The Last Jedi – Good or Bad?

SPOILERS!

If you want to know what I thought of TLJ without spoilers – and who wouldn’t? – read this. Even if you don’t think you care about spoilers, some of the things that happen in the film are better off seen without prior knowledge.

I have still only seen the film once, so some things aren’t as strong in my memory as they could be and I may have forgotten things entirely. That said, the more time passes, the more small and big issues I think of. So, as usual, this isn’t really a review – because I don’t know how to do those – it’s just a mess of thoughts thrown at the screen.

TLJ

Humour

The humour is made apparent from the very first scene. The conversation between Poe and Hux is simultaneously very funny and concerning. Poe’s side of this conversation is fine – it makes sense to his character and helps us to continue liking him right away, just like the ‘Who talks first’ bit in TFA. Hux’s side, however, is too slapstick stupid. You can imagine he’ll next throw his hat on the ground and jump up and down on it while shaking his fist at Poe’s retreating X-Wing. It doesn’t fit the character – set up to be genocidal and almost Hitler-like – the dangerous and soon-to-be tragic situation, or Star Wars as a whole.

Porg

This humour continues to go too far. Chewbacca about to bite into the roasted porg when he spots a group of porgs watching him, their little faces horrified. Very funny. The close-up of the last porg with its lip quivering, stupid. Funny again, but something that should be in Shrek, not Star Wars. And what was that with Snoke redirecting Rey’s lightsaber (yes, I consider it hers now, not Luke’s) and hitting her in the back of the head with it? Was that meant to be funny? It didn’t hit her hard enough for it to be serious, surely? If it is meant to be funny, it’s totally out of place and wrecks the tension and drama of the scene.

It’s like the filmmakers watched Guardians of the Galaxy and thought ‘we should do that’. No, you shouldn’t. That’s not to say there weren’t times when the humour worked. The caretakers and their dislike of Rey worked well. And…other stuff…probably.

Luke Skywalker and Rey

Mark-Hamill-as-Luke-and-Daisy-Ridley-as-Rey-in-Star-Wars-The-Last-Jedi

These two worked well together, but when you look past the humour of Luke throwing the lightsaber away, the caretakers, the porgs, etc., the scenes on the island were actually fairly pointless. Luke didn’t teach her a damn thing. He just felt sorry for himself the whole time and then she left. He didn’t teach her to use the Force, he didn’t teach her to use the lightsaber (it’s fine that she could already use it well enough to surprise-defeat a wounded and distracted Kylo Ren in TFA, but now she needs to know how to wield it properly, like a Jedi – luckily she…just does), he didn’t teach her any Jedi principles.

Just as she randomly knows to use a Jedi mind trick on James Bond in TFA and how to pull the lightsaber to her, in TLJ she uses the Force without any training. All Luke teaches her is to reach out with her feelings, and then suddenly she can lift a dozen giant boulders with no problem. Even Luke struggled to lift the X-Wing in the swamp, and he had the most powerful Jedi Grand Master teaching him. I was looking forward to Rey lifting his X-Wing out of the ocean, too.

Rey

This part of the film needed so much more time. As I predicted, the film starts with Luke being the last Jedi, and ends with Rey being the last Jedi. The problem is, she in no way earned that title. How can she be a Jedi when Luke didn’t teach her to be a Jedi. She’s just a Force-wielder. There is apparently a whole training sequence cut from the film, but given that his first two ‘lessons’ didn’t really teach her all that much, who knows how much good the third would have been?

As for Luke’s final redemption, in a sense, it felt very much as though the only reason he was projecting himself there rather than being there in person was to surprise the audience. Okay, his X-Wing might be wrecked now after being underwater for so long, so maybe he doesn’t have a way off the island, but really it felt like it was just there to be unexpected. When they opened fire on him and he survived, I thought we were witnessing the power that a true Master can wield – despite the fact that technically, he never moved beyond being a Padawan and has been cut off from the Force for a long time. When Kylo’s foot scrapes the ground and reveals the red sand but Luke’s doesn’t, I thought it was just a nice visual thing because Kylo is a damaging, heavy-handed dark sider, while Luke is a harmonious blah blah blah…it wasn’t that at all.

The other problem is why the hell did he just randomly die afterwards? Kylo says that Rey can’t be linking the two of them because the effort would kill her, so I assume that is foreshadowing and letting us know in advance that the effort of projecting himself like that is not something that even Luke Skywalker can survive, but it just felt out of nowhere. I genuinely didn’t expect him to suddenly disappear like that. I thought that was his part done for TLJ and he’d go out with Leia in the next film.

Leia

Leia

Leia’s role in this was fairly small, as she spends half the film in a coma. She’s too accepting of everything. She no longer seems bothered by Han’s death, she gives up on their allies answering their call for help too easily, she admits that her son is gone too casually, and appears to have no problem with Luke dying. Perhaps we’re meant to think it’s because of all of the trauma she’s gone through since the originals, starting with Alderaan, and with each death – many of them the deaths of the people under her command – she has grown more emotionless, but it doesn’t come across well.

Then she dies. Except she doesn’t! In a throwaway scene that’s never mentioned again, she uses the Force to survive the explosion, the decompression, and the exposure, and Mary Poppinses her way back onto the ship. It’s quite good, and is more Force use than I expected to see from her (I expected some, but more in line with sensing Luke and Kylo than this), but it needed something more. No one even mentions it. All it needed was for someone watching to say ‘Well, I guess she IS the sister of a Jedi Master…’ and that would have been enough. I honestly think some newcomers and people who aren’t that into Star Wars won’t even understand what happened. This would, of course have led to the question of why didn’t she train as a Jedi, but all that would have taken was for her to respond with ‘Because my father was Darth Vader’, and everyone would have understood.

