Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (a 15-Minute Force production): Chapter Eight: What’s Black & White & Red All Over? (Or: Do You Think Leia Shops at “Crait & Barrel”?)

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01:45:01 – 02:00:00

Welcome to the penultimate chapter of The Last Jedi Edition of the 15-Minute Force.

I can hear what you’re saying. “Penultimate?!? I thought this movie was about over!”

I hear, and I understand. Sure, all the best laid plans of Act Two have gone awry. Luke Skywalker hasn’t returned with Rey to join the Resistance. Finn and Rose failed in their attempt to disable the hyperspace tracker because they were betrayed by that stuttering codebreaker, DJ. But, Supreme Leader Snoke, who up to now has been spotlighted as the sequel trilogy’s Big Bad, is now dead. This was through the actions of his apprentice, Kylo Ren, rather than our heroes, much in the same way that Emperor Palpatine was killed by Kylo’s grandfather, Darth Vader (or Annakin Skywalker, if you prefer). This has the feel of a Big Moment. When I watched this movie the first time, I expected this to transition into a sequence showing the escape of the Resistance fleet from the First Order, and then maybe a cliffhanger that would naturally lead into the third movie of the trilogy. Another fifteen, twenty minutes. Tops.

This isn’t what happened, though.

After Snoke is dead, Rey and Kylo continue fighting the red-garbed guards. This sequence looks a lot like a POM commercial currently in heavy rotation.

Cut back to Finn and Rose in restraints. Finn yells at DJ the Slicer for betraying them.

Take it easy, Big F,” DJ says. “They blow you up today, you blow them up tomorrow. It’s just business.” This doesn’t feel like the last we’ll see of DJ. Maybe he’ll get his Lando Calrissian redemption moment in the last movie.

Rey urges Kylo Ren to command the First Order to stop firing on the fleet, while there’s still time to save the Resistance.

Kylo says, “It’s time to let old things die. Snoke, Skywalker. The Sith, the Jedi, the Rebels . . . Let it all die. Rey, I want you to join me. We can rule together and bring a new order to the galaxy.”

This sounds suspiciously like what the Hayden Christiansen Annakin Skywalker was staying to Senator Amidala only moments before he became a deep-fried apple fritter.

Of course, Rey is too virtuous to be tempted by such talk. She really thought she could turn Kylo Ren back to the Light. But, it seems, he’s just coming into his own as a bad guy.

Kylo tells Rey that her parents were “filthy junk traders who sold you off for drinking money. They’re dead in a paupers’ grave in the Jakku desert. You have no place in this story. You come from nothing. You’re nothing. But not to me. Join me. Please.”

This felt wrong to me in the theater, even though it had the ring of truth. In the Star Wars universe, genealogy is very important. Just look at the Skywalker family tree. It stood to reason that, especially since Rey’s missing parents were given such importance in the first movie of the sequel trilogy, that Rey would find out something important about her parents as well. To characterize them as filthy junk traders who sold her for drinking money doesn’t seem right. I want J.J. Abrams to fix this in the next movie.

I guess the thing that bothers me the most about this reveal about Rey’s parents (coupled with Maz’s comment about them never coming back, made in her castle, way back in The Force Awakens) is that it seems anticlimactic. The same with Supreme Leader Snoke being so easily snuffed out by Kylo Ren. In the previous movie, he was an over-the-top giant hologram. In this one, he gets the Darth Maul divide-and-conquer treatment.

We haven’t checked in on our favorite evil ginger in a minute. One of the First Order officers on the Star Destroyer lets General Hux know that the Resistance cruiser is preparing to jump to lightspeed. Hux says ignore the cruiser and keep their fire on the transports.

Rey and Kylo begin to fight each other again. Struggling over the lightsaber. It breaks into two pieces with a large explosion.

Phasma, our favorite new chrome-plated Star Wars toy, is about to execute Finn and Rose.

Admiral Holdo, alone on the Resistance cruiser as the transports are all heading towards Crait, jumps to lightspeed, ramming the Raddus into the Mega-class Star Destroyer.

