe movie they wanted.

            From what I can tell, it wasn’t really Disney that had a problem with them but rather the screenwriter, Jon Kasdan who felt his script was being underutilized because Phil Lord/Christopher Miller kept prioritizing improv from the actors and probably weren’t taking the story too seriously. Kathleen Kennedy sided with Jon Kasdan (either because they’re good friends or because of his relation to Star Wars veteran Lawrence Kasdan) and thus Phil Lord/Christopher Miller were kicked out and replaced with Ron Howard.

            1. Rho says:

              That’s as may be, but Disney’s leadership, in the form of Kathleen Kennedy, made the call.

              Incidentally, I think Kennedy may indeed be the fundamental problem, with NuSW, but the issue gets clouded up because criticism/defences of her tends to be wrapped up in Feminism/Anti-Feminism shouting… because Internet. For the record, she has a long career working with top producers but it’s hard to judge independent creativity or leadership. And, well, a meta-project like Star Wars really needs some strong leadership to keep things on track. The Mouse very clearly rushed into things without a plan – and it shows. Wildly careening leadership that we see with Disney’s Star Wars is not strong leadership, it’s just bad leadership that becomes dictatorial in response to the latest reaction.

              For example, Disney apparently didn’t have any clear ideas about what they wanted to continue the story of The Force Awakens, and Rian Johnson didn’t even get notes. TFA likely isn’t as vague as it is just because J. J. Abrams can’t world-build, but because he was ultimately doing work-for-hire but had no guidance from above. So he left a great deal unsaid and concentrated on emotions, visuals, and action. That’s all fine, but then the second and third films just drifted.

          2. Khazidhea says:

            I won’t comment on whether Solo was objectively good or bad, but I hated it. Subjectively, for me it’s the worst of all the Star Wars movies. For pretty much 1 reason: it’s a Han Solo movie. If they changed just that 1 element, to just a story of a random smuggler in the SW universe, I probably would’ve liked it, maybe counted it as one of my favourites.

            Part of that is that I’m a huge fan of the extended universe (pre-Disney), and they fleshed out pre-ep4 Han in a way that adds to his character without subtracting from who we know him as during the original trilogy. But more than that, I think it reduces the epic-ness of his character. From across the movies, books, etc, we get little tidbits of his past that we can imagine are just the tip of the iceburg of his great adventures. Bringing to mind gazing up at the stars and imagining a rogue travelling its vastness, meeting colourful folk and getting into trouble, but always coming out on top, the possibilities of what he could have done is endless.

            But in Solo it feels like they read his wookiepedia entry and tried to fit as much of it as possible into 1 day (/week/month/whatever), leaving me with a feel that his backstory amounts to grew up -> Solo -> straight into New Hope. That brings to mind a different image, instead of gazing up at the stars above you realise you’re actually looking at a picture of some stars, about a foot away – you can reach out and touch it, taking it in in it’s entirety.

      2. Steve C says:

        I’m with you Rho. The various New Star Wars sets out to do something, but I don’t think they succeed at it. The Star Wars Prequels set out with a story Lucas wanted to tell (Vader’s.) Lucas succeeded. With a lot missteps (pod racing) bad acting and bad dialogue. Overall he still succeeded. (Though the Phantom Edit does the same thing so much better.) New Stars Wars… not so much.

        @Shamus I think you are onto something with your inkblot premise. That hot take has a lot of merit. Problem is that it has (almost) no merit with me. I never saw The Last Jedi. So that visceral moment of seeing conflicting tropes and picking a side never happened to me. I was turned off by 1)the trailers, 2)the previous movies and 3)detailed discussions by people who had seen it. The reason why is for the reasons BlueHorus details in addition to Rho. It wasn’t a coherent narrative journey. It wasn’t a coherent deconstruction of tropes or audience expectations. These were attempted but fell flat for so many people.

        I do not like a single one of Rian Johnson’s movies for the exact same reasons. Star Wars has this coherency problem. Johnson has a coherency problem. Put them together and it is twice as bad. It is the other side of the coin of the Micheal Bay problem. “Tell, don’t show” ass pulls to cover script problems in the same way Bay uses special effects. (I’m going to detail more about Rian Johnson in a different comment.)

        I don’t consider myself a Star Wars fan. I’ve seen movies I like, movies I don’t like. I saw Empire Strikes Back in the original theatrical release (loved it) yet I have no nostalgia for it nor SW as a whole. They are just good movies to me. Except for the ones that aren’t. It’s a bit like James Bond. It’s there. I can take it or leave it based on the *movie* not the universe. But I gave up on Star Wars wholesale in Rogue One in the same way I gave up on the Simpsons back in 1998. I have heard a lot of Last Jedi (including a podcast by a scene by scene breakdown by CGP Grey who liked it) and I can’t stand it. Even Star Wars trailers aggravate me.

        I’ve always found the discussion around Star Wars-iness of X vs Y to be exhausting. I can see it as a valid lens to critique (I do this with Star Trek). But it has no baring at all on my feelings or problems with Star Wars. So let’s talk Simpsons…

        I no longer like Simpsons. I didn’t stop liking Simpsons because it ‘deviated from canon’ or ‘wasn’t Simpsons enough’ etc. I stopped liking Simpsons because it stopped being funny. Simpsons stopped having a coherent through-line from start to finish. It started being a jumbled up mess of tropes, character beats and Family Guy humor. I feel the exact same way about Star Wars. Except instead of humor not landing, in SW it is epic moments and character development not landing. I didn’t stop liking Star Wars because it ‘deviated from canon’ or ‘wasn’t Star Wars enough.’ They don’t work as movies for me. The memorable moments in old Star Wars felt earned. In New Star Wars they just kind of happen. There are far too many “Wait. What?!” moments like in Game of Thrones.

        Hodor… I mean Holdo wasn’t an idiot and terrible leader. Even though every scene emphasized those traits in every way possible in theme, trope and framing. No. Really she was brilliant. You just have to go with it when the epic moment hits. And I find every moment in Star Wars Rebooted is like that. I can’t go with it because it didn’t bring me along. Sure it can be called a subversion and deconstruction of tropes. But that’s only if it *works.* If it doesn’t work, it isn’t those things. It’s just bad storytelling.

        I’m sure there is a great story and movie to be told about Leia’s journey and how she was able to fly in space. It does not defy credibility. It could be worked in. It just wasn’t in *that* movie. It’s a climax moment to a completely different movie. They all where. Luke went on a hero’s journey back in the 70s. But in The Last Jedi he just kinda showed up. There’s a story there, but it wasn’t the one told.

        1. Steve C says:

          I did not know I didn’t like Rian Johnson’s movies until today. It was only due to today’s blog post listing them all together (Last Jedi, Knives Out, Looper, etc) that I realized he was a common denominator. I only knew I didn’t like those movies. I’m exactly on the same page with Thomas, including recommending Knives Out without liking it:

          I can understand why people enjoyed Knives Out, but for me it was an indicator that Rian Johnson films weren’t up my street. I found all the deliberate artifice scratching, and it made me unwilling to see past things like the final reveal of the film being a pun.

          I also struggled to put myself in the characters head, as I found the middle stretch of the film where they were doing some crazy dumb/bad things very difficult to get through.

          But I have recommended it to people who aren’t me, because lots of people got enjoyment out of it and I can see why

          The problem I have with Rian Johnson movies is that he shows one thing, and has characters explain the exact opposite. A tell and show the opposite approach. And the audience is just supposed to square that circle with no help from the movie. Last Jedi example. I’m just confused and left wondering why stuff like that is in the movie. It could be for comedic effect. It could be genuine moment. It could be the message/mission statement of the movie. Except it isn’t because the heroes win by sacrifices. It is not a coherent message of story to audience. It’s like Johnson’s signature style is Eating His Cake And Having It Too. Except that’s backwards. That is actually a description of vomit.

          I’m going to increasingly spoil Knives Out. This is the warning.

          As I said above I can see why people like Knives Out while not liking it myself. The trailers turned me off. I only watched due to a strong recommendation from a friend. The premise is silly in a whodunnit like this but I can forgive it. Like these supposedly intelligent people should just lawyer up. There’s no reason to let Foghorn Leghorn Craig onto the property. But again, completely not a problem for me. That’s something I can just accept as part of the genre and go with it. A comedy of errors is also fun to watch. Except I agree with MerryWeathers it stops being a whodunnit, and changes genres to crime drama. Which really muddles things. Because now I have to reevaluate Foghorn Leghorn Craig and all the other Clue like nonsense that I dismissed earlier. Clue nonsense is awesome! but not in the wrong movie. So I disagree with Shamus that it’s a subversion / deconstruction of the whodunnit concept. Instead I see it as trying to be too many things and failing at them all.

          The main character (Marta) in Knives Out is incompetent. Everything the director shows us “this person is bad at things”. It is fine as it is a plucky underdog story. At the end, the key “Ah ha!” that solves the mystery is the fact that she is a competent nurse. Problem is no she isn’t. She is an incompetent nurse too. Everyone she has tried to help has died. Naive, guileless and generally incompetent, sure. But no aspect of her being a good nurse. She’s terrible! Key point was morphine. The use of morphine confused me early on the movie. What little I know about morphine is that it is fast acting. Thanks to war movies that’s pretty much morphine’s defining characteristic in my mind. When Mr Body was ODing on morphine, the movie stopped making sense to me. Because both of these characters should already know what a morphine OD would look like. But they don’t. Therefore minimum she’s not competent as a nurse. More likely (due to movie and genres) it is all an elaborate trick of some kind that they are in on. This isn’t a small thing either. The entire reveal at the end hinges on the morphine.

          Rian Johnson quote: The basic idea was kind of twofold — or threefold, I guess — a whodunit that turns into a Hitchcock thriller that turns back into a whodunit at the end. That combined with — and spoiler alert — doing the “Columbo” thing of tipping the “murderer” early but setting it up in such a way where your sympathies are genuinely with that person. That creates an interesting dynamic where the mechanics of the murder mystery itself become the bad guy of the movie. The fact that the murderer gets caught is the thing that you’re dreading. And that seemed very interesting to me.

          The entire movie fell apart for me there as it happened. It could have been a mcguffin drug instead of morphine and it would have worked. That was a decision of the director. Contrary to the director’s goal, it resulted in my sympathies NOT being with the main character. (My sympathies were with no characters. Which is not good.) It meant Marta was either being tricked or tricking the audience. I fully expected Mr Body was going to be revealed to be alive at the end in a “Ah ha! Audience we tricked you!” kind of way. Or that Marta was an elaborate con artist or something. I started to expect “The Usual Suspects meets Clue.” But instead it changed genres and I was left confused for most of the movie. Not about what was happening, but why the director was telling it. And this is what I feel is the defining trait of all Johnson’s movies.

          Then there’s another signature Johnson move; the anti-climax. The elaborate murder mystery in Knives Out doesn’t ultimately matter. Because there is a second completely conventional murder that also could be solved. IE if the murderer got away with killing Mr Body, it would not have mattered. A more standard episode of Law & Order: CSI would have revealed the murderer via the second murder with phone records, GPS, alibis etc. So the movie didn’t make sense while watching, didn’t stay internally consistent and the events depicted didn’t ultimately matter. (A bit like having a kamikaze crash at the end of the movie. If you are going to do that, Ms-have-faith-in-the-plan, why aren’t you doing it at the beginning of the movie?)

          In my opinion, that’s not a subversion / deconstruction. It’s just bad. It’s got to work on multiple levels for it to be subversion / deconstruction. It can switch lenses. The movie still has to work with every lens it used though. Not just the most recent one. I fully accept that people like that kind of stuff. It is why I still recommended Knives Out to a friend despite me shitting on it here. Point is- it is not for me. I see these issues while watching Rian Johnson’s movies and get completely distracted by them. Therefore his movies are not for me.

      3. ccesarano says:

        There’s no clear story on Rogue One’s changes. In interviews, Gareth Edwards and other crew will mention how they made changes in the reshoots that were all positive. For example, (nearly) everyone originally survived, and it was determined that this shouldn’t be that kind of story (if they did, that’s… weird, because it doesn’t feel like that sort of narrative). Additionally, the scene early on where Cassian kills the fellow rebel that got him info was a reshoot. That’s a bit of darkness added to the film rather than subtracted.

        At the same time, there’s a lot of discussion about Jyn Erso being “less likeable” originally. My theory, based on the original trailers, is that she was a very active and violent rebel that fought for vengeance rather than a cause. This is why Saw Gerrera has that whole “What will you become?” line, insinuating she’s been fighting as he was, with his Vader-esque transformation being a sign of where she was going. The machinery in that film is used to indicate the gradual loss of Saw’s humanity as he becomes obsessed with this war, and his monologue in that trailer suggests to me that Jyn was on that path. However, his speech in the final film is not only changed, but her whole arc is choosing to take part in the fight rather than trying to avoid it altogether.

        Ironic, considering I feel the original potential arc would be really relevant to this whole social media disaster.

        This is all speculation, though. Sadly, I doubt we’ll ever get to see the original cut. As it is, Rogue One still remains the one Nu Star Wars film that I enjoy for what it is, flaws and all.

      4. krellen says:

        It’s worth pointing out that Rian Johnson was expecting a second movie to finish his story. TROS was supposed to be his film, not Abrams’s.

        1. Retsam says:

          I don’t think this is true, though these were the initial rumors, Colin Trevorrow was hired as the director for Episode IX in 2015, two years before The Last Jedi came out. When he left the project in September of 2017 – Abram’s replaced him, which was still before The Last Jedi came out. (So it’s not like the backlash influenced that decision)

        2. wswordsmen says:

          This can’t be true because Trevorrow was removed in late August/early September 2017, when TLJ was finished/so close to be essentially finished. Maybe RJ knew about the removal early, but even 6 months early, which seems like a massive stretch would only be in early 2017. Principal photography wrapped on July 22, 2016 over a year before Trevorrow’s departure.

    3. I enjoyed watching it and thought it had some good drama to it, for sure, but the “Finn and Rose Have An Adventure” part bugged me because it serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever in the overall story. It needed to be hooked on to the overall drama better.

      There were a lot of little things like this in the film that bugged me, like the whole “running out of fuel” thing when fuel has never ever ever been mentioned as being a concern in ANY Star Wars movie before. Not to mention things like:

      Why didn’t you try your trickery BEFORE most of your fleet got blown up?
      Why didn’t you leave a droid behind to pilot the empty ship(s)? If they uploaded their droid brain to whatever your mainframe was before they did it, they wouldn’t even have to “die” to salvage the mission.
      Obviously people knew about this “go lightspeed directly at them” thing. Why is this not being used everywhere all the time? Who needs a death star? Aim a drone missile with a hyperdrive at anything and boom. It needed some lampshades hung on it BADLY.

      If they’d done a better job with hanging some lampshades and tying the two halves of the storyline together, I would have said it was a darn good movie. As it was, it was enjoyable in the theater and irritating once I left and I didn’t have the spectacle in front of me to suppress my “this makes no sense” reflections.

      1. Majromax says:

        I’m coming at this thread a good week late, but this summarizes up my criticisms of the movie.

        I summarized my opinion to other as thus: TLJ is a good movie and it is good Star Wars, but the parts that are a good movie aren’t good Star Wars and the parts that are good Star Wars aren’t a good movie.

        “Finn and Rose have an adventure” is perfectly serviceable Star Wars, but as you mentioned it’s useless to the plot and thus a bad element of the movie. Fuel and the lightspeed ramming are great sci-fi movie elements, but they make no sense in a Star Wars movie.

        Worse was the tonal dissonance. The Rose and Finn adventure was mostly a set of plucky hijinks, but it clashed against the deathly-serious A-plot. That dissonance became tonal _whiplash_ with the Rose-and-Finn kiss, since it was so out of place for the context. Watching it in the theater, I laughed at that moment because it seemed so absurd. (I think a better movie could have developed a relationship between the characters just fine — another example of “fine Star Wars, but bad movie” in action.)

        The Rey/Ben/Snoke plot worked a bit better, but Snoke’s then-enduring mystery was another case of “good movie, bad Star Wars.”

  2. Joe says:

    I’m very much in the opposite camp here. I love TLJ. Later I went and tried his other movies, Brick and Looper. No thanks. Even the trailer for Knives Out looked offputting.

    Here’s what I liked about Poe’s arc. It’s about learning to be part of the team. Learning to trust the higher-ups and follow orders. We’re used to these death or glory mavericks being successful. Seeing one screw up and learn his lesson? I can’t remember seeing that before. Love it. Yeah, maybe it’s been done before elsewhere. But it’s new to *me*. And hey, we got the Holdo Maneuver out of it. Love that too!

    I have more about this movie all typed up and ready to go, but I’ll save it for the relevant posts.

    Also, you can indeed choke someone over the internet. Consider the fate of Admiral Ozzel.

    1. C.J.Geringer says:

      This is basically the whole premise of Top Gun. “Maverick screws up and learns the importance of teamwork and following orders.”

      1. Thath says:

        The Holdo / Poe arc for me is great until it fails drastically at the end, ruining the whole thing. Holdo sets up the “We’re a hardcore military” thing, but then when Poe and co screw everything up, they basically get a slap on the wrist and a boys-will-be-boys. Her characters ends up being super inconsistent in a situation that if they’re a hard-core military Poe would probably be summarily shot right then, or immediately exiled(?) (if summary execution would be too much?) and if they’re not then the whole first scene makes no sense. There’s a lot of times in the script where it seems character driven, but then the actual actions don’t work from a character or even story perspective. Also, its my favorite of the new trilogy by far despite all the issues. It has both the best and some of the most frustrating moments.

        1. stratigo says:

          Militaries don’t tend to summarily execute even their war criminals. That’s like… a straight evil empire thing. He might be court marshaled and then jailed, but there is a process for hard core militaries.

          1. baud says:

            Though soldiers that are about to get court-martialled are usually stripped of their rank and locked in the brig, not left to their own devices and free to foment a mutiny against his superior.

            Regarding TLJ, I think I had a good time watching it (maybe because I watched for free?), but now the bile deserved by both sides has definitely soured me on most of Disney SW output.

        2. Joshua says:

          The Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry review stated that Holdo either needed to put Poe into the loop or put him in the brig. She instead just talks down to him and basically ignores him until there’s a mutiny, which isn’t a great testament to her leadership skills.

          1. Jeff says:

            I want to point out that mutiny literally takes place in front of literally the entire Resistance, and nobody helps her.

            The entire premise was ludicrous. She had absolutely no actual authority or respect from the “troops”, who did not answer to her because they weren’t in an actual official military. (Which is another issue with the entire new trilogy entirely, like weren’t they supposed to be the legitimate government now or are they still a rag tag band of rebels?)

            1. evileeyore says:

              The problem with “Holdo” and “military” is she never once acted like she was military. She dresses and acts like a paid-for-rank noble with no military bearing. She might be a strategic/tactical genius (noise is made, but prove is never proffered), but she has //no// leadership skills at all.

              The whole scene and Holdo-Poe dynamic was a ‘gender role reversal’, she was the predatory more powerful person who viewed an underling like a savory morsel to devour later. There are even sexual connotation comment made later between her and Leia to that effect.

              Holdo is an Antoginist. We can argue whether she was a ‘villian’, but she is clearly there to be Poe’s foil and to ‘prove’ that the old tropes are all wrong and need to be destroyed.

              And that is what I find the most wrong with TLJ. It was trying to kill a franchise and give birth to a new one. I like a bunch of what I did/was trying to do, but I hate just as much if not more of what it did/how it went about it.

              1. GoStu says:

                I think you’re right, but also the character ends up taking some of the blame for the absolute trainwreck of the scenes going on all around her.

                – The Resistance Fleet is fleeing from a First Order fleet in a weird chase sequence where they’re almost exactly the same speed but the First Order is juuuuuust barely faster than the Resistance. The Resistance can’t warp away because they only have enough fuel for one more jump, but they don’t dare do it because the First Order can follow them somehow. From the presentation, apparently tracking someone through Hyperspace is IMPOSSIBLE. It is presented like this is normally something you CANNOT DO. Leia has a transponder though so people can leave the ship and come back, presumably by following it – more on that later.

                – Holdo is UNHELPFUL. Everyone should just sit tight and wait to die because while she’s got a plan, she won’t share it with anyone even while their support ship dies from running out of fuel. Everything about her visually says ‘quirky substitute teacher’ but her character sheet says ‘brilliant general’ or something. Subversion of expectations I guess?

                – Cut to: Finn & Poe are frustrated and try to think of a way out of their impending doom. They call that character from the last film, who is in the middle of a laser battle of some kind. She tells them about a codebreaker somewhere who could help them mount a daring rescue mission. She is TOO BUSY to give them details like the guy’s name or alias, but can tell you that he wears a certain kind of pin and is always on X planet gambling.

                – Cut to: Finn and Rose’s sidequest to space-vegas. Armed with the galaxy’s worst description of a guy they desperately need, they head into the casino and actually spot the guy they’re looking for (somehow?) but then get arrested for parking violations (?!?). Subversion? They’ve got Leia’s impossible “return to ship” beacon with them, the very existence of which should call into question the “they couldn’t possibly follow us through hyperspace”.

                – After being arrested and failing to meet the guy they needed to, they find another codebreaker in prison. Apparently this guy could leave when he wanted to, but had an appointment penciled in for meeting two protagonists. He helps Finn and Rose escape prison.

                – After escaping, cut to a clumsy monologue from Rose on arms dealing or something. I guess the true evil in this universe isn’t the evil Sith Lords, it’s really the arms dealers who make/sell them weapons or something. Subversion?

                – Finn/Rose/sketchball return and then help launch the desperate mission to the giant First Order ship or whatever. It works, but sketchball sells the rest out right to their faces. Ouch.

                – Escaping that predicament and returning to the doomed Rebellion fleet, they finally enact Holdo’s grand operation “try to sneak away in small ships while nobody’s looking”. Of course, the ship that Rose and Finn used on their stupid expedition could probably have made like nine shuttle-runs to drop off Resistance people SOMEWHERE ELSE, but this is the thing we’re doing.

                – After this plan, Holdo turns around and suicide-rams the big ship in a way that absolutely nobody saw coming, despite this presumably being an amazingly-useful tactic for smaller forces to blow up bigger ones in a way that would have been useful (if desperate) literally anywhere else in space-war. The bad guys seem unable to do anything about it despite earlier boasting that the moment the Resistance fleet was in range they were going to annihilate the Resistance.

                This isn’t quite the end of the series of ridiculous events (what the hell was the Resistance going to do in that little base) but I’ll stop here to make bookends out of Holdo’s introduction and subsequent death. She’s actually not in this sequence most of the time but from the moment she appears to the moment she dies, NOTHING makes much sense on-screen.

                1. Daimbert says:

                  From the presentation, apparently tracking someone through Hyperspace is IMPOSSIBLE. It is presented like this is normally something you CANNOT DO.

                  This just struck me: isn’t this what they did to find the Rebel Base in ANH? And wasn’t it Han who insisted that they couldn’t track HIS ship and Leia scoffed at him?

                  1. Randint says:

                    The tracking in ANH was done with a beacon that the imperials had placed on the Falcon while they had it in the hanger. The stuff in TLJ is some new kind of beaconless thing where all the first order needs is to have the equipment on their own ship.

                    The Han/Leia argument wasn’t about whether or not the ship could be tracked. Leia’s train of thought was “They should have easily been able to stop us from escaping, therefore the fact that we got away means that they wanted us to get away. They must have installed a tracking device.” Han’s disagreement was with the first part – he thought that they imperials had actually been trying to stop them, and that the Falcon got away because he’s just that good as a pilot.

                    1. evileeyore says:

                      Also, Leia was talking about the fact the Stormtroopers were clearly shooting to miss and herd the group to their ship, while Han thinks they survived and escaped via luck, guile, and just being awesome.

                      Leia is being realistic, Han is being foolish. This is also why I never had a problem with the line “Only Stormtroopers are this precise” and them also missing every shot they took at the characters in the Death Star rescue sequence.

                      It wasn’t until the Battle of Endor that Stormtroopers became a joke…

      2. Joshua says:

        Pretty bad when a movie like Top Gun tells a more coherent version of a story.

        1. Daimbert says:

          As I watch more things, I’m finding things like that less surprising. Top Gun knew what story it wanted to tell and focused all of its efforts on doing that, so the story is coherent. It seems to me that a big flaw in a lot of modern movies is that they are trying to be more “artsy”, and so either don’t decide what story they want to tell, or else don’t dedicate the time and effort to making sure that that story came through.

          TLJ might well be an example of both, with Johnson having no real motive beyond “subvert Star Wars”, and then not taking the time to ensure that even that came through properly.

      3. Joe says:

        Interesting. I’ve never seen Top Gun, so it was new to me. Maybe I should, but I’ve never had the desire either.

        1. Joshua says:

          I think Top Gun does subvert expectations reasonably well. You have the young, cocky, hot-shot pilot who is better at it than everyone, and when his peers grouse that he’s bad at teamwork and a danger to the group as a whole, it can come across as jealous.

          Except that they’re ultimately proven right! Despite his enormous skill, Maverick has to cut back on all of his egotistical attitude to work as a net benefit to the team. Slightly subversive for an 80s action flick.

          That plot works very well. The romance, not so much.

    2. Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

      I made it 15 minutes into Knives Out and quit. Maybe I just wanted a murder mystery, but I felt like the movie was wasting my time.

      In theory I like the Holdo/Poe arc (are we holding off on the Skywalker arc until next week?) -and I’m a huge fan of 12 o’Clock High (another movie with a very similar arc), but ultimately didn’t feel like it worked. One aspect of the difference is that 12 o’Clock High makes Gregory Peck’s character a POV character -so we know what he’s doing, even if the other characters don’t. He is also not inconsistent in being a stern officer and he actually does answer questions -but he does so professionally. 40% of the problem with Holdo is the costuming. Put her in a uniform and I think the character goes over much better.

      1. Joshua says:

        The funky uniform thing seems to be strictly to mess with audiences so that sexist people might underestimate her. However, her physical appearance doesn’t match her personality at all, so it just seems like RJ is going out of his way to screw with the audience rather than tell a coherent story.

        1. evileeyore says:

          “The funky uniform thing seems to be strictly to mess with audiences so that sexist people might underestimate her.”

          Inversely, I saw it as a call out to Mon Mothma and early Leia, who didn’t dress militarily either, because they weren’t. And as I said above, it certainly made her feel unmilitary (her attitude and bearing didn’t help either).

          1. Joshua says:

            My immediate thought upon her introduction was actually Executive Decision, where you have a character dressed up like they’re going to a glamorous ball but gets stuck in a gritty military action. However, that impression didn’t last long with the way she acted. Apparently the novelization states that she was an old friend of Leia who was a Cloudcookoolander much like Luna Lovegood. Her appearance matches that, but not her attitude at all.

    3. I’d recommend actually watching Knives Out, I was pretty meh about the trailer too but I REALLY enjoyed the movie.

  3. MrPyro says:

    Reading this, I thought of a similar flip on genre expectations in a less… controversial movie: Frozen.

    Frozen starts with the princess (Anna) locked away in a castle with a creature with dangerous powers (Elsa). She manages to get free, finds a young, handsome prince (Hans) with whom she immediately falls in love. The creature manifests her powers and causes disaster.

    So far, so Disney stock tropes (enough that I was groaning at how straight they were playing it).

    But then things switch up a bit. Anna goes to confront the threat (rather than Hans) and of her own free will (not kidnapped etc.). Sven comes in as a side love interest and we’re not sure what’s going on since Anna Hans has already been set up. Hans turns out to be evil. True love is shown as being an attachment that grows up over time rather than after a 5 minute conversation. Some fairly significant changes from the stock Disney formulas there.

    1. ngthagg says:

      This sounds like a movie I could have enjoyed, but Frozen was a huge disappointment to me because it set up this amazing story about Elsa . . . and then ignored her for the rest of the movie. Sure, Anna’s story subverts the usual Disney princess story, but not in a huge way. But a movie from the perspective of the villain would have been amazing!

      1. FluffySquirrel says:

        Yeah, I wanted a movie all about Elsa, not a movie where Elsa does a few things as a framing device, then back to normal Disney boy and girl romance and oh hey a wacky sidekick and will they fall in love and blah

        I think a lot of it comes from having seen the Let it Go music video too much before actually watching the movie. My imagination had already spun this amazing film where the villain is actually just a girl who wants independence and empowerment and to live her life and blah.. such a damn cool setup.. but fell way short on it

      2. Boobah says:

        As the story goes (told by the songwriters): They wrote “Let It Go,” saw how awesome it was, and were left with the options of either losing the song (because no way could they use that as Elsa’s Villain Song as was intended) or they could change Elsa from villain to hero. All the formula breaking was a mad scramble to save what they could of the original script; Suddenly Evil Hans, sisterly True Love, etc.

  4. MerryWeathers says:

    It says ‘A Rian Johnson Whodunnit’, which means it’s not actually a ‘whodunnit’, it’s a subversion / deconstruction of the whodunnit concept.

    To be honest, I never really saw both movies (Knives Out and The Last Jedi) this way. Knives Out doesn’t really deconstruct the whodunnit genre, more that it switches to a new one, the crime thriller genre in the middle of the movie before switching back again to reveal it really was a whodunnit mystery.

    The Last Jedi does something similar in my opinion, it pokes holes at known Star Wars tropes at first before validating them and embracing the series’ idealism. The film is not a deconstruction but rather a reconstruction to me.

  5. Alex says:

    I’m so glad to have finally read your thoughts on TLJ. I was one of the viewers who found the subversion of expectations stimulating and entertaining, rather than frustrating. And at the same time was fascinated by what it revealed about the differences between “my” star wars and the star wars of people who vehemently disliked TLJ.

    In an ideal world, me and a TLJ-disliker would be able to read and understand what the other found enjoyable/frustrating about the movie. Your analysis helps me understand an alternative perspective, while not diminishing my own enjoyment of the movie.

    But man, I loved Luke’s arc! And the throne room scene! Child-like glee. Found the monkeying about with time scales irritating (in the same way as I find it irritating in Empire strikes back). Canto bight was an unwelcome diversion other than the opening shot.
    And my absolute favourite, still head-canonical in my view, reveal about Rey’s parents was so good

    1. Soldierhawk says:

      I was going to post my own comment, except that you summarized 99% of my feelings perfectly. I think the only place we part company is that I’m in the apparently minority (even among people who love TLJ as much as I do), who really, really liked Canto Bight. I’ll cheerfully agree its the weakest part of the movie, but to me that’s more because the rest is so strong, rather than that the CB scene is lacking. I loved the way Rose got to show off who she was as a person, and what she stood for, and the way that Finn came to see and appreciate that about her.

      Plus, I just thought riding dog-horses through a bunch of casinos for shitty, abusive war mongerers felt really, really good. Petty, yes, but cathartic! Put a fist through this whole town, indeed. I was with Rose when she said it, and absolutely giddy when it actually happened.

      1. Daimbert says:

        This actually ties into something that I talked about on my blog a while ago about how a lot of modern works are aimed more at expressing ideas rather than arguing for them or exploring them. If someone already thinks of those war mongerers in the same way that the movie is presenting them, then the ride through the casinos will resonate with them, as will that line. But if they aren’t, then it will fall flat because all it is doing is expressing the idea, and not exploring it, or arguing for it, nor is it using it to build a narrative or really show character — again, because it doesn’t explore it at all so all it shows is that the character holds an idea — or even to elicit a specific emotional reaction because if the person watching doesn’t share that idea they won’t feel the same emotion. This would explain why so many people find the whole sequence pointless, and why at least some of the people who like it do so, because the idea itself resonates with them so they, essentially, fill in the narrative, character and emotional blanks.

        1. Soldierhawk says:

          That makes a ton of sense to me, and is actually an angle I had never thought of before. You can even extend that out further–TLJ in general is so, so SOOOO much more fun (I think) if you sit back and buy into the archetypal nature of the stories and characters, and treat it like a mythic story, instead of sci-fi. From that angle, I can see why it frustrates so many people. I kinda groked that before, but your post let me articulate it in a way I hadn’t before.

          I do have a question, though, specifically about Canto: so that scene (like essentially all of Star Wars, from New Hope on up) is pretty damn black and white, yeah? Like, Empire bad, Rebels good; Dark Side bad; Light Side good. There ARE some shades of gray in there (especially in side content, but I’m just focusing on the main movies here.) I FEEL like that’s one of the things that makes Star Wars resonate so much with people–its, like I said, archetypal. Good guys and bad guys. Doesn’t Canto Bight fit that mold too? Like, I’m not trying to dive deeply into real world morality here, but when you say, ‘if people already look at those war mongers the way the movie is portraying them…’ I don’t get it. They’re *clearly* presented as bad, greedy, abusive and evil, in the same way the Empire is in the OT

          I genuinely don’t see any other way to read the casino scene. Are you saying that there are people who didn’t like the scene because they sympathized with the war profiteers, or understood them as sympathetic somehow? Like, I get not liking the scene because it feels like ‘a diversion’ from the main plot (although I continue to hold it is a vital and very important diversion both for the characters involved and thematically), but I am absolutely flummoxed by the thought that someone could not like it because they somehow don’t agree with the ideas being expressed? To me, that’s like saying some people didn’t like the end of New Hope because it doesn’t go into detail about why the characters think the Empire needs to fall, and so the destruction of the Death Star doesn’t resonate with them.

          I know the situations are very different, but thematically speaking it seems like almost the same thing to me. Group of high powered people, coded as absolutely evil and abusive, who get torn up by the scrappy underdog rebels. I dunno,

          And to be clear I’m not casting judgement in any way, just trying to understand. I haven’t been able to discuss this movie without getting called names or being told I’ m a fake fan since it came out, so I’m a little giddy lol.

          1. Syal says:

            Doesn’t Canto Bight fit that mold too?

            I’d have to rewatch it; haven’t seen it in years and didn’t pay much attention the first time.

            My take is Canto Bight’s villainy isn’t sold nearly as well as the Empire. The Empire gets a whole scene about how they’re removing the illusion of democracy and replacing it with pure fear. Jabba sends bounty hunters against Han and feeds entertainers to monsters. There are direct, invasive actions taken against the heroes; there’s no letting bygones be bygones.

            But Canto Bight is just there doing their own thing. Rose has her backstory, but that’s from many years ago and we don’t see anybody from it, for all we know they’ve all been run out of town. They’re coded the same way as… what’s the flying guy who owned Anakin? He tries to win a loaded bet, he loses because he underestimates Anakin, and that’s the appropriate level of victory over this villain.

            Canto Bight does less than him; it has no interest in the heroes whatsoever. I think they get arrested because they parked in the wrong spot, or something? All the Canto Bight problems are the heroes’ fault for not following the reasonable rules.

            1. GoStu says:

              I found the whole sequence ludicrous.

              They’re in Canto Bight looking for a guy on the world’s shittiest description; that he’ll be at a high-roller’s table, wearing a very specific piece of jewelry. Rose/Finn accept this description like they’re clicking through the text on a stupid MMO quest and just take it at face value. (Never mind that the ‘quest giver’ was busy enough in her gun battle that she couldn’t do follow-up questions, but wasn’t so busy that she couldn’t take a call and had time to describe him as ‘a poet with a blaster’.)

              Then, ignoring local parking laws (there’s nowhere to put your ship in an area that looks like it caters to tourists?) they barge through the casinos, looking for the guy in the jewelry. Despite the ridiculous nature of the info they had to go on, it works… and they get hauled away to prison for parking violations.

              Then in prison, they meet another guy who just happened to be in the same cell as them, could get out whenever he wanted, and he comes with them. They escape and make it back, only to later be double-crossed by this prison dude who I guess feels like the First Order is a nice group of people who’ll overlook the whole “accessory to the crime” bit as long as he turns the others in.

            2. Soldierhawk says:

              Ahhhh sure. That makes sense. It’s true that it doesn’t have anything to do with the heroes really, for sure. I see what you’re saying now about the difference between the Empire and that. It’s certainly not a personal thing for them or the rebels.

              I can see what you mean about “not buying into the villiany” now; if you’re focused on the *plot* specifically, and not just feeling the vibe of going with the flow/character beats (and I don’t mean that as judgemental or a negative in the slightest! People focus/are drawn in by different things and that’s ok), the fact that these are obvious ‘bad guys’ doesn’t super matter, and you don’t care that they get some comeuppance for being war profiteering cads. I think I finally get what people mean when they say it’s a “pointless diversion” now, which I never got before.

              I still love it, myself, for the reasons I’ve said earlier, but I think I finally get what people are trying to express when they don’t like it. Yay, civil communication about Star Wars! I thought this was dead.

              1. Shamus says:

                I’m really happy with this whole thread.

                Also, I got to hear about a bunch more little details and moments that various people *loved*, without them getting shouted down.

                1. Soldierhawk says:

                  So much same. This whole thing is like aloe on a sunburn that’s been cracking on my face for what, like three years now. Nothing makes me sadder than having to hide that I love things…from other fans…of that thing. It makes no sense, and is so stupid.

                  I’m so, SO grateful you’ve created a space where that isn’t the case. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

              2. Joshua says:

                Part of my objection to the coding of the Canto Night people as villains because they’re “war profiteers” is that it would only make sense to me if THEY are the ones driving the conflict. I’ve never otherwise gotten the impression that they’re comparable to the criticisms of the real world military-industrial issues of lobbyists pushing for more hawk-like stances on certain regimes while those lobbyists are coincidentally funded by weapons manufacturers.

                In contrast, the Canto Night people serve more as neutral, self-interested merchants. And from what I’ve seen of the Star Wars universe, ‘neutral self-interested’ fits the description of like 95% of the universe.

                1. Randint says:

                  This was my reaction as well. The sequence seemed to be saying “arms manufacturers are evil,” which doesn’t make sense in a franchise where the good guys have always used military action against the bad guys and have been portrayed as just for doing so.

                  I suppose you could make the claim that these guys are bad for selling to both sides (they’d pretty much have to, since if I recall the actual New Republic doesn’t have much of a military), but once again this doesn’t match any of the conflicts in previous entries of the franchise, where the two sides have always had their own separate manufacturers.

          2. Daimbert says:

            You can even extend that out further–TLJ in general is so, so SOOOO much more fun (I think) if you sit back and buy into the archetypal nature of the stories and characters, and treat it like a mythic story, instead of sci-fi. From that angle, I can see why it frustrates so many people.

            I can’t agree with that, because for most commentators what was great about the OT was how it brought the mythical archetypes to a science-fiction movie, and many of those complaining the most about TLJ are those who really liked the OT. I also think it’s more that TLJ doesn’t really include the archetypes, but tries to subvert them. Poe is the brave hero saving them all based on his own initiative and conscience and the movie tries to slap him down precisely for those qualities. Luke isn’t the wise mentor or even an irascible one or even one treating Rey harshly to make her prove her worthiness to be trained, but really just doesn’t want to train her. If anything, he’s the bitter hero who just wants to hide away and needs to come out of his funk. He’s Achilles sulking in his tent, which contradicts his character from the OT and the movie doesn’t really show us why he decided to go off and sulk, and his arc at the end is also unsatisfying because he’s not the hero, nor the sacrificial lamb. We don’t see why he needed to sacrifice his life to redeem himself from his sulking. Finn is the person who needs to overcome his cowardice and put a greater cause above himself and when he finally does that Rose stops him and chides him for doing just that. And so on. TLJ wants to turn those mythic archetypes around a bit, and fans of how Star Wars used those archetypes will not take it well.

