The Last Jedi is actually a pretty good movie. Great acting, great action, moving ending. No 'uncanny valley' CGI characters with their revolting lack of humanity, but flesh and blood ones whom you can reasonably relate to and care about (as opposed to the blank sheets we got in Rogue One).
I felt the movie was even true to Luke! How can self proclaimed hardcore fans ignore so many facts about Luke that they would find this version to be violating the character's integrity? Like the fact that Luke started off as a whiny, emotional, self-doubting and impulsive kid? Sure he has grown and defeated the Emperor and all that, but surely he can't have changed the core of who he really is, can he? Like the fact that his being emotional is what briefly opened him to the Dark Side in ROTJ (when Luke let the Dark Side control his actions so he could defeat his father and protect his sister). So we know that Luke, while a good and noble person at heart, can sometimes be tempted by the Dark Side. So what exactly is new or shocking about him not wanting his legacy and status as a living legend to be destroyed by a kid he knows is going to betray and kill so many? Or about the fact that, disgusted with himself for so obviously failing Ben and himself, he chooses to disappear and shut himself off from the Force? Luke was always a person who, at times, let his emotions get the better of him, so why should that have changed exactly ?
I thought the ending was cool; sure, Luke dies, but who doesn't? And he dies fighting and saving his friends; isn't that the best possible way to go for him ? And I just loved the binary sunset reference.
And really guys, really, you want Lucas back ? Someone once wrote about Star Wars that it succeeded in spite of Lucas, and frankly I have to agree. When you consider the amount of help and guidance he received for the first movie (which ended up far better than his original teenager gibberish screenplay), there is no doubt that Lucas, left to his own devices, would never have been be up to the task of creating this mythology. He took advice and help from the likes of John Milius for the writing, his wife Marcia for the editing, and even Steven Spielberg to bring his vision to the screen. He hired John Dykstra for the special effects. He got massive help from seasoned actors (something he would sorely miss in the prequels) to inform their characters so they would escape the tragically boring and/or ridiculous versions Lucas had in store for them. Peter Cushing knew how to play a villain long before Lucas tried to tell him how to. Alec Guinness fought hard to make Obi-Wan relatable in spite of what seemed like incomprehensible dialogue. Harrison Ford went famously on the record recounting 'Georges, you can write this stuff, but you can't say it'. Han is cool because Ford is, not because Lucas wrote him that way. And then Lucas went on to delegate directing the Empire and ROTJ to talented directors who each contributed to the Star Wars universe in their own way (so really, nothing new here either). Lucas' s most prominent talent was never writing (as sadly exemplified by the prequels). It was surrounding himself with talents who were compatible with his half-baked vision so they could inform it.
And all that stuff about the now-dead extended universe and Snoke?
First of all, who cares who Snoke was; he was an ugly, twisted villain (brilliantly rendered, BTW). That is pretty much all you need to know for the story to function. Only Lucas would insist on fleshing out villains for three entire movies only to (need I remind you) turn them so abruptly and ridiculously into the final versions of themselves we know and love to hate. Snoke was bad, came from bad, and died a hubris-led death. His value to the story isn't so much who he was as it is to allow emotional, unbalanced Ben to finally come into his own.
As for the extended universe, could there be a more conservative approach to the legacy of Star Wars ? Married couple gets three children while Jolly Uncle Luke gets his new school up and running. Give me a break. That's 'Little House on the Prairie' stuff. Real life is messy. People split up, even when you know they are meant to be together. Kids turn bad sometimes, even they seem to have everything going for them. Nobodies do achieve - thank God for that! To say that only Skywalker blood is worthy of screen time is nepotism. The Force can be strong with many. Force-sensitive kids are a fixture of the Star Wars universe. Even powerful ones ! Look at Obi Wan, for instance. He wasn't too shabby a Jedi Knight, was he? In fact, he was so good he took the 'chosen one', didn't he? So why should Rey have to be a Skywalker ? Somehow I don't see the Force being that big on genealogy (as opposed to, say, something biological and quantifiable like Midi-chlorians. I read somewhere that introducing them into the Star Wars universe was controversial. It wasn't. Midi-chlorians suck. No controversy here).
All in all, the Last Jedi delivers. Sure, there are plot holes big enough to swallow entire planets, but what Star Wars movie hasn't got its fair share of that? Star Wars isn't about plot. The first movie was about a farm boy rescuing a princess from the clutches of an evil Dark Knight with the help of a wizard, a pirate, two servants and a magical sword. Not exactly original or mind-bending as far as plots go. And as for plot holes, we take it for granted nowadays, but back in 1977 the sole concept of the Force made people go 'whaaaaat?'. The Force is the mother or all plot hole fixers. It conveniently makes practically anything possible. To protect a spacecraft from incoming laser bolts ? Check. To create diversions so you can cut off the tractor beam ? Check. Becoming 'One with the Force' and turning into a ghost ? Check.
