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Rating: 5.0/5 (3 votes cast)

Editor’s Note: This review gets into major SPOILERS.





I remember when “Star Wars” made me cry.

The year was 1979. George Lucas’s worldwide phenomenon had been a phenomenon for two years before finally making it to Malaysian screens. I was just a tiny tot then, but when you’re a tiny tot with two older brothers frothing at the mouth over the arrival of “that space movie with the laser swords”, you’d naturally want in on the action too.

Alas, it was not to be. Despite my tearful pleas, my father decided I was too young to visit that galaxy far, far away. All I could do was reach out with my grubby little hands from behind the prison-like bars of our front gate, watching as the family car disappeared into the distance. It is one of the most vivid memories of my childhood, and funnily enough that initial absence of “Star Wars” probably cemented my lifelong obsession with it. Cinema is an inherently emotional art-form, but nothing else makes me feel the way “Star Wars” does, for better or worse.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is the closest any of these movies in the last four decades has come to making me cry.

Quick qualifier 1: I mean that in a positive way. Quick qualifier 2: No, it’s not because my dad refused to let me watch it. In fact, I’ve seen it twice now, and both times I found myself getting choked up in the film’s powerful moments. Of which there are many.

So let’s get this out of the way upfront: I wholeheartedly love “The Last Jedi”. It is not without flaws, and it features a borderline eccentric stylistic flourish that doesn’t always feel in line with what’s been presented before. But that’s just window-dressing. Where the film really sets itself apart creatively is in just how astonishingly bold it is with the choices it makes for its mythology and characters. The film is loaded with twists, surprises, and new ideas.

Apparently, this has infuriated a sizeable portion of fandom. There is even a petition going on right now requesting Disney/Lucasfilm to officially remove the film from “Star Wars” canon. Yup, that’s how much some fanboys hate it. Does their anger have any merit? This is what I am here to examine.

The biggest outcry is over the film’s handling of beloved Original Trilogy characters. As it is, we’ve already lost Han Solo in “The Force Awakens”. Going into this episode, I was dreading them killing off yet another of my childhood heroes. Actually, that wasn’t even the fear. We all know that these new films are a passing of the torch to a new generation, so at some point the old guard will have to exit the story. What really worried me was HOW they’d get to the exit. If it was unearned, then it would feel like a betrayal. A betrayal of our love and faith in these characters, and of our time spent with them over the many years.

Let’s start with Luke. Because in many ways, this episode is very much his story. At the end of “Return Of The Jedi”, the promise was that he would be the one to rekindle the Jedi Order, to usher in a new age for the Light Side. We now discover that he failed to do that, and in his failure renounced the Jedi way, shut himself off completely from the Force, and retreated to a remote island to die.

I understand the pain fans must feel. To see your hero — the very embodiment of hope — reduced to an empty shell. I would be upset too… If he had stayed that way. The thing is, Johnson isn’t interested in portraying standard archetypes. As far as he’s concerned, that’s all been done and dusted, and it’s time to do something else with them.

That something else means tearing down the legend of Luke Skywalker. Johnson isn’t doing this for the cheap shock factor. It serves several purposes. Not least of which is the health of the franchise. For “Star Wars” to remain vital, relevant, and most of all, fresh for audiences, it needs to grow. Sometimes, growth requires uprooting something that has become too entrenched in the familiar and the expected. Sure, the filmmakers could’ve given us the Luke we knew and wanted — the sagely, successful Jedi master. But that would leave hardly any room for growth, and that’s not only boring, it also underserves what the character can still offer us on a dramatic or thematic level. Instead, Johnson has given us a Luke who still has lessons to learn.

Fans have roundly rejected the notion that Luke could ever consider killing his own nephew (Ben Solo), even if it was because he sensed the rising darkness in him. “That’s not Luke! He would never do that!” Well, the truth is, he would. One subtle yet poignant point made in “Return Of The Jedi” was how much like his father Luke had turned into. He won the lightsaber duel with Darth Vader only because in one fleeting moment of fury he gave in to the Dark Side, and that fury gave him overpowering strength.

Fans tend to forget that the Dark Side has always been at risk of consuming Luke. And he knows it. That’s why old Luke stopped wearing a glove to conceal his robotic hand — as a constant reminder not to become his father. And that’s why it was not at all out of character for Luke to have had murderous impulses. Besides, it’s not a betrayal of the character since ultimately the Light Side prevailed and Luke stayed his hand.

