Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

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    This is curious, to say the least. Read between the lines with me. [LINK]

    While production just began on “Star Wars: Episode VII,” Disney and Lucasfilm are already focusing on Episode VIII. Sources tell Variety that “Looper” director Rian Johnson is in talks to write and direct the next film in the popular series.

    Johnson is best known for his sci-fi action pic “Looper” starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis. The pic overperformed at the box office bringing in $176 million worldwide. He also directed several episodes of “Breaking Bad” last season.

    The Johnson news comes after the company tapped Garreth Edwards and Josh Trank to direct two stand-alone “Star Wars” films.

    J.J. Abrams is currently directing the next “Star Wars,” which is filming in London, and sources add that cast and crew were becoming aware that this would probably be the only installment Abrams would be directing.

    That last paragraph all bit hits you over the head with a serious case of Something’s Up. (I find myself wondering if the money trail doesn’t lead back here.)


    Filming begins this month…with Mark Hamill once again returning as Luke. [LINK]

    Lucasfilm has confirmed to that filming for Episode VIII – as yet untitled – will start off the coast of Ireland on Skellig Michael over the next few weeks.

    And why not? The hours are great, the pay is great, all the free midichlorians you can eat. Well… maybe because the filming location is insanely dangerous. [LINK]

    Mark Hamill, who plays a now-Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, was almost “a goner” last year after he slipped on the rocks of Skellig Michael, a UNESCO World Heritage Site near County Kerry in Ireland. Two tourists have died in recent years on the rocky outcrop, but Hamill was saved from becoming the third fatality by a guide from the Irish Office of Public Works, who managed to catch him in time as Hamill lost his footing while climbing the treacherous steps that lead up to the ruins of a sixth-century monastery.

    Another report over at The Mirror says that the Star Wars movie producers had already raised some concerns about Mark Hamill’s, erm, agility, prior to the shooting of The Force Awakens. Some film notes apparently read: “Our lead actor is in his 60s and less agile than most.”

    Tsk, tsk, Lucasfilm. When 900 years old you reach, and spend much time eating well and sitting in recording studios you do, look as good you will not.


    Martha Jones’ little sister appears to be along for the ride (or at least the actress who played her). [LINK]

    Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Beyond the Lights) is joining the cast. While negotiations can always break down and nothing is official until Disney announces it, we feel confident in our reporting.

    We don’t have any details on her role, which isn’t surprising (come to think of it, we’re a couple months away from The Force Awakens and we still don’t really have any details on those new characters either). Will she be a total newcomer into the universe? Is she related to any of the characters we’ll meet prior to Episode VIII? Is she playing a human or an alien?

    All of these questions will be answered in due time, but I’m just glad that they’ve gone after such talented actresses for major roles, especially Mbatha-Raw, who was due for a breakout role in a blockbuster following her acclaimed performances in Beyond the Lights and Belle.

    Mbatha-Raw will be seen later this year in the NFL drama Concussion and early in 2016 with The Free State of Jones. She’s also co-starring in the live-action Beauty and the Beast, which opens in 2017.

    Star Wars: Episode VIII opens May 26, 2017.


    As we all know, Star Wars movies arrive in December now, but what’s important is: we have a title.

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    But how can it be the Last Jedi when you have both Luke and Princess L… oh.

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    Some new Vanity Fair covers. Click on ’em to zoom in a bit.





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    The movie’s been out for about a week now, I think it’s safe to talk about it.

    Thank you for not snoking

    I’m kind of stunned by the intensity of the reaction to The Last Jedi. I think it’s safe to say that there were a lot of 40-and-50-somethings expecting something specific from the return of Luke Skywalker, and this movie defied their expectations and went in a different directions, and now we have people starting petitions to have Disney strike TLJ from the official record (good luck with that). One guy in a Facebook group I hang out in talked about returning all of the TLJ merchandise he’d bought already.

    It didn’t go where they thought it should go, where they expected it to go? Good. Surely that’s the first duty of a writer, to surprise the audience rather than giving them exactly what they’re expecting. And yet Rian Johnson gives us, in the end, exactly what we’ve been wishing for for 30+ years – Luke Skywalker, Bad Ass Jedi Master.

