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Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Revisited)

Discussion in 'Sidewinders Bar & Grille' started by Eoraptor1, Jan 1, 2018.

  1. Eoraptor1

    Eoraptor1 Senior Stratmaster

    Aug 4, 2008
    Niagara Falls, NY
    OK, as promised, my meandering, post-holiday thoughts on Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I don’t think I’ve included any Star Wars spoilers, although I probably have Dune spoilers. So, if you haven’t read Frank Herbert’s books, be warned. I will also be discussing certain peculiarities of my people, the nerds, so if this is likely to upset you, be warned. People proudly call themselves nerds now; probably because some of the wealthiest men in the world who aren’t in hedge funds are in technology, but I’m old enough to remember when being called a nerd was considered an insult.

    My views don’t always fit into snappy soundbites. I need to present a bit of background, which to some people used to 140 characters or less comes off as wordy or pretentious. You got me; I am frequently both. In addition, I’m very fond of myself and deeply prejudiced in favor of my own opinions, but I do know they are opinions, and not brought down from Mt. Sinai. So, please keep in mind that unless I say something verifiable, these are opinions, nothing more. I’m not interested in being Agent Smith from The Matrix, turning others into copies of myself. People like what they like and feel what they feel. This is something some very fine musicians of my acquaintance have trouble dealing with, the fact that no ever has to like anything.

    “Mediocre artists imitate. Great artists steal.” Academics disagree as to who made this statement first, T.S. Eliot or Pablo Picasso, but the sentiment remains the same. IMO, George Lucas definitely took it to heart when he made the original Star Wars. I don’t mention this quote as a criticism; as I believe most of the membership here will agree, guitar players generally begin developing their own styles by imitating their influences. I’m also sure the large majority of members here will be familiar with Eric Clapton’s description of his style as an attempt to connect Freddie King licks with B.B. King licks. Nile Rodgers says a lot of the creative process is hearing something you like and then saying to yourself, “OK, here’s how I would have done it.”



    A problem with many successful series (and I’m quoting David Gerrold here) is that format can become formulaic. I remember at the time Return of the Jedi came out not caring for Lucas returning to the Death Star concept for that film. (I definitely didn’t care for it in The Force Awakens, which on the whole I did like.) I thought the ending of Return was very strong, with Vader's (or rather Anakin Skywalker's) redemption, but I remember just hating the Ewoks. I believed they lowered the entire tone of the picture. Later I found out what became the Forest Moon of Endor was originally meant to be Chewbacca’s homeworld, but the price of visualizing a whole army of Wookiees was prohibitive in the early 80s. There was no CGI in those days. Therefore, Wook-iEES became E-woks.

    George Lucas seems to have had trouble imagining a world with more than one climate zone. Tatooine is all desert. Hoth is all ice, and Endor is all forest, much like Alan Dean Foster’s Midworld. Alan Dean Foster was the ghostwriter for the original novelization of Star Wars. Lucas presented Foster with a copy of the script which he expanded upon for publication. Foster also wrote the first Star Wars “Expanded Universe” novel, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, which I ran out to buy as soon as it was available. Empire and Return had not yet premiered, so we didn’t know Luke and Leia were really brother and sister, and it definitely showed up in the reading, because I got the definite impression if Lord Vader hadn’t have been there blocking, something sticky would have happened. Since Foster and Lucas had this working relationship, it’s possible Lucas was influenced by Midworld when he came up with Endor, but I don’t really know. What I do genuinely believe is Avatar (which I did like) to a very great extent is Midworld, and Alan Dean Foster had very real grounds for legal action against James Cameron. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the two had come to some sort of financial arrangement.