This however, establishes one of the film’s biggest revelations and one of its most dramatically rich ideas. How a man so driven by a strict moral code can have the tiniest lapse in judgement, and how that lapse can destroy the people he loves and everything he has built. Basically, the galaxy’s greatest hero created the galaxy’s worst monster and everyone has been paying the price ever since. If I were Luke, the overwhelming guilt would’ve caused me to give up on everything too. It’s sobering stuff, and way more complex than anything a space fantasy with laser swords has ever offered us. It’s something we never would’ve gotten had Luke remained all hunky-dory.

My only issue with the choice to paint Luke as damaged goods is that every minute spent on his refusal to train Rey deprives us of one more minute of him being the mentor figure we’ve been waiting to see since 1983. What little we do get in the way of Jedi training is great, and ranges from the insightful to the flat-out hilarious, sometimes all in the same scene (Luke trolling Rey about “feeling the Force” by tickling her hand is one of the funniest gags of the year). What’s most crucial about all this is that at the end of the day, Luke is still recognisably Luke, while also being clear that time and circumstance have taken their toll.

Speaking of not having enough moments between Rey and Luke, part of the blame goes to the subplot involving Poe, Finn, and new character Rose. Johnson had the right idea to give these characters a meaningful role in the story. Unfortunately, he makes a misjudged call to elaborate on this subplot at length, to the point where it starts to feel like an interference to the things that really matter. Even though there are thematic points here that tie into the big picture, like the slave children symbolising a new hope for the resistance and the Force, the way that whole business on Canto Bight is fleshed out is somewhat inefficient. The stampede sequence is especially unnecessary, and comes off like an excuse to have an action sequence.

In stark contrast, every single moment on the island feels essential. If the hero is only as good as the villain, then we have a terrific match in Rey and Kylo Ren. To be honest, “Star Wars” hasn’t exactly been the best at deep characterisation. Johnson bucks the trend with a series of superbly written and acted scenes featuring the two of them linked psychically. It’s a great way to use the Force as a device to expose the inner workings of both individuals. Their exchanges flit back and forth between antagonism and empathy. It makes for rather absorbing drama.

It’s becoming increasingly clear since Johnson took the reins that this push-pull dynamic is meant to be the core of the new trilogy. He’s taken it in a direction that manages to be unexpected even while feeling right for the characters, particularly Kylo. If fans can look past Adam Driver’s gawky features and their snarky attitude about Kylo being a poor man’s Vader, they’ll see a villain that the Anakin of the Prequels (and I’d argue, to some extent even the Vader of the OT) was supposed to be but never quite achieved: compelling and tragic. His misguided belief in “killing the past” has ironically put him in danger of repeating the past failures of his grandfather. Moving forward it would be really interesting to see if there is anything left to redeem, or if this will finally destroy him.

Rey is comparatively more straightforward, but I still like what they’re doing with her. Despite hints that there is also darkness within her, Rey has thus far remained more true to the Jedi code than even Luke. Throughout the film, Rey’s resolve is tested to breaking point, with the burning need to know about her own past answered in brutal fashion. She’s a nobody, a child of nobodies who simply abandoned her. And yet, as a total mirror opposite of Kylo, she is able to rise above the ugliness of her past and remain a good person, committed to doing what’s right. The only question is where do the filmmakers take her from here, as she runs the risk of being stuck in the clichéd, can-do-no-wrong saviour role. I do hope there are still things left for her to learn about herself and the ways of the Force.

Ah, the ways of the Force. This brings me right back to Luke and what I mentioned about the character’s continued growth. Who better to school a Jedi master than THE master himself, Yoda? You can call it fan service, but I think it’s a masterstroke to bring him back, even for just one scene. And what a scene, hands-down among the best moments of the entire saga.

There’s a saying, when the student is ready the teacher will appear. Yoda appears at exactly the right time in Luke’s life, the point where he has lost all faith in his religion. As he is about to burn down the sacred Jedi Tree and the ancient religious books inside, Force Ghost Yoda does it for him. By raising just one finger to summon lightning from the sky! (Confession: my inner geek went absolutely bananas.) Luke is ready to tear down everything he held dear, but as far as Yoda sees it, this means his protégé is ready to discard the wrong dogma and wrong view of the Jedi Order he’d been clinging to.

That’s when Yoda lays down true Jedi wisdom. A lesson about how teachers shouldn’t only pass on their strengths but their weaknesses too, for that is how students can transcend the limits of the teacher’s knowledge. After that, the path students take is theirs alone to choose. It’s beautifully summed up in Yoda’s line, “Luke, we are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters.”

