Results 1 to 14 of 14
  1. #1
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Water Valley, MS
    Posts
    10,863
    Blog Entries
    134


    Foose Analyzes An Obscure Science Fiction Franchise And Eventually Defends Episode VIII

    I: A LONG TIME AGO IN A GALAXY FAR TOO INTO STAR WARS

    the last jedi is the best star wars film. let me clearly contextualize that, because i don't say it lightly. as a child i loved star wars. a statement as evergreen as it will likely always be, star wars is a gargantuan pop culture phenom unlike any other. sure it may belong to the grimy hands of the disney corporation these days but consider, it rose to the prominence that caught the dollar sign shaped pupils of the house of mouse, largely on its own. its a property that became a powerhouse by the sheer fervor it produced in the fanbase it cultivated. it means so much to so many, and i am no different. so yes, as a child i loved star wars, but it was actually something of an abstract love. that is to say, i loved stepping inside this world, exploring it, meeting new characters, witnessing world altering battles and engaging the grand drama that granted its space opera status, but i suppose i hadnt yet grown into my big boy ocd britches because i could not have told you my favorite star wars movie. i saw the sw films in numerical order moooostly. i saw phantom menace as a kid and loved it, it was charming and cute and visually delightful (lets not get into that). i then remember dad renting attack of the clones at the local vhs place FRONT ROW VIDEO, may it rest in peace, and the same day picking up an accompanying episode II poster that still hangs above my usual sitting place at my computer desk to this day. as for episode II? ehhh i wasnt so sure, even then it felt comical, broken, clunky, aimless and wooden. then came the wait for the big one: episode III, and in that time i decided to get to know the films that birthed a cultural revolution, and more distinctly, the story of vader.


    to quickly pivot once more, bear with the twists and turns hopefully the ride is fun? i actually first learned about the original star wars movies via the snes, and the super star wars trilogy. i remember a young me, say 6 years old or so, trying them out and wondering...who is this luke? for a young me, skywalker, this most ubiquitous of pop culture surnames that represents a timeless tale of a great hero set against the backdrop of an otherworldy war, was anakin. not because i thought he was a great character, but because its all i knew. i figured luke was anakins son by the unusual numbering of the star wars movies though, and i thought yknow someday im gonna see what star wars was for the first generation of fans. thats how i rather innocently viewed it, a generational divide bare of inquiries of quality or other factors, merely a representative of the times. for young me it took the rising anticipation of episode III to finally take a shot at the original trilogy, i think because i had a tendency to favor the new, the shiny, the most advanced technology and the highest quality visuals, sound, costume design and set design copious dollars could assemble. i didnt like old shows, old music, and indeed, i didnt like old movies. yet this was becoming different. these movies meant something, something big, a bridge to the origins of that which i knew as star wars, what started it all. i remember it in vivid strokes, dad bought the original trilogy boxset, perfect timing. i rushed downstairs and grabbed the first: episode IV: a new hope. i ran back upstairs to the tv, placed the disc in the dvd player and lept into our thick cushiony reclining chair that sat in a corner with enough distance from the tv. i waited a moment for all the typical dvd hooplah, fbi warnings and the sort, and then BAM! just as id known and felt it for ages, the music swells up like an alarm clock for the weary soul and im perked up like the soundwaves are made of caffeine. i hit play and leave my body. the hours pass as im glued to the screen, and eventually as the credits roll and im shot back into my flesh sack, i think to myself: “it was okay”. ill get back to that, assuredly. at the time though it wasnt about analysis of my feelings, it was about continuing the journey. so there the very same night i zipped downstairs, left ep iv in its proper place and nabbed ep v and dashed back. a repeat of the same symptoms, awestruck paralysis and nostalgia for that which i only just met. time does its ruthless Moving Forward thing and ep v too lowers the curtain. i think to myself, “better!(?)” yes, ill get back to that. i didnt have quite the energy even as a young boundless boy to engage three star wars movies in a night so i tuck in and eagerly await the next day, the finale. anticipation shakes hands with reality, and i take one last trip into the past as episode vi enters my dvd player and my eternal consciousness. it pours into the cranial crevices unoccupied and hardens to change the pattern of my being. as one last time my spirit is spitballed out of the screen into my carcass, the infinite space swallows the screen and star wars effectively ends, i reach a conclusion: “that...was….amazing”. no doubt about it, it was my favorite star wars movie. even when i did see episode III, in theater no less, while it was at the time captivating, dark and intense, i definitely loved it, certainly the most of the prequels, it didnt touch episode vi.



    now i dont tell you this to imply my opinion’s value should be correlated to my childhood star wars tastes, i could elaborate on my old feelings but they arent sophisticated, iv was too simple for young me and vi was the all important climax that basically found the emotional core of the series while presenting some badass battles (i didnt notice all the filler i guess?). really what this is meant to illustrate is, besides a window into my specific approach to the series, my incomplete and unsophisticated view of the series as a kid. however i also think its valuable because it provides a starting point: my first favorite star wars movie was return of jedi. good, we have a beginning to the arc. so, what then? well time passed, media loves came and went, but star wars always lingered. cartoons would crop up (the family guy specials got alot of love around here), video games would appear into frame, i spent alot of time playing lego star wars and alot of time watching dad play knights of the old republic, weird cgi movies happened, rumors of live action tv series swirled the drain, but one thing was certain: there’d never be another main series star wars movie. i was content with that. in time i decided to sit and rewatch the six films: I was no longer charming or any of that...yeah lets keep not talking about that, II was bad point blank, and IIIs glaring cracks began to show in the surface. perhaps the internet discourse on the prequels poisoned me irreversibly. nonetheless i press onward into iv, a bit less than enthused due to memories treating it as little than a blueprint. yet, this time was, well different. it was simple, but it was pure, it handled the chunks of lore and the presentation of unknown landscapes with deft precision, erecting effortlessly classic scenes on top of each other, giving us the archetype hero/villain story for the age, for ages even. however, it was deeper than that, and that really sunk in when i rewatched episode v. im not gonna make any fans here, so i might as well say it, and it may as well salt the wound seared into the fabric of fanboyism by my opening statement: episode v is not that good.


  2. #2
    withered gas station rose Bart's treehouse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    6,215


    don't u have a thread for this

  3. #3
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Water Valley, MS
    Posts
    10,863
    Blog Entries
    134


    II: “EMPIRE” STRIKES ME AS WACK

    this is probably where those who graciously gave me benefit of the doubt would jettison me to the rancor pit, but let me explain. episode v isnt bad, obviously not. it contains some of the original trilogy’s most memorable scenes, lines, characters, in fact i think the reason its responded to with such veneration is because in a way, it is exactly what a sequel should be. it expands the already impossibly vast spacescape of the series, peppers in new characters, new heroes and villains, new planets, new creatures, and new revelations to chew on that more deeply define the contours of the central story. i get that, and i respect that, but lets extrapolate a bit. when i say “not that good”, i mean not THAT good. not best good. this is where we get tangled in the thick weeds of subjectivity but if i may posit my viewpoint as closer to the gates of the hallowed ground known as fact, i dont think episode v can be the best star wars movie. yes it expands upon the series but it almost entirely relies on the original to succeed on those grounds. take hoth for example, an exciting new locale that gives us some beautiful sets and snazzy winter wear for our heroes, but what else? it largely exists as an extended action sequence, a dive into the battlefield to get a taste of the nitty gritty “wars” side of star wars more purely, a swing of the camera away from the main progressing story and toward the battles that clear the way to make said central story possible. important? of course. all the same, increasingly redundant. the hoth setpiece is fun...once. after that it devolves into little than a blueprint, but unlike the blueprint of episode iv, it has no character to beef it up. i dont deny its well made and well directed but despite the name of the entire series i think diluting star wars into a war movie does it a disservice and over time becomes mere time chomping. enough hoth though, what else can i shit on from empire? boba fett? he sucks, and he goes out like a bitch in the next movie by the way but it was fine then? nostalgia is a powerful opioid. boba is a footsoldier with a paint job and a vague mysterious and thus i guess “cool” backstory, he never really for me felt like an imposing threat however, i appreciated the attempt to set a fire under han’s ass and give him stakes that set him apart from his smarmy comic relief act in episode iv, but its only a half-success, and that success is han’s failure more than anything of boba’s, but more on that later.


    however that leads to lando, and while i love the cloud city setpiece, again gorgeous and memorable and that music my word, a favorite piece among the scores to be sure, but lando...well ill merely say this: lando is a kindergarten estimation of later, more successful efforts on the grey area of sw character moral compasses and the like. i do enjoy his sort of underplayed redemption in episode vi however, but here hes just a predictable rogue who got caught up with the wrong people. it toys with the nature of how these rather innately questionable scoundrels could in fact be bought and paid for, that not everyone takes a side in this war for emotional or ethical stakes but to make a buck or get by, but it just sort of leaves this point ponderously dangling. so what else? dagobah? its fun, but while i commend episode v on paper for its bevy of neat new worlds and characters, narratively it leaves things a bit fractured and odd pacing wise for me. yoda is a delight though, no denying that, a trip back to episode v is a worthy antidote for Serious Face CG Yoda, a decrepit little gremlin eager to have a cackle but still bountiful with knowledge, i like to think of yoda as so knowledgeable and brilliant that he need not possess an iota of inner turmoil, at such an inner zen that he can take the piss out of his padawan. few complaints about this section really but a greatest sw film does not it make, certainly not alone. ok then enough chatter about mr contrarian dumb idiot man’s bugaboos about what pop culture decided to long ago to change it Is and will always be the best star wars movie, lets get to the two big points i cant deny: the central and naturally most important story, that of luke and vader, is astonishingly developed, and the intensity, darkness, and stakes are all piled much higher than before. forming a bond between luke and vader sets new goals and creates a clear dichotomy between two avatars of the sides we face in this grandiose battle. its earned well, episode iv keeps luke at arms length from his father, an indication that he is not yet ready amplified by witnessing the death of his master, so when an entire movie later we see them clash Laser Swords its immensely satisfying and you feel in the lite brite dazzled friction of their chaotic ballet the growth it took to send luke to this point. he is no longer just a pilot who found a Plot Device in a massive space station, he is a jedi, and he is a force for good tackling the embodiment of evil, before realizing he is bonded by blood to that which he directly opposes, a point carried out with more detail in episode vi.


    then, theres the hopelessness. episode iv ends...rather generic if i may say? its also not very open ended, a medal ceremony where all our heroes are peachy keen and just so durned pleased as punch to have been of service. it paints them as heroes but doesnt really see them as characters, because in some way, they really arent yet. they suited roles, but their depth was missing. then we have episode v’s ending. here is where the series truly begins toying with the conventions. the bravest thing episode v does is refuse you a happy ending. really, nothing goes well, han is frozen, luke loses a hand and has to deal with being related to the greatest villain in the galaxy, evil is winning and our heroes have been thoroughly duped. we zoom out at the end with no sense of how this could be repaired. the answers are so unobvious that episode vi’s beginning may feel a bit clunky or too episodic, too television to be opening a sw film, but its a testament to the refusal to set up a sequel with an excited glance into new story threads, but by crushing hopes and dreams and cutting the cords to how things were supposed to narratively develop. episode v’s true genius is its deceit. it is ostensibly a darker movie but its the way it unfolds to show the true weight of its goals that weighs powerfully on the characters, and on us. it sends us floating into purgatory, knowing somehow things will be okay, but fearlessly allowing one triumphant emotional core to seal its grand adventure: all encompassing, abject failure. it resonates to this day. yet, these are still more story themes than character themes. the depths that could be mined of humanizing to the point of glaring warts had yet to be reached. this will be important.

  4. Thumbs Up To This Post by: cam, pilcrow

  5. #4
    Perfectly cromulent korusan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    I'm from Canada, eh. People think I'm slooooow.
    Posts
    97


    Empire and Last Jedi are both Very Good Movies. Empire is still better, but despite its messiness Last Jedi is a hell of a lot better than fanwank fest Rogue One.
    please watch my duck cartoon:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFA9fBhIeR8

  6. #5
    nsfw pilcrow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Californiaphile
    Posts
    15,664
    Blog Entries
    203


    unannounced surprise thread hijacking time? unannounced thread hijacking time.

    META MUSINGS FROM AN INEPT NERD ON A FRANCHISE LITERALLY EVERYONE BUT ME HAS SEEN. EPISODE IV: THE FIRST ONE

    - hey I'm gonna watch all three star wars trilogies in full for the first time and write things that I think. the overwhelming odds are that everything I say has been repeated ad nauseum before, but hopefully I'll provide enough hot take rankings to keep some of y'all entertained. I'm also trying to write these with a more meta approach as someone who's experiencing a hugely established franchise from a nearly complete newcomer's perspective, so that I'm not just analyzing some of the most-analyzed movies ever made. you can also check my criticker for the pure number ratings if you're that kinda person.

    - 15 minutes into a new hope, my overwhelming first impression: wow, this is some fuckn nerdy shit right here. and yet throughout most of my life and certainly all of my life after discovering the internet, this franchise has constantly been propped up in the upper echleon of the all-time blockbusters. wonder what that says about the evolution of "nerdiness" into essentially a highly marketable and profitable commodity. at the same time, star wars being the juggernaut that it is has certainly been instrumental in propelling once-fringe subcultures into the zeitgeist. does this cycle of breakthrough works boosting visibility of less-noticed subcultural works (and the types of fandoms that come with it) which in turn gain breakthrough moments themselves continue through the rest of the series, or is the franchise at the point where it may as well be divorced from the nerd subcultures that it draws from? oh, hold that thought, here comes an extremely young harrison ford.

    - to put it nicely, I think the overreliance on special effects for the sake of immersion is one of the worst trends to happen to the modern blockbuster. (this could also because I've seen perhaps too many horrid looking special-effects wankfests this year, but I stand by it.) so this flick's ample usage of smoke machines and real-life locations is a welcome reprieve on the eyes. I also just like the general aesthetic of late 70s early 80s soundstage sci-fi settings, so harrison ford running around pushing big control panel buttons and shooting light beams is the shit. hard to imagine the modern abrams polish in the new trilogy looks better than this, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

    - have I ever mentioned that I love space shit, because I love space shit. I'll never say no to an adventure story about the mystique of the FINAL FRONTIER, but I think the types of space stories that draw me in the most are ones detailing the daily lifes of our possible future in space. in the big empty void where everything we take for granted no longer exists, these stories have the ability to strike at the heart of fundamental parts of society and human nature now that everything else is stripped away. it's why WALL-E still probably ranks high up in my all-time films and Planetes ranks in my all-time tv shows. back to the flick at hand, much of this first installment is clearly preoccupied with space adventures and good vs evil at its purest, but it's the moments that draw from societal experiences on Earth and extrapolate into space that captured my imagination the most. minor worldbuilding elements like little nomadic trader dudes selling junked droids or language barriers among different species go a long way in building a culture that's distinctly human despite our GALAXY CROSSING adventure.

    - painting in broader thematic strokes, the hero's journey is obviously one of the most classic human stories, and I'm sure no one wants to read another essay about how this movie draws from ancient greek epics and the like, so I'll spare you. I do think, however, that using a story that almost exclusively works in age-old archetypes plays into ideas of space stories being most powerful when they're about something distinctly human. surely not what anyone had in mind when they thought up the idea of rebels pulling off the classic heist in a space station, but when your movie ends with your heroes grinning as they get Literal Medals, it's hard not to consider that this movie isn't really ambitious at all in its story. then it's quite a testament to the universe it's created that it manages to still be an effortless watch despite using a story framework that is quite literally thousands of years old.

    - since I have many more of these to presumably get through, I'll leave it at that for now and present you with my FLAMING HOT RANKS thus far:

    1. IV

    see you tomorrow, when I hopefully have a chance to start spewing leftist politics at blockbuster movies!

  7. Thumbs Up To This Post by: Nitsy, tyler

  8. #6
    Pin Pal
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Posts
    474
    Blog Entries
    3


    Nice analysis

  9. #7
    I'm a real user of women hutz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    11,901


    thanks I worked very hard on it

  10. #8
    nsfw pilcrow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Californiaphile
    Posts
    15,664
    Blog Entries
    203


    EPISODE V:

    - I'm sure I won't have a single analysis of this movie that hasn't been repeated endlessly already, so I'm gonna try to structure this post around some more general outlook on sequels and how someone viewing ep V in full for the first time in the year 2019 inevitably views it through the lens of the sequel culture that has inundated hollywood for the latter half of this whole decade. I did say these were gonna be meta. you were warned.

    - the way I see it, there's two main ways to approach the plot of a big blockbuster sequel. either you pick up right where your last installment ended, capitalizing on the rapport between audience and characters that you've already built to launch right into further big flashy adventures. alternatively, you break up every part of what made your last installment successful, scattering characters across the furthest reaches of space and time, slowly cultivating hype through your sequel as your characters go through trials and eventually reach the catharsis of seeing the whole gang back in action. this is obviously a simplification and there's lots of places to inject creativity into these frameworks, but like its predecessor, ep V seems to generally satisfied to rest on established plot archetypes and let its characters and setting do the heavy lifting.

    - from the very first scene, ep V seems to go directly for the first approach outlined, dropping us right in the middle of some further escapades with the whole gang and giving all its characters brief reintroduction scenes within the first 10 minutes. this is all well and good, but starting where you left off also raises the question of how you extrapolate and continue character arcs beyond the bow-tie ending that your previous installment left them at (more on big cross-franchise continuity later). and to be honest, ep V doesn't navigate this minefield (or asteroid field? haha #topical) exactly perfectly. romantic implications complete with a swelling LOVE THEME start creeping in quite a bit, one of the telltale signs of not knowing what to do with your characters. the robot duo, whose jokes were mostly already covered in ep IV, struggle to provide fresh comedic relief (surely I'm not the only one who wished 3PO was turned tf off for like the entire last third of this??). this is unfortunately a problem that's only going to compound as the franchise expands and treads on to the dozen-movie mark, so one can only hope there's more layers to these characters being prepared so we don't have to start throwing darts to pick character to ship.

    - the reason I bring up the idea of scattering your characters in preparation for catharsis is because ep V makes ample use of this too, splitting up its lovable gang to pursue more isolated stories in preparation for the inevitable reunification catharsis. for the most part, this fares a lot better than this installment's attempt to extend its character arcs past their relatively simple ep IV trajectories. daddy issues is a very natural place to pursue next for luke, although I honestly forgot this was the episode with the big father drop (I've seen the last third of this movie before...for some reason? just didn't know it was this particular one). I dunno how hot of a take this is among the Warsies (trekkies? warsies? no? ok fine) but it feels a bit soon for a movie that's very consciously setting itself up for further installments (more on this very soon, I promise!). to me, luke's dad is the giant looming shadow in the very back of the classic movie posters where everyone is striking sick poses. a presence that casts a shadow over all our characters but only comes into full focus after everything in front of it. and yet, in an installment that's largely set-up for the big catharsis, daddy issues are rarely the main focus until the sudden big climactic meme reveal. they rarely feel like a suffocating presence over luke's training, or really a presence at all, since his primary concerns at this stage seem more rooted in the present and the future than a past still waiting to be explored. which brings me to my big main point of all this...

    - as someone who's seeing the full picture of this trilogy (and not just big moments or stray hours of each movie seen in childhood) for the first time in an era when sequels are the glue keeping hollywood together, are my standards for larger continuities and character arcs spanning more than one movie subconsciously influenced by our sequel culture? when sequels are not just a natural path to follow, but sometimes the foregone conclusion before the first movie even releases, the balancing act between standalone journey arcs (see: episode IV) and extended universe backstory groundwork (see: episode V) is obviously going to start tipping toward the latter. infinity war can get away with what it does because at its outset, everyone knows it's part 1 of 2. developments without payoff are not only acceptable, but now expected of non-finale installments. episode V, of course, comes from a much different context than this modern sequel fever, but many of the age-old ideas behind sequels still apply. ultimately, the challenge of building upon a standalone movie, particularly one that revels in its usage of the archetypal standalone hero's journey trajectory, while simultaneously laying the groundwork for future installments seems to be one that episode V often struggles to achieve. trapped in the boundary between a self-contained adventure and a sprawling dozen-film universe, the empire strikes back lacks both the confidence of its predecessor and the catharsis that its buildup aims to provide for future installments. perhaps yoda said it best when he said that thing about the past, present, and future - focusing on all three, not a winning strategy.

    - as a closing thought, the stumbles of episode V could be viewed in hindsight as a necessary evil, bridging the gap into a wider universe that spans movies and decades, but it's hard to say how much of this hindsight view comes from our modern expectations of what constitutes a sequel or a cinematic universe. one could go further than ask, then, if our sequel culture has led to or is leading to the death of the standalone blockbuster. but this is getting a bit long, so the rest of that line of thought is left as an exercise to the reader.

    1. IV
    2. V

  11. Thumbs Up To This Post by: cam, tyler

  12. #9
    nsfw pilcrow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Californiaphile
    Posts
    15,664
    Blog Entries
    203


    EPISODE VI:



    - in tribute to the latest episodic adventures of our favorite rebels (OFR?) which one thread OP rather accurately described as three or four episodes of a star wars tv show shoved into one movie, this post will also be a series of mostly unrelated points about the trilogy overall as well as some points I wanted to cover in the first two posts but omitted because they didn't fit with the rest of the writeup. FULL TRILOGY SPOILERS!! you've been warned!!!!

    - one of my favorite storytelling devices is episodic outings that slowly start to intertwine and mingle into a big serialized climax (as with the ep IV post, see: Planetes). episode VI largely never takes full advantage of this, with most of its adventures being relatively self-contained excuses to hang out with our favorite rebels (OFR, I'm making this a thing now). when you've spent two movies endearing your main cast to the audience, it's hard to say this isn't a valid path to take the finale, although spending 20-30 minutes on what is essentially a side story with jabba the hutt is a pretty direct antithesis to the sequel culture discussed in the previous post. interesting to see the two general frameworks of a sequel interact in ep VI, which never feels quite as uncertain as ep V (since it does have an end goal in mind this time around) but still reaches for the best of both worlds with varying success.

    - in the ep IV writeup I touched a bit on how this series has been reveling in its direct use of very traditional archetypal hero's journey stories (frankly sorta refreshing in an era when every blockbuster is trying to be the next big SUBVERSIVE thing), but I held off on perhaps the most important archetype at the center of it all. the good vs evil struggle is a difficult balancing act, particularly when your goal is to avoid nuance and draw clear lines between the light and dark sides for your audience. one could even argue that the pure good vs evil story in a total political vacuum is harder to perfect than stories where nuances exist on both sides. not only do your big bads need to possess enough visceral evil to power the final catharsis when the good guys finally punch the villains out of existence, but the lack of nuance makes it all too easy to fall into cliched pitfalls that turn your sources of evil into useless platitudes or comical parodies of the idea. episode IV toes this line the best, unashamedly selling its absolute lack of subtlety as a complement to its classic hero's journey story. as episodes V and VI try to push into backstories that are inherently not allowed to possess any depth beyond the usual "good guy turns bad," the device starts falling apart, culminating in episode VI's emperor, a dialogue machine that spits out an impressive amount of meaningless platitudes about EVIL. even yoda himself, who has never had any meaningful thematic insight in the first place, is more hollow than ever in his death scene, which tries so hard to avoid implications of fascism and pacifism that at the end of the day, what's the difference if luke offs his dad or not.

    - diving back into the ep IV writeup again, I briefly mentioned the distinctly 20th-century aesthetic of a future with gold-plated robot humans and spaceships in soundstages, and now that we're at the end of this aesthetic era of the franchise, it seems appropriate to revisit it a bit. during the many identical fight scenes throughout this trilogy, I had some time to think about it some more, and ultimately the aesthetic of this first trilogy seems to mark the end of a very distinct era of 20th century american technological optimism. I'm sure much better pieces have been written about this period, but star wars comes at the tail end of the era when the space race, the world fairs, the tomorrowlands captured american imagination. by the time episode VI released, the images of a hardware-based future (flying cars, lunar module, animatronics, etc) were already beginning to shift toward software and computing power (CGI, supercomputers, self-driving cars, etc). although the trend is not especially noticeable within the initial trilogy outside of maybe some increased CGI work as the series progressed, I suspect the decade timeskip into the 90s for the prequel and then into the 2010s for the next trilogy will put our shift in perception of the future on full display. I'm particularly interested in how the new trilogy is going to incorporate our present's future aesthetics (sleek touchscreen UIs, virtual reality, etc) in a world so attached to walking robots and miniature-modeled giant spaceships that would be hopelessly anachronistic in any new blockbuster.

    - and since I don't want to close out this trilogy without at least imposing some SJW talking points on anyone reading, it's pretty much impossible to separate that last point from the unfettered march of capitalism that has increasingly monopolized our collective perception of the future. even as late as the space race one could argue that national pride (and anti-communism, ironically) was still one of the main establishments dictating the things we perceived as futuristic, but in today's late-stage capitalism hellscape, who else is defining the look of the future if not apple, tesla, and disney? and as one arm of the disney conglomerate, can star wars' depiction of the future be decoupled from the avalanche of merchandise it's undoubtedly engineered to sell? as a hollywood blockbuster, was its vision really ever separate from the merchandise it sells? weren't its influences also designed to sell to the public, e.g. the space race selling anti-communism and patriotism? ultimately, I don't think it's possible to separate a franchise as big as star wars from the capitalistic influences that birthed it, but it's important to recognize the reasons behind what its future optimism is selling audiences.

    - tomorrow: the PREQUELTHON. I don't know how much I'll have to say about them so no promises on if it's gonna be one post per episode or one overall, but rest assured I will bring you to tears with my shockingly correct rankings when the time comes.

    1. IV
    2. V
    3. VI

  13. Thumbs Up To This Post by: cam, Ryan

  14. #10
    nsfw pilcrow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Californiaphile
    Posts
    15,664
    Blog Entries
    203


    EPISODES I-III



    - the prequels are kids movies. 10-minute mario kart chase? kids movie. love story set up in two scenes and leaping to a swooning marriage in italy? kids movie. jar jar binks as the pinnacle of comic relief? kids movie.

    - but wait, I hear you say. how can they be kids movies when the trilogy deals with POLITICS? when you introduce political machinations into your story, it should go without saying that actual political issues must follow. I'm not suggesting that the prequel trilogy should have a passionate debate about healthcare, but a story based in bureaucracy, war, and leadership challenges must have issues to be disputed, even if they're as simplistic as "we should snap half the population" vs "we should not snap half the population." in fact, distinctly apolitical moral issues are often the best choice for a blockbuster movie seeking to appeal to everyone and offend no one - if you have the bad guy take an indefensible stance and have the good guys oppose it, you've got yourself two sides of an issue right there. the original trilogy even puts a genuinely pretty creative spin on this idea, evoking fascist imagery to imply reprehensible stances for its evil side without ever having to state it outright. but in all the wheelin and dealin across the prequel trilogy, can anyone honestly pinpoint anything being properly disputed? episode I handwaves away the politics requirement by attributing everything to "trade dispute," a foolproof buzzword to suggest that grown-up things are happening without ever bothering to establish the terms of the dispute. episode II introduces a nefarious separatist faction, but short of the blatant telegraphing of putting your heroes on the good side, does anyone actually know what makes these guys bad? there's a reason why we portray the rebels of the american revolution as the good guys and the rebels of the civil war as the bad guys, but this trilogy doesn't seem to concern itself with such petty distinctions. episode III gets the closest to the aforementioned technique of the original trilogy, with its obvious parallels to caesar and rome, but it still hugely overestimates the amount of political nuance a comparison to caesar gets you - the senate applauding for revocation of its own powers is one particularly memed moment that comes to mind here. when three movies together can't even generate the simplest notion of evil plans to back up its "deep" politics, all you're left with is people fighting over vague grownup things - in other words, the kids movie's approach to politics.

    - and honestly, as kids movies, I don't really think any of these are a complete failure. boring, sure, but they seem like perfectly acceptable dvd fodder to play for the kids at a party. big flashy fights, plots you can follow while half-asleep, all the usual big movie moments. the problem is, of course, that this trilogy of children's media is being marketed to a generation of adults that grew up under this franchise, and when you're tasked with such expectations, hollow politics and state-of-the-art CGI just doesn't cut it. I wonder if anything really could have successfully followed up a trilogy that an entire generation staked their childhoods on, and whether this new trilogy's good reception is being assisted by the prequels' erosion of the impossibly high original trilogy pedestal. fortunately, as someone with no childhood stake in any of this, I'll be here to answer once and for all how well this new trilogy stacks up. hit that thumbs up button below folks.

    - just to extrapolate a bit away from shitting on some of the most shit on movies of all time, I was thinking about how the prequels are universally considered awful-looking, and yet our current slate of blockbusters in 2019 are pretty much the same aesthetic with higher-resolution rendering. on one hand, it's not really surprising considering the sheer money and effort spent over the last two decades in creating a workflow centered on CGI in both live-action and animation. what's more surprising to me is our willingness to accept it as the dominating aesthetic of 2000s and 2010s special effects-heavy blockbusters, despite most people probably not being enamored with how it looks - the rave reviews of spider-verse are proof positive that better things are not only possible, but profitable. here's hoping the sequel trilogy finds a happy balance of the inevitable hyperrealistic overload and the more imaginative aesthetics of the original trilogy - I can't say I trust abrams with it, but people with good taste seem to be on board with it so this line of thought will get continued in the next post.

    - finally, by request, some have asked if the high ground is important. detractors of the high ground clearly forget that gravitational pull of this foreign volcano planet is likely hugely different from that of our own earth. in a location with elevation as low as this lava pit, where gravitational pull is sure to be stronger in lower places as you approach the planet's core, a height advantage of even a few feet can and should be interpreted as a high ground and thus an overwhelming advantage. a stronger gravitational pull also implies significantly more effort is required to perform a jump, especially one that requires precision and a thorough understanding of the gravitational forces on this foreign planet. with such a challenge ahead of him, it's no wonder anakin is unable to overcome his lack of high ground, ultimately leading to his downfall. comparisons can be drawn to sophocles's oedipus, whose lack of high ground ultimately causes him to mistakenly aim his sword at his own eyes rather than at the high ground.

    1. IV
    2. V
    3. VI
    4. III
    5. II
    6. I

  15. Thumbs Up To This Post by: cam

  16. #11
    nsfw pilcrow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Californiaphile
    Posts
    15,664
    Blog Entries
    203


    EPISODE VII: I have awakened too early to write this coherently

    - how do you usher one of the most beloved franchises in history into a new generation? to me, reboots like this are our best cultural reflections of generational transitions, the passing of the torch not just for our favorite rebels, but also for a new generation of fans discovering the series in a completely different cultural context, as well as a new generation of creators bringing their own experiences with the franchise to the sequel trilogy. throughout episode VII, not only do we see this reckoning with the long and storied history of the franchise, but we also see reflections of how the millennial generation romanticizes ideas of space and the future. let's dive in!

    - immediately in the opening title roll, the spectre of the past looms large over the episode. for the characters, this means luke's disappearance from the galaxy; for the audience, reminders of the dreaded prequel trilogy are inevitable. indeed, our newest set of heroes and villains spend most of the episode in a struggle with the fate that the past has forced upon them. just as the newest generation of star wars fans have had to accept the prequels as part of the franchise's tumultuous history, kylo ren's entire character stands in the shadow of the family he's been born into. on the flip side, our main heroic duo approach the tales of the original trilogy almost as if they were legend - clearly, we see comparisons to the way the mythos of star wars has been ingrained into the modern zeitgeist. as each character finds ways to accept the past as part of the circumstances that make them who they are, the sequel trilogy, too, begins to come into its own and grow beyond what the first two trilogies left behind.

    - arguably the first new main character we come across, and certainly one of the biggest phenomenons created by this movie, is the tiny ball of merchandise known as BB-8. quite literally a sphere with another sphere on top, the design of this lil guy is immediately strikingly different from the humanoid golden robot and the bulky rolling vacuum cleaner of 1977. in this mix of old and new, we have perhaps the best side-by-side comparisons of how the zeitgeist has defined the "future aesthetic" in 1977 vs 2015. just off appearances, a gold-coated human like C3PO could be called nothing but retro by today's standards, and the future of the 20th century world's fairs certainly looked a great deal more complex than two spheres rolling around. but digging a bit deeper, BB-8's movements are a product of a distinctly modern approach to CGI character acting - as it conveys emotions by tilting its inanimate head every which way, it's hard not to think back to luxo jr.

    - on the flip side, it had only been 10 years since episode III, and the continued trend of hyperrealism in CGI certainly didn't slow in the interim. frankly, lupita nyong'o's character is pretty much the most natural progression you could get from the progression of CGI through the prequel trilogy. still not a fan of it myself, but it's pretty difficult to separate star wars from the history of industrial light & magic, so I suppose it comes with the territory. oh well.

