I love movies. I love writing about them. Hope you like reading what I write.
Oh, I am super late with this one. I saw this film as part of the midnight double-bill of Episodes VII and VIII. That was well over a week ago now. I’ve seen it again since then. Now I feel ready to deliver my review. I am ready to get eviscerated by the internet.
The story starts not long after The Force Awakens finishes off. The First Order has found the Resistance base and tries to blast them into oblivion as they try to flee. Meanwhile, Ray is on Luke Skywalker’s beautiful island trying to convince the old Jedi Master to join the fight again.
How do you even review a Star Wars film? The baggage of this franchise is so heavy that people will make petitions to make entries’ canonical status nullified if they don’t like it, or a petition to replace the director with a retired one they despise. Star Wars belongs to all mankind.
So Rian Johnson’s decision to auteur one of these pictures almost like it’s an indie flick is, in my opinion, commendable madness. His flairs of style are all over this movie.
Episode VIII, is the second part in this sequel trilogy. In the traditional screenplay structure, this is the collective “all is lost” moment. So much of the discussion between players is about failure and so many of their actions result in failure. It’s exactly the tone required for a middle part of a trilogy.
As such, the best parts of this whole thing concern the central conflict, i.e the goodies and the baddies.
Ray and Skywalker’s scenes have a haunting brilliance to them. They spend their time on their island having some of the most well-written and truly meaningful dialogue and character-driven sequences in this series.
On the baddie’s side, Kylo Ren is back and proves himself to be, if not the scariest villain in the franchise, certainly the most interesting. He evolves from Vadar clone to something far more revealing of character.
This also has the most interesting directing style in all of Star Wars. It’s not outlandishly stylish, but there are directional choices which you can tell were thought about. It’s like when you see a Spielberg film. It’s subtle most of the time, but these moments of cinematic cool are peppered here and there and make a film nerd like me blush with excitement.
Now onto the stuff I’m not so hot on. The half of the film focussed on the Resistance is not bad, per say. It is simply the connective tissue that is a little weak. Small things could have been changed to iron it all out.
They introduce new characters in this film and, while they do their jobs well, introducing cool new concepts and complexities to the world, I feel it sidelines pre-existing ones a little much. I love Laura Dern, she’s one of the most underrated actresses around (check out anything she does with David Lynch for evidence), but her character, though she is serviceable and has her moments, is superfluous.
Benecio Del Toro appears in a great little role as part of a plotline which allows for some lovely nuance in the canon of Star Wars. However, that line of plot comes and goes in a way that should fill the characters with a sense of true failure by the end. Instead the internal consequences are spread too thin and leave too little impact.
So that’s The Last Jedi. It’s utterly gorgeous. It’s stuffed with too many pointless characters. It’s well-written and original. It’s filled with gratuitous humour. It’s challenging and thought-provoking. It’s structure called for way too many conveniences (just count how many times someone should have been killed in an explosion).
People try to put this into the bad category or the great category. They try to put it into the “heretical to what it means to be Star Wars” box or “breaking new ground” box.
This film, and remember that this comes from a liker of Star Wars and not a lover, is a Star Wars Film.
It’s a little messy, there are things I wish weren’t there, but I can say the same thing about ALL of this weird space opera. I love the things I love in it, I wince at what irritates. I’m still going to be humming the music for the next few weeks.
Recommended Scenario: It’s Star Wars, you’ll watch it anyway.