I sense a disturbance. Everything that’s missing from The Last Jedi (some SPOILERS so see it first!!)

The scroll screen could have been written for Ep VII. As if nothing has happened. First rule of sequels: Take the story on. What’s the new line? Please hire me to write proper copy in future.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leia is unconscious for half the film. Seriously. She does almost nothing when she’s awake either. For a film playing a strong Madame President image in the poster this is the biggest shocker.

Gwendoline Christie is BARELY in it. Again.

Mas Kanata is in ONE scene by webcam. I actually wanted to see the film she’s in. It looks quite exciting. But seriously. WTF.

That’s all three women over thirty from The Force Awakens barely in it. This film was 2 and a half hours long.

Luke milking a giant breasted creature and staring at Rey aggressively while he drinks it was just not healthy. There’s some weird unintentionally misogynistic stuff in here.

Your two most swashbuckling leading men Finn and Poe Dameron are sidelined from the main action. This is madness. There is a giant Han Solo shaped gap and their projection of aspects of him was essential to the charm of the first.

We never learn about why Mas had Luke’s lightsabre.

C3PO is hardly in it except  for a couple of excellent but tiny cowardly moments.

Chewbacca gets almost nothing to do except one good macabre joke with some Porg.

The Porg are actually a really welcome addition. And the ice foxes. They seem to have character development, a purpose and help scene setting. Think about that.

R2D2 does almost nothing.

Well over an hour (an hour and a half I think)  till we get a proper lightsabre fight. I checked my watch. Single best scene in the film – Kylo and Rey.

Makes you realise how good the red set dressing in Flash Gordon was, and how influential. And it draws on the Bride’s fight sequences in Kill Bill.

There is no proper onscreen reunion of the older stars.R2D2, C3PO hardly get a hello master Luke moment.  Where is the melancholy camaraderie of the first generation?  Even Hamill has commented on this publically. Unforgivable.

Hardly any reflection on loss of Han Solo.

There is no proper interaction of all the new comrades either. Poe, Finn and Rey are kept apart till the end. Unacceptable.

We learn NOTHING about Snoke before he’s killed. Like Darth Maul. Unforgivable.

We learn nothing about Rey. Even in that initially visually intriguing scene in the cave.

It would be really nice if she does turn out to be nobody; a rejected urchin. It’s not going to happen, is it?

Careless racism from Rey at the fish nuns – like a race of Mrs Doyles on Craggy Island. “What are those things?” she says. They’re the “native” population according to Luke, who have apparently been (forcibly?) converted like and do all his laundry.

We learn nothing about how Kylo Ren came to join the First Order.

Why is Emo Kylo Ren’s best frenemy General Hux in charge? He seems to have far older and superior officers by his side. An eye roll from the best of them does not make this ok. Maybe I should pretend there’s a Donald Trump Jr reference in his overpromotion?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For most of the film we are encouraged to think like Poe Dameron, that Laura Dern is an overpromoted feminazi because of political correctness gone made. “What, the admiral is a a woman?!” is the gist of his reaction. Poe is all Eric Trump snide. Even the big reveal about her is pretty late and pretty poor. Why doesn’t she make her big heroic gesture a bit earlier and save all the other transports? She looks amazing but there’s something strangely impractical about how she’s dressed like a cross between the violinist in Yellow Submarine and  the Columbia Film lady.

Look at Oscar Isaacs and John Boyega. Why would you not use them as much as possible in the main story? Much of the action involves Oscar Isaac sitting on a slow moving bus being chased at 20mph by a giant milkfloat. But apparently not blown up because of some special new rule. Imagine Errol Flynn sitting in a cart looking over his shoulder for the whole of The Adventures of Robin Hood. And not even driving.

Boyega at least gets a real Flash Gordon sense of 1930s adventuring but…

Unpleasant sense of Finn being separated off as a romantic possibility (what happened to the good old love triangle?) for racially dodgy reasons and the kiss from Rose felt like they were telling us they’re pairing him off with someone from Engineering so stop complaining.

Rose is a great character (Joss Whedon’s Firefly, anybody?). But this doesn’t excuse doing nothing with all the established leads.

Lots of great diverse casting but in new tiny roles. It doesn’t excuse removing all the non white actors from the main emotional arc of the story.

The Casino planet – a James Bond mix of Monte Carlo and the UAE – a den of arms dealers & child exploitative camel racers – is raced through at high speed. Felt underused and superfluous at the same time. Shame.

There is a lazy, nasty “bath her and bring her to my chamber” vibe, even if now Disney de-sexualised, in how Rey is treated by Snoke. Was a lot of this torture-y thing in Ep VII. No excuses for so much of it.

Why do the New Order always park so far away from the entrance to the Rebel Base?

The giant laser spinning battering penis to ram the dark hole of the hidden rebel base. Sigh.

It all goes a bit too astral plane Doctor Strange for my liking at the end.

The child scenes with Disney references are too heavy handed. (Sorcerer’s Apprentice broom, shooting star as if over the castle)

Two more that twitter people spotted: Why doesn’t Lando Calrissian turn up in the Casino? Come on!

Zero mention of the Knights of Ren. But by this point are you surprised?

Small Disney observation: While East Asian cinema has been doing the ambiguous whole duality of light/dark so well for decades -which Star Wars copies in Rey and Kylo Ren, this film has reworked some types and imagery from classic Disney Princess films. Some of it very successfully, others more prosaically.

With the red and white colours Rey and Kylo Ren seemed like Snow White and the Prince crossed with the humanised Raven from Maleficient – as equals and each with lightsabres. Most intriguing. Obviously there’s a whole Beauty reforming the Beast plotline. But being equally armed for battle is promising for little girls who have traditionally been rather short changed in Star Wars.

Rose – first discovered sitting and crying in Cinderella pose by the Aladdin-like Finn. But being a qualified engineer and all she’s a recognisably modern Disney princess (think Moana, even Frozen). Modern Disney princess types are very talented and resourceful and their confidence quickly emerges.

Princess Leia has been transformed into a fairy godmother character right down to flying. I think this is the jumping the Disney shark moment.

If you’re going to put Kylo Ren in without a top on, just do it. Strange weak humour (throughout the film) here, to undercut a rare moment of actual sexuality.

Ep VII Rey’s Flashback

The only thing we really learn is the Rashomon-style 3 versions of the night of the massacre at the Temple. But even that was focussed only on Luke and Kylo Ren – just the two of them. What about everyone else? How about matching it to the Jedi temple massacre-in-the-rain flashback in The Force Awakens? Great to see Luke Skywalker and the ever dependable Adam Driver get such great moments out of this film. Shame we didn’t have more of this.

Too much reliance on gaps between films to fill in what happened. How can we be 2 films into a trilogy and I still only know one thing more than I knew in the first?

All this has reminded me how much I love Kung Fu Panda. A lot of the same themes (Rey is the Panda). But The Last Jedi lacks a villain as dark as Ian McShane.

My interview with John Boyega, about his career including Shakespeare,  Star Wars and Detroit  BBC Radio 4 Front Row (Dec 14th) on iplayer via this link.

 

 

About samiraahmed

Journalist. Writer. Broadcaster.
This entry was posted in Culture, Film, Media, Science Fiction/Fantasy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.