As I get older, I get more and more leery of sharing my feelings online. It just seems like such a liability–and if you really want to know what I think, why not just ask me? I knew something monumental would be required to drag me back to blogging. Well friends, The Last Jedi is something monumental.
Here is my 100% SUPER SPOILERY review–so don’t you dare read it until you’ve seen it! You have been warned.
First of all, it was totally overwhelming. I feel hungover today, just lost in fog of the implications of this movie. I think I loved it? I loved most of it. Some of it was unecessary. At 2hrs30, it was about 15 minutes too long, and I could tell you exactly what needs to be cut. (Start with EVERY SINGLE ANIMAL and you’d be close. Seriously. Even the fathiers [space greyhounds/horses] were just too much.) But–it also blows the entire franchise wide open without betraying its heart. It’s an evolution, and a necessary one–perhaps even a rebirth. And it blew my frickin mind.
First, the bad. Poe Dameron, a man I dearly love, is a mansplaining jerk here. His subplot (fight with no-backstory Laura Dern while Leia is out of commision) is the weakest one, and that includes the previously mentioned space greyhounds. In TFA, he was a brilliant, goofy, loyal pilot–a new kind of hero, confident without swagger and sneer. Like Han Solo but so much less alpha-male posturing. And I loved that. I really did. I want my son to grow up in a world where heroes can be masculine without toxic masculinity. And Poe was that for me, 100%. This new Poe is just…off. He’s either a high-ranking member of the Resistance or he’s not, right? So his push to get secrets from Laura Dern, then override her command, just feels dated and gross. Sure, Leia was too easy on him and now he’s chafing under new authority, I can buy that. But trigger-happy flyboy was not a good look for Poe. It’s almost as if the showrunners were like, “wait, this kid is TOO enlightened! Let’s back him off emotionally a little bit so he can have a character arc where he matures into the leader we will need him to be when Leia’s gone.”
Speaking of that–my goodness, it was pretty traumatic watching her die again. And then not? The Force-flying was cheesy as hell, and if Carrie Fisher was still with us we’d all be jeering, but as it is we were all too busy crying. So that whole thing was weird.
This movie will forever be a product of its time. It’s no coincidence that the Resistance and the #Resistance share a name (and a hero–Princess Leia features prominently on many signs, tees, and other protest gear). Losing Carrie in the middle of this trilogy makes it all the more poignant–the world of The Force Awakens is not the same world of The Last Jedi. Things are darker, bleaker. We don’t trust our heroes to protect us, we believe in evil because we’ve seen it firsthand, we know all too well how a fringe lunatic can marshal a repressive regime into a totalitarian state, and we understand that light and dark is a lot more complicated than we originally thought. We are sadder but wiser. And we need hope now more than ever.
That’s maybe why I liked Rose, the new character, as much as I did. Because she’s us. She’s some low-level tech whose heart is ready for greatness, who gets the chance to do the right thing, and even though she’s hurting, does it. She pours love on the fires of hate, and it’s so, so right. I was more than a little invested in the Finn/Poe love story, but I will gladly give Poe the boot for Rose. I thought her kiss came out of nowhere, but there’s potential in that pairing.
Another pairing that took me by surprise was Rey and Kylo. It makes a lot of sense (the other two boys frankly can’t keep up with her) but I was not expecting it at all. And it was…super hot? Their interaction was the beating heart of the movie, and it was perfect. Sometimes people do unforgivably bad things, but they are still capable of good. Sometimes good people are tempted to be bad. Rey and Kylo are two sides of the same coin, and their force-bond was the most compelling part of this film. More than a little of that is due to Adam Driver/Daisy Ridley’s fantastic acting work. I am so, so curious to see where this goes.
The space battles were incredible. Holdo blowing herself up to destroy the First Order fleet was literally breathtaking. The battle on Crait with the red salt was gorgeous. The lightsaber duel between Rey/Kylo and the red guards is maybe the best duel in all Star Wars. Visually, this whole movie was stunning.