Finn, Rose, and Poe

Finn+Rose+Poe

This was a mess. Poe’s part in the film was perhaps the strongest of the three, but they really felt as though they were only there because they had to be. The film desperately wanted to be about Rey, Luke, and Kylo, but knew that these other characters had been introduced in the last film, and still had to be utilised somehow. The result is a completely pointless storyline where Finn and Rose go to a casino to find a hacker that will board the First Order flagship and stop them being able to track the Resistance through hyperspace.

And it is literally pointless. They find a hacker, go back, don’t manage to do the hacking, and the Resistance is nearly wiped out. Almost exactly what would have happened if they had never left. The only difference is that Benicio del Toro betrays them and tells the First Order how to detect all the little ships taking the Resistance down to the planet. This is not something that was worth all of that screen time. So much of that time could have been given to Luke and Rey so that there could have been some actual training going on.

The Rose/Finn romance is completely out of the blue and stupid. And now Rey is going to be jealous of her. Which I hate, because I’m sick of the idea that a male character and female character must automatically have some kind of romantic interest in each other. Why can’t Rey and Finn just be damn good friends, like Luke and Han? Oh, because their genders aren’t compatible in that way? Okay, sure.

Poe meanwhile has a hostile relationship with an admiral who takes Leia’s place. I think we’re meant to suspect that she’s working for the First Order, because they make a big deal out of Snoke laughing approvingly of how Hux is able to keep up with them as they try to flee, when it’s actually nothing special at all. They can just…track them. That’s all. So she refuses to tell Poe her plans, he mutinies, finds that she was actually in the right, then she dies heroically.

First, all of that could have been easily avoided by her not being a moron and actually letting Poe in on the plan – it’s only because that would have been inconvenient to the ‘story’ that she didn’t. Second, they killed of Admiral Ackbar in the blink of an eye – I didn’t even realise he had been one of the ones killed until it was mentioned – instead of giving him the heroic ending, which would have been more fitting. Third, that scene was one of the best in the film. It was visually stunning. The use of silence for it was perfect. I wouldn’t argue with anyone using the word ‘spectacular’.

Snoke

Snoke

Snoke is dead. This did not come as a shock to me at all. I think it was meant to be the biggest twist in the film, but really it was the only thing they could have done to keep it feeling fresh and not just working off the original trilogy template. I don’t have a problem with it; however, I do have a problem with the fact that Snoke seems to have been built up only so that we’d be surprised when he’s killed.

We don’t know anything about him. Background doesn’t really matter for someone like Rey or Poe or Rose, because what they are currently doing is more important, but we’re talking about a powerful dark side Force-user who seems to have been unknown by both the Jedi and Sidious. If he was a Jedi back then, why didn’t he get wiped out by Order 66? Is that why he has the facial damage? It’s unlikely, because he’s supposedly ancient (which only makes it more absurd that he’s now just suddenly dead). If he was a Sith or other dark sider all along, why didn’t Sidious know about him? Why didn’t he try to kill him – there should be only two, after all. Where the hell has he been hiding all this time. WHAT is he? We’ve been told before that he’s not Sith.

He’s dead now and we’ll either never know, or only know now that it doesn’t matter. I suspect a book will appear that will explain it, which is not okay at all. Don’t leave giant plot holes and missing information and the like because you know a completely different medium will take care of it. Most of us aren’t going to bother with any tie-in novels.

Rey and Kylo

Rey+Kylo

Again, it felt like the film desperately wanted to concentrate on this stuff and ignore the Resistance. Rey and Kylo are done well individually and together. I was very pleased that Kylo stays bad and Rey stays good. Those were two of my biggest concerns going in. I also like that there was something there for those who wanted to see Kylo redemption. He wasn’t evil; he just wasn’t light side. He helps Rey arguably more than Luke does. You could say that it was manipulation to get her to come to him and Snoke so that he could kill Snoke, but I don’t think it was wholly that. It seemed a little more genuine – especially since Kylo invited her to rule with him.

I don’t think it would have suited either character to change sides, but it worked to have them connect with each other and actually begin to care a little about each other. There was no ‘Reylo’ rubbish, which also pleased me. They had a connection, and everything worked on that, but it wasn’t – or at least didn’t seem to be – a romantic thing. Which it shouldn’t have been. She hates him for murdering her surrogate father, Han, but is good enough to look past that and know that there is still some good in him, and try to bring him back to the light.

Drama

There isn’t much. The most obvious omission is any kind of dark side temptation for Rey. She senses the dark side, and Luke says that both sides are strong on the island. Then when she goes looking at the dark side pit, he claims that she went straight for it and so he won’t teach her. Well, that means nothing. She doesn’t understand about the light side and dark side – there’s no reason she wouldn’t go and have a look. No reason she would know to resist. It doesn’t mean her eyes will instantly turn yellow and her lightsaber will magically turn red.

Luke Vader

When she physically goes into the pit, there’s nothing. Some mirror thing that seems utterly pointless. There’s nothing she has to face like Luke had to face Luke Vader in the cave. Nothing meaningful down there to teach her about the Force or herself.

The only drama, I think, comes from Luke vs Kylo. Except eagle-eyed fans, we didn’t know what was going to happen there. Luke couldn’t have won, but it didn’t feel like the time to kill him either. Those eagle-eyed fans would have spotted that he was holding the lightsaber that had just been destroyed, he looked younger because of more than just a hair cut and beard trim, his feet didn’t disturb the ground, and he’d already said to Rey something along the lines of “What do you expect me to do, walk out with a laser sword and face down the First Order?”. Everything else just tried to shock and surprise, and mostly failed.

Luke almost killing Kylo is a point of contention, I think. A lot of people don’t like that. But to me, it was a knee-jerk reaction to suddenly sensing Snoke’s dark side influence. Almost like he would have grabbed and ignited his lightsaber if he’d spotted Snoke peering in the window. I don’t think it makes Luke bad.