    Foster’s Midworld is part of his Humanx Commonwealth series of books. This is an important point some of you who are not nerds or are perhaps only nerd-ish may not fully appreciate. Deep nerds have come to expect from any Science Fiction or Fantasy series a strict continuity. Events should play out as in Gibbon’s Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. Whether or not something such as simultaneity between planets in distant star systems is even possible given our current understanding of astrophysics doesn’t seem to bother them; breaks in continuity or “canon” does. I’m willing to bet real money Disney’s decision to pronounce the Star Wars “Expanded Universe” novels as not part of the official continuity while including Star Wars Rebels was enough to drive thousands of fanboys into apoplexy. The rage. The nerd rage. My personal view is if you have time and leisure to be this upset about a science fantasy series, you probably lead a very pleasant life, but you never know. My point being, some people take these things more seriously than others, and some people take them very very seriously. They have a deep personal investment. In my travels I’ve encountered knots of nerd-dom who are essentially acting like high clergy, guardians of canon. I've learned to never argue with them. It's just not that important to me; not on that level. The moment I smell Nerd Fundamentalism, I go on about my business. I do not engage. I’ve believed for a long time now there’s a cut of nerd-dom who will never be satisfied with any cinematic endeavor unless they have absolute thumbs-up/thumbs-down approval over script, casting, production design, set design, costume design, fight choreography, special effects design, sound editing, direction, original soundtrack, and marketing. Without going into further detail, this is simply not practical. Cue The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”.

    What I will sometimes do, is encourage other nerds to create, write, and copyright their own intellectual properties. Write 50 pages of anything, and keep it coherent. Learn the mechanics of storytelling instead of just posting screech on YouTube as to what’s wrong with someone else’s work. I don’t do this trying to be a smartass; I see it as part of my mission to encourage literacy whenever I can, and there’s always the possibility somebody thinking they can do a better job may actually be right. That person needs encouragement.

    Star Wars is complete pastiche. It has elements of the Western; WWII movies (Don’t believe me, watch Dambusters, or 663 Squadron, then watch the attack on the original Death Star), Saturday Morning serials like Flash Gordon and Buck Rodgers; Samurai movies, most especially Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress (both Steven Speilberg and George Lucas are deep Kurosawa fans and helped him get funding for Kagemusha, which in turn helped him get funding for what Kurosawa regarded as his masterpiece, Ran). I’m certain the word “Jedi” comes from the Japanese “Jidaigeki”; it’s too much of a coincidence. My father was stationed in Japan, and spoke Japanese fluently. I grew up watching jidaigeki, meaning roughly “period” or “historical” dramas.



    I don’t expect to ever again have the reaction to a movie I did when I was a yoot seeing Star Wars for the first time. It’s difficult to explain how different the media landscape was in those days to people who weren’t there. I don’t remember if cable tv had arrived yet; if it did we didn’t have it. I came up with three US network channels, two more Canadian channels because we were right on the border, and two UHF channels, WUTV and PBS. The whole on-demand world did not yet exist, and there was no internet, which meant no social media for nerds to begin flaming properties when they were still in pre-production. Word-of-mouth meant just that. This is all I mean by “realistic expectations”. It’s not intended to be a judgement on anyone except myself.

    [Part Two to follow immediately]

    JAMES
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018
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  2. Eoraptor1

    Eoraptor1 Senior Stratmaster

    Aug 4, 2008
    Niagara Falls, NY
    I always feel the need to point out that when I mention Dune, unless I say otherwise, I’m talking about Frank Herbert’s books. Someone always says, “That movie sucked” even though I’m not talking about the movie. Once a person gets that “sucking” sound in his ears, it often becomes a point of pride, and he’s unlikely to be deterred by something as prosaic as not knowing what he’s talking about. In my opinion, a proper Dune movie has never been made. David Lynch didn’t do it. SyFy Network didn’t do it, and even though he had some visionary ideas, Jodorwosky wasn’t going to do it. I found Jodorwosky’s Dune on Blu-Ray at my public library’s book sale for two dollars. He was planning to do something very different than Herbert’s books, which at the time of his film treatment he admits to not having read. There’s no way of knowing how his film would have been received if he’d been able to get it off the ground in the late 1970s, but the fact that he hadn’t read the source material in and of itself would be enough to outrage the legions of Dune-heads in the age of social media. I can’t overestimate how different nerdland was before the internet. In the 80s I was in my high school’s very first computer programming class programming in Uniflex BASIC, and we would play Avalon Hill’s Dune board game after school in the computer room. The point being, we had to actually interact face-to-face, which is a very different process from commentary behind the relative anonymity of an online web name.



