Why I Liked The Last Jedi: A Love Letter

When I decided to do this introductory post for this week’s theme, I almost called it a defense of The Last Jedi, but honestly, I don’t think it will do any good. I mean, I have been in the middle of this fight for, well, let’s see, almost two and a half years. I don’t know if I remember a movie that has ever been as divisive for a fan base as this one has been for Star Wars. There are a lot of fans who absolutely hate this movie for whatever reason. I’m not dismissing those reasons, I’m just not going to list them all here. Then there are others who will defend this movie no matter what because it’s Star Wars, and they just automatically love anything Star Wars. And somewhere in between is everyone else.

I tend to be on the side of loving this movie. My wife asked me the other day which Star Wars movie was my favorite. It came down to this one or Empire for me. And I honestly said The Last Jedi. I am not, however, an unconditional Star Wars lover. I can’t stand Attack of the Clones, Solo was just alright, and Clone Wars- I hear it gets great, but I have struggled to get through season 2, so I don’t know. So, I don’t just love everything Star Wars because it’s Star Wars. I still loved this movie, though. I think the story telling is pretty solid. I like what happens with some of the main characters. I liked the idea of moving forward from the past. There was a lot to like.

That’s not to say that people who didn’t like it are wrong, or their opinions are not valid. I even get some of their arguments. I know the Canto Bight side story is one of the big complaints. I have heard everything I care to about the awful Admiral Holdo. And of course how Luke would never act the way he did. I have heard it all, and I get where you’re coming from. Please understand I’m not blind to your argument, I just see it differently. Admiral Holdo was acting like a military leader who was sharing parts of a plan with those that needed to know, Poe didn’t need to know. Luke would behave that way, because he did. And Canto Bight was important in setting something up for the next film, that we didn’t get to see. At least that’s what I think. The kid with the broom. I want to know what happens with the kid with the broom.

Here’s the thing, I know most of you who really hated this film are not going to agree with me, and I’m not trying to get you to change your opinion. I just want you to know that I have heard your arguments. You’re not going to share anything new, so let’s just agree to disagree. This isn’t a defense of the film. That’s what I am trying to get at. I am just explaining why I like this film. Rian Johnson did what he did. Told the story he did. I am not trying to defend it. I just think it was really good. And it would have been even better if Rise of Skywalker would have gone differently.  

This post isn’t about Rise of Skywalker, so I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this, but The Last Jedi was supposed to be the second part of a trilogy. A bridge between the opening act of The Force Awakens and the conclusion of the story in what was eventually called The Rise of Skywalker. However, now that the films are finished, Force Awakens and Rise of Skywalker are nice bookends that look and feel similar, but The Last Jedi is this middle story that just doesn’t fit in. That’s not Johnson’s fault. I think Disney buckled under a lot of the fan complaints and spent a good portion of Rise of Skywalker undoing a lot of what Johnson did in Last Jedi. This is also Disney/Lucasfilm’s fault for apparently not having an overarching plan for the story of the new trilogy. Or swerving from that plan drastically with the last movie. If Episode 9 had built off of the story told in TLJ, it would have been even better as a part of a whole story. Like I said, though, this isn’t about Rise of Skywalker or the sequel trilogy as a whole.

No, this is about why I like The Last Jedi. It comes down to the story. It comes down to the characters. And it comes down to what it all meant to me. That last part is going to be covered more in depth on Wednesday’s post, but I have to mention it here. Rian Johnson has become one of my favorite directors, with this film and Knives Out, two of my favorite recent films. Knives Out may be one of my top three films from 2019. In any case, let’s look at each of these three parts one by one.

The Story

Much like Empire Strikes Back, the story in The Last Jedi is a little darker, a little more dire. When it ends, the Resistance is beaten and bloodied, and we’re not sure how they will go on. Compare this to Empire Strikes Back. Yes, our heroes, most of them, escaped Vader, but there was no medal ceremony or giant exploding Death Star. We have the most shocking revelation in the history of the franchise, and we are left wondering how it will all end. How will the Rebels regroup and finally defeat the Empire? But there is hope at the end of both movies as well. Hope that they will come back and win. 

This is the way a lot of second parts of trilogies work. They aren’t always happy. In fact the heroes often find themselves in situations that go from bad to worse. Their challenges mount and somehow they get through them but at a high cost. But it’s in preparation for the final act, the big battle, the climax. And The Last Jedi does this. It actually does it really well. I know that a lot of people don’t like where the story went, or how it got there, but sometimes, in the middle of the overall story, that’s ok. Just wait, let it resolve itself, see where it goes. I also know that a lot of people didn’t like the story because they didn’t like where it took some of the characters. Well…

The Characters

I’m not going to dive too deeply into the characters here, because later this week I am going to talk more in depth about some of my favorite characters from this film. But, I liked where most of our main characters were at the end of this film. I really did. I can also say that a lot of what happened was really unexpected, and maybe it felt like the rug was pulled out from underneath us, but really, in the end, I liked how our characters developed. Rey had been wanting to find out about her parents and her family for so long, and it was almost liberating for her when she found out that they weren’t anybody special. It left her free to forge her own path, create her own destiny, and it gave hope to anyone out there who was born a nobody.