You can almost feel Luke straightening out and levelling up at this point. Boy, does he level up. When all hope seems lost for the Resistance, Luke returns to finally reclaim his rightful mantle: the legend that is Luke Skywalker. One man against an entire army of bad guys, an act he previously sneered at as foolhardy, fairytale nonsense. Johnson gives this showdown the epically heroic feel it deserves, from Luke’s solitary walk out towards the First Order’s war machines, to his casual taunt after an attack no mortal could possibly survive, to his lightsaber face-off with Kylo that recalls Samurai duels out of old ‘Jidaigeki’ films. And yes, that is where the term Jedi came from.

Then it’s revealed that Luke isn’t actually there but has projected himself via the Force, and it’s one of the film’s biggest bait & switch surprises. I get it if fans feel cheated. To them, this doesn’t count as a real showdown. Personally, I think this is a show-stopping display of the most badass Jedi ability ever. To be able to transfer your consciousness across the galaxy and manifest yourself as a tangible presence? That is some Buddha-level shit, man.

Which is perfect, because according to Lucas the Jedi religion is based primarily on Buddhism. After attaining the Jedi equivalent of Nirvana, Luke fades away like his mentors before him. How are fans supposed to react to this? I know I am torn. I hate the fact that yet another of my childhood heroes is now gone. On the flip side, I love his path to the exit. Sitting cross-legged, gazing serenely at the twin sunset in quiet contemplation, it is a poetic summation of everything the Jedi are truly about. It is also a loving send-off to one of Cinema’s most mythic heroes. Through his sacrifice, Luke leaves on his own terms. Or as Rey puts it, “with peace and purpose”. So his death is genuinely earned. Besides, since he’s become one with the Force, there’s always the chance he could return in Episode IX as a Force Ghost.

Sadly, there will be no such chance for Princess Leia to return. At least not as played by Carrie Fisher. So it comes as quite a consolation that her final outing is such an indelible one. Leia finally gets to demonstrate some of that Skywalker talent for wielding the Force, and if anyone has a problem with this then they’re just being petty jerks. Yeah, it’s kind of startling to see Leia flying through space, but I choose to dwell on the magic of the moment. More importantly, in this film Leia comes off regal, sharp, and self-sufficient. That’s the Leia we know and love.

Her reunion with Luke is a wonderfully tender and intimate moment, and my heart aches every time I think of it. Especially when we know this is the very last time they will share the screen. But beyond nostalgia, this scene is so powerful because of the meaning Johnson invests in it for the story, and because of the performances. Whether she was rusty in the last film or if she just had a better director and stronger material this time, Fisher fares much better here, giving us a soulful portrait of a woman who’s lost so much yet refuses to let it defeat her. I will miss her dearly.

While Mark Hamill has never been known as a great actor, you wouldn’t realise it if this was your first taste of him. Perhaps it’s the years of doing a variety of acting work, from theatre to voiceovers, perhaps it’s that Johnson is such a skilled actor’s director, or perhaps Hamill has just been harbouring a pent-up passion to return to this role for so very long. Whatever the case, Hamill is brilliant here. As written, this wasn’t an easy role to play. It’s complicated, often unflattering, and rarely showy. Hamill admitted in interviews he had problems with the way Johnson had chosen to essay Luke, though it seems like this pushed him artistically in the best ways. If this is to be his last go at the role that made his career, then Hamill sure is going out on one hell of a high note.

The rest of the main cast is pretty solid too. Adam Driver is a firm favourite in my book. He takes what could easily be an overly bombastic role in a lesser actor’s hands and turns in a nuanced, cultured performance. He still plays it larger than life when it’s called for, but his Kylo Ren is going to be remembered for his humanity. Daisy Ridley is more mature here, which isn’t a knock on her acting before. It’s just that there’s way more going on in her eyes now, and she knows how to underplay it to make the subtle emotions come through even clearer. Also, both Ridley and Driver impress with their lightsabers. They ace the fluid choreography by Chinese stunt director Liang Yang, giving us one of the saga’s more memorable fight scenes.

Oscar Isaac and John Boyega are given more to do and they don’t waste the opportunity, especially the former. The filmmakers are obviously setting up Isaac’s Poe for a leadership role, and the actor has the screen presence for it. Boyega is thankfully less shouty this round, and way more watchable now that he’s not trying so hard — a main complaint I had with him in “The Force Awakens”.

Newcomer Kelly Marie Tran is just okay. To her credit, she puts in a committed performance, but the role simply isn’t all that interesting. Then there’s Domhnall Gleeson and Benicio del Toro, who come across like Johnson gave them both a totally different set of acting instructions: amp up the camp. I don’t dislike it, I just find it distracting at times. It doesn’t help that Gleeson’s General Hux is given the bulk of the film’s more goofy humour.