            I genuinely don’t see any other way to read the casino scene. Are you saying that there are people who didn’t like the scene because they sympathized with the war profiteers, or understood them as sympathetic somehow?

            Well, let me reference two other groups of war profiteers to maybe make the point: the Narn from Babylon 5 and the Ferenghi from DS9. The Narn sold weapons to Earth during the Earth-Minbari War and were happy to do it and make some money, while selling mostly Centauri weapons in the hopes of getting the Minbari mad at them (from “In the Beginning”). In the series, Sinclair states that they will sell weapons to all sides and uses that against them. And so they are indeed antagonistic, but they aren’t treated as pure evil (partly because they have an excuse for doing it). In DS9, Quark gets involved in this and the Ferenghi are, again, noted for doing that (“War is good for business”). Quark did run weapons and supplies to the Bajorans as well, while serving the Cardassians and probably doing deals for them. In both cases, them being willing to do so was indeed a sign that they were shady and greedy, but not a sign that they were EVIL.

            So we know that the profiteers are bad people, but you can’t get from there to them being evil, especially when stacked up against the palpable evil of the Emperor, Vader and the Empire or Snoke, Kylo and the First Order. Especially notable is that if I recall correctly Rose insists that they sell weapons to both sides and I think that makes it worse for her, proving them greedy and hedging their bets to survive no matter who wins. But we could claim that Rose is naive, because their willingness to sell to both sides is what keeps the Resistance going. Those ships that were lost at the start of the movie that are important enough to get Poe demoted and slapped quite likely came FROM them, and so they wouldn’t have even had them without those profiteers. So Rose can be accused of ignoring reality in favour of ideology.

            I don’t want to lean too much on politics, but I suspect that the more cynical someone is about capitalism the more they’ll like that scene, because they’ll see it as an attack on the worst sorts of capitalists. Those who are more neutral on the topic will just find it pointless and a bit ridiculous because they won’t get the emotional connection to the symbolic action, and those who lean more towards capitalism will find the message overly simplistic. Which, to tie back to my original point, is the risk of expressing ideas rather than exploring or arguing for them. If you merely express them, people not already on board will at minimum not feel the emotional connection needed to make them work. If you explore them, then at least people can appreciate the exploration. And if you argue for them, at least people can appreciate the arguments, even if they don’t agree with the conclusion.

          3. The Dark Canuck says:

            Where are those military industrialists located? Where are the banks where they store the money they are using to gamble? Where are the factories that they’re using to build the weapons, where are the workers they’re employing, and so on and so forth? Where are their mansions and estates and other accruals of wealth? At very least, the Starkiller strike from the last movie would have done a number on the Galactic stock market!

            The last movie established that the First Order wiped out the New Republic as a militarily meaningful entity. New Republic core worlds, bases, etc were demolished by the Starkiller Base strike. If the New Republic’s financial and military-industrial infrastructure is still in place, the remnants of the New Republic should be able to rally and get back in the fight in the reasonably near future, just like the US after Pearl Harbor. The New Republic was hurt more, but if their supply chains are still intact, there ought to be people making a go of it. At least in this movie, there’s no evidence of any of that.

            Or perhaps these wealthy people are supposed to be from the First Order? Really doesn’t seem to be their sort of thing though, they seem more likely to consider Canto Bight to be the sort of decadence that justifies their “order” in the first place.

            Or perhaps they’re from worlds unaligned with either the New Republic or the First Order? The movies have never had such “unaligned” worlds before, in the prequels the Republic controlled (at least nominally) all known space until the CIS broke away (would be odd for them to emphasise that they are “Independent Systems” if that’s a common thing otherwise), in the main series the Empire does, without any other evidence to the contrary I’d assume that the New Republic was able to take the same place as the old in ruling over the vast majority of known space. Perhaps this is established elsewhere, but there’s no evidence for it that I recall.

            Canto Bight only makes sense to me as a last oasis for rich people who have already lost everything in the Starkiller strike to enjoy their last few days of life in profligacy, emptying what portion of their wealth they had in pocket money before they jump out the window. Evil? Maybe, but more pathetic than anything else.

            And unless the dog-horse-things are a native species of the planet, they’re going to starve, get eaten, or become an invasive species. Or just get rounded up a few days later, making the whole thing pointless again. They’re coded as thoroughbreds, which aren’t capable of getting enough nutrition from forage and require supplemental grain to avoid starving. So either it was a pointless act of rebellion that will be ended momentarily, or they’ve condemned the dog-horse things to death, or they’ve upset the ecosystem of the planet. The film tries to portray this as heroic, but to me it just felt childish.

            YMMV, and if you either buy in to the film’s assumptions or are sufficiently entertained to keep your suspension of disbelief at that point none of those objections need to matter all that much. I mean, a similar analysis applies to the main movies (where do the Rebels get their X-Wings and all the spare parts needed to keep them running? Those things are high-tech, you can’t just build them in caves), but most people are perfectly willing to let that slide. For me at least, the film had used up its suspension of disbelief earlier, particularly in the whole chain of unfounded assumptions that led to the Canto Bight side quest in the first place (They’re doing something impossible! But what if it’s not impossible? Well, this impossible technology that two maintenance workers know nothing about would have to look like this, be on that ship, and we’ll need certain expertise to deal with it. As opposed to other, less impossible alternatives, like a spy leaking coordinates before jumping or a tracking beacon on a ship somewhere…). Certain decisions in the previous movie as well as the focus on ‘subverting expectations’ in this one meant that I was already wary, and none of the movie up to that point had managed to restore my faith that it would be handled well. Again, YMMV.

        2. Falling says:

          ” This would explain why so many people find the whole sequence pointless, and why at least some of the people who like it do so, because the idea itself resonates with them so they, essentially, fill in the narrative, character and emotional blanks.”
          I think this is probably true. I have a little file ‘in their own words’. Basically people like Kevin Smith saying he was so happy for the vegan and animal friendly messaging and he was going to recommend it to his vegan friends, etc. And for me the animal rescue stuff was like… there’s a bunch of children that were slaves, you know.

          But on the warmonger front, I don’t think it’s necessarily people disagreeing in terms of war so much as the ‘solution’ proposed. I’m, I suppose, a nominal pacifist and I found the whole Canto Bite painful- one for how it killed the momentum of the Cruiser chase scene. It effectively put the villains on a treadmill for 18 hours because for the plan to work nothing material can change in the chase otherwise the whole plan is moot.

          But then the idea that they fail in their main mission but it ‘was worth it’ because they rode through town, smashing random people’s stuff… another poster found it petty but cathartic. I found it only petty and pretty banal. To me, the people Rose was mad at wouldn’t have been impacted- just your working class labourers on clean up crew (or the slaves because apparently that came back under the New Republic, nice.) So their solution didn’t resonate (particularly when there were larger stakes- the fate of the Rebellion that they miserably failed due to their own incompetence) rather than the proposed problem: war profiteering.

          I like the idea of exploring the military industrial complex, but a good portion of the story needs to be [i]about[/i] that, not a tangential topic of discussion largely unrelated to the main conflict. Just saying a theme, I find didactic and uninteresting. For instance, DJ’s ‘both sides buy weapons, kinda makes you think’ is also very silly in the context where one side makes planet destroying machines the first chance they get and the other sides blows them up as fast as they can. This is NOT a morally equivalent scenario and really bad argument for The Empire Did Nothing Wrong. But the other characters don’t even push back on that statement because the assertion would fall apart on first contact with a counter statement. So his assertion just sits there uncontested. The film is trying to be deep in the Canto stretch, but it fails miserably.

  6. Hawk says:

    “He was supposedly the captain, but he handed out gentle advice like he was everyone’s dad. That’s not how military commanders work, but that’s how fictional military commanders work in hippie style space-militaries like Star Wars and Trek.”

    I’m in the military, have commanded at multiple levels, and more importantly have observed many, many commanders at many levels. Based on my professional experience and observation … the best commanders are more like Picard than not. Any military leader who leads by throwing rank around very quickly becomes ineffective.

    It may have been a character in Game of Thrones who said something like “If you have to say ‘I am king!’ to get them to do what you want, you aren’t.” Same idea here.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      Yep. Tywin Lannister, from before the show went bad.
      Incidentally, a character who death is a direct result of how awful he was to his underlings (children)!

      1. PlaysTheThing says:

        Well, Oberyn probably poisoned him, so it has to do with other things to. That’s why he stank at the funeral, and possibly why Tyrion killed him, out of a twisted sense of mercy.

        Maybe none of that made it into the show though.

        1. BlueHorus says:

          I…kind of hope that’s not true. Not that I’ve read the books in a while, so it might well be…

          …but Tywin’s death at Tyrion’s hands is narratively perfect. Killed by the smartest of his children, after a lifetime’s belittling and cruelty, when his obsession is continuing the family line…
          Even better is the way he falls prey to one of his own principles, that he drilled into his kids: Tywin ‘Never Make A Threat Unless You’re Willing to Go Through With It’ Lannister is told that if he calls his son’s former lover a whore again he’ll die. He does so; Tyrion shoots him. Perfect.

          If he’d actually been poisoned as well by someone else, it kind of detracts from the story…

          1. Joshua says:

            I’ve already posted it elsewhere, but I have a number of issues with this theory. Beyond your explanation,
            1. It shows Oberyn violates guest-right to poison his host.
            2. He somehow manages to poison someone’s food despite presumably being a guest waited on by servants, and the other major individuals involved really distrust him.
            3. Part of the evidence suggested is Tyrion remarking that Oberyn having breakfast with Tywin and Mace was very curious, despite that it would have been Tywin’s plan to have that meal, and thus Tyrion’s reaction seems to be more along the lines of “What is my father up to?/What on earth could they be talking about?”. Having this be the hint of the poison basically is a very clumsy plot device to point out that there was an occasion where Oberyn and Tywin were in the same room but ignores the set-up for how odd this meeting is, and then never even actually pays it off by stating that Oberyn did in fact poison Tywin. So, basically a lot of poor plot contrivance just to throw in an Easter Egg.
            4. Tywin doesn’t seem especially uncomfortable while he’s alive*, and the only indication that something is off is that he stinks when he dies. So, it’s a poison that’s mostly noticeable when he’s dead?

            *The idea is that the poison is causing his bowels to shut down and thus that’s why he’s on the toilet so long, but he otherwise doesn’t seem to be in distress and his bowels release immediately upon his death. Tyrion “knowing right where to find him” also suggests that perhaps he knew his father spends a lot of time on the privy? It certainly wouldn’t indicate that he knew his father had been poisoned, as some suggest.

            1. BlueHorus says:

              Also, he literally died on the toilet taking a shit. Given that, and the fact that corpses…rot, it’s not odd that his corpse might smell bad…

          2. trevalyan says:

            I disagree, but only because of the macro level. Tywin is overrated as a schemer: the overt brutality of his schemes means he creates a lot of enemies. Among his nominal allies and even his own family. Tyrion killing him out of passion and Oberyn/ Doran killing him in the name of ice cold revenge are entirely deserved on the macro level. I’m only sorry Arya couldnt sink her blade into his back to round out the trifecta.

            1. Joshua says:

              Agree about Tywin to some extent, but that he’s overrated as a general. He resorted to schemes because he was getting outmatched on the battlefield. Despite his reputation for being an ice-cold schemer, his first resort seems to be overwhelming brutal violence. It’s been pointed out that had he simply gone to King Robert and challenged the Starks to provide evidence that Tyrion was responsible for the crimes of which he was accused, the Starks would have been publicly embarrassed and Tywin would be in a much stronger position. Instead, he chose to murder peasants in the Riverlands.

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      I’m not in the military, but I used to be in law enforcement in my country. I can tell you, pulling rank and refusing to give information to subordinates is the sort of thing superiors would do… in the academy, while we were in training. Once actual work started, the majority of superiors (up to and including the Police Chief) would be extremely relaxed with these rules, to the point where pulling rank is a quick way to lose respect from both subordinates and higher-rank officers. I’m told things are very similar in the military here.

      It looks to me that in his efforts to subvert a trope poor Rian was a victim of falling neatly into one.

    3. Gethsemani says:

      Agreed, but commanders are also expected to pull rank if the privates start acting like morons and disobeying orders. I’ve got a few friends who are officers and they all uniformly think that being a kind mentor is generally better then being a vindictive dick. However, this also pre-supposes that your subordinates will respect your authority and station and obey your orders. If they start openly questioning their CO, they need to have rank pulled and be told to get back in line with force. To let subordinates repeatedly get away with disobeying orders or subverting chain of command is the fast road to disaster.

      1. Joshua says:

        Poe isn’t a private. He’s basically next in command.

        1. Gethsemani says:

          The discussion about the relevance of real life military practice is pretty pointless because Star Wars is not real life and there’s nothing in Star Wars that’s similar to real life military apart from some very superficial trappings. In the context of the movie Poe obviously didn’t need to know, since the plan was executed without him. Shamus is entirely right that the discussion about whether Poe or Holdo is right is essentially an emotional argument that entirely hinges on which character the viewer roots for the most, not an argument based in any sort of in-universe logic.

          1. Daimbert says:

            The issue here is that when you invoke the “Star Wars military is not real life military” we’d want to look to see how it fits into the context of “Star Wars military”. Someone acting like Holdo did in the Star Wars military we know would be an utter idiot as a commander, because the very formal military is the Imperial one and the Rebellion was always more loose, and she was commanding the Rebellion. Remember, the Rebellion is the group that made HAN SOLO a general. As one of the X-wing books noted, Han calling out Wedge for insubordination would be pretty much nonsensical. So it may not matter that it doesn’t fit real-life military, but since it so sharply contradicts Star Wars military we need an explanation for that. And trying to justify it by having Leia on board fails because she really should have known better given her association with Han.

            1. Gethsemani says:

              The Rebel Alliance also has a very rigid battle plan for taking down both Death Stars and the Battle of Hoth, so they aren’t entirely fly by the seat of your pants. Similarly, we should wonder if General in Star Wars is the same as in real life, since Han Solo leads what amounts to maybe a half platoon in real life instead of the army or army group a general ought to lead. Star Wars has never bothered to be very precise about its military which is why arguments like this is silly.

              I don’t mind people disliking Holdo, if anything it is obviously the intention of the movie that Holdo should come off as a villain as Shamus says. But once again: Let’s not pretend as if logic comes first on this one. It is an entirely emotional decision based on how she treats one of the protagonists and all the clues the movie drops. Arguments like yours are post facto rationalizations as to why she’s actually a baddie. That’s fine and all, but we shouldn’t pretend as if those arguments don’t all hinge on large amounts of filling in the blanks by drawing on stuff outside the work (real life military, SW legends fiction etc.). This obviously applies to any argument about how Holdo is totally in the right and the good girl.

              1. MrPyro says:

                To add to your point: the Rebellion might have had a very loose command structure, but that doesn’t mean that the New Republic that has grown up in the decades between ROTJ and TFA has maintained that loose structure. That kind of structure doesn’t necessarily scale up from small resistance organisation to multi-planet governmental structure.

                1. Daimbert says:

                  I blame this on the failings of TFA, because it doesn’t establish what the Resistance IS (I mean, it actually IS a small resistance organization in actual purpose, but we never learn how tightly connected it is to the New Republic). That being said, TLJ also fails to set out that this isn’t the Rebellion anymore, despite having the bridge character of Leia who could explicitly — and less emotionally — point out that it had evolved, and even then considering how badly things were going for them we’d start wondering if maybe part of the problem is that it’s NOT the Rebellion-style anymore …

                  1. MrPyro says:

                    My assumptions (and I agree that TFA and TLJ both don’t spell this out brilliantly)

                    TFA: The New Republic is up and running with a full military, but doesn’t want to engage in an all-out war with the First Order, so they send a bunch of their military “undercover” to act as a resistance force in First Order territory: Princess Leia commanding a small rag-tag force since that’s what she’s good at. Something like the SOE during WW2 (since Star Wars loves its WW2 analogies). Starkiller Base taking out the New Republic capital causes the start of the collapse of the New Republic.

                    TLJ: The former Resistance is swelled by a large contingent of regular New Republic military (or, more likely, the resistance elements are just absorbed back in to the main military). This is part of why we get such a culture clash between Holdo (career regular military) and Poe (who’s been operating largely outside the chain of command for some time).

                    1. Daimbert says:

                      TLJ takes place immediately after TFA (I know, it shocked me, too) so there isn’t time for such a sudden huge influx. Also, the New Republic military was completely wiped out by Starkiller Base.

                      I think there being a clash between a career military Holdo and a more loose Poe would have been a good plot, but Holdo is not military enough for that to work, and the movie didn’t actually do anything to show that that was indeed the main conflict. Again, Leia was badly underused, because she could have easily spent more time calling out both of them for not really getting what was necessary at this time and forcing them to bridge the gap between career military and resistance group.

                      On top of that, the usual outcome — because it’s reasonable — is that the career military person has to lighten up. That never really happened for Holdo.

                    2. evileeyore says:

                      “This is part of why we get such a culture clash between Holdo (career regular military)…”

                      Except Holdo doesn’t come across as career military to me. She dresses and acts like a paid-for-my-promotions nobility. The exact same leadership style as Hux.

                      Let that sink in for a moment, she acts less military than the whiny “bought my career with my Daddy’s mil-ind complex” twit.

              2. Daimbert says:

                The Rebel Alliance also has a very rigid battle plan for taking down both Death Stars and the Battle of Hoth, so they aren’t entirely fly by the seat of your pants.

                They put one entire attack group for the first Death Star in the hands of a complete rookie (Luke). Yes, they didn’t expect it to get that far, but that’s still pretty ad hoc. And for the second, the rigid plan is pretty basic, and allowed for a lot of freedom once things went sideways. But I’m not sure how relevant it is, because the Rebellion was always one where subordinates didn’t just take “I’m in charge!” as gospel. Things were a lot more free-flowing there.

                Similarly, we should wonder if General in Star Wars is the same as in real life, since Han Solo leads what amounts to maybe a half platoon in real life instead of the army or army group a general ought to lead.

                The Rebellion put Han Solo in multiple command positions, who is someone who would and did tend towards mockery and insubordination. And note that I’m talking about “Star Wars military” not real life military. In Star Wars, the Rebellion’s structure gave a lot of leeway to its officers, allowing for more creative tactics. In ANH, that’s why Luke was leading the last run rather than the more experienced and likely higher ranked Biggs or Wedge. In ESB, that’s why Han was able to take off into the storm after Luke and tell off the officer in doing so, and why Luke was able to improvise the tactics against the AT-ATs in that battle. In RotJ, that’s why Lando was able to tell the Admiral — who clearly outranked him — to hang on because Han wasn’t going to get the shields down, and tell Ackbar to get closer to the Star Destroyers. Ranks mattered less in the Rebellion for obvious reasons, and it’s not unreasonable to think that the Resistance is structured the same way. If they wanted to change that, they needed to explain it. And they had the perfect character in Leia to do that since she could remember Han’s role in the military and explain why that sort of thing won’t work now. They didn’t do it.

                I don’t mind people disliking Holdo, if anything it is obviously the intention of the movie that Holdo should come off as a villain as Shamus says.

                As I noted in another comment here, she’s more obstructionist commanding officer than villain.

                But once again: Let’s not pretend as if logic comes first on this one. It is an entirely emotional decision based on how she treats one of the protagonists and all the clues the movie drops. Arguments like yours are post facto rationalizations as to why she’s actually a baddie.

                No, my argument is indeed more that it doesn’t fit in with how the Star Wars military was presented in all the other works, including TFA, at which point we are working in a certain context that lends itself to obvious interpretations. If TLJ wanted to shift that context, it needed to explain and lampshade it.

                That’s fine and all, but we shouldn’t pretend as if those arguments don’t all hinge on large amounts of filling in the blanks by drawing on stuff outside the work (real life military, SW legends fiction etc.).

                The only thing of this that I referenced is one EU work. If you want to argue that Han would NOT be insubordinate, be my guest, but don’t dismiss that comment on the basis that it only appeared in the EU, because it’s reflecting something that really did follow on from the movies.

                1. Josh says:

                  “They put one entire attack group for the first Death Star in the hands of a complete rookie (Luke).”

                  No they didn’t. Luke’s call sign in A New Hope was Red 5. Not Red Leader (who would have been in charge of that group).

                  Luke made the Death Star-killing shot, but he wasn’t in charge of anything.

                  1. Daimbert says:

                    By “attack group”, I mean the group that does the trench run. Gold Leader’s was first, Red Leader’s was second, and Luke’s group was third, but it’s clear from Red Leader’s comments that Luke was set from the beginning to attempt that run if they needed it (or else was the highest one left in order after the others were destroyed). Red Leader specifically tells Luke to prepare for HIS run.

                  2. Radkatsu says:

                    Luke also wasn’t a complete rookie.

                    1. Daimbert says:

                      His only experience was flying skyhoppers, and he was a complete newcomer to the Rebellion, having arrived with Han and Leia presumably at most days before the Death Star arrived. Biggs and Wedge both had more time in service with the Rebellion than he had, even if we don’t count the EU sources.

                2. Eric Fletcher says:

                  Luke wasn’t in charge of anything (his designation was “Red 5” not “Red Leader”) until he went in for his attack run (and he wasn’t even the first attempt).

                  1. Daimbert says:

                    Yeah, it’s “attack run” that I was referring to. He was designated to lead it over Biggs and Wedge.

                3. Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

                  I agree with this.

              3. Jeff says:

                Nothing Holdo does has anything to do with logic. They’re literally in the middle of evacuating the ship and she still refuses to tell people what’s going on. That’s probably why Poe can openly stage a mutiny in front of literally everybody and absolutely nobody cares.

          2. Falling says:

            I don’t agree. Because this sort of argumentation is a get out of jail free card for absolutely everything.
            For blatantly contradictory characterization or that’s stupid planning or no human would react like that can be countered by ‘well it’s not real life, so we can’t know’.

            But we automatically assume human psychology work similarly or there are basic principles that if broken would make for a bad plan. If it isn’t so in the fictional universe then it’s the writers job to inform us on how it is different. That’s Secondary World building. That’s the writers job. (People aren’t reacting as normal humans because they’ve been drugged up- Equilibrium. It would normally be a bad plan, but X, Y, and Z are true in this universe, so here’s why it works.) But given no other information we will interpret what we are seeing according what we know about basic human psychology and good leadership. And according to what I knew, Holdo checked all the boxes for an incompetent WWI general that gets her troops slaughtered.

            It’s also counterfactual to what we’ve seen with the Rebel Alliance, so it’s doubly the writer’s job to tip their hand.

            Not only that, but the film [i]wants[/i] you to think she is being bad because otherwise that inversion hero moment at the end doesn’t work. (It still doesn’t, but that’s another story.)

        2. krellen says:

          He was literally just demoted in the scene Holdo is introduced in. He is not then, and likely never was “basically next in command”.

          1. wrg says:

            He was demoted, from Commander to Captain. He wasn’t busted to Private. Also, after the hit on the bridge and with Leia indisposed he’s the only other command officer we see in the film. So inferring that he was 2nd in what remains of the Resistance’s chain of command is not a stretch.

            1. Falling says:

              In the starfighter command, we do not see a higher ranked officer. In one whole wing of the military that remains he appears to be the highest ranking officer remaining.

              1. Daimbert says:

                Most importantly, he still seems to be in command of the entire fighter wing (or what’s left of it). Thus, he’s the CAG, which is a position where he still should be in the loop and would need to ensure that his pilots are okay with what’s going on. His asking for a plan so he can reassure his men is pretty reasonable.

    4. Ander says:

      I saw a very practical tactical error in Holdo’s decision: her subordinates rebel.
      Is that her fault? In a way, that doesn’t matter; it’s her job to keep the restless and scared people on task. There’s blame to go around. Poe is scared and makes a bad call he didn’t have to make. But without assigning moral blame, I believe there is some responsibility at least to be given to Holdo.
      It’s like The Cain Mutiny. Most of the blame is on the crew – that’s the whole point. But this doesn’t mean the commander didn’t make poor leadership decisions.

      1. Parkhorse says:

        “her subordinates rebel”

        If it were a proper military, like the Republic or the Empire or the First Order, the mutiny would have been one thing. A result of Holdo’s leadership style and responses, yes, but Holdo would have been in the right. But this was the rebellion Resistance. The sort of people who would sign up for that sort of paramilitary, anti-establishment group are exactly the sort of people who would respond to “pulling rank” by going, “screw this, and screw you!” The mutiny should have been entirely predictable to Holdo that her heavy-handed response to Poe’s looking for reassurance that there was any sort of plan at all. That it wasn’t, makes Holdo look stupid, and unfit for command.

      2. Sleepyfoo says:

        Part of this to me was not the keeping the plan from Poe, but the manner in which it was done.

        “At least let me know we have a plan?”
        “You’ve got to have a little faith”

        Not, “Yes there is a plan, no i’m not going to tell you the details, steps are being taken.” Particularly because Poe is not a grunt but like 4th in line for command at this point. Alternatively, in a nod to the world, if Holdo was a jedi “have faith” as the response is a clear reference to the Force and as such a greater plan at play.

        Instead she chooses the most antagonistic manner in which to behave. Which directly leads to most of the problems later.

        1. Thomas says:

          I agree that she handled Poe very badly and that is on her. But Poe had show himself to be uncontrollable just beforehand and you see her act in a much better way to other characters, so it’s clear her failing is quite specific to Poe and perhaps being unable to get over her distrust of his type of character.

          I do think it’s reasonable for Holdo to withhold information, as there was very good grounds for suspicion that they had a spy on board, but if she’d handled Poe better she could have maintained trust. Belittling him is exactly the wrong way to respond.

          1. MrPyro says:

            I do think it’s reasonable for Holdo to withhold information, as there was very good grounds for suspicion that they had a spy on board

            I don’t see this mentioned enough, to be honest. Holdo is working with the assumption that somewhere on her ship there is a First Order spy: under those circumstances, playing your cards close to your chest is a solid decision.

            Part of me wants to point out that from Holdo’s point of view, not only is there likely a spy, but Poe is actually a very solid candidate as being that spy: he’s been interrogated by a Sith Lord*, who could have used some kind of Force powers to tap in to Poe’s senses, or create a sleeper persona**. He’s also just taken a stupid risk that deprived their forces of a strategic asset: hotheadness, or deliberate sabotage?

            Of course, if that was the case then her decision to not remove him from command or keep him under surveillance is pretty dumb.

            *Or whatever flavour of dark Force user Kylo is.
            ** Does the Force let you do this? Maybe, maybe not, since everyone writing for Star Wars has different ideas about what the Force can do. But Holdo isn’t a Jedi or Force expert, so she doesn’t know either.

            1. Lati says:

              What spy?
              There is no reference to a spy in the Resistance in the entire movie and nothing to indicate that this is what motivates Holdo to conceal if there even is a plan. Here’s The last Jedi transcript:
              https://transcripts.fandom.com/wiki/Star_Wars_Episode_VIII:_The_Last_Jedi
              Mentions of:
              Spy: 0
              Saboteur: 0
              Mole: 0
              Defector: 0
              Traitor: 3 – Rose calling Finn a traitor, Poe calling Holdo a traitor and Phasma calling Finn a traitor. Nothing about someone betraying the resistance to the first order.
              If the movie wants the audience to believe there is a spy onboard then it should mention it. Instead Leia just states that the first order has new tracking tech and everyone just agrees (other then Finn who first believes its impossible then in his next scene knows exactly how it was done and has detailed technical schematics of the supremacy…).
              In addition this isn’t a reason for Holdo to tell Poe nothing, as Poe (the person who Leia trusted to retrieve the map, blew up starkiller base, risked their life to distract the first order during the evacuation and lead the attack on the dreadnaught) is the last person who could be a spy and thus is one of the few people that Holdo can actually trust in this hypothetical spy situation. All of this would also rule out “Sith mind control”. Not to mention as soon as the order to fuel the transports is given the hypothitical spy will be able to inform the first order of the resistances plan.
              Also unless the spy arrived with Holdo’s ship(/fleet?) the first order should already have the resistances location in The Force Awakens rather than discovering it 3/4 through the movie. Which again would disqualify Poe from being the spy (although that raises the question of why didn’t Kylo get the Resistances location from Poe in TFA?)

              Holdo suspecting that a spy exists is complete fan fiction with no solid basis in what is shown in the movie.

              1. Thomas says:

                Wait what? I feel like I’ve watched a different film from you. The working assumption was that the way the Empire had followed them through hyperspace was that someone leaked their position. They actively hinted that characters might be traitors and the answer that the Empire actually used tracking technology was a twist.

                This was my experience of watching the film so it’s not nothing to do with fan fiction, I am just as surprised that you never interpreted the film this way as you are that we did.

                1. Lati says:

                  They actively hinted that characters might be traitors

                  I must ask, when?
                  I’ve already posted the transcript and at no point watching the movie did I ever feel that the movie want me to believe a spy or traitor in the resistance exists from cinematic cue’s (or other methods that don’t appear in the transcript) .
                  In brief my understanding is as follows:
                  Resistance escapes
                  Leia tells Finn about her transponder for Ray
                  First Order appears
                  Leia states that the first order must have tracked them
                  Finn states thats impossible
                  Popins Leia leads to Holdo taking command (and apparently Ackbar dying?)
                  Holdo refuses to tell Poe anything because he’s a hot head (despite him arguably being the reason they’re even alive right now, those dreadnought cannons were framed like they were about to destroy the Raddis before the dreadnaught was destroyed)
                  Finn and Rose show Poe the schematics of the supremacy (I guess Bothans delivered them?) and tell him about the tracker and how to disable it (also every star destroyer has one, but only the supremacy is currently using one, wait, how do they know this??)
                  Finn and Rose cross half the galaxy, twice in under 18 hours to have their pointless side quest
                  Poe leads a mutiny after Holdo continues to be villainous/obstructionist
                  Leia wakes up and knocks out Poe
                  Leia and Holdo talk about how they like Poe
                  Poe wakes up and Leia tells him the plan, which he agrees with
                  Ramming
                  Crait

                  The only time that I feel could be taken as implying the existence of a traitor is when Poe calls Holdo one, but Poe already thinks/knows that the first order doesn’t need a spy in order to track them (otherwise Finn and Roses mission is pointless as the spy will simply leak the Resistances location to the First Order again).

                  So please enlighten me as to where and when you felt the movie implied the existence of a spy in the Resistance betraying they’re location to the first order.

                  (To be clear, I’m not saying that the existence of a spy is a bad idea, I just don’t see how the movie implies/supports the existence of one.)

                  1. Steve C says:

                    Lati, MrPyro & Thomas. I feel your disagreement on what was happening and why is a perfect example of one of prime failures of the movie. It is supposedly a core motivating factor for the actions characters are taking in the story. In no way should it be unclear or any kind of question or head-canon about it. It was trivially easy for the movie to make it clear.

                    Something like this in a movie should not be up for any kind of debate — any movie. This is the kind of thing I was referring to when writing in other comments about coherence. *Why* is a fundamental aspect of a narrative. The details are not particularly relevant. But the answer… whatever that answer is… should be crystal clear.

                  2. Thomas says:

                    @Lati, I apologise. You are totally right, after reading the script you linked there really is nothing to suggest a spy misdirection was meant to be part of the film.

                    All I can say was that I honestly thought there was when I was watching the film, and I don’t appear to be the only one. After reading the script, I don’t know why I came to that position.

                    Perhaps the bad guy saying ‘I’ve got them on the end of a string’ and then immediately cutting to Finn out the idea on my head.

                    Or perhaps it just made sense to me that someone betraying their location could be an equally valid solution as to a completely new unknown technology. Everyone said it was impossible and then some new character assumed it’s a new technology based on nothing I could see and I didn’t trust that character to be right. But it’s clear now that the script wasn’t going for that.

                    Honestly I think the film was improved by my mistake because I thought it was a smart anti-twist that it was technology, after Holdo and Por had descended into mutiny after the mistrust the fleet was thrust into.

                    1. MrPyro says:

                      Yeah I seem to have fallen into this as well, although a slightly different angle. My thinking was that the tech info that Rose gave about the tracker was entirely accurate, but that since she left the ship before reporting it to superiors, they were proceeding with their previous belief that hyperspace tracking was impossible. Therefore we the viewers knew it was a tech issue, but some of the characters did not.

                      Since tracking is impossible, the leadership thinking of a spy makes sense, so I think I saw Holdo’s actions as being her wary of a spy and employing operational security.

                      But yes, seems to be entirely unsupported by the script. As with Thomas, I think my brain filling in these gaps made the movie better for me, because the character actions make (slightly) more sense.

                    2. krellen says:

                      It is also possible that the film as edited and distributed varies from the script. It is not unheard of.

                2. Jeff says:

                  This is the first time I’ve heard the idea that someone leaked their position. I don’t know where you got the idea, there’s absolutely nothing in the movie that suggests it.

                  It was entirely about some McGuffin, and disabling that was why Finn and Rose had their ultimately pointless side adventure.

                  1. Kylroy says:

                    Yes, and the setup for that McGuffin was “there should be no way they can track us through hyperspace.” Lots of people immediately thought “maybe a traitor is giving their position away”, and suspicion of a traitor would go a long way to explain why Holdo is so paranoid…but that’s not what happened. As you said, the Empire was tracking them using a McGuffin that all of our non-white protagonists went off to neutralize, whereupon the script punished them for the hubris of acting like Star Wars protagonists.

                    1. wswordsmen says:

                      “there should be no way they can track us through hyperspace” which is actually not true, maybe not accurately but all the way in ESB the script implied that tracking in hyperspace is possible to a limited extent.

                      VADER
                      Alert all commands. Calculate every
                      possible destination along their
                      last known trajectory and disburse
                      the fleet to search for them. Don’t
                      fail me again, Admiral, I’ve had
                      quite enough!

                3. RFS-81 says:

                  It’s reasonable for Holdo to think that there might be a spy. My head-canon is a combination of New Republic military/rebel culture clash and Holdo being very concerned about need-to-know because nobody knows how the First Order is tracking them.

                  That said, I don’t remember her ever saying so in the movie, so I’m considering it fanfiction.

                4. Joshua says:

                  I agree with Thomas. My assumption watching the film at first was that there was a Spy. Snoke is outraged that the Resistance fleet got away, and then Hux says “Wait, I’ve got an ace up my sleeve” (i.e. He’s got a secret to tracking them that almost no one else knows about). Next thing we see, the First Order has successfully tracked the fleet to their complete horror. Which is then presented as a mystery by the characters themselves: How did the First Order manage to successfully track ships through Hyperspace, which is supposed to be impossible?

                  And then the answer is later dropped rather unceremoniously that the First Order managed to develop technology to do just that. For an answer this simple, you’d think Snoke would be in the loop.

            2. Henson says:

              I don’t see how a spy would change anything. If there IS a spy, then they’ll still discover what the plan is when the resistance starts loading the transports. Keeping the information secret doesn’t prevent a leak, it merely delays it, and the First Order can’t destroy the transports until they’re launched (obviously), so a delay doesn’t impede on them anyway.

              1. Falling says:

                It wouldn’t in the scenes that are relevant.
                Even if there was a spy, Poe wouldn’t be the one. He blew up both Death Star 3.0 and the Dreadnought. That’s a REALLY long con if you are actually a double agent. (With friends like these, who needs enemies.)
                If there was a spy, Poe would be one of the ones looped in (even with his demotion)- he was the go to guy for Leia’s secret mission, plus he is the highest ranking officer (that we’re shown) in the star fighter wing of the military (such that it was.) Even if you personally despise the guy, you’d need to create a circle of trust to start rooting out the mole. Poe is in that circle 100%.

                And yeah- the spy thing is 100% head canon. It is such popular headcanon because it’s a reasonable supposition to make. But the movie characters don’t make it and instead jump right to the correct solution. There’s tons of unwarranted character knowledge in TLJ. (Rose also comes to mind.) Reading Ahead in the Script is the trope, I believe. And TLJ has it in spades.

                1. Smith says:

                  Even if Poe himself wasn’t the mole, he might still accidentally leak vital information. On account of being a young hothead with a perfectly good reason to have a personal grudge against the FO.

                  Which is exactly what happened.

                  OpSec is good practice whether Holdo’s staff thought there was a spy or not.

          2. Falling says:

            “But Poe had show himself to be uncontrollable just beforehand and you see her act in a much better way to other characters,”
            Actually, if we back that one up a bit. What was Leia’s plan in that engagement? The film wants to get the maverick disobeys orders and gets in trouble from superiors, but they screw that scene up too. It tries to pin the blame on Poe, but everything on screen shows Leia to be a bad general.

            Things could not have gone better for the nu-Rebels:
            1) The Dreadnought fires its opening salvo at the stationary planet and not at the cruiser that could escape.
            2) The enemy fighters are not scrambled for Reasons. It’s lampshaded, but lampshading isn’t a good reason. Regardless, Leia couldn’t have counted on clear skies and yet got it.
            3) Poe rolled natural 20 after natural 20 on his maneuvers to shoot down all but one anti-fighter turret. Was she expecting this to go better somehow? That’s completely unreasonable. Poe has already levelled up to Legolas in his flying abilities.
            4) The bombers appear (from where? Hyperspace?) and fly in presumably according to Leia’s plan.
            Poe says “we can still do this.” So Leia had at least signed off on this course of action even if it wasn’t her idea. But at this point they are called off. Why? What was the scenario where the bombers were supposed to fly into combat? If Leia wouldn’t allow them to fly now when everything imaginable has gone in their favour, the bombers should never been a part of the plan in the first place.

            Then even given all those odds stacked in their favour, the bombers are fragile machines that are slow as pigs and get absolutely shredded. I don’t think those bombers could ever be used in combat. They are meant to level unprotected cities and that’s all (based on what we saw). You couldn’t ask for a better engagement and they get flattened like they were made of paper.

            Yes, Poe shouldn’t have disobeyed orders. But what does Leia do? Patch in to the bombers and order them back? Or jump to light speed without them? The bombers seem to have hyperdrives, so why does she need to sit around, risking getting shot? Or even move to indicate she is leaving to warn the bombers off?

            No. She sighs and looks sad. She doesn’t try anything else. It’s very frustrating because they wanted to do the ‘she’s not a Princess, she’s a General’ rah, rah rah. But they can’t even make her a [i]good[/i] general. Aside from Reading Ahead in the Script with the tracking device she doesn’t really general, only looks sad and tired. What a waste of a good character :(

            1. Shamus says:

              Arg. I never even noticed these problems with the initial attack. I had fun watching Poe blow shit up in the opening scene, and I actually really like the brief drama with Paige Tico. I was on board with what Johnson was doing until the confusing conversation with Holdo left me wondering if I’d zoned out and missed something important, because something was off and I couldn’t put my finger on it.

              I thought the gravity stuff felt a little weird, but I just shrugged and chalked it up to this Star Wars being but from a different cloth. Maybe this sort of thing was normal in the Clone Wars show? I tried to be open-minded because I knew that I’d missed a lot of Star Wars.

              But yeah, the battle went impossibly well, and yet it still wasn’t good enough for the bombers.

