Well this post is long overdue. I’ve seen the movie 8 times in the theater now, and I find myself mulling over parts of it at any given point during the day. Will probably try to see it twice more before it leaves theaters.
Before I go any further, the obligatory spoiler warning. If you haven’t seen The Last Jedi yet, consider yourself warned… ***SPOILERS***
Things I loved about TLJ:
• THAT REN/REY TEAMUP!!!!!!! This was on my wish list for things to see, and it surprised the heck out of me that it happened. And I’m gonna be honest, I really wanted her to join him (#Reylo sorry not sorry)
• All of the Ren-Rey Force connection scenes
• Ren was very ROTS Anakin-esque in this; I loved Driver’s balance of evil and vulnerable
• Poe’s “happy beeps” and Hux call scene in the opening
• Loved the opening space battle in general, what a great opening!
• Finn walking around with water spouting out of his bacta suit was fun
• Leia and Poe’s exchange about jumping in the X-Wing and blowing stuff up
• The R2 Leia transmission aboard the falcon <sniff sniff>
• Rey thinking she was feeling the Force when it was Luke holding some foliage*
• The way the electricity glinted off of Phasma’s armor as she faced off against Finn; we saw it all over the trailers and it was every bit as beautiful as expected in the film
• Everyone treating 3PO the way a lot of us feel, especially Poe telling him to shut up
• Could Leia have looked more gorgeous (even if it was more than a little photoshopped) standing at the big door on Crait?!
• Crait itself was visually stunning
• I need a crystal fox in my life
• Had last-minute concerns going into it, but I remain pro-porg
• I didn’t think I’d care for Rose but I really enjoyed the addition of her character—and if you’re not following Kelly Marie Tran on instagram, you need to
• Have I mentioned how much I loved the Rey-Ren dynamic?!
• I like that Ren doesn’t report to anyone now
• The Luke/Leia reunion was so touching and reminiscent of their chat in ROTJ
• Luke seeing a sort of binary sunset before his death hit me in the feels
• Poe’s “what the hell?” line when his foot went through the Crait ski ship (he’s got much better comedic timing than I would’ve thought)
• I really appreciate how unpredictable the majority of the movie was; aforementioned teamup, Yoda’s appearance and Luke’s death were all unexpected for me
*Even though I personally enjoyed the funny bits and one-liners, some of the humor seemed a little out of character for Luke; it felt like they were writing some of the dialogue for Mark Hamill not for Luke Skywalker.
Things I didn’t love about TLJ:
• Mixed bag on the Yoda scene, visually; he looked right when the burning temple was behind him but other shots just looked wrong*
• Leia’s hokey return to the ship—visually it looked cheesy, and I don’t love that our first time witnessing Leia actively use the Force was to save herself
• I thought it would have been more powerful to have Leia and Holdo switch places as the one to go down with the ship
• I know it was planned before the fact, but seeing Leia injured and unconscious for so much of the film hurt my heart
• We now wait 2 more years to find out how they resolve the “Leia Lives” puzzle
• Snoke: 1) I was holding onto hope that he was Plagueis for added impact to both PT and OT; 2) Loved how Kylo tricked him and took him down, but it sure seemed easy to polish off someone so allegedly wise and powerful; 3) his throne room looked like they forgot to finish decorating
• Canto Bight sequence: felt very prequel-esque, which was fine as a sort of bridge for the trilogies, but it ended up being a waste of time overall with regards to propelling the plot, felt shoehorned with other more important goings-on and just wasn’t particularly well done (though I generally loved Rose and Finn during the whole sequence)
• Rey’s parentage (assuming it’s true): yeah, it’s cool that people who don’t come from familiar backgrounds can be strong with the Force, it just seems to lessen the impact of the Force visions from TFA
• Rey’s foray to the dark side of the island was a little blah…except that it set up the scene of her confiding in Kylo (which I LOVED)
• Phasma died like a chump, only slightly better than the trash compactor. Another waste of an awesome-looking villain (I’m looking at you, Darth Maul)
• BB-8 driving an AT-ST… didn’t hate it but meh
• Holdo felt generally unnecessary except to create conflict for Poe—see note above regarding her role being switched with Leia
• Luke milking the animal on Ahch-To was just really uncomfortable to watch
*I have come to the conclusion that either we’ve grown too savvy as a collective audience or I might expect too much from CG on Star Wars. It wasn’t anywhere near Justice League CG levels of bad but even when it is just ever so slightly off now it sticks out like a sore thumb.
