Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing the science fiction opera STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (2017) by writer/director Rian Johnson. To best describe the story, I will turn to the IMDB plot summary:
“Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares for battle with the First Order.”
First off, it is important to note that I have been a dedicated fan of the original Star Wars trilogy for just shy of thirty years. I cannot claim to have cared for the prequels and I found Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) to be a likeable enough retread of the original. That being said, I think we can all agree that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) was a real eye opener to what a modern day Star Wars feature could/should be. With all that history out of the way, I approached the latest chapter in the series trying to keep my hopes in check for fear of being let down.
So, how did it fare?
Well, to be honest, it was a bit of a mixed bag.
Visually, this was just as stunning as what I expect from such a big budget flick. Of particular note were the casino planet and the final showdown, both of which were sheer eye candy. All that being said; there were a few scenes that seemed as if they were in the movie more for form than actual function. Though they might have left me wondering what their point was, these moments were still a visual treat.
One of these visual flourishes (a sequence on a gambling planet) dragged on for a bit too long to be entertaining. While I almost would have liked the scene to be cut, it did provide a bit of character background and a wonderful idea that they paid off in the final shot. Without giving much away, there was a moment on this planet where we finally get to see the conflict we have been following from the eyes of a child, completely unconnected to the main events. The wonder and reverence this youngster shows for the heroes we all know and the battles we have been watching show some of the scope of how these big events have an effect on the regular people. I loved this idea and wish that it was not mixed up in the loud clangs of a giant, overly long chase scene.
I genuinely enjoyed that the story felt fresh and pushed the narrative forward into some new territory. Heck, there were even some great references back to the Star Wars features of my youth that had the little kid in me jumping for joy. All these good things made some of the odd plot choices stand out starkly against the rest of the picture. It is also bizarre to consider the idea that while Star Wars: The Force Awakens left us with mostly questions, this one leaves us with even more loose ends and only one answer to what came before (which, given the source of the information, could just be a red herring). Granted, they did do enough to make me curious as to what is going to happen in the next chapter, so on that front they definitely succeeded.
For the most part the acting was as good as or better than the previous chapter. Right out the gate let me say that this does not apply to everyone, as there are a few weak links in this chapter. Most of problematic acting comes from people introduced in this chapter as the majority of the returning cast members have settled nicely into their roles. It was also nice to see more of the cast members from the original trilogy, even if some of these moments were treated as cameos.
I have to put forth one absolute complaint that I cannot really put any sort of positive spin around: the running out of fuel issue. As a long-time fan of the Star Wars movies this just seemed so contrived as to be aggravating. The funny part is, the reveal of the First Order being able to track space ships through hyperspace should have been imposing enough as it technically means the good guys can never hope to escape. Also, and I know this is a bit nitpicky, running out of fuel seems like much more of a Star Trek problem to me as the space opera world of Star Wars has never touched much on these real world issues.
All in all, while I enjoyed this chapter, there are definitely some issues that will need to be addressed in the next entry. Even with that caveat, there is still a lot of fun to be had here and some of the ideas presented in the subplots are just as, if not more interesting than the main saga. Fans of Star Wars have probably already seen this and if they have not, then it is definitely worth checking out.
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI arrives on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and Blu-ray disc March 27th
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