              1. Falling says:

                To be fair, in the moment I didn’t either. I was caught up in the drama of the moment. A bunch only came upon reflection as I was trying to figure out why the film didn’t work for me. That fight scene hits a lot of typical action beats that carries you through. And Paige is great for sure. And if immersion is never broken, one would never notice the issues.
                There were a few things that had rattled my immersion (Poe’s trolling with Hux, which felt anachronistically tone deaf, the bombers suddenly blowing up, the gravity bombs, etc.) But I’m a big Star Wars fan, so a lot of stuff bounced off initially.

                I had a total story collapse in a 1, 2, 3 punch.
                1) Leia flying through space (emotional whiplash, combined with unforshadowed powers plus weird visual effects.)
                2) Kylo and his four TIEs blowing up the bridge and starfighter bay, then being pulled back for lack of cover??? I thought I missed something, but no. The baddies were winning too much, so they had to be pulled back or the film would end. If four could accomplish all that, why not send out 40 more TIES and finish the job or 400? Surely all those Destroyers have more starfighters.
                3) The crazy spitball plan of Rose and Finn where they know everything about this experimental technology. And they are right. Despite having no interaction with the hardware or plans or anything.

                At that point I realized I was desperately trying to like the film while holding back my hatred for the story and the whole thing collapsed like a house of cards. Then all the things that had been niggling at me became more obvious.

                1. Smith says:

                  2) Kylo and his four TIEs blowing up the bridge and starfighter bay, then being pulled back for lack of cover??? I thought I missed something, but no. The baddies were winning too much, so they had to be pulled back or the film would end. If four could accomplish all that, why not send out 40 more TIES and finish the job or 400? Surely all those Destroyers have more starfighters.

                  Maybe Hux just wanted to save resources instead of risking their pilots. Or maybe he didn’t want Kylo to get the credit.

                  3) The crazy spitball plan of Rose and Finn where they know everything about this experimental technology. And they are right. Despite having no interaction with the hardware or plans or anything.

                  Their plan was a crazy longshot in the first place that just happened to pan out and be correct.

        2. modus0 says:

          This, right here, is what ruined my suspension of disbelief and pulled me out of enjoying the movie.

          Poe didn’t ask her what the plan (which he was no longer of high enough rank to need to know the details of) was, but simply that there was a plan.

          And, unlike a good military leader (we’re told she is, but never shown her acting as one), she replies with a nonsensical non-answer.

          I’m willing to bet that if she’d responded that they did have a plan, that Senator Organa had come up with, Poe would have been “Okay then”, and done what he was told.

          1. Kylroy says:

            Or if he *did* reject Organa’s plan, it would establish that Poe may be overreaching.

          2. Richard says:

            Yes, this.
            Holdo’s answer to Poe was perfectly calculated to cause a mutiny – and surprise, it happened!

            A chain of command only works if (almost) everybody believes that the ‘top brass’ do have a plan (and a backup plan in case that doesn’t work out).

            While the grunts (which by that point is more or less Poe) only need to know their particular role in The Plan, they’ll only follow it whole-heartedly if they believe that their tasks will help with The Plan.

            Had she replied with something along the lines of “Yes. And right now your part in The Plan is to Sit Down and Shut Up. Your commander will tell you the moment that changes. Dismissed.” then he would quite likely have accepted it.

            He’d have been sorely pissed off, and Holdo established as a woman who Takes No Shit and thinks he’s an insubordinate hotheaded idiot. Which is all fine and consistent with his (and her) prior actions.

            In the film, his mutiny was entirely based on his belief that there was no plan to escape at all, and they were all just going to be picked off one-by-one as their fuel ran out.

            Holdo did nothing to dissuade him or anyone else of that belief, which is just plain stupid.

            So as far as I’m concerned, almost the whole arc of the film ends up resting upon Holdo waving an idiot ball around, and that broke the film for me.

            1. wswordsmen says:

              While I could quibble about a few small points, this is basically my position on Holdo. During her introduction I remember my thoughts being roughly “wait Poe should be in charge,” which I assume is what RJ wanted as a first reaction, “that’s a good speech she seems like a competent leader”, also I assume the intended reaction, “now she only needs to announce they don’t have to die, wait that’s the end that’s Bull”, which is where I lost the movie and never got back to it.

      3. Len White says:

        Is that her fault? It’s entirely her fault.

        In held positions of command in the military, you need to be able to inspire confidence and maintain morale. That’s literally your job as a leader. Even if you don’t have a plan and things are falling to pieces, you to behave in a manner that conveys you know what you are doing, rallying the men and telling them that if we’ll to the plan and endure some hardships we’ll pull through together.

        It may be a lie, but morale is the backbone of an army.

        And if you have a leader that doesn’t do that, but actively subverts the morale of the troops? A leader that gives the impression that she doesn’t know what she’s doing, doesn’t have a plan, and unfairly blames and dresses down troops in the middle of a crisis? Well don’t be surprised when they mutiny or desert you. It’s entirely your fault for being a shit leader.

        1. Falling says:

          Not only that, when Poe is finally let in on the plan, he thinks it’s a great one (even though what we are shown is clearly not a great plan.) Meaning, the whole mutiny could’ve been avoided had she tipped her hand a bit more. Even if you kept absolutely everything the same, she should’ve at least said something during the mutiny- she had nothing to lose and much to gain.

          The fact that Poe didn’t need to know what the plan was, but that there was a plan at all and she can’t even give him that points smells of plot contrivance. We want a mutiny scene, so we’ll make sure she does and says all the things that will make a mutiny possible and do and say none of the things that will prevent a mutiny. But actually, she’s the hero! (That woman-skull analogy is rather apt.) But if the only reason people aren’t saying things is so that we get a very particular scene, that’s plot contrivance. (The whole cruiser set up and the DJ plot are also built on plot contrivances.)

          This where I don’t understand why people will say it might not be a good Star Wars film, but it’s a good film. A story that is reliant on plot contrivance is bad for drama. It can work for comedy, but for an action film that wants its action to have actual stakes.

          1. parkenf says:

            Well. Poe told Finn. Finn told Benicio Del Sketcho. This in turn tipped the wink to the first order and nearly destroyed the escape.

    5. Steve C says:

      Yeah I’m with you Hawk. While I’m not, a lot of my friends are career military in the CAF. Most NCOs, some officers. I hear a lot of stories. A great deal of them involve disobeying orders, lower ranks ordering higher ranks around, telling the people who outrank them flat out no. Most of the time it isn’t even the point of the story. Just one aspect to the interesting thing that happened.

      I feel that hard-line chain of command that Shamus is referring to isn’t true. It is just another trope. Superiors spend a lot of time and effort getting buy in from their subordinates. I can think of a specific story too. How a friend made sure her subordinate was being the best he could be. And how he told her happy and appreciative he was during an evaluation. How much better it was than at his other postings due to being included in all the socializing. The twist being she really hated him and resented him soooo much. Constantly bitched to her husband about him. His appreciation made her feel a bit guilty. But importantly she was just trying to her job as well as she could. One story of many many many that contradict the movie narrative about chains of command.

      Point is, when I see the sacrosanct chain of command lauded, or it angrily challenged in a movie, I am not thinking it as realistic by default. In both cases I see it as a trope. A trope that can certainly work, and work well. But ultimately just fiction. Importantly, as fiction it has to be justified within the scope of the story. It’s not a given.

      I’m not going to quibble if it is presented well. I can take breathing air on a planet and dying in space as givens. The details of that are often gotten wrong. I give it a lot of wiggle room. It can be really wrong but if the broad strokes are correct (air necessary, vacuum deadly) then whatever. It does not need to be presented well assuming it is not germane to the story. It’s based on a real thing. However a conflict between superior/subordinate? That’s acting based on tropes and fiction. It doesn’t get a handwave pass from me. Make me believe it. It isn’t even hard. Put in the work and I’ll buy it. The “this is how militaries work” argument does not fly with me.

      If… “the shot is framed so that she is both literally and figuratively looking down on him. Then instead of answering his question, she pulls rank and puts him in his place, leaving his concerns – which are also the concerns of the audience – unaddressed.” …Then the movie has framed her as the villain. That’s more important than audience prejudices about military structure. The story can certainly take actions and character growth to re-frame that dynamic. But it absolutely does not get a pass from me if a story tries to do it by fiat instead of putting the work in. And Holdo/ Poe did not put the story beat work in. So fail.

    6. Christopher Wolf says:

      Assuming US military, thank you for your service.

  7. Lino says:

    TLJ comment thread… My body is ready!

    1. MerryWeathers says:

      “Insert movie call to action quote here”

    2. Lino says:

      Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away…. This was comment number seven :D

      BTW, loving this thread! Even though I disagree with 90% of the comments :D

  8. Dreadjaws says:

    We can divide these folks into two overly-broad and reductionist categories:

    “Everyone who hates The Last Jedi is a sexist manchild that’s afraid of female empowerment and just wants endless remakes of the original trilogy!”
    “Everyone who claims to like The Last Jedi is an SJW cuck shill who only likes the movie because it shoves their ideology down everyone’s throat!”

    As someone who only thought the movie was mediocre, I’m constantly in the receiving end of both of those attacks, and boy, it doesn’t get any less annoying with time.

    What I absolutely cannot bear are the people who feel the need to project insidious motives onto the opposition, or who see their appraisal of the film to be some sort of position of virtue.

    This a thousand times. To be very clear: I don’t care what movie, show game or whatever people like or not. But it absolutely drives me nuts when they think personal virtue or lack thereof is somehow tied to tastes in entertainment. I don’t have a problem with people liking Ghostbusters 2016, but I do have a problem when I’m told if I don’t like it I’m a sexist moron. I don’t have a problem with people disliking The Dark Knight, but I do have a problem when they praise themselves as superior cinephiles for not liking it. I don’t care if people liked the ending to Mass Effect 3, but I certainly don’t appreciate being told that “I only don’t like it because it wasn’t a happy ending”. Yes, I’m still pissed at Penny Arcade.

    I mean, The Big Bang Theory is a very polarizing TV show. It’s popular between its detractors to say that if you like it you’re an idiot. So Stephen Hawking declared to be a big fan of the show, and how did those detractors react? By saying that “he wasn’t so smart” or “he was way past his prime”. It’s like people aren’t content with simply disliking something, they have to believe that something is so inferior that only lesser minds could like it. It drives me nuts. Love something, hate it, do as you desire, but for the love of God, stop thinking you’re a smarter person for it than those who have the opposite opinion. There’s more to enjoying or disliking a form of entertainment than intelligence.

    1. Len White says:

      Of the two categories, only the first one is true to life, many a dispassionate critic has received such an accusation. I don’t think there’s many examples of people accusing others of liking the film only because of it’s “SJW ideology”.

      Of course, a dispassionate criticism of the movie is good because it can be accepted by both sides of the CW. But a criticism of the movie based on the fact that it’s pandering too hard for an ideology is no less valid, it’s like criticizing a movie for having too many product placements, or glorifying violence/murders/drugs/etc. The problem is that such discussions often turn into “how much pandering for an ideology is too much pandering”, and since that depends entirely where you sit on the CW spectrum, that quickly turns into a full on CW discussion.

      TLJ and Ghostbusters both suffer from this problem. Big Bang Theory and Mass Effect 3 just aren’t the same type of polarizing, since even then the split is based on the opinion of the work itself, as opposed to the ideologies that the work is or is not trying to convey.

      1. MerryWeathers says:

        TLJ and Ghostbusters both suffer from this problem.

        I don’t think so, most people disliked Ghostbusters but TLJ is divisive. There’s a reason why the former still has arguments about it that run hot whereas the latter, people usually say “That movie sucked, now moving on”.

        1. Len White says:

          Don’t look at me, I’m just re-using the examples that Dreadjaws gave. IIRC it did have the same problem of turning criticism of it into a CW shitshow, if not an as long-lasting one because it’s not Star Wars. Just look at Wikipedia’s controversy section on it.

          …Elizabeth Flock, writing for PBS, said that the vote brigading targeted at the film may have been motivated by racism toward Jones. Journalists from The Washington Post and The Atlantic stated that a majority of the criticism constituted misogynistic and anti-feminist comments in regard to the all-female cast. Wiig was “bummed out” that “there was so much controversy because we were women.” Feig said he believed a group of fans had “real issues with women”…

          Point I’m making is, TLJ and Ghostbusters (and other examples like Captain Marvel, Joker, The Last of Us II) are distinct from other media with a divided fanbase because of their inclusion of CW themes and ideologies. A criticism of the media is often taken as a criticism of the CW themes and ideologies that the film incorporates.

          Granted, this isn’t helped by the fact that a significant portion criticism is also about the inclusion of / pandering to the same CW themes and ideologies. But my other point is that that criticizing a film for pandering is a valid criticism that’s unfortunately impossible to discuss in a civil manner. So we’ll have to settle for criticizing the other parts instead.

          Edit: Actually, that doesn’t seem to have become a problem until recently due to the intensifying CW. A frequent critique of Ayn Rand’s books is that they overly pander to libertarian ideologies. Perhaps when the CW dies down in a few years, we’ll be able to look bad on these films and critique them the same way.

  9. John says:

    I love Rian Johnson’s work. Brick is great. Knives Out is amazing. But I haven’t seen the The Last Jedi and I don’t want to. I haven’t seen any of the sequel trilogy. As soon as I learned that the premise of The Force Awakens was “everything you thought you accomplished in your twenties will amount to nothing in the end and you will be stuck doing the exact same damn thing well into your sixties” I decided that the films were not for me.

    On the subject of what is and is not Star Wars, I’d say that Star Wars boils down to approximately three things: (1) space-aventure in exotic locations, (2) clear good guys and bad guys, and (3) the triumph of goodness and compassion despite seemingly long odds. If your Star Wars spinoff can manage that, I’ll probably be willing to forgive it a lot. If it can’t, I’m probably going to nitpick it to death. Knights of the Old Republic contains a lot of things which would normally hit my That’s Not How Things Work In The Movies button pretty hard, but it delivers (1), (2), and (3)–in the Light Side ending, anyway–so it’s one of my favorite Star Wars spinoffs. Knights of the Old Republic II, by contrast, gets (1), but not (2) or (3). Whatever merits the game may possess, it’s not especially Star Wars-y–I’ve been told by many people that this is a virtue, and I’m curious what these people think of The Last Jedi–and I’m a lot less charitably inclined towards it.

    1. MerryWeathers says:

      Whatever merits the game may possess, it’s not especially Star Wars-y–I’ve been told by many people that this is a virtue, and I’m curious what these people think of The Last Jedi–and I’m a lot less charitably inclined towards it.

      KOTOR 2 goes full on with the deconstruction and questions Star Wars. TLJ deconstructs at first but ultimately embraces it’s roots. I found the former pretty enjoyable and a surprisingly nice change of pace and I thought the latter was enjoyable too, I appreciated that it wasn’t really cynical, staying true to the heart of Star Wars in my opinion.

      1. Henson says:

        What’s weird is that I totally agree that KOTOR 2 fully deconstructs and TLJ goes half-way, and yet I like KOTOR 2 and don’t really like TLJ. I’m guessing the fact that KOTOR 2 is some side-story ant TLJ is a main movie entry makes a difference, like I can head-canon the game as ‘well, this one doesn’t fully count’, whereas TLJ can’t be divorced from canon. Or maybe TLJ’s half-measures seem like trying to do two contradictory things at once? I haven’t really figured this one out.

        1. MerryWeathers says:

          maybe TLJ’s half-measures seem like trying to do two contradictory things at once?

          I saw it as the movie acknowledging the faults in Star Wars tropes but saying that in the end, those faults doesn’t invalidate the tropes themselves.

        2. Thomas says:

          I am in the same position as you in liking KOTOR2 and disliking TLJ.

          For me I just think TLJ was too aggressive in deconstructing the _experience_ of watching a Star Wars film instead of the lore itself.

          When we watch Luke drinking milk in a disgusting way, it’s unpleasant and deconstructing the aura of mystique and cool surrounding Jedi.

          Whereas KOTOR2 very much tries to support and recreates that mystique (all their speeches on the beauty and power of the force), but pushes against the black and white morality of Jedi.

          Similarly TLJ starts the film with a very long (and not very funny) joke because it’s challenging the self-seriousness of Star Wars and asks if we can have that kind of humour in a Star Wars film. But KOTOR 2 wouldn’t have had an extended ‘wrong number’ joke with Darth Nihilus

          1. MerryWeathers says:

            When we watch Luke drinking milk in a disgusting way, it’s unpleasant and deconstructing the aura of mystique and cool surrounding Jedi

            I have never understood why people were offended at that scene, maybe if Luke was drinking straight from the titty then I would understand but he drinks from a bottle. The scene also wasn’t deconstructing anything, it was showing us that Luke won’t get off the planet anytime soon, even if Rey is there.

            1. Thomas says:

              You didn’t find freshly extracted green milk dripping down Luke’s beard gross?

              1. evileeyore says:

                I loved that scene. It really sold Luke having abandoned the Jedi ways*, abandoning pretenses to grace, decorum, being ‘above it’. Overall I’m torn… as long as I headcanon Luke having fallen tot he Dark Side, his story plays for me. if not… meh.

                * Despite still clinging to them because he was too useless to forge his own. he’s at odds with himself, or he’s at odds with how the movie want to paint him. “You turned yourself off from the Force!” Then 30 seconds later he’s using the Force. He abandons the Jedi ways, “the legacy of the Jedi is failure” but cries out when Yoda burns the library.

                Gone is the decisive Luke we loved, replaced with an indecisive lump who knowingly let’s his friends die, until somehow, finally, he’s shamed into acting. He gave up, fell into depression, and gave up. Great if we’re supposed to see his momentary ‘redemption’ as trying to lift himself out of the Dark Side, but terrible if he was always supposed to be that Luke all along.

              2. etheric42 says:

                No more than Yoda’s hermitage in the swamp pretending to be a madman.

                Or young Obi-Wan’s bumbling mishaps he’s always scraping by in.

              3. MerryWeathers says:

                2017 was the year where Professor X needed help taking a piss and Samurai Jack kept hallucinating from mental trauma and nearly committed seppuku. Having some milk dribble down the beard was pretty tame in comparison.

              4. Supah Ewok says:

                It was totally gross, and one of my favorite moments in a movie I absolutely dislike. It’s not a deconstruction of the grandeur of his station or whatever. He was just trying to squick Rey out so she’d leave him alone. He even looked her dead in the eyes as he was drinking and gave her a faux satisfied-drinking sound of maliciousness, if I remember the scene correctly. A kind of petty spite that does so well to establish where their characters and relationship are currently at.

                Shame about most of the rest of the movie, tho.

  10. GargaLeNoir says:

    I liked what TLJ tried but didn’t quite like where it ended. Holdo’s a good example. Her attitude was incredibly damaging even from a real life military point of view. In day to day operations you can afford to act aloof but here they were this close to complete annihilation. Tech personnel had to man the escape pods to prevent desertion, morale was rock bottom!
    Did she have to reveal her plan to her underlings? Absolutely not. Did she need to assure them that she *had* a plan to alleviate that terrible morale? Of course! Her attitude and speeches strongly gave the impression that her whole plan was “thoughts and force prayers”, only for her to later be super smug to her underlings for ever doubting her.
    And let’s keep in mind that the Rebel Alliance/Resistance has a strong history of groups like Rogue 1 saving everyone by going against the orders of an overly conservative leadership.
    So yeah, Holdo was doing well as a tactician, but completely blew it as a leader.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      I liked what TLJ tried but didn’t quite like where it ended.

      Kind of agree. Play with the conventions, sure, but make sure you’re actually going somewhere with our story.
      My pick would be Kylo Ren and Leia: he wants to kill her, but finds he can’t; someone else destroys the bridge she’s on, sending her into space; she then flies back to the ship using space magic that we didn’t know she had.
      Fine, movie, you surprised me and I didn’t see that coming…but what was the POINT of that sequence, if we end up pretty much where we started?

      It’s a reminder that tropes exist for a reason (and aren’t necessarily bad): they do (well, can) produce satisfying stories. By rejecting them, you run the risk of ending up with stories that go nowhere or just…fizzle out, which is what happens a lot in TLJ.

      1. MerryWeathers says:

        I think the movie was setting up Leia to be the person who redeems Kylo in Ep. IX, as Luke says to her when she tells him he may be unredeemable at this point: “No one’s ever really gone” but then Carrie Fisher died…

        1. Gethsemani says:

          Yup it was a two fold scene:
          1. To show that Kylo is still conflicted and not beyond redemption.
          2. To set up Leia’s use of the force so she could act as Rey’s mentor in Episode IX (and potentially redeem Kylo).

          1. Syal says:

            It’s also showing that the characters are not in control of events; our named villain decides not to act and his choice is immediately negated by larger forces.

        2. Thomas says:

          Carrie Fisher died well before the movie was released though right? I’m surprised no-one thought that it was a good opportunity to edit her out of the test of the series.

          1. MerryWeathers says:

            One of the best scenes of the movie would have been deleted had Leia stayed dead. Also who would explain Holdo’s actions? I think it was too late for reshoots by that time.

          2. krellen says:

            She died a year before its release, yes, but her scenes were filmed and the movie was in post-production for special effects and some editing. That is not enough time to completely rewrite the script.

            1. Falling says:

              I think you could delay the film. (Star Wars was still knocking out of the park- people would come even if it was delayed six months.) And you wouldn’t need to change much. They have nothing for her to do really, for most of the film anyways. Have her shocking death at that point and have Luke do his Force Trick in the end and live instead of keel over from a heart attack. (Or have him actually arrive with that X-wing. Or have him arrive with his X-wing and do a Force Projection from nearby so the trick doesn’t cost him his life because it’s short range.)

  11. GGANate says:

    I think some people were less pissed about the deconstructionist elements (although Luke being a bitter recluse definitely angered a lot of folks) and more incensed by the fact that interesting/relevant questions from the Force Awakens were poo-pooed away. Who are Rey’s parents? (Doesn’t matter; I agree with this one). Who is Snoke, where did he come from, and how did he lead Kylo Ren to the Dark Side? Sure, Snoke isn’t an interesting character; he’s obviously a Palpatine rip-off, so much so that the Rise of Skywalker replaced him with Palpatine, but who he is and how he lured Kylo away from the heroes is relevant to our understanding of Kylo’s character, as well as our evaluation of the original characters. Part of me loved his unceremonious demise (It was basically a riff on “what if Vader and Luke just turned on the Emperor at the end of ROTJ?), but the overall narrative structure of the sequel trilogy suffered because of that awesome throne room battle. Kylo is the first interesting villain (from a character standpoint) Star Wars has ever had. Sure, Vader had a compelling visual design that oozed style, but he was just an antagonist with a personal connection to our hero rather than a complex character. Before the prequels came out, I always just assumed he allied himself with Palpatine because he was a power-hungry sociopath (which is a better reason than what Revenge of the Sith came up with). Kylo, however, is the son of Leia and Han, and Luke’s nephew, giving him a personal connection to all of the important characters of the original trilogy, so the writer better have a damn good reason for him becoming a villain, something more substantial than “Daddy/Mommy were distant, and my uncle thought about killing me AFTER I had apparently turned to the Dark Side.” Disney tried too hard to recreate the Empire versus Rebels setup of the original trilogy without giving a good in-universe explanation.

    All that being said, I really like the last half of the Last Jedi. Everything involving Rey, Kylo, and Luke is pretty good. I really wish the movie had ended with Kylo and Rey abandoning their respective ideologies, both of which had failed them.

    1. Dreadjaws says:

      Who are Rey’s parents? (Doesn’t matter; I agree with this one)

      Oh, I absolutely agree with this idea, but I find the way the movie presents it to be just jarring. Surely there was a better way to deliver the message, like having Rey following clues that showed that revelation at the end of her investigative journey. But just having Kylo Ren saying it without any sort of visual backup makes my internal storyteller REEE.

      1. MerryWeathers says:

        To be fair, it’s Rey herself who says her parents were nobodies, Kylo is just saying what she’s thinking: her parents never cared about her and probably won’t ever come back for her.

      2. Henson says:

        Well, yes and no. I don’t think Rey’s parents are themselves important, but The Force Awakens kinda planted this idea of their importance by making Rey get a vision of her being abandoned on Jakku (presumably her parents are in the ship that’s leaving the planet) in the past, when she gets the force vision from touching the lightsaber. Now it’s not just a character fixation, it has resonance with The Force.

      3. BlueHorus says:

        In a previous thread, I posited a scene in which Rey actually sought out her parents, only for them to sell her out to the First Order. You see her hopes raised, a visceral betrayal, then an exciting fight/chase scene to cap it all.
        It would have been pretty cliched, sure, but I’d happily take that over Rey and Kylo mumbling at each other in Snoke’s throne room.

        And it’s a MILLION times better than having her be descended from Palpatine.

        1. Joshua says:

          That would have worked out so much better and more organically than “they were nobody”.

      4. Joshua says:

        This was HUGE for me, and I really hated that moment in the theater. They should have just had it revealed that Rey’s parents sold her for booze, and then let the audience draw the conclusion that they were probably “nobody” on their own. It felt so out of place to me for Rey to say that her parents were nobody, because she’s not the one who ever thought her parents were important people to begin with. Instead, she’s trying to find them and discover why they abandoned her. The line felt like such a TAKE THAT at the audience (or JJ, who knows).

        1. Ander says:

          I like this take. Never got the impression from TFA that Rey thought her parents were significant people on a galactic scale. The force should have been “You didn’t matter to them; why bother finding them?”
          But their nature was a good call, and reversing it is my least favorite decision of movie 9.

          1. Thomas says:

            It felt written from the meta perspective of knowing that JJ had been whipping some fan groups into excitement over it as a mystery box plot hook, instead of purely from the narrative of the film itself. In the film it makes sense that Rey just felt a bit lost and identity-less and wanted to meet her parents.

    2. Daimbert says:

      What was set up for Kylo in TFA was interesting, although not even properly explored there: an inverse journey to Luke’s where instead of his becoming a hero Kylo is striving to become a villain, and both of them were doing that by focusing on different aspects of Anakin’s life and legacy. TLJ pretty much tosses all of that away, which loses any really interesting arc Kylo could have.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        TLJ pretty much tosses all of that away

        I think you could say that for many plot points in The Last Jedi. While The Force Awakens was by no means perfect, it did set up a LOT of potential for characters to grow or change, mysteries to be solved, battles to fight…which TLJ just kind of did nothing with.

        TLJ created (IMO) a big old heap of wasted potential, and was a direct contributor to the frankly desperate decision to resurrect Palpatine in the next film.

        1. Thomas says:

          If they’d kept some and subverted others it would have made for a much smoother experience.

          Smoke is the one that got me. Killing him without explaining him doesn’t add any narrative meaning, just meta meaning as a genre subversion. It turns him into a plot cul-de-sac in the first film.

          1. MerryWeathers says:

            Snoke was killed off to serve Kylo’s character arc and elevate him into being the true villain of the trilogy. I always found the latter significantly more compelling so this didn’t bug me at all. We also had everything we need to know about Snoke in the movie (guy in charge of the First Order and took Ben when he turned to the dark side). His origins could be explained in the books as has always been with most Star Wars villains.

            1. Dotec says:

              Snoke was in no way a riveting or novel character, which I’ll lay at the feet of JJ.

              But he was there, love it or hate it. And I think he demanded an explanation in a way that a Palpatine does not. Ol’ Palpy had the benefit of just being part of the established setting from the ground up in A New Hope, where you’re not really obligated to provide reams of backstory. This is the universe, this is roughly how it works, and there’s an Emperor that’s a baddy. Fine! I don’t really need the prologue. It also helps that he’s only mentioned in the first film, giving time for buildup over the next two films.

              Snoke cannot be afforded the same leniency. He’s a big part of whatever happened between the end of the first trilogy and this new one from Disney. They’re not starting from a blank slate. They’re creating a sequel series that fully acknowledges all the previous events that occurred, but then doesn’t bother to do the legwork of bridging these two time periods. I think they were obligated to fill in some of the gaps in TLJ since TFA did such a poor job explaining how we got to this current state of the Star Wars universe. Snoke’s a biggun’, and they whiffed at the opportunity.

              I don’t think I’m being a pedantic lore nerd or anything when I make this demand. My knowledge of the EU mostly ends with a few video games, and I’ve never really internalized them as canon (although I wouldn’t mind some being officiated as such!). I just want to be convinced to a minimum degree that this is an actual world where things have consequences and, and the narrative isn’t coasting by on constructing/deconstructing Star Wars iconography. Yeah yeah, the universe of these films doesn’t make sense in a lot of ways when you really analyze things, but my suspension of disbelief can do a lot of heavy lifting.

              Killing Snoke (and a number of other things in TLJ) just convinced me that the writers and directors don’t really give a crap about doing the bare minimum to justify their world-building or narrative developments, so that was my exit.

              1. etheric42 says:

                Really, I loved Snoke. Maybe I was just reading in to what I wanted to see, but he seemed to me like an anti-Palpatine. He acted like he really cared for Ben even after he turned. The fact that he taught alongside Luke and Luke (ended up) being the one that almost killed Ben and Snoke protected him.

                Sure Palpatine said he was trying to help Anakin, but only until he turned it seemed like.

            2. Joshua says:

              Snoke was killed off to serve Kylo’s character arc and elevate him into being the true villain of the trilogy.

              But this failed for me because the ending fight with Luke completely invalidated his (and Hux’s) presence as a villain. Yeah, he may still end up ruling, but he’s been deflated from any sense of being imposing. I’ve used this example before, but it would be like ending TESB with Darth Vader walking away from his fight with Luke, tripping over some debris, and then pooping himself. Yeah, he still won, but kind of actually lost.

              1. MerryWeathers says:

                I never saw Kylo as the imposing and intimidating type of villain, he was dangerous in that he was unpredictable (just when you think he’ll redeem himself, he digs himself into a deeper hole and just when you think nothing can bring him back to the light, he displays a touch of humanity) but ultimately he’s just a person making one bad decision after another.

                I liked him becoming the true villain because it fully launched his character to the forefront with no Palpatine expy holding him back. Hux, I feel could have become the Starscream to Kylo’s Megatron, being the normal guy getting abused by these powerful force users but is cunning enough to stay alive and subtlety ursurps Kylo’s position as Supreme Leader in the next movie.

                1. Daimbert says:

                  Given what you said, it would actually be Starscream to Galvatron, given that Megatron was cunning and somewhat controlled while it was Galvatron that was unpredictable. Of course, that demonstrates the problem with putting Hux in that role because the instant he stepped out of line there’s no reason to think that Kylo wouldn’t just kill him in a rage, or else Kylo would be reduced to being an unpredictable idiot for not doing so.

          2. Falling says:

            Once they killed him that, I wanted the character cut from the film entirely. Zero interest in the character.

            The planners (if there were any) of the Sequels have no idea about Chekhov’s Gun. If all those set ups and TFA didn’t exist there wouldn’t be such a hue and cry when TLJ failed to deliver. I agree that Snoke was rather unimaginative, but TLJ could’ve done something with the character to make him go in new directions (is actually that size and some ancient Sith spirit or something? How did he escape the Rule of Two limitation created by the Prequels? But if you just cap the guy with no further explanation, then rewrite TFA with Kylo as the big bad and cut wannabe Palps.

            If Rey’s parents didn’t matter at all, don’t make a big deal about weird visions and lightsabers calling to her. And I don’t think she should necessarily have been descended from any one special exactly. Her sudden bursts of Force skills (not power, but skills) could be that her parents were part of Luke’s academy, fled from Kylo’s destruction- Rey experiences some sort of movie amnesia from the trauma, but her old training starts coming back in TFA and is revealed and developed in TLJ and beyond.

        2. stratigo says:

          If you think palpatine wasn’t planned from the start, you weren’t paying enough attention.

          1. BlueHorus says:

            Really? Hard to believe.

            I’d be surprised to hear that they had ANYTHING for the third film planned from the start. The entire trilogy gave me a distinct ‘making it up as we go along’ impression,..

            1. galacticplumber says:

              Specifically, the last film was re-written several different times just TRYING to get SOMETHING agreeable. Arguments about there being a plan are objectively false. We factually know it was a mad, scrambling mess of production.

          2. krellen says:

            I think perhaps you missed a few details of the production, because Rian Johnson was supposed to write and direct TROS (which had not been named at the time), but was replaced by Abrams due to the volume of the fan backlash. And Abrams never plans anything; he likes his mystery boxes to remain unopened. Palpatine was likely a desperation move as he wasn’t allowed to leave this mystery unanswered.

            1. MerryWeathers says:

              Rian was merely offered to direct Ep. IX (this was before TLJ premiered) and he declined in favor of working on Knives Out.

          3. Falling says:

            Where was the foreshadowing?
            I see none.
            But please enlighten me, for I am curious.

            Suddenly Palpatine in the opening crawl in Rise of Skywalker is the first time any of that appears. (Unless you count the Fortnite event. And I don’t.)

      2. Henson says:

        I see Kylo’s arc very differently. Basically, Kylo doesn’t know who he is.

        This is a guy who grew up with a famous smuggler father, a famous princess mother, and his Jedi master is not only a famous Jedi, he’s his uncle. His life is overwhelmed with famous people, overshadowing his own identity. He thought he had to be the ‘good guy’, but his interactions with Snoke and Luke ‘trying to kill him’ convinced him that the ‘good guys’ weren’t worth following.

        So instead, he tries to follow the example of his grandfather, Darth Vader, and become a bad guy. But his heart isn’t fully committed. When his father, Han Solo confronts him on the Starkiller, he knows that he still feels the pull of the light side. And so, in an effort to fully commit to his path, he kills his father, to try to become the person he’s supposed to be.

        But he still doesn’t really know who he is. And when Snoke tears him a new one immediately after the Starkiller incident, Kylo feels frustrated over trying to follow the Dark path, and still not finding answers or feeling like he belongs. So he destroys his mask, kills Snoke, and tries to find a new path with Rey.

        And when Rey turns him down, he goes ballistic, having his last chance at finding his place in the world denied him.

        It’s a really interesting character arc, and frankly, I think the third film in the Sequel Trilogy should have been from Kylo’s perspective, being the only character whose arc still was unresolved. (because everyone else basically has nowhere to go)

        1. Daimbert says:

          I don’t necessarily mind this idea, but also don’t think that it was really established as his arc in the movies. We really needed more about him and more consistency if we were going to find ANY arc worth following for him.

          1. Henson says:

            I don’t think we would need more consistency, because being inconsistent is kinda the point of his arc, as I see it; he’s jumping from one idea to the next, hoping something will give him answers. As to not being fully established…well, it’s certainly the case that the first two films weren’t explicit about his character (as I was above), but that doesn’t mean it’s not there, if subtly. And I think the third movie could have made it more explicit, and it would all make sense with what came before.

        2. evileeyore says:

          “I see Kylo’s arc very differently.”

          I saw it exactly the same way. /high five!

    3. GargaLeNoir says:

      > although Luke being a bitter recluse definitely angered a lot of folks
      I certainly didn’t like that, but I think the responsible party is JJ Abrahams. He’s the one who decided that Luke just bailed on the galaxy on its hour of need. His character was derailed from there. At least TLJ had some fun with it.

      1. Daimbert says:

        From TFA, though, there are lots of reasons that you could use to explain his absence without derailing the character and make him a bitter recluse. You could have him be captured by an outside force like TOR did with Revan. You could have him go looking for Jedi lore to train students better and end up trapped on the planet like could have happened in KotOR. Even if you wanted him to go away, having him be convinced of that by studying the texts and so convinced that the Jedi will always spawn Sith would be a better way to go. But TLJ went the whole-hog route but didn’t justify it sufficiently.

      2. wswordsmen says:

        JJ does not get enough flack for TLJ, while RJ did a lot of things wrong IMO a number of them were dealing with problems JJ set up and then sidestepped in TFA.

    4. krellen says:

      I hated The Force Awakens, so I was glad to have it tossed out. That film really cemented my disdain for Abrams and his so-called “work”.

      1. Falling says:

        But that basically amounts to two authors having ret-con wars in an ongoing series. That’s not very fun for the viewers. And to cap it all off, we have Rise that ret-cons the ret-cons. Makes for a very silly set of sequels.

        There are ways to build off of fairly uninspired story telling and go in new and interesting directions. But to simply go ‘nope. That’s not a thing’ is jarring to Secondary World building. And then TLJ didn’t really go anywhere new either because it simply jumbled the order of Empire Strikes Back and cribbed the throne room scene from Return. The whole sequel series is like a bad remix.

  12. Lino says:

    Like most of the people who will comment here, I also have some strong feelings about TLJ. Initially, I started this comment laying them out, and then I realised: explaining even half of them would mean going into detail about what Star Wars is for me. And that is MASSIVELY different to what it is for everyone else.

    See, when you’re dealing with the cultural juggernaut that is Star Wars, you’re dealing with literal decades of people experiencing this property in massively different ways. Maybe you were a kid in the ’70s, and were blown away by the special effects. Maybe you watched them in college and were disappointed by the prequels. Or maybe you started by watching the prequels as a kid in the 90’s, and had an experience comparable to those 70’s kids. Or maybe you haven’t watched any of them, and know about Star Wars from the plethora of games, books, and God knows what else.

    Thing is, Star Wars means something different to everyone else. And to most of us it means something VERY important, and we get outraged whenever we see someone say that Star Wars is something we know that it’s not. Because, after all, WE know best what Star Wars is and what it should be. All those other idiots don’t even know what they’re talking about!

    Which is why I think it’s impossible to change anybody’s mind about this film. I’m just tired of the cesspit this conversation has become.

    Which is why I won’t be writing a comment-essay about my life story and problems with TLJ.

    But for those of you keeping score: hated TLJ (and the last 3 mainline movies, really; loved Rogue One, and kinda liked Solo). In any case, the series has long since stopped being about the things I care for in these movies.

    1. Pax says:

      That’s a good point. For me, my biggest Star Wars phase in my teenage years mostly centered around the novels, comics, and video games. I had seen the movies, of course, but they weren’t my primary lense to the universe. Instead, I cared about Rogue Squadron and Corran Horn, Mara Jade and Grand Admiral Thrawn, Revan and Kyle Katarn. Needless to say, I didn’t take the EU wipe well. ;_;

      But it also means I am quite used to ignoring the crappy entries in the series and extracting what enjoyment I can from a given story. Everything, good and bad, that sequel trilogy threw at us, I’d seen before in one form or another in the old EU, (except possibly the Holdo maneuver), so I came out of TLJ having enjoyed seeing some Star Wars stuff. When I mentioned this to my friends I’d watched it with, I thought they were going to destroy me with eye lasers (they, uh, had a different opinion).

      1. Lino says:

        Kyle F2W! Also, yes, I hear you on the post-movie discussion with other people. I watched it with my parents, and the moment we left the theatre was a bit awkward. We had had to do a lot of schedule juggling just so we could go and see it (at the time, my sister was 1 year old), and we just didn’t want to admit to ourselves just how mixed our feelings about it were. Back then, there were parts of it we liked, but as a whole… let’s just say we were a bit disappointed.

    2. Thomas says:

      I wish Disney had done more Rogue One style films. Not as in following the same tone, but following the idea of ‘a different genre of film, but in the Star Wars universe’

      New characters, a new part of the world. The Mandalorian is mostly fitting in with that. I haven’t seen Solo but I’ve liked what I heard of the concept – except for it being about Hans Solo (which admittedly is a big bit!)

