!!!SPOILER ALERT!!! (as if the movie wasn’t a spoiler enough)
The Last Jedi should have been titled The WORST Jedi. It was a disaster of epic proportions. The worst Star Wars since Phantom Menace and quite possibly even worse than that. It was silly. It was storytelling train wreck. And it was a departure from nearly all of what makes Star Wars great.
It was so bad, in fact, that it has spawned the first ever multi-Madman, tag-team article. That’s right, for the first time in Journal of a Madman history, three titans of the Madness will team up in a full frontal rebellion against this darkest of aggressions against the greatest cinematic adventure of all time.
Mad Smitty: Rian Johnson, the writer and director of this mess, needs to be hunted down, dragged into space, and fed to a thousand mynoks. His attempt at creating a Star Wars classic, The Last Jedi, turned out to be nothing more than a steaming pile of Bantha dung…at best. At worst, this was the most unforgivable violation of what the Star Wars franchise has been and should be since George Lucas’ cowardly and pathetic re-edit of Han vs. Greedo. Han shot first. Fact. And Rian Johnson should never have been given any part of the Star Wars legacy beyond a movie ticket and a bucket of popcorn. Also fact.
(Yes, there will be an abundance of gratuitous Star Wars references throughout, so if that’s not your thing, you can go join Laura Dern while she shops Vera Wang gowns for her next botched bizarre cameo).
To say I hated The Last Jedi is to understate at a galactic level.
Mad Smitty: Sooooo, Luke Skywalker is an angry, reluctant vagrant who kneels daily to gulp milky spurts from an alien’s crotch? Mmm, kaaayyy. The character Lucas named his dream ranch after is a homeless man tended to by oversized church mice? Really? This is what Yoda and Obi-Wan invested all their efforts in? Hey, Rian, there’s being unpredictable for the sake of dramatic effect and there’s crapping your bed as an adult. You don’t deserve creative acclaim, you deserve diapers.
Mongo: Luke, the greatest Jedi of all time. The Jedi that rose up, ended the Sith, resurrected the Jedi and brought balance to the the force, was dumbed down to a scared, hesitant hermit whose greatest moment was astro-planing his last stand. Or was his greatest moment drinking sea-cow-giraffe-hippo milk? Either way, even Mark Hamill was disappointed with what happened to Luke’s character. And let’s not forget that because of The Last Jedi the Return of the Jedi is now a completely pointless movie. I’m sure that was George Lucas’ original vision for Luke and the Jedi order. I’m just sure of it.
Riggs: Really? “I’m not going to help. I just want to hang out here on this tiny island and milk lazy, fat aliens with 6 teets. I hate the Jedi. I want to burn it all down. Nothing will convince me otherwi… Oh wait! A video from R2? Yeah, I’m in. But I’m only in a little bit. I’m not leaving the island and I’ll only give you three small lessons, Ray. Cuz you scare me.”
Mad Smitty: At the end of Rogue One (another disappointment, but that’s a topic for another discussion) director Gareth Edwards treated us to not only one of the greatest scenes of Star Wars, but in movie history. Darth Vader’s surgical and determined massacre of the rebel guards was nothing short of iconic. As its counterweight waaayyy over on the iconically bad side of the spectrum, Johnson’s B-movie worthy Flying Leia — sure to soon be slang for unpalatable prank drinks and lewd acts performed by intoxicated frat boys during Pledge Week, not to mention a synonym for “jumping the shark” (that movie really pulled a Flying Leia, didn’t it?) — was about the only truly comical point of the movie that wasn’t served up with an accompanying laugh track. Leia, a pseudo-Skywalker whose interaction with the Force amounts to a simple telepathic moment with her Jedi brother (who would of course soon become nothing more than a galactic hobo) suddenly, without any training or discipline, commands the Force with more compulsion and mastery than Luke, Yoda or Obi Wan combined, levitates through space to save her own life. Never mind the ridiculously hokey CG effect or the kiddie-pool-shallow storyline, the Flying Leia is as much a mockery of the Force concept as that midichlorian nonsense Senile Lucas dropped on us in Phantom Menace. Boooo, Rian. Boooooo.
Mongo: Remember that moment in Batman V Superman where Superman takes a nuke, is left for dead floating in space, and then the power of Earth’s yellow sun regenerates his cells and brings him back to life? That’s all I could think about while Leia all of the sudden – for the first time – channels the force, doesn’t explode in space and flies her unconscience-self back to the ship.