The Force

The Force in TLJ is almost a character in its own right. But only the light side. If it is strong enough to just turn Rey into a Jedi without any input from…an actual Jedi, lightning-strike a tree and destroy it, and so on, shouldn’t the dark side have been stronger too? I like that Rey isn’t at all tempted by the dark, as for me, that suits her character. However, if there’s not going to be that kind of temptation, couldn’t the dark side have whispered to her, tried harder to lure her or trick her down in the pit? Something?

And there’s Yoda. He was good. He was a puppet. That was nice.

The-Last-Jedi-spoiler-review

And this has kind of fizzled out now. It’s too long, so the remaining stuff (before I watch it a second time and come up with more), I will put in a ‘questions I have‘ post.

Overall, I feel like The Last Jedi has far more problems than The Force Awakens did, yet I think I like it more. Rey remains my favourite Star Wars character. What did you think of it? What were your favourite bits, worst bits, biggest questions…?

Also Star Warsy:

The Force is with Leia – But Which Side?
The Force is Awake
My 11 Force Awakens Questions
Dawn of the Jedi
The Galaxy Needs KOTOR III

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The Last Jedi?

The-Last-Jedi-spoiler-review

I’m quite fond of Star Wars. I’ve watched the original trilogy perhaps literally more times than I can count, and I can count well into two digits. I even liked the prequel trilogy when I first saw them all – though subsequent viewings made me realise how foolish I was. The Force Awakens was a return to the kind of Star Wars that I love, but does The Last Jedi keep it up?

Yes.

But wait, there’s more! Without spoilers. Unless you consider ‘You’ll love the twist in The Sixth Sense!’ a spoiler because now you know there’s a twist. I will do a spoilery review thing later.

TLJ worried me for multiple reasons. Mark Hamill is, just possibly, not the BEST actor in the galaxy, and I was concerned about him having such a big role. Rian Johnson is known for doing things with his films that might not do well in Star Wars, and was reported to be doing things that have never been done in Star Wars, and stuff like that. Early reactions stated that this would be a polarizing film; that the saga had been going one way all this time, and now it would take a sharp turn.

I needn’t have worried about any of these things. I don’t honestly know what those people were talking about – I don’t think anything was particularly polarizing or direction-shifting. Neither was I particularly surprised by anything that happens, whether I’d already had a theory about it nor not. But not in a bad way – I didn’t leave disappointed that there was no ‘I am your father’ moments. It didn’t lack fresh takes on things and decisions that will surprise some, though.

Story-wise, I was concerned about what choices would be made with some of the characters. What worried me most was that their endeavors to make a fresh, unpredictable story would take characters down paths I didn’t want to see them go down. I can’t say what I was concerned about, because then saying that I needn’t have worried would perhaps be a spoiler.

 

Mark-Hamill-as-Luke-and-Daisy-Ridley-as-Rey-in-Star-Wars-The-Last-Jedi

All-in-all, there were a handful of small things I didn’t like much, and one big thing I didn’t like. But overall, it was an improvement over Force Awakens, it was very funny – perhaps too often – and I want to see it again. Now.

Before I get to a spoiler-filled post, here are some other Star Wars things I’ve babbled about:

The Force is with Leia – But Which Side?
The Force is Awake
My 11 Force Awakens Questions
Dawn of the Jedi
The Galaxy Needs KOTOR III

 

Jedises? Ben & Rey Skywalker?

The Last Jedi first artwork

The small bits of Star Wars: The Last Jedi artwork that we’ve seen have got people talking again – as though anyone needed an excuse to talk about Star Wars. Who is/are the last Jedi? Who are Rey’s parents? What is the connection between her and Kylo Ren? Why the hell did R2 magically wake up for no reason at all?

The most popular theory seems to be that Rey is Luke Skywalker’s daughter. I’m in two minds about whether I like the idea of the galaxy revolving around the Skywalker family, but if she is to be a Skywalker, I’d rather it was maternal. In the no-longer-canon Expanded Universe, Han and Leia have twins (and a third child, but who cares about him?): Jaina and Jacen Solo.

Jaina and Jacen SoloJacen turns to the dark side, while Jaina remains in the light, so Kylo and Rey taking an approximation of these roles would be a decent nod to this. Plus, Jacen kills Luke’s wife, which would add to the justification of Luke running off to sulk in the films.

The downside to this is that there’s little likelihood that Han wouldn’t know that Rey is his daughter. Sure, they could have been split up like Luke and Leia, but there would have been no reason to do that, or to keep her secret from Han. Plus she was around six-ish when she was dumped on Jakku – though this is probably about the right age to hide her to keep her safe from Kylo and Snoke.

Failing this, I’d quite like her to be Obi-Wan Kenobi’s granddaughter. His relationship with Satine in The Clone Wars is canon, so it’s a vague possibility. The downside to this is it still leaves room for the absurd Rey/Kylo romance people seem so desperate for.

As for The Last Jedi, we seem to have confirmation that it is meant as a plural. It’s possible that the foreign language versions were simply translated as plural but not actually told that it was, so I’m not taking it as a fact. But it seems likely. Even if Luke is the last at the beginning of the film, if he trains Rey to be a Jedi, there would be two of them by the end. But, given that Snoke is supposedly an ancient being, is it plausible that he was at some point a Jedi? Could The Last Jedi refer to Luke and Snoke? (No, I do not in any way count Leia as a contender.)

And who’s to say Rey will become a Jedi anyway? Perhaps the old ideas of Jedi and Sith are over, at least for a time. It would be interesting to see her become a balance of light and dark, rather than the extreme of either. This is a concept used in the Dawn of the Jedi graphic novel, and it would be interesting to explore beyond just the realms of Jedi = light side and Sith = dark side.

What do you think about these questions? Who is Rey? Who is Snoke? And seriously, were they that lazy at writing that R2 has no actual reason for waking up?! Will Benicio Del Toro be Boba Fett’s son?