    I digress, again. Star Wars borrows liberally from Dune. Tatooine is basically Dune, only not as severe. (I should also mention Tatooine also resembles Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom in some particulars.) Spice mining, smuggling, moisture reclamation, desert raiders who reflexively attack anyone who isn’t one of them, and a galactic empire with a fanatical police army all play important roles in Herbert’s universe. I’m not saying Star Wars is a complete rip of Dune; because there are many differences. To a nerd’s eye, however, the influence is evident. One of the main themes recurring in the Dune novels, is the chimeric nature of the Hero and of Hero-worship. According to Herbert, human societies naturally drift into hierarchies because of the willingness of humans to surrender their critical judgement to anyone who can successfully wrap himself (or herself) in the prevailing mythology of the society. I personally think this is an oversimplification, but the idea stuck in my head. Corollary to this idea is the basic fallibility of hero types. Even great leaders have clay feet, but, where the mistakes of Joe Six-Pack are localized, the mistakes of a king or general are magnified. The way Herbert states it, “If the errors of a hero are unfortunate, the mistakes of a superhero are tragic”. I think by now, those of you who’ve seen The Last Jedi have probably guessed where I’m going with this. IMO, The Last Jedi was about The Superhero, Luke Skywalker, dealing (or not dealing) with the consequences of his decision to revive the Jedi, and the utility of The Legend vs. What Really Happened. Some things he’ll be able to do himself; some things will have to be left for the next generation. There is precedent for this earlier in the series. Yoda, wisest of the Jedi, trains Dooku, who goes bad. In Return of the Jedi Obi-wan reveals to Luke he thought he could train Anakin as well has Yoda, and Anakin goes very bad. Luke trains Ben Solo, who was already dodgy, and he goes bad. Given all this history, I don’t think it’s particularly unreasonable for Luke to ask himself if this cycle, or at least his part in it, should come to an end. I’ve seen on the net that Mark Hamill didn’t care for the way the character of Luke Skywalker was developed in The Last Jedi, but I’ve also seen him walk that original assessment back, so I can’t really say where his head is at. It may just be my prejudice, but Luke in The Last Jedi reminded me very much of Paul Atreides at the end of Dune Messiah, or in Children of Dune, trapped by his own oracular vision; by his own power, having to hand off the future to a new generation.



    Now, a lot of people in the SF/Fantasy audience don’t care for this version of heroism. They prefer what I call the traditional “hero’s arc”. In this view, after a period of self-discovery, always stopping short of navel-gazing, the Hero gets on with the business of setting the world to rights. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing wrong with this. Some people like fish; some people prefer free-range chicken. I have a friend who refuses to watch Game of Thrones anymore just because things are so messy, and the “good guys” keep getting killed. As far as he’s concerned, it’s just one damned thing after another with no end in sight, and he wants resolution. He has the entire set of George R.R. Martin books on his shelf, but hasn’t read them. He didn’t want his experience of the HBO series to be influenced by the books.



    I’ve written a good deal of commentary here, but in the end, for me, Star Wars is meant to be enjoyed. Plain and simple. As long as I continue to enjoy it, I’ll stick with it. When I no longer enjoy it, I’ll move along, but that will be my decision to make.

    I do hope my little missive gave you all food for thought, which is all I really intended. I just found out this morning, Jan.1, Star Wars: The Last Jedi has made over one billion dollars worldwide, making it the top grossing film of 2017. This despite any backlash. Like the movie or no, Disney is unlikely to get off that money train. I expect to see Star Wars movies being made well into the foreseeable future.

    JAMES
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018

  3. Monkeyboy

    Monkeyboy Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 23, 2015
    Ghost Dog Heart
    The Atonement (for these -> )

    [​IMG]

    has a long way to go , but I see progress.
     
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  4. bchaffin72

    bchaffin72 Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter Vendor Member

    Age:
    45
    Oct 4, 2008
    Stratford,Ontario
    I stand by my original feelings. I both loved and hated it. As it's own thing(if it were a stand alone movie) it was well shot, the effects were great, the acting mostly good, and the visuals exciting. On a superficial level, I was entertained.

