We need another thread about Star Wars.

I’ve never been a hardcore fan. I’ve watched all the movies up to The Last Jedi. I didn’t like that one, didn’t see Solo, and probably won’t see any future films, at least not until my son is old enough that I have to start taking him. I’ve read most of the Star Wars threads here but only a small amount of stuff about the series elsewhere. I have not seen my particular theory about what’s wrong with The Last Jedi advanced by anyone else.

A few months ago in this thread I noted that almost all blockbusters are about a small band of good guys, outnumbered and outgunned by a massive evil army, fighting heroically and winning in the end. The original Star Wars trilogy does this idea in its purest form. Every action sequence is basically about reckless heroism while outnumbered 5-to-1, or 20-to-1, or 1,000,000-to-1:

You’re on a small spaceship with just three people, two droids, and one wookie. Nearby there’s a moon-size space base with millions or billions of enemy soldiers. What do you do?

Answer: Go into the base, rescue the princess, shoot up a bunch of bad guys, and escape.

A small rebel force is on an ice planet with a massive Imperial fleet hovering overhead. A bunch of skyscraper-sized imperial walkers are on the ground heading right towards the rebel base. What do you do?

Answer: Hop into tiny fighters and fly directly towards the gigantic walkers. Destroy several of them and get enough time for the rebels to escape.

You and all your friends have been captured by a gangster who looks like a 5-ton slug. He’s got the princess chained up in a bikini and is about to have his minions throw everyone else off a diving board into the mouth of a hideous monster. What do you do?

Answer: Insult the gangster to his face, then fight back, kill him and all his minions, and escape.

etc… That’s what the original trilogy is all about, and in my opinion, that’s why its popularity is widespread and has endured for so long. People like to see good guys fighting heroically and succeeding. The reason why most of the other Star Wars movies aren’t so popular with the fans is that they simply don’t capture that spirit. The prequels had a few scenes of heroic daring-do against impossible odds, but mostly they were buried under mountains of CGI, too much plot, and a cast that was too big. The Force Awakens got it mostly right, which is why it was a success.

The problem with The Last Jedi is, I believe, is that when Rian Johnson was given the reins of the project, he wasn’t willing to just make a movie about heroes charging straight towards the bad guys, fighting heroically, and winning. He thought that he was too sophisticated and artistic to make that kind of nonsense, so instead he set out to undermine the very ideas that made the original trilogy great. He did this in two ways.

First, no more pure good vs. pure evil. Instead the Resistance will be riven by internal divisions, and we’ll even have a mutiny, and all this will take up a big chunk of the middle of the movie.

Second, daring heroism will now lead to failure rather than success:

We start with a daring attack by a tiny fleet against a dreadnought, but it gets a lot of Resistance fighters killed and the leader of the attack reprimanded.

Our heroes hatch a daring plan to find a hacker, infiltrate the enemy command ship, and disable the tracking device, but it backfires and get more good guys killed.

Finn attempts to crash his fighter directly into the enemy cannon in an act of heroic sacrifice, but is prevented from doing so.


The point being, the thrill of watching a single-digit number of good guys take out a whole army of bad guys is completely gone, because Johnson chose to deliberately undermine it. That, in my opinion, is why so many fans disliked The Last Jedi.


Millions of people loved the Last Jedi. Millions of people handed over their money to the Last Jedi. Many fans disliked it: which they are entitled to do. But many “fans” weren’t even fans. And their voices don’t count.

The good guys didn’t win at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. Luke lost his hand. Han got frozen in Carbonite. The middle movie of the series had the good guys not win. But they lived to fight another day. Kinda like in the Last Jedi.

Its just a movie. A very successful movie, that many people liked. Rian Johnson didn’t undermine anything. Star Wars is a franchise that is so under the thumb of the studio that runs it that they aren’t afraid to rewrite the script at the last minute or fire the directors of a movie well into production. If the producers didn’t want The Last Jedi to be exactly what it ended up being Rian Johnson would have been sitting next too Collin Trevorrow, Phil Lord and Chris Miller.

Every movie has three acts, every trilogy should also work as three acts. Act one, introduce characters and situation. Act two, get them into trouble. Act three, get them out of trouble.

As Banquet Bear notes, The Last Jedi matches the same role as The Empire Strikes Back does. It just does it in a more fundamentally challenging way by so carefully setting up familiar tropes and then twisting them into unexpected results. The cocky flyboy is actually a headstrong fool. The idealistic hero’s plans are not taken seriously. The wise old master gives the wrong advice. A battle against the odds is actually a fool’s errand.

Many of the vocal haters of The Last Jedi were fans of the Expanded Universe books and comics and games, and have a very heroic image of the characters that they cling to. They find the idea that they could fail to be a betrayal. But they just don’t understand basic storytelling structure.

