The last STAR WARS THE LAST JEDI review

star-wars-the-last-jedi

A Star Wars movie isn’t like any other movie – at least not for me, which is why it took me a few months to get my thoughts together. By the time I was just 3 years old, Return of the Jedi had come and gone and the Star Wars franchise was cemented into our popular culture in a way we wouldn’t see again until Harry Potter. Star Wars was IT and for about a million different reasons.

So what makes Star Wars so special? Timing. When it was new, there wasn’t anything like it before and it was the “face that launched a thousand ships.” It gave birth to a new era of science fiction, fantasy, adventure and more. Even Star Trek got hauled out of the attic, dusted off and shoved back out onto the stage. If it wasn’t for this movie, the theatrical landscape would look very different today.

That kinda sounded like an insult…

Anyway, Star Wars Episode 8 The Last Jedi is divisive in a way I don’t fully understand. Some people love it, some people hate it, and I’m starting to wonder if I’m the only one that’s in the middle. Well, not exactly in the middle.

So with all that said, I’m very excited about reviewing Star Wars Episode 8: Chewbacca Goes Vegan. Well, we’ll get to that. Let’s start here:

SPOILERS!!!

spoiler alert

PART 1: Star Wars Episode 8: It’s NOT a Soft Remake, We Swear!

For a movie some hardcore fans are criticizing for taking chances, this story sure has a lot of similar broad story beats from The Empire Strikes Back. Like the Force Awakens before it, the biggest problem I have with The Last Jedi is its soft remake approach.

Instead of snow, it’s salt: Between the AT-ATs, the white, the good guys in the trench, a desperate need to escape… yeah, this is looking familiar. I chuckled when they guy tasted the earth and said, “It’s salt.” What I heard was, “It’s salt. You hear that, Jamie? That makes this setting TOTALLY DIFFERENT THAN HOTH IN EMPIRE. NOW SHUT YOUR MOUTH.”

This movie is part 2 of 3 and Kathleen Kennedy knows how much we all love The Empire Strikes Back, so we have to do all the training stuff now. Instead of Yoda, it’s Luke. And yeah, it’s not done the same way, but it sure is similar.

Now we have to introduce a ghost, like they did in Empire. Instead of Obi-Won, it’s Yoda and strangely, he’s being the goofy Yoda from his first scene in Empire rather than the serious Yoda that delivers all the whammies.

Instead of:

“Luke, you can destroy the Emperor. He has foreseen this. It is your destiny! Join me, and together, we can rule the galaxy as father and son!” Kylo Ren just gets busy and kills the emperor and makes his offer after the dirty work is done. Which brings me to

PART 2: Star Wars Episode 8: We Hardly Knew Ye

The Force Awakens proposed many mysteries: who are Rey’s parents and where does she come from? Who is Snoke and what the hell happened to his face? Why exactly did Ben turn to the dark side? Who are the Knights of Ren? Wow, was that really all there was for Captain Phasma to do in this movie?

The answers to these questions are nobody, it doesn’t matter, I guess they’re dead, and don’t worry about that either. Because:

Snoke is dead. In another bit of original trilogy fan service, we get another, “IT WAS I,” as in “It was I who allowed the Alliance to know the location of the shield generator” but instead, this time it was Snoke, who’s just this trilogy’s version of the emperor, who facilitated the telepathy between Rey and Kylo Ren. Which of course leads to his death in yet another throne room fight, but man, this set really looks like a sound stage.

Anyway, Snoke is dead. So whatever your guess was, you’ll never know and now, it doesn’t matter.

And what about those guys that gave Rey and Kylo Ren so much trouble? I guess those guys were the Knights of Ren? Or were they just guards and they’re just abandoning that concept?

And I guess Captain Phasma is dead? That’s the thing about this movie – it’s as if Rian Johnson decided that if JJ Abrams couldn’t be bothered to establish these characters, Johnson wasn’t going to bother cleaning up his mess, so poof, they’re dead.

I bet Johnson sent Abrams an email saying, “I expected more from the writer of Armageddon.”

And how did Maz get Luke’s lightsaber? Yeah, I don’t think that answer is coming ever… although, Abrams is coming back to the franchise for episode 9, so I’m sure it’ll turn out that Rey was cloned from Luke’s hand and Maz used to be a spaarti cloning cylinder* operator at the place where they made Rey or some BS like that.

*Spaarti cloning cylinder – that’s a deep cut!

