It was the movie mogul Sam Goldwyn (supposedly) who said, “If you want to send a message call Western Union.”
Western Union was, for those not in the know, the company that you used to send a telegraph. Today’s translation would be, “If you want to send a message, text somebody.”
Applied to movies the wisdom is, “Tell a story, don’t preach a sermon.” Why, oh why would film makers of such experience and expertise, handed the opportunity to work on a venerable piece of movie magic, therefore foist upon us such a tiresome, long winded and boring sermon as The Last Jedi?
Not just one sermon, mind you, but multiple ideological lessons.
What were the sermons?
- You don’t need old books, self discipline and self sacrifice to become a spiritual master. You already have it within you. Just be yourself.
- Men are all dumb, violent, weak, capricious, wicked and ugly. Women are all wise, beautiful, strong, wonderful and independent.
- Vague Eastern religions where you meditate on mountaintops at sunset will make happy magic happen.
- “The Resistance” is the politically correct left wing thing with pussy hats and protests. Its the new noble cause!
Do I dislike these sermons? Intensely. It is true I dislike their particular message, but I dislike much more that these sermons–or any sermons– should be imposed on the story. Heck, I’d be just as fed up if they imposed some sort of overtly Christian message on the movie. Did the script writer never read the chapter about how theme is embedded in character and plot?
These themes were not embedded in the characters and plot–they were pasted on.
But because these particular ideologies are cool and trendy they were allowed to be imposed on, and therefore wreck, what might have been a good story.
This is my most important criticism of the film: whoever was responsible missed the whole point of the movie. A film is first and foremost meant to be a good story. It is a story that has strong, believable and sympathetic characters with whom one engages. There was not one character in the film who I cared about, respected or liked.
None of them were funny, smart, ingenious or cool. They all took themselves (and the movie) way too seriously.
A good story is knitted together with all the interlocking parts functioning in a pleasing way.
The themes do not drive the story. They emerge from the story as the well constructed characters engage in the conflict. This was the core fault with the film. The characters were forced to play out the predetermined ideological agenda of the writers rather than acting consistently with human nature and the cosmic struggle between good and evil.
As a result the characters did and said things that had no deeper motivation–despite the fact that the writers tried to paste this motivation in sometimes. Consequently the characters ended up being shallow, contradictory and false.
Take Luke, for example, if he was so disenchanted with the Jedi way, why did he keep on living like a monk in a stone hut on an isolated island? I could go on. Ben Shapiro does just that in his review here.
- Characters from the other movies being interposed on the plot to achieve continuity.
- Deus ex machina plot payoffs that had no set up
- Insufficient motivation for Kylo Ren’s wickedness
- Snoke’s campy throne room
- Wooden acting.
- The fishy nuns and birds without beaks thrown in for cheap laughs
- Corny, dull scripting
- Plot details that were not explained or did not connect
- The main plot line being taken out of the hands of the hero
- Silly slapstick humor rather than smart, funny characters
- A casino scene that was pointless chaos.
- Chase sequences just for chase sequences
- No great actors
- Kamikaze plot points
- Heroes “winning” by running away from the fight.
- echoing the earlier films with superficial rip offs rather than depth of content.
Really, the whole thing was so bad my boys came out actually wanting Jar Jar Binks to come back.
Just about the only thing I liked was Princess Leia who, throughout the film, looked weary, bored and fed up with just about everything that was going on.
I did identify with her.
May Carrie Fisher rest in peace.