Thursday , 21 June 2018

The Lost Jedi – a review from the Dark Side

Now that Star Wars: Episode XIII – The Last Jedi is out in the world for all to see, there is no shortage of opinions as to its merits, or lack thereof. The Last Jedi has become another huge box office success for Disney and Lucasfilm, and an extremely well-reviewed movie by critics as well. But there’s been a disturbance in the force, as the film has proven to be quite divisive among many fans of the long running epic space saga. While the Gore 4 has already posted an intelligent, well-thought out review which flows from the light side that you can check out here, there is another. This one emanates from one of us who has succumbed to the dark side. So, while the following dissertation in no way represents the feelings and ideas of the Gore 4 in general, it does reflect those of a faction of disappointed and angry fans of the Star Wars Universe. Please note, that, unlike the other review, this one is much more spoiler-laden. Proceed at your own risk, and, as always, may the force be with you.

The Last Jedi: A Review

by

Dave “The Rave” Mele

The Last Jedi has been released to theaters. Episode 8 of the the once great Star Wars saga is before us and people should sleep in fear that such a monstrous piece of revisionist trash was ever loosed upon the cinema-going public.

The Department of Homeland Security should be contacted because Rian Johnson has committed an act of terrorism so heinous that he should be brought before a tribunal and condemned.

And I’m being generous.

The notion that its destructive tendencies should be ignored merely because it makes money is indicative of the morally wretched mentality of the shareholder model of corporate governance. Every quarter of a publicly traded company’s earnings must be greater than the last, and if the past needs to be murdered to satisfy some actuarial projection, then let the poison run. The problem with the quantity over quality approach is that it’s more than ready to destroy heritage and culture to commoditize the future. And the commoditization of Star Wars is in full force (har har . . . no, Jar Jar!) in The Last Jedi:

Multinational earnings are required for global revenue streams — bring in a Boring Talentless Female Asian Tech to help Finn. Politically correct, financially expedient box #1 — CHECK.

Women are the new men. So Hollywood and Jessica Chastain keep telling us (even though the all-female Ghostbusters was a bomb). A woman — Rey — is The Last Jedi. Politically correct, financially expedient box #2 — CHECK.

Veganism is the new Paleo. Make Chewbacca turn vegan because the Porgs are SO cute and react emotionally at seeing their grilled brethren eaten by the wookie. Politically correct, financially expedient box #3 — CHECK

People who like this steaming pile of filth do so because they have been so culturally down bred that they accept destruction as liberation. They’re worse than Kylo Ren. Members of the fan base who accept this filth are mindless sycophants who don’t have the emotional fortitude to carve out a life for themselves and who have to worship at the secular altar (i.e., the Imax screen) and feign obeisance to a false god (Star Wars, ANYTHING Star Wars). If they don’t convince themselves The Last Jedi was great, then their “god” dies, and all they have in its place is eating dollar store mac-n-cheese in their parents’ basement. Millennial Trash, all of them.

Forget and discard your cultural patrimony and you open yourself up to real-life First Order scum (read “corporate managers” and their creative lackeys, who think they’re hip and “kewl” but who, in reality, are moral trash). But Johnson and cohorts didn’t forget their patrimony. They made a conscious decision to destroy it.

Let’s get right down to The Great Conceit. Luke Skywalker has already experienced the greatest betrayal and the greatest redemption. Luke himself was responsible for turning his father, Darth Vader, the most evil Sith Lord in the galaxy, back to the Light Side of the Force. To believe that he would have “lost his composure” — even for an instant — when discovering that Kylo Ren was influenced by the Dark Side is a direct violation of all that Luke Skywalker vicariously lived and learned in Episodes 4-6. Luke knows of balance and redemption firsthand. He would have been philosophical about Ren’s dalliance with the dark side, certainly not reactionary. Luke — 34 years ago — was more mature and prescient when he threw his light saber at the Emperor’s feet in “Return of the Jedi,” proudly declaring: “I’ll never turn to the dark side.” It is important and significant to remember that Luke Skywalker made that declaration after learning in that epic light saber duel with his father that his hate would only make him equally as evil — clearly evidenced by Luke’s facial reaction upon realizing his robotic hand was no different than Vader’s (which he’d just lopped off in a fit of rage). There was no chink in Luke’s moral armor then — consequently, there is no credible reason to believe he’d falter now, being an older and wiser man (and Jedi). To reiterate, Luke spared Vader’s life — who was infinitely more evil than Kylo Ren (a snowflake, comparatively speaking) — but was ready to snuff out his best friend’s son. Anyone who believes this nonsense is a cancer.