      1. Retsam says:

        Yeah, “Solo would have been great if it weren’t about Han Solo” is pretty true to my feelings on it. I liked that it was a very different style of story, set in the familiar universe; but ultimately didn’t like that it basically boiled every noteworthy thing Han Solo ever did into a long weekend.

        Was it a good story? Yes. Was it better than the story that everyone’s been imagining in their heads for the last 40 years? Not even close.

        1. Daimbert says:

          Plus, there were already a couple of versions of it in the EU. You can jetison the EU if you want, but you need to have a better story than it had if you do so. Which makes the decision to do Rogue One and Solo instead of something set in-between the OT and ST somewhat puzzling. Every fan would appreciate knowing what happened there, but you risk EU fans turning their noses up at the backstory movies if they didn’t like them more than the ones they already experienced in the EU.

          (For me, Rogue One isn’t as good as the stories in the EU, and I can’t watch it before watching ANH because in my opinion if you lose all your ships you didn’t actually WIN that space battle …)

  13. Dreadjaws says:

    Here is what I consider to be the problem. Feel free to disagree, just please don’t start calling names.

    Subverting expectations is perfectly fine when you’re doing a one-off, but it’s a bad idea to do it in a new chapter of an established series. The reason people expect the relationship with Holdo and Poe to work one way isn’t because it’s the familiar way this trope works in the genre; it’s because it’s literally how it has worked in all the previous episodes in the series. When you try to shove a “realistic military commander” (though, as commented above, that’s not precisely true) in a series where every military commander has behaved differently, you don’t get to wag your finger at the audience and say “Ah, you were expecting something different? Silly you!”, because now every other previous military commander in the series has to be seen in a new light. Were they all bad at their job? Or Holdo was? It has to be one or the other.

    It’s the equivalent of having the protagonists in the latest Avengers movie fighting a bunch of aliens that at the end are revealed to be just Earth villains in disguise, mocking the audience for believing in extraterrestrial life, with the “clue” to their identity being that they speak English when no one is around. It’s not that it’s unexpected, it’s that it just doesn’t fit with the established lore (not only have multiple alien species been shown in the MCU, but they all speak English normally).

    This is probably most obvious with the infamous “Holdo manouver”. It raises the question “If this can be done, then why has no one else done it before?”, and it raises it so hard that the only justification fans had for it was “It doesn’t matter, because it looks cool!”, and the next film had to retcon it into being a 1 in a billion chance thing.

    So, when people say “You only didn’t like it because it subverted your expectations!” they’re being pompous jerks, but technically they’re half right. That is part of the reason, but it’s not just that expectations were subverted, but that they were subverted in a nonsensical way.

    Again, not saying anything against those who liked it. I mean, I liked Suicide Squad, and that movie is a fucking mess. But it was a mess that clicked with me, unlike TLJ.

    1. Lino says:

      Ditto on Suicide Squad! Loved it! Although it was a bit too dark in places. But it’s understandable – all those actors cost a fortune, and you have to make budget cuts somewhere

      1. BlueHorus says:

        I really like the IDEA of Suicide Squad. The execution…not so much. Very much a mess.

        I was kind of heartened to see #ReleaseTheAyerCut trending a while back; another chance to see Suicide Squad, but with less people interfering in the production? Yes please.

        Sadly, interest in it seems to have died…

        1. MerryWeathers says:

          James Gunn is making a Suicide Squad movie, titled “The Suicide Squad”, as if if basically saying: “We’re doing it right this time guys, don’t worry”.

        2. Joshua says:

          The biggest problem (and there were many) was that the entire premise of the film was flawed because they were trying to make superheroes out of these villains as someone who could stand up to Superman if he went rogue. They should have used the premise that these individuals were meant for dirty and dangerous jobs because they had plausible deniability. Half the individuals on the team were Badass Normals at BEST, so it made no sense to treat them like they were special at taking down dangerous enemies.

          1. BlueHorus says:

            Also fun is the way they literally cause the problem that they’re hire dodgy superheros to solve…by hiring a dodgy superhero to solve problems!

            Maybe they could have locked Enchantress up, and/or tried to help her, instead of putting her in a position to let out the spirit possessing her, which caused her to lose control and endanger the city…

          2. Christopher Wolf says:

            I am going to go out on a limb here and just agree with you.

            Want to take down Superman? Well we better have this human woman with a baseball bat. She is acrobatic! This guy? He is really good with ropes! This guy is good with guns! This guy has slight superhuman strength and can probably stay underwater a long time! This guy throws weaponized boomerangs!

            …..

            Oh, we also have people with magical powers (not entirely sure on origin for El Diablo’s powers but they could be magic) that might actually harm Superman (although currently no indication he is vulnerable to magic in the movie’s cannon).

            Its almost ironic that Katana is on the team to keep people in line when she is one of the few people who potentially is an actual threat to Superman.

    2. Shamus says:

      I always thought it should be easy to fix the “Holdo Maneuver” – say that this move is only possible BECAUSE the bad guys are tracking us through hyperspace. Throw in some language like, “Yes, normally this doesn’t work, but they tied a leash to us, and that leash goes both ways!”

      It’s certainly not perfect, but it would keep this situation from leaking out of this movie and breaking other stories. The “Holdo Maneuver” only works because they’re tracking us, and people don’t normally track you because doing so would leave you open to the “Holdo Maneuver”.

      You’d have to make some adjustments to the story to make this work. (I believe the tracking stuff was already disabled by the time Holdo made her move.) But I think part of being a good steward of the lore is taking care not to break the universe like this.

      Moreover, I think this is the sort of thing that Johnson’s bosses should have objected to. The Marvel Movies have the Russo Brothers trying to herd all these cats and keep individual movies from poking holes in future / past stories. (Not 100% successful, but they do try.) I feel like nobody’s doing the equivalent for Star Wars.

      1. Syal says:

        “More power to the scanners, find every last pod! Drop the shields if you have to, they have no weapons!”

      2. Lino says:

        And even then, I think that’s a bit too hard sci-fi for Star Wars. If you want to have a “ticking time-bomb” kind of plot, there are ways to do it within Star Wars without eight hours of techno-babble. Stat Wars has never really been about technology. I think part of the reason Star Wars is so popular is precisely because it leans closer to fantasy than to traditional sci-fi.

      3. kunedog says:

        Dunno if you read it or not, but I had gone into detail on this idea a couple years ago, when you originally expressed an interest in talking about TLJ:

        https://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=44485#comment-1169562

        Just last month I was giving some thought to how you could patch the script to handle hyperspace ramming competently: that is, how to justify ramming and then dispose of (or at least shelve) it so space battles in future installments aren’t crippled. It’s still flawed, but this is what I came up with:

        How bout we integrate the hyperspace ramming tactic with the First Order’s hyperspace tracking mechanism. First, the script should set up the brilliant ramming tactic, instead of having Holdo think of it out of nowhere, in the same scene she uses it. With minor modifications, the numerous existing conversations about the hyperspace tracker will easily accomplish this.

        The basic premise is that back when hyperspace was invented, the military did consider using it as a weapon. But it turns out that targeting any specific object is very difficult. It’s not an issue of size and location, but one of empty space versus solid matter. So while it’s quite possible to reliably avoid any and all objects (and stop just short of them, like the Falcon did with Starkiller Base), your hyperspace scanners/sensors would be hard pressed to even recognize, much less follow (i.e. track) something like a planet, much less a ship. Throw in a comment about the laws of physics being slightly different in hyperspace (as they obviously always have been), which is fine as long as they’re consistent. To summarize: the nature of hyperspace is that navigation through regular space is mundane, but sensing anything about solid matter is a fool’s game, so the idea of hyperspace tracking and/or ramming was wholly abandoned.

        The First Order’s invention that changed everything is some kind of hyperspace emitter that can send out hyperspace waves and (harmlessly) bounce them off matter in hyperspace, giving more precise data about the shape and movement of objects. Essentially, it is active radar, an analogy most of the audience will understand. Either the original hyperspace engineers never figured out exactly how to do this, or the ridiculous energy cost was considered to be an effective prohibition (and in that case the FO’s innovation is meeting the power generation requirement). Finally, the First Order is able to recognize and follow objects with enough precision to track specific ships through hyperspace, but it’s still far too blurry to target anything well enough to ram it.

        On the rebel side, from the moment Leia deduces they’re being tracked, everyone is astonished (maybe even in denial) and brainstorming to solve the mystery of how. Maybe the original hyperspace engineers would have known almost instantly, but hyperspace travel has been a settled science for so long (and so many rebel engineers have been killed) that it (justifiably) takes most of the film’s runtime for the rebels to figure out what I’ve just explained. But only when Holdo is alone on the cruiser, and desperate for a hail mary, does the final revelation come to her: Snoke’s ship is sending out waves through hyperspace, basically lighting itself up like a Christmas tree (as active radar really would) in hyperspace. Maybe (through exposition) give her an engineering background, and have her lead the previous hyperspace tracker discussions so this is more believable. After this flash of genius, it’s now trivial to use the ship’s existing hyperspace sensors to target Snoke’s ship and ram through it (or tweak this part a bit so that she knowingly plans the ram ahead of time, and she has to be onboard to manually reconfigure the sensors, also justifying why it was necessary to sacrifice her life).

        Pros:

        – This explains why no one has ever tried hyperspace ramming before (no one has targeting capability).

        – It explains why no one will ever try hyperspace ramming again (gaining targeting capability makes YOU the most vulnerable target). A good future script writer could probably justify it in very specific circumstances though.

        – It makes Holdo less of a defeatist, oblivious do-nothing. Clearly, Holdo should’ve been completely scrapped and replaced with Akbar, but let’s fix one problem at a time . . .

        – It can be used to characterize the First Order as carelessly power-hungry, blind to how they’ve sown the seeds of their own destruction. Maybe their own engineers don’t specifically foresee the ramming danger, but they urge caution because no one has ever done anything like this in the history of hyperspace engines. Snoke dismisses their concerns as cowardice. Of course this also means Snoke is aware of the hyperspace tracking device from the beginning, instead of being somehow oblivious to the idea until after Hux had already made use of it.

        Cons:

        – This only works if integrated into TLJ’s script; it can’t be retconned in IX. The damage is done.

        – It’s too Star Trek, i.e. too science “fiction” instead of science “fantasy.” But this is not a problem with my solution; the pandora’s box was opened as soon as hyperspace ramming was introduced. This was a fundamental point in Plinkett’s Phantom Menace review (the one that put RLM on the map). And he’s right: how many Star Trek characters are engineers or scientists, and how many who aren’t still spout technobabble? But other than Mikkelson in Rogue One, how many engineers or scientists can you name in Star Wars? IIRC if even a mechanic of a ship is a named character, it’s the pilot himself. Plinkett said that Star Trek had whole episodes devoted to how the engine/weapon/etc systems worked, but Star Wars left them largely opaque, expressed through light dialog and heavy SFX. I contend that suddenly using an engine system as a weapon system is a decision that demands as much of an explanation and justification as suddenly scanning for midichlorians (and raises more contradictions).

        P.S. I posted this once successfully, but then edited it to fix a single character typo and it got disappeared as “spam.”

      4. kunedog says:

        Moreover, I think this is the sort of thing that Johnson’s bosses should have objected to. The Marvel Movies have the Russo Brothers trying to herd all these cats and keep individual movies from poking holes in future / past stories. (Not 100% successful, but they do try.) I feel like nobody’s doing the equivalent for Star Wars.

        Can’t find the vid right now, but I think Pablo Hidalgo of the “story group” said in an interview that he was the one who approved this, so it seems Rian did consult the people he was supposed to. As for his bosses . . . after the roaring success of TFA, Bob Iger went hands off and gave Kathleen Kennedy free reign over TLJ, and she obviously didn’t stop it.

      5. Thomas says:

        I like that fix. I genuinely think I would have enjoyed the movie more, because it turns into ‘We found a smart way to adapt to our situation’ instead of ‘we introduced new powers to save the heroes at the climax of the film’

      6. z says:

        Got some bad news for you. I don’t think Disney made these movies with people like you in mind. They’re used to a younger audience who just watches their stuff, loves it, then asks their parents for toys.

        1. etheric42 says:

          Not in any way more or less than Lucas did it.

          1. Radkatsu says:

            Except Lucas actually respected the people giving him money for his products, and even when he made mistakes, they were genuine mistakes, not outright malice.

            1. MerryWeathers says:

              Lucas pushed his vision of what Star Wars was, regardless whether people liked it or not. While I wouldn’t call it malice, he was cheeky at times towards some of the criticisms of the PT (specifically in regards to Jar Jar).

              1. Sartharina says:

                It was his Star Wars to do with what he wanted. George Lucas is the God of Star Wars by right of creation.

                1. etheric42 says:

                  A) and he sold it to Disney of his own free will, so now Disney is god.

                  B) What does that have to do with the creator/owner’s relationship to the audience?

            2. etheric42 says:

              Why do you believe Disney / the various writers/directors/producers do not respect their customers?

              You seem to be imputing some pretty significant motives on them. Why would they hold malice?

              Lucas leveraged his fantasy script into a licensing empire. He knew the power of royalties and was a shrewd businessperson in that way. Disney is behaving similarly, investing heavily in flagship fantasies the best way they can and leveraging the licenses.

              1. Steve C says:

                I want to answer that without going as far as “no respect”, “malice” etc. I’ll call out JJ Abrams. His TED talk on mystery boxes means he has incompatible ideas with many people about what makes a good story. Case in point. Is it fair to abbreviate that difference of opinion to “no respect to the audience?” Meh. It is reductionist but I personally would. That’s how I personally feel from his movies even if it isn’t fair to say.

                Really what is being implied is that Lucas and Disney effectively are the same. I would disagree. It is the difference between an individual making individual decisions about art that will be sold and an organization making organizational decisions about a product. Case in point- this week’s Diecast with Ross. What Ross said about the process applies to a studio film. Lucas was given free reign back in the 70s with the expectation to fail. With nobody with power caring. With his no-name actors making fun of him the entire time. Later Lucas was *the* man with power. Everyone’s boss. He now had the exact opposite problem. Too much power that nobody gave him enough pushback to his bad ideas to change them in time. Even though Lucas himself recognized those problems too late to fix them.

                An organization is different. It is the combination of making the sausage and office politics. Everyone wants a hand in the success and nobody wants blame if it wastes a billion dollars. Completely different motivations and power to see it through. Lucas and Disney are not the same at all.

                1. etheric42 says:

                  I’m confused, what do critics not liking JJ Abrams creative/narrative style have to do with not respecting the people who give him money?

                  Hemmingway had incompatible ideas with many authors/critics/audiences at the time on how to write prose. Some people liked his style. Others didn’t. Now he’s considered a great. I don’t think Abrams will be considered a great, but I don’t think that’s a prerequisite.

                  In the OT Lucas absolutely had many people making the sausage, script writers, other directors, etc. In the PT he had more power, but there were still a lot of people involved. In the ST, a lot of Disney went hands off after the success of TFA. And either way I feel you’re arguing against an argument that I didn’t make.

                  A: The audience of the movies is children and the goal is to get them to convince parents to spend.
                  Me: No more than Lucas
                  B: At least Lucas respected the spenders
                  Me: Why would Disney not respect their customers?
                  Steve C (wow, didn’t expect the initials to line up): A studio product is different than an auteur product.

                  What?

        2. Falling says:

          re: Disney is used to young audiences

          How young though?
          Anecdotal. But last year my middle school students were all over the place in their enjoyment of TLJ. This year, in my grade 7 class there is a heavy contingent of Star Wars fans and they universally hate TLJ and the sequels. So it’s not for them either, I guess?

      7. etheric42 says:

        Or perhaps because this was a sublight chase, an event that almost never happens because the battle usually would have been won/lost by then or one side would have jumped away. None of the ships were meant to be sitting at maximum sublight for such a long period of time constantly bombarding.

      8. Mistwraithe says:

        This. I enjoyed the new trilogy as stories but their desire to keep upping the power levels in ways which defied any sort of science and logic really annoyed me. Sucking the power of a sun into a moon, being able to see multiple New Republic planets destroyed visually in the sky, and then the whole Holdo Maneuver thing, broke so much for me.

        If the Holdo Maneuver is a thing then no one would ever build a Death Star, or even a Star Destroyer, too big and too easy to destroy by hyperspacing into. It destroyed space combat completely and made the bombing run at the start of TLJ a joke – they should have just hyperspaced one of those ships into the dreadnought, problem solved.

        I know it’s space opera rather than crunchy space viewing, but the logic just got too broken.

      9. Retsam says:

        I feel the real issue with the Holdo Manuever isn’t really all the fridge logic about “why didn’t they do this before” – sure they could have handled that better… but I feel this misses the real source of “story collapse” here.

        IMO, the real issue isn’t the “realism”, it’s that for people who aren’t sold on Holdo as a character, it feels like the author is cheating, literally bending the rules of the universe to make their “pet character” look good. It feels like Holdo is the author’s GMPC.

        That’s why you’ll so often hear people say that it should have been Leia or Ackbar doing the maneuver, not because it’d be more realistic if one of them did it[1] (or even because it would have been an excuse for Ackbar’s last words to be “it’s a trap”) , but because most people will overlook “unrealism” if it’s emotionally satisfying, if it feels like the character has “earned” that sort of payoff.

        Holdo’s sacrifice isn’t the culmination of a character arc; it’s a sudden reversal of characterization.

        [1] … though in Leia’s case, you could always hand-wave it as something requiring the Force to pull off.

      10. Falling says:

        The funny thing is they didn’t actually resolve the tracking thing, which was one of the main conflicts for the film. They just sort of forgot about that part of the plot.
        Yes, they had turned off the tracker to the main ship. But the whole reason for Finn and Rose to leave the fleet bop back (and nothing material would change in the meantime) is that the tracking device was on all the ships (out of character knowledge) and if one was shut off, someone else would turn on theirs. Only one works at a time because of Reasons to create a subplot for Finn. But once the main ship was destroyed, it stands to reason any remaining ships would turn on their tracker.

        If this was Marvel, there should have been a scene after the credits where the Falcon comes out of hyperspace… and the remaining fleet of Star Destroyers jumps in behind. End Scene.

    3. Retsam says:

      The best thing I’ve seen written about “subverting expectations” is from author Brent Weeks

      Subverting expectations is easy, and many who do it think they’re clever. The trick is to remember that if you’re taking away the gift your readers expect, you have to give them something much better.
      That’s hard.

      A rare few may enjoy the mere act of being surprised by a film – I think this may be why critic reviews of TLJ were generally better than “average moviegoer” reviews. If you’re “into film” and you’ve seen a million films that follow the normal story, something that surprises you might be memorable just for the novelty.

      I feel TLJ largely “subverted expectations” without replacing them with something better.

      1. Ander says:

        I’ve heard that as an issue with pro game reviews. Specifically, the reason something like Skyword Sword would review really well and age like a fried egg. Novel, changing, bright, but not much to latch onto long term or even over more play sessions. Since the reviewer may only have a week, they don’t get to the point most players will get to of getting tired of it, and most players don’t have the same appreciation for novelties that are one-off gimmicks.
        So goes the theory, anyway. CoD is probably still milking it’s one-off mission mechanics.

      2. Falling says:

        I agree. I think TFA promised lots (those darn mystery boxes) and TLJ came up with a whole lot of empty boxes. What TLJ did tease (Rey switching to the Dark Side) also came up empty. Promising spectacle and answering with the mundane is surprising, and if you like a surprise for the pure shock value then you would enjoy it. But most people don’t really like those sorts of surprises though they will admit to being surprised: surprised and disappointed.

    4. Redrock says:

      The Holdo maneuver, I think, encapsulates Disney’s whole approach to the sequel trilogy: the Rule of Cool ruled supreme in there. Throw in anything that will look cool in the moment, and give no thought at all to how it affects whatever stories came berfore or might come after – that’s how we wound up with a trilogy that seems to have no plan, no endgame, and no coherent story to tell. But, on the other hand, the maneuver did look extremely cool. Can’t take that away.

  14. Mephane says:

    My only issue with the movie is not actually with the movie, but all the others – why did no one else think of using a hyperdrive as a weapon? Yes, it might be more expensive than your regular blaster guns, missiles, torpedoes etc, but this has the ability to incapacitate or outright destroy a capital ship in a single well-timed hit. And both the Empire and the new Order clearly have a vast economy at their disposal, otherwise they could not contruct two Death Stars and one Starkiller, so at least they could afford this kind of capital ship buster.

    This lays bare a general lack of creativity in the Star Wars movies (maybe the various comics and books are better in this regard) when it comes to futuristic weapons. Yes, I love lightsabers and laser guns, but the coolest scifi weapons are those who go beyond merely extrapolating from the things we have (or had) in reality and making them look and sound more futuristic.

    (On that note, bonus points for Snoke’s death. Using the force to remotely activate the lightsaber on his armrest was a really clever idea. I absolutely loved that whole scene.)

    A similar thing can be also said for Star Trek, by the way. For example, it is established that shields prevent objects being beamed through. But once a ship’s shields go down in combat, why doesn’t the enemy beam the bridge crew, the warp core, or some other critical component, right into space? The ability to transport matter in this manner is such a disruptive technology and has so many possible applications, and yet it is only employed in the most conventional manner of saving a bit of time when you have to move your people or equipment from A to B.

    The Federation might frown upon spacing people like that, but then why not the enemy’s supply of torpedoes? And then the Romulans or Borg would certainly have no qualms whatsoever about killing people in this manner.

    1. Daimbert says:

      A similar thing can be also said for Star Trek, by the way. For example, it is established that shields prevent objects being beamed through. But once a ship’s shields go down in combat, why doesn’t the enemy beam the bridge crew, the warp core, or some other critical component, right into space?

      Because they’d have to lower their OWN shields to do so, in front of an enemy that can still fire weapons at them. And if the ship is SO disabled that it can’t fire weapons anymore, what would be the point in doing that? Just tell them to surrender or be destroyed.

      Anyway, to make this be more than a mere explanatory point, I don’t have a problem with things not fully examining the impacts of their technology, as long as they are consistent about it and especially if they are ignoring it because it would kill drama. As noted, I think part of the reason people are so upset by Holdo’s hyperspace move is that it breaks the deliberate ignoring of those consequences. As long as the movies were ignoring that, we could at least assume that there’s some reason that we don’t know about that means it won’t work. As soon as one movie suggests that it can happen, then we have to explain the inconsistency. Either the other movies were stupid for not using it when it would have made things easier, or else this was essentially an ass-pull to resolve an issue in this movie. Either way, one of the movies did something wrong.

      It’s like the example Shamus gave in talking about Details vs Drama with a blaster being able to shoot through shields. If you can’t do that in previous movies but suddenly can do that at a key moment, we’re going to need an explanation, even in Drama-first works. As he noted, Drama-first works in general would never establish that it couldn’t happen, so it wouldn’t be so surprising, but even then we’d look back at all the times where it would have been useful and wonder why you couldn’t. The Holdo Maneuver, here, changes the rules and doesn’t explain the change.

      (Note: Han’s move in TFA is similar, but at least there’s some handwaving about his being that good a pilot. We don’t get that for Holdo, so it’s only if you think she’s a strategic and tactical genius who could invent that on the fly that you even get a handwave. And we don’t know her well-enough for that).

      1. Lino says:

        To be fair, they did patch it lore-wise in a book that explains why it’s possible for Holdo, but not for other ships in the SW universe. Something about the shields of Holdo’s ship being super special, and the enemy ship being something or other…. I remember reading about it on Wookieepedia. That is, until they retconned that explanation in episode IX. Which made it sound even more idiotic… And now you made me sad, because I had to remember that. And I don’t know what makes me sadder – the original scene, the ass-pull of the initial lore patch, or the ultimate ass-pull from episode IX :/

        1. Daimbert says:

          I haven’t watched IX because the ST up to that point turned me off everything, so I don’t know anything about the explanations, but will use Chuck Sonnenberg’s comment about not blaming the audience for not knowing things that aren’t in the movie because, well, they aren’t in the movie [grin].

      2. MerryWeathers says:

        As he noted, Drama-first works in general would never establish that it couldn’t happen, so it wouldn’t be so surprising, but even then we’d look back at all the times where it would have been useful and wonder why you couldn’t. The Holdo Maneuver, here, changes the rules and doesn’t explain the change.

        I think the difference here is that the space battle rules were never clearly established in the movies. We kind of just go straight into the action.

      3. Duffy says:

        Sure the hyperdrive attack is devastating tactic and you hinted at the cost effective aspect of it. But even taking a real world comparison: we don’t ram battleships with other battleships as a regular tactic – even though it would work. Couple that with size and scale being a huge factor in why the holdo manuever worked – she hit a really big target with a big projectile: that still didn’t actually destroy the main target. Incapacitated, sure – but most of the real damage was to secondary targets hit by the debris. I agree it’s wonky and I’ll defined, but I think it’s less problematic than it appears just by looking at some real world comparisons.

        Then theirs the hyperspace accident that wrecks a good chunk of the galaxy coming up in the Old Republic stuff coming up…

        1. etheric42 says:

          Think of all the other capital ships that were lost due to bombardment that could have been used as rams.

        2. Syal says:

          we don’t ram battleships with other battleships as a regular tactic – even though it would work.

          That’s because modern firepower vastly outranges it (like “multiple horizons” outranged), which doesn’t work when talking about hyperdrive.

          EDIT: (Oh right, and ramming is what nearly sank the USS Cole back in 2000.)

  15. Daimbert says:

    The Sequel Trilogy has pretty much put me off of Star Wars completely, but I have to say that I like TLJ slightly better than TFA. One of the reasons for that is the ambiguity you mentioned, as for pretty much any position you want to take there is evidence in the movie that you can appeal to. Want to side with Poe? Leia seems like she’s broken by the losses and Holdo seems incompetent, and what they lost to destroy that massive ship seems a reasonable trade, and certainly a reasonable trade by Star Wars and Sci-Fi standards. Want to side with Holdo? Poe is indeed, as you noted, called out for being a hot head, and it’s unclear how much of a benefit the bombing run was to them. And the same can be said for the Luke arc as well. And the Finn arc. And so on. Thus, it essentially lets you build your own interpretation of the movie from the pieces it gives you, which I think does lead to some of the arguments.

    The problem with it as a movie, though, is that it isn’t deep enough and doesn’t do enough with that ambiguity. It doesn’t make a point that things aren’t always simple and that things can often be ambiguous. Thus it comes across as a mix of set binary ideas rather than an exploration of them. It seems like you’re supposed to side with SOMEONE — I believe that Johnson wanted us to ultimately side with Holdo and Rose, for example– but it isn’t clear just WHO you’re supposed to side with. So it doesn’t embrace the ambiguity but also doesn’t make it clear who the movie is saying is in the right but also doesn’t outline the sides enough to let us really choose a side. So while it may be subverting tropes, it does so so much that there’s nothing left to hang onto when watching the movie.

    I do have to disagree on one point:

    The filmmaker has covered Holdo in villain signifiers. The writer has put a giant flashing sign over her head announcing, “THIS CHARACTER IS A VILLAIN! SHE WILL BETRAY YOU IN ACT 3!” Rian Johnson is using genre conventions to freak us out. For a lot of people, I’m willing to bet this was completely unconscious.

    I don’t think the signifiers are of a villain, but instead of the typical clueless officer with their heads up their nether-regions. She’s not a villain that’s going to betray them, but an obstructionist leader that the heroes need to work around to actually achieve their goals. She’s not presented as evil, but INCOMPETENT. And that’s how those who don’t like her usually think of her: the incompetent, obstructionist commanding officer whose main role is to prevent the main characters from doing what has to be done. That’s why many people choke when she reveals her overall plan, since while the movie presents it as being something reasonable and intelligent — which would subvert that expectation and make that sort of character turn out to be smart and right all along — when examined it doesn’t seem all that intelligent, and doesn’t seem like it fails only because of Poe’s actions but because it was actually a flawed plan to start with.

    She’s a character who would be seen to have the Idiot Ball as part of her character definition, and then the movie tries to show that she didn’t to subvert that character definition, but then that only seems to work because everyone ELSE has the Idiot Ball (or would have it), and yet it fails anyway.

    I also think that one of the issues is that the subversions ignore the context of Star Wars in making this, in much the same way as the ending of ME3 talks about the neverending battles between organics and machines but ignores EDI/Joker and what you can do with the Geth/Quarians. Take Leia’s reaction to Poe. Yes, in a real military there is usually more discipline and harsher treatment of insubordinates. But as I noted long ago, the Rebellion was never like that, by necessity. Leia, for example, served for a long time in the Rebellion with HAN SOLO, so she HAD to be used to insubordination and had to be able to see how, sometimes, that sort of maverick behaviour was necessary for a resistance movement. You can argue that the Resistance was different, but the issue is that the movie doesn’t actually say that. They could have easily made the link back to Han and instead of having Leia go all gung-ho on Poe, take him aside and point out that while that sort of behaviour worked in the past they can’t afford that sort of thing now. This would also allow them to build on Poe’s character and, say, give him a hero worship of, say, Wedge and note that what he was doing is EXACTLY what Wedge was known to do to start all that off. If the movie is going to contradict how things worked in the previous movies with the characters who went through that and agreed with it, it really needs to lampshade and explain why their opinions will have changed. And that is probably the big thing the movie fails at.

    1. MerryWeathers says:

      The problem with it as a movie, though, is that it isn’t deep enough and doesn’t do enough with that ambiguity. It doesn’t make a point that things aren’t always simple and that things can often be ambiguous. Thus it comes across as a mix of set binary ideas rather than an exploration of them. It seems like you’re supposed to side with SOMEONE — I believe that Johnson wanted us to ultimately side with Holdo and Rose, for example– but it isn’t clear just WHO you’re supposed to side with.

      I don’t think it’s supposed to be ambiguous, both Poe and Holdo have good points. Obviously you can’t be stunted to the point of being indecisive but you also just can’t blow the big thing up in every situation, there has to be balance. You can see this in the way their character storylines end: Holdo ironically does something heroic by sacrificing herself to blow up the big thing while Poe finally shows that he’s learned by calling off the attack on the big thing during the Battle of Crait.

      1. Daimbert says:

        I’m not convinced that it was meant to be ambiguous either, but was just playing off of Shamus’ comment that it was deliberately ambiguous. Regardless, it is still ambiguous. And even the endings are ambiguous, because there’s a debate over how useful Holdo’s action was and it also seems like if it was useful it was necessary, and it’d debatable whether calling off the attack was actually the right move, as they only get saved at the end by Rey and Luke showing up at JUST the right time.

        1. MerryWeathers says:

          because there’s a debate over how useful Holdo’s action was and it also seems like if it was useful it was necessary

          I believe it was as it managed to delay the First Order and prevented the Resistance from being ended right then and there.

          and it’d debatable whether calling off the attack was actually the right move, as they only get saved at the end by Rey and Luke showing up at JUST the right time.

          Putting in the effort of destroying the ram would have been futile. Even without the weapon, the First Order would still have stormed the base. As for Rey and Luke, that’s point, the heroes save the day just when things are really REALLY dire.

          1. Daimbert says:

            I believe it was as it managed to delay the First Order and prevented the Resistance from being ended right then and there.

            It’s more story collapse there: the Resistance gets trapped and would have been wiped out anyway. If you blame her plan for it, then her sacrifice only delayed the presumed inevitable caused by her own plan, and if you think the plan was fine then it was necessary — the only remaining option — and so not heroic in the strongest sense.

            Putting in the effort of destroying the ram would have been futile. Even without the weapon, the First Order would still have stormed the base.

            The ram was the thing that could breach the door. Without the ram, they would have stormed it — or starved them out — eventually but it would have bought time to find another solution. This then could have allowed for time for their allies to come for them or for Luke and Rey to formulate a plan to help them.

            As for Rey and Luke, that’s point, the heroes save the day just when things are really REALLY dire.

            Sure, but it’s all a bit contrived that she would come back with Kylo at JUST that time to try that heroic rescue, and one that was absolutely required since they were all just about to be slaughtered since their main plan to delay the First Order was scuttled.

            1. MerryWeathers says:

              It’s more story collapse there: the Resistance gets trapped and would have been wiped out anyway. If you blame her plan for it, then her sacrifice only delayed the presumed inevitable caused by her own plan, and if you think the plan was fine then it was necessary — the only remaining option — and so not heroic in the strongest sense.

              The difference is that there would be no time for the Resistance to plan, they would have all died in space but Holdo’s sacrifice managed to keep them going up to Crait where while the First Order would still be after them, they wouldn’t be instantly killed at least.

              The ram was the thing that could breach the door. Without the ram, they would have stormed it — or starved them out — eventually but it would have bought time to find another solution. This then could have allowed for time for their allies to come for them or for Luke and Rey to formulate a plan to help them.

              The ram couldn’t instantly breach the doors, it was being prepared and charged up that whole time. Poe could have used that time to come up with a plan to escape but instead chose to try and destroy it which just led to the Resistance getting smaller until they could fit in the Millennium Falcon, Poe finally calls off the attack so more people wouldn’t need to die anymore.

              Sure, but it’s all a bit contrived that she would come back with Kylo at JUST that time to try that heroic rescue, and one that was absolutely required since they were all just about to be slaughtered since their main plan to delay the First Order was scuttled.

              With Kylo? I’m confused.

              1. Daimbert says:

                The difference is that there would be no time for the Resistance to plan, they would have all died in space but Holdo’s sacrifice managed to keep them going up to Crait where while the First Order would still be after them, they wouldn’t be instantly killed at least.

                I remember that they were heading to the planet anyway, so as I noted the issue here is over whether going to Crait at all was a good idea. That gets into a LOT more arguments, though. Still, if someone thinks her plan to land on the planet was stupid, then they aren’t going to be impressed by her sacrifice.

                The ram couldn’t instantly breach the doors, it was being prepared and charged up that whole time. Poe could have used that time to come up with a plan to escape but instead chose to try and destroy it which just led to the Resistance getting smaller until they could fit in the Millennium Falcon, Poe finally calls off the attack so more people wouldn’t need to die anymore.

                They could have held out a lot longer without the ram than with it, which would have given them more time to come up with a plan or wait for their allies to come for them, and there WASN’T a plan that could get them out before the doors were breached (they only managed to get out because of Luke’s unforseeable intervention and Rey’s ability to actually get them out of the bottleneck and fly them away in the Falcon, which was the only thing they had).

                This ties into why I call it ambiguous, because you can easily argue it either way based on what the movie presents.

                With Kylo? I’m confused.

                That was my shifting it because I remembered that she had the throne room scenario with Kylo before going to rescue the Resistance. Whether she was coming back to the Resistance or coming to find Kylo, she comes back quite unintentionally and conveniently at the right moment to play that key role, which strains credulity.

    2. darth joe says:

      I think that bombing run was pretty useful since its literally the only reason they didn’t get blasted into space dust after the bad guys tracked them after the next jump. Would’ve been a pretty short movie.

  16. Henson says:

    You can argue that an action was strategically sound or not, but there’s always some interpretive wiggle room because the two characters never reconcile, which means the director never has to embrace any particular interpretation.

    See, I think I disagree on this one. It think it’s clear that both Poe and Holdo make some major mistakes in their relation to each other in this film: Holdo doesn’t give anyone any reason to trust her, is openly hostile, sabotages her own leadership position, and Poe is blatantly insubordinate. It’s a tragedy of two people who just won’t communicate, but the film frames this conflict later on as ‘Poe was in the wrong the whole time, Holdo had a plan the whole time’. The film completely is on Holdo’s side once Leia reveals the full story, while the audience can see that Holdo is not faultless. There’s a conflict between the plot and its framing, and that’s a problem.

    1. Joshua says:

      Yep, see my comment just a little below yours.

  17. Gunther says:

    As someone who is lukewarm on TFA, this analysis actually makes me like it more, by pointing out that what I’d always assumed was an error (Poe is no more a maverick than the other assorted protagonists of the other Star Wars movies, yet is treated like a childish moron in-story for it) is a deliberate choice designed to deconstruct the idea of the heroic rebel who disobeys orders from unreasonable authority figures.

    …I feel like this is an idea that works better on paper, though. It needed a “reveal” scene that showed us Holdo had been in the right all along rather than just telling us so, then having her plan instantly fall apart. Poe’s plan honestly seems a lot more likely to succeed than “lets abandon our ships and go hide in a cave, even though we don’t actually know how they’re tracking us”

  18. Joshua says:

    Interesting that you mentioned Knives Out, because while watching it I had flashbacks to TLJ. I thought Knives Out was much better, if nothing else because it starts with fresh characters instead of playing in someone else’s sandbox. In both movies, I was really fascinated by certain scenes/plotlines because they seemed fairly complex and showed that BOTH sides were motivated, had a point, and yet were kind of in the wrong, and then the film steers away from that and goes “Nah, this person was right all along and their opponents were just being bad and/or dumb”.

    For TLJ, it was obviously the competition between Poe and Holdo, and the movie actually shows that while Poe is being somewhat of a hothead, he does have some reasonable concerns and he’s not the only one to think that way, as evidenced by the mutiny and the framing shots that show other people on the bridge are rattled by her “Do what I say and don’t ask questions!” attitude. And then, Leia shows up and says that Poe was just being stupid and should have just done what he was told. Rich Evans from RLM summed this up as the theme being “Never question authority”, which is weird from the Rebellion/Resistance side.

    For Knives Out, it was the scene after the will is read and Linda basically accuses Marta of sleeping with her father. This was really cool, because from the evidence presented, I think that it’s perfectly reasonable for Linda to come to this conclusion based upon the information she had, and Marta is being really awkward and evasive about their questions of what they consider to be a very important matter. The thing is, Marta is being evasive because she’s trying to avoid being incriminated in Harlan’s death and this whole will and estate thing are the LAST thing on her mind at the moment. To me, this was really awesome writing because it showed two groups who had fully fleshed motivations being at odds for natural reasons. And then later, the movie once again retreats away from that complexity and says that “Nah, Marta was the only person in the right all along and the children are all just awful bad people who deserve to lose their inheritance so it can be given to the pure as snow protagonist instead”. I came out of the film a lot more sympathetic to Harlan’s actual children (Walt and Linda) than the film intended, and the film doesn’t seem to realize how much these characters were dumped on, especially Linda.

    To me, in both cases the films present a natural conflict between characters with fully-fleshed and legitimate motivations, and then after teasing with that argument comes down pretty solidly on one side.

    1. John says:

      I have a little sympathy for Linda, much more than I do for Walt anyway, but in some ways she’s the worst of all the children, grandchildren, and in-laws. Remember that Linda is the only one of them who is independently wealthy. Unlike Walt or the daughter-in-law, Linda has a successful business of her own. Linda doesn’t need her father’s money. She isn’t desperate like the others, or she shouldn’t be, but she behaves just as badly as any of them.

      1. MerryWeathers says:

        Actually the film does show why Linda needs the money: she’s secretly broke, her flashback with Harlan explains this.

        1. John says:

          Is she? I don’t remember that part.

          Edited to add:

          It’s not that I doubt you. It makes sense that she would be, in an “everyone’s a suspect, everyone has a motive” kind of a way. It’s just that I legitimately don’t remember that part.

