Review: Star Wars the Last Jedi

Alright well it is finally that time of year!!

Time to pull out all the stops and get down to biz of reviewing the newest star wars.

Part of the reason why I’m doing this is because I felt like I needed to say something and part of it is also because I needed to properly extricate those thoughts in the process so here it goes.

First if you are wondering whether this movie is worth seeing I’ll say this much … most likely. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that it was a fantastic film but it definitely has its moments and as a whole as some nice parts.

However, the movie is continually bogged down by choppy sections, outright massive problems with its structure, and just generally poor writing and lack of proper tone.

Similar to Force Awakens the movie suffers from what I can only refer to as fandomism in that it doesn’t “feel” all that much like a Star Wars film but rather the “greatest fan made Star Wars film in the vision of Rian Johnson”.

Story

Out of all the Star Wars films this one maybe feels the LEAST like an actual Star Wars film on many levels. It’s got some fantastic parts of the story whenever Rey and Kylo are on screen and there are some nice new additions (Rose) and (Porgs) but overall how certain characters are used throughout the film leaves a lot wanting. Particularly there is a major plot point of the film that seems to stutter the film from pulling itself up into greater heights and being able to really soar. Besides that there really feels like a lot of waste in this film in terms of story and a lot of choices structure wise that feel “contrarian for contrarians sake” rather than an real effort to want to craft something new. Instead of opting to create they’ve come simply to tear down styles that came before and that hurts in my opinion the film.

Besides this there were also weird moments in the films were jokes were interspersed that didn’t feel right. In many ways it made the film feel like a Marvel movie although with it’s Bathos aspects cut back.

Visuals

I find it rather interesting that in many of the newer Star Wars films they’ve opted more for a science fiction visual approach to the new trilogy rather than a more space opera approach to the visuals. That is all well and good but they CAN do giant space opera type epic battles and mythos as we saw in Rogue One. While everything in this film definitely looks the part and there definitely are a few moments that are amazing a lot of the action feels slightly contrived or doesn’t seem to work or slow. That being said there are quite a number of great visuals so that is definitely not a problem overall except in a few areas.

Acting

As per the newer movies this film (as well as Force Awakens and Rogue One) has managed to destroy the Kryptonite of the Prequels with pretty fantastic acting. No one really stands out as having acted “badly” however, some of the things certain characters are told to say or do does have issues or problems. However, I’d say that has more to do with writing and story rather than the acting itself.

Themes

This is probably the weakest area of the film to be honest and while it DOES have a theme, its one that is in my opinion quite weak.

The original Star Wars films bent heavily into the realm of Campbell with the heroes arc/story and in an era of film that lacked in real “true” heroes that were black and white (Easy Rider for example). It gave people something that was “true good” and “true bad” to root for and didn’t mince words. Over time that struggle to “do good” (light-side) or “do bad” (dark-side) has always been at the central theme of Star Wars combined with its intense interest in destiny and redemption.

So it saddened me to see a movie that really pulled away from that ideal crafted in the prior 6 movies and not really challenge our heroes in any meaningful way on a philosophical level. Instead they’ve opted for a message that is far more convoluted and yet also quite more dour that I’ll speak more about in the spoilers section.

As a result of this I’ve decided I’m going to have 2 scores for this film.

Conclusion

Overall, as a film it is far from bad and in many moments quite decent however, between the scenes where the film is “jumping the shark” and doing great it just seems slow and as a result suffers. Probably, the most disappointing film of the year for me not because it was “bad” per say but rather because it had so much potential and instead ended up just being “ok”.

If you are a Star Wars fan such as myself then it nestles nicely into a:

7/10

However, as a film it was a marked improvement over Force Awakens but not by much:

8.2/10

Now Onto Spoilers

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SPOILERS

Ok this movie has a LOT of logic problems and I mean ALOT … 22 to be exact and as a result it just BOGS the movie down with stupid pointless decisions.

Why do they have to have the whole Canto Bight section?

Why didn’t Ackbar being in the movie instead of Holdo for the hyperspace scene?

Why did you introduce Holdo only for her to die within the movie?

Why did Luke’s Character change so drastically from when we last met him?

Many of these questions are asked but NEVER have I seen a movie open up so many can’s of worms only to just say “ohh its ok”.

Angry Joe gives a GREAT summary in this video.

