To Haters Of "The Last Jedi" — Part 2: The Message

To Haters Of "The Last Jedi" — Part 2: The Message

Forget your hubris, protect your loved ones, and know that you can achieve greatness too.

So, “The Last Jedi” is here and Jingle-Bell rockin' into our lives. Critics are satisfied, but fans are divided! Why? And why do I love it so much? Let’s see.

The second major point I delight in for “The Last Jedi” was the collection of themes and messages the film tried to portray. Others, on the contrary, denounce it as, you guessed it, leftist (or liberal) propaganda! Are they just looking too hard under the veil of bias, or are is the movie really a wheel in a conspiratorial campaign of one-sided propaganda?

For starters, what are the movie’s themes?

The first, and perhaps most obvious, is one of hubris. We see this especially with Poe, as he, time and time again, goes over the heads of General Leia and Admiral Holdo, leading to costly victories, misunderstandings, and relative disaster. Poe rushes in, thinks he knows what would be best, and problems ensue. Then, toward the end, he begins to understand- he doesn’t go out after Luke and he realizes that the remaining members of the Resistance need, for now, to run rather than face the menacing 1st Order attack force.

Interestingly, Luke breaks this down for us too. While teaching Rey, he explains that one reason he and the old Jedi Order failed was hubris. Arrogance and overconfidence lead them to believe they could not be stopped or were obviously in the right- potentially an allusion to “Attack of the Clones,” when Yoda states this issue explicitly to Masters Windu and Kenobi.

Secondly, the film builds itself around the idea that you don’t have to be predestined for greatness to effect change in the world. The original trilogy and prequel trilogy both placed a heavy focus on a chosen one and his relatives. The main characters either started out special or were related or connected to that special person.

In “The Last Jedi,” who are the new heroes we see? We have Finn, who before the events of “The Force Awakens,” was essentially a First Order janitor. He was nobody. Now he fights as an acclaimed hero of the Resistance. Then we have Poe, whose backstory seems to be naught but he has become one of the best pilots in the Resistance fleet. Rose was just a mechanic from a poor/oppressive background doing her job, but when duty called her elsewhere, she rose (ohhhh) to the occasion and helped out.

Then we have Rey. Fans have obsessed for the past two years about her potential lineage, who her parents were, and who she would become. “The Last Jedi” drops a non-bombshell, subverting our expectations. Where does Rey come from?


She has no special parentage, no circumstances that predestined her for greatness or being Jedi. She just happens to be powerful in the Force, and joined the Resistance out of circumstance on account of the traits she possessed and skills she gained over the years through hard work.

Some might decry this as liberal propaganda (Oh, they’re saying everyone is a special snowflake!). But isn’t this what the American Dream is about? That anyone, through hard work and moral character, can achieve greatness? That is what we should take away here.

Third, the movie brings us the idea of how to effect good change in the world. In a way, it’s non-creepy Anakin-style take on the Jedi Code regarding compassion and hatred. Rose clarifies this message explicitly, “This is how we’re gonna win. Not fighting what we hate, saving what we love.”

In essence, this was the plot of the movie and this message connects to Poe and his hubris. Finn and Poe both fight the First Order- and they both hate it and are willing now to go to great risks just to deal some damage to it. But Leia and Holdo are focused on preserving the “spark” of the Resistance. In “The Last Jedi,” keeping what remains of the Resistance was the point of every hoop that was lept through.

This is an important message for the times we live in. The nation is divided in many ways, though most starkly in politics. We’ve sent so much time building up our “others” as monsters or things to hate, and actual hate groups have sprung up as well. We as a nation and our government as a whole need this reminder of what it’s all for:

Saving those we love, not destroying what we hate.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube | Star Wars

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The Differences Between 'A Quiet Place' And 'Truth Or Dare'

One is great. One is not.

I don’t usually like to rate movies out of ten. People see movies for different reasons, and personally, I believe that most movies can be enjoyed as long as their viewers go in with the right expectations. But despite this gracious philosophy of film, I also believe that there are some films that do things well and some that do things poorly. Such objective standards can be rated on a scale from one to ten.

Over the last few weeks, film fans have been graced by at least two fans that paved the way for future original creative endeavors, and at least one that has continued to establish my cynical outlook on the Hollywood machine. A Quiet Place, one of the more optimistic offerings, was one of the best-written films to come from the horror-thriller genre in the last few years. This weekend’s Truth or Dare was one of the worst written. And the key areas where they diverge are quite obvious.