The Force Is Awake

The Force Awakens

This will be a pretty short ‘review’ anyway,but before I mention any spoilers, I will say that The Force Awakens is very good. It does suffer from some pacing issues, though, so that it feels too rushed and doesn’t contain any of the more relaxed, slow scenes that the originals had. It also contains some things that are a little too easy and convenient – and no they can’t be excused with ‘Oh, it’s the Force manipulating events’.

These two things are really my only problems with the film, which is good. Well, that and the music wasn’t remotely memorable, which is a shame. And a few too many scenes and lines from the trailers found themselves cut from the film itself – a couple of which were very good lines. But otherwise, it was better than the prequel trilogy combined, though that’s not really saying much. The fact that it was entirely predictable and nothing happened that surprised me couldbe taken as a negative, but since I liked pretty much everything that I predicted, it isn’t a bad thing.

I can’t say anything more, really, without it being slightly spoilerish. So, here begineth the spoilers!

SPOILERS!!

So, the timeline is pretty much what we all expected. Ray on Jakku, Finn breaking Poe out, Finn finding Rey, them finding Han, Finn fighting Kylo, etc. But most of the film in general is what I expected. It’s quicker to say what was different.

I thought Finn would die – though I stopped thinking that closer to release – but instead Han died. I thought Rey would be Han and Leia’s daughter but instead Kylo is their son. And that’s pretty much it. Not, as I said, that it’s a bad thing, because I wanted Rey to be the Force sensitive. I wanted the film to be mostly about their search for a missing Luke Skywalker. I wanted him to have disappeared after trying and failing to rebuild the Jedi order.

I’m not really sure what to say about it. It wasn’t quite as good as I had hoped, but it was much better than I’d feared. The issues, as I mentioned were really only the rushed pacing and the convenience of some things.

Maz just happens to have Luke’slightsaber? Oh, that’s a story for another time is it? So you’ve definitely got an actual reason have you? It’s definitely not just a convenient plot point because you couldn’t be bothered coming up with a decent way for the saber to come into their possession. Please don’t try to excuse it with ‘the Force did it’. Had Rey found herself there without Han’s help, then I could buy that, but it was Han who thought that was the place to go. That’s a little far fetched even for the Force, I think.

And Rey just happens to be able to do a Jedi Mind Trick completely out of the blue when she shouldn’t even know that such a thing exists. She doesn’t even know she can use the Force. My guess is that Kylo Ren inadvertently awoke the Force within her when he delved into her mind. Perhaps her getting into his mind too somehow imprinted some knowledge of the Force on her, but I don’t know. It seems far too convenient.

R2D2 just happens to wake up in time to show them where to find Luke? Okay, that one is more interesting. It happens to coincide with Rey arriving at the Resistance base. Perhaps Luke knows about her and has him waiting. But there are things wrong with that theory. First, Rey is about 6 when she’s left on Jakku. Unless Luke is the one who dumped her there, how would he know about her and have R2 waiting for 20 years before waking up for her? Second, Rey isn’t there in front of R2, so how would he even detect her presence? Is he Force sensitive too?

Kylo Ren lightsaber

I really wanted Rey to be the Force sensitive one, though I’m not sure why, so I was glad when she started to hear the whispers and cries and I recognised it as the Force speaking to her. I liked Finn more than I’d expected, but I couldn’t imagine him become a Jedi.

I can’t help but feel that Chewbacca should have gone on a rampage after seeing his friend killed, rather than getting a bit upset and then kind of never being seen for any proper length of time again. I think Han should have fallen onto the bridge, not off it, and then Chewie should have fought his way through Stormtroopers to get to his body. However, it was a bit of a sad death. It should have been more sad than ‘a bit’, though, and I didn’t really feel it until the Leia/Rey hug (how did Rey even know that was Leia?), and that was thanks to the music. And why did Chewie And Leia – the two people who care most about Han – completely ignore each other? Shouldn’t it be them hugging?

I don’t know what else to say – I need to see it again. At the moment, in my mind, it’s mostly just a mess of action sequences cobbled together into a film.

It’s very good, and I want to see it multiple times again, and I very much want to see Episode VIII now.

Last thought: is Snoke a Sith? Or something else? And if he is, could he even be the apprentice? What if he has taken Kylo as his own apprentice in preparation of confronting his own master? …Probably not.

Knights of the Old Republic III

More dead than ever?

Knights of the Old Republic

So it seems as though Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 3 is more dead than ever. You may have gathered that from the subheading. A while ago, I wrote a blog for Uproar Comics about why the galaxy needs KOTOR 3, so if you’ve read that you’ll know that this news does not please me one bit.

In a move that shows just how clueless and out of touch BioWare has become, the developer has announced the newest expansion for their underwhelming MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game, duh!), The Old Republic. And it’s pretty much the death knell for KOTOR 3.

SPOILERS for both KOTOR 1 and 2 ahead!

As anyone who has played the first two games will know that the Knights of the Old Republic series follows the Dark Lord Revan. The first game deals with the aftermath of Revan’s rule over the Empire, now in the hands of his second, Darth Malak. Over the course of the game, it is revealed that your player character is, in fact, Revan. He was not defeated by the Jedi, as is the official story, but rather he was so damaged in Malak’s traitorous attack on him that the Jedi were able to create his identity anew.

The player of course chooses whether the Jedi formerly known as Revan will continue to be a Jedi or return to his dark-side ways. No matter the choice made, KOTOR II: The Sith Lords kicks off sometime after Revan has left the galaxy. Although you don’t play as, or even encounter him in KOTOR II, your player character – the Exile – kind of lives in his shadow.

The Exile fought alongside Revan, and we soon learn that the elderly Jedi Master who takes him under her wing taught Revan. She led him down the path of the Dark Side, until he betrayed her. She is, basically, trying to recreate Revan in the Exile.

