18 December 2017

Why It's Good That People Might Hate This Movie

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A lot of people are going to hate Star Wars: The Last Jedi. But then a lot of people believe that it's good luck to be shat on by a bird as it flies over and so ultimately who even gives a fuck about what 'people' think? When reading about the latest Star Wars movie, it's always useful to know how a person already feels about the franchise in order to gauge the reason for their response and decide how much shite they're talking. Oh, you think Jar Jar is shit because he's for children, but the Ewoks are cute? Just give me a second to ignore almost everything that your nostalgia-cursed brain is about to crap out. Not that I'm defending Jar Jar of course. Fuck him. He literally looks like a racist person dreamed about that time a Rastafarian accidentally fucked a duck. To get you up to speed with me, I fell in love with the original films during the 1997 re-release at the perfect age of 8. When I was a kid, Han Solo was the coolest person I could think of that wasn't Roger Moore, and as a 12 year old I accidentally had my first wank whilst using my cock to pilot my imaginary X-Wing as I tried to blow up the Death Star. Who knew an explosion could be so life changing?! I was about ten years old when the prequels came out and, initially, I loved them, but as I became increasingly infected by common sense, I came to see them for the soulless husks of crap they are. Oh.. and to skip to the end.. I loved The Last Jedi with pretty much all of my cholesterol-choked heart.

The film begins pretty much exactly where The Force Awakens left off, with Rey handing Luke his lightsaber as he looked at her with all of the anguish and confusion of an actor that had expected a much longer screen time than they'd ultimately received. It's always nice to receive gifts from strangers and many people will find Luke's response to this offering perhaps a little surprising. Considering that this weapon might connect him to the murder of all of those children that his father once slaughtered, I'd argue that his actions from here on out are all pretty fucking sensible. Rey finds Luke's willingness to teach her in the ways of the Jedi a little more tricky than she might have hoped. Except, if you wanted to, say, learn geography and so turned up at a geography teachers house, offered them a gun that they once lost in an accident and then expected free tuition, I imagine you'd get a similar response from them. Meanwhile, the First Order is chasing down Leia and all of the Resistance with the unstoppable determination of a man that's just spotted a tramp's delicious face after taking bath-salts on an empty stomach. Caught in a desperate situation, it's up to newcomers Poe and Finn to help them escape whilst also both sadly refusing to succumb to the online fan-fiction that have them both locked in a room doing what sounds like impressions of Darth Vader breathing with each other.

In so many ways, The Force Awakens had a much easier job than The Last Jedi. The Force Awakens came after the prequels at a time in which nerds needed a good Star Wars movie about as desperately as the prequels needed somebody on set who knew the phrase “Fuck off, George!” It also relied a lot on director J.J Abrams' magic box theory. In case you don't know it then his view is that the mystery is more important than the answer, and so The Force Awakens draws you in with questions and intrigue, such as who Rey's parents are; who Snoke is; and 'why does Leia look like she's been on smack for the last thirty years?', without any real interest in answering them. Just look at his show Lost which was initially the only show that the world was capable of talking about. Then the final season happened in which answers were needed, it became obvious that they'd made every bit of shit up since the start and ultimately the only thing that ended up lost was our own fucking interest in it. The Force Awakens was also essentially a remake of A New Hope which, although criticised by many, was actually brilliant for three reasons... firstly, it was a perfect tried-and-tested story to introduce a new audience to this world; secondly, it would therefore be able to deliver the fan favourite moments of the original, and thirdly, it would then leave the door open for a sequel to go wherever it liked. As it turns out, the place that The Last Jedi wanted to go was to the edge of a cliff in which it could hurl J.J Abram's shitty little box into a double fucking sun.

Seemingly aware that Abrams has painted him somewhat into a corner with mysteries in which no solution would ever be able to please everybody, director Rian Johnson has instead decided to fuck most of them off in favour of being truthful to story and character. Want to know who Rey's parents are? Well, Johnson has given you the absolute best answer in this movie, however if you're one of those “I hate Jar Jar but love the Ewoks" type people then you're probably not going to be happy. This isn't a Star Wars film for people who claim to be Star Wars fans but rather a Star Wars film for people who claim to be film fans. Johnson has credited the audience with intelligence and crafted a film that challenges rather than panders and pushes the franchise towards looking toward the future instead of simply dwelling on the past. The reason I think that this film might initially prove divisive to the 'fans' is because Johnson simply isn't giving you what you want but rather what his story needs. Fans have been fantasising about this sequel trilogy for over thirty years and pondering what might happen in Episode 8 for about two years. After all of that time, I can understand that it might initially seem a little jarring to see a film that not only didn't cater specifically to your own individual imagination but seemed to actively poke at your roadkill-esque expectations like a tramp with a stick.

