Star Wars Episode VIII, The Last Jedi opened last night across the country. I’m not a fancy pants movie reviewer so I don’t get an opportunity to see it ahead of time, like my old friend and Star Wars nut Mike Ryan, so go check his out if you want a professional review. I just have to go on the first opportunity possible like any other well-adjusted person. Warning: mild spoiler alert. So if you don’t want to read anything about the contents of the movie, don’t go below the photo.
Two years ago, I also watched Episode VII on opening night with my oldest son. We returned to the scene again, and this is what I wrote about Kylo Ren after immediately seeing that one.
Kylo Ren has a chance to be an incredible villain going forward. I mean, let’s face it, we love to hate the villains that aren’t honorable. He feigned regret, then killed his own father in a cowardly fashion. That’s something that Darth Vader, for all his hard facade throughout the first trilogy, could not do to his son. Ren would fit right in on Game of Thrones.
If Ren proves to be a weak character in the next one, I’ll take it back. I think Kylo Ren might have a few surprises when it comes to just who ends up manipulating whom after killing his father, when it comes to Supreme Leader Snoke. Whereas Darth Vader was a foreboding, mysterious boogeyman for almost the entire trilogy, until he saves Luke Skywalker, Ren revealed his potential for humanity, only to destroy that image. We’ve seen his face, he made his choice, and that should be scarier.
I may not get many things right so I do have to point out when I nail it. The best scenes in Episode VIII are when Rey and Kylo/Ben Solo are interacting while in different locations (Rey with Luke Skywalker and Kylo on the First Order cruiser). While much of the movie may have thematic dashes with Empire Strikes Back, this harkens to the ending of Return of the Jedi, where Luke goes to Vader to try to turn his father. Eventually, Rey turns herself in to Kylo to also confront Supreme Leader Snoke and try to turn Ben Solo back to the good. Snoke, who seems more powerful than even Darth Sidious, brags that it was he that set up the meeting of the minds that allowed Rey and Kylo to communicate, and her to see his vulnerabilities. But in the twist, Kylo was playing 3-D mind games with Snoke, hiding his intentions as he eliminates the master.
But unlike when Darth Vader returned to Anakin and killed the Emperor, this was not a return to goodness. It was Darth Sidious killing his master to become the new master. The movie climaxed with the fantastic scene where Snoke is killed and then Rey and Kylo Ren team up to fight his bodyguards in an epic lightsaber battle royale. And then, there was 45 minutes left as they separate, and the rebels are chased to a planet that brings back some visions of Hoth, except with salt that leaves a red residue when disturbed, instead of snow.
And now, we are set up for a finale where I don’t think we should trust the impulsive and petulant Kylo Ren to return and give up his evil ways (we’ve now got multiple body bags to prove it), something Luke acknowledged near the end.
Other amateur observations:
- I know they needed to delay the chase to advance the plot, but the whole “man, we can stay just ahead of those big destroyers that came out of hyperspace until we run out of fuel reserves” felt like the most ridiculous part of the plot. I mean, come on, First Order. You can’t get some more ships to surround them, maybe cut them off?
- The interactions between Finn and Rose were a good series of scenes as well, even if the whole “we are just going to run off to the casino planet while the slow motion chase is going on” thing felt far-fetched (see above).
- We find out what happens when someone goes to hyperspace with something big in the way.
- I’ll be needing to get all the Porgs merchandise once my younger children, already obsessed with Big Eyes, go and see it this weekend.