KOTOR 2 Art

But that’s beside the point. The story of Revan in KOTOR II is that he left the galaxy, sensing something far worse than the Empire out there in dark space. We are led to believe (or perhaps outright told, I forget) that what he senses is the real Sith; the Sith species, not the pretenders in the Empire who call themselves Sith.

So back to the TOR expansion, and the premise is that Revan has returned to the galaxy far, far away. And he arrives at the head of an apocalyptic cult bent on the destruction of both the Republic and the Empire, the Jedi and the Sith.

That could certainly be the true Sith. But no matter what it is, the fact is that if they are continuing/finishing Revan’s story in this not-too-popular MMO, what chance is there of Knights of the Old Republic 3? Very little, it saddens me to think.

It doesn’t make sense to me. First off, wouldn’t now-ish be the perfect time to bring out the game? Star Wars Episode VII is coming out next year, after all. And what better Star Wars game to make than KOTOR 3 – the game that the vast majority of RPG/BioWare fans have wanted since KOTOR II came out in 2005.

On top of that, it seems as though BioWare are working on a Star Wars title. I’m not entirely sure of this, but BioWare’s Wikipedia page lists such a title as in development, and the source they use is a blog post on EA’s website, which does seem to say that. It could be a case of bad wording, but it seems like they’re making a Star Wars game. So, what the hell could they be working on that they think it’s more worthy than a sequel to one of the most popular series ever? That might be an exaggeration.

Yes, I know I wasn’t consistent with my numerals! I don’t care!

For more on BioWare, and their fall from grace, I wrote about that for Uproar too!

The Old Republic

Force War

(Part 1 / Part 2)

Force War is the third and final part of Dawn of the Jedi. It takes place a year after Prisoner of Bogan. The Rakata have attacked. They have cut a bloody swathe through the system’s planets, and even attacked Tython itself. The allied forces – the Je’daii and all remaining non-Force sensitives have joined forces against this common enemy – have blunted the Rakatan attack on Tython, and the bloodthirsty dark siders have fallen back. Daegen Lok has been asked by the Je’daii to lead their forces, and Xesh now fights alongside them.

Flesh Raiders

The Rakatan ground forces are mutated lower caste Rakata, Flesh Raiders, little more than beasts. They do not wield the Force, but they do fight with forcepikes (basically forcesabers, but with more hilt). They are strong and incredibly bloodthirsty. They are joined by a number of Force Hounds. Shae Koda’s presence and bond with Xesh is the only thing keeping him from being overwhelmed by the dark side. He has begun to learn the balance of the Force, but knows that only the dark side will serve him in battle.

After a tough battle, we see that tension is running high. It’s not only the strain of war, but the forcesabers. The weapons require the dark side to operate, and the Je’daii are finding it increasingly difficult to keep balance within themselves while wielding one. We also see that something more is developing between Xesh and Shae, which isn’t exactly surprising. Xesh seems willing to allow these feelings, while Shae is more reluctant, leaving with a weak excuse when things are getting too intimate.

It seems the Rakata are losing their connection to the Force. They have been commanding slaves more than they have been commanding the Force, and it is slowly leaving them. This is why Tython is so important to them. Not only will the planet restore their connection to Force, but it is also the location of the galaxy’s last remaining infinity gate (those Kwa Stargate things from part 2). This gate was the main one, and requires no connecting gate in order for the Rakata to travel wherever they want in the galaxy. As powerful as they are now, they will be unstoppable if they take Tython.

Tau

Remember the final revelation of Prisoner of Bogan? That Xesh has had memory blocks put in place by the Predor? He is beginning to have dreams about this. The blocks are perhaps beginning to fail. Drawn by the distress she feels through the Force, Shae wakes Xesh from his nightmares. Knowing that they could both die, she decides there no reason not to keep her ‘secret’ any longer: she’s in love with him. But Xesh doesn’t know what love is. The best he can do is tell her that she’s about the only person he doesn’t hate, and that she calms his anger. What a romantic. He also tells her that his name is not Xesh. He gave himself a name from the only word he remembers of his native language: Tau. Shae is now the only person to know it. Which is nice.

Now comes a bit that kind of confused me. Tasha Ryo, one of the three journeyers who were, I thought, meant to be main characters, took a backseat after part one. She is now a Seer, a Je’daii who basically sleeps all day to get visions. These visions are not clear and must be deciphered, much like normal dreams, I suppose. The reason I was kind of confused was that for some reason, I thought this was Tasha’s mother the whole time. So even though they keep calling her Tasha, I kept thinking “I wonder where Tasha is”. So, I’m an idiot. Anyway, Tasha sees a vision that leads Xesh to locate, through his old Force Hound astral travelling tricks, the location of the high Predor. They attack this planet.

Unfortunately, Trill is still about, and still a spy for the Predor. She tells him that the Je’daii are coming, and he has an ambush waiting for them. Sek’nos Rath is taken down in the battle, and taken prisoner. He becomes one of the many Force sensitives powering the Predor’s ship. Xesh, his memory block still keeping him from recognising Trill, is tricked into entering the ship, and she knocks him unconscious.

Shae feels that Xesh has been lost to the darkness, and resolves to save him, despite her master’s scolding at the emotional bond they now have. Said master also tells her that he must take command of the Je’daii troops, as Lok has disappeared.

Je'daii Master

This is where my complaint at the start of part two comes in. Predor Skal’nas is removing the memory blocks from Xesh’s mind, and we see that he ordered Xesh to kill his own master and sabotage the ship over Thython, so that Skal’nas would be the one to take the planet. However, if you recall the beginning of Prisoner of Bogan, Skal’nas is angry that Xesh and his master have not contacted him. This doesn’t make sense, leading me to believe that this was a twist the writer came up with quite late on, perhaps even after part two had been printed.

