As for the movie I saw, it seemed to fit in with two other acclaimed sci-fi sequels this year, and I pretty much loathed all three. The three movies shared three unforgivable sins:
Too damn long: Logan was 137 minutes, Blade Runner 2049 was 164, The Last Jedi was 152. There was no reason for any of these movies to be longer than two hours. Both Logan and The Last Jedi came to a logical end around the 100 minute mark and then just kept going and going. The Last Jedi had two massive subplots (the casino planet and the mutiny) that just fizzled out and had no effect on the story.
Too disrespectful of the original: It was bizarre how similar Logan and The Last Jedi were:
- Both were the ninth movies in their respective sagas.
- Both undid everything good that had happened in the previous eight movies.
- Both had the hero of the first three movies die miserably.
- Both had a very specific plot point in common: A beloved character from the previous movies was running a school for superpowered teens but saw that school destroyed when he turned murderous towards his own student(s), so now he lives as a secluded hermit.
Ultimately, this is what all discussions of The Last Jedi come down to. Does a new writer/director have the right to come in for movie #9 and ruin all the happiness of the previous 8 movies? There were a lot of reasons to dislike this movie, but I think this was the biggest reason for the backlash. For a lot of viewers, including me, the answer is simply no. The easiest thing to do is take something that someone else has built up and tear it down. If you want to destroy value, destroy your own value, not someone else’s.
(These three movies made me appreciate Gene Luen Yang’s brilliant “Avatar: The Last Airbender” sequel graphic novels even more. He seems to have set himself the rule that he couldn’t in any way undo the happy ending of the series: The couples can’t break up, the villains can’t escape, evil can’t rise again, etc. So how do you tell good stories with those constraints? Well, it’s hard, but Yang is a great writer, so he pulls it off beautifully.)
No fun: Reading the glowing reviews of these movies was a pretty baffling experience for me. Doesn’t anybody want to have any fun anymore? The previous movies in these series were enjoyable. (Okay, not the previous two Wolverine movies, but this was more of a sequel to X2 or Days of Future Past, both of which were fun). These three movies were grim, airless slogs, especially Blade Runner 2049. I wasn’t just checking my watch because they were too long, but because all three bored me out of my mind. Even The Force Awakens, which I had a lot of problems with, was at least lively and buoyant. Empire Strikes Back was dark, but Yoda was delightful. There was nothing to love about these three movies, which is a problem, because there was a lot to dislike.
So just as I was loath to post the podcast, I’m loath to post this post, because my goal is never to just be sour and complain-y, especially about things that other people loved, but boy oh boy I disliked these movies. Feel free to tell me I’m wrong in the comments.