Yesterday Russell and I watched The Last Jedi, the latest episode in the Star Wars line of movies. Spoiler alert: at 2 hours, 35 minutes in length, coupled with a full 25 minutes of uninspired previews for movies I’ll never be interested in seeing, The Last Jedi will test the bladder of any 60-year-old. As my mother would say before any family road trip, be sure you use the bathroom before you get in the car.
Other than pathetic gratitude when the movie was finally over and I could use the facilities, my overall reaction to The Last Jedi was . . . shrug. The Star Wars films have now become so rote and trite, from the scrolling story over the starscape backdrop at the beginning, to the small fighter versus gigantic spacecraft battle scenes, to the powerful, physically disfigured, but ultimately easily fooled bad guy, you can’t help but feel that you’ve seen the movie before. Add in a few cute creatures that have no apparent purpose other than to be cute creatures, thinly disguised rip-offs of scenes from prior movies in the triple trilogy — this time, a thrilling ride through casino town on goat-horse creatures, rather than a thrilling speedscooter trip through a forest — and a few laughs with Chewie, and you’ve got the movie in the can.
Afterwards, Russell and I tried to talk seriously about the movie, but it wasn’t easy. True spoiler alert: So, raspy-voiced General Leia Organa — who I still think of as Princess Leia — can communicate over intergalactic distances with Luke, and use the Force to fly through space besides? Why hasn’t she used her powers to find Luke beforehand, or used the Force to keep her kid from the Dark Side, or to protect Han Solo from being murdered? Wouldn’t you think that the spunky, tough Leia of the original trilogy would have spent the intervening period at least trying to develop some mastery of her powers? It would give her something to do besides just looking with deep concern at hologram projections of battles going bad and sighing heavily as another Rebellion ship gets pulverized. I think Leia’s character has been wasted.
Luke’s character has been wasted, too. He apparently has spent years on some rugged, faraway planet, poring over ancient Jedi texts, a la Obi-Wan Kenobi cooling his heels on Tatooine after Darth Vader’s emergence. But then Luke learns from a ghostly Yoda that the sacred texts really aren’t that important, so phantom Yoda sets them and the sacred tree on fire, freeing Luke to confront and defeat Kylo Ren long distance, before vanishing and — also like Obi-Wan — leaving only crumpled clothing behind. Luke seems a bit dense, doesn’t he? But if I were Luke, I’d be irritated with Master Yoda. Why don’t these ghost Jedi show up in more timely fashion and provide some prompt guidance so people like Luke can get back into the fight? I guess Luke had to suffer, reading the useless old books in some dank tree trunk, until Rae showed up and he could yell at her and treat her three easily taught lessons.
And, now that the old characters have been addressed, let’s talk about the new ones. Yawn. Nah, let’s not. Rae is good at having tears run down her cheeks and being amazingly gifted at just about anything, and Finn is pretty much one-dimensional, and Po Damron would be cashiered from any military force he was part of, and Kylo Ren is thoroughly confused and conflicted and doesn’t seem to know what he really wants. Why did Kylo Ren kill Han Solo? Beats me! Maybe I would have cared more about all of this if I wasn’t feeling the urgent call of nature at the end of this very, very, very, very long epic.