The prequels twisted Star Wars for the generation below the original audience, whereas this film twists itself to be more adult and complex for that original audience now that they've grown up. The simple problem is that some people won't want any other kind of Star Wars than the one they've already seen and for the next few years I imagine it'll be their voice that shouts the loudest. A great example of the series's evolution would be in the way that the light and the dark have previously been shown. In the past the Jedi were clearly the good guys and the Sith were obviously bad. That's what people liked to see! In The Force Awakens, this is maintained with us even learning in that movie that Stormtroopers are now recruited when they're snatched from their families as children and subsequently radicalised through years of training. How evil does that make The First Order sound!? But.. hang on? Isn't that almost exactly the same as how the Jedi worked in the prequels? In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke is told by Yoda to coldly ignore the agony of his friends on Bespin in order to continue his Jedi training.. and that's after Obi-Wan has lied to him in order to have him kill his own father. The less said about the lack of warning that Luke might be trying to finger-bang his own sister the better, too. My point is that we only know the Jedi to be the ultimate force of good because the films tell us that they are, but when you look at it properly they're really about as pure as whatever scabby mad-bastard drugs killed Carrie Fisher. All this film does is take a look at the rules set-up in the franchise and ask.. “Maybe that thing you knew wasn't quite as true as you thought?”

This focus on things being morally grey is a new concept for a forty year old franchise that's previously only seen the world how a racist sees humanity.. that there's black and white and that's all. We live in a complicated world and so there's no reason that Star Wars should finally reflect that. However perhaps one of the other brilliant changes that it makes, which will no doubt annoy the 'fans', is a lack of concern for the Skywalker clan. For four decades this franchise has been about war, but only ever concerned itself with the squabbling of a Texas Chainsaw-esque fuck-up of a family. In the prequels we even find out that C3PO was made by Anakin because of George Lucas's need for things to be as incestuously interconnected as our own English Royal Family whilst cosplaying as a human fucking centipede. Rogue One aside, this is the first of the main films to remind us that the events affect everybody, from small stable boys on casino planets to the janitors within the Resistance itself. For once we feel that everyone in the galaxy might want to be part of the story instead of simply being extras in a Skywalker film. Sure, this means sidelining characters that we've loved for decades, but how many stories can you really tell with them before the franchise becomes as stale as an unwashed ballsack? From this point on, the film has shifted focus and opened everything up. Things are evolving. By the end of The Last Jedi, the story has jumped from the rails of the first two trilogies, the possibilities of what the force is has moved on from the dogma of the past, and most importantly.. you no longer have to have started life in Darth Vader's downstairs bean-bags to be of any significance.

Which isn't to say that The Last Jedi goes completely against everything that's gone before. Its priority is in telling its own story, but there are small echoes of The Empire Strikes Back. In the way Luke visited Yoda, Rey visits Luke; the rebels spend the movie on the run; and the nature of one character's parentage is seemingly revealed. But that's it. It's a very distant echo of what's gone before, rather than Ed Gein-ing it in its mummy's skin like The Force Awakens did. One of the major criticisms of this film is that it's a little long with a twenty minute section around the middle feeling a little baggy. However I'd simply counter that its length is justified by its focus on character and I honestly can't think of a single scene that you could take out without the rest of the plot being affected. Except the jokes. The jokes were, for the most part, pretty terrible. But haven't they always been? That's why Han Solo was always so funny... because nothing else was. Do you remember that time in Return Of The Jedi in which the Ewoks thought that C3PO was a God and we all shat our pants with laughter? Me neither. In the way that The Empire Strikes Back shook up the franchise, The Last Jedi has too and I genuinely think it'll be remembered as one of the best as a result. The Force Awakens was brilliant because it gave us what we wanted, The Last Jedi is better because it dared to challenge us with what it is. People who don't like it are perfectly entitled to how they feel, however anybody that doesn't like it simply because it's not their Star Wars isn't really a Star Wars fan at all, but rather a fan of their own nostalgia, and so who gives a fuck about them? After the travesty of the prequels, The Force Awakens opened with the line, "This will begin to make things right"; in The Last Jedi Luke warns, "this is not going to go the way you think" and thank fuck he was right. Thanks for reading and see you next time, motherfuckers.

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