Friday, December 15, 2017

The Last Jedi - It's Salt

Where Rian Johnson goes, I’m not sure J.J. Abrams is equipped to follow. He will either grow as a filmmaker, or Episode IX will be disappointing. I think Rian Johnson recognized that what made Empire great wasn’t the specific plot points or emotional beats of the film, but that it took the characters and tested them in new ways. Just as Luke, Leia, Han and even Vader are tested and grow in Empire, the same can be said of Rey, Finn, Po, and Ren here with Ren even going places Vader never could. Johnson also manages to make this movie really funny, which was a little jarring at times, but made me laugh. It doesn't take itself too seriously.

Are there parallels to Episodes IV – VI? Of course, that’s inherent in the story being told. At the heart of each trilogy is a conflicted Skywalker trying to learn about the Force and resolve family issues. Because J.J. Abrams deliberately revisited A New Hope to make the new trilogy familiar (in ways that frankly did not bother me), the story is left with some inherent parallels. Rather than shy away from those, Rian Johnson confronts them, all of them, and blows past them (or makes fun of them, "It's salt."), leaving us a little shell-shocked and with a blank slate heading into Episode IX. That’s both exciting and a little scary with Abrams at the helm. 

The IO9 review largely aligns with my thoughts, if you want to read something more in depth that’s not going to give too much away. I would have been harder on the first 2/3rds of the film, even though the long setup does pay off well in the end (even if you could have cut a good 20 minutes out of the middle). For a lot of the movie I was sitting there wondering “Where the hell is this going?” only to end up thinking “Oh. THAT’S where it’s going…” You have to trust this movie. Plot holes turn out not to be plot holes, etc, etc.  Of course that’s how I felt after my first viewing. I’m interested to see how it holds up over time.

(If you've seen the movie or don't mind massive spoilers, this debrief of the ending is pretty spot on.)

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In 1789, the governor of Australia granted land and some animals to James Ruse in an experiment to see how long it would take him to support himself. Within 15 months he had become self sufficient. The area is still known as Experiment Farm. This is my Experiment Farm to see how long it will take me to support myself by writing.