REVIEW: Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi | Amy Yabao & Matt Haas join us for a geeky recap!

I’m not sure if there’s been a mainstream movie that has been more immediately polarizing than Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. A lot of people seem to love it, but the most vocal nerds seem to passionately despise the film. I’m sure by now you’ve read a plethora of expert reviews from pop culture bloggists and professional critics, but we thought it’d be fun to give our thoughts on the flick along with a couple friends of ours (just as we did with The Force Awakens – read our review here). Read on as we (individually) give our reaction to the latest Star Wars movie — feel free to agree with us or disagree with us in the comments.

WARNING: If you haven’t seen The Last Jedi, STOP READING NOW!!! Massive plot spoilers are revealed in each review!!! Don’t say we didn’t warn you, asshole!

Amy Yabao (Dick Titty Blood Punch)
Having an unhealthy obsession with Star Wars to begin with, I was already reeling with excitement for The Last Jedi from the moment the first fan theories popped up following the official trailer release. The day the trailer came out, I sat in my living room with my son while we played it over and over, freeze-framing it to analyze every environment, jacking up the volume to listen for any distant voices that may have crept up through the score, picking apart Rey’s lightsaber style, wondering who would inevitably end up with half the number of hands they started with. To my delight, the movie wrapped up almost as many plot points as those it unraveled, graciously bestowing upon me yet another year’s worth of wondering, “What does it mean?!”

The Last Jedi had everything a painfully devoted fan like myself could ask for: new animal life, weird hairdos in weirder casinos, a bare chest that makes you uncomfortable because it does not seem to belong to the head it’s attached to, realizing that this must be the reason for Kylo’s perpetual angst, and watching C3PO get relentlessly shit upon by everyone around him.

First and foremost, two badass new Force powers that had not yet been explored in prior films were introduced in The Last Jedi: Luke using the Force to create a projection of himself on another planet, and Leia doing whatever the hell it was she did after an explosion launched her into outer space. I’m still not entirely sure what it was she did, but I do know it was a badass display of her abilities beyond the scope of her status within the Rebellion, which had, to this point, been limited to her perception of faint echoes in the Force. Fuck ‘em up, Leia – be the space eagle you were born to be.

Had it not been for Luke’s Force illusion, if you will, I would have been sorely disappointed in how his character was handled by the writers. Unfortunately, the story of his whereabouts seemed haphazardly thrown together and essentially nothing after the end of Episode VI and before the demise of the academy was mentioned as far as he was concerned. Simply put, a legend deserves a better fate than what was given to Master Skywalker. The only redemption for the incredibly disappointing story the writers feverishly dunked and swirled him around in was his last triumphant non-fight with Kylo Ren. Watching his weathered, hunky bod slip away and become one with the Force was particularly devastating for me, and I will probably never dream again.

Finn was cool – a little broodier and unnecessarily suicidal there towards the end. Rose was cool – too bad they knocked her off already. Rey was cool – the speed and intensity with which she learned the Force was a bit questionable, but I’ll keep my theories to myself until I see you all at a bar and I’m drunk and forget that not everyone has seen the movie yet. The code breaker – his betrayal of Finn and Rose was suspect, and I really hope he gets brought back around. His character was notably different from others we’ve seen from the resurgence of the series, and I’d take a man who doesn’t look at (or touch) the keyboard when he types over whoever the hell those people were in Rogue One any day.

One thing that I expected to see, but did not – did anybody use the Force to open or close a door? Is this the first movie that that doesn’t happen? And no, Rey moving the rocks does not count because rocks aren’t doors (Adam and McKinley, I’m looking at you).
Oh, and Yoda.

Phillip Olympia (Never Nervous)
I watched The Last Jedi on Thursday (opening night) and left the theater in a great mood feeling like I just watched one of the best Star Wars films ever made. Sure, I had a few problems with the movie, but come on, it’s a series of flicks about a bunch of aliens and space wizards. Following the end credits, I rushed home, got into bed, and started to read other folks’ thoughts on the internet, and it quickly dawned on me that not everyone felt the same way as I did. In fact, I’d say the majority of people I’ve talked to/read their comments about the movie not only disliked it, but actually hated it. Whoa. The last couple of days have clued me in that there’s an army of internet geeks that are way too proud of themselves for not accepting TLJ as a worthy Star Wars installment. Whatever, your loss, you fucking dildos.

I didn’t hate it. I loved the fact that unlike The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi took a lot of risky plot turns and kept me guessing throughout the entire movie. I legitimately had no idea where this story was going — I didn’t see the quick Snoke death happening, I couldn’t have predicted Amilyn Holdo’s suicide mission and I definitely didn’t see the whole Luke Skywalker Force projection ending.

Speaking of Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill fucking rules in this movie. I like the bond that he and Rey seem to forge (although he’s a bit curmudgeonly at times), and while I’m not sure how I feel about the Yoda-ghost appearance, I love their whole story. The Rey and Kylo Ren confrontation in front of Snoke was as exciting of a moment as I’ve ever seen in one of these flicks, and while I’m still trying to interpret my thoughts on the death of The Supreme Leader, I was/am still engaged in the story. Is Snoke really dead? I mean, he was sliced in half, but I mean, like I said before — this is a series of movies about aliens and space wizards. So I guess anything is on the table.