        2. MrPyro says:

          It’s not Linda that’s secretly broke, it’s Joni (Toni Collette). She’s the one who’s been scamming Harlan out of college payments for her daughter IIRC.

          When they read from the will, the executor mentions different parts of the estate, and you see different people react to each section in an excited way. IIRC, Linda perks up at the house, not the money or business elements. She might want the house for purely sentimental reasons rather than financial.

          1. Joshua says:

            And Joni is not actually blood family, she was married to Harlan’s late son. Ironically, the movie showed that the two worst individuals in the group were the gold-digging spouses of the actual children, with the exception of maybe Walt’s spouse, because I don’t remember a single thing she did in the film.

            1. John says:

              I think her only lines are during the big argument about immigration at the party, where she takes Linda’s husband’s side against Joni. It’s not a big part. The only person with fewer lines is her son, who has none at all.

          2. Joshua says:

            Oh, speaking of the scamming college payments, how exactly did this “double-dipping” work? I honestly don’t recall.

            It sounded like she’s getting money twice from Harlan (one directly to her daughter’s school, the other paid to her to be used for her daughter’s schooling)? Maybe I missed the details since I only saw the film once, but a more typical scam like this would be getting the same money from two different entities, like asking family for tuition money when your work is already doing tuition reimbursement, or asking two different relatives for movie money.

            If she’s just getting the same money twice from Harlan’s enterprises where he’s the ultimate authority on whether she gets the funds, doesn’t that make him just really dumb for not catching it before now? Maybe I missed the part where he found out someone else was providing the same tuition money that he was.

            1. John says:

              Maybe I missed the details since I only saw the film once, but a more typical scam like this would be getting the same money from two different entities, like asking family for tuition money when your work is already doing tuition reimbursement, or asking two different relatives for movie money.

              I think that’s approximately what Joni did. As best as I can recall, she got one check from Harlan and another from his accountant, or something like that. One of the checks went straight to the school and she pocketed the other. It took Harlan a while to catch on because she wasn’t getting both checks from the same source.

              1. Joshua says:

                Yeah, I just don’t remember the scene well after the fact to fully understand what was going on. Harlan’s accountant should still have to get approval to release a payment of that size, which would once again put the question to how did this situation get set up in the first place? If Harlan earlier directed her to be paid out of his business, why is he not later suspicious that she’s asking HIM directly for the money. The only thing that I can think of is that his business is used to family members submitting requests for money and doesn’t try to verify authenticity from up above before releasing funds…..which is not good, and would make it surprising that more theft hasn’t occurred.

                Other than that, the part where she she gets the money directly while at the same time having money sent to the school makes perfect sense.

    2. Syal says:

      “Nah, Marta was the only person in the right all along and the children are all just awful bad people who deserve to lose their inheritance so it can be given to the pure as snow protagonist instead”.

      I don’t remember getting that impression, and the last shot was presumably meant to be ambiguous, like “what would YOU do, viewer?”.

      But I’m also fairly resistant to movie coding (I thought the army guy villain from Avatar was quite likable).

      1. Joshua says:

        I actually did think the last shot was interesting in its ambiguity, but it depends upon your interpretation of the “My coffee/My House/My Rules”. It’s very possible that after railing so much about how the money corrupted everyone, Marta would end up just as misguided as the actual Thrombeys and let the money and power get to her head.

    3. Matt says:

      I think you’re giving too much credit to Knives Out. From the start, Harlan’s family is presented as uniformly terrible people. Given how sympathetically Marta is shown to that point, I think the point of Linda’s question is to mark her transition from condescension (“of course we’ll take care of Marta”) to bitter animosity expressed in the sexist and classist assumption of “she must have slept with him.” The question is more about making Linda’s character plain than a presentation of reasonable conflict.

      For all the praise Knives Out seems to get, and I do enjoy the acting, I found its lack of subtlety ruined the film for me. If you’re going to write a polemic, let me know so I won’t go see it. If you’re going to write mystery, maybe make it a mystery who the real bad guys are.

      1. John says:

        From the start, Harlan’s family is presented as uniformly terrible people.

        Yeah, pretty much. I’d argue it’s a little more complicated than that, but that’s certainly the gist of things. All of Harlan’s relatives have to be awful so that it isn’t immediately obvious which one of them is the murderer. (If there was a murderer. If there was a murder.) Knives Out definitely has a point of view on the subject of inherited wealth, but in this particular regard it’s playing classic murder mystery tropes perfectly straight.

        1. Matt says:

          I agree they all have to be horrible for the trope to work, but the ways in which they demonstrate their horribleness are not subtle and why I described the film as a polemic. His grandson is “one of those fascist trolls” on 4chan, for instance. I think it’s more about immigration than inherited wealth, which is why I believe that the attempted satire is weak.

          1. John says:

            Immigration is certainly a thing in the movie, but it’s a secondary thing. Some of the Thrombeys reveal racist or anti-immigrant attitudes, but all of their motives for murder and their attacks on Marta are related to money, specifically the inherited kind. The “alt-right troll” and “actual Nazi” is a character of fairly little importance. He has no lines and never does anything.

            1. Matt says:

              Considering that the immigration status of Marta’s mother is the key complication of Marta’s situation, I’m not sure how you can conclude that it is secondary. Threat of deportation is the key weapon used against her by the family who were all too happy to exploit her labor. They talk about how she came into the country “the right way,” before railing on illegal immigrants and I believe even Hamilton is ironically quoted. Had the film primarily been an attack on inheritance, I think the immigration status of Marta’s family wouldn’t be mentioned or explored, instead focusing exclusively on her poverty.

              It’s true that their motives for murder and their hatred for Marta revolve around money, but I think that just reflects immigration arguments around “theft” of jobs and illicit receipt of welfare that “belongs” to Americans.

              The “alt-right troll” is a minor character, but is illustrative because of its specificity. He’s not just a nasty, selfish kid, he’s an anti-immigrant, racist, nasty selfish kid. This relates not only to the online arguments about immigration before the election in 2016, but also demonstrates that he is a product of his parents’ beliefs. His dad is the one who says the President is “the kind of asshole we need.”

              1. John says:

                That’s the thing though. The status of Marta’s mother doesn’t come up until the Thrombeys start looking for ways to get at Marta. They aren’t attacking her because her mother is in the country illegally. They’re attacking her because they want the money and they think that her mother’s status is a weapon they can use against her. The attack doesn’t work, and it doesn’t take up a whole lot screen time either. Most of the movie is focused on other stuff.

                It’s Linda’s husband–I wish I could remember his name–who says that the President is “the kind of asshole we need”, not Walt. (He’s also the one who calls Walt’s son an “actual Nazi”.) I don’t remember Walt ever talking about immigration except in his conversation with Marta about her mother outside her apartment. Walt’s wife is pretty vocally anti-immigrant, though.

                I won’t deny that the Thrombeys’ anti-immigrant attitudes are an important part of the film, but I still don’t think that the point of the movie is to attack the Thrombeys for holding those views. The problem with the Thrombeys is their assumption that they deserve more than other people, that they’re better than other people. The anti-immigrant attitudes are part of that, but only part of it. Harlan doesn’t disinherit his descendants because he thinks they’re racist, he does it because he thinks he’s spoiled them. The Thrombeys seem to genuinely like Marta before she inherits the money and property that they believe they deserve.

              2. Christopher Wolf says:

                Ironically, considering the importance to the plot, Rian did not understand that Cubans could not be illegal immigrants to the US.

                Both Ana and her mother are Cuban actresses and they had to explain to him that no, Obama did not “fix” things with Cuba so that Cubans lost the ability to become legal residents by arriving in the US.

                If you speak Spanish natively that is why they actively try to use a muddled Spanish accent that is hard to place. It was decided once they ditched the Cuban element that it did not matter where they came from.

      2. Redrock says:

        I think the bigger problem isn’t just that the family is terrible – that’s actually quite common in similar stories. Like, from Neuromancer to Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, old rich families are often shown to be screwed up in every way possible. No, I think what makes it worse is that Marta is portrayed as the closest thing to a literal saint one can imagine. As in she physically can’t lie. I mean, the girl is perfect in absolutely every way – smart as a whip, moral to a fault, so good at her job that she is incapable of making a mistake. That’s … not subtle. Irregardless of the message, really.

        1. John says:

          Well, that’s one way of looking at it, I guess. I interpreted that as an anxiety thing rather than as a manifestation of pure, saintly pureness. Marta’s no saint. If she were moral to a fault, she’d have told the truth to everyone from the beginning. Instead, she spends the movie hiding or destroying evidence, lying by omission, and sometimes even lying outright when she thinks she can delay or conceal the vomit reflex. She’s as human as anybody in the movie, if a little nicer than most.

          1. Kathryn says:

            I haven’t seen this movie, but I’ll note that I can’t lie either, unless I have specifically rehearsed the exact wording of the lie ahead of time. So if I get asked about something off the cuff, I can give a misleading or incomplete answer, but I simply cannot say something that I know to be untrue. And this is definitely not because I’m just so wonderfully moral. It’s just how my brain works – I have to be exact.

            It makes life very difficult for me when, for example, my supervisor makes some joking comment in a one-on-one about how he must not be a very good supervisor with all the employees leaving his branch, and I can’t come up with anything to say because he is in fact a bad supervisor (as evinced by making a statement like that in a one-on-one in the first place), which is why he’s losing all his best employees, and there is no way I can say, “Oh no, you’re great!” because it is just. Not. True. And I can’t say it. So there is a long, awkward silence until he changes the subject.

            (I’m actually kind of surprised that this trait would show up in fiction. I thought I was the only one with this problem.)

        2. Joshua says:

          Well, I also have a raised eyebrow at this whole discussion of them being called “terrible” people. They’re not really GOOD people, but for the most part, while most of them might have some snobbishness and some bigoted views, and the movie shows very well that they are entitled and spoiled, but they really don’t DO anything. Which makes them more along the lines of “pathetic” in my book, and calling them “terrible” is an insult to people who actually do go around making other peoples’ lives worse.

          Ransom definitely fits the description of terrible for multiple reasons shown in the film. Of the three in-laws, Richard is cheating on his wife who is also his meal ticket, Joni is ripping Harlan off, and Donna’s….barely there so doesn’t really count.

          The rest I would dismiss as flawed people, not terrible ones. Even Walt’s pathetic attempt to threaten Marta was inspired by the fact that he’s being threatened by loan sharks (from an apparent deleted scene). They otherwise do seem to love each other as a family, and do make an offer to financially support Marta with the inheritance even though they have no obligation to do so.

          1. John says:

            When I say terrible, I’m using a certain amount of hyperbole. I don’t think they’re monsters (with the one obvious exception). I even have a certain amount of sympathy for Linda and Walt, as I mentioned earlier. It can’t have been easy growing up with Harlan for a father. If what Linda says is true, then “My Coffee, My House, My Rules” was a way of life for Harlan, and not just a fun slogan for a novelty coffee mug. Moreover, Linda at least clearly loves the rest of her family. But when I look at their lives, the way they treat other people, and the way they reveal themselves after the will is read, it’s hard for me to view them as merely flawed.

  19. Shamus says:

    Here we are 44 comments into this thread and we’re having long discussions on the construction of the movie and so far NOBODY is insulting / villainizing the Other Side.

    I’ve waited three years to read this discussion. Thanks so much to everyone. This is one of my favorite threads in ages.

    1. Henson says:

      The night is young.

    2. Bubble181 says:

      The Other Side is….

      Nah, can’t do it, I’m too happy to see this somewhat positive exchange too.

    3. Olivier FAURE says:

      By the way, what do you think of the recent election of Joe B[THIS POST HAS BEEN REMOVED]

      But seriously, yeah, it’s a nice community.

      1. Syal says:

        Joe Blow is the modern-day everyman we deserve. Joe Schmo was too old-fashioned, it was time for fresh blood.

        Thank god Joe Joe didn’t win, that would have just been bizarre.

        1. Platypus says:

          Is that a (removed for political content) reference

  20. Ander says:

    Loved the throne room lightsaber fight. Loved that we weren’t told who Snoke was (because in my mind there was noooooo story or character relevance to that question, even in TFA). But most of all, I loved Old Man Luke and Rei’s interactions with him.

    1. GreyDuck says:

      100% agreement here. Also, I think Jill Bearup’s (Nebula/YouTube) take on the throne room fight is the best out there: Basically as a technical piece of combat it’s ridiculous, but that’s not what it’s for. Its point is to convey character & drama, which is best done by showing the actors’ faces as much as possible, thus as a character/story moment it’s superb. Had it been all stunties and/or all CG and/or made of faster cuts it could’ve been a “better fight” but that wasn’t the goal.

      But Old Man Luke dealing with Rei and, later, dealing with Kylo made the movie for me.

      The rest was… *hand-waggle*

      1. evileeyore says:

        As a martial artist and someone who’s worked on martial choreography… I hated that fight. Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley needed a lot more practice before shooting that scene and it showed.

        Don’t get me wrong, apparently if you’re brain doesn’t immediately spot every flaw, the scene is awesome… but I see every hesitation by the Red Guards, every triple spin flourish, every “and now we attack one at a time in sequence”, every “wait, what? Why are you doing that?” and just dropped right out of the mood.

        Feel sympathy for me lads, I’ve been ruined for ‘narrative combat’ scenes.

        1. tmtvl says:

          As someone who’s been in martial arts for nearly 2 decades, I feel your pain, that’s why I only ever watch HK kung fu movies, for all the silliness it’s nice to see people who really know what they’re doing.

          1. evileeyore says:

            Jackie Chan is my movie hero. He makes ‘bumbling/just barely scraping by in a fight’ look so damn good. He’s a master choreographer and helped ruin my capacity to rewatch the old swashbuckler movies I used to love. And I agree, some of the stuff coming out of asia these last two decades has been mindblowing. It really makes it hard to watch ‘hollywood fight scenes’.

            It’s like I can only enjoy the two extremes now, ‘nigh perfect’ choreography and Bollywood*. Everything in the middle just feels so… lazy.

            * Nod if you know what I mean. The moves where they don’t take it seriously so ye olde ’10 ninjas line up and only attack one at time’ is playing to the trope not the actor’s subpar athletic skills.

            1. Lino says:

              I know exactly what you mean! I get why Hollywood uses those close-ups and dolly cams – they need to hide the fact that the actors don’t look convincing in a fight scene. Still, that does NOT mean you should use shaky cam! My God, the thing I hate the MOST about Hollywood fight choreography is shaky cam. Have any of you seen the last Jason Bourne movie (2016, I think)? I dare you to watch even one if its fight scenes without throwing up! EVEN THE ESTABLISHING SHOTS HAD SHAKY CAM!!! WHYYYY?!?!???!!!!!??? And what’s even worse, is that Matt Damon has actually studied martial arts! As have most of the lead actors in that movie! They didn’t need to hide anything…..

              Honestly, Asian fight scenes are the only ones I can watch these days – wide camera angles that… you know… let you SEE the actual scene? Shocking, right? The only recent Hollywood films that do this were Marvel, which is a big reason I liked them so much. I’ve also heard good things about John Wick, but I haven’t got around to seeing it yet.

              1. evileeyore says:

                I hate shaky cam outside of anything that isn’t going for “documentary” style. It’s a tool with a very limited usage and yeah, it’s used waaaaaaay too often to try to cover poor cinematography.

        2. Ander says:

          I feel the sympathy. For me it’s hacking. I’m a developer, and much as I tell myself it doesn’t matter and the story works and it doesn’t matter and IP Address is just technobabble for most people and it doesn’t matter…
          It really kinda does matter to me. So my sympathies. I have a close friend who has decades of martial arts experience. I’ve seen the pain.

          1. evileeyore says:

            Oh man, I cringe every time I see the “typing really fast to hack faster” trope drug out*. I can’t even imagine all the other horrid mistakes Hollywood has flaunted in front of you over the years.

            * Or my other favorite: “If we both type on the same keyboard really fast…” Thanks NCIS, I really needed to believe the computer expert characters were terrible at their jobs.

  21. Lino says:

    Completely unrelated comment, but I just realised that today’s website background is the original Doom! A genre-defining property that was accompanied by lots of controversy! Is it intentional? Because of all the backgrounds the site uses, I can’t think of a more appropriate one! Apart from maybe Pac-Man. Which could symbolize the unrelenting madness (traditionally symbolized by the colour yellow) that is the rancour that usually engulfs TLJ discussions…

  22. Milton Dakes says:

    Long time (decades, in fact) lurker, first time poster, just wanted to add a point I feel is incredibly important.

    For background, I am – or, perhaps, was – a huge Star Wars fan. I grew up with the Prequel Trilogy (I was 13 in 1999 when The Phantom Menace was released) and count Episode III as my favourite film of all time (Disclaimer: mostly for emotional reasons. I won’t for a second deny that the prequels aren’t shining pillars of script writing or acting, but at the time of my life when I watched them, they struck the right chord that resonated with me, mirroring to an extent what I was going through as a teenager). I watched Episodes I – VI countless times, and was hugely into the now defunct Expanded Universe. I’m pretty sure I own and have read every single book, as well as a large portion of the comics.

    Allow me to make a parallel here. There was an author in the later days EU who was just as polarising among us SW fans back then as Rian Johnson is among the SW fans today: her name was Karen Traviss. It’s difficult to write a balanced assessment of her “contributions” to SW literature without descending into vitriol and name-calling, but for those unfamiliar with the old EU, they mostly consisted of works that glorified the “knucklehead” military characters, while denigrating the Jedi at every opportunity (not coincidentally, she also has a writing credit in the Gears of War games series). This wasn’t by chance – she had a military background IRL (this is a matter of public record) and openly posted about her dislike of the Jedi in the films, as well as spoken dismissively and insultingly of the fans who voiced concerns about her personal biases as an author being reflected in her works.

    Now, there’s certainly a place for dissenting worldviews in any work of fiction (and almost all RL considerations). The problem is the intellectual dishonesty inherent therein. An author has absolute control over their work. They’re effectively God, insofar as their work is concerned. They decide who lives and who dies, but more importantly – and far more insidiously – they decide how each point of view is presented. KT was not interested in presenting both sides of the argument: in her works, the military characters (the clones in the Prequel era, the Mandalorians in the later works) were always portrayed as noble, genuine, charismatic, and – importantly – right. Their military tactics were always shown as heroic and noble, whereas the Jedi’s reliance on the Force was always shown as cowardly and weak. The Jedi as a whole were always weak, uncaring, ineffective, dismissive, made bad decisions, and were constantly looked down upon and ridiculed by the glorious military protagonists. The only Jedi who were portrayed in a remotely positive light (e.g. Etain in the Clone Wars series; to a very minor extent, Jaina in the Legacy of the Force series) were the ones who acknowledged the inferiority of both their worldviews and even their combat training, partially or completely denouncing the tenets of the Jedi.

    That is not a way to present a dissenting point of view. At no point anywhere in her works was there a villainous Clone / Mandalorian, or a noble Jedi who adhered to rather than abandoned their beliefs. This is a perfect example of Painting the Target / Texas Sharpshooter fallacy, where you declare victory over the opposing point of view because you – as the creator of the work – portray the characters espousing your philosophy in the positive light, putting them in situations where they always come out on top and are shown as being right every time, whereas the characters who disagree with you are always shown negatively, dismissed, and are wrong in every situation.

    Note that this doesn’t mean that none of those questions are worth discussing or thinking about! The ethics of growing a clone army, the question of free will, the reliance on the Force vs physical conditioning, those are all interesting questions and many people were quite interested in discussing them (I remember reading and participating in many extremely fascinating discussions on fan forums like theforce.net way back when). But KT was quite transparently not interested in having a discussion. She only wanted to shove her point of view down everyone’s throats, and every character in her books was a strawperson designed to further demonstrate to the reader how right she (the author) was about eveything. It got to the point where in long-running multi-author series (Legacy of the Force being the primary example), the authors of the books immediately following hers would spend some time undoing / dismissing a lot of her plot threads and developments. It got to the point where in the penultimate book of LotF, written by KT, the crack team of Mandalorian commandos easily got the upper hand in a contest against the current Sith Lord (Darth Caedus a.k.a. Jacen Solo, who was the proto-Kylo Ren of the Sequel Trilogy, largely fulfilling the same role as the son of Leia and Han who turned to the Dark Side), only for the next book, written by a different author, to begin with him absolutely wiping the floor with said commandos, just to restore some sense of proportion / feeling like he was actually a threat.

    Hopefully, by now the parallel with Rian Johnson is clear. He is literally the modern equivalent of Karen Traviss for many Star Wars fans. Are there good films that can be made by subverting tropes / expectations? Undoubtedly. Are Star Wars tropes sacrosanct? Obviously not. Is it worth having a discussion about their virtues or flaws? Yes, yes, and yes again. But RJ is no more interested in having a discussion about them than KT was. The entire script of TLJ is written in a one-sided, biased way that clearly presents one side as being right and the other as wrong. Holdo is very clearly shown as heroic, down to the feverish-rage-inducing sacrifice scene, whose only upside is that it is visually awe-inspiring (but sacrifices the internal consistency of the entire established canon for the sake of just that one moment). Poe Dameron is clearly shown as wrong, down to the poorly thought out and implemented tangent with Finn and Rose actually resulting in the deaths of the Resistance transports. Oh, and on that note, Rose’s criticism of the military-industrial complex and the social inequality of Canto Bight are clearly shown as heroic, good, and the audience is quite obviously expected to sympathise with them. Opposing viewpoints are never considered, and are dismissed – condescendingly and mockingly – on the rare occasions they are voiced.

    It’s also no coincidence that the writer of the film immediately following TLJ also felt compelled to undo / dismiss many of the developments introduced by Rian Johnson (from dismissing the “Holdo manoeuvre” as “one in a million” without further explanation, to going back on the mystery of Rey’s parentage, to Luke’s ghost openly admitting being wrong, etc).

    Interestingly, in my circle of friends, people of all viewpoints and political leanings (from moderate right to quite far left) are united in one thing: their dislike of TLJ. Some of those people, like me, love the Prequel Trilogy, some can’t stand it, but they all feel that TLJ utterly failed as both a film in general, and a Star Wars film specifically, mainly because its author was too keen to present a one-sided argument and paint themselves as being right. It’s particularly wrong when one does it to an established canon where beloved characters like Luke Skywalker suddenly act completely contrary to their pre-existing personality, just in order to conveniently justify and espouse the point of view of the author. It’s canon hijacking, and the people who can’t stand Rian Johnson for it (of whom I am one) are fully justified to do so – this isn’t always because we disagree with all of his points (some of them are good points! Well worth discussing!), but because we resent the cheating way he went about making them.

    1. Ander says:

      I don’t necessarily ask for a balanced view from a movie. Still, I understand why the mocking tone would be off-putting. I think he’s trying to balance it with the quite optimistic final minutes if the movie. If the mocking was too much or the “No, you really can believe in Luke and all this force of good hero stuff” wasn’t enough, I can’t ask for someone to feel differently than annoyed.

      1. Leviathan902 says:

        Yeah I’m with Ander here. I don’t think every movie needs to “both sides” the ideas and theme of the movie. That’s just silly and more confusing for the audience. Making the theme clear is more important than making sure the opposite view point is framed in as positive a light as possible. But the tone in which you do it can be condescending or welcoming and it would seem a lot of people find the tone condescending, though I personally do not.

        I think the bigger problem is the mixed messaging. Shamus lays it out really well in this post about Holdo vs. Poe and there are some great points about it in the comments above. Basically the movie frames Holdo’s POV as bad and Poe’s as good, but then pulls the switcheroo acting like it’s a gotcha moment saying that actually Holdo was right all along and Poe’s POV was bad the whole time. Leia says as much directly to Poe. Except, Holdo’s behavior was both signaling villainy from a movie trope perspective, and deeply flawed from a logic perspective as a good leader, which she clearly wasn’t. We the audience have very good reason to find Holdo flawed and problematic and to have a beloved character from the original trilogy come in and tell us that we’re wrong for that is jarring to say the least.

    2. MerryWeathers says:

      But RJ is no more interested in having a discussion about them than KT was. The entire script of TLJ is written in a one-sided, biased way that clearly presents one side as being right and the other as wrong.

      I disagree, Star Wars movies have always been one sided and simplistic good vs evil stories, the OT and PT never took the time to give us the viewpoints of the Empire and Seperatists beyond “they’re evil or self-serving” and TLJ doesn’t deviate from the trend.

      Holdo is very clearly shown as heroic, down to the feverish-rage-inducing sacrifice scene, whose only upside is that it is visually awe-inspiring (but sacrifices the internal consistency of the entire established canon for the sake of just that one moment). Poe Dameron is clearly shown as wrong, down to the poorly thought out and implemented tangent with Finn and Rose actually resulting in the deaths of the Resistance transports.

      Poe isn’t completely wrong, just in the context of the film’s scenario, blowing stuff up and striking back against the enemy isn’t the best course of action. When the Resistance actually gets stuck in a do or die situation , Holdo does do what Poe would have done if he were in her position.

      Oh, and on that note, Rose’s criticism of the military-industrial complex and the social inequality of Canto Bight are clearly shown as heroic, good, and the audience is quite obviously expected to sympathise with them.

      Yes, I don’t see how that’s a bad message especially in a Star Wars movie. The people who run and go to Canto Bight are self-serving, taking advantage off the Resistance-First Order conflict by profiting from both sides but not actually doing anything about it, all while swimming in decadence. They oppose one of the film’s themes of the common people rising up and taking a stand against the opresssors.

      It’s particularly wrong when one does it to an established canon where beloved characters like Luke Skywalker suddenly act completely contrary to their pre-existing personality, just in order to conveniently justify and espouse the point of view of the author.

      Contrasting even the people who did like his arc, I thought Luke in TLJ was pretty in-character, this is still the same guy from the OT. He didn’t really change in a major way.

      1. Geebs says:

        I thought Luke in TLJ was pretty in-character, this is still the same guy from the OT. He didn’t really change in a major way

        I’d be interested if you could expand on this, because I really can’t get my head around this interpretation.

        To me, prequel Luke is the most optimistic guy in the Galaxy, who always believes the best of people despite their protests (e.g. Han, Vader), hangs on every word that Ben Kenobi says, and expresses no interest at all in rebuilding the Jedi order. Finding out that he tried to rebuild the Jedi, screwed up in the exact way that Ben warned him against, and became so disillusioned that he just plain gave up on everybody feels like a total inversion of the character to me.

        He also doesn’t really feel like the sort of guy who would spend his every day of his retirement cosplaying as Peter Dinklage cosplaying as a Jedi, on the off chance that somebody would show up and hand him a lightsaber, but that’s secondary.

        1. Retsam says:

          I really did not like The Last Jedi as a whole, but I actually think Luke’s character was the one fairly consistently good part about the movie. (Except the part where he just seems to die from using the force too hard or something)

          Like, sure, TLJ Luke is a very different person than RotJ Luke – but it’s been 30 years; it’d be weird if Luke was still the optimistic teenager that he was in the originals. Not that every optimistic teenager turns into a jaded and cynical old man, but it’s certainly not an unrealistic way for the story to go.

          Luke is a war veteran. The movies largely gloss over the actual death and carnage, and focus on the hero’s journey, but a Star War is still a War. He’s a war veteran who, years later, sees everything start slipping back towards undoing what everyone fought and died for. He has a single instant of doubt and fears that his actions might lead to the rise of a second Darth Vader, and this instant of hesitation becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

          As a comparison, compare the original trilogy to the Lord of the Rings movies. Return of the Jedi ends on the celebration, the heroic fanfare, but Return of the King doesn’t end on… well… the return of the king. Instead, it keeps going (and going, and going) and we see Frodo return to the Shire only to discover that he can’t pick up his old life again, and that some old wounds haven’t healed, and rather than pick up his old life, he leaves and passes into the West.

          This is the same Frodo who was the one strong enough to bear the Ring into Mordor – it’s not Frodo is lacking in moral character or optimism compared to Luke. Without this epilogue, some might assume that victory meant that Frodo was unchanged by his journey, just as many people assume Luke was unchanged by his journey.

          And I’m not criticizing Return of the Jedi for having a simple happy ending! But the hazard of writing sequels to happy endings is that they’re often not always as happy as they might seem.

        2. MerryWeathers says:

          I feel like Luke’s exile in TLJ is tied to the movie’s interpretation of what exactly constitutes as “balancing the Force”, specifically it being more literal in that both sides need to co-exist in the galaxy to some extent so it really depends on whether you accept it or not. Also long essay ahead.

          Luke in the OT was hopeful and idealistic but that was only one side to his character. He was also impulsive, snarky, whiny, and expresses self-doubt. That was part of his character arc’s conflict, that he was too much like his father and risked turning out exactly like him by turning fully to the dark side. Even at his peak in ROTJ, he displays that he is still infallible in that movie’s climax when he starts whaling on Vader after he threatened his sister despite spending most of the movie vowing he will redeem him. My point is that Luke is very human and I think that is what makes him work as a protagonist in the OT.

          Now in TLJ, he’s disillusioned after Ben falls to the dark side and his Jedi Temple gets literally burned to the ground. He awakens to the truth that the Jedi Order were failures, how they grew to become dogmatic and as Shamus put it, got “punked” by Sidious right under their noses in the prequels. Luke comes to see that maybe getting all these light-side wielders together invites the dark side to become stronger and destroy them (this also works in vice versa as we saw in the OT), that the Jedi Order was a flawed idea from the start. He believes letting the Jedi die out will allow the Force to find a new way of balancing itself where the Jedi failed (which is why he says to Rey that assuming the Jedi and the light side were completely synonymous was arrogance). Luke doesn’t go to the island for the intention of giving up but because he believes he’s helping the galaxy the only way he thinks he can.

          However the part where I believe this becomes in-character for Luke is that deep down, he doesn’t truly believe he’s doing the right thing which is why he could never bring himself to “end” the Jedi during all those years in his exile. When Rey arrives, his cynical veneer starts to crack as he boards the Falcon and gets reminded of the bad that happened in the galaxy while he wasn’t there and the good he was able to accomplish while inspired by the Jedi when reunited with R2. In just a few days, he starts training Rey, reconnects with the Force, and was even about to go back to the Resistance with Rey until he saw her force-bonding with Kylo Ren. It becomes clear that Luke could have always been convinced to directly help his family and friends but his self-isolation from any proper advice prevented that from happening. His decision to exile himself is never portrayed as the right thing as Rey, R2, and Yoda call him out for it. After Yoda sets him straight, the rest of his scenes in the movie is him fully returning to his idealistic and hopeful OT self again, telling Leia it’s not too late to redeem Kylo, acting like a true Jedi (not the ones from the PT), reaffirming that they will continue to exist through Rey, and quite literally becoming a new hope for the galaxy after all is seemingly lost.

          In the OT, Luke’s role was being the flawed protagonist who ultimately prevails in the end. In TLJ, Luke’s role is being a flawed Jedi Master who ultimately prevails in the end. That’s how I see it.

    3. Gethsemani says:

      I think you and a few other people have touched upon an important dividing line that isn’t the Culture War. Namely the dividing line that is what we think Star Wars is and should be. A lot of hardcore fans (probably the majority, if my totally subjective experience is any indication) absolutely hate TLJ, but a lot of more casual fans like me find it a really strong Star Wars movie, if not the outright strongest. Beyond the tiresome culture war, TLJ sparked a very intense (and often unproductive, due to all the heated emotions) discussion about what Star Wars can be and should be. I think most people agree that the end result that was RoS is not what they want Star Wars to be. Which positions Star Wars in the awkward position where it isn’t just shameless nostalgia pandering and infinite cycles of Skywalkers and Palpatines but it is also confined to not straining very far from those things, because any attempts at examining the base tropes or shifting perspectives elicits lots of outrage.

      In a way I don’t find it strange that the canonical work that tries to shake up what Star Wars is and can be should be very divisive, if not outright infuriating, for the diehard fans who’ve come to see Star Wars as some particular things that they enjoy. At the same time, I think that this resistance to TLJ’s attempts at re-construction makes you miss some of the merits of the movie.

      For one, Holdo is clearly not shown as heroic. Shamus has already pointed out how she’s consistently framed as a villain in terms of visuals and character traits. She’s obviously not heroic in-universe, as Poe has no problem getting people to join him in his mutiny. She’s a foil to Poe and she’s the front of the brutal deconstruction of the maverick hero who saves the day (and I doubt it is a coincidence that she later sacrifices herself to save the day all maverick hotshot style), which is more then enough to draw ire for the attempt to re-focus one of Star Wars most recurring and beloved tropes.

      Similarly, I’m struggling to see your point about Canto Bight. Canto Bight shows us war profiteers and slavers living in luxury at the expense of child slaves and making a profit by selling weapons to both sides in the war. This is Finn’s “awakening” arc, where he realizes that there’s more to life then just avoiding the FO and that he needs to take a stand for what he believes in. Of course war profiteering and slavery is evil, just like wiping out all of Alderaan was evil. I am not sure I see the point in complaining about a Star Wars movie lacking moral nuance, considering they’ve always been very simple Good vs Evil tales in terms of morality. That said, I absolutely agree that Canto Bight is very hamfisted and could have done with a few more script passes to feel less clunky and on the nose.

      Johnson is not Traviss by a longshot, but he wanted to shake Star Wars up by subverting and reconstructing what a Star Wars movie was. As I wrote in an earlier reply, TLJ is very similar to ESB in that it breaks or subverts a lot of things the previous movie set up in order to create a larger, more shifting story. Unlike ESB, TLJ never got a sequel that had the audacity to stick with those subversions but instead got the pandering, indecisive mess that was RoS as its sequel which means that many of TLJ’s more ambitious storylines never came to fruition.

      1. darth joe says:

        Just out of curiosity what more ambitious storylines in TLJ are you referring to that could’ve come to fruition? There didn’t seem to be much development in the surviving characters except maybe poe (and that was more of a mood change).

        1. Ander says:

          I think “Your parents are nobodies” had potential. It’s not actually all that ambitious: plenty of stories include a child interacting with their real parent and deciding “You don’t matter to me. Bye” (of all things Quintessential Quintuplets is the most recent work I’ve experienced that does this). This would be that, without the meeting.
          So, not that ambitious. But somehow the next movie decides to be even less ambitious: No, actually she is just related to a powerful Force user. No, that kid with the Force broom isn’t connected to something bigger.
          On a similar line, I think following through on a romance line was much more conventional than, “I care about you Ben, but, uh, no, I don’t want to be that to you.” Again, not necessarily ambitious, but I think what they did was even less so.

        2. Gethsemani says:

          The most important being Kylo’s really: It is obvious by the end of TLJ that neither Hux nor the other FO personnel around him cares much for his Klingon Promotion and only obeys him because they fear him. Having the FO be in a (semi-)open power struggle to fill the void of Snoke was a great hook.
          Similarly, Rey was not finished with her training and the fact that she stole the Jedi texts suggests that she was not nearly as convinced by Luke’s/Yoda’s wisdom of letting it all burn as they were. On top of that she and Kylo were not resolved in what their relationship was and there was potential for some great stories there beyond “Kylo redeems himself for löööööve”.
          Finn is in on the fight, but how will he fight? Poe is ready to lead, but who will he lead? I still don’t understand how people who blame TLJ for not leaving enough hooks can’t see how the entire “abandoned by their allies and being enough survivors to fit into a small transport” isn’t a set up for the Alliance to rekindle alliances and rebuild. Finn, the former stormtrooper turned devout Alliance member and Poe the hotshot turned leader could have done a ton of work in a plot to convince people to take up the fight.

          There was so much potential there that was dropped so Lando could do all that work off-screen while the group chased a MacGuffin that would lead them to Palpatine, the big bad who’s return no one asked for.

          1. Syal says:

            the entire “abandoned by their allies and being enough survivors to fit into a small transport” [is] a set up for the Alliance to rekindle alliances and rebuild.

            I don’t think that’s a Star Wars hook, though. There’s been stories about recruiting a single person, like Han or… Benicio. But Star Wars has never been about needing bigger numbers; the one time it was, it was Palpatine building an army.

            1. Gethsemani says:

              So what’s a Star Wars hook? See, this is part of the reason why I, as a rather casual Star Wars fan, feel that TLJ was exactly what the main movie franchise needed: There’s an incredibly dogmatic attitude among fans about what constitutes Star Wars and how Star Wars should be. That dogma seems to be tied largely to the Legends canon and even as Disney has tried to distance itself from most of it, it keeps coming back. Instead of letting Star Wars expand, of letting it try new things and explore what the Force could be, what the scrappy underdog narrative could be more then a force sensitive guy and his team of scrappy misfits saving the day (yes, I am being a bit facetious here, bear with me), we keep hearing that “it is not Star Wars”. TFA gets lambasted for being too much TFA, TLJ gets lambasted for subverting and reconstructing and thus being too much not like “Star Wars”.

              There’s no real winning this, as I feel this thread, civil as it is, shows. Those who feel TLJ is an affront to Star Wars will grasp any argument no matter how irrelevant or out of place to write it off. Despite a ton of sequel hooks it apparently has none. Despite the Holdo/Poe argument being nuanced (as Shamus showed) it is apparently just a shrill harpy who sucks at everything lambasting the Great Hero. It is not Star Wars to show the heroes rebuilding their resistance. I can’t help but feel that Star Wars fans got what they deserved in RoS to some degree, in that they hated change, so instead they got the safest bet possible (just bring back the original Big Bad and reverse everything in TLJ!) and that was even worse.

              Am I bitter about this? To some degree yes. I think there’s a lot about TLJ that deserves a serious discussion that requires open minds on both ends. The way TLJ ended up a battleground in the culture war and the way it broke with Star Wars convention instead means it is so polarizing that neither side will really try to see the merit of the other side. TLJ isn’t nearly the mess that its detractors claim, but it is not a masterpiece either. It fumbles quite a lot and some of its ideas do not pan out as well as they should. But I think I would enjoy Star Wars a lot more if it could stop being so incredibly dogmatic and rote. I loved the twist with Rey and Kylo and the implication that there was a middle ground between Light and Dark. I think the deconstruction of Poe was much needed, even if that particular plotline is one of the major stumbles of the movie.

              I am not mad at you or anything and I hope I don’t come across as angry (if so, sorry). It is just that I don’t get this defensiveness and dogmatic approach to Star Wars. People who somehow lived through all the terrible writing that was the EU, who with a straight face will say that the guy who looked at a bunch of paintings to become the Mentalist on Space-Crack is the best antagonist in Star Wars, are all up in arms when TLJ does exactly what ESB did (though with less skill) and plays with the conventions and expectations of the preceding movie. What’s so dangerous about letting the thing you know grow and evolve?

              1. Retsam says:

                I feel that accusing people who disliked TLJ as being “defensive” and “dogmatic” and “close-minded” is treading on the line that Shamus outlined for this discussion.

                And I don’t think those criticisms of the TLJ critics are fair or accurate. I don’t care about the EU and think Disney was absolutely right to decanonize it, and I think many fans are open to “reimagining” Star Wars, based on the widespread popularity of Rogue One and The Mandalorian, and modest success of Solo – all three are drasticaly different from “standard Star Wars”.

                If I happen to think that this particular “reimagining” just happens to have been bantha fodder, that doesn’t make me dogmatic, defensive or close-minded.