Of course, I can’t discuss a “Star Wars” movie without addressing the action. The opening space battle is pretty damn good, with the geography of what’s happening always clearly laid out, allowing us to appreciate the scale and the stakes. We’re made to feel the good guys’ losses, with noble sacrifices and daring manoeuvres first getting us cheering then worrying for the fate of the Resistance. John Williams’s classic score as always serves the big set pieces really well, and a couple of the quieter emotional moments too. The CG and creature effects are top-notch as expected, apart from a few instances of surprisingly weak puppet work.

Johnson and his effects team also come up with a rather novel use of a hyperspace jump — as a weapon to rip through the First Order ships. Visually, it’s frickin’ cool. As is the look of the film, for the most part. The cinematography by Johnson’s regular collaborator Steve Yedlin gives us tonnes of instantly iconic imagery. The colour red is employed as a recurring motif and it’s quite striking. Occasionally however, Johnson’s quirky indie filmmaking sensibilities result in design choices that stand out like a sore thumb, even for a sci-fi property. There’s just something not quite “Star Wars” about the casino’s denizens on Canto Bight.

That aside, “The Last Jedi” is every inch a true-blue “Star Wars” movie, made by a guy who loves and understands the franchise. There are fanboys who vehemently claim otherwise, and the way I see it their anger stems mostly from a mismatch of expectations. They wanted things to be a certain way, and this film simply refused to play as expected. But why is that a bad thing? Answer: it’s not. I always say, judge a film on its own terms, not yours.

Johnson is determined to move the saga forwards decisively, and in a way that opens up the narrative possibilities instead of narrowing them down to the point where things start to feel recycled or predictable. Those were precisely the accusations thrown at “The Force Awakens”. I never saw it that way. That one had the responsibility to rescue the franchise from the negative impression left by the Prequels, and to do that it had to resurrect some of the familiar OT elements. It did that very well too.

Thematically, “The Force Awakens” embodied the notion that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Johnson recognised this, and his film is in some ways a direct reaction to that. “The Last Jedi” is all about how choices have lasting and far-reaching repercussions. He also set out to streamline things, trimming elements that have no place or do not serve the big picture. Think Rey has to be born of the legacy characters? That’s just limiting, so no. Think Kylo is Vader-lite? Well, then let’s get rid of his helmet and his attachment to his lineage. Think Snoke has a bigger part to play in all this? Nope, he’s just a repeat of Emperor Palpatine, so let’s get rid of him so we can focus on the real villain’s development. Frankly, I applaud them killing off Snoke, and even more so, the utterly useless character Phasma.

Bold creative choices are never easy to make, particularly within the rigid confines of studio blockbuster machinery, and the microscopic scrutiny of a rabid fanbase. That’s why Johnson should be celebrated rather than vilified for what he’s done. “The Last Jedi” isn’t just a great “Star Wars” film, it’s one of the best films of the year.

Life has somehow brought me full circle back to the beginning of my journey as a “Star Wars” fan. I am now in my father’s position, with a son of my own. Just the other night, as I was leaving home with my wife for our 2nd viewing, I suddenly saw my little boy reaching out from behind the front gate with his grubby little hands, tears rolling down his cheeks as he pleaded for us to bring him along. Heartbreaking as that scene was, it was way past his bedtime so including him was out of the question.

But this episode will have a happier ending. He’s coming along with me for my 3rd viewing.


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Rating: 5.0/5 (3 votes cast)


  1. Strobe Light

    25th December 2017 @ 12:05 am

    Why is this guy not writing for the major trades? Screw the pompous garbage from the likes of Variety (who called TLJ a disappointment. Pffft.) someone get this fella a job as a regular critic. Amazing breakdown of the thinking behind the film, I kept saying to my friends Johnson was systematically righting all the wrongs made by J.J. and they looked at me like I was crazy. This puts into words so clearly what was sorta in my head but could never pin down. Bravo man, I love your writing. Bookmarked. Word of advice though, you need to optimize your blog for mobile. It sucks when displayed on my iPhone.

  2. M. Fassfenderbender

    25th December 2017 @ 4:29 am

    Can’t understand all the negativity around the movie. First of all its just a movie for chrissakes. 50 year old nerds hyperventilating is a sad sight over a kids movie. It had some dumb plot holes but man it was a lot of fun. Adam Driver is cool, guy’s a US Marine so his fighting looked way legit. Old Luke was grumpy then he became a Jedi badass. What’s not to like?

