Give Me Those Star Wars 25: After the Last

Ryan doesn’t know how to react to Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

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38 responses to “Give Me Those Star Wars 25: After the Last

  1. I’m right there with you. Because, like you, I do get it. I get the subversion, I get the new take, I get all those arguments. But I still think ultimately this was a mistake. If you’re going to try something so drastically different, why aren’t you doing it in the spin-offs? Especially after your first new film for this franchise was nothing if not a reaffirmation that Star Wars hasn’t drastically changed?

    If the tone and feel and intention of Last Jedi had been in Episode VII, I don’t think I’d have this problem. I’d be going “cool, start of a new trilogy, going new directions.” But doing that in the sequel after the first trilogy part set expectations for the numbered saga in the complete opposite direction? No, I don’t think this works.

    And with Rian Johnson now working on a stand alone trilogy separate from the saga, I can’t help but feel that’s what they should have had him doing from the get go. You don’t deconstruct within the continuity of the thing you’re deconstructing. Since this is a comics heavy network, I’d cite The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, and Superman: Red Son as great deconstructionist works. But they don’t happen in the same continuity as the things they’re taking apart. Because when you do that, you break it. And Star Wars feels broken for me right now.

    1. That’s a good point that I hadn’t really considered. If the tone of THE LAST JEDI had been the tone set by THE FORCE AWAKENS, I don’t think this would be such a jarring change for me. I would understand that we’re in a new trilogy with a different feel, just like the Prequels felt different than the original trilogy.

      Another concern that’s been building up over the past couple weeks is there were a lot of problems with THE FORCE AWAKENS that I gave a pass to or excused, thinking “If this gets addressed or corrected in the next movie, it’ll be fine.” Those issues weren’t addressed or corrected, though, so now the problems with THE FORCE AWAKENS shine brighter.

      1. I get what you mean about The Force Awakens and how much that left to be picked up. For me it doesn’t dull the previous too badly, because the MAIN thing I needed to work was better understanding Kylo Ren as a character and his struggle. And since I feel that’s one of the few areas where The Last Jedi undeniably shines, it doesn’t taint the previous film specifically as much as the overall “new trilogy.”

  2. I get it, man. Personally, I really dug TLJ. But my stake in this thing is pretty low in comparison to yours.

    You know, whatever it is you’re feeling, reminds me of when I saw Star Trek Into Darkness. It made me swear off any future installments. Luckily, I gave ST Beyond a try.

    Sorry you’re bummed, bro. But all good things, you know?

      1. I really like Rogue One, best of the Disney films so far, probably because it didn’t carry the weight of expectations. Plus K2SO is the best new character of the new era.

        1. @Paul
          I like a lot of the visual and Star Wars-looking aspects of ROGUE ONE. I really like K-2SO a lot. I love the E-Wing fighter/transport they fly around in. I like the look of the black Death Troopers. Actually, I love all the costumes, especially Cassian’s Rebel outfit with the fatigues and jacket. I think Cassian and K-2SO working together could’ve been a partnership as fun and identifiable as Han and Chewie, but there just wasn’t enough to like about Cassian’s character.

    1. @David
      Conversely, because I’ve never been a big Star Trek fan–and had so little experience with it at the time that I saw INTO DARKNESS–I enjoyed that movie. I understand why long-time fans absolutely loathe it. And now, having seen the original series and the six movies with the original cast, I understand that much of the themes of STID fly in the face of everything the franchise is supposed to be about. But I can look at the movie divorced from Star Trek, as just a space action adventure story and have a lot of fun with it. I think Cumberbatch’s performance is thrilling, even though it was stupid to make him Khan when these versions of the characters have no “Space Seed” for references.

  3. I respect fans not liking the film, but I’m curious as to what sorts of things would be acceptable for Star Wars to move forward. Or is the acceptable answer that Star Wars not move forward? That’s the feeling I’m getting from the various fan complaints.