A few of the new characters fall a bit flat for me, namely Benicia Del Torro’s DJ. In fact, I had a bit of trouble staying interested in the whole Finn and Rose side story where with DJ’s help, they disable a tracking device. I think that’s what was happening anyway, I was honestly a bit bored at these parts. Having said that, I really liked Laura Dern’s Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo.

A lot of the criticism I’ve read/heard comes from the fact that this is such a bonkers movie. People complaining that this “doesn’t feel like Star Wars.” Well, going in, the same nerderotti were predicting that this movie would suck as a watered down Empire Strikes Back. Aside from Rey’s brief tutelage from Luke and the ATAT battle in the snow near the end, there aren’t many similarities, at least not many that I noticed. This felt new and refreshing to me, and I can’t wait to see where this story ends up going. The resistance has been decimated to a handful of characters while the evil First Order seems to be just getting started. I can’t wait to watch The Last Jedi again!

Oh yeah, and Porgs fucking rule.

Matt Haas (Animal Hair Museum, Golden Dead)
As a fan of Star Wars and someone that pours over screenplay and how-to-storybooks, the Last Jedi insulted me on both fronts, leaving me wandering to my car questioning who the these movies are even for anymore.

Epic space battles have been reduced to less than a handful of ships chasing another less than handful of ships, lazily shooting lasers at them like a cop car following a drunk on a hoverround and occasionally shining a light on it and telling it to pull over. Ground battles were reduced to a single line of troops (on a “salt” planet, an observation that ultimately ends up meaning nothing and I’m still confused why anyone even said it), making it look like some kind of civil war reenactment of the battle of Hoth.

Spoilers, I guess, but at least 5 of the fights were battles against fucking doors, which to be fair, I think half the fights in New Hope were fighting some kind of door too. I don’t know why Star Wars is so anti-door, but I haven’t written a Star War so maybe they know something I don’t.

I honestly have no idea what any character in the movie wanted, when they were being sincere or ‘tricking someone’ and I don’t think they did either. Every time something great happened, or someone had a great bit of dialog, something else happened three seconds later to fuck it up. I guess adhering to the ‘You think you know how this will end, but you don’t’ tagline means not knowing when to just stop a scene and adding on some tacked on nonsense just to be ‘different.’ Instead of being interesting or novel, it’s unnecessary, adds nothing of value, and makes not only the movie itself bad, but in some cases, ruins great moments for beloved characters and/or the other movies.

That was one of the points of the movie though; There are no sacred cows. The past is not worth wallowing in. Kill the past if you have to. Dead heroes and no leaders. So I guess in a way it did that, kind of? Not really but …kind of? Maybe Episode IX will expand on the teen angst and “burn it all down” mentality to explain that novelty and being different for the sake of ‘treading new ground’ is worthless without intent, authenticity and being able to answer ‘why.’

Throwing money at digital artists and putting some potoo looking guinea pigs in it doesn’t change the fact that the story fucking sucks. The main story is a lot of screaming, teeth and screaming teeth. There’s a worthless side plot that only serves to hand feed you a message about the nature of capitalism, which, ok, I guess there’s some people in the back that don’t know about war profiteering. Maybe episode IX can have IG-88 explain renewable energy and the three branches of government to us.

Sidenote: I can’t wait for the action figures of drunken leprechaun thing and the weirdly and lovingly-crafted-by-someone-that-was-way-too-into-making-a-four-boobed-snake animal Luke milks. So I guess that’s the third message; it’s totally natural for a grown man to drink blue milk out of a strange, gloriously four-titted beast that looked like a single drooping testicle. Also there’s a woman who’s entire body is just breasts. I hope her name is ‘WohTit’ or like ‘ManyMammari’ in the official guide book. Something really horrifyingly tone deaf.
The explanation of what the Force is was pretty great and I liked that take on it. There are some extremely powerful messages about identity, effort, intent, sunken-cost fallacy and holding on to the past that are extremely strong and powerful. The acting is incredibly top notch all around, despite some of the unfunny nonsensical “jokes” that had to come out of their mouths. The actual action scenes are incredible and satisfying.

However, Nothing says Galaxy Far Far away like Asian sisters having matching ‘bff’ necklaces that form a fucking Chinese symbol when combined, and what the fuck is up with Finn talking like someone left a Ninja Turtles VHS tape in the ACR machine whenever he throws a punch.

I’m not going to have a satisfying ending to this review because the movie didn’t have one either.

Syd Bishop (Never Nervous)
Real talk: I wasn’t all that interested one way or another going into this Star Wars movie as I have been in the past. Maybe my nerd cred is slipping, or maybe it’s just fatigue. Or maybe it’s the fact that, while I loved TFA, I didn’t really feel like I was seeing something new, and feared that this would be another re-tread. I was wrong. The heroes in this movie, perhaps more than the villains in many ways, are flawed and blinded by their own arrogance. There isn’t any operation that just a handful of people can or will pull off, but the combined efforts of everyone, working in unison to do the best thing, even if it seems like a difficult thing. The social commentary about war profiteering is heavy and interesting, adding onto that murky gray area that Rogue One so ably introduced into the Rebellion.

I left this movie changed. I loved it. I’ve thought about it a lot since I’ve watched it, and know that I’ll watch it again and again. I loved seeing tropes subverted. I love seeing characters evolve in a way that isn’t always heroic, but definitely relatable. Who hasn’t been scarred in some ways by their past? Letting that go and learning from your mistakes is critical, and it’s a valuable lesson, not one I expected in a Star Wars movie either, although it ended up as the perfect place for just that.