  3. Theo Tan

    25th December 2017 @ 3:16 pm

    Hi Theo here. First time reader. Happy I found this site. Are you a local writer? Cus you write like a gwailo man. Haha just realize thats sound racist but I seldom see Malaysian can write like this ok. I didn’t really enjoy d movie but after reading this article I feel like wanna try again see if I change my mind. Thanks! Theo Tan

  4. Uberman Sakti

    25th December 2017 @ 4:02 pm

    Fuuh review nie deep giler. X paham

    But kesimpulannye Last Jedi terrrbaekkk. Best Star Wars movie of all ok! So caya sama penulis nie. Kipidap bro!

  5. RianJohnson's A Hack

    25th December 2017 @ 4:29 pm

    Fuck this review. Pile of stupid long boring ass no brain horse shit like the movie itself. Rian Johnson is a fucking hack who ruined the entire SW universe forever. Lucas needs to come back and teach everyone how it’s done before its too late. Oh thats right he can’t because he sold his soul to the corporate devil called Disney. Bunch of money grabbing con artists, you happy now assholes?? You just drove SW into the ground and ass raped it’s corpse! Fuck you!

  6. Sanus Magus

    25th December 2017 @ 8:06 pm

    Lol what’s wrong with thw dude above. Forgot his meds or what. Anyway loved some bits, had problems with other bits. Have some questions maybe you might be able to answer.

    Why is Rey so powerful? They never addressed it in the last one nor here.

    Why didn’t Leia realize Luke was just a hologram? He kissed her on the forehead and even put the dice in her hand. How could she feel those if he wasn’t real?

    Why didn’t Laura Dern just tell Poe about the plan? She could have made it easy and that would’ve avoided all that codebreaker stuff. The whole plan was pointless anyway.

    Why couldn’t Snoke sense Kylo’s intent to kill him?

  7. Luz

    26th December 2017 @ 10:20 am

    No Star Wars should not be given back to Lucas. If it was then Star Wars is in deep problem. They do not financial needed to make the movie good again. Example episode 1-3. Although episode 3 is quite ok but overall they cannot sustain their business. I do not want star wars franchise to end. So the target market is not for fan alone. It need most of the people to like it. For me Last Jedi is a great success by exploring new idea and twist. Well done Disney!

  8. Busboy

    26th December 2017 @ 11:09 am

    Why is no one sparing a thought for poor Admiral Ackbar??? He was an OT fav and they didn’t even give him a heroes death! Also, R2 and Threepio were nothing more than cameos. In favor of what, stupid Porgs? Those dumb birds got more screen time than the OT droids. Big fail man.

    Agree on killing Snoke and Phasma though. Stupid crap characters forced on us by JJ Abrams. So happy their gone.

  9. Tirali Tyga

    26th December 2017 @ 11:31 am

    TLDR. What a pointless, long winded review. All those words just to defend a piece of shit. Face it dude. The movie is garbage and no amount of lame justifying is going to change it. Star Wars is done after this fiasco.

  10. Firali Feige

    26th December 2017 @ 12:29 pm

    @Tirali Tyga: are you trolling or are you generally this moronic? Just saying cos you call the review pointless even though YOU DIDN’T READ IT? Lol.

    Can’t stand these pathetic fanboys screaming on the net in their mom’s basement.

  11. Wai

    27th December 2017 @ 11:58 am

    Thanks everyone for chiming in with your thoughts!

    Strobe Light: Haha. I am flattered, but I am not an officially accredited film critic. So the possibility of writing for the major trades is approximately 3720 to 1 (though you should never tell me the odds). It’s cool. I like the freedom of writing for myself and the occasional audience to exchange thoughts with.

    M. Fassfenderbender: I saw a behind-the-scenes featurette on Adam Driver training for the lightsaber scenes, and the guy looked like he had the combat skill-set to genuinely hurt the stuntmen.

    Theo Tan: Yes, I am 100% local. Born & bred here in Malaysia. 🙂

    Uberman Sakti: X paham x pe. Yg paling penting hang kasi “like” gua punya page. Heh heh.

    RianJohnson’s A Hack: I hope you find happiness in your life someday. May the Force be with you.

    Sanus Magus: Let’s see if I can answer your questions. Here goes…
    – I have always seen Rey as one of those naturally gifted prodigies. There are many real-world examples in our own history. Mozart was just 8 years old when he wrote his first symphony. And this film does explain Rey’s abilities in a subtle way. Snoke remarked that whenever darkness rises, so would the light to meet (balance) it. He was referring to Kylo and Rey. Luke also recognised the raw power of Kylo, and how similar Rey was in her level of strength in the Force. That’s why he was afraid to train her.