1. Basic Premise

A Quiet Place, in addition to elegantly expositing slowly, carefully, and of course, quietly, contains a premise that can be summarized in one word: shhh. There are few, if any, rules except “be quiet.” And there is no grand summary of how the sound-hunting creatures came to plague the planet; we are only told what is relevant to the plight of the Abbott family, our protagonists. Understanding the monster allows us to wrap our brains around it. We fear that which we do not understand.

In comparison, Truth or Dare establishes nonsensical rules that are so far from logical that they cannot possibly be threatening. The context for the events we’re witnessing is so contrived that it is near impossible to feel tension or fright. And there’s no ambiguity, despite your desperate pleas for the cringe to end. They lay out everything you need to understand the “threat” so it’s no longer threatening.

2. Plot Motivators

A Quiet Place’s movie journey genre is known as “monster in the house.” The protagonists are trapped in a confined space with a terrifying brute force that can’t be reasoned with. This is what drives the plot: a compelling antagonist. Creatures with such auditory acuity that they can hear sounds from miles away. Insurmountable obstacles in interesting settings and situations.

Rather, Truth or Dare opted for a character-driven plot, which is a completely legitimate writing decision. Truth or Dare’s problem is that all its characters are idiots. This is a very common horror film trope - overly sexed teens are inebriated, or their brains are underdeveloped, and because of it they fall victim to some horror movie antagonist. The film’s antagonist might be the demon possessing the group’s game of truth or dare, but it seems more that it’s the group themselves and their poor decision-making skills, or their penchant for bringing up intensely personal arguments in the middle of life-or-death situations, or their unrealistically melodramatic responses to trauma.

3. Jump Scares

The idea behind A Quiet Place lends itself to the use of the loud jump scare. Sure, it’s a horror trope, and sure, it made me roll my eyes when I saw it. But the film is more allowed to use loud jump scares than most of its peers because they make sense in the context of the story - most of the film is very quiet (obviously), so any sound is going to seem louder than usual, and the slow-moving landscape has the same effect on the movement.

Truth or Dare, though, would rather use all of its jump scares on fake-outs, which is a well-documented frustration with modern horror films. Jump scares are unrelated to the plot and serve as a very thinly veiled attempt to give the audience a quick jolt of fear. They’re still a cheap method of scaring in A Quiet Place, but at least that film’s context allows the audience to forgive its use. The scares in Truth or Dare are so obvious that, again, they can’t possible come across as threatening.

A Quiet Place was across the board an incredible film. Truth or Dare is not. But like I said, I believe that most movies are good for something. There are objective standards which Truth or Dare fails to measure up to. There are documented writing formulas and genre tropes which the film actively ignores. But if every movie is good for something, what is Truth or Dare good for?

Well, it’s pretty great for noting how not to make a horror movie.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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'Ready Player One' Is Our Modern Day '1984'

The dangers posed by VR and advancing technologies.

In 2011, Ernest Cline Published his best-selling science fiction novel "Ready Player One." Since then it has become a New York Times bestseller, translated into 20 different languages with a motion picture adaption currently in theaters. "1984" was a book written at a time when everyone was paranoid that the government would be watching their every move. Now that this is a reality, authors and film producers are turning their sites on the newest technological threat to society. Virtual reality.

The plot of "Ready Player One" is fairly simplistic. The United States has been ravaged by climate change and widening wage gaps aided by the disappearance of the middle class have turned the United States into a third world country. The protagonist, Wade Wyatts, plays an MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) for a good portion of his adolescence. The MMO or "Oasis" as it is so called is the last frontier for mankind. The last place left to be traveled and explored at one's leisure. When the games creator dies, a scavenger hunt begins to find a hidden easter egg in the game that will allow users to take over the company and gain access to the creator's fortune (Think Tron Legacy meets Willy Wonka).

While the film is intended to be a sci-fi-action adventure film, its modern context bares more sinister undertones. Today, virtual reality is being utilized on a more massive scale than ever before. Videos of VR chat streams with Ugandan knuckles are all over Youtube. Horror Games utilizing the Occulus Rift are all the rage. We even have VR pornography now. While VR might sound exciting as technology advances, consider this. VR technology is based primarily on the idea of immersion. Most VR games are simulations and in VR chat you can choose an avatar and become whoever or you want to be. But what if technology advanced to the point where your simulated reality was created by your thoughts? Furthermore, what if the technology became so advanced that it could bridge the gap between reality and simulation? This is important because as technology advances, we become less involved with one another. IMVU, Pokemon Go, Second life, VR Chat, all of them prompt us to embrace technology rather than physical interactions. If there is one thing this film can teach us, it's that talking to people and being genuine shouldn't be taken for granted as technological advancements make physical interactions more and more of a rarity.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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