    - next main character up is finn, and after 5 straight episodes of not really having properly planned character arcs, it's really refreshing to finally return to the hero's journey roots that episode IV luke comes from. it doesn't get much more archetypal than finn's origins as an empire convert finding his purpose, but for a story all about rekindling a franchise while reckoning with its past, it's all too appropriate. rey's story arc follows many of the same story beats, but thematically ties her purpose into a destiny bestowed on her by the heroes that came before her. meanwhile, the everyman finn's purpose comes from a journey of self-discovery. by splitting ideas of predestined roles to be separate from the everyman who seizes his own future, our new main duo manages to recapture the magic that made luke's pre-daddy issues origin story so appealing while never losing sight of the past that brought us here in the first place. I think it's fairly indisputable at this point that this is the best main cast this franchise has ever had, and I know I'm already looking forward to seeing how their further destinies unfold.

    - of course, it's not a star wars sequel if it's not cashing in on the charisma that the franchise has already built for you, and that's exactly what putting your returning characters in supporting roles does. going beyond the pure catharsis of seeing an ancient harrison ford running around, episode VII has a distinct awareness that a generational transition doesn't work unless you're willing to let go of your old beloved cast, and that awareness is what allows the new cast to flourish as the inevitable passing of the torch in the next episode(s) approaches. it's an awareness that even the original sequels desperately lacked, and an awareness that actually owes itself to our modern conception of sequels being intrinsic to the series and not an optional add-on. with episodes VIII and IX a sure bet, it's much more possible to commit to putting ancient bearded luke in just one scene at the very end (another great moment of catharsis). I have my gripes about our general conceptions of what a sequel should be (I may or may not have even dedicated an entire writeup in this thread to it), but it's hard to argue with how episode VII has approached its role in the transition into a new generation.

    - I'm only just realizing that in four writeups I haven't really talked at all about what happens behind the scenes, which is weird because I'm usually a sucker for yakking endlessly about the creators behind the product. I guess part of that is just because I hardly consider myself an expert in george lucas antics over the years, but the wikipedia summary for episode VII says that this episode is the first to not significantly involve his input, so let's go with that: the only way to allow your franchise to properly capture a new audience is to have the common sense to step aside for new creators when the time is right. this is evident in just about every long-running franchise (look what forum I'm posting this on), but it's especially true for franchises like star wars that have influenced a generation of creators. there's nothing more interesting to me than a longtime fan taking the reins of a series, and although I'm too lazy to check if abrams grew up with a star wars figure collection, I think it's very clear that many of episode VII's inflections are owed to creators who grew up in a media culture so heavily influenced by the original trilogy. really, look no further than death star 3.0, a prime example of "if it ain't broken, don't fix it" that comes both from the unbroken formula of death stars 1.0 and 2.0 and the severely broken formula of the prequel trilogy. not that I don't think lucas's idea that every new installment should bring something different is invalid (source: somewhere in that wiki article again), but frankly episode VII is about as fresh as you can get with a world so fundamentally based in the basic archetypes of hero vs. villain. unless episode VIII is daringly original, I dunno. hold that thought.

    - since we're talking abrams, I suppose I may as well touch on his visual treatment of the franchise briefly. from the (admittedly not much) I've seen out of his filmography, my general opinion is his penchant for striking high-contrast shots is a valid approach but doesn't quite work for everything he touches (the 2009 star trek doesn't look that good, sorry!!). fortunately, this is star wars we're talking about, the franchise that loves its neon lightsaber fights in the dark and massive explosions in space, and for that, I couldn't imagine a more fitting aesthetic. although the ingrained ideas of CGI prevent the overall aesthetic from reaching some of the peaks of the original trilogy (props for mostly cutting down on CGI overusage, though), there's no denying some of those high-contrast money shots.

    - maybe I'll write about rogue one if there's anything to write about there. episode VIII obviously going to be picked apart in excruciating detail. solo who knows. see you then.

    VII
    IV
    V
    VI
    III
    II
    I

  17. Thumbs Up To This Post by: cam, Sam, tyler

  18. #12
    nsfw pilcrow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Californiaphile
    Posts
    15,664
    Blog Entries
    203


    ROUGE ONE: A Star Wars with a Story

    - in a world inundated with sequels, at least we can all still agree that spinoffs are utterly useless cash grabs that no one needs to care about. wait, what? second highest grossing movie of 2016?

    - if a spinoff is gonna get main billing, the least it could do is swing for the fences and pursue creative ideas that would never fit in the main series. rogue one makes a valiant attempt at this, crafting a story with far more moving parts than any of the three main trilogies. where the main trilogies reveled in archetypal hero's journeys (as I've no doubt reminded all loyal readers far too often), rogue one deliberately puts all its characters in the moral grey zone, establishing connections of trust far more tenuous than the strong good guy bad guy relationships in the main series. it's a bold idea, and quite unfortunate when it starts to fade away in the obligatory fight-packed third act where good guys and bad guys necessarily have to be well-defined (since they're shooting at each other!), but it was nice while it lasted.

    - the cast diversity is a welcome addition and is handled tactfully for the most part, though I think the setting on the distinctly middle eastern desert planet is worth musing on a bit. clearly the militant occupation takes inspirations from western occupation of the middle east, but using language like "extremist rebel" alongside fighters in burqas seems dangerously close to adopting harmful stereotypes of islam/the middle east as terrorists. I guess the strongest argument against this is simply that these are rebels and thus on "the good side," but in a movie that tries to establish so many morally ambiguous characters and even goes out of its way to show the rebel extremist leader engaging in torture, the message comes out a bit muddy and could easily be interpreted badly. just goes to show that neoliberal corporate-sanctioned diversity doesn't work automatically and requires work on the part of the creators in properly integrating a diverse cast into a world with as many political implications as star wars. up yours, disney!

    - finally, I guess separating from the main series gives you free reign to CGI the shit out of everything. I wouldn't go as far to say the literal CG humans are an insult to the actors, since this franchise was always indebted to its cutting-edge visual effects, but let's be honest - it all looks pretty ugly. indeed, when entire worlds are so heavily processed, they start to lose the idea of using the familiar to evoke unfamiliar settings that the original trilogy achieved with its foreign planets all being distinctly earthly locations.

    VII
    IV
    V
    Rouge One
    VI
    III
    II
    I

  19. Thumbs Up To This Post by: tyler

  20. #13
    nsfw pilcrow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Californiaphile
    Posts
    15,664
    Blog Entries
    203


    EPISODE VIII: LUKE DRINKS SPACE CUM

    luke drinks space cum.

  21. Thumbs Up To This Post by: pax

  22. #14
    nsfw pilcrow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Californiaphile
    Posts
    15,664
    Blog Entries
    203


    EPISODE VIII: I Analyze An Obscure Science Fiction Franchise And Eventually Defend Episode VIII

    - say it with me one last time for the road, folks: the magic that has allowed star wars to capture the zeitgeist for five decades is its use of age-old archetypal characters and stories in settings that capture society's imagination of the future. the last jedi mounts a two-sided deconstruction of this thesis statement of the franchise, asking challenging thematic questions in a way that uniquely preserves the archetypes that made this franchise successful, and introducing new archetypal storylines distinctly influenced by modern society and politics. that's right, I'm mouthing off about politics again. last chance to bail out and jump straight to my rankings at the bottom of this post.