    – Luke’s Force Projection is not just a “hologram” or astral projection as many have mistakenly assumed. He was able to project his very essence in the form of pure energy. That’s why it felt “real” even to Force Sensitives like Leia and Kylo. But that kind of herculean feat simply took too much out of old Luke. That’s also why it’s the first time we’ve seen any Jedi use it. It’s tantamount to suicide. For Luke this act of sacrifice was his redemption. That’s why he went out in peace.

    – Admiral Holdo (Dern) didn’t tell Poe about the plan because he had previously disobeyed General Leia’s direct orders not to attack the Dreadnaught, which resulted in the Resistance losing their entire bombing fleet. As far as the leadership were concerned, Poe was too brash and couldn’t be trusted with any new information about their escape plans. They probably felt he would disobey them again. But he managed to screw things up anyway, and although at face value that sounds like dumb plotting and characterisation, it actually serves Poe’s arc well. He needed to learn the true meaning of leadership. Sometimes, it’s less about playing hero and more about simple survival.

    – Snoke couldn’t sense Kylo’s intent to kill him because by that point, Kylo had outgrown his master. He was able to mask his true feelings, and Snoke was too arrogant to think he could be outsmarted. It was also at this point that Kylo’s resolve to “kill the past” was set in stone. He no longer needed Snoke, or even any of the ways of the Sith. Ironically, it is the Sith way for the apprentice to kill the master. So Kylo doesn’t even realise he is now caught in the same loop that was his grandfather Darth Vader’s downfall.

    Luz: Absolutely agree that “Star Wars” should not be put back in the hands of Lucas. At most, the guy can be a story consultant, but he just isn’t a good director anymore.

    Busboy: I too felt that poor Ackbar wasn’t given the hero’s send off he deserved. As for the Porgs, they didn’t bother me at all. They were incidental comic relief and that’s the best use of them.

    Tirali Tyga: Here’s a thought, why not actually read the review before slamming it. I’ll be here.

    Firali Feige: Thanks for the support. 🙂

  12. casca

    27th December 2017 @ 1:49 pm

    glad to see you back, man. i thought the site was dead and gone.

    y’know what’s funny? your disappearance and return kinda mirrors luke’s. no one knows what happened to electroshadow cos there was no announcement if it would be shutting down or taking a break or whatever (i only knew about this review via fb). then just out of the blue electroshadow returns in a truly masterful way. i have to say your piece schools the hell outta all the idiot fanboys out there. i had some questions and things i wasn’t sure about the film, and both your review and the q&a you did in the comments section settled everything i wanted to know.

    if your site is suffering from financial difficulties in keeping it afloat i don’t mind helping to set up a gofundme or something. just a friendly offer from a longtime reader.

  13. Marilyn

    28th December 2017 @ 1:58 am

    Oh Wai. I am soo happy you are back! Like casca I thought you had given up your blog. Which would be a crying shame since I’ve always enjoyed your writing. You certainly have a way with words. Y’know, the pieces I think are your best are the ones with a personal touch.

    Confession, I haven’t even seen this Star Wars and I went ahead and read youre review anyway. Didn’t understand most of what you were talking about hahaha, but it’s okay. I’m not bothered by spoilers and I wasn’t even planning to watch it after so many people on social media had been trashing it. But now that you’ve given it the seal of approval I think I will watch it. Oh, I went off topic. What I really meant to say was I loved your story about being a kid and not getting to watch it only to witness the same thing happen to your own kid! I admit I got misty eyed when I read that. I’m just a wimp that way.

  14. Blade Rimmer 2099

    29th December 2017 @ 8:39 am

    Haters are either crazy stupid or aren’t paying attention. Movie is great. Review is awesome. Keep it up mate.

  15. Marko

    31st December 2017 @ 4:58 pm

    I will say just one thing about TLJ – gravity in space. I think I’ve said enough; only “fanboys” can “love” a movie with such obvious flaws.
    Oh, and the character of Luke was utterly destroyed in TLJ. The movie is an insult to his character. Luke – as established in the Original Trilogy – is not a failure who runs at the first sign of trouble and leaves others to suffer his mess, and MICK€¥ the Rat’s did turn tail as soon as one of his students turned to the dark and thereafter joined the First Order and wrecked havoc upon the galaxy. In addition, the student was his own nephew and Luke turned his back on him!