Some viewers make such a big deal out of Luke Force-projecting halfway across the galaxy and dying of exhaustion as a result. How is that any worse than not dying at all ? Shouldn't existing on two different planes of existence/reality be much more difficult to achieve and therefore a lot harder to believe ? Apparently not.
No, Star Wars isn't about plot. It is first and foremost supposed to be fun. The Jedi, the Force, the cycle of life and death, light and darkness, and cool space ships and jokes. I remember how the first Star Wars was fun to watch. How Empire was tense and full of that 'WTF just happened ?' factor. How ROTJ was nice, tidy and familiar, albeit sad. That's what Star Wars is and should remain: an emotional roller coaster. The young fighting the good fight, while the old inevitably die trying to help them. Like in real life, only cooler.
And as for being dull, I would say subtle instead. When Jane accused him of being a sad little pervert with delusions of grandeur, I liked the twinkle in RJ's eyes. It was there only for a couple of seconds, but that was enough. Why would RJ show his true self, even to Jane? Isn't he all about control, about domination? It seems fitting that he would allow his true nature to show only ever so briefly but show nonetheless.
As for RJ's phobia, I defy anyone affected by one to stand in front of the object of his/her phobia and not have an uncontrollably wimpy reaction because that's what a phobia is: debilitating fear.
Someone wrote about this episode that they were disappointed that RJ ended up being such a sad little man: I agree that it is what he is, which is precisely the way he should be portrayed. He should be such a pathetic character, because at heart that is what he is; his killing really is the only thing that set him apart, hence him doing it. Most creeps really are just that: creeps
And the begging, the calling 911 . One thing I don't like about TV shows nowadays is how unrealistic the effects of gunshot wounds are. When you are shot in the arm or the torso, you don't start running a marathon. You lie there cursing and crying and bleeding. The pain is just too much for the body to handle. Only a few exceptional people could handle that level of pain and do things like walk, let alone run ; and even so they would only manage it for a few dozen yards. RJ here runs like the wind, breaks through a window, across a park, etc That seemed a little far-fetched to me. But then again, he is Red John. And after that, to lie there and try to get help, well I can't say I did not think it was plausible: remember, most people would not have done what he just did, so it is only fitting that he should be exhausted, in shock even, and acting out of pure survival instinct rather than some cunning plan. At the end of the day, he is just a man in a massive amount of pain running out of options and much like what he tried to pull in the chapel (an old man being attacked and calling for help) it is not entirely implausible that somewhere in his tired brain he thinks that perhaps one last bit of manipulation will save his life
And of course the killing. Most superbly done. To the point of being disturbing. How often are audiences asked to root for killers? (Ok, aside from Dexter .) This is perhaps the most brilliant and yet most disturbing piece of TV ever: the expressions on Jane's face as he strangles the man he hates above everything else, followed by that sigh of relief before he gets up and starts running away. In character, superbly well-acted, fitting, yes. But also dark. And asking for a lot from the audience: how are we supposed to react to this? Am I supposed to cheer because Jane not only killed RJ but actually savored (much more so than in the Season 3 finale) killing him?
All in all, not a perfect episode, but certainly well above the 5.4 rating it got. I give it an 8, 8 and a half. :-)
Funny, as I watched the opening it all seemed so familiar, so immediate, so obvious. I had forgotten that there was a real live action cat, for instance, but of course there was... Why else would my sister and I love this show so much if it hadn't been for a real cat? (We had a cat back then, which probably explains a lot....)
Anyway, 7 out of 10 for sheer nostalgic fun.
I suppose you need to have seen this miniseries as a child in order to like it. Short of that, its shortcomings must really seem unforgivable for a late 70's production. And yet there are so many aspects that make this show highly enjoyable. And first and foremost its lessons: colonization is not all good; in the process of wiping out the strange and the unknown in order to make room for the newcomers and allow them to settle in comfortably, a lot of interesting and possibly life-changing ideas are lost.
As for the cold war and the message from the Chronicles being outdated, surely the world is no better today place than it was 40 years ago...
To me, visually outdated as it is, the Chronicles still retain the charm of a frontier tale about how important it is to open up when traveling to new strange shores, as opposed to taking your whole world with you ( a theme brilliantly exploited in The Beach for instance). I told you, this is no Sci-Fi !!!