I have a friend who has this terrible habit of hyping up the beauty of women she encounters. She’ll meet an attractive female and tell us, her friends, that they’re the most beautiful girl she’s ever seen. And while that should be harmless, it’s micro level stuff, the problem comes in when she overhypes the ladies. She makes them out to be ethereal goddesses that grace our presence via existence. And when we, her friends, meet the aforementioned woman, they never quite meet the expectation placed in our heads because things have been overhyped and perfection is impossible. And you might be thinking, why is this guy starting an article about a Star Wars movie with this random tangent. Others, quicker to the uptake, know that I’m of course comparing this to the hype that we, as fans, had made about The Last Jedi from the get go. We saw that first trailer and we were hooked. Then it was line and sinker.
And as much as I wanted to be excited about this movie, there was a point in my anticipation where I had tried to lower my expectations because I know that nothing will ever be perfect. I knew that it wouldn’t meet all of my expectations, expecting that is a quick trip to disappointment. So last Thursday, after traveling from a last class in a ritzy neighborhood, I arrived to the movie theater with friends to watch this movie. My friends had hyped it up. We had gotten the tickets months prior. This was it. The theater was filled with various Star Wars-heads raring to go for this next feature, already being compared to Empire Strikes Back (everyone’s go-to favorite Star Wars movie). Already gaining traction and praise as one of the best films of the series. The theater clapped at every twist and turn, at surprise cameos and easter eggs. They laughed at the porgs which were, my friend’s words, the right amount of Jar Jar. We cried when appropriate. We screamed when necessary. And for the most part we sat in the theater as mere children in awe of stunning artistry. As the credits rolled and the audience let out a synchronized fangasmic sigh, I sat in the theater wondering how I truly felt about the movie. Yes. I said it was great then. Yes I still believe it was great. But I know that it didn’t hit my expectations. And you know what? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. A piece of art can deviate from your expectations, it can even stray from your appetite, and still sate you. And this movie does more than that.
Side note: I know that this review is a week late, but I respect this movie so much that I still won’t spoil anything for you. I’ll try my best to cover storylines in abstract ways.
If I were to compare this movie to a dish, I would say it’s highly experimental. And if you were a neophyte in cooking, you might say that the chef didn’t know what he was doing, that he was throwing in a bunch of ingredients in. And though the surface of the dish seemed edible, it ultimately wasn’t appealing to the palate. But I wouldn’t put myself in that camp. This film was a fun time, and to some, by that I mean petulant fan boys who keep extol this franchise as untouchable treasure, it might have been too fun. Too funny. Too outside of the lines of what they want. What I saw was a movie that decided to walk a path less traveled.
The narrative structure of this piece is winding. It’s a labyrinthine structure in which point A does not automatically get you to point B, which is how most narratives should be in general. Plans do not come to fruition. Conflicts do not settle from their creators. What’s in front of you is not real. Objective A leads to Objective D which goes to E then F, ending at B, but never reaching C. It is a narrative that, in a world of neat structures and linear connections, does not make sense, because for me one of the biggest subplots (or should I say obstacles) of this film is the human ego. And that’s wonderful (if you watch the movie you’ll understand).
Traditions aren’t carried out. Pasts are thrown wayside. This film is a new generation and a new path, and once you are ready to accept the past and let it go this movie will be enjoyable for you. What you get in this film is emotional depth, conflicting wills, and a storyline unwilling to stick to black and white narratives. It’s muddy, exquisite, and surprising. And I’m glad that this wasn’t a remix of an old formula, but rather a deviance, a claim to this trilogy’s own autonomy, it’s path. But also the action scenes were gnarly as fuck. The ways they used lightsabers were sick. Like the movie was just cool and not trying hard to be cool. It was smooth. So was this movie good? Yeah. It was great. Did it meet most of my expectations? No not at all. I mean certain people I wanted to do cool stuff did cool stuff, but not wish list desired stuff. And that’s fine because it was an elegant divergence from anything I could have imagined.
And to the fan boys unwilling to accept this movie due to its “veering” from tradition, it’s substantial quips and humor, or its inability to stand next to the impossible height of the pedestal you put the Star Wars franchise on, take off your rose tinted glasses. Watch some of older movies again. Or just let it go. Don’t take it too seriously, you’re making nerds and fanboys look bad. Nothing’s that heavy. Nothing’ll ever be that heavy. I leave you with the Fear Box. Later days.