  16. Red Leader

    1st January 2018 @ 2:38 am

    @Marko: So you’re a “fanboy” who can accept sound in space but not gravity bombs, huh. No wonder the current state of SW fandom is fucked. So many entitled crybabies with selective reasoning. Luke’s character wasn’t destroyed LOL. In case you need reminding Obi-Wan and Yoda both ran away too when shit hit the fan. Millions of Republic citizens across the galaxy suffered under the Empire’s rule yet these two Jedi masters just went into hiding. TLJ isn’t doing anything new in this regard. Grow up, pal. Just cos things didn’t go the way you wanted doesn’t mean it betrays anything.

  17. Rotten Rambutans

    5th January 2018 @ 6:21 am

    Fanboy or critic, this movie can be summarised, like its title, in 3 words, : An Awful Mess. Narratively, it tries to be all things to all people and pleasing no one. It has been likened to the gold standard in the holy trinity : The Empire Strikes Back but is nothing like that. TESB had a coherent plot structure with a vision and stuck to it. TLJ could at best be described as schizophrenic, with too many plot lines for every demographic : maverick flyboy challenging establishment, independent Oriental lass falling in 3 nanosecs for black dude, Byronic hipster as misunderstood sex god, grizzled, world-weary father figure, new wide-eyed cuddly toys for the franchise, …. Each one failing to take any of these potentially great characterisations to a satisfying denouement.

    Movie tropes continue to succeed and be used for a reason – because they work. Like the silly crew member who walks into that darkened corridor with alien slime dripping from the ceiling, some movie conventions should be embraced rather than treated like an indie film school experiment. Change should not be for change’s sake. That most golden of tropes : the master-apprentice, sifu-totai, Obiwan-padawan relationship was waiting to be harvested and Rian Johnson made a Brick of it.

    Rather than the long-awaited reveal of Luke Skywalker’s pinnacle of Jedi mastery, how he lost his way and satisfyingly, finding redemption in training a new apprentice, so much screen time was spent with Rey bashing on Luke’s rusty Skellig door that this resembled a bad episode of Neighbours. Rather than focus on this relationship, we are treated to Luke, Yoda and a burning tree (to satisfy the Christians), Rey and fish creatures in hoods (to satisfy the Buddhists), Rey and Ren engaging in VR sex (to satisfy the Snapchatters).

    Even Mark Hamill’s attempt at a comic turn with the vibrating leaf as parody of the Force ended up feeling just odd and jarring in contrast to his cynical, grumpy Dad routine he carried for the rest of the film. Killing Snoke was an equally bad move. Supreme Leaders are meant to look old, evil and like giant snot monsters, not like sexy baristas from Greenwich Village.

    Like it or not, Star Wars is an entertainment franchise. When I pay for my not-inexpensive ticket, I don’t expect to be inspired to achieve new personal bests or acquire new insights into the human condition, though that has been a bonus. I expect to be entertained. I came away those weeks ago feeling not particularly entertained, just a little robbed and thinking “What a bloody mess.”. My advice to the director of the next instalment : Don’t try to invent a new religion. Stick with the Force. Our nations’ Census boards and internet forums can no longer handle it.

  18. Blade Rimmer 2099

    5th January 2018 @ 10:47 am

    Obvious troll is obvious. Listen Lil Johnny Rotten, throwing out words like Byronian doesn’t make you sound clever. You just sound like you’re trying too hard. Change for the sake of change? FFS mate. It’s like you’re consciously misreading the movie.

  19. Han's Force Ghost

    5th January 2018 @ 12:01 pm

    lol Rotten Rambo Tan gonna need some aloe vera rub for that sick burn.

  20. Rotten Rambutans

    6th January 2018 @ 3:28 am

    Blade Rimmer 2099 : Unfortunately, some of us do talk like that. PS : Learning to disagree is a Darwinian art.

  21. Ali C

    7th January 2018 @ 5:21 pm

    Bitchin review Electroshadow. Some nerds are just so blinded by their inability to move on from the past that they can’t bring themselves to enjoy something fresh and smart that Rian Johnson has brought to Star Wars. Ironically, that’s the hidden message in the movie. This is no longer the Star Wars of your childhood. Let go, move on, and accept a new way of moving the legacy forwards. Totally agree with the commenter above who slammed the previous one for thinking it’s changes for changes sake. Fans like that just don’t get it, and it’s useless to argue with them. So let them have their hate I say. At the end of it all, they’re the ones who lose out, not us who love what Lucasfilm is doing with Star Wars. It may sound like there are many haters, but they just tend to make the most noise. The majority are still on the positive side. The Light Side, if you prefer, haha.