    There was a lot of myth-deconstructing that needed to happen for the good of the franchise – by the end of this movie, a whole universe of potential future stories is wide open, one that doesn’t have to connect to the Skywalker saga at all. (Trust me, the future of Star Wars needs this – nearly everything up to now has been an offshoot of the Skywalker story, or connects to it in some way. Even Rogue One wound up with two out of three Skywalkers in it at the end.)

    The only real weak spot for me was the Canto Bight sequence that seemed to slow everything down a bit; either that should’ve been faster-paced, or the time should’ve been spent on other parts of the story, like an all-porg song-and-dance number or something, in the fine tradition of Busby Berkeley.


    Also, I appreciate that all the lightsaber battles were stunt work, and not weirdly rag-doll-like “digital puppets” as with the prequels. Don’t get me wrong, I actually think there’s a lot to like about the prequels, but the digital stunt work wasn’t always the most convincing.

    The funny thing is, the movie seems to have pissed a lot of people off by exploding some expectations. Everyone’s spent two years speculating about Rey’s lineage, only for this movie to tell them that her parents were lowlifes who sold their child for booze money. She’s not a Skywalker or a Kenobi or in any way connected to anything we’ve already seen. Force ability isn’t handed down like royal privilege. It’s a random mutation that can bestow that ability upon anyone from nobility to the stable boy in the last shot of the movie. And that freedom from the saga of the seemingly perpetually screwed-up Skywalker family tree is what Star Wars needs. Novels and comics have been very few steps removed from Luke, Leia, or Anakin/Vader. Because up until now, they have been our connection to the larger story. Now they don’t need to be present at all.

    Also, the movie dispenses with Snoke startlingly quickly and, again, without explaining his origins or background. He is, for the purposes of TLJ, a bad guy who needs to be eliminated in order to create a power struggle between Ren and Hux (but not Stimpy). That will almost certainly play out in Episode IX.

    I’ve seen a lot of really bitter bitching from people who are normally level-headed about this sort of thing, and the common denominator in those cases seems to be “Damn them for not doing what I would’ve done!”

    Cheese Your Own Adventure

    Not saying that everyone with a dissenting opinion is in that camp. I’ve seen folks say “Well, this is where Disney made it very clear that Star Wars, from here on out, is for a new generation of fans, not for me.” And…that’s fine. I prefer that kind of level headed assessment to the deployment of the No True Scotsman logical fallacy [LINK]:
    No true Jedi...

    No true Scotsman is a kind of informal fallacy in which one attempts to protect a universal generalization from counterexamples by changing the definition in an ad hoc fashion to exclude the counterexample. Rather than denying the counterexample or rejecting the original claim, this fallacy modifies the subject of the assertion to exclude the specific case or others like it by rhetoric, without reference to any specific objective rule (“no true Scotsman would do such a thing”; i.e., those who perform that action are not part of our group and thus criticism of that action is not criticism of the group).

    Star Wars fandom isn’t the only fandom I’ve seen descending into tribalism and gatekeeping – see also Trek fandom with the release of Discovery, or Doctor Who fandom the moment they announce the next Doctor will be a woman.

    One of the reasons I follow these shows and their universe is to escape the shitshow that modern day reality becomes more of with each passing day…not to be reminded of the very same problems that exist in the real world. I find it…annoying. I’m getting to where I’ve got as much use for fandom as I do organized religion: nada, zilch, nought.

    I’m familiar with this feeling. It’s the same feeling I had when I decided to give up being a Fidonet moderator.

    Anyway, I enjoyed The Last Jedi tremendously. It’s still my Star Wars. That was still my Luke Skywalker. I still like Porgs. And then, those things having brought a smile to my face, I go on with my life, because it’s not worth starting an internet petition drive over.