                Also, I feel like defending TLJ and being smug about RoS being terrible is a bit silly, because I think it’s largely TLJ’s fault that RoS is terrible. I predicted that Episode IX would be a trainwreck 10 minutes after walking out of TLJ – it wasn’t a hard prediction to make, when the second film in a trilogy throws away all the plot-hooks introduced in the first movie and doesn’t really replace them with anything… what else is there to do?

                Like of course Palpatine coming back was a dumb plot point; but maybe that’s a direct consequence of the second movie killing the established antagonist and not replacing them. Maybe a better writer than Abrams could have come up with a better antagonist than zombie Palps, but the third movie in the trilogy shouldn’t have to introduce its own antagonist anyway.

                Of course, Disney is ultimately responsible for the decision to write a trilogy with musical chairs writing and no plan… but Rian Johnson’s approach of actively throwing away all the plot points introduced in Force Awakens couldn’t have made the job of wrapping up the story harder if they had tried.

                1. MerryWeathers says:

                  Also, I feel like defending TLJ and being smug about RoS being terrible is a bit silly, because I think it’s largely TLJ’s fault that RoS is terrible. I predicted that Episode IX would be a trainwreck 10 minutes after walking out of TLJ – it wasn’t a hard prediction to make, when the second film in a trilogy throws away all the plot-hooks introduced in the first movie and doesn’t really replace them with anything… what else is there to do?

                  See, I don’t think that’s true because the original script for Ep. IX, Duel of the Fates, managed to continue what TLJ set up: Kylo remains the true villain, the galaxy is in open rebellion inspired by Luke’s actions, Luke is literally always there for Kylo as a Force Ghost, Rey tries to find the best way to rebuild the Jedi Order, Finn and Rose are heroes who actually do something important, and Leia redeems Kylo. As much stupid as there is in the script, Colin Trevorrow immediately understood what TLJ did and managed to write a better sequel than TROS, all in the first draft.

                  There wasn’t a specific plot hook in TLJ but I do think there were character hooks, the director of Ep. IX had the freedom to tell a story that had a clear beginning, middle, and end while still having a foundation for the main characters to go off on in that movie. Episode nine was always special in the beginning as it was not only the conclusion to the ST but the entire saga as well. People are expecting a lot of characters from the OT and even the PT to pop up and return. You could almost treat it like an entirely new movie than a direct sequel at this point in the same way how Avengers Endgame was more than a sequel to Infinity War but the culmination of everything the MCU was building up to that point.

              2. Syal says:

                I actually liked TLJ. :) I thought it found a good inside-the-box twist on the Star Wars formula, basically “what if the Force wasn’t with the heroes?”

                So what’s a Star Wars hook?

                …hm, what is a Star Wars hook? I want to say, anything revolving around a character’s moral core.

                The Star Wars style is “Allies are a thing you stumble into.” That’s how the Rebels gained Han, Lando, and the Ewoks; they were there passing through and picked them up by not being the Empire. Battles are won by small groups finding weaknesses, not massing large armies.

                So, probably the Rebelsistance end up on a neutral planet that will shelter them but won’t join their fight, then the First Order shows up and the neutrals are forced to choose sides. (For maximum leaning-into-the-Rianverse, let’s make it Canto Bight the War Profiteer Planet.) Maybe as a twist on the formula, they still won’t choose sides and either hide away, or form their own third side fighting everybody.

                I think your other comments work fine. The First Order is having a hell of a time sorting its post-Snoke self out; Kylo is feared but not respected, and maybe the captains are starting to break away and raid neighbors or something, the whole thing’s coming apart in a dangerous way. (I still imagine Kylo’s story ending with him force-choking an entire command deck at once and getting shot in the back by one of his security guards.)

                Poe could be gunshy after the whole Holdo thing, needing to redetermine when the bold frontal assault is called for and when it isn’t. Finn could… well I don’t remember Finn having a personality actually. He could continue to be there. Rose could continue to be there too.

                Rey’s probably continuing the Jedi thing, trying to read the books and make them work, getting frustrated when it doesn’t. Her big revelation is that yeah, the Jedi are over and the Force has moved on, and she should do what comes naturally. Maybe we have a power downgrade; she’s given up on mastering the Force and is satisfied with intuitively using it to find stuff. We have our last showdown with Kylo before his getting-shot-in-the-back moment, with him trying to sell her on mastering the full power of the Force and her telling him it’s fairly worthless, then getting saved by her allies because the Force is with her even when she isn’t directing it.

                1. krellen says:

                  I’d have loved your Episode 9.

                  The central theme for Star Wars to me has always been “The Jedi Were Wrong” and a capstone cementing that would be gold.

                  I think a lot of the divide on TLJ might even boil down to this; those who don’t think the Jedi were wrong probably didn’t like it, while those who thought that maybe the Jedi were wrong probably enjoyed it.

                  1. Joshua says:

                    I disagree. I walked into the film intrigued by the line from the trailer “It’s time for the Jedi to end”, and having seen what they did in the PT, could definitely see that being something to work on. I just didn’t agree with how the film handled it, which is kind of how I generally feel about the film as a whole: some bad ideas that should have been jettisoned, but a lot of really cool ideas that I felt were implemented badly.

                    For example, like my comment above, I like the idea that Rey isn’t related to anyone special, but hated how the film conveyed it. I like the idea that there should be a way forward past the whole Jedi/Sith thing, but felt that it should have been Rey who came to that conclusion. For example, maybe she saw how Luke’s despondency at failing to live up to the Jedi standards was an indication that the Jedi were flawed, and Luke needed that outsider perspective to accept his failure and move on, while she could see that Kylo trying to be a “good” Sith despite having mixed feelings was what was harming him.

                    1. Thomas says:

                      Adding another voice as someone who was very open to ‘The Jedi were flawed’ but didn’t like TLJ.

                      I honestly like a lot of what TLJ was trying to do thematically, I just don’t think it did it very well.

                    2. krellen says:

                      So your main complaint is mostly that TROS didn’t continue the threads weaved by TLJ rather than with TLJ itself.

                2. Smith says:

                  So, probably the Rebelsistance end up on a neutral planet that will shelter them but won’t join their fight, then the First Order shows up and the neutrals are forced to choose sides. (For maximum leaning-into-the-Rianverse, let’s make it Canto Bight the War Profiteer Planet.) Maybe as a twist on the formula, they still won’t choose sides and either hide away, or form their own third side fighting everybody.

                  This was a Clone Wars episode. It had Scottish monkey aliens.

                  I’m not kidding.

              3. MerryWeathers says:

                I think it all boils down to people’s personal view of what Star Wars is and how much they can stomach before story collapse kicks in. I personally didn’t mind the Holdo Maneuver/Gravity bombers/Military realism stuff because I personally viewed the Star Wars movies more as mythic space adventures that ran on Hollywood logic than sci-fi so my suspension of disbelief tends to be pretty high when it comes to those films.

                1. Falling says:

                  The problem is the film’s plot relies on a lot more techie/ logistics than previous Star Wars films. So if the plot doesn’t revolve around it, a lot of stuff can get handwaved and it doesn’t matter. But if the film starts introducing stuff like limitations in hyperspace fuel, then suddenly we need to know more to understand the stakes of the story. You can’t then back out and handwave the importance. The writer made it important so now it is. So now they need to be more precise with their techie/ logistic solution or else have a story that contradicts itself.

                  RJ tried to pull a 33 episode from Battlestar Galactica (where logistics matter all the time), but then tried to play fast and loose. Doesn’t work.

              4. Falling says:

                ” I can’t help but feel that Star Wars fans got what they deserved in RoS to some degree, in that they hated change,”
                How was TLJ a change? I’ve never understood why people think TLJ took Star Wars in unique directions (aside from all those subversions.) After seeing it in theatres, I saw its plot as a sort of Frankenstein’s monster, piecetogether in random order from the plot of ESB with a bit of Return. Lore wise it may be trying upend what is the Force and who has it. But plotwise, it’s just as locked in the past as JJ’s two.

    4. Khazidhea says:

      It doesn’t surprise me that there are polarising elements of the EU, but someone who just reads the books but doesn’t interact with the fandom around them this is the first time I’ve encountered someone on apparently the opposite side of a divide.

      If I was being hyperbolic, KT’s SW books were the one sole redeeming feature of the prequel trilogy. I’ve been a SW fan for a few decades now, and been through most of the EU, so KT’s work was a breath of fresh air. I enjoy the jedi and their adventures as much as the next fan, but if every book is about them than something out of the ordinary becomes welcome. Presenting the nameless, faceless clone troopers not just as people but as individuals and bringing us to care about them was good story telling. Giving them then a place in the universe, and a path to at times have equal footing as the nigh invincible space wizards it was a great feat (through, planning, team work, choosing their moment, hard effort and training).

      Plus she fleshed out Mandalorian’s into their own culture. When the clone wars TV show contradicted her work and reduced them to a generic culture similar to pretty much everything else we’ve seen (Corelia, Alderaan, Naboo, etc), I gave up on the show and have struggled to come back to it since (despite its good reviews).

  23. Geebs says:

    I’m afraid Rian Johnson was pretty much the entirety of the problem I have with The Last Jedi. My suspension of disbelief was ruined within seconds, and so all of his genre-bending – which may have been audacious but was not, IMO, skillfully done, fell completely flat.

    a) I already didn’t trust him as a storyteller. Brick was awful and stupid and Looper was awful and stupid.
    b) freaking gravity bombs in space.

    After that, the plot only working because everybody is stupid and incompetent, and the rampant personality transplants, barely even affected me. You can’t subvert my expectations if they’re already somewhere around the level of the Earth’s core; you can only bore and irritate me.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      I can see that.

      Thinking about it, a lot of the story relies on things that happen ‘just because’, with no buildup or questioning.
      – Oh, the resistance are floundering and desperate? Okay? I mean, they destroyed Starkiller Base in the last movie, and had what, 20 years of presumably peaceful New Republic to build up forces…but sure, now they’re the underdogs. Sure. Why not.
      – Oh, Leia can use the force now? Sure, I guess it DOES fit with things that were said about her in other movies – decades ago – but couldn’t we have had a hint, in this film, BEFORE she flies into space?
      – Oh, Luke has changed his mind and wants to help now? So he flew here in his – no, he’s using some sort of Astral Projection. Which kills him after it’s done. Yeah, okay, why not.
      – Oh, Yoda’s back as a Force Ghost! And he’s…burning old Jedi texts, and Luke is upset at this. Why not.
      – Oh, Kylo Ren has EVERYONE shooting at an old man who’s just standing there. Why not. It sure is lucky for the resistance that no-one in the First Order has the presence of mind to shoot at the rebels or question his orders…
      – Oh, and NOW he’s stalling the entire offensive to duel said old man with a laser sword! How lucky it is that not one person in the First Order army thinks ‘Hmm, could this be stalling for time?’
      Okay, why not.

      So it’s not that anything I’ve listed is impossible, or contrary to the spirit of Star Wars or whatever…you can certainly come up with explanations for it all…
      …it’s more that it comes across as ‘stuff happening because the writer says so’. Which sure, that’s what stories are, but usually they stick to conventions, or tropes, or set up plot twists before they happen. It’s less about internal logic or spotting ‘plot holes’ than it is about trust in the writing.
      For quite a few of the plot points of TLJ, my response is/was an underwhelmed “Okay, sure. Why not.”

      1. Leviathan902 says:

        I think it’s inaccurate to say that all that stuff happens, “because the writer says so”. A lot of this stuff is set up or pretty clear, though some of them are certianly valid. I don’t know how to quote things and am not interested in learning how so here goes:
        – Oh, the resistance are floundering and desperate? Okay? I mean, they destroyed Starkiller Base in the last movie, and had what, 20 years of presumably peaceful New Republic to build up forces…but sure, now they’re the underdogs. Sure. Why not.
        Completely agree, this made no sense to me.

        – Oh, Leia can use the force now? Sure, I guess it DOES fit with things that were said about her in other movies – decades ago – but couldn’t we have had a hint, in this film, BEFORE she flies into space?
        I don’t think this needed to be telegraphed. The original trilogy established that Leia was force sensitive, it was set up there. What, did you want to see her meditating or bending a spoon or something? The whole point was that it was supposed to be a surprise, but make sense because it had been set up before. Doing anything else would just spoil it. To this day I don’t understand why so many people see this as some sort of ass-pull just because nobody saw it coming. That’s just an effective surprise.

        – Oh, Luke has changed his mind and wants to help now? So he flew here in his – no, he’s using some sort of Astral Projection. Which kills him after it’s done. Yeah, okay, why not.
        Luke decided to help because of his conversation with Yoda, which makes sense. As for why he dies after the Astral Projection? Yeah, I agree that is very frustrating.

        – Oh, Yoda’s back as a Force Ghost! And he’s…burning old Jedi texts, and Luke is upset at this. Why not.
        I really think this works, it would make sense that Yoda, who lived through Order 66 and seen a pretty impressive slice of galactic history, and the past repeating itself in profoundly negative ways, would hold the opinion that the past needs to be jettisoned to make way for something new. It also makes sense that Luke, who wasn’t there for the old republic and only has romanticized stories of the Jedi, would be reluctant to let go of those ideals.

        -[…the entire final battle scene]
        I see the point here, but I think it works overall. Not once, in the entire Star Wars movie canon, do we see an empire solider go against orders. I think it would be weird to have it happen here. When there’s a clearly psychotic, force-using Sith standing right next to you. You do what that guy says, unless you wanna get force choked. That was established in the Episode 4 lol

        1. BlueHorus says:

          I kind of anticipated this response. It’s not the details that bother me – as I said (and as you demonstrated) a lot of this stuff CAN be explained or justified. I could – do – disagree on some of the points you’ve raised, but down that path lies endless arguments analyzing the film and getting lost in details…

          My point is broader. It’s no one thing; it’s all of the above, taken together, giving me an impression of the writer.Have you read the old Shamus article about Story Collapse?

          I just wasn’t *engaged* enough by TLJ to overlook or forgive it’s contrivances. For contrast, the Death Star in the original film having a convenient weak spot is a massive contrivance, but because there was a climactic fight scene with emotional stakes and a solid movie preceding it, I don’t really care.
          Meanwhile, watching Leia fly through space to safety after Kylo Ren decided not to shoot her but she got shot anyway was just kind of irritating to me. Sure, there’s no reason it CAN’T happen. It even serves a story purpose.
          ti just seemed too arbitrary too me and pushed me out of the movie.

          I’m not saying the film is bad, by any means; just that it didn’t work for me.

          1. Radkatsu says:

            “For contrast, the Death Star in the original film having a convenient weak spot is a massive contrivance”

            It really isn’t. It just demonstrates that the Empire is overconfident and arrogant, to the point where no one even thought about the idea that someone could use a weak point like that exhaust port. And let’s be real here, without the Force guiding Luke, chances are they wouldn’t have destroyed the station anyway.

            This is what pissed me off about Rogue One. They completely undid the whole point of the weak spot by making it intentional, instead of it being representative of the Empire’s general bureaucracy and arrogance.

            1. Daimbert says:

              And that’s explicitly stated, at least in the special editions, as Dodonna flat-out says that they don’t see small fighters as any kind of threat and so don’t have stronger defenses there. They’ve made the Death Star pretty much immune to capital ship attack because that’s what they think the real threat is. The fighter/bomber attack is the real threat, but their thinking is so hidebound that they don’t recognize it until the end, and even then Tarkin dismisses it.

          2. Leviathan902 says:

            For the record, the film didn’t work for me either, I don’t enjoy it, and haven’t seen it again since leaving the theater disappointed in it.

            My point is that it’s in-accurate to say these things are contrivances that come out of nowhere. I didn’t use head cannon up there to explain this stuff. This is stuff that happens naturally out of the worldview and experiences of the characters and plot of the movie and is sometimes even directly stated by the characters themselves. You might not LIKE these things that happened, I personally do not like them either, but I don’t think it’s fair to say they happen out of nowhere.

            I agree that Leia sequence was jarring and weird. And that there was a big plot point about Kylo deciding not to shoot her, but then she gets shot anyway (does Kylo react to that? I don’t remember) which is a strange choice. That part of the movie didn’t work for me at all and I dislike that scene. But it’s failure as a scene isn’t because we didn’t see Leia use the force earlier. It’s because we weren’t invested in the story up to that point. Story collapse, like you said.

            (For me personally, aware of the fact that Carrie Fisher had passed away IRL, to expect her character to die there as way to write the character out of the story only to have her actually survive, I found myself thinking: Ok, but what are they going to do for Carrie Fisher in the next movie??? Which is probably a strong indicator that thinking about that stuff meant I wasn’t invested in the film).

        2. MerryWeathers says:

          As for why he dies after the Astral Projection? Yeah, I agree that is very frustrating.

          It’s been established before that using the Force can be draining and cause strain so I imagine something as hardcore as projecting yourself across planets would probably kill you.

          I really think this works, it would make sense that Yoda, who lived through Order 66 and seen a pretty impressive slice of galactic history, and the past repeating itself in profoundly negative ways, would hold the opinion that the past needs to be jettisoned to make way for something new. It also makes sense that Luke, who wasn’t there for the old republic and only has romanticized stories of the Jedi, would be reluctant to let go of those ideals.

          Yoda was snapping Luke out of his unproductive loop of burning the sacred texts before backing out at the last minute which led to him accomplishing absolutely nothing in his exile. Luke doesn’t need the sacred texts because he’s already a Jedi Master and Yoda alludes to him that Rey already has them, he tells Luke that just because he failed Ben and now Rey, doesn’t mean he should withdraw and stop trying. Yoda is essentially telling Luke to grow from his mistakes, not jettison the past.

          1. The Despot says:

            The Jedi books are also shown on the Millennium Falcon at the end of the movie with Rey so it is clear the books were not destroyed, just Luke’s anchor to them.

          2. Syal says:

            It’s been established before that using the Force can be draining and cause strain

            I don’t think that was established in any of the movies. The only time someone’s shown to strain is when they’re still in training, or when they’re directly opposing another Force user.

            1. Geebs says:

              Yeah, Yoda died of extreme old age, not lifting an X-wing. Also, all of the force ghost Jedi can astral project whenever they like *despite already being dead*, which means it obviously doesn’t cost life points.

              Also, the Sacred Jedi Texts are an awful idea and Not Star Wars. The whole approach to the Force in the OT was “trust your feelings”. Learning that it was actually “trust your feelings, but, more importantly, read this huge stack of dusty-ass books” is a big, stupid tonal shift.

              1. MerryWeathers says:

                I don’t think the Sacred Jedi Texts were supposed to teach you how to use the force, rather it has information on the Jedi Order, history, philosophies, and other knowledge. That’s why it’s called the Sacred Jedi Texts.

                1. Geebs says:

                  They’re a straw man. Nobody ever reads a book on How To Jedi or even references the existence of one in the OT. Johnson had to invent them in order to criticise the Jedi for having them.

                  1. MerryWeathers says:

                    The Jedi in the PT had archives of information, not hard to believe that the ancient Jedi recorded their knowledge in books too.

                    Also the film wasn’t criticizing the Jedi for having the texts. Luke was criticizing the Jedi for what it was in the prequels, a dogmatic organization which’s hubris led to it’s downfall.

                    1. Geebs says:

                      Nope. They were invented for the sequels. First appearance is in TLJ, according to wookiepedia. Johnson assumed the dogma in order to criticise it.

                    2. Redrock says:

                      These particular texts were, indeed, invented by Johnson. But it’s not like the idea of repositories of Jedi knowledge and tradition didn’t exist before. The animated series and the comics feature loads of Holocrons, Jedi Temples, etc. The Order’s overreliance on dogma is, I believe, a major and very much intended theme of the prequel trilogy, so I don’t have much problem with that particular aspect of TLJ. The mere existence of the texts is nothing compared to what was done to Luke’s character overall.

                    3. Lino says:

                      Holocrons are mostly history books. Which any organisation should have, in my opinion. Jedi training in the OT and PT was very much practical. No one ever showed reading texts to be an essential part of training. But even then, I agree that books were the least of TLJ’s problems.

      2. Steve C says:

        Well written BlueHorus! Better explained than I could. This is exactly my problem with the SW sequels in general and all of Ryan Johnson’s movies especially. They aren’t incoherent moment to moment. However they lack a coherence that can be followed through as a whole. Either in narrative, theme, character, premise… whatever. There are too many “Wait. What?!” moments for me.

        1. Shamus says:

          That’s an interesting observation.

          I do notice that among fans of the film, there are lots of people saying things like, “I loved the part when…” or “I thought [scene] was great!” And among the critics (including myself) most of the gripes are structural or thematic. “If X is true, then Y makes no sense!”

          1. Jeff says:

            I have no real problem with the themes or structure. My problem is entirely with individual scenes.

            Things like the sudden introduction of nonsensical gravity bombers that are demonstrably stupid in the one scene we see them. The fact that Finn is going full speed in a straight line, but manages to be intercepted by Rose going in an arc that ends perpendicular to his orientation. Did they just give him the worst vehicle or something? The fact that Holdo managed to retain command all the way to the end in paramilitary organization without earning any sort of respect from the troops and giving the impression they had no plan. Poe literally mutinied in front of everybody, and nobody cared. Why did anybody listen to her in the first place? Isn’t this supposed to be a rag tag band of underdogs, not an actual official military? Nothing makes sense.

          2. Leviathan902 says:

            Hm…I’m not sure, but to big defenders of the film (you even linked Patrick H Willems who I quite like) he specifically points out the theme as being the whole reason he liked the movie. He loved what it was trying to do, moving away from the past, doing something new with a stale franchise full of potential.

            Specifically with Willems, the parts he mentions being great are the ones that reinforce these themes and ideas, and I think he and other defenders of the film who share his view are willing to let stuff like gravity bombers (I still don’t understand why people care so much about this in this cartoon universe, but whatever), Holdo-Maneuvers and whatever slide so long as the theme works. Others, however, can’t let that slide for whatever reason and it ejects them from that movie, even if it

            Personally, I’m not really in either camp. I like the theme of the movie and what it tried to do, but I didn’t enjoy the movie for a variety of reasons. Mostly related to me finding the Sequel Trilogy characters boring (see comment thread much further below) and not enjoying most of what actually happens in the movie itself.

            I find this movie like drinking Nyquil, it’s a nasty business one endures in service to a desired goal, in the case of Nyquil, feeling better. In the case of TLJ, it’s moving forward with something new for Star Wars. Unfortunately, nobody took that lesson and we got RotS which I haven’t even watched yet because everything about it is the exact opposite of everything I wanted from Star Wars post-TLJ

            1. Geebs says:

              Gravity bombers

              OK, I’m being incredibly boring here, but I’m going to try to explain why I go on about them, which is this:

              The failed bombing raid is basically the inciting incident of the whole movie, and it makes no damn sense. The physics are wrong, the tactics are stupid, and nobody in the setting has ever once used a similar weapon. And yet, the plot of the entire movie hangs on it.

              Imagine a version of the Ten Commandments where the reason why the Israelites are stuck in Egypt is that they were driving through in a double-decker London bus and got a flat tire. That’s a film in which actual miracles happen, and it would still stick out like a sore thumb.

              1. Lino says:

                You know, I had never actually thought about why I hated that entire sequence. Space battles were one of my favourite Star Wars elements (precisely because of the WW2 feel), and on the surface I should have liked that sequence. After all, fighters protecting bombers were a defining part of WW2 aerial warfare, and having bombers like the ones in TLJ is a logical step. Yet I still hated that sequence.

                Up until now I thought it was because I hate the movie. But you just made me realise that it’s because none of the other movies make a big deal about the technology behind it. Whereas here this is what the entire plot hinges upon. And suddenly, what was once just a flavour of the universe, is now integral to the plot, and as such feels extremely stupid, and even out of place.

                1. INH5 says:

                  This. I have the same complaint about fuel suddenly mattering, whereas in previous Star Wars movies unless the hyperdrive was damaged or broken, any ship, even Luke’s tiny X-Wing, can go anywhere in the galaxy and we just accept it because those details are not what the story is about.

                  Then there was the stuff about why the hyperspace tracker is on multiple ships but only one ship can use it at a time, or something along those lines, which still gives me a headache whenever I try to think about it.

                  Shamus is absolutely right that the Star Wars universe wasn’t designed to handle this kind of technical analysis. But that’s exactly why calling attention to this stuff in a Star Wars movie is a bad idea, especially when you don’t even put enough thought into the details for it to make sense in isolation.

            2. Falling says:

              You are right that the Willems type reviewers are really big on the themes.

              My problem is the themes are mostly didactic. Meaning, they are things that are said and preachy at that, but aren’t actually implemented into the plot/ the main conflicts. Or if they are integrated in some parts, they are out right contradicted in the previous scene or next scene.

              (Example: Rose’s that’s how we’re gonna win. Not fighting what we hate, but saving what we love. Unless Rose is a mind reader and can tell otherwise, that was precisely what Finn was trying to do. And what Holdo just finished doing.

              And then while she kisses him, the Death Star laser blasts through the door… which should’ve killed whoever was on the other side, but apparently it only melted the doors and stopped precisely at the entrance. Contextually, it makes her seem incredibly selfish. But the weird thing is- that was exactly what Finn was trying to do at the beginning of the film- he didn’t want to fight what he hated, but wanted to save what he loved: Rey. She was the one zapping people who wouldn’t fight. This is a lecture to the wrong person, coming from the wrong person. Plus. You are in a war. You might have just have to fight what you hate. It’s cat poster nonsense pretending to be deep.)

              Whatever themes TLJ might have, it is very very poor at executing them. That’s not a win in my book. I might like the idea of the theme or not. But what matters is not intent, but execution.

      3. trevalyan says:

        I genuinely think this is one of the all time great comments, and bookmarked the page so I can return to it.

        As a movie, TLJ isn’t the worst. Hardly the best, but not the worst. It breaks many mysteries set up by the previous film, and that damages it as part of a trilogy. As part of the Star Wars film universe it wastes the appearances of iconic characters and breaks the rules of the setting until sci-fi physics and military strategy means nothing. And considering the expanded universe, the fall of the Republic repeats the slow motion collapse of the Old Republic, except no mythical Star Forge was awakened by Sith to bring about the downfall of the noble and true.

        Basically, nu Star Wars caters to the very young, and to casual fans. Which can make sense from a business perspective, if you are confident with your numbers and strategies! I would never have agreed to it, though, because alienating a large core of hardcore loyalists is utterly insane in service industries, and especially among sci fi fandoms. Overall financial reception in movies and toys generally bears this out.

    2. Pax says:

      This is getting into the overly nitpicky stuff (but at least it’s not political!), but I absolutely cannot understand people’s problem with the bombing thing. There was obviously gravity in the bomb bay because Rose’s sister fell to the bottom of it, right by the hole into space. The bombs were in the bay with gravity, so obviously they would fall “down” relative to the gravity in the bay, and then keep “falling” because an object in motion tends to stay in motion.

      It’s an interesting facet of the movie, though, which maybe symbolizes the whole. Star Wars space fights have always been WWII in space, and we kind of look the other way, even though we know things wouldn’t really work this way/have sound in space, etc. But something like this seems to shine a light on the contradiction in a way that makes people reject the whole thing.

      It’s the same way with the Imperial laundry scene. Obviously the Empire/First Order’s uniforms are always perfectly pressed, and since they use droids and machines for all this kind of menial labor, obviously they would also have some kind of laudry droid to take care of this for them. But put an automated iron in Imperial colors on screen, however (especially when you frame it, as a gag, as something else at first), and suddenly it feels like we’re watching Robot Chicken.

      1. MerryWeathers says:

        Yeah, I didn’t mind the gravity bombers the same way I didn’t mind the Death Star having a conspicuous hole that could happen to blow the whole thing up instantly or a giant worm that lives in an asteroid in the middle of outer space. Because in Star Wars, the setting is meant to serve the movies, not the other way around.

        1. Geebs says:

          But that’s precisely why it’s so irritating, and why I expressed it in terms of the suspension of disbelief. It’s a threshold effect. The Disney movies came along and did stuff which was so stupid (see also the “hyperspace” explosions in TFA, which might be a forgivable retrograde explanation if Abrams hadn’t already pulled the exact same shit in Star Trek) that I suddenly had to pay attention to all of the stuff I’d been happily ignoring for the sake of the plot and characters.

          Also, that worm was just really good at holding his breath.

      2. Geebs says:

        To be fair to Johnson, George Lucas had already thoroughly screwed the gravity-in-space pooch in Episode III. To be fair to me, I also lost my suspension of disbelief in that movie at that point.

        I think this argument has probably already been thoroughly done to death, but despite being WW2 in space, the series had always managed to sidestep this problem before, and introducing the Holdo manoeuvre in the same film just makes it fall apart even more for me.

      3. Jeff says:

        If the bombs fall “down”, why didn’t they just pull up 90 degrees and point “down” towards the enemy?

    3. John says:

      Well, I can’t just let that pass. I really don’t want to get into an argument about it, but Brick is neither awful nor stupid. Looper might be. I haven’t seen that one. But Brick at least is a delight.

      Though, while we’re on the subject, one thing that puzzles me about the way that people talk about Johnson is the idea that everything he does is some kind of genre subversion. Brick doesn’t subvert anything. It takes hard-boiled detective fiction tropes and transplants them to a high school setting, but it plays those tropes perfectly straight. That’s one of the reasons I love it.

      1. Syal says:

        I haven’t seen Brick, but for Looper, TLJ and Knives Out there are a few questions that the movie brings up and never follows through on. (I think that counts as plot holes, but not the standard type that break things, just the type that annoy.)

        (Looper in particular is a time travel movie and anyone who can’t accept a time travel movie being stupid should avoid the genre entirely.)

        1. Geebs says:

          Looper’s not a time travel movie, it’s in the surprisingly large subgenre of “what if you had to go back in time and kill yourself” Sci-Fi. Most of the other – admittedly inherently silly – stories in the field like e.g. the much better “Palimpsest” by Charles Stross, have the sense to give a reasonable explanation as to why somebody might volunteer to do that. In Looper, the loopers are saving for their retirement by being paid in gold bullion. Both of those concepts are too stupid for the movie to ever make any sort of sense.

    4. Thomas says:

      I didn’t realise he did Looper, I wouldn’t have guessed because I like Looper a lot.

      I can understand why people enjoyed Knives Out, but for me it was an indicator that Rian Johnson films weren’t up my street. I found all the deliberate artifice scratching, and it made me unwilling to see past things like the final reveal of the film being a pun.

      I also struggled to put myself in the characters head, as I found the middle stretch of the film where they were doing some crazy dumb/bad things very difficult to get through.

      But I have recommended it to people who aren’t me, because lots of people got enjoyment out of it and I can see why

  24. Zaxares says:

    That analysis of the argument between Poe and Holdo was REALLY interesting, Shamus. I DID think it odd that Holdo was basically shutting Poe down and refusing to hear his concerns, but ultimately I did side with her and Leia because “these are the Good leaders. They MUST have a good reason for it.” And as it turns out, they did! It was part of a misdirection plot to get the New Order to think they were going someplace else. Personally I think that Holdo could have at least dropped a hint to Poe as to why she was doing what she was doing, but eh, I don’t know the guy. Maybe he was far too impulsive to be trusted with that kind of military secret in case he accidentally let the cat out of the bag. (There are people like that in real life! See Mark Ruffalo and Tom Holland with regards to their inability to keep spoilers secret during interviews. ;) )

    1. Jeff says:

      Poe literally asks her to tell him they had a plan. He didn’t even insist on knowing the plan, just for confirmation there was one.

      1. Thomas says:

        My read is that Holdo took umbrage at that because she felt Poe was questioning her ability as a leader.

        Not saying that’s justified but it was a character dynamic that I enjoyed.

        1. krellen says:

          My read on the whole thing was Holdo’s stance was “you literally just got demoted for refusing to obey orders, why are you doing the same exact thing right over again?” and acted accordingly.

          I agree with the stance that what was going on here was a failure to communicate, but I don’t really understand the insistence that a person who was just punished for a particular behaviour should then immediately be rewarded for the same behaviour.

  25. Leviathan902 says:

    I walked out of the Last Jedi feeling pretty disappointed for very different reasons than I walked out of The Force Awakens feeling disappointed.

    With TFA, everyone had been hyping it up as the return of “real” Star Wars and was being gushed all over by fans at the time of it’s release, but when I saw it in theaters a bit into it’s run I failed to click with the characters (Especially Rey and Poe, I liked Finn though), and the plot itself was such an obvious rehash I found it mostly boring despite the sound and fury of the movie.

    By that logic, I should have really enjoyed TLJ (though the lack of interesting characters and their connections with each other is still an issue), but I didn’t enjoy that film either. I love the throne room scene. The tension in that scene can be cut with a knife and you have absolutely no idea where it’s going. I love that Snoke is murdered out of nowhere, Rey and Kylo team up despite neither of them switching sides, and the overall fight is absolutely incredible. It’s probably the single best scene in all of Star Wars anything. That said, almost the entire rest of the movie falls completely flat for me aside from that scene and Rey and Luke’s banter.

    I LOVE the ideas and theme, behind the TLJ (forget what has come before, create something new, this isn’t about Skywalkers, this is about everyone), but I dislike the actual PLOT and tone of the movie and don’t care for any of the characters aside from those from the original trilogy. As a result, I respect what the movie was trying to do, even if I don’t enjoy the movie itself.

  26. EOW says:

    I actually really liked TLJ, it reminded me of kotor2 in a good way, but i also loved the concept brought forth by Rey and Kylo. The idea that jedi and sith are dead and it’s time to forge a new path. I was really looking forward to see what Rey and Kylo would do… then episode 9 happened.
    But i knew it would happen, disney is absolutely spineless and JJ was pretty much handed a broken movie from the outset, with a morton fork of an unpleasable fanbase. There was no way episode 9 was gonna be good.

    But really the core problem of tlj and the trilogy as a whole was a complete lack of direction. There wasn’t a single theme that was consistent across the movies and it was ultimately going nowhere. TFA essentially brought back the series to square 1 and did nothing of worth with it. TLJ set up a possible end point. TROS undid tlj and went completely against its themes (tlj was all like “the past doesn’t matter”, while tros was “actully, past is really important”).
    By the end all original characters are dead and the trilogy failed to move the plot forward or make us care about the characters. One of the original actors is dead and most of the new actors abandoned star wars.

    This sequel trilogy killed the franchise more than the prequel ever did sadly, but it’s even sadder to see disney pull off something like the MCU, but then fail so hard just to keep three movies consistent.
    I’m in this odd position when i find myself liking the prequels more, for at least the prequel had a storyline and stuck to it and its themes. It did a poor job but at least it did a job. The sequel trilogy is ultimately disconnected and pointless. Nothing was added but everything was subtracted.

    Ironically tho, TLJ still remains one of my fav movies in the entire franchise, simply because it at least gave me something to think about. It’s a movie i find extremely entertaining to analyze and discuss, which is not something i can say for the prequels or the other two sequels

    1. MerryWeathers says:

      This sequel trilogy killed the franchise more than the prequel ever did sadly, but it’s even sadder to see disney pull off something like the MCU, but then fail so hard just to keep three movies consistent.

      Star Wars is too big to ever die at this point, the franchise has already bounced back in fact with most people enjoying The Mandalorian. The ST may have left a sour taste on people’s mouths but the franchise has grown beyond the Skywalker Saga for a while now.

      1. Radkatsu says:

        “Star Wars is too big to ever die at this point”

        I wouldn’t bet on that.

        1. MerryWeathers says:

          I would, a lot of people thought the PT killed the franchise a decade ago but there’s still a demand for more SW content even today. As I have said before, the franchise has grown beyond the Skywalker Saga movies at this point.

  27. Parkhorse says:

    This subversion of Star Wars tropes makes the movie’s plot feel not-Star Wars-y. If the movie’s plot feel’s not-Star Wars-y, then (while it might be a good movie) it’s not going to be a good Star Wars movie. It’s like the humor trope of making something intentionally bad/unfunny, for the irony or cringe humor. Thing is, even if the bad/unfunny thing you’ve made was done intentionally, you’ve still made something bad/unfunny. Rian intentionally made something not-Star Wars-y, yes, but we shouldn’t forget that it means he made something not-Star Wars-y.

    1. Kathryn says:

      Interesting – a similar criticism of the new Star Trek movie was that it was a fun an entertaining goofy sci-fi action movie, but it was not Star Trek. (Which I agree with. I like it as an action movie, but as Star Trek, not so much.)

      (I haven’t seen TLJ and definitely don’t plan to after the descriptions here – I am looking for more Star Wars, not deconstructions of it. I’ll stick with reading the Zahn EU books.)

  28. The Force Awakens was a very safe retelling of the original story, setting up a female protagonist and lots of threads to build upon in later movies. A little too much “rule of cool” that bends the established universe, but nothing that breaks the mold. Not great, not original, but not bad. J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek movies were much worse – those were basically only “rule of cool”.

    Then The Last Jedi comes along and just thrashes it all – no respect for the established universe or plot points that we wanted to see expanded. The Holdo maneuver is visually stunning and a superb cinematic moment, and it completely destroys any chance of reconciling this movie with the Star Wars universe. If faster than light warfare was possible, no capital ships or planetary bases would ever exist. When I watched that in the cinema, it was awe at the cinematics immediately followed by sadness as I realized just how absurd this was for the SW universe. TLJ would’ve been a good stand-alone sci-fi movie, but it’s not a good Star Wars movie. The only other Rian Johnson movie I’ve seen is Looper, which is great.

    And The Rise of Skywalker rolls back most things TLJ does, which is sort of good, but also leans way too far into “rule of cool” in ways that further diverge both from Star Wars and good storytelling.

  29. Leviathan902 says:

    Does anyone else just find the characters from the new trilogy uninteresting and completely lacking in chemistry or is it just me?

    I mean Rey is kind of a blank slate, and her motivations for doing the things she’s doing never seem clear to me. Compare with her analogue, Luke, in the original trilogy. He was a farmboy who was bored with his life and wanted to seek adventure in defeating the evil galactic empire. Everything he says and does throughout the original trilogy is in service to that goal, even if his perspective matures over the films. Rey wants to…find her parents, I guess? How does anything that happens in TFA or TLJ outside of a few token scenes further that goal?

    Poe is a hotshot fighter pilot stereotype. That’s it. He’s maverick in space, which is fine I guess. He has no arc whatsoever in TFA. TLJ tries to give him one, but as Shamus states so clearly above, it’s an arc that goes counter to everything we’ve ever seen from a Star Wars character, so that’s weird.

    Finn is the most obviously interesting of the characters. As a former storm trooper he has a perspective unlike anything we’ve ever seen in a Star Wars movie. Too bad they never do anything with him. He spends pretty much the entire running time of TLJ saying he needs to find Rey like they’re best buds or something, but they have almost no chemistry together and not a lot of screen time together.

    And that leads to probably my biggest problem with these characters. They spend almost no time together and have no chemistry on-screen. On top of that, they’re poorly designed characters for interacting with each other. Lessons from the Screenplay has a great video about this on Jaws, but let’s break it down for the original trilogy vs. sequel trilogy.

    Original Trilogy: Luke is a wide-eyed idealistic farm-boy. Lawful good. Han is pragmatic and self-interested. Chaotic Neutral, kind of, at first. These 2 butt heads almost immediately and throughout the first film. They’re a classic odd-couple and it works for making their scenes together interesting and for developing their characters. When Leia comes in, she adds a new dynamic. She’s Pragmatic, like Han, knows her Rebellion is up against impossible odds and willing to sacrifice, to do what it takes to win. But she’s idealistic like Luke, believes in a cause, destroying the empire. This is a perfectly created trio to bounce off of each other, expand their world views, and develop their character, while creating chemistry between the characters.