With the memory blocks gone, Xesh remembers some of the more terrible things he has done, and how he actually quite enjoyed it. It is easy for Skal’nas to bring Xesh back under his command. He is a Force Hound once more. Not only that, but he quite happily tortures Daegen Lok who, we find, has been taken prisoner. Xesh uses Lok’s own mind twist against him. Lok’s madness is sanity and truth to Skal’nas: he has found the infinity gate. Remember that chasm under the Anil Kesh temple, that drives people mad if they try to descend? That is where the infinity gate is located.

Next, Skal’nas uses Xesh and Trill to draw the power he needs to find all the Je’daii Seers through the Force, and blind them. The Je’daii’s only advantage is taken away, and the Seers are blinded both physically, and to the Force. The Je’daii are forced to retreat.

Now all they can do is wait on Tython for the Rakatan assault. The only up side is that, because Skal’nas wants the infinity gate, they cannot bombard the planet from space. Skal’nas launches the attack, but takes Lok and Xesh in a shuttle craft to the Anil Kesh chasm undetected. Almost undetected. Shae’s bond means that she senses them break through the atmosphere, and goes after them.

Sek'nos Rath

Meanwhile, Sek’nos Rath isn’t about to become a minor character. He gathers all of his pain, rage and hate and unleashes it, freeing himself and all the other Force sensitive slaves powering the ship. They kill their guards and join the fight. But Sek’nos is more interested in taking revenge on Xesh.

While the battle rages, the blinded Tasha Ryo once again activates the ancient holocron, hoping for guidance. It seems not all is lost. The Rakata arriving on Tython fulfills the true purpose of the holocron. “It is time,” A’nang says, “for Tython to awaken.”

Down in the chasm, Predor Skal’nas reveals that he knows how to reach the bottom without being driven mad by the infinite gate’s defenses. It is a simple symbol that he and Xesh must hold in their minds: the symbol of the Tho Yor that brought the Je’daii to Tython all those years ago. They leave Lok chained up and descend. It isn’t long before Sek’nos and Shae arrive. She and Lok follow their quarry. And so begins the final issue.

Sek’nos, left behind and thinking there is no way Shae and Lok could survive the chasm, is confronted by Trill. He hates her almost as much as Xesh now, and in an impressive but very short battle, he defeats her. His rage nearly overpowers him, but at the last moment, he spares her. The last we see of either of them is Sek’nos walking away, carrying the unconscious Trill.

Below, Lok is in battle with Predor Skal’nas, while Shae fights Xesh. She will not kill him, but he doesn’t seem to be interested in anything she has to say. They fight is interrupted when Lok tries his mind twist on Skal’nas. The pure evil in the Predor’s mind is too much for Lok, and Skal’nas strikes him down, and activates the infinity gate.

Above, at the core of Anil Kesh, Tasha has been guided by the holocron. A’nang tells her that it is time to awaken the Tho Yor. But he needs a Je’daii seer. Blinded is not severed; she can be reunited with the Force, but it will cost her ‘mortal shell’. This is quite a sad scene, but I can’t entirely put my finger on why. Tasha hasn’t been a prominent character to get attached to, yet she is likable. Perhaps it’s because she’s so young, or already been through a lot, or…who knows. But it’s a good, sad scene. This is on reflection, of course, as the first time round I didn’t realise it was Tasha. Again: idiot.

Said scene shares alternate pages with the battle below. Shae, in one speech bubble explains to Xesh/Tau what most of the world doesn’t understand: what love is. It seems enough to bring him back to the light. But if he needed any more encouragement, it comes in the form of Skal’nas striking Shae down with Force lightning. Xesh attacks in rage.

Tasha Ryo

Above, Tasha’s final moments are filled with selflessness. To protect the remaining worlds from the Rakata, she falls into the stream of energy flowing through the centre of Anil Kesh. In her last moments of life, her sight is restored, as is her connection to the Force. She finally understands the purpose of the Tho Yor.

And so do we. All nine of the Tho Yor awaken with a bright yellow energy. With immense power, they strike out and destroy each and every Rakatan ship. And the infinity gate below.

Skal’nas’s rage at this doesn’t help him. Xesh still slices him open and he falls into the weird…flesh-eating water.

Apparently, Lok is still alive, as is Shae’s trusty flying rancor, who swoops in to save them as the place falls apart…naturally. It wouldn’t be a climactic finish if the walls weren’t crumbling around their escape.

The penultimate scene shows Lok refusing to hand over his forcesaber. All the other Je’daii have done so, because of the way the weapon skews the balance of the Force. But it has served Lok too well to give it up. Nor will he submit to being sent back to Bogan, apparently. Instead, he sets out to hunt down the Flesh Raiders who escaped into the wilds after the battle.

Xesh – or rather, Tau – and Shae are heading through a forest. Even after everything, the Je’daii masters have put their trust in Tau, and in the Force, and allowed him to remain on Tython. The two are setting off to explore the planet, and the balance of the Force itself. With a kiss, they walk off into the…moonset.

Force War was, unsurprisingly, packed full of little but action. I enjoyed it, and I certainly liked the idea of the forcesabers corrupting the Je’daii. In the end, even the most powerful masters were beginning to feel themselves tipping more towards the dark side. Even enjoying the killing. That issue with Skal’nas and the memory block remains the only real issue I had. Although, Xesh going back and forth between good and bad got a little bit annoying. He’s evil; he’s ok; he’s bad; he’s good; he’s evil; he’s good again.

I was disappointed to see Lok was still alive. I’d hoped that Skal’nas had killed him, but sadly not. As far as I’m concerned, he’s still a villain. Not the main villain of this story, but he was driven mad in the chasm, even if his vision was true. He wants nothing but power, and the forcesaber will probably only make things worse. If they are working on another graphic novel, dealing with this, then that’s okay. Otherwise, I would have preferred that he die.

Hawk Ryo

I was a little disappointed that Hawk Ryo was barely in this one, as he was probably my favourite character. He was a bit like a tougher, more gritty Han solo, but with Force powers. The little tin star denoting his rank as Ranger helps make his look pretty good too.