    One of the dangers of trotting out the original actors for another outing 30 years after the original trilogy while simultaneously trying to establish a new cast is that no one is served particularly well. Both Episodes 7 and 8 suffer from a lot of telling and not showing. Aside from a few exceptions, anything within the 30-year gap is considered not to have mattered. For all the complaints about Luke casting aside his duty as a hero, the audience was told in The Force Awakens that our heroes were ineffectual after Return of the Jedi.

    The tone and direction in The Last Jedi were what I wanted in The Force Awakens. Unfortunately, The Last Jedi is full of what I feel are genuinely stupid bits of storytelling that were barely redeemed by the other parts. That said, I’m looking forward to Solo.

    1. Yeah, I mentioned some of this in my response to Nathaniel above. When I saw THE FORCE AWAKENS, I was bothered by the First Order and the Resistance and the state of the galaxy far, far away, because it seemed like JJ Abrams and Lawrence Kasden reset the stakes back to the original film because to them, Star Wars should feel like the heroes are the underdogs and the villain is a galaxy-wide army. I understand and may even agree with that thematically, but it does rob RETURN OF THE JEDI of its value.

      I was kind of hoping THE LAST JEDI would address this, or provide some context, some nuance to make me care about the First Order and the Resistance’s place in the galaxy. Instead, Rian Johnson said screw it, and stripped things down even more basic, so that now the Resistance is just called the Rebellion again. The bad guys look like the Empire and they run the galaxy like the Empire, so what did Luke, Leia, Han, and the Rebels accomplish at the Battle of Endor. A thirty year peace? But we never see it; we barely get any hint of it.

      As much as I love the visual effect of seeing Finn pull off his helmet and defect, maybe it was a mistake to make the First Order a more advanced-looking version of the Empire. Logistically, it should be the opposite. The threat should’ve been underfunded guerrilla terrorists striking back at the New Republic. But… oh well.

  4. I think the worst part of this for me is to hear that you aren’t excited for Star Wars anymore. I have no problem if you liked or didn’t like The Last Jedi or had strong feelings one way or the other on certain parts of it but the worst thing that can happen to a product is to make people ambivalent towards it. Personally, I liked The Last Jedi (but didn’t love it) and had some negative feelings toward some of the choices the director made but I am still excited to see what they do for Episode IX. Will they continue down this road? Will they reverse some decisions made in Episode VIII? If they put Lando in to appease fans, will Lobot be far behind?Will Salacious Crumb make his triumphant return?
    It’s interesting to me that this movie has become so polarizing. It seems to be tricky to add installments to fan favourite franchises, i.e. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull or even The Phantom Menace. Is it just that it isn’t the same since we’ve grown up and these movies aren’t for us anymore? I still enjoy them but not in the same way as when I saw them as a kid.
    Anyways, I enjoyed this episode to hear a different view on the Last Jedi. You are negative on it, giving your feelings without being mean, which is refreshing for the internet. Keep up the good work!

    P.S. – Your episodes of reading to your child were fantastic! With 2 sons of my own, I have no greater feeling then sharing my joy of Star Wars with them and I could hear the joy in your voice while reading. Well done!

    1. The thing is, while my emotional reaction to the movie is much more uncertain, my cerebral reaction is pretty positive. There were a few things about the plot or characters I thought were dumb or didn’t make sense, but not a lot. Most of the movie I thought was great, or interesting, or funny. If asked, objectively, is THE LAST JEDI a good movie or a bad movie, I’ll say good.

      But when asked, do I like it?

      That’s what I’m still struggling with.

  5. I really don’t get the antiTLJ position, at all. Loved it, start to finish, think it made almost all of the right decisions, am considerably more excited for IX than for Solo.

    Also, I read in an interview with Rian that BB-8 gets the bad feeling line.

      1. Yeah, somebody else told me that BB-8’s first line to Poe right at the start of the movie is droid-speek for “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” Poe’s reaction supports this. I think that’s awesome.

  6. As we well know, I never counted myself a Star Wars fan, and so I liked this movie. I’m not going to pronounce it the Second Coming, because I find ALL Star Wars films rather slight, but The Last Jedi at least game me something to chew on as far as theme, subtext and surprises went. That’s not what this comment is about.

