the square (ruben östlund, 2017)
music friday: 1972

by request: star wars: the last jedi (rian johnson, 2017)

As I once said about The Empire Strikes Back, "It’s time to admit that I am not the audience for these films." And that's one of the series that I liked.

The Last Jedi is 2 1/2 hours, and I won't say that's too long, but it's too long for a non-fan like me. The Last Jedi didn't stink, and the supreme annoyance that is C3PO thankfully didn't get much screen time. But I don't really care about these characters, and not a lot of effort is made to convince me otherwise. Adam Driver is a very fine actor, and his face lends itself to tortured emotions that live just under the surface. But it was him that interested me, not his character. It's nice to see John Boyega of Attack the Block, and Daisy Ridley's spunky Rey is a good idea, although I wish the franchise wouldn't be so self-congratulatory about featuring an ass-kicking female character when there are many other good examples (Starbuck, Buffy, Furiosa). Hell, the original Leia is a more important cultural landmark than Rey.

So I don't care about the characters, and the plot is too obviously serviceable in the way so many second-in-a-trilogy movies are. That leaves the action, and if CGI is your thing, this is some great stuff.

As I watched The Last Jedi, I found myself thinking of several other productions. Two were television series. Battlestar Galactica had its space battles, and it had its archetypal characters. But the battles were always secondary to the rest of the show, and the archetypes quickly offered depth, more so as the series progressed. Battlestar Galactica was about identity, and politics, and religion, and the military ... Star Wars is about parent-child relationships and space battles. I also thought about The 100, which doesn't really have the budget for a space opera, so they concentrate on other things, regularly surprising us with how far they are willing to go to blow past whatever stereotypes you might have about a series on The CW where the title refers to teenagers. As showrunner Jason Rothenberg said, "Remember, you signed up for a post apocalyptic nightmare. Don’t be surprised if that’s what we give you."

I also thought about the Mad Max movies. Compared to Fury Road, the action scenes in The Last Jedi aren't all that. And face it, lightsaber fights are boring, especially when you consider what is being done in movies like The Raid films.

I realize there is an audience for the Star Wars franchise, which is why the only relevant point here is that I am not that audience.

Here is the trailer from my favorite John Boyega film:




PORG (see my FB Profile)

Steven Rubio

Hey, is that a PORG? I saw a lot of people talking about them, but I didn't know what they were.


I think the overarching point of the movie (well points) are twofold: 1) totally insider commentary for SW junkies on breaking with the past and checking your assumptions about the genre and 2) charging that genre with being a triumphant masculinist paradise that needs to be seen and rewritten. I think #2 makes Rey something different than Leia was, but less than Leia is now. I don't know. It's a tricky film for a lot of hardcore fans but I think it's biting off a lot. Glad you watched it at least. :)

Steven Rubio

Interesting point about Rey. I was thinking back to the original, when it came out ... there was a lot of talk about what a big deal it was that Leia ran around shooting, too.

I've seen all of the features ... however I come across, I'm not really a hater on the topic. Often times, they are "By Requests", of course ... someone in the house is a bigger fan than I am. She gets me to a lot of Marvel movies, too. Mostly, I didn't want to watch a 2 1/2-hour movie, even though I had just done so the day before (The Square). I'm not a completist about too many movie franchises, so having seen all the Star Wars says something. What else have I seen them all? Well, there's James Bond movies. Even got published on that topic. Not sure I can name another.

I love my obsessions enough that I find myself wishing I was a Star Wars fanatic. Same with Star Trek, which I've never watched ... I think what a pleasure it must be to have all of those episodes and various series and movies to delve into. I do it with TV series, I guess, that's something.

What I don't do is re-watch Star Wars movies.

Nondisposable Johnny

I kind of wonder how many people who were college age or older when the first Star Wars came out really responded to it? I'm guessing not many. I was in high school (the right age I guess) and I like them a little better than you. But basically, I enjoyed the first two and less and less ever since (though, like you, I've seen them all so there's some sort of pull). I always had a feeling if I'd been five years older I might have had a reaction even more similar to yours. More meh than yeah.

Or, as a friend of mine once put it--I was really into it until the first Ewok showed up.

Steven Rubio

Not sure why I think this is relevant, but Close Encounters came out around the same time, so I think of the two movies together. And Close Encounters is one of my very favorite movies. In some way, it represents what I want in a big budget sci-fi movie.

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