I am torn on the Finn/Rose/codebreaker thing. It was not well-fleshed out and so clearly a McGuffin, but then it planted the seeds of the whole new Star Wars direction. Benecio was so useless he didn’t even have a name. I think he was supposed to do some more work in the “heroes aren’t perfect, good and bad are abstract” camp (which I feel was adequately covered in Rouge One) but he was just a waste of movie time for me. And Phasma’s death was pointless. What a waste of a character–really. And the fathier-chase was endless. However–I cried several times during this movie, and once was definitely when Rose showed her Resistance ring to the children. Because the Resistance isn’t leaders and powerful rulers–it’s always been the little people, the poor, the unrepresented, the weak. This movie absolutely wrecked the Powerful Bloodlines trope of Star Wars, and proved once and for all that anyone could be a hero.
Rey being not important felt really authentic to me. I never thought she was a Skywalker–it was just too obvious. I love that she’s just a nobody, because she’s going to save the whole damn galaxy and isn’t that a great role model for all the nobodies out there (like me)?
I think this movie managed to subvert all expectations while still meeting them, which is such a tightrope act. I think it tied up a lot of loose ends and opened up so many new ones, which leaves Ep. 9 in a really good place. I have no idea what’s coming next, and I love that. I know Disney wants to keep pumping out new Star Wars movies forever and ever, and now they’ve got a great chance to do it in a way that doesn’t seem exploitative or overly commercial. Because, now, everyone can be a hero.
Luke dying didn’t hurt as much as I thought it might, because a)he wasn’t gunned down by AT-ATs (which, in a Trump world, I thought could happen) and we know that heroes end eventually. It felt like a passing of the torch, on Luke’s terms. The central theme of this movie might have been Yoda’s little speech–do your best, but know that your kids will be better than you (very loose paraphrase obviously). Star Wars has grown and changed so much in the 40 years since its creation–to strictly adhere to the same format would be folly. Rian Johnson has given us a new blueprint to move forward. And that’s a heck of an accomplishment.
I look forward to seeing it again. I think I will catch a lot more nuance when I’m not hyperventilating with excitement! What did y’all think?
Today is a departure from our Regularly Scheduled Programming, but I got really inspired at church this Sunday and I have to share about it. For those of you who don’t know, yes, I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus and that He calls us to love others as He loves us. I don’t believe that I am any better than anyone else who believes anything else (or doesn’t believe anything at all.) That pretty much sums it up for me. So! On to the inspiration!
I think right now could be a huge moment for Christians to act. One thing we can all agree on is that Americans live in troubled times. Both sides of the aisle believes that the other side is populated with bullies, morons, or both. We are constantly in battle for what we believe is the soul of America, and It. Is. Exhausting. Everybody’s involved. We are all constantly angry and sad, and there’s no escape from it. Ignorance is a luxury that Americans can no longer afford. It’s not healthy to be on high alert like this for so long. It’s taking a toll on us all.
I think about giving up—refusing to watch the news, devoting myself wholeheartedly to my family and my job instead of constantly thinking about ways to #resist—every day. The temptation is so strong to just tune out and believe everything will turn out okay. Why do I personally have to be the one to keep calling my Senators and sending postcards and reading Activism Checklists and going to meetings? I’m so tired.
Good thing that we as Christians have a source of renewal and comfort that cannot ever be depleted or destroyed. On Sunday, we read Matthew 10:28, “ Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” We also sang God of Grace and God of Glory, where the fourth verse states “save us from weak resignation to the evils we deplore.” I felt both the lyrics and the Scripture to be a glass of cold water in my face. God understands exactly where we are. He knows it sucks. And He’s telling us—don’t give up.