    The episode actually made me understand something about diehard SW fans. See, my own fandoms – Star Trek, Doctor Who, you might even say superhero comics – don’t have a single flavor (or bouquet of flavors, if I’m more generous). There were several Trek series, with different characters, production values and tones, and even within each of those, being a television property means they told many more stories than a film franchise, with enough variety that when, for example, the original series went to movies, they managed to make IV a comedy with no one getting upset (indeed, the opposite). Doctor is an even more powerful example, with even the lead part having more than a dozen actors, it’s a show that’s been SF, educational, comedy, tragedy, horror, super spy, fable… all sorts.

    In both cases, some of it you like, some of it you don’t, but wherever you find your joy, there’s probably a healthy canon of favorites and you gain the ability to shirk off the bad because it’s part of the game.

    Star Wars, when it comes right down to it, that is to say when I do what most fans do and disregard the expanded universe of books, cartoons, comics and games, is, to most, THREE movies. The next three SUCKED HARD. And now we’ve had three new ones that FINALLY try to do something a little different as far as tone or style goes. But SW fans aren’t trained for it. There’s only one actual flavor, and it’s the one represented by episodes IV-VI. So every time a movie comes out that is either bad or a different flavor, it’s a shock to fans. All that time waiting for the next installment, and they DON’T LIKE IT. Now it’s another year (used to be more) before they get another shot at it.

    Meanwhile, Trekkies and Whovians are used to going, meh, this one wasn’t great, maybe next week will be better. It was still better than Turnabout Intruder, or Timelash, we’ll say.

    I think it’s a little like that, maybe.

    1. I think the difference is in that SW had a goal – stop the Empire. Trek and Who are, by design, open ended adventures.

    2. The thing is, I used to have that same attitude toward the Expanded Universe. I read damn near all the novels and comics that came out between 1993 and 2003. Some of them I loved. And thinking about it now after your comment, the ones I loved felt like the classic films, or at least had plenty of callbacks, whereas the EU books that sucked tended to be more experimental and atypical. Of course, there are exceptions. Ask anyone who read the New Jedi Order series, they’ll probably tell you that TRAITOR was the best book in the series, and that books is nothing like conventional Star Wars. Full of heady ideas, philosophy, subversion of tropes and norms, and only like three characters in the whole thing.

      But yeah, when I was collecting the EU novels in high school and college, if one sucked, I’d say, “Oh well, the next one comes out in a couple months.”

      1. I really enjoyed a lot of those old EU novels, as well. I tried to read every book until they started publishing them faster than I could read them. You mentioned you might do an episode about them and I would like to second that motion!

  7. I can’t tell you to like Last Jedi. I liked it, and on a second viewing, my few initial problems were pretty much answered, and I felt good about the movie. I won’t pretend I understand why this movie has divided fandom so, but it has. I think with many people it’s simply because it wasn’t in any way a version of the movie they wrote in their heads for two years, but you may have hit at the deeper problem. It’s just too far afield of Star Wars as it has been. Your IHOP analogy was as sound as any.

    I don’t like modern Batman comics. I can appreciate that Grant Morrison, Scott Snyder, and Tom King have written some great stories, but most of what I’ve seen are unrecognizable to me as any Batman I’m okay with. So I get it.

    I would be interested in hearing Angie’s review of the movie. I hope the Force reawakens in you my friend.


    1. When we left the theater, Angie said, “Okay, I hate that we didn’t find out who the hell Snoke is, but other than that, I freaking loved it!”

      Her feelings on the film are pretty close to what Rob and Shag said on Film and Water… Well, not Shag’s asinine theory about Rey being a Skywalker.

  8. Warning right now, I’m going to get real here.

    Ryan, when I listen to this episode, I hear a lot more than not liking TLJ. I hear a crisis of faith. Star Wars means something to you on that level. And TLJ has shaken that part of you. Or you’re in mourning, like “your” Star Wars has died.

    I think you need someone to talk to about your feelings and have some help to work through them. You have so many amazing supportive friends in the F&W network and beyond. Reach out. I think you need to.

    I hope I’m wrong, and you’ll bounce back soon and it’s not that big a deal. Just think about it, ok?

