12.15.2017

Movies: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac
Directed By: Rian Johnson
Written By: Rian Johnson, from characters created by George Lucas
Disney, 2017
PG-13; 152 minutes
4.75 stars (out of 5)


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Fair warning: I'm probably going to be a tad nitpicky here. I liked this movie, but not as much as I expected to, which is kind of sad. That said, it's still a lot of fun and a worthy addition to the Star Wars legacy. Spoilers are likely to follow, so if you don't want to know details and haven't seen the movie yet, come back here afterwards to compare notes.

We begin with the Resistance in retreat as the First Order, under Supreme Leader Snoke, takes hold across the galaxy. The hope is that Rey will find Luke and bring him back to help the Resistance. Of course, Luke is a cranky old hermit now, so . . . hilarity ensues.

I really do think that the corny moments of humor are what detracted for me. I laughed, certainly, but I wanted or expected this movie to have more weight than it did, if that makes any sense? Turning Luke into an almost punchline bothered me a little.

That said, there are some great humorous moments. So it's not like I wanted the movie to be entirely serious—of course it shouldn't be—but there were times when the jokes broke the stride for me.

Like Luke in The Empire Strikes Back, Rey has a "cave" moment that shows her . . . nothing much. So that scene felt completely pointless really.

Rey and Kylo Ren develop a kind of psychic bond, and when Luke refuses to help Rey, she decides Kylo is her new bestie and goes off to join forces with him. It goes about like you would expect, but does include a great battle scene (though why the Guard would even bother fighting at that point is questionable).

Meanwhile, Finn and some engineer (I guess?) named Rose are sent on a mission to find a master codebreaker so they can get into Snoke's ship and turn off the tracking device that allows them to follow the Resistance cruiser. So that's a whole thing.

Cute animals abound in the film, from the porgs that have been everywhere, to the cat-horse things on another planet, and the salt fox things on yet another planet. I'm pretty sure the crystal shop at Disney will have cut crystal versions of the fox things soon.

I'm a little worried about the consequences of setting those horse things free. Would the herd be gathered up and whipped? What about the kids who were meant to be tending them? (Yes, we see them at the end, but we don't know what punishment they endured.) Feels like, in some ways, a bad situation was made worse by our supposed heroes.

What I did really enjoy, however, was the moral ambiguity and nuances that infused this film. There are moments when you think, Maybe so-and-so isn't bad after all, and, Maybe so-and-so is worse than I thought. Characters—at least some of them—are fluid here, which makes them more interesting.

It's a long movie, to the point that I began to feel the length toward the end. Like, I definitely had a moment of, Is this still going? It felt a bit stretched, not always with the tension to sustain that stretching.

Still, it's a fun movie. Entertaining. My kids are highly amused by my Kylo Ren impressions, and this film gave me a lot to work with on that front, so there's that. My daughter's reaction to the movie was: "So much Kylo! Swoon!"

By the way, I get the sense that Admiral Ackbar goes through life dialed up to 11. Like, just in a constant state of panic. You could tell him you're out of milk and he'd be, "We're all going to die!"

Anyway. I enjoyed it but, as I mentioned, not as much as I expected to. And while I might need longer to mull it over about exactly why that is, I know in the long run it won't matter. People will see it and love it, and my nitpicking is just that. In the big scheme, the movie comes through and does its job, and that's really all anyone can ask for.

ETA: Oh, and . . .

Laura Dern felt really out of place to me.

AND . . .

I felt like some social commentary was being shoved down my throat. I agree with the views being presented, but it still felt like I was being hit upside the head with them.