Outstanding questions about TLJ:
• I initially wondered if it was Rey or Yoda who put the ancient Jedi texts on the Falcon… I have since decided it was Rey since you see her closing the drawer before she jumps in her personal jet pod to go meet Ren for some kissyface tension (have I mentioned how much I LOVED their teamup?!)
• How is “Leia Lives” resolved? Off-screen death set between movies doesn’t seem good enough for her
• It took until my 8th viewing to notice that the Falcon’s dish got knocked off again on Crait. We will see it rectangular in Ep. 9, or will it be back to the classic dish?
• Does the kid at the end play into Johnson’s new non-Skywalker trilogy or is he just symbolizing the spark of hope and/or that you can be a nobody like Rey and be strong in the Force? If we’re being honest, I hope he and his friends aren’t part of the end game here. They all seemed a little cartoony, and I’m not too keen on the idea of another little boy who yells “yahoo!”
• Speaking of Rey-Nobody… were her parents really nobodies or was Ren lying to manipulate her? I think he was legitimately honest and vulnerable with her but still exploited that weakness. And, more importantly, I think there’s a possibility that Snoke could have planted that vision for him to believe and try to leverage against her./
• Did Snoke really create the Force bond between them? I think the answer to this is a resounding ‘no’ and that he rather realized what was happening and took credit for it so they would believe he was as powerful as he claimed
• So who was Snoke? Ultimately, it doesn’t matter anymore, I guess and it’s low on my list of questions for a reason. I was taken aback, though, at how similar his cadence and diction reflected that of Palpatine. Coincidence?
What say you? Did you love The Last Jedi, hate it, feel conflicted? Let’s chat in the comments!
As if one video of me haunting the internet wasn’t enough, now the “rapid-fire” segment is live, too. The number of views on YouTube aren’t very impressive but the view counts on the 1iota facebook page freak me out a little.
Anyway, they censored my editorial bit on Mace Windu (I said “he’s the worst”; I prefer Sam Jackson as Nick Fury). And I stand by my other controversial decisions of 1 double-bladed lightsaber rather than 2 single-bladed lightsabers. It offers better control and leaves your other hand free for Force choking or other Force power of choice. Also opted for TIE Fighter over the Falcon or Slave 1 because, as someone who has a stupid daily commute, I really don’t want to live in my ship. Short-range missions suit me just fine.
Something pretty big happened on Friday. Yeah, yeah, “The Last Jedi” opened to U.S. audiences and created a buzz (my likes, gripes and theories on that coming soon)… and there was another disturbance in the Force. My 1iota Super Fan video went live!
There are things I wish I had worded differently and I definitely wish I had been able to drop a lot of weight before it happened. Nevertheless, huge kudos to the 1iota folks for taking my 90 minutes of blabbing and turning it into 4 minutes of footage that gives me such warm memories of the day! I think there’s a “lightning round” video going live one of these days. I’ll share it when I have permission to. In the meantime, there’s this…
You may have seen the cast of Star Wars: The Last Jedi on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” last Friday night. I saw them, too…in person. From the front row of Kimmel’s show.
Our tale of kismet begins 12 months ago: December 2016. After securing ridiculously inexpensive airfare to Los Angeles, we purchased annual passes for Universal Studios Hollywood (mostly so we could imbibe in all the butterbeer deliciousness we could handle). As our year of wizarding drew to a close, we decided to make one last pilgrimage before our passes expired. That trip, booked several months ago, was scheduled for 30 Nov. – 4 Dec.
Knowing we were headed west again, I started checking 1iota for tickets to tapings of “Talking Dead.” And that’s when I found the Star Wars Super Fan search. Initially there weren’t any details about the event other than that it was on 1 December, perfectly situated during our brief time in Los Angeles. To enter, I just needed to submit a short video about why I’m a so-called Super Fan.
You know that feeling when confidence washes over you and you think, “Well, that’s in the bag!” Yeah, me neither. But this was about as close as I’ve ever come to feeling it.
I wrote an unimpressive script, tidied up my impressive (most impressive) Star Wars haven and stepped in front of the camera, awkward and unflattering as could be. After fighting with some video editing apps on my phone, it was done. I exploited a moment of bravery, posted it to social media and waited.
Wednesday afternoon I received word that I’d been chosen by the 1iota team as a Star Wars Super Fan!