Her gives a lot of great examples and I feel that many of his issues are thing easily fixable by just minor changes.

Besides a lot of the plot holes much of the casting while good felt as though the usage of the characters felt WAY too real politik or as if they were trying to introduce real political plot points into the world of Star Wars.

For example the totally unnecessary and completely useless fabricated conflict between Holdo and Poe. I felt as though Rian was trying to say that “men need to follow their leaders even if their women” or something but from a purely story telling and even logic stand point it doesn’t make sense for Holdo to be coy with Poe. He’s essentially the “wing” or fighter squadron commander EVEN if he is demoted so why keep information from him. You NEED him and any good commander knows that you information is crucial and being able to give your subordinates proper instructions is hugely important. Not to mention … the dude just BLEW up a freaking First Order Dreadnaught.

Besides … her withholding information leads to one of the STUPIDEST Star Wars sideplots ever devised … the trip … to Canto Bight.

The World in and of itself was rather nice. However, it could have been far more interesting and instead just felt like Monaco lite. Which leads to maybe one of the WORSE transgressions a Star Wars film has ever done by trying to say that “all the rich get here because of war profiteering” WAIT WHAT!!? I’m sorry but it was never cool when star wars tried to introduce trade wars in Episode 4 with pseudo Chinese with the Nimodians.

Star Wars at it’s heart always works best when the surroundings feel large lived in and mythic similar in a way to Lord of the Rings while the main characters are intensely and deeply driven by personal vendettas and battles. It’s like snapshot of a giant crazy painting and right in the middle is this one area that stands out from the rest. However, this film felt like they just kept trying to dump in things that didn’t work with the central messages. Canto Bight could have been completely excised and the story in many respects would still work. But that’s the least of it’s worries as the movies main issue is the Rebels, I mean the Resistance, runs away from the First Order in the worlds slowest chase scene ever. By the way how does the First Order who magically still have hundreds of troopers and soldiers and fighters and ships even though their base (StarKiller) just got blown up last movie?

It makes 0 sense.

From “why doesn’t the First Order just hyperspace in front of Leia’s ship?” to “how on earth does Leia survive outside in space” the movie makes jumps that bend or in some ways BREAK the logic established now in Star Wars over 8 movies that feels strange. Cannons firing laser bolts that have drop in space? Leia Surviving the vaccum of space because reasons? Ships only having enough hyperspace for only a few jumps? Even though in prior films we’ve we’ve seen prior ships making dozens of jumps without refueling.

All of it takes you out of the experience and makes me question the Star Wars Story film group that’s the sort of “group” tasked with keeping the films copacetic to a large degree.

If these sort of “basic” things that even someone like myself who isn’t a trained or experienced film worker can spot these glaring tears in the seams of the film how on earth are they ever going to get people to be convinced that these films are worth expending money on?

There was also one of the worst Star Wars lines I think I’ve ever heard in this new Trilogy with Rose’s “That’s how we’re going to win. Not fighting what we hate. Saving what we love” I’m sorry but I had to stop myself from laughing especially since her “saving” Finn would have without the intervention of Luke the destruction of the entirety of the Resistance. It felt incredibly hypocritical especially considering her sister’s actions earlier and of course her own.

Then there were the central themes of the movie which at this point is “Don’t try to be a Hero?” I guess or is “we need to let the past die to move on”. Except a LOT of what makes Star Wars Great is because it’s not supposed to try to be contemporary. I mean it’s sources of inspiration are Flash Gordon serials and old legendary stories. It’s completely in conflict with Star Wars’ central tenets.

Kylo Ren still doesn’t feel like a real villain who is threatening … but rather sort of still a kid “trying to be Darth Vader”.

Then there is Rey who still hasn’t really suffered or failed or been challenged. After just a few days having discovered her powers she’s already “pulling rocks up by the masses” and doing feats that took Jedi before her dozens of years to master. Things like projection and even somehow transporting herself to Chewie’s ship seem not out of the question. Someone who JUST started to wield a light-saber is able to defeat several well trained guards. Again … I could stomach it if she actually was shown training with Luke but instead it was minor philosophy discussion and hardly any training.

What’s the biggest problem though is the disappointment with the reveals. Snoke dying with a minor trick, Rey’s parents being … nobodies, Luke not showing the full extent of his powers. In short it feels like this:

Abrams handing Keyes to Johnson

 

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