Category Archives: Star Wars

Fave Fives: Characters in The Last Jedi

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Fave Fives. Each week I am going to take five somethings from whatever our topic is and list them here. I’ll give a little explanation about what I have selected and why, but then I am just going to list the five whatevers. Just a nice and easy little end to the week. Maybe you will agree with my picks, maybe you won’t, and that’s ok. Like I said, these are my favorites. Mostly this will be just a list with photos, and hopefully fun.

I said it clear back in my post on Monday, that one of the things that I love about The Last Jedi is the development of some of the characters. This film takes on a journey that takes our characters to the depths of failure, but sets them all up to overcome and eventually triumph. Sometimes the struggles we go through enable us to accomplish more than we could have if we didn’t have them to begin with. Yeah, that sentence seems clear as mud. What I’m saying is that our failures and struggles can define us and refine us as much as anything else we might experience. Maybe even more. Each of these characters goes through some kind of failure, but they learn from it and move forward. They don’t dwell on the failures.

So who did I pick for this list? Kylo Ren who was able to take his failure at the end of The Force Awakens and becomes more powerful, in some ways, than the grandfather he idolized. Luke Skywalker who had just spent years hiding from his failures, then shows up at the end as the powerful Jedi Master we all knew he was. Rey who is looking for her family, but finds herself. Poe Cameron who fails as a leader, only to emerge one fo the top leaders of the resistance. Rose because everyone should love Rose. 

Kylo Ren

Luke Skywalker

Rey

Poe Dameron

Rose

Kylo, Luke, Rey, and the Past

One of the main themes in The Last Jedi was the idea of moving forward from the past. This was the theme that resonated the most with me in the film, and one of the reasons I love the movies so much. There were three main characters that presented three views on this idea of moving forward, in my opinion: Kylo Ren, Luke Skywalker, and Rey. Each of these characters took a different approach to the same idea of moving on to something new. They each had the same goal in the end, but how they chose to try to get to that goal helps define their characters at this point in the story. 

Kylo Ren’s approach to moving forward was that the past needed to die. I think at one point in the movie, he actually says the past needs to die. But the past didn’t just need to die for Kylo. Instead, he needed to murder it. Coming off killing his father, thinking that had freed him from a burden, from a pull back to who he was, he used to be, he wanted to kill more of his past. He attempts to take out his mother, he kills his mentor Snoke in order to become greater than him, and he tries to kill his previous mentor Luke Skywalker. For Kylo, he sees the past as something that is holding him back, and he needs to destroy it and become something bigger and better. Without killing it all, it will continue to pull at him. In Kylo’s mind, he needs the past dead in order for him to move forward. 

Kylo looks back on his past and sees himself as weak. He wants to be strong, so he wants that weaker him to be gone. He needs it to be gone. In the film we see this over and over. He destroys his helmet because it reminds him of when he was weaker, when he lost to Rey in the woods. Everything Kylo is doing in The Last Jedi is to become bigger, better, and greater than who he was before, who his grandfather was, who Snoke was, who his uncle was. Kylo wants the past dead because it holds him back.

Luke Skywalker looks back at the past and he is ashamed. He is ashamed of choices he made, or almost made. He is not proud of what he went into Kylo’s hut to do when he was his teacher. He hated himself for it. And as went into isolation and studied the history of the Jedi, he became ashamed of who the Jedi were especially at the end. He sees how they clung to ceremony and pomp, and he felt like the Jedi needed to die. He didn’t want to murder the past, but he was willing to let it die out naturally. His goal was to let the Jedi die out with him. He was ashamed of who he was, and as he learned more, who the Jedi were. For Kylo and Luke, the past was holding them back, and needed to disappear.

Rey doesn’t know her personal past, but as she learns more about the Jedi and the force she begins to embrace what the past was, and sees a way to move forward. She wants to build on the past as she discovers it, and sees what was in the past as the future. She doesn’t want to destroy it, she wants to cling to it in some ways. She sees it as an opportunity to become part of something larger than herself. That was something she had been wanting her whole life, and when she found it, she needed it even more. 

You know the old saying, never meet your heroes? It applies when you meet someone that you have looked up to, you have a lot of respect for, and they end up being totally different than you expected. Disappointingly different. This is what Rey experiences when she meets Luke for the first time. This is Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi Master, the guy who is going to save the Resistance. She had built up this image, rightfully so, in her head, and who she met did not meet that image. Now she was in a position to learn more about a past that was now part of her as a Force sensitive, but in her way was a man who wanted to get as far away from all of it as he can, and to keep it as far away from everyone else as he can. Rey begins to see things differently. Instead of looking to the past for the answer to the present, she sees it as building on the past, shedding what didn’t work, losing those traditions, and build something new. 

