I took myself to the movies last night specifically to re-watch The Last Jedi. The late showing was 3D, I got myself some snacks (popcorn, pop, and Snickers Bites) and settled in.

The first time I saw it, a couple of days after it opened, I went as a fan. I was obsessed with Star Wars back when I was a kid – I proudly admit I saw the first film, forever STAR WARS to me, not this A New Hope nonsense – back in 1977, a week or so after it was released. I saw it, in the same theater, fifty-four times during its initial release. I still have the TOPS™ trading cards, had the action figures, was an early member of the Star Wars Fan Club and had a series of official movie posters hanging in my bedroom. I had the comics. I had the Jedi transcendental meditation book. I had the novelization, the soundtrack LP, and more.

Seriously. I’ve always been that kind of nerd and I did a LOT of babysitting to feed my habit.

I was also the official ‘standing in line all day’ placeholder for my friends on The Empire Strikes Back’s opening day in 1981. I skipped school to sit in the sun starting around dawn, for a 7pm opening showing at the River Hills theater in downtown Des Moines. I was sixteen and was there alone, perfectly safe, perfectly fine other than my fishbelly-white skin getting scorched. Just me and a bunch of other geeks reading and chatting and speculating what would happen in the new film. I think I still have that ticket stub somewhere (I was #101 through the door), as well as the one for Return of the Jedi (also skipped school and sat all day in front of the same theater holding the spot for my friends, just this time it was college instead of high school, ticket number NINE, bitches! 😉 ).

Our daughter is also a Star Wars geek – far more than I am, to be completely honest – and Bill thinks we’re both nuts. He never saw any of the films until after we’d married and he simply doesn’t understand our dedication.

I liked TLJ well enough on my first viewing. Wasn’t blown away, didn’t dislike it either. I felt ‘meh’, I guess, until the final act which, for me, is when the film found its heart and I fell in love. Why’d I decide to go see it again, then?

Because I’m a storyteller and a movie buff. Now that I knew what happened, I could examine it and look at other things, deeper things, quirky things, tambo things.

So, here are my second-viewing takeaways. There are some spoilers, in case you still haven’t seen it.

Every exterior shot of Crait is fucking STUNNING. The red against the white and black is FUCKING STUNNING. It’s blood and life and death and desperation and the color both sides share. The Millennium Falcon flying through what’s basically a big red geode was so FUCKING STUNNING I cried—again—at how utterly gorgeous it was. Sunlight behind the First Order during the battle was FUCKING STUNNING.

Whoever handled the cinematography/layout/CGI on that part of the film had better get nominated for some major awards.

Same for the lightsaber battle in Snoke’s throne room. The lighting and color (so much LUSCIOUS RED!!!) was incredible, as was the choreography. Ridley and Driver looked both relaxed and intense during the whole battle, so kudos to them, too. I don’t, personally, know enough about sword fighting to weigh in on if they actually did well ‘fighting’ or not, but it looked great to me as a layperson and fan. They have good chemistry too, which also helped.

All in all, I loved the red flashes here and there throughout the film. They picked the perfect red for it, and it worked.

Adam Driver (I didn’t care for him as Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens) was quivering with purpose and on point through almost the entire film. He stumbled some during the final bit on Crait, in my opinion, back to the ‘I’m a pissed off teenager who needs a time out’ he was during The Force Awakens. Blech. Rest of the film, he was great, though.

I still love Rey and anyone who thought she’d go dark was out of their mind. Gray, maybe. Dark, nope, not her. Not once, in two films, has she so much as faltered from Trying To Do The Right Thing, even if it was to her personal detriment. Again, she might seek the middle balance of gray, but there’s no dark in there.

I really appreciated the character study of long-term depression in Luke. Nailed it. And I especially appreciate it as impacting the hero, the legend, and the man. Great writing there.

I don’t think I’m ever going to be a fan of Poe. Meh.

Also Porgs. Meh. I know why they were needed (#SaveThePuffins!) and they were okay, but became a bit intrusive.

The Jedi tree and its burning in more-or-less the same shape as the symbol of the Resistance/Rebellion was a nice touch plus it was great to see Yoda being snarky. “Page turners, they were not.” HAH!

I really appreciated how, at the end, after almost two films of Finn seeming to only care about Rey and staying out of skirmishes, he’d decided he is indeed a Rebel, and how Rey smiled at him when he went to Rose after their hug. Nice character development for him. There’s just something about Finn that’s likeable. Not sure what it is, though.

The casino was okay. Seemed over long and, well, much the CGI of the fathiers was choppy and obviously fake, especially when they had riders. I get why it was needed, story and theme wise, but… meh. It could have been shorter, smoother, and overall better, imho. In fact, a lot of the film could have been tightened.

Go for the geekery, stay for the cinematography.

Lastly, there’s a major change I wish they would have made, after Carrie’s death.

They had a perfect opportunity to kill her character near the end of the first act. She wasn’t in nearly the rest of the movie and, in my opinion, they could have let the character die, right then, and changed the ending to keep Luke around for the third film. What little she *did* do afterward was minimal and could have been handled by other characters. As it’s set up now, having her missing from the next film is going to be weird. Maybe. It all depends on how it’s handled, I guess.

I’ll wait to see it again after Laura buys the DVD. Until then, May The Force Be With You.



1 Comment

  1. Karen in WA

    I’m with you on pretty much everything.  I thought for sure they’d let Leia go with the rest of the bridge commanders, much neater an any possibility I can come up with to explain her absence in the next film.

     It was definitely disappointing to see Kylo go all spoiled bratty again, after he actually was an interesting character the rest of the movie.  

    Only two parts really irritated me after thinking on it a bit.  How come Rose goes from someone who “spends most of her time behind pipes” to a badass pilot?  Kinda jarred a bit.  The other bit that made me wrinkle my brow was how Luke and Kylo found any virgin salt flat to fight on (and wasn’t that just lovely foreshadowing with the boot marks–or lack thereof?) when that barrage should have left the whole area a lake of molten salt slag.

    I went in with zero expectations, and was entertained for the duration.  What more can a fangirl ask for?

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