Spoilery First Impressions of The Last Jedi

If you’re looking not to be spoiled, please go no further. I don’t want to ruin anything for anyone! I will say I liked it, so if you didn’t, more power to you and I really don’t want to debate anything.

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Okay, if you’re still here, you must want the spoilers. This is mostly just bullet point thoughts, not deep analysis, FYI.

  • I liked the decentralized narrative structure and the Death of the Protagonist approach to the story (in a kind of Barthesian Death of the Author sense). The whole thing, to me, seemed to be aware of the validity of ALL the stories (up to and including the Caretakers who had their cart blown away by the rock, which I thought was a nice touch). I’m so tired of One True Protagonist narratives in which there is a Chosen One and only they have the power blah blah blah. That sort of narrative hasn’t done us any favors as a society – we always are looking for the best! The brightest! The chosen ones! The savior and deliverer! But then here’s Finn and Rose – people whose working knowledge of the underbelly of their respective places means they have insights the higher-ups don’t – and here’s Rey, who isn’t descended from Force royalty (a nice takedown of that by Luke, btw), but is just this girl who happens to have Talents and a heart to go with them. That’s the kind of narrative we need in this country, IMO.
  • No, this is not deep analysis. Shut up.
  • I liked Poe’s steep learning curve, and Finn’s (although his is to a lesser extent). I liked that no women had to be saved by men in the making of this movie, but that a few men had to be saved by women.
  • I liked that it reflected the actual racial diversity of the world we live in, and not some white utopia.
  • I liked that the rebellion wasn’t innocent of anything to do with the war machine.
  • I personally liked the whole burn-it-to-the-ground approach to the Jedi – rather than faith in scripture and a kind of reification of same, the emphasis on one’s own moral compass was nice, in this world we’re living in.
  • Yeah, the director made it like he’ll never get to make another movie again, and wanted to get in his message as loud and clear as possible, but… it’s a message that resonated with me, living here under our illustrious Administration. I liked that it took people’s IRL embrace of the resistance emblem and ran with it in the story; if nothing else, that kind of blurring is basically our current media moment.
  • I really loved some of the visual set-pieces, and I was happy that the director was all, fuck it, my movie, my visuals (or whoever was responsible for them). I loved the flamboyance of the red salt, the destruction of the main First Order ship, the shot of Luke against all the amassed First Order machines… the samurai bits – it had a nice splash of style that wanted to be seen, and I enjoyed that.
  • I liked the porgs, the Caretakers, the children, even C3PO, who is usually kind of a PITA and has been for at least the previous four movies. I got weepy at the end over the kids’ retelling of the legend, even though there was no way they could have known it.
  • I liked the humor. I know a lot of people didn’t, but I did.
  • I liked Yoda, and especially when he asks Luke if he’s ever READ the sacred Jedi texts, because who ever actually does the seminal readings?
  • If I have complaints or things I didn’t care for as much:
    • The Leia-in-space thing was a bit silly
    • The casino/man-with-a-thing-in-his-lapel bit was a bit extraneous, although I liked the lesson of the war profiteers and whose backs they were enjoying themselves on
    • I didn’t get the point of the milk thing; like… okay.
    • Kylo Ren continues to be a big black hole for me. I think it’s because Adam Driver plays him so soulfully that it’s hard to think of him as irredeemable, yet his actions clearly make him so? I kind of want him to be redeemed, but I also kind of want him to suffer the consequences of what he’s done, and it kind of goes back and forth. I honestly have no clue where they want to go with him, which I guess is ?good? in that I have no expectations, but frustrating in that he confuses me IDK.

Anyway, those are my preliminary thoughts. In the end though, my kids liked it, and that means more than my thoughts, IMO.