    - may as well start from the very beginning here. a star wars movie opening with a big flashy fight is more or less a series trademark by now, and there's not much particularly special about this one, even down to the casualties that are clearly setting up for later struggles. the first deconstruction appears in the big flashy fight resulting in a demotion, and it's a quintessential example of the types of thematic analysis that the entire episode engages in. the reckless fighter getting reined in for their methods is a trope as old as time, but in the context of star wars, it's a legitimately fresh departure from the constant unquestioned reckless heroism that defined the previous 7 episodes. it's the type of story development that wouldn't even feel original in the first installment of any franchise, but takes on a completely new context when it's the first pattern-breaking moment in 8 episodes. with this demotion, episode VIII also kicks off a character arc of maturing into a leader for poe - again, hardly an original story to write home about, but a fascinating new one to introduce in a world filled with classic character arcs.

    - how do you write the next chapter of a hero's tale that has already reached the natural conclusion that its countless influences already established? as the generational changing of the guard discussed in the episode VII writeup continues, episode VIII is faced with the greatest hurdle of them all in luke skywalker, the character whose story is so classic and so complete that his role can be little more than legend in this new trilogy. as a character defined by reluctance to act, han solo finds a natural role in the sequel trilogy, facing the same conflicts he did in the original trilogy but with the new goal of growing into a mentor. (harrison ford's dashing looks and natural talent for Running Around is also a big asset.) on the other hand, every one of luke's planned trajectories - overcoming daddy issues, embracing his destined role, etc - has no natural continuation or repetition, and indeed, his natural role in episode VII is that of the mythical legend looming over a new generation. and right here, we have arguably the greatest series deconstruction the last jedi has to offer - with luke's story at an end, the only way to continue it is to rebuild his character as a new archetype, this time informed by the hero's journey that gave him legend status.

    - it's a bold move, recharacterizing luke with a more or less completely new backstory and introducing a new set of conflicts that draw from a completely different notion of the hero's journey rooted in internal psychological tension rather than fated larger-than-life encounters. it's also the move that pays off the strongest thematically, allowing episode VIII to question the fundamentals of the world that have always been taken for granted as blockbuster prerequisites. some of these, like the redefining of the force as a worldly balance rather than the rock lifting power everyone knows it to be, follow the same line of "deconstruction-by-trope" as poe's demotion - a natural question that wouldn't have been surprising had it been asked in any of the original trilogy, but a surprisingly interesting one when even episode VII did little to depict the force beyond a special power bestowed on individuals. (an interesting line of thought you could follow here - the force is much more marketable when it's a power you possess rather than a spiritual omnipresent aura.) others, like the renouncing of the jedi council's role in the rise of the original empire (god I feel so nerdy just typing that), introduce political machinations with far more meaning than the prequels ever achieved. where the prequels spent three episodes of muddied grown-up debates to introduce the idea that complicity breeds fascism, episode VIII not only states it outright, but also ties it into a broader (and much more interesting) argument against the notion of legends and "great men."

    - in the episode VII writeup, I noted that finn and rey fill in the two halves of the hero's journey from the original trilogy - finn the everyman who finds greatness through personal growth, rey the fated hero who rises to fulfill her destiny. but perhaps more interesting is the introduction of a new archetype on the evil side, one never really attempted by the original trilogy. kylo ren's conflicts of manipulation and daddy issues is pretty much the classic antihero tale, and at the risk of saying postmodern radiohead, it certainly feels informed by a more recent trend of media fascination with the conflicted antihero as opposed to the clear-cut good guy vs. bad guy stories. despite still ending the episode as the big bad (more on this later), kylo's development is directly depicted alongside rey's, giving his character a development arc comparable to those of all the good guys. this is obviously in stark contrast to the original trilogy, where even vader himself is mostly defined as a foil to the heroes, assuming the roles necessary to allow the good guys to hit the proper notes in development (his sudden redemption in episode VI the most glaring example of this). once again, the idea of the antihero wouldn't be out of place in just about any other recent blockbuster, and only with the history of this franchise can it become a subversion of our expectation of villains.

    - the subversion present in finn's subplot pretty much goes without saying - how many infiltration heists have we had at this point? - so I'll spare you that line of thought. what I do want to take a bit of a deep dive into, though, are the scenes on the casino planet. the original trilogy created an empire through fascist imagery, but also based on imposing imperalist leaders and nuke-sized superweapons - I'm sure nerdier folks than I have discussed its reflection of cold war era notions of war and the enemy. however, in an era defined by late-stage capitalism and asymmetric warfare, the fictional notion of the empire needed an update to continue reflecting the evils faced by a new generation. although the imposing cold war inspired giant structures are too ingrained in the series (and its fights) to be completely replaced, the casino portion of episode VIII gives the central conflict a much-needed recontexualization, allowing it to continue evoking modern politics for new sources of implied evil. the idea of profiting off war is hardly a new or revolutionary one and I'm not one to heap SJW points onto the episode for something so simple, but this new layer of profit motives behind the misdeeds of the empire introduces a new souce of evil much more indicative of modern popular conceptions than a big death star preparing to nuke our country. the image of the impoverished foreign child affected by war is also a relatively new one, arguably first introduced in the vietnam war and only increasing in prominence as we keep fighting wars in "distant lands" with intangible ramifications "back home." (the increased accessibility of journalism/social media obviously contributes to this too, but this is already a bit of a digression.) nevertheless, this is maybe the first time in the series where the bystanders and victims of the empire are finally brought into the spotlight, a representation of the evils of the empire (or even capitalism, as the contrast between the kids and the casino shows) distinctly influenced by our modern perception of war. the exploitation of those...creatures

    - writeup cutting room floor recycling time! when writing for episodes V and VI I had some thoughts about lando planned out, but the way those writeups turned out didn't really leave a proper place to put those thoughts. fortunately, enough notable parallels between lando and DJ exist that I can just toss them in here. so, to start off - I've been wondering why lando has escaped the zeitgeist while nearly every other original trilogy character of his prominence has become a household name. this is especially weird because he's just about the only character in episodes V and VI to get a story based more in internal conflict and growth than fighting off the big bads. it's certainly possible to argue that this complexity made him a less marketable icon than the trademark heroes and villains, or that the niche of a swashbuckling adventurer who lives by his own rules was already filled by han solo. or he was black. or maybe lando's neither-side, purely money-driven philosophy doesn't resonate as strongly as an archetype of society as it does today. the episode VIII introduction of another lando, one even nastier and more shameless about sticking to his greed-driven ideals, suggests that this might be a reason. with the introduction of capitalism as part of the empire's evil (and the good guys too...can't get too comrade for general audiences), DJ's character has more of an established system to take advantage of than lando, who was just about the only semblance of businessman that the original trilogy ever had. these both-sides characters only work when they offer their alternative philosophy to a system that fails them, and that's exactly what the casino of war criminals achieves. DJ's double-crossing is certainly still within the bounds of the archetypal characters that the series is best at, so I hestitate to say it's subversive or an epic SJW win, but I think it's another essential cog in creating a new, more modern sense of evil for the sequel trilogy.