Luke’s nonchalant tossing of his lightsaber over his shoulder when Rey presented him with this totem of mythological power during the film’s opening was a symbolic indication of Johnson’ glee in partaking in deicide. I can imagine Johnson’s smugness as he relished writing his revisionist act of desecration. Did a member of Disney’s Board pat him on the back, or did Johnson enjoy writing this vile moment without any external validation? If the latter’s true then we’re dealing with the creative variant of Charles Manson.

Rian Johnson’s Luke Skywalker (Not THE Luke Skywalker, but an imposter) relishes milking the seaside brontosaurus, smugly chugging the creature’s breast milk purposefully trying to turn Rey’s stomach. Are we to accept that Luke has gone native? Is there any indication in Episodes 4-6 that Luke would lose his manners. Even Obi-Wan Kenobi as a hermit in Episode 4 was a gentlemen. Luke was not raised in the gutter and would never attempt to cruelly dissuade an adept. There’s no previous textual evidence for his behavior. It was purely a despicable act of positivistic fiat (“I wrote it so it’s true”). It’s what selfish Rian Johnson wants. Because he wants to be the bad boy. It’s so hip and “kewl” to be the bad boy.

Consistency? Johnson has no allegiance even to his own narrative consistency (such as it is). We’re to accept that Luke “force ghosts”, bi-locating to the planet at the film’s climax, surviving thousands of AT-AT laser blasts, yet the same Luke “Force ghost” can’t survive a swipe from Ren’s lightsaber. If Luke wasn’t really present, if he was a projected Force illusion (which he was), then nothing would kill him. The laser blasts don’t, yet the lightsaber swipe does. Huh? If you’re going to off your mythic hero, have a little more respect for him and your own synthetic context.

Pacing. Finn and Politically Correct Boring Talentless Female Asian Tech’s journey to the “casino planet” stopped the film in it’s tracks. There is no dramatic tension there. There is no compelling interest to watch. Nobody cares about them or the Dickensian gutter snipes cleaning the Star Wars horse sh*t out of the Star Wars horse stables. It’s a sentiment that Robert Redford and the Sierra Club likes (very low-grade Spielberg), but it . . . stops . . . the . . . movie. And not in a good way. My full bladder was more compelling than those Dickensian gutter snipes. See Billy, even though your daddy’s a crack addict and you’re sweeping Star Wars horse sh*t, you can be a Jedi, too. Can I? Yes, you can. Because Rian Johnson and his Sith Lord, The Walt Disney Corporation, said so. But if you become a Jedi you’ll become a rude hypocrite like Luke Skywalker, so just clean your cosmic horse sh*t. Okay? Okay.

Benicio Del Toro has been channeling the quirky degenerate for quite some time now. His “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” schtick is out of place in this film. It does not belong. It sticks out like a sore thumb and is as offensive as the large cosmic nipples on Luke’s beloved seaside “space cow.” Fortunately, Oscar Isaac is not as offensive, but his gung-ho jingoism belongs in a Transformers movie. None of the Y- and X-Wing pilots in A New Hope were so ridiculously overconfident. Looks like he’s gonna’ nail Rey in the next installment. Good for him. Episode 10 will be about their children. Disney shareholders will be pleased. The universe will yawn.

Domhnall Gleeson gets the John Cleese award for the most over-the-top acting in a crappy film. Gleeson’s a better actor than the film lets him be which tells me that it was Johnson’s decision to have Gleeson act like a buffoon from a bad Benny Hill sketch. This only reduces the narrative power of The First Order as a credible threat. Peter Cushing’s reputation is in no danger.