The story between Xesh and Trill was left unresolved, which was a bit of a shame. Xesh’s actions caused her to become the hate-filled dark sider that she is, and she is taken prisoner by the Je’daii for it, while Xesh goes free with his new love. I would have been perfectly okay with Trill turning out to be the hero at the end, turning to the light side and stopping Skal’nas, while Xesh just…died. Although he was a good enough character, I never really gave much of a damn about him, whereas I felt sorry for poor Trill.

Lastly, I would ideally have liked to have the typical hero gathering to end things. All of the surviving main characters gathered together in one scene to have some kind of closure for all of them. But never mind.

So, overall, this was the second very good graphic novel that I’ve read, and has made me want to find more, particularly with the same artist. Although in places the art wasn’t what it could be, there are some very good images, and you can feel the tension and the heat of battle, and hear the forcesabers and the music.

I’d probably give Dawn of the Jedi a 7 or 8/10 So in short, I highly recommend this for anyone, whether you normally read graphic novels or not. Remember: I don’t.

Part 1

Part 2

Prisoner of Bogan

The hunt begins!

(Part 1 / Part 3)

This has turned out to be longer and more detailed than the last one, since I remember it better. I’m not quite sure what it is. It’s not a review, but it’s…something.

Prisoner of Bogan

Part two of Dawn of the Jedi – Prisoner of Bogan – begins with Predor Skal’nas using the Force to violently throw Trill about. If you’ve forgotten, Skal’nas is the main (‘High’, perhaps, I don’t remember) Predor of the Rakatan Infinite Empire. Trill is his Force Hound – a slave strong in the Force, and trained to hunt down Force sensitive planets.

Skal’nas is angry that he has lost contact with his subordinate, whom he sent to find Tython (home of the Je’daii, if your memory’s that bad). He’s taking it out on Trill partly because he’s evil and that’s what evil characters do, and partly because she failed to locate Tython, but his subordinate’s Force Hound, Xesh, succeeded.

Now, this confuses me. I didn’t think about it the first time round, but now I’m glancing through the pages again to ensure I’m not lying to you, this makes no sense to me. A revelation in the final part of the graphic novel makes me wonder if the writers were making it up as they went. Which is fine, of course, as long as you don’t leave inconsistencies. But I’ll say more about that in the last part of the review.

Trill assures her master that, while she may not be able to locate Tython, she can track down Xesh. Apparently, she has a ‘brood link’ with him. She and Xesh had already had a minor altercation in the first part of the graphic novel, showing that they have some issues with each other, and this mention of a brood link tells us there must be more than we had perhaps assumed.

Xesh is coming to the end of his second month of exile on Tython’s dark moon, Bogan. He believes that the Je’daii exiled him here not to find balance, but because they fear his power. There seems to be some hope, though, as he remembers Shae Koda. He remembers the light side emanating from her. He doesn’t know it, but she has kindled the embers of the light side within him. But for the moment, he sees these feelings only as a weakness.

While deep in thought, Xesh is attacked by Daegen Lok, Bogan’s only other prisoner/exile. Lok uses a ‘mind twist’ on Xesh, to make him think he’s suffocating. This is an irritating little version of the Jedi mind trick, and Lok uses it fairly often. It got on my nerves a bit, for some reason. Perhaps because I’d like to think the Je’daii he uses it on wouldn’t be so easily tricked. Xesh gains the upper hand regardless, but Lok’s words make Xesh realise that he, too, saw a vision of Xesh before he crash landed. I’m not entirely sure why, but this makes Xesh let Lok go.

Daegen Lok attacks

Lok takes his new friend to a cave. Here, he tells Xesh about the vision he had when he descended the chasm under Anil Kesh. Lok wasn’t alone. He was accompanied by his friend, Hawk Ryo, who denied seeing the same vision as Lok. The vision that caused the Je’daii to declare him crazy and exile him to Bogan. Yes, the Je’daii are kind of dicks in this graphic novel. Apparently Xesh and his forcesaber were part of this vision, and Lok wants Xesh to help him create more forcesabers with which he can prove to the Je’daii that his vision was true. Next, he takes Xesh to a crashed fighter, downed during the war Lok himself ended. Xesh uses his power to recharge the ship’s energy cells and they depart for a planet rich with the kind of crystals Xesh needs for a forcesaber.

Elsewhere, the Je’daii forge master tests the forcesaber, finding it to be stronger than anything he has, and seemingly indestructible. He also can’t activate it. Neither can Shae Koda, the only person other than Xesh to have done so. They determine that it is the dark side of the force that powers the forcesaber, hence why she used it while angry, but not now. Hawk Ryo appears from nowhere and in a pretty good, if slightly ominous scene, activates the forcesaber with no trouble. Impressed, the forge master asks him to keep the weapon, and report back on his findings.

Trill

Trill is searching for Xesh. She remembers their childhood. Even as children, the slaves of the Rakata were brutal to each other. She used her untrained Force powers to put down the leader of their little pack when he challenged Xesh. From there, they swore blood oaths to each other, vowing to always protect each other. But the brutality of the Rakata would not allow these oaths to be kept. For the Rakata’s pleasure, they would later pit the two against one another in a fight to the death. Xesh defeated her, but persuaded his Predor that she should be a gift to the high Predor, as she would make a decent Force Hound. To Trill, denying her a ‘good death’ is an even worse betrayal, but it seemed to me as though this was the only way Xesh knew of protecting her. This was actually a pretty sad scene, and made me feel sorry for Trill. The art and the writing here makes her devastation, rage and hate come alive. She locates Xesh, and sets a course.