After a day of travel and an evening at Universal Studios—the new holiday decorations and light show at Wizarding World are STUNNING btw—I found it impossible to sleep Thursday night. And so I arrived at the 1iota offices on Friday morning to film a Super Fan video interview with puffy eyes and a stomach full of butterflies… all before heading to the Jimmy Kimmel studio.
Guys, I can’t say enough good things about everybody I met at 1iota. They were every bit as cool as you’d expect from a team of L.A. creatives with the added benefit of being super nice, funny and relatable, too. I’m told the video will go live sometime next week ahead of the release of The Last Jedi. I’ll update here when it happens (unless I’m even more awkward and terrible than I thought, in which case we’ll just pretend it doesn’t exist).
The Kimmel taping was a really cool experience. We found ourselves seated in the front row, which ended up being somewhat uncomfortably close to the man of the hour when he filmed his monologue. It took every bit of my self control to keep from chasing down surprise guest BB-8 to take home when he rolled our way. And I couldn’t hold back the tears when Rian Johnson, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver and Mark Hamill first took the stage not 20 feet away from us. For better or worse, I managed to maintain some semblance of self-control; otherwise the watery eyes would have inevitably escalated to sobbing, which probably would have drawn unwanted attention and created a scene. I mean, I desperately wanted to meet them all but not like a blubbering idiot.
A few observations from the taping: the entire cast seemed so charming! I didn’t have quite the same visceral reaction when John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Laura Dern, Kelly Marie Tran, Andy Serkis and Gwendoline Christie came on stage—instead of crying, I wanted to fist pump. They were all flawless, of course, but Gwendoline Christie looked especially ethereal in person. I was a little surprised there was virtually no mention of our beloved Carrie; since the actors were unable to talk about plot points, I thought they might have engaged in a more lively discussion about behind-the-scenes interactions, which I assumed would have revolved largely around the late Ms. Fisher. The entire show seemed to go by so much more quickly than I expected, I was so engrossed. I’ve heard from friends and family that we were briefly spotted on TV but we still haven’t watched the episode.
Our 1iota pals caught up with us afterwards for another quick interview on Hollywood Boulevard, then we were on our way to the rest of our vacation adventures (read: more butterbeer and Disneyland). The entire day was absolutely priceless and one that will live in my memory for as long as genetics and brain functions allow.
I need to go stock up on tissues now because The Last Jedi happens in less than a week and I know I’m going to be a hot mess. May the Force be with you!
If you haven’t seen Rogue One yet, consider yourself warned… ***SPOILERS***
Pardon the stream-of-consciousness post; it may get a bit messy. I’ve seen Rogue One five (yes, 5!) times in the theater now. The latest was on my 13th wedding anniversary (yes, 13th!), which happened to be the same sad day that our favorite Princess passed away.
Though I never had the honor of meeting her, Carrie Fisher always felt like a friend. It never occurred to me as a child that she was old enough to be my mom—she was Princess Leia, and she was my friend. As an adult, of course I appreciate the many facets of her career, advocacy and person. Her biting sarcasm and quick wit balanced with sincerity, something I will always admire. Watching Rogue One hours after learning of her death was harrowing (ironically, my 4th viewing was just hours before her heart attack). The public display of emotion got a bit uglier than I had hoped, what with the heaving shoulders and snot snorting. On the bright side, the Vader bit is impressive even with tear-blurred vision.
Things I loved about R1:
Literally everything in the last hour or so of the film. The battle, the tragic ends*, VADER. Seriously, when the lightsaber illuminates Vader in that dark corridor…ugh, I love it all so hard. That scene is everything I’ve ever wanted from Vader. And it all makes me cry. A. LOT.
*yes, even my Imperial sympathizing heart hurt over that. That said, this should lay to rest rumors of Jyn being Rey’s mom.
For me, the part in which the film really starts feeling like a Star Wars story is as they’re escaping Jedha. From there, I find myself far more engaged in the plot and connecting more with the characters. I really thought at least one of our heroes would make it out, but this ending was much better from an urgency and storytelling angle. That last scene with Jyn and Cassian is soul-crushing in the best way possible. Their chemistry was a brilliant mix of platonic and maybe-could’ve-been-more. I LOVE Cassian! I thought he was as well written as he was acted, which is impressive for a complex character. I would be compelled to watch anything with Diego Luna in it now. Really enjoyed Donnie Yen’s performance as well.
