5 Reasons Kylo Ren Is a Good Villain

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker opens soon.  The wait is finally over. The Skywalker family will wrap up with this end to the storyline (though not the series).  And audiences will get to take one last adventure with Rey, Leia, Lando, Chewie, Finn, Poe, C-3PO, and R2D2.

It also means another visit from the dark side’s Kylo Ren.  A lot of fans have issues with this newer character.  I, for one, though, am a fan.  So I present to you my defense with this list of reasons why Kylo Ren makes a good villain.  (Note:  This post contains SPOILERS for The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.)

1.  Adam Driver is a talented actor.

The filmmakers didn’t choose an unknown actor to portray Kylo Ren.  They hired one of the best  young character actors working in Hollywood.  He’s worked with everyone from Noah Baumbach to Spike Lee to Martin Scorsese.  You may not agree with all of his acting choices, but he knows what he’s doing.  The man is an Oscar-nominated actor.

2. Kylo is human.

Kylo’s vulnerability makes him an interesting villain.  His emotions and his anger make  him more relatable than an indestructible killing machine like Darth Maul or Boba Fett.  When he tells his father, Han Solo, that he’s torn apart, you can feel it.  Being a young, passionate villain who is still in training also makes Kylo a perfect foil for Rey.

3. Kylo is a tragic figure.

My high school English teacher defined a tragedy as a story about the fall of a good man.  Kylo starts out as one of Luke’s students and ends up killing his own father in cold blood.  It’s like something out of Shakespeare or an ancient Greek drama.  The person Kylo worships, Darth Vader, is also a tragic figure.  Vader was also a young boy who trained to be a Jedi only to turn to the dark side, unable to overcome his own fear and anger.  Kylo’s fall from grace makes him that much more evil and that much more compelling.

4. Kylo isn’t Darth Vader. 

J.J. Abrams could have just given audiences the second coming of Vader, but where would be the fun in that?  The whole point of Kylo is that he’s not Vader, that he idolizes Vader but falls short of becoming him.  Kylo’s lightsaber is a perfect symbol of that.  It’s a jury-rigged device, a home-made contraption that sometimes seems slightly on the fritz.  Like Kylo, it’s unstable and dangerous because of that.  (And, because, you know, it has three blades and stuff.)  Because he’s his own person, Kylo is able to make choices and even mistakes that surprise us.

5. Kylo is conflicted.

The main plot of Force Awakens is about finding Luke Skywalker.  However, the subplot is about the battle for Kylo Ren’s soul.  Despite the evil inside him (he has a whole village slaughtered at the start of the film), Kylo does not completely belong to the dark side.  Leia senses good in him.  Snoke warns him against being seduced by the light side.  Kylo himself feels the pull towards the light, praying to Darth Vader’s mask to show him the power of the dark side.  When Han tries to convince him to abandon the dark side, Kylo genuinely seems to consider it.

Kylo’s relationship with Rey is also complicated.  He doesn’t merely want to destroy her.  During their lightsaber battle at the end of Force Awakens, he tells her she needs a teacher and offers to show her the ways of the Force.  In The Last Jedi, he briefly joins forces with her to kill Snoke.  Then he offers her the chance to rule the universe with him.  A shot in the final trailer for Rise of Skywalker hints that they work together again at some point in the storyline and there might even be some redemption for Kylo like there was for Vader.  Kylo’s internal struggle is more interesting to watch than a bad guy like Jabba whose nature never changes.

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Why The Last Jedi Sucked

star wars the last jedi
Stop screwing around. I want my Star Wars back.

Did you like Star Wars: The Last Jedi? Are you still on the fence? I don’t think anyone would say it doesn’t look pretty. It looks expensive, and on the surface seems like it belongs in the Star Wars galaxy (the one that is long ago and far away).

It’s got a few great set-pieces (Porg Island, Salt Planet, Rey and Ren tag-teaming it).

And it has a whole lot of sound and fury, signifying a whole lot of nothing. (Rey is who? Snoke is who? Why do we spend so much time on the casino planet? Admiral Holdo and hotshot pilot Poe: Mutiny? What? Why? …And, of course, we have the Deconstruction of Luke Skywalker — [shakes head, sadly].)

Here’s a detailed analysis of why The Last Jedi failed. (“You have failed me for the last time, Admiral.”) Take a look and tell me what you think:

An interesting video. However, I still love The Force Awakens, and think The Last Jedi is better than any of the prequels.

(Man, those prequels suck.)

But yeah, you could fly a Corellian Cruiser through the plot holes of TLJ. I blame Rian Johnson. JJ Abrams handed him a good set-up, but Rian blew it, on so so soooo many levels. I can only “hope” (get it, haha?) that the last movie will course correct these failures. Do it, JJ. Give us what we want.

Let’s wrap up this Skywalker Saga. I’ll be waiting right here.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie review

st-tfaGrade: A-

I can safely say that SW:TFA is the 3rd best Star Wars movie in the franchise. And let’s be clear, it would take a miracle for JJ Abrams to create something better than New Hope or Empire Strikes Back.

This is easily the funniest movie in the franchise. Almost, but not every, funny moment revolves around Harrison Ford.

The movie isn’t without its flaws, but those flaws are minor, and of course this is Star Wars, so I’m being overly critical.

A few good things to report: BB-8–the spherical droid–is cute, without being overly cute. JJ is mature enough as a story teller to avoid crap like Jar Jar Binks. All of the fight scenes, whether hand-to-hand, sword-to-sword, or fighter-to-fighter are good, and some are great, but none drag on longer than they need to. There’s never one of those, “OMG, would someone kill someone here so we can move on with the story,” fights.

The acting was spot on. The casting of Daisy Ridley, as Rey, and John Boyega, as Finn, are marvelous. I’m really looking forward to seeing their characters develop as the saga continues.