We are uniquely qualified to wade into this mess because our leader was used to stirring things up in tumultuous times. One of the first thing He did on Holy Week was flip tables in the Temple. He hung out with lepers and whores, broke ranks with tradition, and generally did the opposite of what everyone expected Him to do. His message was Love, and He was not afraid to make big statements to spread it. He is not a timid, quiet, pray silently and move on to other things God. He is a god of Action. And so we, His hands and feet in the world, must be people of Action, too. We have to keep fighting when others cannot, because they don’t know Jesus, who carries us when we can’t walk any longer.
Christians must practice radical love and acceptance to save America. I think it’s the only thing that can work. We know fighting doesn’t work. Namecalling, ditto. Shouting, bullying, and all the other awful things that have been going on don’t seem to be making much headway. We’ve tried pretty much everything else. Why not try this?
You might say, but I’m not political. Separation of church and state, remember? Why should the church get involved? And I hear that. I am a huge proponent of separation of church and state. However, the current situation is beyond political. The current health care bill amounts to a humanitarian crisis. Jesus was clear in Matthew 25:40, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ And in Proverbs 14:31, “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” This is beyond politics, beyond party. This is beyond anything America has ever faced. And my Christian brothers and sisters and I are literally called by our Creator to join the fight.
The key to Christ’s radical love is a lack of judgment. Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That’s ALL of us. Not just one party or the other, not pro-life or pro-choice, nobody is exempt. We ALL sin and fall short, so we are all equal. I saw a post recently about books featuring LGBT+ families in elementary schools. Some Christians were aghast that this sin was being taught at school, and they defended their position as non-hatred because they earnestly believed that gay people were going to hell, and they wanted to help turn them away from the fire. Which is admirable or something, I guess, but that misses the point that WE ALL are sinners. If Jesus came to earth today, he’d dine with me, because I’m the modern equivalent of a leper. Or you are. Even that nice lady on the FB post is. We as Christians have got to stop thinking we’ve got a leg up on anyone when it comes to salvation and start acting accordingly. It’s why people say they hate Christianity and frankly, I don’t blame them. Our actions are turning people away from Christ. Not their sin, our actions. It’s on us, and it has to stop.
So what does this radical love without judgement look like? I’m not so sure. Smarter people than me will have to spell it out. But I have some ideas.
–Reach out to all brothers and sisters, those in our faith and those out of it. Those in our party and out of it. Invite them over for dinner. Take them out for coffee. And listen to them, without judgement. Learn where they are coming from and why.
–Lend a hand anywhere a hand is needed. Help fix a local mosque’s roof. Drive an elderly person to a doctor’s appointment. Pitch in to a friend of a friend’s gofundme on FB. No act of kindness is too small, or ever in vain.
–Find commonalities with your enemies. Build community. Pick something you can agree on and run with it.
–Say thank you. I’ve started sending postcards to senators and other representatives to tell them I appreciate what they’re doing for me. I’m doing the same with friends who are kicking butt in their lives, both activism and non-activism related things. Think of how great you’d feel if you opened your mailbox to a card saying “I see you. You are working hard. I value your work, and I value you as a person. Keep it up!” Let’s fight a war of guerrilla kindness via the USPS.
–Pray together. I don’t understand it, and I can’t explain it, but miracles happen when we pray together. As a high school kid, I was very un-self-conscious about praying in public with friends. It was the culture I lived in, but it was not uncommon to see bowed heads and clasped hands in the cafeteria or at the mall. I am trying so hard to do that again. After a good conversation, I ask a friend “can we pray together?” Usually they are too nice to say no. So I bow my head, shoot off a few sentences of thanks for the opportunity to be together and request God to be with us until we meet again, and that’s that. Be brave. Be bold. And pray hard.
When we look back on 2017, the heroes will be people we never expected—the National Park Service, Margaret Atwood, Teen Vogue. Will you be a part of adding Christians to that list? Will you put yourself out of your comfort zone and show America what being a Christian really means? It’s terrifying and it’s not easy, but just living in 2017 in America is terrifying and not easy. Let’s counteract hate with love. Let’s win the battle. I’m ready. Are you?
What do you think? Stay safe out there, friends. Be good to yourself and to each other. Hit me up with great ideas!