Movie Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

Last Jedi

Plot: Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares for battle with the First Order

I will start out this review by just reminding everyone that Star Wars isn’t my primary Nerddom. I’d choose Harry Potter and Lord of The Rings over it any day. I’d choose many things above it any day – within Disney itself I’d rather focus on the Marvel stuff than Star Wars. So I was excited about this, but I wasn’t ready to weep and rave (won’t be that person for this on any day to be perfectly honest).

The movie… rather lacked in what I expected of it. There were some decent things, and it really looked good, but The Last Jedi has absolutely no point in the franchise – the rebels are absolutely no further in their quest and they are still as screwed as they were at the end of The Force Awakens. I’ve since endured arguments that some very BIG things happen in this film – can’t say because way too spoilery – and yes, that is probably true, but I still stand that the resistance gained nothing by The Last Jedi.

In no particular order, here is a list of things that frustrated me endlessly in this film.

Finn (John Boyega) has absolutely no point in this entire film. He is sent on a bogus mission with Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) and develops some love story there. Let me just reiterate this – I love a good love story but in a film where it isn’t needed, it is sad and desperate. These two characters could have been left out of the film and it would have done nothing to harm the plot.

Then the return of Luke Skywalker – I expected a whole lot more from this character than the bitter old guy that was presented. Mark Hamill has since spoken out against the director, and I think he might be on to something. Without giving away too much, the move is still very counterproductive. The scene with him and Kylo Ren was impressive, I will give them that. Luke Skywalker and Rey also had a really good vibe between them and seemed to build off each other quite well.

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I’ve seen some complaints that Daisy Ridley’s Rey didn’t really grow in this film. She’s still stubbornly sure that Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) can be saved, despite having seen his worst side. I don’t really have a problem with her, though she felt like a secondary character instead of a main one.

It is so great to see a Sci-Fi film (or any film for that matter) include so many female leads. The top three grossing movies of 2017 all have female driven casts – Beauty and The Beast, Wonder Woman and this. There is naturally Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher (to whom the franchise still stubbornly clings to), new comer Kelly Marie Tran, Billie Lourd, and Laura Dern, who not only managed to be a kickass character that could handle Poe’s attitude but had the most amazing purple hair and gave me such envy. Gwendoline Christie continues her role as Captain Phasma, but I am saddened to report that in The Last Jedi at least she’s on screen remains filler.

Adam Driver is the most fascinating new addition to the Star Wars franchise. He is enigmatic, conflicted and all the levels of mesmerizing as Kylo Ren. His shirtless scene is impressive – is Adam Driver really built like such a tank, because I’ve always perceived him as lanky, which also gave birth to the hilarious #KyloRenChallenge. Driver captures the level of conflict Kylo Ren feels at the same time, and a sad moment where you learn why he turned so decisively from Luke Skywalker.

BB8

The adorable BB-8 is on the loose, and his sinister counterpart isn’t any less cute. The new animals – what are those things? Are also cute and very expressive, which provided more than a few laughs in cinema.

My plan this year is to refresh some of the films in the franchise – I’ve might like this more when it fits into a bigger picture. Right now it is only remembered as long and an excellent money scheme by the ever powerful Disney.

Rating: 6/10

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Happy Women’s Day South-Africa: Top 15 Favorite Kick-Ass female characters on screen

Today is Women’s Day here in South-Africa. Over here we like public holidays quite a bit (although India has TWENTY ONE), so we are all having a day off today – Whoop!

To celebrate, I made a list of strong female characters on screen. I think we can all agree that there are too few well written, complex female characters, but these ladies below are amazing and did their job extremely well in their respective films!

black-widow

Fifteen: The Black Widow – Marvel movies

Female superheroes have increased marginally, and I am really happy about that. My only negative comment is that I am confused why female superheroes need to either wear skin tight leather suits or skimpy Wonder Woman outfits while their male counterparts wears aerodynamically pleasing outfits or war clothing. We have a far way to still go in this genre, but at least we can all agree that Natasha Romanoff kicks ass multiple times on screen and is a fully functional member of the squad. I really enjoy this character, and I think Scarlett Johannson has done a great job bringing her to the screen. It annoyed me a bit that her infertility was this massive discussion in one of the movies – the reproductive capability of her male teammates have never been discussed.

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Fourteen: Katniss Everdeen

Katniss as a character has many flaws – she is selfish and can’t choose between two men. While that is certainly a crime, I have never been able to really judge her too harshly for it. Her world is dark and horrible, and she has nothing wonderful. Turning away from the caring of a good man? It seems nearly cruel to expect her to do that.

But despite this obvious flaw, I really thought the character was badass and capable, and honorable to take her younger sister’s place in a situation where she was guaranteed her death.

hermoine

Thirteen: Hermione Granger, The Harry Potter series

If this had been a literary list, Hermoine would have been much higher. Film Hermoine is great and Emma Watson did a good job with her, but my opinion remains that the film adaptions didn’t do justice to the sheer magnificence of the novels, on any level. Anyway, this isn’t a Harry Potter discussion, so I will just mention that Hermoine Granger is the reason those two boys stayed alive. She is strong, intelligent, fiercely loyal and brave, and her contribution to the wizarding world and the feminist cause must never be forgotten.