Tasha Ryo is shown, by one of the masters, an ancient holocron. The master has been unable to activate it, but believes that she might. He is correct. With only a touch, she activates the holocron, and an alien by the name A’Nang of the Kwa speaks to them. He explains that they were brought to Tython in the same way that the Je’daii were. They spent their time spreading ‘civilisation’ and technology to other planets. They show him a skull, taken from the wreckage of the Rakatan ship. It is the only species they have been unable to identify. The holocron scans it. ‘Rakata!’ he declares, ominously, and the holocron swiches off.

Sek'nos Rath Falls

Meanwhile, the escape of Lok and Xesh has been discovered, and the other two journeyers are dispatched along with two masters and two rangers – including Hawk Ryo – to track them down. They find the two on the crystal-rich planet and attack. Lok uses his mind twist again to convince one of the masters that she is on fire. In saving her life, Sek’nos Rath plummets to his apparent death. But die, he does not. Instead, he is recovered by Trill. She hides her Force sensitivity from him and pretends to be a simple thief who saved his life. This is how she will get close to Xesh and the Je’daii.

While the master, her body manifesting the burns her mind is convinced she has suffered, is rushed to a medical facility, Xesh creates a new forcesaber for Lok. But it seems the saber alone won’t be enough to convince the Je’daii he was right. He needs an army, and he knows just where to find one.

The remnants of the upper hierarchy of the Je’daii’s enemy during the war aren’t pleased to see the man who killed their leader and put down their rebellion. With a little persuasion from the forcesabers, they are partway convinced to follow him, when they are rudely interrupted by Hawk Ryo. Shae Koda has used the connection all the journeyers inexplicably have with Xesh to track him.

Hawk chases Lok down and fights him, forcesaber on forcesaber. The two old friends exchange some meaningful dialogue about Hawk seeing the same vision Lok did, but denying it to save himself from Bogan. This betrayal hurts Lok still. Lok steps backwards off the high ledge and plummets. But Hawk realises that it was all a mind trick, distracting him while the real Lok escaped.

At the same time, Shae is chasing down Xesh. She takes him down and rages at him about his betrayal. She still believes that he has killed Sek’nos. Again the fight is short, but shown with some impressive panels. This time, Shae has two swords to try to counter the forcesaber’s power.

As Xesh begins to fight back again, a giant…squid thing breaks through the ground and grabs Shae. It pulls her down into a watery cavern below. Ignoring his instincts to leave her to die, Xesh dives into the cavern after them. His rage fuels the Force, and he stops the creature’s multiple hearts. Shae has been held under the water too long, and has passed out. Xesh breathes life back into her, and takes her prisoner.

Back at one of the Je’daii temples, the holocron is activated again, and the A’Nang returns from it to tell them about the Rakata. He is shamed to admit that it was they, the Kwa, who enleashed the Rakata on the galaxy. Misjudging the Rakatan’s nature, they gave them advanced technology, including ‘infinity gates’ (the Stars Wars version of Stargates). The Rakata focused on the dark side of the Force, and used it and their new technology to devastate and enslave planet after planet. The Kwa managed to destroy the infinity gates, slowing the Rakata a little, but were still defeated by them. A’Nang’s last helpful tip is that if the Rakata are coming to Tython, then the Je’daii are doomed.

The masters conclude that Lok’s vision is coming true.

Daegen Lok's Forcesaber

Back on Hawk’s homeworld (the Twi’lek world of Shikaakwa), Ryo and another ranger meet up with Sek’nos Rath and Trill. She is still successfully hiding her true nature from them all. The Je’daii attack Lok and Xesh as they try to assume command of the planet’s leading clan – the Ryo clan, that of Hawk’s brother. Sek’nos goes after Xesh and Shae, who has been rendered docile by another of Lok’s mind twists. They fight, but Xesh defeats Sek’nos. Trill appears as Xesh escapes, but we’re surprised to find that he doesn’t recognise her. She is glad to see this. Clearly there is more going on than we realise.

The beginning of this part’s climax is Hawk confronting Lok just in time to save his fellow ranger. Lok uses his mind twist to force the vision they shared into Hawk’s mind. Hawk is the first one strong enough to force him back out, and throw him hard against a wall.

Xesh intervenes in time to save Lok. While Hawk is distracted by Xesh, Lok cuts off his leg, which I wasn’t expecting. A bit unpleasant. This act jerks Shae back into reality, and she joins the fight. Xesh half-heartedly fights her while she tells him he has to choose between freedom and slavery, light and dark. Lok makes the mistake of calling himself Xesh’s master. Xesh turns on him and knocks him down. Lok tries to use his mind twist on Xesh, but the Force Hound’s mind is not somewhere he wants to go, and it defeats Lok.

Shae talks Xesh out of killing Lok, is reunited with her friend Sek’nos Rath, who she still thought was dead, and they all live happily ever after. Well, they don’t.

Hawk admits to the masters that he shared Lok’s vision. With one difference. It wasn’t Daegen Lok he saw leading the Je’daii. It was Xesh.

Prisoner of Bogan ends in dramatic fashion with Trill reporting back to her Predor, who gives the order to prepare the fleet. The last, full-page panel shows a rather imposing fleet of ships heading for war. Not only that, but it leaves us with one last reveal: Xesh didn’t remember Trill because the high Predor has places blocks on his memory, in order to use him as a spy.

Rakata

This was a much more complicated, action-packed, story-packed part of the Dawn of the Jedi graphic novel, and was probably my favourite of the three. The battles between the Je’daii and Xesh/Lok looked very good, for the most part, and you could almost hear the music and the humming of the forcesabers. As with the first part, I think there was only one thing I didn’t like about this part, and that was the start, where Predor Skal’nas was annoyed that he hadn’t been contacted by Xesh’s master, but you’ll see why in the final post tomorrow. Although, I also didn’t really like how easily Lok and Xesh defeated the Je’daii over and over. Yes, Lok was a general in the war, a hero and pretty powerful, but still…some of them were masters!

Part 3 – Force War

Back to part 1 – Force Storm