Riggs: The other two dudes have already discussed flying Leia perfectly. So I won’t go any further with it other than to say I was warned about this scene and I still almost walked out of the theatre when it played before my disappointed eyes. But the best part is how Leia went from pulling herself back to the ship, to the Star Wars version of sick bay, then miraculously reappeared at just the right moment with seemingly zero side effects. It’s amazing what an opportunity to belittle a man will do for the health. Speaking of belittling men… Well, I’ll save that for a little later in my comments.
Mad Smitty: A larger than life henchman who surrounds himself with candy apple Michelin Men guards in spite of the fact that he is supposedly omnipotent, and who can be bested by the slight-of-hand trick of a brooding apprentice in spite of being omniscient. This is right up there with Darth Maul where Lucas introduces us to the Uber Sith who can handily duel both a junior Jedi and a Jedi master at once only to be killed by the junior Jedi as he triple lindy backflips out of a huge shaft after hanging by his fingertips, force-ing his lightsaber over to him and slashing Darth Indestructo in half. Please. Does no one read these screenplays before editing? (For the answer, see “Disney” commentary.) I’ve seen better plot lines on the back of cereal boxes.
Mongo: Who is this villain? Where did he come from? Why should I fear hi…. Oh, he’s dead now.
Ray, the insta-Jedi:
Mad Smitty: Rian’s Ray, the picture perfect poster girl for Millenials, embodying the generational cry: “You’re entitled to it because you showed up”. I like the girl (JJ Abrams did some great character development on her in Force Awakens, unlike our boy Rian), but if you can simply walk on the scene and become an instant Jedi master, then Jedi master doesn’t mean anything, Yoda, Obi-Wan and Luke are truly dead, and I don’t want to play anymore.
Mongo: I recall Yoda initially declining to train Obi-Wan, Anakin and Luke because they were too old. Enter Rey: all of the sudden she picks up a light saber and defeats a Sith. She gets one and a half lessons from Luke and all of the sudden she’s lifting 50,ooo pounds over her head. The force has always been used somewhat subtly. A force choke, grabbing a light saber from a distance, sensing what’s around yourself. There were the more overbearing moments like the lightning bolts from the Emperor or when Vader throws the room at Luke in The Empire Strikes Back (The greatest of them all), but here’s Rey, just lifting mountains up over her head because it’s convenient to the plot.
Riggs: “Here’s your light saber, Luke. Teach me everything you know. I’m not leaving until you do. Hurry up! Get it done! 1.5 lessons are good enough. I’m outta here.” Dumb… But at least her isolated upbringing in the middle of no where (one of the worst one-liners in the movie) created the perfect environment for her to learn to fly any and all space ships in the galaxy with expertise. That was cool…
The endless jokes:
Mad Smitty: It was once that Star Wars had a couple of funny scenes (e.g., “Laugh it up, fuzzball”), but it maintained the reverence and gravity of the central story. The Last Jedi on the other hand not only had too many jokes, it had so many I was convinced the Kool Aid guy was going to bust through a wall at any minute. If I wanted a bunch of aliens cracking lowball jokes for three hours I would have watched the Alf marathon on TBS.
Mongo: This is why I can’t watch Disney/Marvel movies. The endless jokes. During the most climactic moments, they’re cracking jokes. It takes away from the story and it keeps the movie from being as great as it should be. Comic relief is good, but endless jokes have no business in a Star Wars flick. I thought Disney had finally nailed this trick in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. But then they decided they should go all Avengers on this latest installment.
Riggs: Speaking of one-liners, this is where the Disney really reared its ugly head (well, that and politics but I’ll get to that later). “Is General Hux there? I’ll wait.” “That IS in the middle of nowhere.” “I know, it’s the hair.” Shut up! It’s not funny or necessary or appropriate. Every time I thought I could stomach the movie and might actually get into it a little, another stupid joke. Bleh…
The First Order’s bumbling ineptitude:
Mad Smitty: A strong villain is critical to establishing a strong hero, or plot for that matter. Think of the sinister gravity General Tarkin possessed even in the considerable presence of the very face of evil, Darth Vader. Villains worthy of our hatred. In The Force Awakens, Abrams went a bit overboard on the First Order’s Nazi parallels, but at least you understood how dark and ominous it was. Seems like an obvious formula to follow, right? Not for Rian Johnson. No, he decided to turn the First Order into a heavily armed band of keystone cops. Not only is their mission anomalously undefined, other than getting a bunch of “rebel scum” (that’s not a mission), the head of command for the empire is an impetuous, shortsighted, red-headed stepchild with an in superiority complex who is mocked, belittled and ignored throughout the film. How exactly did this goofball attain the pinnacle of authority within the First Order’s military arm? Vader would have quickly choked him out and replaced him, but in Johnson’s First Order the ultra-bad guy, Snoke, lets the clown stick around for a full three hours whining, throwing tantrums, and losing battles. It’s as if the script was written by a four year-old, and from the looks of Johnson, it basically was.