Anybody can becomes a somebody, and everybody can be special. That was kind of the point. A point that was totally undone with The Rise of Skywalker, but again, that’s not the point pf this post. So I’ll move on.

I also loved- LOVED- where Kylo Ren was at the end of this chapter. He went from being a whiny, emo, Darth Vader wannabe to Supreme Leader Kylo Ren, and looked totally awesome doing it. He was a legitimate threat now, and someone who had eclipsed anything Vader had accomplished- at least on screen. And there was something to his whole “destroy the past” idea, but I’ll get into that on Wednesday.

Finally, for this post, Luke. He’s the guy a lot of unhappy fans point to when they discuss this film. Discuss- or more accurately rant against this film. Luke would never behave that way. He would never do that. Rian Johnson just didn’t get his character. I get these complaints. As a lifelong Superman fan who has had to endure Zack Snyder’s treatment of the character- I totally get it. The thing is, I just don’t think it’s accurate in this case. And unfortunately, Luke would behave this way because Luke did behave this way. I wanted to have the super powered, force wielding Jedi Master Luke Skywalker going into this film. And, initially I was disappointed with the hermit, disgruntled Luke we got. That being said, I love this Luke. He is broken. He is down. He believes it is because of his pride, and the pride of the Jedi as a whole that Kylo and Snoke are even around. He is ashamed of himself and his own weaknesses, and like so many of us, he can’t forgive himself. These kinds of things don’t make me dislike one of my favorite characters in the saga. It makes me love him more. It makes him more interesting, not less.

What it all meant to me

End of the day, it all comes down to what this film meant to me. I am going to go in depth on this particular topic on Wednesday- how the whole idea of moving past the past, moving beyond the traditions we cling to just to cling to them- this whole message resonated with me. So much so, I consistently write run-on sentences to describe how I feel. It’s that important to me. That deep. That’s why I keep coming back to this film. That’s why I love it, and why It has become possibly my favorite film in the whole saga, even though it doesn’t quite fit in here anymore. Sandwiched between The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker, it kind of stands out. But it doesn’t change that this was the best film of the new trilogy. And top two for the whole saga.

That’s why I like The Last Jedi. Like I said before, I don’t anticipate changing anyone’s minds about this film. You all will like what you like, and that’s totally valid. Just be careful thinking that the only people who like this movie are the people who just love anything Star Wars simply because it is Star Wars. There are legitimate reasons to like, and maybe even love, this film.

The Final Post…For Now

It has been a constant back and forth for me over the last month or so on where this site and the podcast fit in my life. I know that sounds weird, since I just started the podcast, but hopefully I can sum up what my thoughts are and where I am with everything and maybe, just maybe explain a little bit about why this will be my final blog post, at least here. And for now.

Life is a whirlwind of change. That’s what I have decided. Circumstances are in a constant state of flux. When I started this blog four years ago, I saw it as an outlet and a way to get me writing, something I enjoy. It was supposed to be a place where I could write whatever I wanted, and make no apologies. It was supposed to be a hobby. Then some people started reading, and I started caring. I still enjoy writing, and to a certain extent, I still enjoy writing on this blog. It’s just not as much as it used to be. It has become a weekly task to put together a post, and I feel pressure to get it in on a deadline, and I stress myself out when I don’t and that makes me freeze, and basically, I have issues.

That is to say, that this was never what this was supposed to be for me. I want to write what I want to write, and I want to do it when I want to do it. I guess, the biggest problem is I never really established upfront what this was all supposed to be about. I never had a vision. If I were to do this again, down the road at some point, I would have in my mind a firm vision of what I wanted it to be.

That’s not to say there haven’t been things I really enjoy about all of this. I have enjoyed the interactions with other people, other geeks and the conversations I have had and the relationships I have built through all of this. That has been the best part, the people. You guys are all awesome. That’s the biggest reason I have kept it going for as long as I have, and the biggest reason it is hard to walk away right now.

But, I am walking away. I am still going to write, but I am going to focus on writing fiction. I will probably post it on my own personal blog, and maybe I’ll share that with people. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I won’t really share it a lot at first, but then I will later when I have more of it and I feel like I can. Not when I feel comfortable because that will never happen. In any case, I have always wanted to write stories, and that’s where I am going to focus my spare writing time at the moment.

And that’s where my other really big issue is right now. This is just a hobby, but it has started to feel like a lot more for me, especially with the podcast (which was fun, but may have been a mistake). As of right now, my spare time is at a premium. I don’t have a lot of it. Part of that is my full time job- which pays the bills, by the way- part of that is my family- which is like my whole reason for living- and another part of it recently has been my decision to return to school and get my masters. All of these things are important, and they all take a lot of time. I looked at my calendar the other day, and I realized I wasn’t sure how to fit in my podcast and blog time.

I suppose I could still keep doing this, but the quality would drop, and I don’t want that. Not again, any way. If I can’t put the time in to do it right, then I don’t want to do it. So, it’s time to step away. And, to be honest, it has been fun being the Geeky Mormon, but I have been feeling lately that this particular chapter in my life is probably coming to a close permanently. Not that I am going to stop being geeky, or stop being Mormon, I just think this site, and that persona has run its course. So while my stepping away from podcasting and blogging in this way may only be temporary, if I do come back, it will be something else. I don’t know what that is yet, but this really feels right to me right now.

So, where does that leave the site? It will still be here. I am not going to take it down, at least not for now. All the content will remain. The podcast too, at least for now. How long will my little break be? At least a year. That’s when I will hopefully finish up with school, and I can reevaluate at that time what I want to do. I imagine it will be longer before I come back to regularly blogging like this or podcasting, since currently, I’m not even sure what a return would look like, and I want to have a clear idea before I do it. Like, if I come back to podcasting, I want to do it right with at least one co-host, so you won’t have to listen to just me.

I know all of this seems sudden. I have been thinking about it for a long time. There have been plenty of times over the last four years where I have wanted to just give it all up, but this was the first time when it really felt right. I am so grateful to all the people who have read and visited the site over the years. I have enjoyed interacting with you and I have enjoyed meeting some of you at conventions and what not. It has been fun. I wish you all the best, and I’m not really sure how to end this post, so I am going to share a couple of videos. One is Chris Pratt’s MTV awards acceptance speech with nine pretty solid rules. The other is the music video for Little Changes by Frank Turner, which has been a favorite of mine lately. Thank you all again, and all my best.

Jake Dietz,

The Geeky Mormon

5 Fathers Day Flicks

Fathers Day is this weekend, which means many of you are probably looking to spend a little quality time with dear old dad. Of all the movies I have enjoyed over the years, some of my favorites center around dads. There is just something special for me about that relationship between father and son, being both a father and a son. So, if you are looking for a great father themed film to watch this weekend, take a look at these five.

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My 10 Favorite Movies: 10 Napoleon Dynamite

Looking back on my life, I have always enjoyed movies. A lot of who I am and what I enjoy is based on the movies I love. A few weeks ago, on Facebook I was invited by a friend to list every day one of my favorite movies, ranking them from 10 to 1. It was hard to narrow the movies I love down to just ten, and then to put them in any kind of order. However, it was also fun to take a look back at the movies I have loved and why. I thought it would be fun to review each of the movies on my list on my podcast and on my blog. Napoleon Dynamite was my number 10.

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Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo is the Star Wars movie I was pretty sure we didn’t need, and I knew I didn’t want. Now that we have it though, I am pretty pleased. Basically, I went into the movie with little to no expectations, and came out happy with the latest addition to the Star Wars lore. The film is by no means perfect, but overall, it was enjoyable and fun.

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Episode 11- Doctor Who

Since this is my first episode related to Doctor Who, I wanted to find a way to introduce the topic to people. One idea I had was to do an interview style episode, where I was kind of interviewing myself. In the end, I thought that was really weird, so I decided not to do it. In preparation for it, though, I wrote it all down, my questions, and then my answers. I thought it might be interesting to include that here with the liner notes for this episode.

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Episode 10: Harry Potter

*This post contains affiliate links

Are you ever too stubborn for your own good? It happens to me probably more than I would like to admit. It almost happened to me with Harry Potter. It’s hard to say why exactly I was so against the idea of reading the series, what held me back for so long, but i just know that for a long time, I just refused. Until I didn’t, and my whole geeky world changed.

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Episode 9: Counting Down the MCU, Pt. 2

Here it is, the much-anticipated follow-up to Monday’s episode- this part 2 of my MCU countdown. This is where you can find out which movie I have listed at number 1. For those that know me, it probably isn’t a huge surprise. I have talked about this movie a lot. I have even been a guest on another podcast to discuss this movie. It isn’t just my favorite MCU movie, it’s one of my favorite movies. Period.

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Episode 8: Counting Down the MCU, Part 1

Due to technical issues, I had to take last week off. I just couldn’t deliver a good, quality product, so I decided it was better to skip it. But I am back this week, and I have brought with me an epic double episode! And it is all about the MCU. The MCU now consists of 19 films. Some are better than others, and others still stand apart in a class of their own. In this episode, I begin to break down which are which. This is part 1, breaking down numbers 19-11. Part 2- the top 10- will be released on Wednesday.

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Episode 7: Avengers: Infinity War

Infinity War is here, and it was quite a ride. I know there are probably quite a few people who have not seen it. I get it. It is not always possible to get to the theater on opening night, sometimes you have to wait a week or two or a couple of days. I understand. For that reason, let me warn you, this episode has spoilers. A lot of spoilers. Like, seriously, don’t listen until you have seen the movie. But, then come back and listen.

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