Because I want to express to you all my opinion in an efficient way, I have written a small spoiler section at the bottom of the review, not attached to the actual analysis.
MOVIE THEATER REVIEW: “Star Wars: Episode VIII- The Last Jedi” stars Daisy Ridley (Murder on the Orient Express , Scrawl), Mark Hamill (Batman: The Killing Joke, Regular Show [TV series]), John Boyega (Attack the Block, Detroit), Adam Driver (Paterson, Inside Llewyn Davis), Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina, A Most Violent Year), Kelly Marie Tran (Untouchable, XOXO), Domhnall Gleeson (Frank, About Time), Carrie Fisher (The Blues Brothers, The ‘Burbs), Andy Serkis (War for the Planet of the Apes, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring), Laura Dern (Jurassic Park, Wild), Benicio Del Toro (Sicario, The Usual Suspects), Anthony Daniels (Ghosts of Albion: Embers [TV Movie], Dirigible Days [TV Mini-series), and Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave, The Jungle Book ). It was written and directed by Rian Johnson (Looper, Brick). The Resistance is under attack as the First Order has finally caught up to their command ship, forcing them into a space race until the Resistance can form some plan of attack or escape. Meanwhile, Rey (Ridley) tries to coerce a broken Luke Skywalker (Hamill) into fighting for the Resistance and defeating Supreme Leader Snoke (Serkis).
I think this review deserves a well-needed sigh to start with; too bad I can’t just write the noise, rather the term used to describe it. “Star Wars: Episode VIII- The Last Jedi” is Disney’s latest entry in the newest “Star Wars “ trilogy to hit screens, having released the kickstarter to it all, “The Force Awakens,” two years ago. Ah, I can remember it like it was yesterday: Disney bought Lucasfilms for four billion dollars and promised to give us a new “Star Wars” feature every year around Christmas…good grief. I consider myself a fan of “Star Wars,” like most people. As you could tell by my marathon of the franchise, I hold a similar opinion to all of the films like a lot of audiences. The classics rock, the prequels faulted, and the new installation throws a lot of interesting questions up in the air. I liked “The Force Awakens,” though I will say that there were grievances with the movie based on its inability to be original and solidify a villain worthy of taking the place of Darth Vader. I was hoping that all of this would be remedied by “The Last Jedi,” however I was sorely mistaken. One thing I don’t want to be categorized as a critic is a hater of new-age revamps of classic films. Sure, I have a distaste for reboots that are made solely for business purposes, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be good (I just wish Hollywood put its chips on new ideas). I walked into “The Last Jedi” with almost no expectations because I have grown tired of it all, not because I upfront abhor the new trilogy. So, bear in mind that my review is of my thoughts not persuaded by any notion that I hated it before viewing (too many readers figure this with any critic that isn’t happily riding the Disney train). Onto the review. To sum up my entire opinion of this film before even finishing it out, “The Last Jedi” serves as the prime example of a sequel meant to completely tarnish its franchise’s existence in the first place. This new trilogy’s purpose, whatever you thought it was leading to, has vanished, making the whole point of viewing it almost obsolete. What do I mean by that? Well, to describe in detail would mean spoiling the plot, which I don’t plan on doing considering how there are still a lot of people who probably haven’t seen it (the theater was surprisingly packed on a mid-day Tuesday in 2018). So, I’ll break it down as discretely as possible. The first act of this movie was rather solid. From the get-go we are submerged in a space battle between the First Order and the Resistance; it’s what you’d want to see in gearing up for what is to come. New characters are introduced, old ones are revisited, and things seem to be flowing smoothly in the story. That is, until we reach the second act. As the plot progresses, there is a noticeable tension in the story; a whisper in my ear that is telling me “Harrison…why is everything at a stand-still?” When your characters are stuck for thirty minutes of the film, it isn’t that noticeable…but when it’s almost two hours, things can get a bit annoying (and I put “a bit” lightly). Surely I didn’t want a bunch of planet hopping (like in the aggravating “Rogue One”), but when you have a plot that involves a ship fleeing in space for two hours and only cutting back to the big ship pursuing it and an island, patience wears