This is a spoiler free review of Star Wars, The Last Jedi. First off, Star Wars, The Last Jedi is a very good film that doesn’t need to be graded on a curve. This is the superhero or James Bond movie caveat that fans add to the end of its description. “It’s a good James Bond film”, is often a way of saying that fans of 007 will enjoy it, but, as a film it doesn’t set that high of a bar. Even without a curve, Star Wars, The Last Jedi is good, but fans of the franchise; if they look deep within themselves, will acknowledge that there are flaws that place it squarely in the upper third of the pack.Star Wars: The Last Jedi
The planet Crait
Photo: Film Frames Industrial Light & Magic/Lucasfilm
©2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
The Last Jedi opens with a fabulous action sequence and picks up immediately after The Force Awakens ends. The Rebels are evacuating the planet to meet up with Poe and the others who are waiting for them in space. We see close up shots of expendable X-Wing Pilots who are almost certain to meet their doom. All they need is a red shirt with an upside down “V” on the left part of their chest to confirm to the geek nation that they have nabbed a cameo in a Star Wars film.
Rey is on that beautiful Irish island where she’s found Luke. There are some other in habitants on the island including the Porgs. They’re small penguin-like creatures that have big mouths and are quite expressive. These creatures are used just the right amount of time and don’t wear out their welcome the way the Jar-Jar did. If you look at the trailer for the film then you might think that it’s all Porg all the time, but they’re in there for just a couple scenes.
My main gripe about the film is that a large segment of The Last Jedi stops the action. There’s a subplot about an escape ship that’s low on fuel and running from the Empire. For us, that entire part of the film dragged down the enjoyment of everything.
There is a scene where Kylo Ren says “Burn it all down” and to an extent; I wish that’s what they would’ve done. As a franchise, Star Wars can stand on its own without having to bring back characters from the original films. A quick pep talk, a la, Yoda appearing for wisdom is welcome, but the extended scenes with Luke and Leia seem more out of obligation to the history than to further the story.
The ‘Marvel Effect’ is also in play here. Some of the key characters have lines that are funny and effective (see: Poe Dameron), while others have one liners that are funny in the moment, but seem forced and weird the more you think about them (see: Luke Skywalker). Ragnorak worked with its increased humor to the superhero genre, but that’s a genre and hero, that can get away with it. Most of the jokes in The Last Jedi felt like the Force was not with them.
There are some very bold moments in the film where fans will think to themselves ‘I can’t believe this is happening’-and they are cool. But all but one of those moments back away from the edge and go back to the Star Wars moments that play it safe.
This was especially frustrating given that the previous Star Wars film, Rogue One was refreshing, had a sense of reckless, swagger that made the initial release in 1977 so much fun. And it did so whilst bringing up a topic, the Death Star, that had previously been beat to death.
One of the true dark, bright spots in The Last Jedi was Benicio Del Toro who plays DJ, a code breaker who might just save the day-or sell them out to the Empire.
Having said all of that, Star Wars, The Last Jedi is still a good movie. It’s technically flawless and has some really pretty visuals, especially towards the end when they’re on the salt planet. However, it feels like a place holder in the Star Wars cannon. There are some really big moments in the film, but in a film whose run time is 152 I expected more-or the same amount in a shorter run time.