Mongo: The Empire was to be feared. The First Order is to be confused as to what exactly the point of all of this is.
Mongo: This is the greatest sin of the entire film. It’s unforgivable. Bring back Jar-jar while you’re at it!
Mad Smitty: Overpriced stuffed animals coming to a gift shop near you.
Riggs: Remember that time in 1942 when Disney decided it didn’t like hunting so it made a movie wherein it anthropomorphized some deer, rabbits, and skunks and made humans who hunted for their own food look like primitive savages? Well, welcome to 2017 and Porgs and Chewbacca and the furtherance of the anti-hunting, anti-meat-eating propaganda from Disney. Hunting is bad. Porgs are cute. Don’t eat meat. You’re a savage if you do… By the way, I’m late to the party on this group blog because I was on a hunting trip and didn’t have internet. Meat is yummy. Hunting and providing healthy protein for my own family is awesome. And I’d eat a Porg in a heartbeat al long as Chewy was roasting it on the spit. That thing looked amazing.
Mad Smitty: The Prequels sucked. They were examples of some of the worst movie making not involving Mariah Carey ever. They had spoon-fed and boring dialogue in place of brilliant and insightful exchanges, static and boring scenes in place of grand and compelling cinematography, indulgent and boring special effects in place of clever and believable action, caricatures in place of characters, silliness in place of seriousness, flash in place of Force…to mention but a few of the problems. Johnson is clearly a fan and student of the prequels.
Mongo: It’s like they wrote it as they were filming.
Riggs: News flash. It shouldn’t take 3 hours to tell a 20 minute story.
I am woman, hear me command:
Mongo: There’s nothing as perplexing as going to a war film and being told men have no business being men because they’re too stupid and only want to blow things up. “Here,” says the director of this abomination, “stand here next to this eight foot woman and look tiny and pointless, you little boy. Then get beat up by Super Leia because you’re a man and you’re too dumb. Equality.” Jyn Erso in Rogue One was the perfect example of a strong female. Her character didn’t have to emasculate any men to prove she was strong. She was just strong, and that came with respect. The Last Jedi decided that men need to be walked on to show the strength of a woman. Not cool, and not necessary.
Mad Smitty: I want my daughter to grow up with strong female role models. That’s why I liked Ray in The Force Awakens. But the sniveling girlyman, Johnson, turns girl power into a man-hating femi-nazi romp. It’s blatant and it stinks like Jabba’s sweaty underside.
Riggs: Yep, that’s Hollyweird for ya. Men are idiots. Virtually every sitcom and movie in today’s America depicts men as bumbling fools. Great message, especially with so many fatherless homes in our country where kids grow up without having both parents involved in their lives. Why would any young lady want to marry a man? They’re all clueless buffoons.
The Casino Planet:
Mongo: If I knew the director decided to waste twenty minutes of my life I would have gotten up and gone to the bathroom, instead of holding it in.
Mad Smitty: What Mongo said. ^^^
Riggs: Yep, I agree with my compadres. The casino planet was pointless. It didn’t add anything of substance to the movie. That is, unless you’re a liberal movie director who just had to find a way to denounce war and capitalism somehow in your movie. See this? All these rich folks achieved their wealth by enslaving the little people and selling arms to both sides of the fight. Rich people are all evil and shallow. Let’s demonize them as we make billions dressing up and playing make-believe. That’ll show ’em.
Mongo: Did anybody else notice Disney sanctioned book burning – by Yoda? And referenced the books as scripture? Then the whole, burn the past down, kill it line from Kylo Ren? Anybody else notice that Nazi-like aspect of the film? Cause I did.
Mad Smitty: Abrams portrays the bad guys as Nazis, Johnson turns Yoda into one.
Riggs: The best way to avoid reliving history is by getting rid of all the evidence of our history. Isn’t that the famous quote? No? You mean the best way to avoid genocide and tyranny isn’t by burning books? But religion is foolish and childish. We can still be enlightened without religion. Burn it all…
Ridiculously ineffective star cameos:
Mad Smitty: With the Laura Dern-rebel-commander-prom-queen and Benicio Del Toro-conman-mercenary-hiding-out-in-a-Monaco-casino, I was sure we’d see a Danny DeVito-ewok/Padawan-halfbreed appearance. Lost opportunities.