    - let's take a brief diversion from politics to mention that this is probably the most comedic the franchise has ever been, with a fair amount of slapstick and comedic relief everywhere. it's not really an issue here, since it also comes with the most character substance the franchise has ever had, but it's a slippery slope toward the one-note wisecracking joke machines in a lot of modern blockbusters (COUGHavengers sorry did you hear that I said the avengers) and with more sequel trilogies looming, I can only hope whoever tackles the franchise next remembers that archetypes have to be characters still.

    - but ultimately, no matter how many interesting thematic discussions episode VIII engages in, at the end of the day, it's still a star wars movie. much like the extreme moral gray areas of rogue one, at the end of the day, good guys and bad guys still emerge when everyone is shooting at one another. in episode VIII, this shift first takes form in the supreme leader, presented as emperor v3 without the same deconstructions afforded to the protagonists and even kylo ren. there's nothing wrong with this inherently - in fact, an anchor of evil is absolutely necessary to facilitate kylo ren's antihero struggles. the first thematic stumble of episode VIII hits when the mind connections that have allowed kylo ren to take on a character arc comparable to any original trilogy protagonist are revealed to be part of the plans of the emperor (erm..supreme leader? I dunno that alien guy). at this point, there's still a perfectly valid argument for this manipulation being part of kylo's story arc, but already I get a nagging feeling that we're about to start drawing lines and setting up the good guys and bad guys for an eventual showdown. and indeed, the emperor starts speaking in big comically evil platitudes practically begging kylo to just lightsaber him (if only to shut him up), and that's what he does. this is still mostly defensible - previous incarnations of the emperor certainly weren't much more insightful - but the sudden leap to kylo's galaxy-ruling ambitions is a rather blatant way to remind everyone that our antihero is still bad. it doesn't make a lot of thematic sense with kylo's remaining character issues (luke's betrayal, guilt over killing his parents) and is awfully convenient with the obligatory big battles looming.

    - at the same time, we're cutting back-and-forth between finn's heist subversion. the failure of their plan as a result of internal strife among the rebels and a full-on mutiny is a nice touch, as is the betrayal of DJ, but instead of culminating on a thematically satisfying note for finn and his newfound discoveries about the war machine and the people affected by it, the battles are already happening upstairs, so he busts out a sick one liner and takes down his former boss and that's that. a little disappointing that the thematic implications didn't get explored further when his old boss is literally a representation of the war machine, but at least it's there to dig into and think about while they have their big flashy final fight.

    - similarly, the subversions of poe's leadership challenges remain interesting even throughout most of the fight, as his differing ideologies with goofy wig laura dern (she sure wore a lot of wigs in 2017 lol) have direct implications for the other subplots happening. it seems to me that the most thematically appropriate way to culminate a story about heroism in mature leadership rather than reckless heroic actions isn't to have laura dern perform the obligatory reckless heroic action, especially when this is clearly a plot about poe and not laura dern, but I guess someone had to do it. it's still a neat mini-arc for laura dern (or whatever her goofy admiral name is) as a foil to poe, but it still doesn't fully stick the landing to me I guess.

    - a lot of obligatory fighting happens around this point in the movie - that 2 hour 30 minute runtime really starts making itself felt - so as a break let's bust out another cutting room floor idea and muse a bit on episode titles. for the most part, they do their part as big epic titles to entice audiences, though I think the last jedi has a neat layered meaning that previous titles haven't really had. obviously the immediate reference is to luke, but as mentioned in kylo's big speech about ditching the past and starting anew, it also embodies the idea of generational change that's at the core of this trilogy - the struggle between starting anew and the inevitable demons of the past. even if luke is the titular last jedi, where does that leave rey and kylo (he's still a jedi right isn't that how these things work). what does luke's status as the last jedi imply about the new generation of heroes and their relation to this ancient religion that their teachings are based on? THE SACRED TEXTS!?!?! *extreme low quality screenshot*

    - somehow the big fights have brought us to a showdown on salt flats, no doubt cultivated from the tears of all the fans who disliked this movie. at this point, the thematic discussions that made the rest of the movie the most interesting this franchise has ever been are all but gone, replaced with lots of obligatory setup for episode IX. if this is the price for the rest of the movie getting lots of time to do thematic deep dives, it's not really a big deal, but kylo as the big bad and finn's obligatory self-sacrifice moment are definitely exposing the fight heavy third act as being rather hollow, at least compared to the first two acts. there's still a couple of moments here that feel a bit thematically important and not just episode IX setup, notably kylo's internal conflict moving to its next stage as he's forced to face luke, but for the most part, it's honestly a waiting game to get the remaining members of the gang onto the milennium falcon. luke's last stand completing his part of the sequel trilogy's generational shift is a well-earned movie moment and certainly the best of the many many movie moments in this third act, but even that is more attributable to the character arc he developed through the first two acts.

    - oh what I'm nearing the end? I never really got anywhere else to post this so I'll just go ahead and note that the ewoks in episode VI had a sense of primitivity that came off a bit weird combined with the "exotic" forest setting. it wasn't really a big deal and I don't feel qualified to go any further than pointing it out so it never had a chance to see the light of day in any writeup. so it goes here. in general, the series has done a good job at using exotic locales and other cultures to evoke a sense of adventure on foreign planets, but that one always rubbed me the wrong way. also, while I'm on the topic of species of creatures, the porgs are butt ugly and the most blatant merch-sellers the franchise has ever had. there I said it.

    - after two of the best acts of the franchise asking tough thematic questions and one act of less cerebral fighting and episode IX setup, episode VIII ends pretty much the only way it ever could. after establishing new archetypes and analyzing ideas of fated heroism vs. the everyman story, and opening up a new modern perspective to the evil of the empire, the last jedi leaves us with one shot to summarize it all - a new everyman, perhaps fated with the power of the force, perhaps not, whose story we may or may not ever hear, looking toward the stars. thanks for reading.










































































    and if you scrolled all this way just for rankings, here you go, you absolute ungrateful coward.

    VIII
    VII
    IV
    V
    Rouge One
    VI
    III
    II
    I

  23. Thumbs Up To This Post by: Dark Homer



Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

User Tag List

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •