The Last Jedi: A Deconstruction (Part One)

It may come as a surprise that the first review I post following the changeup of this blog is the Last Jedi. I feel obligated to dissect this movie and its relation to the Force Awakens and the other preceding movies. This review will focus more on character, plot, setting and how it relates to Star Wars lore. But first, let us start where the Force Awakens left us. Although Abrams played it safe and did a glorified ‘A New Hope’. The Force Awakens still manages to capture the essence of Star Wars. It’s not perfect but it is enjoyable. Unfortunately,  TFA is riddled with badly conceived plot plots and characterisation. It ultimately left us with a lot of unanswered questions such as;

Who is Rey? And who were her parents?
Who are the Knights of Ren?
Who is Snoke?
Why did Luke disappear and why did he leave a map? Just what was he hoping to find combing over old Jedi artefacts.
And more importantly just how did the First Order come to be?

Regarding the latter, it can be assumed the First Order formed out of the Empire’s fractured remains. As for Rey we only know that she was abandoned. We learn of Snoke’s appearance, but his backstory is left to our imaginations. It was expected then that the Last Jedi might answer a lot of questions but still leave enough to make people want to come back for Episode Nine. Well, I was sorely mistaken on that one. Because Rian took Abram’s plot points and threw them into the sun. Let’s first cover the opening credit sequence, the space battle and the start of the movie.

Contradicting the very essence of Star Wars

The very opening credits of the movie seem to imply time has passed but if sources are to be believed then the Last Jedi and Force Awakens are mere hours apart. It also suggests that the First Order reigns;

The FIRST ORDER reigns.
Having decimated the peaceful
Republic, Supreme Leader Snoke
now deploys his merciless
legions to seize military
control of the galaxy.

If five planets are supposed to represent this New Republic. Then how it survived this long is a miracle. Furthermore, there a dozen examples in science fiction where even when pushed against the wall, factions still manage to rally. The best example I can think of this is Halo. To be specific the game and novelisation of Reach’s fall detail Humanity’s decimation at the hands of a relentless Covenant. Also, of note, Reach is a key military installation for Humanity and upon falling pushed Humanity to the brink with Earth being all we have left. So, I need to understand something. How is it that a military force like the UNSC can still go toe to toe with an alien force greater and more advanced than the First Order yet the New Republic just vanishes at the destruction of five nameless planets. At least the UNSC, for the most part, spread itself across the galaxy.

This movie also seems to forget that the planet killer installation was very recently destroyed. This begs the question, where the hell is the First Order getting resources from exactly? It gets hinted at in the Last Jedi but even then, it doesn’t really give a sufficient explanation. I mean planet killers don’t just pop up and ships aren’t cheap. Furthermore, why wasn’t the New Republic operating from Coruscant or Naboo at least if either of them was hit it would resonate with the fans. Which ultimately leads on to another point. We as the audience are just being dragged along, we don’t care. Five planets got destroyed? Why should I care? They haven’t been shown previously. So why are they so significant?

All in all, the opening credits present here appear to confuse the events of the last movie. It also contradicts Snoke wanting to train Kylo, implying maybe they need to retreat to better prepare in general. The Last Jedi completely brushes over Star Killer base. It’s lazy writing at best and dishonest at worst.

Only General Leia Organa’s
band of RESISTANCE fighters
stand against the rising
tyranny, certain that Jedi
Master Luke Skywalker will
return and restore a spark of
hope to the fight.

But the Resistance has been
exposed. As the First Order
speeds toward the Rebel base,
the brave heroes mount a
desperate escape…

The overall sequence feels rushed and tacked on compared to previous films. We get a little filler and nothing more. These movies happen days apart and, in that time, I’m expected to believe that Snoke only now decided to find the Resistance? How did he find them anyway? It’s not like the Raddus has travelled through hyperspace recently. The First Order just turns up but there’s no indication as to how they acquired the location of the Resistance base. I guess I’ll never know.

No matter though, the First Order is no less deterred, even managing to locate the Resistance base on the planet’s surface and promptly begin the bombardment of the planet’s surface despite one key fact that the rebel cruiser; The Raddus is currently in orbit. A Dreadnought does show up but as with all First Order toys. We’re about to discover It’s pretty fragile. Or it’s as fragile as the writing requires. The lead up to the Dreadnought imminent destruction is the strange confrontation concocted by the Poe Dameron. He flags Hux’s ship and proceeds to inject Earthly humour into a film series set in a galaxy far, far away.

The problem with this type of humour present in this film is that it’s awfully ham-fisted, cringe-inducing and takes you out of the movie. If this was a one-off I wouldn’t bring it up. But this happens time and time again. This opening event is clear warning that this is not the Star Wars I nor my fellow critics wanted or hoped for.

So, after some awful communication and mom jokes, Poe bravely begins his attack on the Dreadnought supported by some bombers. Amazingly the reasoning for the Dreadnought’s inability to destroy Poe is down to its size. Ironic considering surface cannons are supposed to be designed to specifically target small, nimble fighters. It’s almost like Rian wants to tell his story and not the one that makes sense. Although Poe does get shot, this isn’t to add tension but to tell BB related joke. Instead of fixing the problem, BB just slams its head into the circuitry. I guess Poe is just incredibly lucky that such an act didn’t kill him. But then in a movie that can’t decipher its tone. I’m not surprised.

The next issue is the bombers that compared to the Y-Wing Starfighters are slow, sluggish and made of paper apparently. Their bombs are also complicated. Since they are exposed in the ships themselves and even the opening built to eject them seems to open into a vacuum of space. There are no shields. Everyone on board should be dead. As expected only one bomber survives the engagement and finds itself positioned to drop its payload on the Dreadnought. The entire sequence is strange since the person tasked with completing the mission is lying on a mesh surface when directly below her is endless space with the bombs surrounding her. And they’re not missiles, more like thermal detonators or sea mines. How they operate makes little sense since gravity wouldn’t operate as its shown. And what follows is why the First Order are so laughable. Their ships are paper. If a single well-timed bomber that’s’ already going at a snail’s pace can destroy an apparently shied less Dreadnought, then how am I supposed to consider the First Order a threat. Rian tells us they are decimating enemies but what’s he’s shown is that they are in fact woefully incompetent beyond words. Compare this to the Prequel trilogy and dare I say the space combat presented is one hell of a downgrade.

The opening of this movie relies so heavily on timed coincidences and convenience that I honestly wonder how this movie scored so well. It’s opening is a mess of poor jokes and badly written characters. We’ve barely seen Hux but already it’s obvious he’s going to be butchered by Rian’s writing but it could always be worse. He could be Finn. And in Part Two I will go into detail about why I feel out of all the characters in the new Trilogy. Finn is wasted and left to stumble around as comic relief when in the right hands he could have been an interesting insight into the First Order and operations. But seldom do we see any of that as its all mostly brushed aside to make way for the story Rian wants to tell. Throwing characters under the bus is just another unfortunate consequence in this film.

I’m not sure how many parts this will be but they will mostly be structured this way, covering events in the film, character and more. I will always welcome feedback also.

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