Poor Carrie Fisher . . . having to carry the burden of being Zak Snyder’s Superman in the cold emptiness of space. Carrie’s Glenda the Good Witch/Wizard of Oz moment is more out of place than Godzilla propelling himself like a rocket with his atomic breath in Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster. It is so jarring, so incongruous, and so surreal that it makes Johnson’s incompetence with the material very obvious very early on.

The film never recovers. If you want to kill God — if you want to kill your moral order — you have to prepare yourself for chaos and deterioration.

That’s all The Last Jedi offers. Who would have thought that any movie would have made Return of the Jedi age like a fine wine? When the Ewoks start smelling like roses (and they do now thanks to Rian Johnson), you know that something is really rotten in Denmark (or Tatooine, if you’re so inclined). Perhaps it’s significant that Luke spends every cutaway climbing stone steps away from Rey. The camera doesn’t lie: Mark Hamill wished he could walk away from this abomination.

RIP Luke Skywalker — and all that you stood for.

— critique by

Dave “The Rave” Mele

5 comments

  1. So what do you really think, Dave?

    Hey, there are certainly a number of questionable moments in the film, like Leia in Space. And you can definitely debate whether Luke’s behaviors and actions were in keeping with his character. (Mark Hamill himself said this wasn’t necessarily HIS Luke, but rather, one which was created for this movie.) As for Leia, it’s a shame her death will change her fate in the series as well as apparently she was to be given an even bigger and more pivotal role, perhaps wielding more of the force, in the next film.

    In regards to some of your specific critiques, I think it’s great that these newer Star Wars films are showcasing a greater diversity of humans, as well as aliens. I think you’re being way too harsh on Kelly Marie Tran and her Rose character. And what do you have against a woman taking charge in the Star Wars Universe? It’s worked for the Alienverse, it’s worked in most horror films up to the Final Girl, and it’s proved successful at the box office recently with everyone from Suicide Squad’s Harley Quinn to Wonder Woman. (And, while Ghostbusters’ b.o. may have been disappointing compared to its budget, it’s $128M domestic and $229M worldwide is hardly a bomb. Perhaps if more people had a less misogynistic attitude, it would have fared better.) Maybe if women had a bigger say and more power reflective of their percentage of the population, the world would be a better place. Certainly in this country it would.

    And, c’mon, you can’t fault Chewbacca for showing some heart and compassion. You might refrain from eating a hamburger or ham sandwich if their fellow cows and pigs were sadly looking right at you at the time. And I’ll always stand with the likes of Robert Redford and the Sierra Club who serve as stewards of this planet (as God intended us to be) and help protect all its beauty, splendor and denizens for generations to come, especially when those we misguidedly elected look to exploit it with no regard for the future.

    So while you may have been led astray by the dark side, my friend, I know there is still good in you. Perhaps, Star Wars: Episode IX – The Balance of the Force (my predicted title) will bring you back to the light side once again.

  2. Dave "The Rave" Mele

    Star Wars, in its original conception, not its devolution in The Last Jedi, was myth updated for the 20th Century. All of the requisite components — the hero (Luke), the talisman or quest object (light saber), the wise man (Obi-wan Kenobi), the heroine (Leia), the dragon (Darth Vader) were present. That’s precisely why Star Wars has endured for so long. Joseph Campbell’s “Power of Myth” paradigm was alive and well. There was no trace of social justice posturing in Star Wars. Luke never wore a “save the whales” t-shirt, nor did he have a peace sign or “no nukes” tattooed on his wrist. Myth is diminished and destroyed by political posturing and vague paeans to “social justice.”