I so appreciate how Gareth Edwards worked it into a piece that’s so layered and nuanced that it feels like a sort of love note to Star Wars. The many thoughtful, lovely references in this feel less nostalgia-gimmicky than TFA (which I also loved but still). It’s a beautiful bridge between the prequels and original trilogy that makes both Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope better.
I think subsequent viewings really do make a big difference for this movie since there just so much to absorb. The first time around, I was delighted to see the original Red Leader and Gold Leader (if you haven’t seen how they made that happen, read this)…though I’m not sure I needed to know how/why Luke inherited the Red Five call sign. I also got a kick out of the complete-fanservice-but-still-fun cameos by Dr. Evazan and Ponda Baba. Took me until the third viewing to finally notice the blue milk in Galen & Lyra Erso’s hovel. I think the CG is also less bothersome after the initial shock. Is ‘shock’ the right word? Whatever.
Except for the vaguely cartoonish mouth movements, I thought the CG on Tarkin & Leia was surprisingly good. My only complaint is that there was perhaps too much full-face Tarkin; it took away the “is it really him?” intrigue and turned it into “oh look, CG!”
K2-SO is probably my favorite droid now (he and BB-8 blow the originals out of the water for me). Not only is K2-SO better than C-3PO, but Alan Tudyk knocks the socks off of Anthony Daniels.
Things I didn’t love about R1:
Saw Gerrera/Forest Whitaker. His existence beyond rescuing Jyn as a child seemed overly contrived and almost entirely unnecessary. Every scene that he’s in makes me eye-roll, and I wasn’t sad when he ‘sacrificed’ himself to the imploding planet. In fact, I would have been glad that he bit it, except that I was eye-rolling so hard from his over-the-top acting that it really just annoyed me. Maybe part of the reason I didn’t like him was the way the character was written, but Whitaker’s melodramatic delivery of the lines didn’t help. His “save the dream” line was arguably the worst in the movie, too—even worse than Vader’s pun about choking on aspirations. And the “truth monster” was just awful. That was definitely the parallel to the rathtars in TFA that should’ve found the cutting room floor.
The score. I will say my frustration with this has diminished a bit with each additional screening. My understanding is that Giacchino had very little time to compose, and for that I am in awe with how relatively good it is. Nevertheless, it lacked a lot of the emotional weight of a John Williams score. It felt particularly lackluster in the title sequence after the prologue.
Speaking of the title sequence, I really missed the opening scroll and classic Star Wars theme. I do understand that Lucasfilm is trying to make it clear that these are not Skywalker-centric stories but I’m not sure how chopping out the expository scroll and iconic strains are supposed to do that.
R2-D2/C-3PO cameo. I guess I didn’t really dislike this, per say, but I think that scene felt really shoehorned on Yavin. Had we seen them on the Tantive cruiser, it would’ve made (more) sense. It seems Threepio has worn out his welcome with me.
Outstanding questions about R1:
Do Death Troopers speak a different language, or were they just suffering from Bane unintelligible syndrome? Friends have speculated they utilize a spy-code that scrambles their transmissions outside of their helmets. I’ll buy that, but I also would’ve liked to hear them speak actual words instead of garbled zombie sounds.
Just how did Evazan & Ponda get off Jedha so we could eventually meet them at the cantina? I assume they were already headed to their departing ship.
Also, why didn’t they show the Mustafar planet ‘tag’ like all of the other planets? Probably just trying to surprise everybody with Vader’s lair but the inconsistency bugged me ever so slightly. Regarding Mustafar, I LOVED seeing Vader’s castle and half expected it to be Hayden Christensen’s head in the bacta tank!
During Jyn’s flashback aboard the U-Wing, we saw her family enjoying drinks with Krennic. Did the view out the apartment windows look like Coruscant to anybody else? Started reading the “Catalyst” novel today and it mentions Galen & Lyra marrying on Coruscant so I think we can assume it was supposed to be.
I want to know more about the relationship between Krennic and Tarkin—I’m currently reading “Catalyst” and hoping to find out more about this. It seems a nice parallel to the dynamic of Kylo Ren and Hux in TFA; almost like a sibling rivalry.
And I guess that about sums it up for the moment…largely because my lunch break is over and I have to get back to work. What say you? Did you love Rogue One, hate it, feel conflicted? Let’s chat in the comments!