Star Wars: Episode VIII Movie Review — Are Rey and Kylo Ren (Ben Solo) Destined to Become Tragic Lovers?
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Star Wars: Episode VIII—whatever you want to call it—opened last week and has already made a gazillion-jillion-quillion dollars, and your geeky best friends have already seen it five times, at least. I saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi with my family and friends on Friday night and enjoyed it, but I have to say that I had a much more favorable first impression of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Episode VII). I’m likewise a huge fan of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which I think is also more interesting and emotionally compelling than Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I can’t imagine sitting down with a bowl of popcorn, five or ten years in the future, in the mood for a Star Wars movie, going through all my options and then choosing Star Wars: The Last Jedi. No way!
But if I had to choose between watching Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I’d obviously, happily choose The Last Jedi. My fifteen-year-old son, on the other hand, swears that he would choose Episode I in such a scenario. That’s how much he despised certain elements of The Last Jedi. He’d rather watch Jar Jar Binks stepping in alien poop.
Although Star Wars: The Last Jedi does not have tremendous stand-alone power, in my opinion, I really enjoyed its plotline involving Rey, Luke Skywalker, and Kylo Ren (Ben Solo). From this point on, I’m going to let the spoilers fly, so if you don’t want to hear any specifics, stop reading right now and go see the movie in the theatre, and then come back and tell me what you thought of it. I hope you enjoy it a lot more than my son did.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi would have been so much better if it had kept its focus on Rey, Luke, and Kylo Ren, and not wasted as much time on the two other, less interesting, storylines—one involving Poe, Leia, purple-haired Laura Dern (“Vice Admiral Holdo,” who is awesome!), and all the Rebels trying to outlast the First Order’s merciless assault on their ships; another involving Finn and a new character, Rose, on their own little side mission to undermine the First Order. What are Finn and Rose doing, exactly? Trying to hack in and change a security code or something? It was cool when Benicio Del Toro (“DJ”) showed up, but I was pretty bored by most of Finn’s scenes and actually nodded off at one point.
We already know that Rey is a natural-born Jedi, and she doesn’t seem to really need Master Luke’s tutelage to harness the Force—indeed, Luke is the one who needs Rey to remind him of who he is and what he means to the rebellion—but it’s delightful to watch Rey and Luke together on that incredible island, squabbling, chatting about ancient Jedi texts, slicing through rocks with Lightsabers and whatnot.
And I can die and go to heaven now that I’ve witnessed the triumphant return of Puppet Ghost Yoda! (I’m an ’80s kid, so, naturally, I prefer a good puppet over the vast majority of computer-generated characters.) Puppet Ghost Yoda almost makes up for that bizarre Frozen Zombie Superman Leia scene. Uhhhhhh, what was that? I guess we’ll just say that the Force works in mysterious ways, and move on.
Sometimes the Force brings opposites together and connects them in a fascinating, sexually charged way. I know I’m not the only person in the world wondering when Rey and Kylo Ren (tragically tormented, occasionally shirtless Ben Solo) are going to cast their differences aside and have their fabulous night of passion. Why haven’t any of the dead Jedi masters predicted this ill-fated pairing and the child that will inevitably result? A child with no human blood at all, only midi-chlorians; a child who is 100% Pure Force! Will this exceptional child choose the light or dark side of the Force? How many movies will it take for him/her to hover on the cusp of the dark side, triumphantly returning to the light in time to save the Rebels from the Second or Third Order’s latest harebrained scheme?
Does Ben Solo, who has “deadbeat dad” written all over him, deserve to be saved from the dark side? Leia has apparently given up all hope for Ben, saying that she knows her son is “gone,” but I want to trust Rey, who sees the conflict still raging within him and believes she can turn him back to the light. There must be a smidgen of good in Ben Solo/Kylo Ren. (Isn’t he a million times more complex and fascinating than the young Anakin Skywalker character from the prequels?) Ben doesn’t kill his mother when given the chance, and he stops Snoke from harming Rey. No truly evil Sith lord would wear such nerdy, high-waisted pants, either.
Whereas poor Padmé witnessed Anakin, her conflicted Jedi husband who couldn’t bear to lose her, morphing into a Sith lord before her eyes, Rey has the potential to turn her melancholic Sith boyfriend back into a good Jedi. I know I’m getting ahead of myself, and Ben isn’t Rey’s boyfriend yet, but Yoda only knows what those two are doing off-screen while the rest of us are laughing at the antics of those cute Porgs. Rey and Ben can see and touch each other, light years apart. They can read each other’s minds. Two attractive, lonely souls, powerful with the Force, feeling abandoned and misunderstood, looking for meaning and purpose: they’re a match made in Ahch-To!
If only Kylo Ren could use the Force to see all of us rolling our eyes at him as he tries to convince Rey to abandon the Resistance and join him: We’ll take over and rule the universe together, honey! What could possibly go wrong? Why can’t Ben/Kylo Ren hear us yelling at him to stop being such a dumbass? Make up with your dear mother before it’s too late, Ben! We all know that the Force brought her back to life just so she could see Luke—and hug and kiss you—one last time! Let go of your foolish ambitions and toxic fears and embrace the LOVE and the LIGHT, Ben! That’s the only way you’ll win Rey’s heart. You can do it!
Now that Carrie Fisher is gone, Ben will unfortunately have to hug and kiss a creepy CG Leia in Episode IX—the 60-year-old version of young CG Leia we saw at the very end of Rogue One—but I’ll pretend not to notice. Hey, maybe Leia can be a lifesize puppet voiced by Frank Oz in Episode IX! (I know this all sounds terribly disrespectful, but I’ve read all of Carrie Fisher’s books, and, trust me, she’s laughing her ass off in heaven at the idea of a lifesize Leia puppet. I adore her and recommend her books, by the way. Star Wars fans, in particular, simply MUST read The Princess Diarist.)
It’s going to be hard for Rey and Kylo Ren to top Luke Skywalker’s amazing astral-projection stunt, but I look forward to watching them fall in and out of love, and meeting their baby—the latest “chosen one”—in a future Star Wars film.
I need to get one of those crystal foxes (a “vulptex”) for my goddaughter for Christmas!
The scenery on the planet Crait—the salty, shimmering white surface with red crystals underneath—is absolutely glorious! Bravo!
That stable boy uses the Force to grab the broomstick at the very end, right? I love it! What an awesome detail!
Dear Star Wars Scriptwriters,
Please give Finn a more interesting role in Star Wars: Episode IX. And if Captain Phasma comes back (my son suspects that she isn’t really dead), please make her as kick-ass as we all know she can and should be. Thanks in advance! May the force be with you.
What did you love/hate about Star Wars: The Last Jedi? Let me know in the comments section below! Happy Holidays!
More Star Wars humor by Maria Roth:
Fun stuff for Carrie Fisher fans: