It's this time of the year again. A new Star Wars movie was released last weekend and of course I was at the multiplex to see it.
Not on the opening night, mind you. From what I read about this sequel, I had a feeling it wasn't going to be worth the trouble of taking off from work early and schlepping all the way to the other side of town in pre-Christmas mall traffic. Yes, it's Christmas shopping season in Japan, too. What did you think?
Instead of Friday night, we went on Sunday after lunch (Korean food at the mall is not all that bad, it turns out).
In case you are curious about how much movie tickets cost in Japan, here's your answer - 1 800 yen per person on a normal day. Sunday was a normal day.
The theater was packed. And by "packed" I mean, every single seat was occupied, including the really shitty ones on both sides. We were lucky, I pre-ordered on the internet and we got the center right behind the disabled section. I could stretch my legs. My knee is killing me. I should really get it looked at by a sports doctor, or something.
Anyway... About Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
I didn't like it.
You see, I'm an old-timer. I grew up on the original trilogy. The first time I ever went to the movies as a child was to see Episode IV. Yep, that's how old I am. I remember crying when Luke was hanging on for dear life in The Empire Strikes Back. I cringed at the Ewoks in The Return of the Jedi. I thought Han Solo was the coolest dude in the whole universe. The princess was an ass-kicking fighter, donut hair and all. Darth Vader was the ultimate, THE ULTIMATE bad guy. And Luke? ... He was Luke. Skywalker, damn it!
The prequels were such pieces of utter shite that I quite successfully managed to erase them from both short and long term memory.
And then came The Force Awakens, and the side story of Rogue One.
And then... the long awaited The Last Jedi.
Of course we all know that the title is a lie. There will be more Jedi, more films, more movie tickets to sell, more dollars to be made. We're not that naive.
Stupid title notwithstanding, the whole movie was just that. Stupid. Either it was trying too hard, or not trying at all. I can't quite decide which.
The script was utter rubbish, worse than most B-grade fanfic out there. Unbelievable that Rian Johnson got paid big bucks to write such drivel. First semester screen writing students could have done better. This was paint-by-numbers screen writing of the crappiest order. Seriously.
But hey, Mr. Johnson got the job, got paid big bucks for this pile of steaming poo, the movie got made, and I bought the ticket. More power to him.
If you haven't watched the movie, don't worry, there are no real spoilers below.
The Last Jedi had just about everything in it but the kitchen sink.
Purple haired menopausal admirals, chubby Asian chicks, cringe worthy creatures, foaming at the mouth Nazi-like cartoonish generals and enough convenient plot devices to power several spin off side stories.
One thing really stood out to me, though. I guess Mr. Johnson thought that if he stuck in there enough "strong" women with guns, the franchise will appeal to female moviegoers.
Well, I am a female moviegoer and no, Mr. Johnson, that's not how it works. Your attempt was so pathetically clear that it was just that - pathetic. You see, the problem is that you are not a woman, and what you did was write these "strong" female characters the way that a man imagines them. And as we can see from the rest of your script, imagination is not really your strongest point. Instead of being strong and empowering, these women ended up flat, stereotypical and cartoonish.
But it was the bad guys who got the short end of the stick in this script. Take the First Order general Foaming At The Mouth Whats His Face Whatever, for example.
Mr. Johnson, you know what the problem with cartoonish villains is? We laugh at them, because we know they are nothing more than convenient plot devices to move the story forward.
You were clearly inspired by the Nazis in your screen writing and directing, which in itself shows that you took the easy way out. Because you do know what makes a good villain, I'm sure they taught you that in film school. Balance. Make a villain we can care about. But then again, your imagination... not a strong point... right?
Which brings us to Snoke. Holymotherofbatman. Snoke was a joke the first time around, and now that we see more of him, it's clear he belongs on Saturday Night Live as a caricature of himself. Stupid.
Which brings us to Kylo Ren.
The boy had so much potential in the last movie. You destroyed it all. But at least one line of your script got it right - he's just a spoiled brat with an anger management problem. A pretender in a mask (which thankfully came off, and goddamn... Adam Driver has a HUGE nose.)
It's hard to believe that a former Jedi student and the leader of the Dark Side has not learned what most semi-intelligent kids master when they are three years old - that temper tantrums are counterproductive and won't get you anywhere. The first important life lesson that you learn in kindergarten. I guess, Mr. Johnson, you either don't have kids, or you have nannies raising them. Too bad.
You know what made Vader so appealing that even after he's dead he's still more of a villain figure than your Kylo boy? Balance. We could see that there was a real person behind that mask. A bad guy, but with more class than the entire First Order combined. Sadly, with your chronic lack of imagination Kylo will never get there. I almost feel sorry for the poor guy in Episode IX.
Which brings us to the end.
Yes, I will go and see Episode IX when it is released. Yes, I can only hope you will actually do what you are getting paid for and make a better movie. From what I'm reading, it seems you are attached to Episode IX, as well. Disappointing, but hey, mediocrity rules supreme in Hollywood these days. You pushed and elbowed your way to the best spot at the feeding trough, so more power to you. I respect gumption when I see it. Even if said gumption comes with a chronic lack of imagination.
So, was there anything good about the movie?
I bought another Star Wars cup to add to my collection. Made in Japan, exclusively for the Japanese market.
It joins the previous cup from The Force Awakens.
So, that is another reason why I will see Episode IX when it is released - to complete my cup collection.
I didn't bother with any other official merchandise.
I will not be re-watching The Last Jedi. For 1 800 yen I can get 3 (three) soy dark mocha chip frappuccinos. And this time, the frappuccinos win.
In other news, I'll be spending my winter break on planet Scarif. And I'm not even a big Rogue One fan. Though in all fairness, even sans Luke it was still infinitely better than The Last Jedi.
PS. Yes, it's time to resuscitate this blog.