  22. Wai

    16th January 2018 @ 10:38 pm

    casca: Interesting observation about the parallel between Electroshadow and Old Luke. And I am touched by your offer to help. But this isn’t a financial issue. Over the past year, I have found it increasingly harder and harder to write for Electroshadow on a regular basis. In fact, I have considered closing down the site. It’s readers like you who are keeping me going. I really appreciate your support over the years, casca.

    Marilyn: Ah, another faithful reader. Thanks so much for your kind comments. If this is to be my final review, I’d like to go out on a personal note. Glad it connected with you.

    Blade Rimmer 2099: Thanks for the kind words.

    Marko: Sad to see you felt that way. Perhaps a 2nd viewing might ease your issues with it?

    Rotten Rambutans: Interesting points you raised, but let’s just agree to disagree. As others have pointed out, the filmmakers were certainly not making changes for change’s sake. Everything Rian Johnson did came from a place of solid thematic and narrative reasoning. And nowhere (other than your post) does it say that a piece of entertainment cannot also be inspiring or insightful. In fact, all the best “purely for entertainment” flicks out there ARE inspiring and/or insightful.

    Ali C: Thanks. Yeah, the funny thing about this film is that it has inspired the minority opinion (that it sucks) to sound like it’s the majority. That’s the internet for you. A worldwide soapbox.

  23. casca

    30th January 2018 @ 7:07 pm

    shit. would be a crying shame if electroshadow were to end. i’ve been following your site for some years now, and have always found the views expressed here balanced and well thought-out compared to the shallow or biased drivel out there. how about if you just write once in a while. still better than giving it up entirely, man. something to consider.

    oh and speaking of drivel, rotten rambutan’s view of the movie is self-entitled superficial nonsense. come at me, bro.

  24. Rotten Rambutans

    15th February 2018 @ 10:48 pm

    As I mentioned in my earlier comments, the great Venn diagrams of insight, inspiration and entertainment in movies need not always intersect, when they do – bonus; When they don’t, my world does not implode. Most of the time, we don’t expect or want them to.

    It’s easy for favourable reviews to be the prevailing view but equally important non-favourable views are valued and respected, without resort to name-calling and put-downs. Otherwise, we run dangerously close to that ugly slippery slope : The tyranny of populism.

  25. casca

    9th March 2018 @ 5:00 pm

    what’s this “we” business. speak for yourself. unless you’re the type to only seek out lowest common denominator entertainment (like the transformers movies) most movie buffs do expect substance in their entertainment. you can split hairs and label it anything you want… insight or inspiration or just plain old substance… but good movies tend to need to have it to be good.

    also, the tyranny of populism? don’t make me laugh. there is an almost disproportionate amount of unfavorable reviews for this movie. funnily enough, many of the ones spitting bile at it come off as entitled and cynical as you.

  26. Rotten Rambutans

    18th July 2018 @ 6:16 pm

    Dear Casca : Time to look into a mirror near you ….

  27. Fenton

    28th August 2018 @ 12:36 pm

    Gadz rotten rambutans is such a sore loser. LOL at the butthurt

  28. Lisa

    4th September 2018 @ 4:06 pm

    Hey Wai. Sorry to hear you will be leaving a void in the film review scene. I have always liked and enjoyed your observations and insights because they open my mind to considerations not entertained before.


    As for Star Wars, did anyone say ‘bring Lucas’ back? Are EPS 1, 2, 3 not enough of a mess to remind us that we should not bring Lucas back? Especially not as a director. Maybe just as a story or universe consultant.

    Rian J took risks while balancing the forces that make SW the iconic film and franchise it has become. But nope, he did not mess it up. That’s a big accusation. He did throw in that Jon Boyega/Tranh side-plot at the casino which felt odd. Mistake. But apart from that I thought he handled the movie really well.

    I understood Leia’s space-drift (let’s not be rigid about what the Force can do) and also Luke’s astral projection. It’s 2018 and we can’t always just be rehashing Ep 4,5 and 6 tricks.

    That Rey and Kylo battle with the Red Guards was very well done. And of course, the twist.

    Anyway, what do I know about fanboy movies except that I have always been a fan too and would never hesitate to repeat that EPS 1,2 and 3 were as SW as the opening music and the familiarity of the star destroyers, x-wing fighters and tie-fighters. Nothing else about it felt amazing. Not even the younger Obi Wan’s tiny side-braid.

    Compared to these 3 over digitalized fake films, TLJ was nearly as stellar as TESB in vision and authenticity if not for my still-reigning-post-millenium-SW-spin-off: Rogue One.

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