thin. We as an audience are asked to rely on dialogue to push us as well as advancements in story canon to keep things interesting. Rian Johnson, who wrote and directed this picture, thought it would be a great idea to pound the themes of “Jedi are dead” and “people can change” constantly against our heads to the point of exhaustion. It’s these things that were lightly hinted at in “Force Awakens,” only to be brought out in full force come time this new release. I wouldn’t say I hate it, however I will say that regardless of what point Johnson was trying to make, all of it became meaningless by the third act. By the time of the final forty minutes, if you aren’t already in a coma over the fact that you’ve been watching one ship race after the next for the past hour and a half, you soon realize that anything alluded to in “The Force Awakens” as well as this film where all for nothing, and it only took one moment to do so. What that scene is, I won’t say, however when it happens (and you will know it once you see it), the thread holding this trilogy up snaps. Those who hate this are pegged as people who want it more like the original (or can’t make up their mind if they hated “The Force Awakens” for unoriginality), whereas those who love it appreciate it for the shake-up development. I feel that it is my duty to defend those who hate this feature, because there is more of an understanding as to why people didn’t like it rather than those who did. What we need to realize is, with this shocking development that was carried out swiftly in one scene, there is no glue holding this trilogy together. All we have left to tend to is the theme of “people can change,” and that isn’t enough to hold me over for the course of three films. Not only that, but it destroys any solid plot device that attempts to create storytelling that isn’t hollow. Whatever you thought that the “Force Awakens” was trying to do, with the search for Luke Skywalker, foreboding of Supreme Leader Snoke, and the revenge of Kylo Ren (Driver), leave it at the door walking into this one. Nothing ticks me off more than build-up for nothing (besides hollow characters), and “The Last Jedi” was a slow two-hour reveal of this. Sure, I can give them props for going against similar structure of the old films, but not when the new structure does nothing to satisfy me as a viewer. Even with some shocking moments, this movie payed homage to the old films by essentially utilizing old plot devices: an apprentice is trained on an unknown planet by an old Jedi Master, which will then lead to a confrontation a supreme leader, while a fight between the good guys and bad guys without powers ensues. Though they aren’t a complete rip-off, they are reminiscent to what we’ve seen in “The Empire Strikes Back” (thankfully, they aren’t as close as what was done in “Force Awakens”). With all of this in mind, I want to go on to say that there are redeeming qualities to this picture. The cinematography is astounding, the performances are solid, the music is fantastic (done by John Williams, no doubt), and there are a few scenes that are great. One in particular made me tear up because it surprisingly brought back an old friend that I truly love. These little moments and aesthetics are what got me through the film. When I was watching it, I wasn’t loathing my experience; it was the moment when I reached the final act that I realized all of what I saw was a waste of time and trilogy. I don’t want to dog on those who enjoyed this nor do I want to celebrate with those who didn’t. In the end, “The Last Jedi” had nice moments and great cinematography which tried to hide the fact that this trilogy is succumbing to death, and Rian Johnson just gave the reaper permission for the final blow. FINAL SCORE: 62%= Burnt Popcorn
For those of you wondering what those shocking scenes were (that didn’t come unexpected in the moments leading up to them), here they are: 1) Supreme Leader Snoke is killed by Kylo Ren, throwing away this trilogy’s biggest baddie who was both killed before the last movie and given no character development or background, 2) Luke Skywalker dies, after having battled Kylo Ren once (where he was only a hologram) and doing almost nothing until the very end, 3) Kylo Ren asks Rey to join him to rule the galaxy in the most confusing way, wanting to get rid of the First Order and Resistance. She declines, forcing him to only pursue the Rebellion in a fit of rage.
I was also upset at how the big survival in space of the rebels for an hour and a half only led to them wanting to take escape shuttles to a planet holding an old rebel base and leaving their command ship; something they could’ve done in the first half hour.