Mongo: For a moment, I thought it might be Brad Pitt. I was sad when it wasn’t.
Mad Smitty: Chase scenes; they’re either awesome or awful. The chase scene in Empire when the Millennium Falcon evaded tie fighters through an asteroid field was awesome, not to mention it was at the very least plausible. The chase scene in the underwater opening of Phantom Menace was an unsettling tip off that all was not right in Star Wars land, and by the time the pod races were in their second lap it was clear that Lucas had lost both his touch and his vision. But when Rian Johnson stuck Fin and a chubby nobody character on a stampeding herd of runaway space ponies he managed to combine all that is wrong in chase scenes.
Mongo: So here is this super star destroyer chasing down a tiny little cruiser. They offer up a reason as to why the chase is now a battle of attrition. Maybe most of the audience accepts this as good enough, but there’s something that just doesn’t sit well with me. These are ships that can travel at the speed of light. Yet here, throughout most of the movie, it’s a stalemate. And this leaves me to one inevitable question. Are there only two speed settings on a mega, super, massive star destroyer? Which leads to the next question. Are those speeds light speed and sixty miles per hour? Is that standard mechanics in the galaxy far, far away? Apparently. Every ship can go light speed and sixty miles per hour. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Riggs: Laura Dern, the man-hating second or third or fourth in command, or whatever, decided to take one for the team and wait around in the non-auto pilot ship so everyone else could escape. How valiant and heroic of her! Uh oh, their blowing up all the escape pods. There goes another one, and another, and another. I think I’ll sit here and wait until almost all my Rebel friends are offed before I decide to turn this thing around and light speed right into their butts. I mean, there’s no reason to do it early and save more than one pod full of the most important characters when I can let them all get blow to bits first. “May the Fo… No you go. No, go ahead. You can say it. I’ve said it so many times.” It just wouldn’t be Disney Star Wars without a few more stupid jokes… Oh, that scene wasn’t supposed to be a joke scene? My bad.
Mad Smitty: Ok, I get it. Disney is a corporation. It thinks like an ATM. I’m not against that – it’s part of the essence of capitalism, and I’m a big fan of capitalism – but I am VERY against a band of poseur BMW-driving corporate beauracrats driving a lame storyline stuffed full of leftist propaganda and blatant merchandising, rather than inspired artists creating a cinematic experience. Disney, stick to the cartoons; let the grown ups make the Star Wars movies.
Mongo: Allow me to go out on a limb here. This is where I get uncomfortable with the free market. Disney gets to rip classic Star Wars to shreds, spit on its grave and make a billion dollars doing it. That’s a power summoned so deep from the dark side that Emperor Palpatine would off Vader to make Disney his new Sith apprentice (and then Disney would off Palpatine, install Snoke and then off Snoke – Cause that’s what they did). Perhaps it’s not a rebuke of capitalism, but our Kardashian culture that is taken by bright lights and pretty colors that smash into each other like swords.
Riggs: I think I’ve sufficiently covered my feeling on Disney.
Rian Johnson’s qualifications (i.e., complete lack of them)
Mad Smitty: Apparently qualifications don’t matter anymore. No wonder Johnson writes Ray’s character to just show up and get anything she wants. His IMDB profile lists eleven projects, including this one. That means he’s had about as much directing experience as your average film school grad. And these movies that qualify him for this ultimate honor of fulfilling a major chapter in the Star Wars series? Looper? Abrams took Star Trek from nerdom to mainstream cool – that’s a pretty good qualification. Can you name a single notable thing about anything Johnson has ever done? Disney put a toddler behind the wheel of a Ferrari Enzo. What, are we now turning NASA over to Honey Boo Boo? Will Clock Boy be taking over as CEO of Apple? So an inexperienced, untalented wannabe got the chance of a lifetime and blew it – gee, who’d’ve seen that coming?
Mongo: Rian Johnson is the Sith lord we’ve been looking for.
And one final thought: Vice Admiral Holdo’s heroic moment to light speed. She sacrificed herself for her shipmates, but….. Do these hyper advanced ships that travel at the speed of light not have auto-pilot, and thus avoiding a scenario where anybody has to die with the light speed battering ram? Think about it.
George Lucas created something amazing…three times. Then three times he nearly burned it all down. JJ Abrams, though not perfectly, resurrected Lucas’ wilting and gasping legacy. And now, the unqualified, unworthy Rian Johnson has once again put the future of Star Wars in desperate and unfortunate need of life-support…and if he’s the one slated to created the next installment, we may as well pull out the ole farm rifle and mercifully put the franchise down like the crippled, diseased old mare that he’s made it out to be.