Here are a couple of video essays that really get at the heart of it. What do we want from a Star Wars movie? Patrick explains The Last Jedi and why it’s great. How The Last Jedi defies expectations about male heroes.

I think they’ve been doing a great job with the prequels. I’m less impressed with the continuing plot line.

Why can’t it just be a rubbish film? Its full of plotholes and at a basic storytelling level its just pretty bad all told, it wouldn’t look out of place as a Transformers movie and if it was people wouldn’t waste any words beyond, “Oh look, another nonsensical Transformers movie”. Yet because its Star Wars people try to fanwank it into relevance.

If I was watching Transformers and they had a chase scene in space that repeatedly defied all logic or common sense, if they repeatedly veered off on meaningless tangents that added nothing to the plot, if it was full of characters doing stupid things for barely established reasons, then I would shrug my shoulders and forget the stupid Transformers movie the minute I left the theatre. But it Star Wars and so people try to turn shit into gold or at least try and explain what type of gold the director was aiming for.

By the way, I have to laugh at people trying to label others as “haters” or “fans”. “Just don’t understand basic storytelling structure”. :rolleyes: Simple fact is that there are millions of people who are not invested in Star Wars and are able to watch a movie and judge it on its merits. And if they think it was a rubbish movie then they are allowed to think that without having labels attached to them.

I don’t hate Star Wars, I watched The Last Jedi, I think it was nonsensical in too many places for it ever to be considered a good movie, and I think any deeper analysis is wasted upon it.

Why did you come into this thread to say that?

The inclusion of the hyperspace ramming technique is very badly thought out, and pretty much undermines every other space warfare scene in previous and future films. Other than that, I didn’t enjoy it much as it seemed to have too many contrived coincidences and bad decisions being played off as good ones.

I did like the scene where the cocky flyboy puts them in the position where they have to go all-in on the large ship. They destroy it but show that by forcing the issue the cocky flyboy has actually caused far more damage to his own side than the enemy. That reversal of expectations was good, but the repetition of the theme, not so much.

You’re right, he should have said that in one of the Kavanaugh threads. :rolleyes:

Seriously, why shouldn’t he have said that here?

I’ll join him: yes, it’s possible to do a deep analysis of all the reasons why TLJ not only sucked, but was nonsensical. But how much detail is it worth the energy to go into, about a movie that basically sucked?

Yes, TLJ was supposed to play the same role in this trilogy that Empire played in the original. And boy howdy, does it ever suffer by the comparison. At the end of Empire, we were left at the appropriate cliffhanger, and it was a very good one: was Vader really Luke’s father? Who was the “there is another” from Obi-Wan and Yoda’s conversation? And so forth.

At the end of TLJ, we’re not left at a cliffhanger; we’re left in the wreckage at the bottom of the cliff. Maybe the surviving main characters’ kids will be in an interesting sequel, but it would be a sequel no matter what they call it, because this story’s over. Plus everything we’ve learned about The Force in Eps 1-7 is wrong, in a way that doesn’t make sense even on its own terms. OK, we’re done here.

Because “Why are you all talking about a movie that sucks?” is not a valid film critique.

Well since you’ve opened the topic again…

I enjoyed The Last Jedi when I first saw it, and so if someone is just looking for a fun film I can recommend the Last Jedi without hesitation.
However, it is a film which leaves you thinking “Wait, what?” – in my case about the Holdo maneuver. I’m no super trek wars fan, but even I at the time thought that that tactic destroys much of the logic of all the films. And later when I saw youTube videos about TLJ, I think they make fair criticisms that land. e.g. there are far too many “subversions of expectations” such that they are completely de-valued.

And it’s interesting that this has become a film that you’re “not allowed” to criticize. Because all the criticism has been handwaved as being misogynism, or people being overly nit-picky (or indeed, in this thread, not True Scotsman fans).

a lot of the negative stuff about Last Jedi was from Russian trolls on the web


And those trolls are the ones I’m the most upset at. I don’t have any problem with anybody who just didn’t like it, but the trolls started a Star Wars War between fans by bolstering dislikers into being belligerent and aggressively attacking the likers.

But we weren’t picking on them, only on the bigoted misogynists using irrational arguments.

I don’t believe he said that. He said it was such a bad film that a detailed critique was more than it deserved.

Seems like a valid point of view to express in a thread that’s basically about TLJ.

Uh… have you SEEN ‘Empire Strikes Back’? The good guys got their asses routed in every engagement. Luke ended up maimed, Han a frozen prisoner, and the middle of the movie was occupied by this vague moralizing frog thing.

Lots of people hated ‘Empire Strikes Back’ for that reason. But it aged really well, because in hindsight, most people don’t want ‘Star Wars’ to be just the same star war over and over again. Neither the characters nor the world is interesting without contrast, depth, richness… dare I say, balance.