    That being said, I thought it was really poor as a sequel to The Force Awakens. Granted, TFA was largely a rehash of the original, BUT it did introduce new characters and posed questions about those characters. And, to me, most of that setup was wasted in TLJ. And so was Captain Phasma. Again. That character was all buildup and no payoff.

    And I think most of the character arcs were badly handled, in general. I don't want to say too much specific(and I've got plenty I could say, in terms of having an honest discussion) unless we're going to get into spoiler talk in order to have an in depth discussion of details.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018
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  5. Mr. Lumbergh

    Mr. Lumbergh needs you to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too. Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jan 10, 2014
    Initech, Inc.
    I’m still in the Episode 1 destroyed it for me camp.
    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018

  6. Class A Knob

    Class A Knob Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    42
    20
    Nov 25, 2017
    California
    I have a hard criticizing the Anakin trilogy because there is just so much that is obviously wrong.

    The original 3 were amazing due to the mysticism attached as well as just coming out of deep left field.

    Rogue One was fantastically dark and gave itself much street cred with absolutely no possibility of sequels.

    The latest series is not bad but just feels wrong for some reason. The Starkiller base is not exactly new (Empire, please design a base without exposed exhausts). The Last Jedi guts the mysticism of the originals with an ice cream scoop.

    I had higher hopes for the Last Jedi because everyone knows Empire Strikes Back (vol. 2 of that trilogy) is the strongest Star Wars movie of them all (even the soundtrack is superior).
     
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  7. Class A Knob

    Class A Knob Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    42
    20
    Nov 25, 2017
    California
    Darth Maul is hands down the WORST character arc. Great job on creating a truly intriguing character. The dual lightsaber alone was freaking awesome.

    So give him less lines than Kramer ("these pretzels are making me thirsty"), give zero backstory, aaaaaand he's cut in half.
     
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  8. bchaffin72

    bchaffin72 Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter Vendor Member

    Age:
    45
    Oct 4, 2008
    Stratford,Ontario
    Yeah. That was stupid, if we're going to talk about the prequels a bit. And it totally invalidates Obi-Wan's "I have the high ground" in Episode III. Maul clearly had the high ground in Episode I so why did Obi-Wan win.......
     
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  9. Eoraptor1

    Eoraptor1 Senior Stratmaster

    Aug 4, 2008
    Niagara Falls, NY
    Jar Jar. I'll use a quote from Jurassic Park. They spent so much energy seeing if they could, they didn't think about whether they should.

    JAMES
     
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  10. bchaffin72

    bchaffin72 Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter Vendor Member

    Age:
    45
    Oct 4, 2008
    Stratford,Ontario
    Well, they definitely shouldn't...............:D
     
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  11. Mississippi_Kid

    Mississippi_Kid Senior Stratmaster

    (SLIGHT) SPOILERS AHEAD:

    Saw TLJ for a second time. I liked it even better. I am completely on board the "Let the past die...kill it if you have to" train. The creators need to feel free to go in completely new directions. Was there juvenile stuff? Yeah. Were there gaping plot holes? Yeah. Where cool characters introduced in an earlier movie only to get killed off? Yeah

    Just like SW has always been.

    I thought TLJ was way better than TFA. And Rogue One was a real departure...introduce a bunch of (anti)heroes...kill them ALL; only the bad guy lives...woah.

    At this point, people can't go in expecting more than they would from the latest Marvel movie. Just relax, and enjoy it. It never was meant to be some sort of religious experience. Like James said...these were fashioned after serial cliffhangers.


    My biggest complaint? They didn't go further in new plot directions. (But I think they will.)

    My biggest fear? The films will be used as tools to propagate the social or political ideas of their creators. (Some hints of this already.)
     