Elle woods

Twelve: Elle Woods, Legally Blonde

When Legally Blonde dropped in 2001, every single person on this planet was charmed by Reese Witherspoon and the ditzy genius she created. There were tiny dogs, buckets of pink, manicures and textbooks, all in one film. I placed Elle Woods on this list because we too often forget that it is perfectly possible for a woman to love pink, to be girly and to be very determined, intelligent and capable all at one time. Another excellent thing in the film was that sisterhood won out in the end, and Warner Hungtinton the Third was booted on his ass.

Caroline

Eleven: Caroline Forbes, The Vampire Diaries

As the only series character to make it on to this post, you must know that I am very much team Caroline. Another pretty blonde girl who shows determination, loyalty and passion for life! In season one, Caroline works on your nerves pretty much incessantly. She’s insecure and whiny, and seems to be shallow and petty. However, the second she becomes a vampire and she realises that she will live an eternity in her own head, she gets a grip in such a remarkable fashion that I became her biggest fan.

I am no man

“I am no man”

Ten: Eowyn, Lord of The Rings

Perhaps the lady with the most iconic quote on the list, Eowyn, shield maiden of Rohan, is on first impression another lady who waits while her beloved father figure wastes away at the hand of the dastardly Wormtongue and her brother rides to war against orcs. It quickly becomes clear that this is a proud woman who was raised by warriors, and that she is simply tired of being left behind while those she loves die around her. She finds a way on to the battlefield, and if that chilling and rousing speech Theoden gives before his final ride isn’t enough, Eowyn steals everyone’s thunder by killing the leader of the Nazgul. She also gets her super happy ending at the end, which pleased me to no end.

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Nine: The Bride, Kill Bill

Quentin Tarantino is a phenomenal film maker, and the roles he creates for women are legendary. The Bride is one such character, hell bent on revenge and making people pay for what was done with her. Uma Thurman brings this vengeful character to life with scary finesse, and even though this isn’t my favorite Tarantino film, the character itself is impressive as they come.

kick ass little girl

Eight: Hit Girl, Kick-Ass

She’s super tiny, she swears like a sailor, she wears a bright purple wig and her father is Nicolas Cage. Who doesn’t love her? I was a major fan of both movies, and it would be amazing if they could make a third. Hit Girl is the best part of this franchise, showing that gender and size is insignificant when it comes to being a bad ass.

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Seven: Rey, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The horror when Disney bought Star Wars was paramount. Everyone was sure it would be a disaster, and no one could even get a moment of sleep due to the inordinate amounts of stress this franchise was causing in their adult lives. LUCKILY, Disney actually ended up doing a great job, and introduced a bunch of new characters that were able to flow nicely with how things had been done in the past. One of the best new additions was Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, a survivor and a strong female character who can do things for herself. I really enjoyed this character – she is a fantastic blend of purity and strength and was wonderful and empowering to watch.

ALL YOU NEED IS KILL

Six: Rita Vrataski, The Edge of Tomorrow

A nice little situation of role reversal, Emily Blunt was a hardened war veteran who saved Tom Cruise’s ass REPEATEDLY from aliens. I loved the character – she was sassy, strong, smart and the heroine of the day.

Eva Green CR

Five: Vesper Lynd, Casino Royale

Did you also just rub your heart because of the pain that shot through it when Vesper was mentioned? It HURTS. Vesper is hands down the best Bond girl that has ever been onscreen. Her sharp brain kept her well equipped to banter with Bond, and her eventual control over Bond ripped out my heart. The fact that Casino Royale is the best Bond film out there certainly helps, but this character in herself is powerful and strong and determined, attributes that were completely left out during the writing process for the other female characters over this incredibly long franchise.

Ellie Sattler Laura Dern

Four: Dr. Ellie Sattler, Jurassic Park

I mentioned in my review of Jurassic World that it felt awful to realize that Dr. Ellie Sattler, who was in the very original Jurassic Park in NINETEEN NINETY THREE was a better, well written and strong female character than the running-in-heels-Bryce-Dallas-Howard. Dr. Ellie Sattler, played by Laura Dern, is super smart, professional, excels in her field and gets to see Dinosaurs in JP. I have loved and admired this character from my childhood till now, and I am eternally grateful to the writers that they allowed this strong character to see the light.

M

Three: M, The Bond Franchise

Dame Judi Dench is literal life goals. She is classy, successful and revered, and a girl can just dream to be her when she grows up. M is Bond’s boss, the only person who can try to control him, and their relationship is amazing and complex. I love the power of M, and Judi Dench is incredible to behold as this woman who puts her country above everything in her life.

Furiousa

Two: Furiousa, Mad Max

Homegirl Charlize Theron teamed up with Tom Hardy in the return of Mad Max, and what a job she did. Furiousa is powerful and intense, and her survival skills in the mad world she finds herself in is incredible. The film should have been titled Furiousa, as it is about her and how she helped the wives escape from that dreadful man. The entire film is one big celebration of sisterhood and sticking together, and I could only cheer on the women as they battled for their freedom.

Shoshanna

One: Shoshanna Dreyfus, Inglorious Basterds

The final accolade was difficult to award, because all of the ladies on here are amazing. However, I do think that Shoshanna is worthy, and that her role in Inglorious Basterds is incredibly important. I loved her – her courage and determination, her absolute hatred of anything Nazi, and her eventual success at revenge.

Well, there you have it. There are hopefully a million other female characters that can be mentioned by you below, and I look forward to seeing your opinions!