    Sequel Trilogy: Rey, Finn, and Poe don’t bounce off of each other like that. They’re all kind of lawful good characters. They’re pretty much always in agreement on everything. Everyone just kind of goes along to get along and it makes it so they have no chemistry with each other. Sure Finn and Poe trade quips, but that does not a character make. You could do so much with Finn challenging Poe’s world view (former First Order vs. Republic jet jockey) and vice-versa, but they just don’t do it. Rey is such a blank slate she has nothing to say or do with anyone. It’s a shame really because I want to like these characters but they’re so dull.

    1. Daimbert says:

      I have to agree with you on the characters. My big note for Rey in TLJ is that when she changed her hairstyle it looked nice. That’s about all that’s interesting about her in that movie. Finn doesn’t really advance throughout the first two movies. And Poe is basically Wedge elevated to a more central character, but without all the development that the EU put into Wedge to make that viable. These things could all have been easily fixed, but the trilogy spent too much time fighting with itself to actually do that.

    2. Lino says:

      +1 for the characters. All of them are unbelievably boring. And that’s coming from someone who was a bit disappointed at how the new movies decided to heavily focus on the OT cast.

    3. Pax says:

      I actually really like Rey, Finn, and Poe, but they all reached the starting line, full of potential, and then the films mostly failed to do anything interesting with them. I even think they had good chemistry. Poe and Finn’s antics escaping the Star Destroyer at the very beginning of TFA are most of why Poe got to live and continue being a character, and the rush of scenes between Rey and Finn between them meeting each other and Han are great.

      The fact that the trilogy didn’t end with Finn leading a stormtrooper uprising (and instead ended with the vague and terrible implication that only Force-sensitive people are real people able to decide being a stormtrooper is bad), is a great tragedy.

      1. Ander says:

        I’ll take this chance to ask…
        I thought I was paying close attention to RoS. Was Finn trying the whole movie to tell Rey he thinks he’s force sensitive? Is that what he kept not quite getting out? And what showed that? I think it must have happened during his assault on the hull of a ship, but I don’t remember what happens.

        1. Pax says:

          I’m pretty sure the movie itself never actually fully acknowledges it, other than very vaguely in his talk with the other ex-stormtrooper lady. Janna? The writer or somebody afterwards in an interview clarified that’s what it was about, though.

    4. Bubble181 says:

      I do agree, and I just feel very happy being able to say that.
      Whenever I dare criticize the characters, it’s just assumed it’s because there’s a woman and a person of color and I don’t like them because of that. Neither bothers me in the least – if anything, I’m disappointed they stick with three humans.
      They just all start out as neutral good and stay that way.

    5. etheric42 says:

      Was Leia really that pragmatic in the movies? She seemed like a more cool, collected idealist like Luke. I didn’t see her trading Alderaan for the sake of the galaxy or anything like that.

      I thought the chemistry in the sequel trilogy was great, particularly Poe/Finn. Rey was a bit shallow, but so was Luke. Kylo was much better than Vader as a character and his arc made up for the fact that Poe didn’t have much of one.

      Finn’s arc was alright, but could have been much better, but to get an action movie to talk about how the bad mooks are people too is dangerous territory, so it was a bad arc to even attempt.

      1. Radkatsu says:

        “Was Leia really that pragmatic in the movies?”

        Watch the opening to Ep4 again and tell me she isn’t pragmatic.

        1. etheric42 says:

          Watched it recently, won’t again until the next progeny unit is old enough as the OT keeps putting me to sleep.

          She sneaks away, gives a droid the plans, tells him to go find an ally, and I presume gives him the idea of an escape pod. It’s lampshaded that if there were any living people in the pod they would be shot down.

          Capable, yes. Specifically pragmatic? I don’t understand how that showcases that. Is Luke pragmatic at the end of 5 when he slides onto an antenna and phones home for a rescue instead of panicking?

          The most pragmatic moment in the OT is when Han tells everyone to let him go in 5 or when Luke surrenders to prevent Vader from personally attacking their commando squad in 6.

          You /might/ even say Han is pragmatic in 5 when he takes the money and runs.

          1. Leviathan902 says:

            It’s less about actions taken and more about how they communicate with the other characters. Maybe pragmatic isn’t the right word, but Leia very clearly butts heads with Luke for being an idealistic farm boy who doesn’t know what he’s doing while also generating conflict with Han for being self-absorbed and not caring about anything other than his own hide.

            The point is that they all have different view points that are in conflict with each other, which generates drama, which makes them interesting to watch, which is where the chemistry and attachment to these characters come from. It’s why Han, Luke and Leia have been a beloved trio world-wide for over 40 years.

            As for the sequel trilogy, I will agree that Kylo Ren is a fantastic character. He’s conflicted and complicated in really interesting ways. He’s the best thing about the Sequels, bar none. That said, I can’t get behind the Poe/Finn dynamic being super interesting the way you and others have pointed out. They quip. That’s it. They don’t have any dramatic interactions that deepen their characters, generate drama, or really anything to even say to each other than plot points, exposition, or quips. I mean quips are fun and all, but it’s not enough, for me at least. 40 years from now, nobody is going to be longing for that reunion between Poe and Finn. Hell, they hardly even have any screen time together.

            And I will push back on the idea that Luke is boring. Every time. I mean, yeah he’s pretty tropey, but it’s an effective trope and he comes with very defined world views and goals that influence his character and his interactions with other people. I just don’t get that from Rey. To be fair, I haven’t seen Rise of Skywalker and maybe that movie makes Rey really interesting, but throughout the first 2 films of the ST I still don’t have a clear idea of her worldview or goals, and that’s a problem.

            1. etheric42 says:

              Re: Luke and Leia conflict… is that really in the movies? I watched them a few months ago and I just skimmed over the script, the best I can do is Leia goring Luke for not having a plan when he came to rescue her.

              Maybe there is just a better word for it than pragmatic and we’re just not hitting it.

              Luke 4: I’m going to fight against evil! I’ll defeat the empire and save the princess.
              Luke 5: I’m going to fight against evil! I’ll save my friends.
              Luke 6: I’m going to fight against evil! Hrm, maybe I’m starting to see that fighting isn’t going to always be the solution. (Although we’re not going to consider a political solution either.)

              Rey 7: I’m going to go out and see the bigger galaxy and learn about myself.
              Rey 8: I’m going to go out and find someone with knowledge of history and learn about my culture.
              Rey 9: I’m going to reach inside and learn about my connection with this other guy. Wait, maybe I’m starting to see that learning isn’t going to always be the solution and sometimes you just have to show someone you’re stronger than them.

              (Okay, I’ll admit that was weak, but it was an interesting juxtoposition I wanted to walk down. My stronger argument is Rey is more interesting than Vader, even if she fits the Luke paradigm better, Kylo is far more interesting than Luke, even if he fits the Vader paradigm better… maybe an antiLuke.)

              1. Syal says:

                Maybe there is just a better word for it than pragmatic and we’re just not hitting it.

                Arrogant, or Haughty. She comes across like she’s a princess dealing with peasants.

    6. Radkatsu says:

      This is the whole problem with JarJar’s mystery box bullshit. He sets a load of things up that seem like they’ll be interesting, then never pays them off in a satisfying way, if at all.

      Highly recommend you check out Literature Devil on Youtube, specifically his video on mystery boxes, and why they’re terrible for stories.

      1. etheric42 says:

        Wait, what is Jar Jar’s mystery box? Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and in Star Wars 100% of the time a side/comic character is just a side/comic character.

        1. MerryWeathers says:

          In this context, it’s insulting J.J. Abrams and his “mystery box” storytelling technique, also known as the “Chris Carter Effect” in TV Tropes or “The Lindellofian Method” in this site.

          1. BlueHorus says:

            I personally like Bob Case’s term ‘Ponzi Scheme Storytelling’. Really emphasizes how dishonest it is.

          2. etheric42 says:

            Crap. Thought one of the goals here was to be nice and have constructive conversations.

  30. Cubic says:

    Agatha Christie already subverted the hell out of the old whodunnit. She wrote books where the killer is one of the victims (and not the last one either), where all the suspects collude to kill, where the narrator is the killer, and so on. Not obscure books either.

    I do think Phantom Menace actually would have been better if kid Anakin had subverted expectations by breaking the fourth wall, looking the viewer in the eye, and making a WHAAAA? face every now and then. But after that experience I dropped Star Wars and have felt good about the decision ever since.

    When I see the picture of the expectation-subverting Holdo above, all I can think is “great, the rebellion has an HR department”. … so why do they deserve to win again? … More generally, we should note that subverting tropes, expectations and all that is generally an act of hostility against the original material, at least if the makers don’t have a sense of humor (and we already had Space Balls). It doesn’t have to be but you can basically bet on it. Yet at the same time, who is shocked by it anymore … Ghostbusters are women? WHAAAA? (patriarchy face) … even the much too long pomo Infinite Jest was written twenty five years ago and that felt like closing the lid on an era. In summary, the shtick is getting a bit long in the tooth. Give us something new.

    1. etheric42 says:

      Evangelion is a love letter to mecha, even if it subverts its tropes.

      League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is a love letter to classic fiction and superheroes, even if it subverts their tropes.

      Saints and Soldiers is a love letter to war movies, even if it subverts their tropes.

      I’m not really getting where you’re saying that subversion is generally an act of hostility.

      If deconstructionism is old hat, and pomo is old hat, and modernism is old old hat, what’s the next literary movement that’s going to break through into popular mediums like film? Is “mixed media franchises” the next big artistic movement or is it just an advertising tactic?

      1. Radkatsu says:

        I wouldn’t necessarily agree that Eva is a love letter to mecha, Hideaki originally just intended to bring more people into the otaku culture. But really it was more of a vessel for dealing with his severe depression and fast-mounting disillusionment with otaku culture, which is why it gets progressively darker as it goes along, matching his slipping mood. That’s a large part of why its themes and characters are so messed up. Shinji represents an aspect of Hideaki’s tortured psyche at the time, and so does Asuka, and so does Genji. Interestingly enough, Rei did not represent anything… because he actually forgot about her, lol.

        He was inspired by other mecha shows (Gundam especially) though, as well as Space Battleship Yamato.

        1. etheric42 says:

          Evangelion is 95-97 (if you include EoE).

          He wrote and directed Gunbuster, a mecha anime in 88. He was an animator for Macaross and Giant Robo.

          He couldn’t have hit all the themes in mecha if he hadn’t known it intimately. I guess you could also call it a bit of a kaiju film too. Even if he was depressed and running out of money, a lot of care was taken to craft a mature take on the matter. It definitely wasn’t an attack on mecha, if anything it drove more attention to mecha.

          And while it is very dark, and his depression is clearly marked on it, it’s already very dark by the first episode where Rei gets wheeled out in a gurney to pilot the Unit / guilt Shinji into piloting it.

  31. Christopher Theofilos says:

    Shamus, can we just get a quick count on how many posts regarding the TLJ specifically you are going to be doing? I have a dissertation I want to write; if you are only doing one more post no big deal where I insert it; spread out more and I would rather have my points match what you are discussing then possibly begin discussions out of order

    1. Shamus says:

      Aw man. You’re forcing me to spoil one of my own jokes. The next post is going to PRETEND to go somewhere, but is actually more of this post: “Here are a bunch of random observations on this movie and why it confuses / frustrates / delights people”. Then the final post is where I move on from TLJ and ACTUALLY talk about the “Star Wars feel”.

      Than we go back to SWOJFO.

      1. Christopher Theofilos says:

        Thanks for the response, I don’t feel like I need to slave myself to my computer today to structure my thoughts

        1. Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

          Same. Same.

  32. Thomas says:

    I’m sad that we’ve had a whole trilogy of Star Wars films and none of them have had something where I’ve wanted to play a game set there.

    I’d love a game in Jeddah pre-Rogue One though.

    1. Pax says:

      That and they didn’t give us anything new to look at, just more X-Wings, TIE Fighters, and Star Destroyers. The Resistance using old, mothballed star fighters kinda makes sense, but the First Order were literally just Empire fanboys. The nostalgia was so strong, it even existed in universe.

    2. etheric42 says:

      Canto Bight management sim?

      Starkiller interactive terrarium?

      Crait survival/tower defense game?

      Takodana bar/resort building sim?

      RTS survival game on Jakku?

  33. zackoid says:

    I think TLJ is a deeply flawed film while also being the best Star Wars movie since ESB. I walked out of the theater unsatisfied with it because of it’s poor structure, but on reflection it has a lot to recommend it. (I’ve never seen episode 9 and probably never will).

    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned is that a lot of the structural flaws of TLJ are directly the result of being left in an impossible position by TFA. TFA is essentially a reboot rather than a sequel, how do you make a sequel to a reboot without remaking ESB? This is doubly hard when combined with the mystery box style of JJ Abrams. At the beginning of TLJ we are 135 minutes into a story and yet we have no idea what the state of the universe is and know almost nothing of the history of any our main characters. Generally you do not start the exposition in the middle book of a trilogy.

    In retrospect it’s obvious that the entire new series was doomed at the start by the producer’s decision to not have a basic framework for the story prior to production.

    1. Lati says:

      While I completely agree TFA is a terrible continuation for the Star Wars Saga, I do feel that a decent non-empire sequel could be written or at least reversed. Time skip 6 months to a year and put the first order in the position that the Rebels were in in Empire. Weakened by the loss of Star Killer Base The First Order is pushed forced to regroup, while the Resistance groups up with the remnants of the New Republic Fleet to hunt them down.
      Instead of Jake and Ray alone on an Island have Luke be training a small number of younglings that he rescued from the destroyed jedi temple, with him being conflicted between protecting his students and rejoining the resistance, made even harder with the destruction of 5 planets worth of people (remember how Obi-wan reacted to the destruction of Alderaan).
      Obviously this is just the roughest of outlines, but don’t believe that Empire 2.0 was narratively forced by TFA on TLJ.

  34. Jim says:

    I think the biggest disappointment for me was that Disney failed to learn the number one lesson they could have learned from the prequel trilogy: “Plan your story in advance.”

    From a storytelling perspective, Episode 1 was a failure in that it wasted 1/3rd of the screen time by NOT showing Anakin’s flaws and setup for the eventual turn. I found out earlier this year that there was a deleted scene where kid-Anakin goes berserk on on of the other kids at the pod race and THAT was exactly the kind of thing we needed to see so that his eventual face-heel turn wasn’t the light-switch flip it ended up being in Ep3. The Clone Wars cartoons helped some but only if you were enough of a fan to consume all SW media available.

    I had high hopes that they could do it after seeing how they managed to (mostly) neatly tie the Marvel movies together, but for whatever reason (blame your least-favorite person involved I guess) they failed to actually plan out their trilogy yet again and this time the kids that were young enough to still remember the prequels fondly were now old enough to notice all the flaws.

    1. Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

      I remember reading somewhere that Disney did have a plan, and it was tied to a director Collin Trevorrow. He left the project, and took whatever his plan was with him. Rian Johnson then came in with plan 2 -which backfired horribly -and JJ Abrams had to improvise plan 3.

      Honestly, I don’t know where to put most of the blame, but it seems the biggest mistake was not delaying the movie a year when they lost their planned director.

      If this actually happened. I’d actually be fascinated to read an insider’s account of the production.

      1. Canthros says:

        As I understand it, Abrams had some sort of outline for where to go from the end of TFA, which Trevorrow had picked up for the version of Episode IX he was originally to write and direct. I think Johnson was already hired for Episode VIII at that time. Trevorrow left or was fired after his passion project, “The Book of Henry”, bombed pretty hard. Past that, it seems pretty murky. Johnson doesn’t seem to have used much of anything Abrams had planned, and, IIRC, claims not to have discussed any of it with Abrams before writing Episode VIII. I want to say that Johnson was briefly rumored to pick up Episode IX, but Disney may have stepped in and put the kibosh on that–Lucasfilm seems to have been pretty pleased with his work, since they announced that he’d been asked to write/direct a future trilogy before Ep. VIII even hit theaters.

        I suspect there’s an interesting tell-all about the production of Episode VIII and IX to be written. Trevorrow seemed to throw some shade at Johnson on Twitter a couple years ago about some of that stuff.

  35. djw says:

    I disliked TLJ, but I have no opinion one way or the other on Holdo vs Poe. I’m fine with subverting genres, and I am also fine with playing them straight…

    What bugs me about TLJ is not the genre subversion… It is that I do not feel that it was fair to Luke Skywalker’s character arc, that was built up in three previous movies. I think it is *possible* to convince me that he would be tempted to murder his nephew, because the allure of the dark side is strong, but the Luke Skywalker of the original trilogy would absolutely set that right afterwords. He would not go hide in a cave and hope to die.

    If you want that to be a thing that Luke Skywalker does, you have to have a movie about that one thing. You can’t just show it in flashbacks. Subverting genre expectations is fine, but demolishing a character like this is not (obviously, in my humble opinion) something that you can do without fleshing it out with lots of screen time.

    1. Lino says:

      Or if you decide to do it in a flashback, at the very LEAST show us a convincing reason for why the Goodiest Goody-Two-Shoes in the Galaxy would want to murder a child. Because I, for one, was definitely not convinced. You can’t just say that he thought that he felt something about something… and long story short, he wanted to kill his own nephew, ane then did the most uncharacteristic thing you could think of (or the second most uncharacteristic thing ever – after trying to kill his own nephew).

      In any case, I agree – it felt completely unearned to me.

  36. Ramsus says:

    My experience watching the Holdo stuff was that I noticed the “these things signal the character as a potential villain”, but I also noticed that the character being a villain didn’t actually have enough context to make sense given Leia’s trust in her was basically the only other thing we knew about the character. So in my mind I just took an “either side could be correct here” approach since I was also actively aware of the tropes Poe’s behavior was pulling from. So when the inevitable payoff for vindication/being wrong came for people taking Holdo/Poe’s side my reaction was “oh ok, so that’s the direction this played out in the story I’m watching today” rather than feeling like I’d been “right” or “wrong” and having any emotion attached to it.
    Actually, that basically sums up the majority of my experience with the film.
    As a result I like the film but I don’t love it the way I do the original trilogy, but I don’t hate it.
    Which is kind of my attitude on the prequel trilogy too (for completely different reasons), though I like those slightly better just because I feel those films do a better job of establishing/focusing on the personalities of the characters and letting us understand what is going on and why in the larger scope of things. (And when those answers finally came they were pretty disappointing in the new trilogy.)

  37. Alpakka says:

    I really enjoyed reading the post, for some reason angry Shamus cheered me up. It seems I have been moving in the right circles since I have avoided all of those angry discussions about Last Jedi, I feel lucky. Although I have been aware that many people did not like the movie, I did not know it got that angry. Things like this always make me glad I’m not on Twitter.

    It does make me sad that the new trilogy has been so divisive, I used to enjoy the kind of cultural feeling of “surely everyone enjoys Star Wars, except the prequels only ironically” style of feeling (maybe an illusion) before the last couple of movies.

    It’s interesting to see how differently almost everyone has viewed the movie. For example I never really thought much about the “Holdo maneuver” or “Luke drinks gross milk” scenes, I thought they just felt pretty reasonable. Seems that not that many people have mentioned the casino sequence, I thought that was the one that many people disliked. I thought it was a bit out of place, and did not have to be that long for just the “kid looking at sky with hope” payoff.

    I really enjoyed for example Luke’s story, and the ending felt really suitable for him. He finally overcame his fears and regrets, held up an entire army with very light-side tactics as his final act, and then followed Obi-Wan. Also the death of Snoke and rise of Kylo was just an awesome twist to me.

    I liked Force Awakens, it really felt like good old Star Wars again (although maybe too much). I liked Last Jedi for the general “taking things to a new direction” feel (although maybe too far). I liked Rise of Skywalker, lots of cool callbacks to the old movies (although maybe too many).

    My main issue with the sequel trilogy was that each movie seemed to pull to a different direction. Force Awakens returned to the original trilogy feel. Last Jedi went to a different direction, which I happened to like in general, but I was annoyed at how it dropped many of the plotlines and characters from Force Awakens. E.g. how the Game of Thrones knight lady (Captain Phasma) was just killed off pretty quickly, and the orange Yoda-like old lady (Maz Kanata) was pretty much written away without any mysteries getting resolved.

    Rise of Skywalker then basically seemed to try to undo the stuff Last Jedi did, like restored the rebellion’s fighting troops and returned to some of the original trilogy stuff like the Emperor… Which was apparently announced in… Fortnite? What? I originally thought that must have been some odd joke in Honest Trailers, but apparently it was real.

    So kind of a straight road, then a sharp turn left into the woods, but then an awkward return to the road. I would have liked to either stay on the road and see how far we can go fast, or then really go offroad and see if there are dragons in the forest.

    Still, in any case I left each of the new trilogy’s films with the feeling of “Did you see that? When the lightsaber went *wooooooommmm*, and then the blaster went *pewpewpew*, and then the droid was like *bleepittybloopbloop*, and the wookiee went *roaaaarrrr*? Wasn’t that awesome?”

    1. etheric42 says:

      Yes, absolutely this. (Although I will say people who were young during the prequel trilogy reacted the same way to it as people who were young during the original trilogy.)

      And yes, the overall structure of the trilogy was horribly handled, even if the individual works were enjoyable.

      “I had some gut instincts about where the story would have gone. But without getting in the weeds on episode eight, that was a story that Rian wrote and was telling based on seven before we met. So he was taking the thing in another direction. So we also had to respond to Episode VIII. So our movie was not just following what we had started, it was following what we had started and then had been advanced by someone else. So there was that, and, finally, it was resolving nine movies. While there are some threads of larger ideas and some big picture things that had been conceived decades ago and a lot of ideas that Lawrence Kasdan and I had when we were doing Episode VII, the lack of absolute inevitability, the lack of a complete structure for this thing, given the way it was being run was an enormous challenge.”

      https://www.slashfilm.com/how-star-wars-episode-9-responds-to-the-last-jedi/

      1. Thomas says:

        I really hope current new trilogy dislikers (I’m one) don’t create a hostile atmosphere for kids who were introduced to Star Wars through the new trilogy.

        It wasn’t always comfortable being introduced through the prequels and being reminded of how much people hate them all the time. It’s only now the kids who first watched them are on Reddit and Twitter that talking about them not entirely negatively has become okay again.

        And I’m sure their are kids who loved the new trilogy and they’re going to want to be able to talk about that love without having it thrust back at them.

        And then they can join in on hating episodes 10-12 with the rest of us!

        1. Syal says:

          Recently re-watched the prequels; with the exception of Attack of the Clones, they’re not half as bad as I remembered.

          1. Thomas says:

            Attack of the Clones though was worse than I remembered!

            1. Syal says:

              I can’t believe everyone who quotes the “I don’t like sand” line stops halfway through it; the “not like you, you’re everything soft and smooth” followup is what makes it so physically uncomfortable.

              “I love you for all the ways you aren’t sand”.

  38. Biggus Rickus says:

    My apologies if someone else already noted this, but what kills me about the Disney movies is that they had no plan for the central trilogy of a trillion dollar property. Whatever anyone thinks about the quality of each movie, the inconsistency is baffling.

  39. RamblePak64 says:

    It was already mentioned by John somewhere above, but I was going to note that Brick isn’t a subversion of the noir genre. It’s merely placing it in a high school setting. It plays around with the tropes, but nothing is subverted. It is pretty by-the-numbers, just modified in order to fit the new age range of characters we’re dealing with. It’s a fun gimmick, but it’s not subversive, deconstructionist, or anything else of the sort.

    I’d have to watch Looper again, but I never got a subversive or deconstructionist angle from that, either. In fact, it feels like pre-Star Wars sci-fi to me. So if anything it’s bringing an old school idea into the modern era.

    I have not watched Knives Out, so I cannot comment on that. What I will say with The Last Jedi is that I recognize the attempts to subvert, but rarely does it actually work from a solid story-telling perspective. Holdo’s actions aren’t the only thing that match the “bad leader is bad” tropes in so many media. It’s the demonstrable fact that her plan isn’t actually working that fits with the trope as well. You aren’t clever just because it turns out your character was “right the whole time” (by what metric?) and then gives the heroic sacrifice. If anything, you’re still playing to tropes, only what would be the redemptive sacrifice isn’t redeeming anything.

    I’m going to sound extremely condescending here, but I wonder if this is what happens when you throw a shallow post-modern style self-aware narrative into a film to a generation of people whose first exposure to film criticism was The Nostalgia Critic. There are a lot of examples of subversion and deconstruction that aren’t trying so hard to wink and nod to the audience, and in fact are still trying to tell a good story. One of my favorites is the trilogy Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, a fantasy series that takes many of the expected tropes of the hero’s journey and Lord of the Rings and “subverts” them by redefining their context. There are “elves”, but they’re not elves. There are dwarves, but they’re not dwarves. The mentor dies before our hero has even started his journey or knows there’s a threat at all.

    Oddly enough, it was a trilogy that helped inspire George R. R. Martin to write A Song of Ice and Fire, where you could “have fantasy for grown-ups” or some such. The irony is that Memory, Sorrow and Thorn is nowhere near as dark or nihilistic and most certainly does not have the sexual content of A Song of Ice and Fire, which leads me to feel that George learned all the wrong lessons of what “fantasy for grown-ups” meant. Regardless, when I think of subversion, Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn comes to mind.

    Somewhere in between those works is the anime Madoka Magica, which starts out as you’d expect a cute little Magical Girl anime would. But then things get dark, nihilistic, and violent. But they don’t become this in a way that’s “edgy”. There’s a lot going on with each character and their own personal psychology, with the post-modern angle being “Isn’t the Magical Girl genre kind of messed up when you think about it?” while simultaneously speaking to deeper questions that drive humanity. It’s an actual story.

    For me, the question is whether The Last Jedi is a story. For me, I was not a fan of Force Awakens, and I was most certainly not a fan of the over-powered nothing character that was Rey. A spoiled brat like Kylo Ren being the manifestation of prequel Anakin as Darth Vader was also the opposite of exciting. However, The Last Jedi managed to make Rey and her interactions with Kylo Ren far more compelling. Luke’s tossing of the lightsaber over his shoulder was effectively my attitude towards Star Wars as a whole. Blue milk aside, I was pretty much invested with that half of the story, even if the whole “Sacred texts!” gag fell flat for me and Kylo Ren reverting to a brat weakened the conclusion. Basically, it was a great story until he said “Now let’s go kill your friends together!” That’s when all of Rian Johnson’s desire to subvert expectations came crashing down. I get what he’s doing. The problem is you can’t tell a good story that way.

    50% of the movie was entertaining, which is more than I can give Force Awakens. I’d rather be entertained 90-100%.

    1. John says:

      One of my favorites is the trilogy Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, a fantasy series that takes many of the expected tropes of the hero’s journey and Lord of the Rings and “subverts” them by redefining their context.

      It’s funny you should say that. I love Memory, Sorrow & Thorn but I’ve never thought of it as subversive. Where it plays with tropes, it mostly plays them straight. The Sithi are at least 80% Tolkien’s elves. Even the Norns aren’t too far removed from Tolkien, as long as you’re familiar with some of the nastier elves from The Silmarillion. The backstory is about 50% fairy stories–the kind with the dangerous fairies–and 50% Arthurian romance. There are a couple of major twists, I’ll grant you, but I’m not sure that twists are automatically subversive.

      1. RamblePak64 says:

        I think that again depends on what we think when we think of something as “subversive”. Yes, Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn is played straight, but a lot of the expectations of the time are still changed or interpreted in a different fashion. Simon’s personality itself is very different from the typical young hero, being a scullion boy that dreams of big things until the big things start happening.

        Basically, look at the first book of Shannara and how rigidly it relies on the Tolkien tropes. It’s your run-of-the-mill Lord of the Rings rip-off. I feel that Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn are fantasy, but they’re not really Tolkienesque. It does feel different, even if it also does so by changing some of what readers had come to expect from Tolkien and his imitators.

        But maybe I’m the one just thinking of subversion inaccurately. I just feel like it doesn’t need to be an obvious wink and a nudge to the audience, nor should its use be celebrated in spite of the story being told.

        1. John says:

          Simon’s personality itself is very different from the typical young hero, being a scullion boy that dreams of big things until the big things start happening.

          I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. Are you saying that Simon isn’t a fairly typical fantasy hero? Because “a scullion boy that dreams of big things until the big things start happening” is fairly typical for a fantasy hero. You’re right, though, in that the story being told is not especially Tolkien-esque. Williams borrows a few things from Tolkien, and more importantly from some of the same sources that inspired Tolkien, but he’s not recapitulating Tolkien.

          1. RamblePak64 says:

            Sorry, I meant that once the actual adventure starts happening he’s in over his head and doesn’t want to actually take part. He’s pretty much roped in, but it doesn’t feel the same as the typical “destined hero” kind of stuff. But I suppose that could be open to debate.

    2. Daimbert says:

      One of my favorites is the trilogy Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, a fantasy series that takes many of the expected tropes of the hero’s journey and Lord of the Rings and “subverts” them by redefining their context. There are “elves”, but they’re not elves. There are dwarves, but they’re not dwarves. The mentor dies before our hero has even started his journey or knows there’s a threat at all.

      I read the first few a while ago, but I don’t think I finished or read the last one. I just noticed that I indeed HAVE the entire trilogy. I should read the whole thing sometime (once I’m finished reading Star Wars books).

      1. John says:

        Good luck. The last one is massive. It’s about four times the length of either of the first two and had to be split in two for paperback release.

        1. Daimbert says:

          I actually read the first part of the last one, not the second.

          Still, reading is one of my main hobbies so while it might take a while I should be able to get through the entire series eventually (it’s been years since I read the other ones).

  40. Brandon says:

    All I can tell you is TLJ and Rise of Skywalker are the only Star Wars movies I will never, ever watch again. Entirely unenjoyable experiences both. What’s funny is RoS was 100% an attempt to appease the fans who didn’t like TLC, but it completely backfired on me.

    1. Biggus Rickus says:

      This is based on commentary I’ve seen, as I haven’t seen The Last Jedi, but they were in kind of a no-win situation. A lot of people didn’t see where the story could really go after TLJ, so a continuation would have probably been as dissatisfying to those people as TLJ was. They instead tried to retell the story practically from the beginning to undo everything TLJ did, again from commentary I’ve seen, which was an even worse decision that pleased almost nobody.

      Personally, I thought The Force Awakens set up a pretty mediocre story in a post-Empire universe that didn’t make any sense. Putting JJ Abrams in charge of the thing probably doomed it from jump.

      1. Sleepyfoo says:

        Yeah, The Force Awakens started the whole thing in a direction that I did think was appropriate. Despite that, TFA felt at least somewhat good, and JJ’s mystery boxes had things in and around them that a good story could have been told with and about.

        TLJ threw all of that away in service of nothing, really. JJ was given an impossible task (reboot the starwars movie franchise without ruining anything) and basically succeeded, at the expense of a retelling of A New Hope and some world building issues.

        Rian Johnson took that foundation that was given to him, tore it to pieces, threw it out, and then asked the audience “are you not entertained?!” instead of following up on any of the many potential plots given to him. He had many possible wins in his situation (and a less herculean task than JJ) and he did none of the things that could possibly have worked.

        1. krellen says:

          Have there ever been satisfying resolutions to an Abrams-style mystery box? (The defining feature of the Abrams style is that not even the boxer knows what’s inside.)

          1. Thomas says:

            If anyone has ever pulled it off, we probably won’t have realised it was a mystery box in the first place.

            ‘Not going to have a good resolution’ feels like a defining feature at this point

          2. Chad Miller says:

            Within this very series, I could swear I’ve read that the two major twists of the OT (“I am your father” and “there is another Skywalker”) were unplanned.

            EDIT: I guess that’s not necessarily an example even if true, though. I suppose one quality of the Mystery Box is that the author gestures at the box and tries to make the audience wonder what’s inside. That’s a bit different from telling a complete story but later pulling out surprises.

            1. MerryWeathers says:

              I suppose one quality of the Mystery Box is that the author gestures at the box and tries to make the audience wonder what’s inside.

              That’s just sounds like a normal mystery, Mystery Boxes really have nothing going for them beyond simply being “stuff the writer doesn’t actually know the answer to”.

          3. Retsam says:

            I mean, there are absolutely stories that raise interesting questions and have satisfying answers to them. IME, people only really start calling them “mystery boxes” when they’re not resolved and/or when Abrams himself is involved.

            To give a specific example, I think the Attack on Titan anime/manga does a really good job feeling like a mystery box, but then actually delivering good answers to the questions that it raises.

            And honestly, I think people overstate the “mystery box”ness of The Force Awakens. Rey has mysterious parentage, and Snoke’s origins and Kylo’s history are unexplained, but that doesn’t really seem like a particularly excessive amount of mystery. Polar Bears and Epileptic Trees, this ain’t.

          4. Syal says:

            Breaking Bad? I read the flash-forward opening shot of Season 5 had no plan behind it at the time, so it’s probably true of the seasons before it as well.

            1. krellen says:

              Probably not the example you want; I detested Breaking Bad Season 5.

  41. Jeff says:

    I didn’t regard Holdo as villainous at all, I perceived her as illogical and grossly incompetent. That impression was repeatedly reinforced and never contradicted. Yes, that includes all the way to the end where Poe mutinies in front of literally the entire Resistance and nobody sides with her.

  42. Falling says:

    Holdo hits all the beats, not just for one who will betray, but also just the run of the mill incompetent ‘by the book’ commander. And I don’t think it’s just ‘film’ commanders eithers. She’s a WWI general. Follow orders or else. Modern military philosophy at least attempts for mission command. But for that, you lower officers need to know your intent. Because Poe wasn’t just a grunt. He was still the highest ranked officer in one branch of the military, yet he not only was he given nothing, but absolutely no one else knew anything (even the bridge crew joined in the mutiny.)

    There’s a great quote from Colin Powell: “Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them.” Holdo signals incompetent commander not just in movie language, but just regular language for real military leadership. There was a great article written by some military commander that analyzed Poe and Holdo with the basic conclusion that both were out of line.

    I actually like the idea of a commander that gives all the outwards signs of being a dunder head and yet actually pulls off some genius move… the problem is execution. Neither her plans nor the Empire’s plans make any sense any way you look at it.

    1. Henson says:

      I actually like the idea of a commander that gives all the outwards signs of being a dunder head and yet actually pulls off some genius move

      Commander Columbo?

      1. Liessa says:

        LOL. I love Columbo, but you know the guy would have to be a nightmare to work for. I seem to recall one episode where he called up one of his sergeants in the middle of the night just to ask some random question about a case.

  43. Nixorbo says:

    I sincerely apologize for the combative tone.

    You sure you’re from around Pittsburgh?

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      It’s close enough to the border that he could be crypto-Canadian.

  44. Nixorbo says:

    This is the best article on TLJ I’ve read and very succinctly puts into words the problem with Holdo.

    A skilled strategist, Vice Admiral Holdo does have one key problem: she does not know how to communicate her plans to subordinates in order to build trust across the chain of command. When Poe and Finn doubt that she even has a plan to save the Resistance […]

    1. Falling says:

      Ah yes, that was the article I was thinking of. I really liked it too.

  45. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

    Matt Corbet had a bit years ago that what Lucas got right in Star Wars was archetype. He compared Star Wars to a Best Of… collection of narrative tropes. It’s great for telling a story, but has problems as soon as you start trying to do detail work. Star Wars can archetype the fall of the Republic, but it has no way to actually describe the politics of the Republic Senate. The best it can do is some handwaving about “emergency powers” which don’t survive much thought.

    The Sequel Trilogy basically suffers the same problem -but worse. The politics of the Republic Senate are the backdrop to the story of Anakin’s Fall -which is still an Arche story. The entirety of the Sequel Trilogy hangs on detail questions: who is Rey? What happened to Finn? What is the Force? What will happen now that the Republic is gone and the Resistance has been wiped out? What is Holdo’s plan? How does the Resistance Military work? How does the First Order track the ships? How much fuel do they have? How close is the nearest planet…

    Star Wars doesn’t handle those questions well, because Star Wars isn’t about answering those questions.

    Now, I think you can answer those questions in a Star Wars story. The books often went into a lot of detail about this. The Mandalorian does, too. But the movies only have 2 hours to work with, and so the story has to stay archetypes and epic.

    In that context, subverting the story is pretty much the worst thing you can do. It results in the audience focusing on questions like “so… what exactly is Poe’s rank in the resistance military structure?” Which is not scrutiny that the Star Wars movies can bear.

    Regarding Poe and Holdo specifically -I really want to like that part of the story (see my above comments about 12 o’Clock High), but ultimately it just didn’t work for me. It didn’t feel fair. I have no real way of assessing who is right or wrong -because the Star Wars movies don’t give that kind of detail -but Poe is our POV character, so I guess we’re following his actions. And then at the end we’re told to disregard all of that, and Holdo was totally in the right. Leia says so.

    It is also not helped that the movie is basically self-contradictory. It is never clear -given what a Dreadnaught can apparently do -why Poe was wrong to take it out at the start. If he’d withdrawn as Leia said, they would have simply been killed at the next planet by the Dreadnaught’s long range firepower. At the end of the movie, when Rose prevents Finn from destroying the battering ram, we’re supposed to somehow see this as similar event and learn that throwing away lives trying to defend the rebellion is a waste -except then the ram breaches the fortification and but for the Force Ex Machina, they all would have died. So… actually, still point Finn and Poe.

    1. Joshua says:

      It is also not helped that the movie is basically self-contradictory. It is never clear -given what a Dreadnaught can apparently do -why Poe was wrong to take it out at the start. If he’d withdrawn as Leia said, they would have simply been killed at the next planet by the Dreadnaught’s long range firepower. At the end of the movie, when Rose prevents Finn from destroying the battering ram, we’re supposed to somehow see this as similar event and learn that throwing away lives trying to defend the rebellion is a waste -except then the ram breaches the fortification and but for the Force Ex Machina, they all would have died. So… actually, still point Finn and Poe.

      This gets into the showing one thing and telling another discussion up above. I’ve just come to the conclusion that Rian is ambitious for what he wants to accomplish with themes and narratives, but he’s way too sloppy to get it right. IMO, there’s a whole lot of reliance on “The details are unimportant!” (Basic Instructions shout-out) and “just go with it”.

  46. The Big Brzezinski says:

    Star Wars isn’t fun for me anymore. That’s the hard truth. I used to like the adventure, the aesthetics, the themes of love overcoming fear. But, something has changed since then. I can’t pin down exactly when it happened. I’m not even sure if it was Star Wars, myself, or both that changed. The earliest clear instance I can recall of this change was walking out of Force Awakens, and not remembering anybody’s names. In conversation on the way home, I called them Starbuck, Boomer, and Athena. Nothing about the movie interacted with me, chemically speaking. I think the strongest reaction I had was a “nyoh gawd” eye-roll in Solo and Cosplaykid’s last scene. Looking back, I think the last bit of Star Wars I really enjoyed was Jedi Academy, and that was because of its gameplay.