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  12. bchaffin72

    bchaffin72 Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter Vendor Member

    Age:
    45
    Oct 4, 2008
    Stratford,Ontario
    But that's why we can't have nice things anymore...........:D


    Well, if you listen to some out there, TLJ was nothing but a PC, SJW, Feminist piece of s***. A sentiment I don't share, but I think there's some bad writing in it that makes it easier for some people, especially those who seem to want to, to read that into it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
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  13. Ebidis

    Ebidis Providing the world with flat bends since 1985 Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    51
    Nov 14, 2013
    Alabama
    I feel like I'm in the minority these days, but I liked all of the Star Wars movies. I have seen every one of them in the theaters when they were first released, and I enjoyed every one of them.

    I really don't get all of the current Star Wars bashing. It just seems like a hate bandwagon.
     

  14. bchaffin72

    bchaffin72 Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter Vendor Member

    Age:
    45
    Oct 4, 2008
    Stratford,Ontario
    It seems like The Last Jedi has been an incredibly divisive movie, with lots of people out there in internet land who either completely loved it or violently despised it. Makes it hard to be in the middle, with some things that you liked, as well as some legitimate criticisms. The only way to win is not to play, since you're an idiot to one side or the other, no matter what.
     
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  15. CaseCandy

    CaseCandy Senior Stratmaster

    May 9, 2015
    UK/Ireland
    This whole thread goes way over my head.
     
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  16. Monkeyboy

    Monkeyboy Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 23, 2015
    Ghost Dog Heart
    I read that the new director (Rian Johnson) is on board for 4 more, and after the next one, will (very much likely, from the sound of it)
    be moving in new directions. On that last bit: it's Hollywood, so yeah, we can expect propaganda content, subtle or overt . Somebody mentioned earlier that we didn't need to see these characters again (Leia , Luke, etc.) , and I couldn't argue with that, but with that context, I didn't mind what they did with things . I'm not a huge fan, but it was enjoyable enough , going in with medium expectations.

    I did have an odd little thought on the way out, about how non-attached emotionally I was to The Resistance , to the many people that got fried or blown up ; the faceless ones we never met. I had a little chuckle when I thought "how convenient : (spoiler deleted ! ).
     
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  17. Chont

    Chont Senior Stratmaster

    Sep 25, 2012
    Pennsylvania
    I finally saw the film yesterday. I thought it was good. I try to go in to these not expecting too much. I did here rumors it was better than ESB. I didn’t see that. I thought the plot was good and where they went with the characters was good. My only real complaint with this one... and with the last one is I feel like they are trying to cram too much in the duration. Did not need Fin and Rose’s little side show. I thought it would have been much better to have Rose deal with the issue on board. She seemed like a techy character so jamming the signal or something would have fit better in my opinion. And I’m also confused by Leias little EVA. That was a perfect opportunity to write her out after Carrie Fisher’s tragic passing

    I still think they did a great job casting Rey and with her character.
     

  18. Monkeyboy

    Monkeyboy Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 23, 2015
    Ghost Dog Heart
    Yeah , too much cramming. All the blockbusters do it, and creates a tone of frenetic unbelievability. Stop and have lunch
    now and then while you're saving the galaxy :rolleyes:
     
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  19. Eoraptor1

    Eoraptor1 Senior Stratmaster

    Aug 4, 2008
    Niagara Falls, NY
    This happens fairly often in SF movies. How long would a person really survive a vacuum? I've often wondered what would really happen...



    JAMES
     
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  20. bchaffin72

    bchaffin72 Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter Vendor Member

    Age:
    45
    Oct 4, 2008
    Stratford,Ontario
    To me, the problem is that they picked a premise with no real external conflict, a rather dull variety the space chase. Because of this, they had to create busywork and conflict for the characters, to kill time until they got where they were going. So Finn and Rose had an ultimately useless side quest, since it failed and Poe and Holdo needlessly butted heads, creating a situation that didn't need to exist but for the writer's need to create some tension. Which it failed to do for me, as it felt too contrived.

    And I may have to agree to disagree with you about Rey. I think the actress is good, I like Daisy Ridley, but the character of Rey is, so far, rather boring and hasn't really earned any of her accomplishments, IMO. Out of all the new characters, she's actually the least interesting to me.
     
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