Holdo’s actions not only give the Resistance another martyr for the cause, they also allow the transports to escape and prevent Phasma from executing Finn and Rose. The cargo hold of the destroyer is on fire and everything is chaotic, but it still seems like Phasma and her Stormtroopers have cornered Finn and Rose again until BB-8 begins firing upon the First Order soldiers from an AT-ST walker the astromech droid has commandeered. Finn battles it out alone with Phasma and defeats her. Phasma tells Finn that he was always scum. He corrects her and says, “Rebel scum,” and then the floor gives way beneath her and she falls into a fiery chasm. Dead? Probably. But, who knows, right?

Finn, Rose and BB-8 escape from the Star Destroyer. So does Rey, in one of those lambda-class Bad Guy shuttles.

Now . . . this feels like the suitably bombastic sequence right before a relatively quiet scene where all of our heroes are reunited, medals are handed out or whatever, and then the credits roll. Am I right?

But, wait . . .There’s more. I continue to claim that The Last Jedi has gone with an unusual four-act structure instead of the usual three. When our action moves exclusively to the surface of the mineral planet Crait, we’re officially in Act 4. Act 2 was the entire Jedi Training Montage/Canto Bight sequence. Act 3 was the Finn & Rose Attempt to Disable the Hyperspace Tracker/Rey & Kylo Defeat Snoke and Then Fight Each Other sequence. I realize that the argument could be made that Crait is just a continuation of a bloated third act. I might agree with that except for the fact that Snoke’s death and Holdo’s self-sacrifice are huge turning-point moments.

Hux finds Snoke dead and Kylo lying on the deck. When Kylo regains consciousness, he blames Snoke’s death on Rey. Kylo orders Hux to get all of their forces down to the Resistance base to finish this. When Hux questions Kylo’s right to give orders since they no longer have a leader, Kylo Force-chokes Hux until he submits, acknowledging Kylo Ren as the new Supreme Leader.

Down on Crait, Finn and Rose crash-land in the Resistance hangar with the First Order hard on their heels. Poe Dameron seems pleased to see Finn and Rose, but even more pleased to be reunited with BB-8. The hangar has what Poe refers to as a “big-ass door,” which, as you know, is a Star Wars staple. There are also more cute fantasy animals that Wookieepedia tells me are called vulptices (singular: vulptex). I had been calling them ice foxes, but I think I made that up on my own. They are foxlike creatures with crystalline bristles for fur. I blame further Disneyfication of Star Wars.

Rose has been searching the long-abandoned base for weapons and discovers some “half-gutted” ski speeders. The First Order is approaching the base with a huge siege cannon, which Finn called a “battering ram cannon” earlier, saying that it was miniaturized Death Star tech that’ll crack the door open like an egg. BB-8 says the big-ass door is the only way in or out. The Resistance decides to buy some time by attempting to take out the siege cannon, hoping that their transmissions to the Outer Rims will gain them some help from their allies in the mean time.

As the Battle of Crait begins, I learned that the white stuff on the ground was salt, not snow or ice. This is a different type of biome. As the ski speeders engage their mono-skis, plumes of blood red dust appear behind the speeders. This is a stark contrast against the white salt crust. Visually, very striking, and this red-white-and-black motif was omniprescent in the film’s advertising.

I seem to recall a similar motif in one of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek movies during an opening sequence. I can’t recall which one at the moment.

But, the color red seems very symbolic, although I’m not always sure what it’s symbolizing. Kylo Ren’s lightsaber is red. Snoke’s elite guards were pomegranate red, just like Emperor Palpatine’s guards. Um . . . blood is red. Okay, maybe it doesn’t really symbolize anything. It’s still striking.

As we reach the two-hour mark, and the conclusion of this chapter of The Last Jedi Edition of the 15-Minute Force, it occurs to me that we’ve really left the part of this story that was devoted to Rey. This upcoming sequence is more about Finn, Rose, Poe, and someone else who is about to make a surprise reappearance. Oh, and Kylo Ren.

One chapter to go. I promise.

Until then . . . Complete Your Training. Fulfill Your Destiny. Kick Up Some Red Dust . . . And May the 15-Minute Force Be With You.

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