    And yes, if you need a break, take a break. It’ll be fine. We’ll all be here when you’re ready. And we can get back to making jokes about “Boba Fett-Flavored Sarlacc Chow.”

    May the Force be with you. Always.

    1. Siskoid said I used my “eulogy voice” on this episode. I didn’t mean for it to come off like I need to be on suicide watch or anything.

      I appreciate everyone who heard the episode and reached out. Seriously, I had like ten people message or text me about the episode. And a bunch of them suggested topics for future episodes, thinking that would snap me out of my funk. And I appreciate it, and I hope to get to those topics. But not for a while.

      I don’t feel depressed about it. I’m not in crisis. I’m strangely at ease with putting Star Wars out of my mind for a couple months (or maybe it’ll only bee weeks, or hours, for all I know). It actually makes my life easier to clear the decks of my various fandoms. Lightsabers and Fishnets will go on hiatus after this month while I prepare for other projects.

      1. Oh good. Seeing all of your replies today is also great. Glad I was off base.

        Taking a break sounds really good for you right now. Enjoy it!

      2. So do we give more leeway to the extracanon? I know it’s a little like that in Doctor Who, with the “feels just like the show” kind of the boring ones, while Illuminati series meets Lovecraft, or Paul Magrs metatext, or experimental structures the most celebrated of the books. The show only rarely goes to such extremes, by virtue of format and medium.

  9. Ryan, I think we had almost a completely opposite emotional reaction to the Last Jedi.

    I loved it in a way that I really haven’t loved most big franchise films, and I like it more the more that I think about it.

    You clearly didn’t like it and it’s left a real dent in your love of the franchise. That’s totally okay. My advice is not to force feed yourself in an attempt to fight that feeling, suppress it, or trick yourself into liking it.

    Don’t bother with that. Life is too short to waste on making ourselves unhappy on purpose.

    I think sometimes we hit a point where we just fall out of love with a fictional world that used to give us a lot of joy. And I think we sometimes have a hard time accepting this moment.

    Casey and I had a conversation about this recently where he’s come to the conclusion that he may have hit this point with his favorite franchise, Star Trek. Maybe it’s just that like Casey, you see the future of what they’re selling and you just don’t want it anymore.

    Maybe Star Wars is just something you can love in the past tense.

    I can feel myself drifting this way with both the Marvel and DC comic book universes. Maybe it’s just the ubiquity of the movies or the incomprehensible dense slurry of the books’ continuity. Maybe I’m just getting older. But I’m getting pickier and pickier, and I’m feeling less and less sad about that.

    We live in an age with an embarrassment of riches. If one thing doesn’t make you happy, you’ll certainly find something that will. And don’t feel pressured to love something because you have a podcast about it.

    Do what makes you happy, man. There’s little to no money in this podcasting gig. Not if you aren’t a celebrity anyways. The only reason to do this is because you love it. The minute that you lose that love, either take a break or walk away without regrets.

    If the spark is gone, you can hand off this show to someone who still loves it, or even just end it. And start a show based on something else that *does* still give you joy.

    1. I know that my particular fandoms often hit me in waves. There will be a time when Star Wars consumes me, and then it’ll ebb and I’ll hardly think about it. Maybe I’m in one of those ebbs right now, or maybe this is something a lot more substantial, like when I gave up on Star Wars after REVENGE OF THE SITH came out and I didn’t even want to watch the originals or admit to people that I was a Star Wars fan. Either way, it’s fairly normal.

      The same things tend to happen with Marvel and DC. I’ll go for stretches when I’m all about one publisher and ambivalent toward the other. Or sometimes I don’t care about either and I just want to read some smaller press comics, or Stephen King books, or something else. For the past six months I’ve been on a real Marvel kick, going through tons and tons of comics on the Marvel Unlimited app, and not caring much for DC at all (which makes podcasting about DC comics a lot harder, I can tell you). How long will this phase last? I don’t know, but again, it’s normal for me.

  10. I came away not disliking it but also not liking it. I can’t entirely point (for the most part) to a scene and say it was bad, but this was definitely the case for me where the whole was less than the sum of its parts. One problem I had was that for it to work the people in the movie had to be either one of the smartest or dumbest person in the Galaxy at any given time (the First Order BB droid was apparently the exception). The other major problem was that it was a comedy of errors with out the comedy.

