Podcast: The Last Jedi – Battle Royale – The Story Geeks Hash It Out

Daryl and Jay are joined by Shannon McCarter and Dale Wentland from Network 1901 for an ultimate Battle Royale! The #Reylo Forcetiming. The high pants. The jokes. We give our takes on EVERY controversial moment from The Last Jedi.

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Ashley’s Take

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is definitely one of the most divisive geek films in recent history. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such strong opposing reactions to the same film — some people REALLY loved it, and some REALLY hated it.

On this podcast (listen above!), The Story Geeks take a look at some of the most talked-about moments from the film and rate them as either “awesome,” “fine,” or “terrible.” Here are my own thoughts on the movie!

No time jump (“The Last Jedi” starts RIGHT where “The Force Awakens” left off).

Ashley’s Take: It’s fine.

I feel like J.J. Abrams put Rian Johnson in a tough position when he decided to end “The Force Awakens” on such a dramatic cliffhanger. I can see why J.J. wanted to do this; it definitely creates a sense of excitement and mystery surrounding the next film. However, it does force Rian to play within a tighter timeline than he might have originally chosen to.

Still, I kinda like the immediacy of this narrative choice. By necessity, a lot happens in a short amount of time, and characters are forced to make decisions quickly. Tensions are definitely high, and the characters haven’t had time to fully process the events of TFA: Kylo is still struggling with his decision to kill his father; Finn is trying to figure out if he has a place in the Resistance (or even if he WANTS to be in the Resistance); Rey is experimenting with her new Force powers; etc.

This all gives TLJ a different feel than we’re used to from Star Wars, and that’s what makes it such a raw and exciting viewing experience — at least in my opinion!


The humor.

Ashley’s Take: It’s fine.

I know some fans really hated the humor, but overall I’m okay with it, and it definitely doesn’t completely derail the movie for me. Some of the humor bothered me a little the first time I watched TLJ, but it faded to the background more the second time I watched it and I didn’t notice it as much. There are a few lines/gags I’d probably still remove (did we REALLY need to see Luke milking a weird creature on the island?) but I think you do need at least some humor in the movie. TLJ is a lot darker than TFA, so it’s good to have some lighter moments to balance out the heavier tone and to provide a little break for the audience. Plus, the Star Wars franchise has always had humor, so it’s not completely out of place.  

The slow speed chase.

Ashley’s Take: It’s awesome!

This is another plot point that divided fans, but I actually really liked it because again, it’s something we haven’t necessarily seen before from Star Wars. I think it really drives home just how desperate the situation is for the Resistance. We watch the new rebellion die slowly before our eyes as the First Order just patiently hunts them down, picking them off one ship at a time because General Hux and Co. really have nothing better to do. It adds a sense of urgency (and claustrophobia) to the rebels’ situation, and creates the perfect environment for tempers to run hot, which is exactly what happens with Poe Dameron. As mentioned before, characters have to make significant decisions without a lot of time to do it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, some of these decisions turn out to be bad, which makes the film more fascinating to watch.

Leia using the Force… The “Mary Poppins” scene.

Ashley’s Take: It’s mixed…

I’d have to say that Leia using the Force is awesome…but the scene itself could have been executed a lot better. To me it makes total sense that Leia would have Force powers; after all, she’s the daughter of Anakin Skywalker, and even though she hasn’t chosen to live as a Jedi, it would seem weird if she didn’t ever draw on the Force.

When I first saw the scene where Leia is ejected into space, I immediately felt sad because I was hoping she would be in the film more — especially since this was going to be Carrie Fisher’s last appearance as the character. I was glad she didn’t die, and it was really poignant to watch Leia draw on the Force and, against all hope, save herself.

That being said, I feel that the way this scene was filmed comes off as a little weird. It really does look like “Mary Poppins in space,” and if it had been presented differently I don’t think fans would have a problem with this scene. Maybe they could have shot this as a close-up, focusing more on Leia’s face as she struggles to pull herself back into the ship. Or they could have even shot it from her POV, so it feels like you are looking through Leia’s eyes and seeing the ship rush up at you.

The Canto Bight subplot.

Ashley’s Take: It’s awesome!

I know that for many fans, even those who did enjoy TLJ, this is the worst part of the movie. Although I’m probably in the minority on this, I actually think the Canto Bight subplot is awesome, and I like it more the more times I watch this movie. I do have to agree that out of all the subplots in this film (Rey/Kylo, Rey/Luke, Poe/Leia, etc.), this one is probably the least compelling. But I think it is important to the movie and to the overall themes Rian Johnson is trying to present.

First, I like the look of the casino and the people/aliens in it; it adds just a hint of James Bond to the Star Wars universe. I actually really like DJ’s character as well, even though I wasn’t quite sure what to think of him the first time I watched the movie. He adds an interesting dimension to the story because he doesn’t particularly care about the First Order or the Resistance; “live free, don’t join” is the only rule he really lives by.