There are other reasons to nitpick TLJ, but your conclusion that it departs from the original formula is a decidedly bad take.

Yes, I have. I believe that The Empire Strikes Back exactly validates my point. The characters choose to do courageous, heroic things, and they turn out to be the right choices:

[li]Han Solo goes out searching for Luke on the ice planet, and brings Luke back alive.[/li][li]Luke and the other pilots take off in X-wings to attack Imperial walkers 1,000 times their size, in order to get enough time for the transports to escape. This turns out to be the right thing to do.[/li][li]Han Solo flies into an asteroid field. The other tell him that doing so is crazy and probably fatal. He succeeds.[/li][li]Han Solo flies the Falcon directly at a Star Destroyer. He succeeds again.[/li][li]Luke leaves Yoda, with his training still incomplete, to make a one-man attempt to rescue his friends, while knowing that it’s likely a trap set by Darth Vader. This turns out to be the right thing to do as well.[/li][/ul]

In The Last Jedi, it’s exactly the opposite. Every courageous and heroic action by the main characters turns out to be exactly the wrong thing to do.

It’s interesting, but this seems to be an analysis of tweets aimed at the director.
Tweets at the director is a small, and I don’t think representative, sample of the criticism.

Really? I was in my mid-20s at the time. I don’t recall anyone hating it - my recollection is that people thought it was great, and couldn’t wait to see how things resolved themselves. And the critical reception was positive - adding depth to the characters and all that.

Yeah, but all those things are tactical decisions. Strategically, the Alliance got its ass handed to it in Empire. Hell, it got its ass handed to it in Jedi, too. Lando and Akbar are the real heroes who won the day by working their way out of the Emperor’s trap. Luke, the soi-disant hero of the saga, was entirely irrelevant to winning freedom for trillions of sentient beings.

The message that should have been pulled from TLJ was that rebellions are won by a million small acts. By the vox populi and moves towards freedom and empowerment by the million people learning their own power. It’s also the first movie - of the Skywalker saga - that gave us a glimpse outside of our narrowly focused rebel/empire conflict point of view. The fact that, for all that fighting the first order is to our heroes, to a great deal of the galaxy - especially the elites - it just doesn’t matter who’s on top. There’s profit and position to be gained no matter who wins.

Really, it’s an attempt to answer the very real criticism that Star Wars is extremely anti-egalitarian. That the little people should just keep their heads down and working while a bunch of super powerful wizards chosen by God get on with running things. Don’t worry your pretty little head’s about it, average Joes, we got this and you’re going to like it. We promise. Sith? Jedi? Who the fuck cares for the common man because they don’t really count in this horrible family squabble that claims lives and planets.

I thought Johnson lost his bottle at the end of TLJ. He’d spent a lot of time positing that the Jedi are indeed over - and that it was a good thing - and then re-established hope for them to not be gone right at the end. Should they be an inspiration? Sure, let the people believe and hope for the ideals of the Jedi. But having them around? Hell, no. People are inspired by Camelot, too. But no one seriously wants some fucking barbarians ordained by God running around seeking justice and running things.

Mmm. There was some serious mixed reaction. An analysis of the letters column and critics in Starlog - a magazine covering SF Movies and Television back then, kids - showed serious conflict over many aspects of the movie.

[quote=“ITR_champion, post:15, topic:822553”]

Yes, I have. I believe that The Empire Strikes Back exactly validates my point. The characters choose to do courageous, heroic things, and they turn out to be the right choices:

[li]Han Solo goes out searching for Luke on the ice planet, and brings Luke back alive.[/li][li]Luke and the other pilots take off in X-wings to attack Imperial walkers 1,000 times their size, in order to get enough time for the transports to escape. This turns out to be the right thing to do.[/li][li]Han Solo flies into an asteroid field. The other tell him that doing so is crazy and probably fatal. He succeeds.[/li][li]Han Solo flies the Falcon directly at a Star Destroyer. He succeeds again.[/ul][/li][/quote]

The “heroic” stuff Han does is mainly directed at self-enrichment or self-preservation, or to help Luke. He isn’t interested in the rebellion at large. In most of these cases, they’re being attacked or in danger. Fleeing, hiding, or delaying action are really the only choices. It’s good they worked out well, but I don’t see these being exemplary of courage or heroism. Maybe boldness or audacity.

Again… this is a counterfactual. We can’t know what would have happened if Luke finished his training. In the real ending, he lost his hand, he ended up defeated and had to get rescued by his sister, and Boba Fett got away with Solo.

You seem to be forgetting Admiral Holdo single-handedly taking out an entire star destroyer? Paige Tico sacrificing herself to release the bomb payload to take out a Dreadnought, allowing the resistance fleet to escape? Luke Skywalker using up all his force juice on a deception action? If you don’t see heroism there, it’s because for some reason you don’t want to.