Sunday, 31 December 2017

Review: Star Wars - The Last Jedi (seventh-pass)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (seventh-pass / 2D / SPOILERS!)
Cert: 12A / 152 mins / Dir. Rian Johnson / Trailer

Previous reviews: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Okay, I've touched on this in an earlier review, but the more I watch The Last Jedi, the less I'm buying this thing about Rey's parents being drunk/junk-traders*1. The whole issue surrounding our heroine's lineage is focused on so much in this film that the brush-off of 'they're nothing / you're nothing' just screams of Ben Solo's wrong-headedness. And as I've also gone into previously, most of the central characters in The Last Jedi are pretty much wrong, pretty much most of the time.

Especially Ben Solo.

Now, more than ever, it is my belief that Rey is the daughter of Han Solo and Leia Organa. Previously hidden to keep her out of harm's way, fate has intervened (as it so often does in the GFFA) and reunited Rey with the ones she's destined to protect. And/or destroy. Often interchangeable in this timeline. My full list of character-foundations for Rey's lineage is in this Force Awakens review from last year, but I'll take a moment to reiterate these points in the earlier film:

26m30s: The opening notes of Luke & Leia's Theme from Return Of The Jedi play here.
Before we've met Luke in the film, before we've met Leia

41m46s The opening notes of Luke & Leia's Theme from Return Of The Jedi play here. Again.
We're on the Falcon, but it's before we've met Luke in the film, before we've met Leia
The score then goes into Rey's own theme immediately afterwards.

Now although my points so far would seem to suggest that Rey is the child of Luke or Leia (do be quiet at the back), I think it's notable that John Williams used this sequence with the new heroine, rather than just the Force Theme. Anyhow, there's another tie to the Princess…

1h57m02s: And we get a full-on Han Solo & The Princess motif in this scene, heavily suggesting that Rey might have something in common with the pair of them.

So, according to my internal-logic (no, don't laugh), unless Leia had a relationship with someone else around twenty years before the events of TFA/TLJ (unlikely since Solo only appears to have left the scene once Ben starting wearing a silly hat; ten years ago at most, according to the TLJ's Jedi Temple flashbacks), then it stands to reason that Han would be her father. Again, plenty of reasons for that in my previous post.

But that's all in the past, of course. What does The Last Jedi have to bring to this party? Well, in the scene on Luke's hideaway planet, Ahch-To, where Rey skips off at night to investigate the Seaweed-Encrusted Dark Side Well and kneels down to look into the aperture, we get a very brief first-couple-of-notes of either Han Solo & The Princess (as above), or Princess Leia's Theme, both of which point in the aforementioned direction (and for obvious reasons I have neither a time-code nor screenshot of this point in the film).

But surely, Ben's revelation that Rey's parents were lying in a pauper's grave in the Jakku desert holds some new revelation, no? Not really, no. Because when Ben and Rey touched hands through their Force-Time connection, Rey claims she saw Ben's future and that turned out to be… well, momentarily accurate albeit wildly open to interpretation. And Ben's already a great source of reasoned balance, truth and wisdom, given that his recollection of that night Luke Skywalker confronted him is notably different from both of Luke's re-tellings. Ben Solo can't be trusted to relay his own past, never mind provide insight into anyone else's. And this is before we factor in that the whole Force connection was orchestrated by Snoke. ie, the one guy who showed them both exactly what Snoke knew would bait them into action.

No, Ben Solo knows for sure who Rey's parents are in the same way that he confronts Luke Skywalker, not noticing that the blue lightsaber his former master ignites is the same one Ben himself helped to tear apart twenty-five minutes earlier. Ben is the unreliable narrator.

Back at the tail-end of the prequel trilogy, Luke and Leia were separated for their protection. And while I realise they aren't twins, a sibling relationship - direct descendants of the Skywalker bloodline - would account for Ben and Rey's pre-existing connection and unconscious familiarity. This would be precisely what the Organa-Solos were trying to avoid by hiding Rey (although why this would have occurred 8-10 years before Ben went bad is open to speculation). Han didn't get round to telling Rey the truth before he died, instead offering her a place on the family ship she'd already bonded with. By the time Rey returned to the Resistance base on D'Qar, she already knew enough about the troubled Ben/Han/Leia relationship that Leia didn't feel she could burden the girl with more responsibility. Instead she sends Rey off to uncover Luke, the training with her uncle hopefully being the ideal precursor to a family reunion further down the line. For Rey to know of her sibling in the meanwhile would compromise any action she had to take against him, and is something Ben would thoroughly exploit, in turn.

And for the record I don't think Luke knew about Rey's identity, certainly not until he reconnected with the Force at any rate. Although Yoda's conversation with Luke by the fire seems to be an unspoken 'there is another' moment. Yoda knew she'd taken the books off-planet, after all, his knowledge is greater than the sum of his dialogue.

The most telling thing is that the whole situation still isn't resolved, one more movie down the line. We'll see what Episode IX brings. In the meanwhile, if you needed it all spelling out any more clearly…

I'd love to be proved wrong about all this. But having Ben Solo garble some hot-take on a deliberately obscure vision he's been fed isn't settling anything…

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
The Star Wars.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
It's strong.
It's very strong

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
That all depends on how wrong you are.

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There is.

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 0: It is Star Wars.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 In my mind, Drunk, Junk Traders is a daytime TV programme which airs the Galaxy Far, Far Away, more than likely hosted by Dom Littlewood. It's what Luke's been watching all these years in exile because the island caretakers love it. No wonder the man's grumpy. [ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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