    The “conversation” about whatever SW thing is happening feels like a homework assignment. You know the type. You have to write some bit about a book you don’t like and is really overrated in your opinion. You can’t honestly share that opinion, though, or you’ll get a failing grade because you didn’t appreciate the book properly. So you read the book and carefully write what the teacher wants to hear and get your B-. At no point did you enjoy the book as a piece of literature. At no point are you having fun. You’re just glad you’ve paid your due time and attention, and can now go back to reading something you DO enjoy.

    I could talk about character archetypes. I could talk about the differences in a formal military and an ad hoc irregular force. I could talk about the social sciences and why fascist regimes come about in the first place. I could talk about asymmetric warfare and link that lovely article Robert Rath wrote in 2013 about the Battle of Hoth for the Escapist. I won’t enjoy doing any of these, though. It would just be work. The things I want in return from Star Wars aren’t on offer.

    I’m too old for homework. I’ve learned enough to form my own opinions, and I’ve experienced enough to have confidence in them without fishing for external validation. I don’t need the Jedi Masters or Sith Lords of the internet to tell me the correct way to feel about the Force. I have found my own way, thanks. If there’s anything of lasting value people can take away from these movies, it’s the importance of doing just that.

    1. etheric42 says:

      Well said.

      Do you think if you were to watch the original movies now with fresh eyes you’d feel the same way?

      1. Syal says:

        Tangentially: I rewatched the OT recently, and was surprised at how slow those movies move. I always thought of Tatooine as “that planet they start on before they get a ride from Han,” Hoth as “the ice planet that gets attacked”, but it turns out Hoth gets half an hour, Tatooine gets forty-five minutes, maybe longer. The OT takes its time.

        I think that’s probably what makes it work; they spend a lot of time letting the weird stuff become mundane.

      2. The Big Brzezinski says:

        Probably, assume there wasn’t some dumbass presenter making comments in between scenes. Moviebob’s “Really That Good” video on the original Star Wars movie was worth watching. I think I liked it more because Bob focused on its identity, impact, and craftsmanship as a movie. I’d probably me more up for watching that again. That or Space Balls.

  47. Joshua says:

    I’d like to say something completely controversial here. Yeah, I didn’t TLJ, but I also didn’t care much for Rogue One, and I watched only three episodes of The Mandalorian while scratching my head and wondering what all the fuss was about before abandoning the series.

    1. John says:

      The Mandalorian is decent enough. It’s not super Star Wars-y, but it does have some fun genre exercises set in the Star Wars universe. Sometimes it’s a Western. Sometimes it’s a heist movie. It occasionally tiptoes towards horror. It’s not great art, and there’s not much in the way of character arcs, but it looks pretty and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen of it. I’m not entirely sold on the second season, mostly because I’d prefer that it do its own thing rather than get tangled up with The Clone Wars and Rebels the way it seems bent on doing as of the third episode.

      1. GargaLeNoir says:

        I disagree, I think it works because it’s incredibly Star Wars-y. Star Wars a sci-fi spin on old adventure serials, full of tropes and adventure. The Mandalorian is more Star Wars to me than the prequels and the sequels.

    2. Radkatsu says:

      The reason so many people seem to like the Mandalorian is simply that Star Wars is such utter trash now that even a mediocre show feels like something amazing in comparison. If you’ve been starving for days, a simple loaf of bread will be the best thing you’ve ever tasted. It’s like that for the Mandalorian as well.

      1. Gargamel Le Noir says:

        No no, lots of people including me genuinely love The Mandalorian on its own merit. Just because you don’t click as much with it doesn’t mean we’re all “starved”.

  48. Ben says:

    I think the problem with The Last Jedi (and the problem with the discussion around it) is that it’s a good movie, but a bad Star Wars movie. Imagine if Knives Out was the eight installment of “The Thrombey Chronicles” a wildly popular action/mystery series about the adventures of Harlan Thrombey and his housekeeper Fran as they solve crimes with the help of the not-at-all dysfunctional Thrombey family. The tropes that are being deconstructed aren’t abstract concepts, they are specific already existing examples that fans have an emotional investment in, and in a lot of cases they are retconned to begin with to that they can be deconstructed. This is a big part of why the discussion is so contentious: people are arguing past each other rather than arguing with each other.

    With that said, I have some thoughts. I find it most useful to think of The Last Jedi as three different stories, because they are largely separate from each other and have different strengths and flaws. Storyline 1 is the Rey/Luke/Kylo storyline. I consider this to be the strongest part of the movie. Rey gets to go through some familiar Force-training experiences but with some cool twists unique to her. She goes through two potential mentors only to eventually realize that she can just do it herself, which is a neat diversion from the norm. Kylo gets some much-needed character development and backstory explanations, and then has a great redemption arc refusal that is a great example of how deconstructing a trope in an established property should work. The specific scene where he kills Snoke failed in its execution in my opinion, but the concept was strong. Unfortunately, the next film goes back to a standard redemption arc, so we don’t get to see a properly functioning Sith succession after all. Luke also gets some important backstory reveals, and in an arc that was wonderfully nostalgic as a Legends EU fan, causes most of his own problems by only existing at the “0” and “100” levels of impulsiveness and nowhere in between, and when finally shaken out of his funk he does cool things with the Force to save the day.

    Storyline 2 is the Finn/Rose plotline. Finn’s previous character arc was about breaking free of the establishment and taking a stand based on what he felt was right, so it makes sense for him to try to deal with a problem himself rather than hope the system works. Because movies work better when people can talk to each other, he needs a companion, and Rose similarly works well. She has useful skills and knowledge, and a reasonable excuse to want to go do SOMETHING, even if it might not be the best decision. There’s even a tie-in to established lore and the larger universe as they contact Maz. The fact that they go to an entirely new planet isn’t a problem by itself, but in the context of the rest of the film is disappointing. Then everything falls apart when we get to the arms dealers and DJ. I think the point of this was to establish that the galaxy is a terrible place full of terrible people, but Star Wars already has that sense and we didn’t need more of it. This also destroys Maz’s reputation as a judge of character. Ultimately the entire plot has no more relevance than explaining why Finn wasn’t doing anything else, makes multiple characters seem incompetent, and just brings down the tone of the entire film. Then at the end, in a movie that is supposed to be about deconstructing tropes, Rose falls in love with Finn. And then nonsensically stops him from risking his life to complete a goal that they were both already voluntarily risking their lives to complete.

    Storyline 3 is the Poe/Holdo arc. This is the main storyline of the film, and it starts mediocre and gets worse. We begin with the premise that the First Order now rules the galaxy (except later on the existence of the arms dealers in Finn’s story imply that they don’t? This is poorly explained) despite their crushing defeat several weeks ago, at which time they were a minor power on the galactic fringe. This is a massive dose of story collapse right off the bat. Also, the Resistance is nearly wiped out and no one will talk to them. which is a significant retcon of the general average personality of the galaxy. Then there’s a hot mess of changes to the physics of how hyperspace travel works. I’m not going into too much detail here, because I’m primarily a Legends fan and I don’t know how much stayed canon, but I feel fairly confident that “hyperspace travel takes time” and “you enter hyperspace in the direction you will be traveling” are facts that carried over and both of those premises are ignored here (and then utterly trashed in the opening of the next movie).
    At some point since the last film (again, seemingly only a few weeks ago) Poe has become massively overconfident and disrespectful of the Resistance leadership, despite theoretically being part of that leadership. There have been some much better discussions about military communication in other comments, but I would like to add in addition to those discussions that the Resistance is a volunteer military, so communication and respect is even more important. Holdo refuses to discuss her plan with anyone, despite the fact that her plan hinges around a massive logistics exercise involving literally everyone and everything in the Resistance over a very short period of time, and so is impossible to keep secret. These two characters suddenly acting so pointlessly antagonistic makes the entire conflict seem like an artificial construct that exists solely to create drama.
    Then we finish this storyline off with the infamous Holdo maneuver. It would be one thing if this was a crazy maneuver executed by Han Solo (an established expert pilot) in the Millennium Falcon (an established rule-breaking ship), but this is Holdo (with no established piloting expertise at all) in a perfectly normal freighter with no crew. Instead, Star Wars is now a setting where anyone with a hyperdrive can blow up anything they want. The next film will attempt to retcon this by calling it a one-in-a-million maneuver, which solves that problem but then means that Holdo is doing the exact thing she criticizes Poe over by risking everyone’s lives on a long-odds gamble.
    The only saving grace of this plotline in my opinion is that we actually get to see Leia use the Force, and the plotline ends before the movie does so it’s not dragging down the conclusion.

    I have now spent more time writing about The Last Jedi than I spent watching it, so it definitely made an impression even if that impression was bad. Thank you for this opportunity to write out these thoughts, it felt very cathartic.

    1. Henson says:

      I’m not sure I would call TLJ a ‘good’ movie when divorced from the Star Wars franchise, but I think your analysis here is largely on point, especially on the strength of each respective character storyline. My own contention I’ve had since watching the film is more basic, in that the film’s main problem is that it is part of a trilogy, especially the middle of a trilogy, and not its own self-contained side story. The movie ignores or retcons much of what came in the previous movie, and (aside from Kylo) doesn’t leave us anywhere to go for the final one.

    2. Steve C says:

      Nah. It breaks too many established literary conventions willy-nilly to be a good story. Imagine the narrative completely devoid of Star Wars and it still doesn’t work. I’d argue the Star Wars stuff is propping it up. Breaking is not the same as deconstruction. Deconstruction is something different and not what this movie did. The last 10 mins of this video gives an example of what a deconstruction would look like. And the rest of the video describes what the literary conventions are, and why they are important to have in a story- any story.

    3. Daimbert says:

      I think the problem with The Last Jedi (and the problem with the discussion around it) is that it’s a good movie, but a bad Star Wars movie.

      I think that the issue is actually the other way around: it at least potentially does interesting things for the Star Wars universe, but isn’t done well as a movie. Most of the people who like TLJ seem to like it because it does interesting things with the Star Wars universe, by subverting tropes and expectations or raising issues — even political ones — that the other movies tended to ignore. The problem is that the movie doesn’t pull them off properly. The Holdo/Poe one is the most obvious, but all of the others suffer from not being developed properly and from the ambiguity that the entire movie suffers from. If you read between the lines, you can get some of the intents of the plotlines and character arcs, but that just means that the debates boil down to whether or not you read between the lines or don’t.

      To be a good movie, it would have had to have been clear on what it was trying to do, and it isn’t.

      1. Syal says:

        I agree with this. I liked TLJ because it’s taking the Star Wars tropes and giving them new results, and it’s got some cool visual moments, and I’m willing to unfocus my eyes enough to blur away the cracks and just appreciate the overarch.

      2. Falling says:

        Yeah, divorced from Star Wars, I don’t think people would give it a pass. For long chase scenes, Battlestar Galactica’s 33 did it far better (claustrophobic tension, no bop in and out of the chase to pick up extra passengers).

        The Finn/ Rose plotline is goofy. Even just taking DJ- plot contrivances up the wazzoo to get him to join the party (just sitting around when he could escape at any time) and the worst of it by character motivation he ought to have bogged off after escaping. If he’s a callus opportunist, why would he risk his neck to creep around the space Nazis headquarters? And for people that can’t pay him, lacking in enough funds to pay for a parking ticket. As a wise man once said, “sounds like suicide to me.” And “what good is money if you ain’t around to spend it.” Han turned out to be a rogue with a heart of gold, which gives even more cause to his actions. But if the rogue with his mindset on gold is… just a rogue with his mind set on gold, he would make more life-preserving decisions.

    4. DeadlyDark says:

      It’s an aside note, so doesn’t really matter

      I’m starting to have a problem with the phrase “It’s a good game/movie, but it’s a bad X game / movie”. Feels disingenuous and examples of this phrase being used, didn’t hold up for me.

      E.g., I finally tried Splinter Cell Conviction in spring, tried to forget previous installments and just to have fun action game. Instead I found it quite boring action game with anemic AI (who swears a lot and also screams Fisher’s name a lot). The only redeeming quality is the visuals (actually, one of the best looking games ever, at times).

      P.S. And just to confuse myself, I’ve just came up with “Aliens is a good movie, it’s just a bad Alien movie”, and I’m not sure if I can argue against it

      1. Mousazz says:

        I liked Splinter Cell Conviction’s primary action stealth gameplay, while simultaneously disliking its single-player level design. The game really shines on the co-op missions (except the last one), even when played solo. I would love to see more games copy the Conviction style of action stealth.

        Likewise, I wasn’t too impressed by the visuals. The greyscale is somewhat inconsistently applied, and is just more boring to look at than a 3D environment full of color.

        Is it a good game? Ehh… Not really. The story is laughable, while also being focused on too much in gameplay via unskippable cutscenes. The sound design and music are serviceable, but are drowned out by all the sailors swearing at Fisher.

    5. Joshua says:

      Despite my issues with it, I do think that Knives Out works much better than TLJ. One, it’s its own unique story instead of someone else’s playground, like you said. Two, narrative contrivance is much more accepted in the Whodunnit/Mystery genre than science fiction and fantasy.

  49. Misamoto says:

    I find that sequel trilogy are all sorta decent films and that’s sad, because the universe that’s loved by so many people deserves so much more than just decent.

  50. darth joe says:

    TLJ doesn’t seem to sit right with really anybody I’ve met face to face. Only on the internet do I ever see an opinion that says its good. If it wasn’t a Star Wars movie nobody would’ve talked about it for more than 24 hours after seeing it. Its just a bad unfocused mess. Characters don’t have meaningful arcs (except Kylo) and there are far too many diverging subplots involving far too many characters (who are all humans, bleh) to give anybody time for anything other than banter. Said banter is full of callbacks delivered with the subtly and respect of the KAHN name drop in the star trek reboot. Inject really awful forced humor into the otherwise “serious” scenes and its a recipe for something to sit through rather than watch.

    So many missed opportunities for character development and worldbuilding sit against a backdrop of ruining old star wars, just for the sake of it. Its fine to “subvert” tropes or established franchises, nothing wrong with that. But you can’t just slap down the ol’ uno reverse card each and every time and expect that to be a replacement for passable writing. I can subvert thanksgiving turkey by stuffing it with chocolate and serving it with whipped cream as gravy but it doesn’t mean I’m a smart chef. If somebody said my meal tasted like garbage and got “you have to understand this guy subverts normal cooking” as a response nobody would take it seriously.

  51. AlecW says:

    It’s possible I would have enjoyed the movie also if 1) it was from the “Wars in the Stars” series instead. 2) it wasn’t the middle part of a trilogy with a totally different creative vision and 3) then director didn’t take the liberty to rewrite and retcon established characters totally without any in-text justification.
    You can ask me to judge the movie without context and to try and enjoy what the director was trying to do, but it’s really not my job as a movie goer.

    But I can also differentiate between not liking what they did with STAR WARS and what I didn’t like about the movie taken by itself.

    I like what Johnson does elsewhere. This just didn’t work on even it’s own merits as the characters were both externallyincoherent and internally inconsistent. I like realistic command military depictions. But that’s not appropriate here since the rebel alliance isn’t a major military force anymore. It’s one damn ship plus a few stragglers and politically it didn’t make sense for Holdo to assert authority she hasn’t earned on screen. So she seemed inept, overcompensating and tone deaf rather than strong and strict. She didn’t seem villanous, just an inept antagonist. This is Johnson’s fault as a writer not Holdo’s.
    There are similar character problems with Rey, Rose, Luke, etc.
    That’s why the movie sucked, not just the politics. Johnson didn’t do a good Johnson. He didn’t succeed even on his own terms.

  52. jurgenaut says:

    My biggest beef with TLJ is that Ryan Johnson let his urges to subvert expectations override the needs of the story. The running plot threads that were supposed to tie into SW9 were snipped off for laughs.

    Johnson’s setup for SW9 was a 5 second snippet of a child using the force – which might have worked if they had a 10 year time skip and Rey reestablishing the Jedi Order during that time. But that would have made more sense at the end of a movie series, to set up for the next trilogy.

    No wonder JJ Abrams had to dig up the animated corpse of Palpatine just to have a story to tell. What a shit sandwhich to leave for someone else to handle.

    1. Falling says:

      I thought about what sort of story could be told as follow up to TLJ and the best I could come up with is just skip ahead 40 years. The Empire had clearly won (The Resistance was reduced to one freighter and a dozen people in the entire galaxy) and they needed to wait until Space Stalin died and Galactic Gorbachev began weakening the Empire with his reforms before a new rebellion could have a new chance. That’s how thoroughly I thought they were trounced despite the upbeat ending.

  53. Redrock says:

    So there’s a lot that I really, really dislike about The Last Jedi, but I think what bothers me most is that the movie seemed to fix something that was never broken in a very specific segment of the lore. Or at least that seemed to be a very popular reading for a while that never quite made sense to me. So, in the epilogue, there’s this kid that seems to have a connection to the Force – the one with the broom. I saw a lot of critics make a big deal out of this, how this scene indicates a new approach, a democratization of the Force, the move away from it being monopolized by just a couple of powerful families or something like that. Which was baffling to me. The canon has tons of Jedi of all stripes and backgrounds. The Clone Wars era is overstuffed with Jedi, and Rebels show more than a few post-Purge Jedi characters, and great characters at that. At least some people have been building up a weird narrative of the Star Wars universe revolving around the Skywalker clan, which, while true in a narrative sense, had never been true in the lore sense. So the idea that Ryan Johnson somehow ‘fixed’ Star Wars always rubbed me the wrong way. Also, the magical evil cloaka on Luke’s planet was, is and will forever be infinitely stupid.

    That said, I really like most of Johnson’s work. I have a particular, if irrational, fondness for Brick, but Looper is also pretty cool. Knives Out, though, doesn’t really work for me. It’s politics and symbolism are a bit too on the nose, and that overshadows whatever cleverness exists in other parts of the movie. The idea of a character that is, well, inherently moral down to biological reactions, seems to be a bit too much.

    1. John says:

      At least some people have been building up a weird narrative of the Star Wars universe revolving around the Skywalker clan, which, while true in a narrative sense, had never been true in the lore sense.

      I think that for the majority of people Star Wars is just the movies. Those people are probably aware that various spinoffs exist, but they aren’t familiar with all of the lore from the spinoffs. Having watched the prequels, they know that there used to be a lot of Jedi, but even in the prequels the only Jedi who really matter (to the plot, at least) are those connected to a Skywalker in some way.

      1. Lino says:

        I’ve talked to a lot of fans with different levels of knowledge about various SW media. A lot of them have only seen the movies. This is literally the first time I’ve heard someone make this observation. The Force has never been a monopoly of the Skywalkers. The only reason people with a connection to the Force are all people somehow related to the Skywalkers is because all of the other Jedi are dead. And anyone exibiting any kind of Force sensitivity is hunted down by the Empire.

        1. krellen says:

          I just want to point out two lines from the OT that do, in fact, suggest the Force – at least its future as envisioned by the Jedi – are tied to the Skywalkers:
          “There goes our last hope.”
          and
          “The Force is strong in my family. My father had it. I have it. My sister has it.” (coupled with Yoda’s “No, there is another” response to the above.)

          The OT really heavily implied that the future of the Force was tied to the Skywalkers specifically.

          1. Lino says:

            Again, I think that’s more owing to the fact that they are the last surviving Force users who have knowledge of the Force. The only others are Yoda, Obi-Wan and Palpatine – extremely old dudes, who are basically way way past their prime. So it makes sense that the only young survivors would be the ones to pass on the knowledge of the Force. There’s physically no one else left.

            1. krellen says:

              The part about “strong in my family” makes it pretty explicitly not about “just the last survivors”.

    2. MerryWeathers says:

      I interpreted the ending scene as word of Luke’s actions on Crait spreading across the galaxy and giving the people hope again to rise against the First Order. Broom Boy is supposed to represent those people.

      The canon has tons of Jedi of all stripes and backgrounds. The Clone Wars era is overstuffed with Jedi, and Rebels show more than a few post-Purge Jedi characters, and great characters at that.

      To be fair, they all either inevitably die or get shoved aside to make way for the Skywalkers.

      1. Daimbert says:

        Don’t they explicitly show him using the Force? That would work against that interpretation, since showing him using the Force would clearly imply more reigniting the Force than a mere populist uprising.

        1. MerryWeathers says:

          Anyone can use the Force, tying into how Rey can be powerful in the Force without being related to an important family like the Skywalkers (before TROS jettisoned that theme) but I interpreted the main point of the scene where the kids are listening in awe to the story of Luke on Crait before Broom Boy goes outside and looks at the stars while wearing the rebel alliance ring as Luke having succeeded in becoming the spark of hope.

          1. Redrock says:

            Like I said, it’s not that much about what’s in the scene as what a number of people made it out to be. God knows what Johnson intended, although, given the themes of Knives Out, the “democratization of the Force” narrative seems to be something he’d be into.

            But, I must stress, a lot of my frustration with the sequel trilogy comes from it ignoring the Clone Wars and Rebels series, even thought they are some of the few things that are still officially canon. Ahsoka is a powerful Jedi (sorry, Force user) with no relation to the Skywalkers or Palpatine. Kanan Jarrus, while no Yoda, is pretty strong in the Force. No to mention, there are always Dark Jedi and Inquisitors running around in either continuity.

            What I’m getting at is – the whole hubbub about The Kid being a nobody with the Force or Rey being a nobody with the Force doesn’t really make sense – it’s always been that way. We’ve seen plenty of non-Skywalker Jedi protagonists.

            1. Retsam says:

              It’s not like you need Clone Wars or Rebels to know that the Skywalker don’t have a monopoly on force power – I mean, the prequels had an entire council of powerful force users who weren’t named “Skywalker”.

              So yeah, I find it kind of strange that people sometimes talk as if The Last Jedi invented the idea of “anyone can be Spider-Man use the Force”. It’s definitely a theme of the movie (well… is two points enough for a “theme”?), but it’s not as revolutionary as some make it out to be.

            2. John says:

              I would prefer that the rest of Star Wars continue to ignore The Clone Wars and Rebels. I do not want to have to have watched shows A and B in order to understand what is going on in largely unrelated show C.

            3. Parkhorse says:

              “Rey being a nobody with the Force doesn’t really make sense”

              And then TROS goes back and decides, “nope, she’s a Palpatine,” making TLJ retroactively worse.

            4. MerryWeathers says:

              But, I must stress, a lot of my frustration with the sequel trilogy comes from it ignoring the Clone Wars and Rebels series, even thought they are some of the few things that are still officially canon. Ahsoka is a powerful Jedi (sorry, Force user) with no relation to the Skywalkers or Palpatine. Kanan Jarrus, while no Yoda, is pretty strong in the Force. No to mention, there are always Dark Jedi and Inquisitors running around in either continuity.

              The events of those shows happen 53-39 years before the ST, it’s understandable why the movies won’t directly reference them since they’re set in the distant past. That said, Ahsoka and Kanan do make voice cameos in TROS.

          2. Daimbert says:

            This would mean that, say, Han and Lando could have been trained as Jedi and may well have used the Force unconsciously to do things in their crucial moments. This so contradicts everything that we previously knew that it would need far more explanation than Broom Boy and Rey not being part of an important family. The thing is, no one really thought that Force power was limited only to powerful or important families, but did note that some people had specific talents for the Force and so not everyone could use it and be at all effective. Thus, not all people — and, in fact, most people, given the reverence for the Jedi — could do what Broom Boy, untrained, did. So it seems more reasonable to interpret him as a rising of the Force than of a democratization of it, giving it to absolutely everyone.

            1. MerryWeathers says:

              Ah, I apologize, should have worded it better. What I meant to say was “a force user can from anywhere” (though people originally thought anyone was capable of using the Force, some people did already have an aptitude for it like Luke, but it required in depth training before the PT came along and made midichlorians a thing).

              I do agree with you, I don’t think it’s a big deal and I don’t believe the film is making it out to be, it’s just a little moment to tie into Rey being a powerful force sensitive without being related to someone important in the SW universe.

    3. Thomas says:

      I agree with this so much. I was reading all the commentary about ‘This gets Star Wars away from endless tales of Skywalkers’ but I was suprised to learn that people had though Star Wars had to be about Skywalkers. If the trilogy had started with new Jedi I wouldn’t have blinked.

      Maybe it’s because Star Wars means different things to different people. JJ clearly did believe the Skywalker part was essential, and so many people have a very strong attachment to Luke.

      But Knights of the Old Republic is my Star Wars, so it never occurred to me that Star Wars is about one family. And I played a ton of Jedi Power Battle and Battlefront 2, so Kitt Fisto and Ayla Secura feel as legitimate as Jedi as everyone else, and they’re _definitely_ not Skywalker’s.

  54. Brendan says:

    Fantastic analysis, Shamus, I haven’t seen the movie myself, and I was never able to figure out if Holdo was in the right, just based on fan reactions.

    What I took away from your analysis was, that was really the wrong question to be asking.

  55. Jabrwock says:

    “I sincerely apologize for the combative tone.”

    Don’t need to apologize. You’re setting clear expectations for the discussion to follow. This is the way.

    There how the best open discussions go. It gives the “guide” a way to steer the conversation back to the topic when it gets tangled in the weeds, without reasonable participants feeling blindsided by sudden rules being enforced. The river’s shores are clearly defined, and we will all ride this out together.

  56. d2factotum says:

    My main issue with TLJ didn’t have anything to do with Holdo or Poe or whatever. As far as I’m concerned, the main crime TLJ committed as a Star Wars movie was to be…boring. Instead of the fast-paced battles we see in other Star Wars movies, we have the universes’ slowest bombers attempting to take out the First Order battleship at the start, then a horrendously long and slow chase scene (which included shots that arc in space–I mean, we’re talking about a movie with space wizards in it, I understand that, but that just gives them licence to break the laws of physics in ways that are cool, not that just don’t make any sense).
    If the battles had felt like Star Wars battles then a bit of clunky acting or illogical plot would be forgivable–heck, this is Star Wars we’re talking about, not War and Peace.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      “Star Wars and Star Pieces” does have a nice ring to it.

    2. Lino says:

      Actually, this is a big reason why I don’t like the new movies. And it’s not just about the big battles, either. In this entire trilogy we didn’t get even one halfway decent lightsaber fight!

      1. Mousazz says:

        Ehh… The lightsaber battle at the end of The Force Awakens is still better than that atrocious “duel” between Ben and Vader in A New Hope.
        Doesn’t hold up ito the Vader vs. Luke battles in the other two OT films, though.

  57. Topher Corbett says:

    I hope you realize this was a huge mistake already. It seems like you did but then you fell back on telling people that they’re too dumb to understand the concept of playing with genre conventions or recognize tropes.

    The problem with Holdo is not that she “subverts audience expectations.” That would be something else. The problem is that the director is being as deliberately insulting to the audience as possible, and the events that take place later don’t provide a satisfying payoff that justifies it.

    If Holdo acted in all other ways like a dedicated military officer, like you’re saying, then dressing down a subordinate and acting like a real military officer would make sense. But she doesn’t look, sound, or act like a military officer. She doesn’t wear a uniform (even Leia wears a uniform when issuing orders in ESB,) she has fluorescent pink hair and a fancy dress. She doesn’t bark commands or talk sternly to Poe like a military officer, she acts like a catty, snooty high school girl trying to play mind games. She’s not coded as a hardass, she’s coded as annoying, irritating, and passive aggressive.
    And there is still no good reason given on-screen for why she couldn’t just tell her crew the plan. At the very least everyone on the bridge would need to know anyway in order to pilot the ship and coordinate the fleet to get to the salt planet. People say “Oh because Poe blabbed the plan to DJ which led to…” etc. etc. but Poe wouldn’t have done that in the first place if he felt like he had a commanding officer he could trust. (There’s also the matter of it happening because Finn and Rose are written as complete idiots who get put in jail over a parking violation, but that’s another story.)
    And there’s NO REASON why DJ’s defection is even necessary! The First Order could just look at the evacuation ships and blow them up, they’re RIGHT THERE in plain sight! Leia’s/Holdo’s plan doesn’t work ANYWAY!

    1. ChrisANG says:

      This is basically why I find TLJ interesting (and frustrating): I’m super confused by what Johnson was trying to accomplish, *especially* with the Holdo/Poe stuff.

      It seems framed like there’s supposed to be good points on both sides, but if you try to look at it from that point of view the whole scenario collapses. It would be one thing if the script acknowledged this, but it really doesn’t seem to.

      (One key point about Holdo’s plan, though, is that the evacuation shuttles are cloaked, so she does have some reason to think that they’ll be able to use them to escape. HOWEVER, the script undermines this by revealing that the First Order actually had the ability to see the shuttles all along, and then undermines THAT by showing that they weren’t using those scanners until they were tipped off. Holdo is ALSO depending on being able to sneak every living member of the resistance out from under the noses of TWO force sensitives, which doesn’t seem like it could possibly work… but that’s not the reason why the plan fails. Like I said, I’m super confused by what Johnson was trying to accomplish).

      1. Falling says:

        It really seemed like he had the story beats in his head- cool moments, cinematic shots, subverting expectations, but didn’t really look at how any of them fit together as a cohesive whole. I can’t mindread, so I don’t know what he was thinking. But I do know very few of his pieces actually fit together in any meaningful sense. This is why I always say nevermind how it works as a sequel to TLJ or the OT, it doesn’t even work as a standalone film. It looks pretty, but it’s far too incoherent and contradictory. Not all subversion is created equal. If my modern romance suddenly turns into a time travelling evil clown in SPACE which then turns into a story about talking mice, which then turns into a film a Kung Fu film in the 1800s, my expectations are subverted alright. But unless it was a comedy, it’s unlikely to be a good dramatic film

  58. Galad_t says:

    Well, not that anyone cares, but I’ll say I hated TLJ – probably for the wrong reasons, but still. An unfocused mess, someone called it above, and that sounded right. “WW2 Bombers in space”, The pointless kiss scene between Rose and Finn, and worst of all, Leia’s Disney(TM) floating in space crap. The original trilogy never made me exclaim incredulously “what?”, haven’t watched the prequels. The legacy of the Last Jedi ought to be that Disney never makes another Star Wars movie, but that’s just my narrow view point

    That being said, I’m grateful for today’s column, because the comments led me to watching Knives Out, and I loved it. Having watched/read very few murder mysteries, I enjoyed its atmosphere, and sensed all throughout the movie that not all will be as it seems. The final “puke scene” was most enjoyable.

    1. Daimbert says:

      Knives Out is in my stack of movies to watch, but after all the discussions of it here I think I’ll wait a while to forget some of the things I’ve seen here to see if it really works to lay all of those things out as the movie progresses.

    2. Olivier FAURE says:

      Seconded. This article made me want to watch Knives Out and oh boy did I not regret it. There were a lot of clever moments in that movie.

      There are a few problems (this is not what a morphine overdose would look like, and also the family’s toxicity was a little on the nose at times), but overall I really loved how the movie came together.

  59. Gndwyn says:

    I agree with most of the criticisms of Last Jedi, but I still enjoyed the movie because I though it had some great stuff in it along with the problems. Some of my favorite parts are:

    1. The throne room scene. It is so rare in a movie to get a portrayal of “psychic combat” that that relies on dialogue and character rather than posing, grunting, grimacing, and FX. Kylo feels Snoke in his mind and feeds him exactly what Snoke craves: Kylo’s purest Dark intention to turn his saber and strike down his enemy. He gets Snoke salivating for it so much it’s all he can pay attention to. And then Kylo gives it to him.

    2. The white/red salt is such a beautiful visual idea that I’d never seen before and it is used so well. You have the crazy but convincing monoski stabilizers on those rickety ships leaving gorgeous trails. You have the clue about what Luke’s up to when he leaves no footprints. And then when Luke walks out to stand before the enemy like Space Jesus and Kylo tries to just obliterate him with overkill, it leaves this horrible red splatter like an enormous bloodstain (when, of course, there is no blood).

    3. And I loved Luke’s plan. After Rey and Kylo show us that mastering the Force is all about being a badass stabbing, slicing and killing your enemies with your best lightsaber moves (and it’s kind of horrible–Rey is fighting for her life, but this is the first time she’s ever killed someone with a lightsaber), Luke shows up and saves the Resistance without killing or even harming a single person, or compromising his vow not to leave his refuge.

    4. The part where Kylo Ren targets the part of the ship he Force-knows his mom is in, but can’t do it. But then his wingman (apparently) kills her instead! It ultimately didn’t lead to much because Leia survived, but at the moment I was floored. Wow. How much is that going to screw him and in what direction?

    5. The Holdo Maneuver. That shot when her ship carving a path through the Star Destroyer is one of the most stunningly beautiful sci-fi FX scenes (not least because of what they did with the sound) I’ve ever seen in a theater. For me, that moment was worth whatever pretzel logic about hyperspace blah blah you need to justify it.

    And yeah, there are story problems with or caused by most of these bits, but I enjoyed them more than I was bothered by the story.

  60. Decius says:

    You say Holdo wasn’t a villain, but at the very first opportunity she rendered a large sector of the Galaxy uninhabitable with light speed debris.

    Or, if there isn’t a major catastrophe that results from light speed ramming, every military operation that the rebellion and resistance and most of those that the republic and empire and first order participated in was by complete idiots, and the weapons dealers who didn’t provide light speed missiles as a matter of course are heroes who limited war more extensively than anyone else.

    Death Star? Why lose several fighters in a low-probability attack when ramming with one would put a hole through it.

    Trade federation blockade? Oh, they’re using command ships. Jump to light speed, end them.

    1. krellen says:

      Y’all grossly overestimate people’s willingness to die for their cause. The reason the Holdo Manoeuvre isn’t common place is the same reason kamikaze was rare and shocking – it is a soldier’s job to make the other guy die for his cause, not to die for the cause themselves.

      1. Retsam says:

        While this is true, I think it misses the point that, if this is possible and effective, surely someone would find a non-suicidal way to weaponize it.

        Half the reason Kamikaze is so unique is that it was in a relatively small technological gap where flight was possible, but a human was a necessary component. Nowadays Kamikaze wouldn’t even be a viable technique compared to more conventional options like missiles.

        And doomed last stands are still a thing that happens, particularly in stories like Star Wars. Yeah, a soldier isn’t eager to die for the cause, but if you’re going to die anyway, you’re going to try to take them with you.

        1. wswordsmen says:

          One you’re right about the window for kamikaze being viable is small but the logic behind it is interesting and I want to share.

          Kamikaze while a desperate tactic was actually more cost effective in term of planes and lives than non-kamikaze attacks in late WWII. By 1944 American air defense, and lackluster Japanese training programs, meant that a small minority of the planes launched against the American fleets would get to use their weapons. Calculate in the low hit rate and the number of planes the Japanese needed per hit becomes a bit scary (my source says over 20 to 1). Meanwhile a kamikaze attack the number drops to about half. Now you say what about the survivors surely the idea that you can launch multiple attacks with the same plane/pilot is worth something…. The Americans combat air patrol was historically able to shoot down over half the Japanese planes launched against them, so the math doesn’t change that much when you factor in reuse.

          Source

          1. Decius says:

            The major problem with suicide pilots is that they don’t ever get more experienced.

            If 95% of each flight of pilots is killed, one in 3.2 million pilots becomes an ace with five sorties, who can be retired to school to improve training so that 6%of pilots come back.

      2. Lino says:

        Why does it have to be a person piloting the ship? Don’t forget how commonplace droids are, and how many complex tasks they accomplish. Even as far back as Episode I, and before that, if you include the EU. And “Drive ship i to enemy” is quite a simple task, all things considered.

        1. eaglewingz says:

          #DroidsArePeopleToo

      3. Decius says:

        So why aren’t lightspeed drives put on missiles by the hundreds? It can’t possibly be more expensive to put a drive on a missile than build an X-wing.

        1. krellen says:

          Because hyperspace travel can’t be automated?

          1. Retsam says:

            Why not? Has this ever been established in universe, or is this just fanon to justify the Holdo Maneuver?

            And again… droids. Maybe you can argue that the value of droid “life” is so high in Star Wars that it’s just as unthinkable as human self-sacrifice, but given what we see of how droids are treated… I rather doubt it.

            1. krellen says:

              I find the obsession with mass destruction that so often arises when the “Holdo Manoeuvre” comes up to be incredibly off-putting and distasteful, frankly. The Death Star was a weapon of terror, and horrible – but it destroys entire planets. So obviously everyone should be building Death Stars and destroying planets, even the good guys.

              1. wswordsmen says:

                Not every faction with a military has the resources to build a DS. Every faction with a military and a number without them have the ability to acquire large numbers of hyperdrives. While it is presumably an open question in-universe if the DS was worth the resources poured into it, it isn’t because it is too powerful, it is because it is putting so many eggs in one basket.

                IRL what stops all countries from developing nukes isn’t not wanting them or them being to destructive to use. It is that they are one hard to make and two if you try but don’t succeed it is likely to make the country isolated diplomatically that is in an even worse spot, if they do succeed then it still doesn’t guarantee there won’t be massive costs in other ways. No weapon in the history of humanity was ever not gone after because it was too destructive, when a weapon is deemed not worth doing it is because a combination of inability to control it (Bioweapons), logistical problems (really big guns), physical infeasibility (proposed systems with design requirements that can’t be met), cost ineffectiveness (Rods of God) or some combination of them.

              2. Falling says:

                I don’t think that’s the right comparison. Death Star’s are weapons of mass destruction against civilian populations. Hyperspace jumping is a very efficient way of taking out military ships. (Although pirates and terrorists should’ve figured this one out too. Put one droid on a freighter ship, hyperspace crash into the escort frigate, and board the convoy. Profit.)

                1. Decius says:

                  Terrorist would simply plot a course into the planet, rig a rope to the lever, and pull it on their way out, after taking bids about what direction they attack from (and thus which cone of the Galaxy becomes uninhabitable).

          2. Falling says:

            TLJ shows that it more or less is already.
            A giant cruiser ship can be operated by exactly one person. Replace that one human with a droid and hey presto!
            This is a major mistake because if the cruiser still required a skeleton crew to operate it lessons the likelihood of the Holdo maneuvre being enacted simply due to the human cost. What TLJ shows is that capital ships should have been obsolete hundreds of years ago after the great unmanned kamikaze drone war. (The hyperspace missile didn’t just take out the capital ship but a number of ships surrounding it.) Since then freighters and smaller was the only thing viable.

            1. krellen says:

              Please stop replying to my comments.

          3. Decius says:

            What did the imperials who thought the Millennium Falcon in episode 4 think the autopilot did?

          4. Decius says:

            Can’t? What happens if you rig a lever to move the throttles forward after the people leave the ship? Do the throttles know that you’ve left?

  61. aradinfinity says:

    First up, I haven’t seen most of the Star Wars films; I tried- there was a marathon of the older six on TV while I was at my grandparents’ once- but they just didn’t grab me. I say this because I really don’t have a dog in this race on whether the new films are good or evil propaganda or whatever, and this comment is going to be short in turn. I just wanted to say, I’m someone who thinks using art to look at society and dig deep into the art is a good thing, but it’s /also/ a good thing that Shamus refuses to let the arguments that happen because of that pop up. There are other places to discuss these things. I may disagree with someone- vehemently, even- but having a space where that disagreement is barred is nice; there are other important things to talk about, and even unimportant things, too. It’s basically a safe space, where it’s guaranteed that the intense arguments other online spaces are known for are explicitly disallowed, and that’s good.