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    “All parts should go together without forcing. You must remember that the parts you are reassembling were disassembled by you. Therefore, if you can’t get them together again, there must be a reason. By all means, do not use a hammer.” —IBM Manual, 1925

    Steve WSteve W
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    I saw it the other day. The further I get away from the viewing, the lower my opinion goes. There were just too many problems with it. Why “space bombers”? Why not put high yield warheads on guided missiles and fire swarms of them from a distance so you don’t have to get on top of an enemy’s capital ship to “drop” them? If the lead Resistance ship can turn around and charge them at faster-than-light speed and wipe out most of the First Order’s warfleet, why don’t they just put hyperspace generators in missiles? Nothing could withstand that, no fleet, space station, or planet. An X-Wing that aims for the direct center of the Death Star could jump into hyperspace, smash through the entire structure and take out the core generator, and blow the thing up without any other pilots risking themselves. Where were the shields for the big jumbo destroyer? Poe’s fighter just waltzed right up and opened fire. “Miniaturized Death Star tech” laser cannon that can only blow open a small hole in a metal door? Couldn’t all those AT-AT gorillas do the same thing with their mounted cannons? Did that trip to Canto Bight accomplish anything at all? Why didn’t Lando at least show up when Leia called out for reinforcements?

    I have a lot of nitpicks about this movie, as you can tell. A lot of it didn’t work for me. Especially the humor that felt out of place in a Star Wars movie.

    I watched a YouTube video from somebody discussing “the rot at the center of Star Wars”, and I kind of agree with him. The original trilogy had a strong conflict at the center of it. The prequel trilogy had a different conflict that led into the original trilogy. This sequel trilogy is just the same conflict as the original trilogy, just with different names. They couldn’t come up with anything new (it is Hollywood, after all – originality is frowned upon as unmarketable) so The Force Awakens just repeats all the plot beats of A New Hope. There really should have been an entirely different conflict that makes up the third trilogy.

    I actually want the third trilogy to be about the Skywalkers. I think of these films like Lucas thought of them, as stories of “The Journal of the Whills” as being dictated by R2D2 in the future after everybody’s dead. It’s about a family lineage that became legendary for reshaping the history of the galaxy, for better and worse. It would have been nice if that was the thread that held all three trilogies together. Although Kylo Ren is in the Skywalker family, so there’s still a piece of them in the story.

    There were things I liked about the movie, too. Kylo easily turning against Snoke and killing him, proving that Snoke definitely wasn’t a Sith – otherwise he would have known it was coming. That was a good surprise that I didn’t expect, and then Kylo’s response to that was right for his character. Plus that whole action sequence was pretty epic. Luke getting fired upon by the entire surviving First Order army was a pretty bad-ass moment. But those fun bits get overshadowed by the parts that I have a problem with.

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    I should point out that I really do like Star Wars, but I’m not a huge fan; just a casual fan (compared to the legion of über-fans). I did enjoy the movies as a kid, but it wasn’t such a huge part of my childhood. So when I say that I saw The Last Jedi and didn’t care for it, it’s not a rabid condemnation and I’m not picking up a torch or a pitchfork. It’s more like, “meh.” I am indifferent. It’s no different than any other mediocre movie I’ve seen; I don’t feel passionately betrayed. I’m just like, “Well, that exists, I suppose.” If I’d enjoyed it, it would have been a pleasant surprise. But yeah, I just wasn’t moved by it. During the movie, I was more excited about eating lunch with my friends. So I’m not emotionally invested in bashing it; I just don’t care. I hope people do like it. I’m just not necessarily one of them. I did want to like it and want it to succeed, but at this point I’m neutral and detached. (Are people really starting petitions? Really??)

    Steve WSteve W
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    I understand, I was never as much of a Star Wars fan as a lot of other kids I grew up with back in 1977 – It was a cool movie, but it never pulled me in like other sci-fi stuff like Star Trek did. That’s probably why I’m so forgiving of Star Trek: Discovery when more casual fans (who’s only Trek knowledge is of The Next Generation) have written it off because it doesn’t fit with what they were expecting. I’m a Trek fan, so I want to get enjoyment out of the new Trek. Star Wars fans seem to be experiencing the same thing, wanting one thing and getting another, and they’re throwing tantrums all over the internet. It’s pretty amazing, you can really see how younger generations who were coddled too much as kids can’t seem to handle it when they can’t get something they want.

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