Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

#98

I start out a lot of my reviews with a preface in regards to my expectations, the hype surrounding the movie, or just a quick ramble on a somewhat possibly related subject. So allow me do all three before I get started with my opinion on The Last Jedi.

One of the more popular sequels of all time is The Empire Strikes Back. It set a tone and format that most people have come to expect in a trilogy where the sequel ends on a not so hopeful outlook for the protagonist(s) but the antagonist(s) have the upper hand. This entry also happens to the favorite Star Wars movie by many, which may be due to the standards set in place. The expectations are also likely that The Last Jedi will mirror The Empire Strikes back in the same way The Force Awakens mirrored A New Hope, but I will save that for my spoiler filled review sometime early next week. Speaking of spoilers, The Empire Strikes Back also gave us an iconic movie twist … so do we get any surprise familial revelations? Do any longtime friends double cross each other? Does a main character get put in carbonite and left for dead? Do we get a cranky swamp person for a mentor? Do or do not … There is no try … in which category did The Last Jedi fall?

I would give it 5 “porg barbeques” out of 10.

FOR THE UNINITIATED

Following closely after the events of The Force Awakens, the battered Resistance is on the run from the First Order. Rey has found Luke in hopes that he can save the day and also train her in the way of the Jedi.

Directed by: Rian Johnson

Written by: Rian Johnson

Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscaar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Anthony Daniels, and many more

THE BEST

My favorite parts of The Last Jedi would spoil the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it, so instead I will be a little vague and refer to another favorite. I really enjoyed Kylo Ren’s continued character arc. A lot of people really disliked Kylo thinking he was too whiny and just threw temper tantrums … which I think is an amazing turn in a villain. He is a powerful villain, but very conflicted internally. His constant need to prove that he is committed to the dark side all while attempting to seduce Rey to the dark side is captivating.

THE WORST

Without spoiling anything, there is a three-way tie for what my least favorite aspect of the movie is: the comedy, Luke, and the handling of the force.

For the comedy, it was the same issue I had with Thor: Ragnarok. The comedy undercut so many moments that should have been serious and detracted from my overall enjoyment. Not to say a Star Wars movie cannot have comedy, but they leaned WAY too far into it for their own good. It seems studios are trying to make a light hearted movie, but end up missing the mark with a full on attempt at comedy … emphasis on attempt.

Mark Hamill said that he disagreed with how Luke was portrayed, but he would do his best to fulfill what the role required. Being a fan of all things Star Wars, I agree. The difference between OT (original trilogy) Luke and new Luke is as vast as prequel Obi Wan and OT Obi Wan. Their characteristics were changed and their motives were unnecessarily vague or obtuse considering what they have been through in prior movies.

For how they handled the force, maybe I read too much of of the extended universe (now legends?) or the new directors are taking more liberty with it … but my take away was a mix between:

OVERALL

The Last Jedi is a good movie, but falls short of expectations. I had several issues with it, but will be giving it at least one more viewing. After all; this is the type of movie to see on a big screen with a lot of other excited fans. I would say go and watch it, but judging by the expected box office gross … almost everyone has seen it or will be seeing it soon.

RECOMMENDATION

My recommendation is in the vein of a sequel / soft reboot in a franchise … it also happens to be one of my favorite movies: Casino Royale. Bond movies are typically episodic, but began to get more serialized once Daniel Craig came onto the scene. It captured the essence of The Empire Strikes Back while technically being the first part; there are twists, dark tones, and the good guy isn’t a clear cut winner by the end.

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