Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars is back, and this time so is Luke Skywalker! And I must say, seeing him as a full-fledged, aging Jedi is simply awesome. He has grown very powerful yet world-weary, and I really think they took him in the right direction.  Mark Hamill sunk right back into the character and took him places that were different but still within the reality of the Luke we know.  In fact that statement is a pretty good generalization for this movie as a whole.

When Force Awakens came out, I was giddy because the new characters worked so well. Its nice to see that it was not just a fluke. Rey has truly grown into a great movie hero. She is interesting, captivating, instantly likable, and yet complex in an empathetic way.  Every time she was on screen the movie worked. Kylo Ren is also a great villain and also grew in his role this time around.  The two of them had great chemistry together and, along with their triumvirate with Luke, built a solid core for this story.

Its great seeing all the Star Wars-isms anew: interesting planet locations, new creatures, space battles, etc. There are certainly motifs from the original trilogy, harking back to Echo Base and the Emperor’s throne room, but the story structure here is definitely its own and went places I expected it to either shy away from or hold back, especially near the end.

The powers of the Jedi and the Force are expanded on in a way that seems like it should have bugged me, but I just went with. I like the idea of the Force expanding beyond what we already knew, especially when you think about how Luke has been working with his powers for the last 30 years.  I can understand the argument of using the Force as a catch all to do what they want, like lots of superhero movies are guilty of lately, but I didn’t feel that was the case here.  These new abilities felt natural to me, and I liked that it went new places.

On a more technical aspect, this movie looked incredible. This film is full of vivid, eye-popping colours, from the red plumes of the salt planet, the rich green’s of Luke’s island, and the already-famous Red Room scene.  There were some really interesting shots and camera effects, including a major one involving a couple of starships.  You can tell this was a movie made by craftsmen and not just studio shills.

Now for my main problem with this new Star Wars chapter which I was otherwise completely taken by.  I didn’t really care for the new characters – Rose, Laura Dern, Benicio- as they seemed too artificial somehow. Rose ends up becoming a pretty big deal, but lets face it, shes not in the same league as Finn, Rey or even Poe.  She felt like she would fit in better in Rogue One.  Laura Dern really didn’t feel like she was in a Star Wars movie, even though I liked what they did with her character, and Benecio’s “scoundrel” was kind of like “who cares?”

As such, I enjoyed their part of the story less than the Jedi plotlines. Which is too bad, because it drags down some of the momentum, and ties up Finn when he could have been doing cooler things.  The casino planet had a little too much “prequel” to it.

I also didn’t like the very last shot. I understand its significance, but the shot right before that was perfect place to end it.  I was ready to start pumping my fist, expecting the trumpets and end credits to blare, but instead got one more tacked on scene, calling back to the one part in the movie I didn’t like, and really killed the end-movie momentum.  Oh well.

On the whole, I am very enthusiastic about The Last Jedi, reservations about new characters aside.  But I mean hey, maybe they’ll grow on me.  I really see this new trilogy as great predecessors to the first three films. They feel like they have taken to story to a natural yet new place, and I am loving it. This had interactions between new and old favourite heroes and villains, lots of truly memorable moments, and another great addition into the Star Wars saga.



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