I look at these three characters, and I love Rey. I love parts of what Luke believes. There is a lot of tradition, a lot of pomp that needs to be done away with, but we can’t ignore the past completely. In the end I love that Rey embraces what the past was, all of it, and decides to move forward with building a better future. There is a lot to love about that idea. The past is what it is, and we can learn from it, or hide it and ignore it, but to truly build something better we need to understand it, and move forward from it. I think Rey embraces this idea. 

I also love the idea of getting rid of a lot of what holds us back. Growing up as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah, there was a lot I learned about what that meant, and a lot of that was tradition. I learned the doctrine too, but there was a lot of things done because that’s how they were always done. It has been interesting to see how so much of that has changed in the last few years. A lot of the tradition, a lot of things we did just because we did them have been done away with. It has almost been a war on tradition for tradition’s sake. Moving away from a church that fits the needs the Wasatch front to meeting the needs of a global community. And honestly, I love it. I think there are a lot of parallels as we move forward in the Church to a better future. I don’t know. That’s some of my thoughts. 

Luke and Kylo saw the past as a hindrance, and it can be. If we cling to it so much it hinders us from moving forward. But Rey understood that knowing the past, learning from it and building on it can bring even better rewards. Living in the past, dwelling on the past can hold us back in our own futures, but hiding it away or ignoring can cause us to make the same mistakes. Only by understanding it, embracing it, and then moving forward learning from it can help us to be as successful as we can be. And that’s why this was my favorite theme from The Last Jedi.

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.

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 2- Star Wars The Last Jedi Podcast Script

I have been thinking about what I was going to do for “liner notes” for each of my podcast episodes. I decided what I wanted to do was to share with all of you the script I wrote for this episode about Star Wars The Last Jedi. For each episode I release, I sit down and write a script of what I want to say, and then follow it when I record. I don’t read every part word for word, but having the script helps me to keep on track throughout the episode. So, I have decided, as  I share each episode here, I will include the script I wrote for the episode. It might be fun to see the variations.

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The Last Jedi-Luke’s Journey

Star Wars: The Last Jedi just released a little over a week ago and just like almost everything in pop culture, it is causing quite the stir. Some fans loved it, some fans hated it. Some fans had expectations on where the story was going, and the movie did not live up to those expectations. A lot of these fans have become very vocal on social media, some even going so far as to start a petition for TLJ to not be Star Wars canon.

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30Days30Characters: Day 17-Darth Vader

Every one of the characters on this list so far have been heroes. This is probably not an accident. I have never been one to love the villains in a show or movie or book. I almost alway s pull for the hero. That’s what I like, a really great good guy. That being said, I have to recognize that every good story I like has a good villain or two. So, it’s not that I don’t like the villains, or appreciate the villains. It’s more that I identify more with the good guys. Most of the time.

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30Days30Characters: Day 14- Rey

Not really on purpose, but I have a few Star Wars characters featured this week. I know I emphasized that I wanted a diversity of characters from a wide selection of films on this list this week, and now I am doing my second Star Wars character. I’`ll be honest, with the Last Jedi coming out in about a month, I kind of have Star Wars on the brain. Plus, there are a lot of really great characters in the Star Wars Universe. I probably could have done a list of 30 characters all from Star Wars, so two or three isn’t that bad, really.

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30Days30Characters: Day 12- Princess Leia

This is the beginning of a mother week in our 30 day series. Last week my theme was comics characters. This week I am looking at seven of my favorite movie characters and why I love them. Obviously, movies is a pretty broad category. Most of my characters in this category will be from nerdy fandoms, but some won’t To me, films are a nerdy fandom all their own. I love a good film. I also love a corny film done well. Mostly, I just love movies.

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Liz’s Goodbye: Some Spiritual Lessons from Fandom

If you haven’t heard by now, Jake has decided that The Geeky Mormon needs to go in a new direction, and as me contributing articles does not fit with his vision for the site, I will no longer be writing. For the time being, plan on me still writing, but exclusively for my personal blog, The Jedi in Jeans. It was a pleasure writing for The Geeky Mormon and sharing all of my geeky thoughts with you. Before I go, here are a few things I want to share with you that I have learned from both my interests in sci-fi and fantasy, and from my faith as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in other words, from being a Geeky Mormon. I won’t elaborate on some of the themes too much. A picture’s worth a thousand words, so I will include pictures/quotes from our favorite stories as well as appropriate scripture references. I may very well have addressed some of these themes in my other posts. Other than that, I will leave the interpretation to you.

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