I’ve heard some fans argue that the Canto Bight subplot is pointless because it ends in failure, but that’s actually why I really like it. In big-budget franchise films like this, it’s not often that we get to see our main characters fail so spectacularly, without some little last-minute plot twist that makes the plan turn out okay in the end. This time, Finn and Rose’s plan is just a flat-out failure. I like that they end up recruiting the wrong codebreaker and have to face the consequences of that. I like that their plan to disable the hyperspace tracker doesn’t work because in wartime sometimes even seemingly well-planned missions are a bust. In real life, sometimes we just fail. And it hurts, and sometimes it really costs us. But we have to learn from those mistakes, grow as people, and find a way to move on. I liked that the characters in TLJ had to learn this lesson.

Poe Dameron and Vice Admiral Holdo.

Ashley’s Take: It’s awesome !

…and I think it’s awesome for the same reasons I think the Canto Bight subplot is awesome.

I like Poe a lot as a character (I mean, who doesn’t love Oscar Isaac?), but he does have some faults, and one of those is his brash sense of overconfidence. The hotshot flyboy is a character type we’ve seen in stories before, but these stories often don’t keep this type of character accountable for their actions. They break the rules and disobey orders, but it turns out okay in the end, because they’re the hero and everybody loves them anyway, right? However, Poe comes to realize that when he breaks the rules, people might die, and he has to learn a painful lesson about failure, responsibility, and leadership.

A key figure in that journey to humility is Vice Admiral Holdo. You know, maybe she should have told Poe more details about her plan, but I can see why she didn’t. She’s seen how he likes to break the rules, and there’s no guarantee that if she told him her entire plan that he’d have just been like, “Okay, that sounds good! I’ll go along with that.” He still might have staged a mutiny.

One of the things I like best about TLJ is that all the main characters get a significant story arc. Not everyone may like those character arcs or how the narrative plays out in the end, and that’s okay. However, I feel like almost every character IS at a different place than they were in TFA.

Rey’s continued SUPERSONIC growth in the Force.

Ashley’s Take: It’s awesome!

I’ve heard some call Rey a Mary Sue, but I really don’t see her that way. (I’m also not really a fan of the term “Mary Sue” anyway, but that’s a whole different discussion…) As a scavenger surviving for so many years alone on Jakku, Rey already has plenty of skills to draw on as a Jedi. She knows how to defend herself, and she knows how to handle a weapon. Now she gets to level up those skills even further by using the Force.

If Rey was an ordinary character, I might still argue that she is progressing just a little *too* quickly. However, I think they’re doing something special and unique with her character here, that will (hopefully!) be explained fully in Episode IX. TLJ novelization explains that she was able to directly “download” Kylo’s Force abilities when he probed her mind in TFA. Now, this isn’t a skill I would want every Jedi character to have, because that would just be overpowered. (Hey look, you too can be an instant Jedi after a quick, 5-minute information download session!) Yet I believe the Force directly allowed this to happen so Rey could be a counterbalance to Kylo. Which leads to the next discussion point…

Rey and Kylo’s Force connection.

Ashley’s Take: It’s awesome!

This — and Luke’s character journey — are my favorite parts of the film. Back when I watched TFA for the first time, I never would have guessed that this is where they were going with the story, but I love it, just because it feels really different and unexpected. I know that Snoke claims to be the architect of this connection, but I don’t think he’s able to control it as much as he thinks he can, and a larger Force is at work here (sorry, couldn’t resist that pun).

I really liked the way Rey and Kylo’s “Force Skype” sessions changed both the way they saw each other and the way the audience saw the characters. You get to witness a different side of Kylo through his interactions with Rey — the Ben Solo side of him isn’t completely dead, but he’s really fighting it. Once you strip away the explosive anger, you see what a sad, lonely person he is. His emotional connection with Rey creates a lot of complications for both of them, and I hope it continues to create complications for them in Episode IX.

I really want to see Episode IX keep exploring these fascinating shades of gray within the Force, and I think Rey and Kylo will both play a key role in bringing balance to the galaxy, even though I’m not completely sure what that will look like.

Yoda’s appearance.

Ashley’s Take: It’s awesome!

I love that Yoda showed up as a Force ghost, and I also love that it was the wacky puppet version of Yoda from the Original Trilogy.

Yoda’s arrival really is the turning point for Luke in this movie. Yoda is able to help Luke make peace with his past and move beyond it, something Yoda himself had to do as a significant player in the downfall of the Jedi Order. Yoda reminds Luke that failure can be a powerful teacher, but only if we embrace it and choose to learn from it in a healthy way. Luke can’t go back and fix his mistakes with his nephew, Kylo Ren, but he doesn’t have to let those mistakes stop him from doing good in the future.

I do find it interesting that Yoda allowed Luke to think the Jedi texts had been burned, because of course he knew that Rey had (presumably) taken them. However, I think that was what Luke needed to hear at this moment; Luke got hung up on rebuilding the Jedi Order as it was, and Yoda wanted to help him move beyond that.

But wait… there’s MORE!

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