    The worse scene I thought was the bombers: first you have a bomber design that makes no sense for space, they are gravity feed so whatever one is bombing must have a large enough gravity well to poll the bombs towards it, second the bombs either are not affected by shields or the bomber didn’t have any (in which case the bomb area was open to space) not sure how that works, third a bunch of bomber with charged bombs are all nearly destroyed at the same time but this doesn’t even scratch the paint but the payload of one is enough to destroy the Dreadnought, and fourth I find it hard to believe that a Dreadnought would only have armament for fighting against heavy and medium ships but no small ship protection. Whats worse in my opinion was that you could have had the bombers just chain-react like they did and that took down the Dreadnought all the same people still killed still have the same problems and dumb decisions and you would wouldn’t be going but wait that happened how, why, hu…
    That was kind of the problem I had with the whole movie, there were so many cases where it was well that’s cool but why. And the whole premise of the movie is built on I have a cunning plan but I’m not going to tell you and Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!

    Also seriously has the resistance never heard any version of the phrase “never keep all your eggs in one basket”? But I digress…

    Though I will say it felt a lot shorter than a 2 and half hr. run time to me. I’m just glad, for myself that I could basically think well not sure about TLJ but, at least there are still some more Rebels coming out. But in some ways I agree with this and Rogue One I have less desire to see another Star Wars Movie

    1. The latest “wait, what?” moment for me that I keep thinking about is how Finn and Rose were able to escape from the Resistance cruiser and go off to Canto Bight. Okay, Poe’s allies on the bridge hid the ship’s departure from Admiral Holdo…

      But why didn’t the First Order stop Finn’s ship? Why didn’t they mount any pursuit or attack? Because, y’know, what if Leia and Holdo, and Poe, and all of the Resistance Leadership had been on that one little ship, and they escaped to build up a new Resistance and continue to fight another day? The First Order might’ve blown up that ship, but all their primary targets would’ve gotten away hours ago unobstructed.

  11. Didn’t really hate it but didn’t really like it either.

    Compared to Ryan I guess I hit my “SW depression” early when TPTB disavowed the Expanded Universe. The EU was what made me a Star Wars fan more than anything in the OT and PT. Kyle Katarn and Mara Jade, Ulic Qel-Droma and Nomi Sunrider, Kir Kanos and Thrawn… suddenly no longer canon.

    But I eventually got over my slump for the new films, still appreciating the impact the EU had left on me. Even before VII, I had issues with what was considered canon like the genders of the KOTOR protagonists, the gender/race of Jaden Korr, and the acknowledgment of non-RGB lightsabers or red-wielding good guys. Even then with the EU active I figured, “forget whoever was charge of EU continuity, even Lucas himself, this is what SW is to ME”. Midichlorians couldn’t take that way, and neither will the bad parts of VIII.

  12. Ryan, I think I’ve been to the same place you’re at with various Robin Hood films. Not that there’s any true version of Robin Hood. The character was depicted as a member of the middle class and as a nobleman 400 years before I was born. But the execution of certain Robin Hood film and TV versions left me ambivalent, depressed and feeling alone.

    What I have always loved about your podcasts is your honest sincerity. I don’t think you immediately go for the smug line. You try to show us how you actually feel. It’s a rare gift. And if you don’t feel you can talk about Star Wars right now, it is Star Wars’ loss, not yours.

  13. I am right there with you, Ryan. I came out of the film depressed. I’m not sure if it was the slow-moving garbage truck chase that made up most of the film or the casino planet sequence that just left me cold.

    Problem I had there were three storylines presented in this movie and the only one I cared for was Luke and Rey.

    Another issue is the First Order doesn’t seem like the huge threat the crawl keeps telling me they are. If that’s all they have, then they’re not much of a threat are they.

    Alas, I’ll be there when Episode IX comes out, as I liked seeing Kylo Rey become the villain Darth Vader never was allowed to become, but the story seems small compared to what we’ve seen in the past.

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