Part 3: Star Wars Episode 8: Chewbacca Goes Vegan

That’s a bit of a joke, but… is it? So, I should tell you, I’m vegan, but man, even I thought the animal rights messaging in this movie was a little heavy-handed. The porgs, the horse dinosaurs, the crystal critters… these elements felt shoehorned in. And while we’re talking about jokes… look, I like a good joke, but the Marvel-ization of Star Wars seen in this movie is not something I welcome. Jokes are fine and we’re used to a bit dryer tone of humor in these movies, so I guess I’m saying I don’t think it works. The phone call, the ‘can you put on a towel,’ the brush off, even the Jedi nuns, who only seem to be there for comic relief… the comedy in Last Jedi is not a fundamental flaw, but as a matter of taste, I can’t get behind it.

PART 4: Star Wars Episode 8: What Are The Rules Here?

So Leia can use the force? I remember she heard Luke’s call that one time, she said she knew luke was her brother, she felt Han’s death from across the galaxy, but this was different. I get that she’s not on Luke’s level, but the image of Leia flying through space kinda makes me wonder what they need Luke for in the first place. Kinda makes you wonder why Leia didn’t just put Holdo in charge and go train with Luke herself.

Ghost Yoda can summon lighting? That’s what it looked like. So if that’s the case, why doesn’t Yoda just go smite Snoke, or Hux or Kylo Ren or just anybody in general?That sure would save the Galaxy a lot of time and misery.

Astral Projection… I’m fine with this. Seriously. This seems like a logical extension of pre-established lore.What? I think it works.

PART 5: Star Wars Episode 8: I’m Sorry, What Now?

Why didn’t Holdo reveal her plan? I don’t understand what the reason was she kept it a secret.

Why do Finn and Rose decide that some guy they just met in a jail cell is someone who can help them and that they should trust? I know they’re desperate, but this seems like a terrible decision and out of character, particularly for Finn.

Did this movie really just essentially kill Admiral Ackbar off-screen? That was totally unnecessary. Kind of like giving a super recognizable actress purple hair because it’s super popular right now and it’s a Sci Fi movie so you can get away with it.

PART 6: Star Wars Episode 8: This Movie is Actually Pretty Good

I should be clear – I liked this movie. There’s more to like than not. The relationship between Kylo Ren and Rey is the best part of the movie and it’s really the only thing I’m looking forward to next time out. In fact, if this movie really wanted to blow me away, they could have ended the series right here with Kylo choosing the light side and working with Rey to unit the First Order and the Resistance.

Sorry, I got sidetracked.

Anyway, I do generally like the movie. It’s well paced, the photography is gorgeous and the emotional core is solid. This movie may throw The Force Awakens under the bus, but frankly, that movie kinda deserves it. As this movie stands on its own, I think it’s a fine flick – not perfect or even outstanding, just solid entertainment with some moments that are clearly above average.

I also want to take a moment to say that I think the photography and performances are especially strong parts of this movie. There are few directing and editing choices that I’m not in love with, but this movie is a very strong production. I would also like to praise this movie on not only its sound design but it’s choices to not use sound or score in a few places.

Why are people angry?

My own theory on the backlash to this film is that the The Force Awakens set up things that this movie had no interest in paying off which overtly subverted expectations without apology and instead with more of a middle finger than anything else. That might not be the best way to cultivate a fan base, but it doesn’t mean that this movie is bad or even fundamentally flawed.

The other reason I think people don’t like this movie is because there is a portion of humanity that are sexist, racist buttheads who don’t want to see anything that they can’t easily and immediately identify with because of aforementioned butthead-ness.

As for me, I liked The Last Jedi and I think it will improve with further viewings. That’s the thing about Star Wars movies or at least I think it is for people of my generation. Star Wars has been a cultural phenomenon since before I was born and that’s the world I grew up in. Going to see a Star Wars movie is not like going to see any other movie and it probably never will be. Even in today’s world of franchise Cinema, there is no other series like Star Wars. It is the only one that has been running for as long as it has and is not an adaptation of something else. We can guess, but we have no idea where this series is going and it’s something that many people have cherished for a very long time and that’s just not a simple thing to deal with. Who knows, the way we perceive Star Wars may change as Disney floods the marketplace with a new movie every year until we’re all dead and an ever-expanding Universe of more books more Comics and More TV shows to replace the ones we already had that they removed from Cannon. But then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to make episode 9 be the movie that pleases everybody and ends up pleasing almost no one and the whole thing blows up in their face. Unlike Marvel or Harry Potter or anything else out there, anything could happen.

Maybe that’s why everybody loves Star Wars so damn much.

About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of CreativeJamie.com, BomberBanter.com and editor in chief of ComicBookClog.com

Posted on March 3, 2018, in movie review and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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