    The issue isn’t with a female or Asian protagonist. We’ve had them before (like Ripley in the “Alien” saga or Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz”) and neither were accompanied by gushing articles in magazines about female empowerment. They served the narrative, not some overriding corporate heteropraxis. Felicity Jones was magnificent in “Rogue One” and her multicultural band of heroic rogues made dramatic sense; they represented all the galactic races oppressed by the Empire. There was no attempt to destroy the Star Wars myth, but to reinforce it. The issue, as I pointed out explicitly in my review, is the obvious destruction of myth (Luke as Jedi Knight, hero extraordinaire, moral center of the Star Wars saga) to make way for other characters that are clearly not mythological (witness Boyega’s buffoonery in The Last Jedi), but that satisfy corporate demands for expanding the series merely for the sake of global expansion — and not for the sake of preserving myth.

    It is significant that as of this writing the 17-day total of “The Last Jedi” is over $225 million BEHIND the 17-day total of “The Force Awakens.” It’s axiomatic that repeat viewings are responsible for high grosses. If I were a Disney shareholder I’d demand the resignation of every executive who thought Rian Johnson’s script had merit.

    You can’t polish a turd.

    • Heteropraxis? No one in the galaxy has ever used that word ever. You seem to be knocking Jedi because its themes differ from those of the original Star Wars and for demystifying long-standing characters (which it didn’t) in favor of the new generation of heroes. Of course, Star Wars must evolve for it to survive. And Boyega’s Finn did not display buffoonery as 3PO and Jar Jar did before him, but did add some lighter moments, which have existed in all Star Wars films. If anything, Finn became more of a hero in Jedi, running into battle rather than away from it in A Force Awakens.

      As for the box office, comparing The Last Jedi‘s numbers to A Force Awakens, which is inevitable, is not proving any argument as to the merits of the film. No one on this planet expected Jedi to come close to Awakens‘ numbers. Awakens was the first Star Wars film in 12 years and the first with the original cast in over three decades. The anticipation was through the roof. Jedi comes a mere two years after Awakens, with Rogue One in between, so the novelty and build-up was naturally not as great. The middle film in each trilogy (The Empire Strikes Back, Attack of the Clones) performed the weakest, regardless of perceived quality, so your argument falls by the wayside. Empire, though considered by many to be the best Star Wars film of them all (it’s not) did 33% less business than its predecessor. It’s significant, that as of this writing, The Last Jedi is poised to reach the $600M mark domestically (it’s the highest grossing film of 2017), with another $675M overseas, for a whopping $1.275 billion and counting. I’m sure no one at Disney is fretting those numbers (or the film’s glowing reviews by critics, this one included – Empire’s Reign is Over. The force clearly remains strong in the Star Wars saga and at Disney.

  3. Dave "The Rave" Mele

    The Last Jedi is not an evolution of Star Wars, it’s a devolution, a deterioration, a breakdown. The Last Jedi participates in a kind of low-class, junkie naturalism — an artistic movement (arguably beginning with Easy Rider) that deconstructs everything and which erroneously tries to find flaws with the flawless. It’s a creative cynicism that reaches for a new angle, hidden meaning, or artificial conflict even if none genuinely exists. In all of the five Hammer films in which Peter Cushing essayed the role of Professor Van Helsing, the character was written and acted in such a fashion that portrayed unwavering moral certainty in the face of malignant evil. Contrast this with Wesley Snipes’ BLADE whose “conflict” at being a “good” vampire is put forward as a daring artistic act, but, in reality, is a syncretic conceit designed to obscure the audiences’ moral worldview by reconciling opposites that can’t by their very nature be reconciled. “The Force,” which had been clearly defined in rather explicit, binary terms of “dark” (evil) and “light” (good) seems to have developed a Chinatown/Roman Polanski/cinema-verite shade of gray, where the Hero, a defender of “light,” contemplates murdering his nephew (i.e. Kylo Ren via Han’s relationship with Leia, Luke’s sister) while he’s defenseless in his sleep. This makes Luke worse than Darth Vader (when Annakin killed the “younglings” in Revenge of the Sith, at least they were awake!). This is not daring writing, it’s degeneracy. And no amount of Flying Leia/Glenda the Good Witch nonsense can redeem it. The Last Jedi is a malicious act of desecration. It’s a wicked mechanism of distortion and lacks any artistic merit whatsoever.

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