Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi ★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Alright, so now that I've had the chance to:

A) Sleep on it and
B) Read some other impressions about the film without fear of spoilers, and
C) Talk to a couple of friends who were also disturbed by the casual slaughter of Admiral Ackbar, a few more thoughts in detail about the film--first, the not-that-great:

1) As I mentioned last night, the 3D in the theater I saw this in was WAY underlit, to the point where I probably spent about 30% of the Jedi island scenes squinting at the screen and muttering to myself 'where IS everybody'---one advantage of having the big final sequence on that salt planet was the color palate---a healthy reminder that 3D IS a gimmick and that it's often used poorly
2) The soundtrack felt a bit mixmastered--snippets of the classic themes were to be expected, but they felt tossed off as emotional shorthand, to hit the audience's feelings and move on--partly that may have had to do with the film's structure?
3) I'm not sure what the original outline/plan for the new trilogy was, but one senses that Carrie Fisher dying really put a crimp in it. Especially given where this ends up. It was sort of distracting how painful it was to see her on screen, tbh.
4) It's a LONG movie, and it feels long. For me, the climax felt like when the Star Destroyer was falling apart (I kept expecting Luke to show up there) and if the mineral planet/walkers sequence hadn't made appearances in the trailers, I wouldn't have thought it was coming, frankly (Actually, given the Rogue One trailer was about 60% lies, I was sort of hoping it wasn't coming). Also the timeline felt noticeably off between the space chase and the Rey on Luke's island scenes--partly I think, because Rey had to go through the Luke-on-Dagobah arc in a compressed period and get back to the Star Destroyer in time to have it taken apart, etc, etc, but it felt like two different Star Wars movies kind of crazy-glued together.
5) That scene where Luke sort of milks the giant alien that's just chilling on the beach and then stares aggressively at Rey while he drinks it was kind of weird and creepy.
6) As mentioned, the sad demise of Admiral Ackbar

Okay, now the great:

1) Again, there's a lot of talent here, and despite all the sci-fi trappings and beauteous shots (Put me in the camp that likes Porgs) the main asset of these films is the cast. Mark Hamill is on records at being at odds with the story of the film, but he really does commit and gives a memorable performance. Likewise, it's great to see Oscar Isaac playing off Carrie Fisher and Laura Dern, Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver are terrific, John Boyega continues to be great, etc, etc. I didn't know what the heck Benecio Del Toro was doing in this thing, but I really hope he turns up in the next one for another ten minutes of messing around.
2) I was tempted to give this thing four stars just because of how odd a sequel it is to THE FORCE AWAKENS/and as a piece of 21st century Star Wars Product--kudos to that goes to Rian Johnson, and I'm genuinely curious how Abrams (he's the one doing episode 9 now, supposedly, right?) ties this thing back into a trilogy, given that Johnson simultaneously gives us non-stop plot advancement through action, but rather than starting small and building to some big cliffhanger that sets the stage for an epic third station, the film....starts big, and then gets gradually smaller and smaller until it literally turns into a handful of characters the viewer likes hanging out in a cave while a universe around them gets on with its business? One of the fascinating things for me here was the way Johnson casually underlined the fact of how big the galaxy really was-I have no idea how economics work in the Star Wars galaxy, but it was really interesting that, rather than a dominant force like the Galactic Empire, the First Order here was painted as potentially ascendant but kind of small-scale in the sense that there were a bunch of other entities who kept them around because.......they made money from them. And that the endless Empire/Rebellion/Order/Resistance back and forth was seen as kind of an inevitable part of the cycle for other planets in the galaxy to work around rather than uh, a life or death struggle.
3) Also, the scene where Yoda comes back and blows up a tree
4) I sort of like how few answers there were given for anything from The Force Awakens, and that what answers we did get seemed kind of unnecessary--partly because if Abrams is coming back after all, he can answer them the way he wants to, but also because they weren't really necessary. In retrospect, for instance, Snoke's kind of hilariously lame.
5) That scene where Laura Dern crashes the spaceship at lightspeed is honestly one of the most beautiful things I have seen on the big screen this year, and almost made up for the terrible projection in my theater single-handedly.
6) Speaking of Laura Dern, really wanted more of her and Leia's relationship--that one scene they had together was good acting.
7) the Luke/Kylo Ren showdown and how it managed to be simultaneously a nifty showdown and also kind of a statement on the pointlessness of the 'Star Wars' climax with the big lightsaber fight. Especially after that Kylo Ren/Rey throwdown earlier in the film. In the end, it felt like a film that was made by someone who had grown up with Star Wars, and was able to go through and highlight a lot of things they loved about telling stories in that universe, pointing out what was important about it, while ignoring the uh, 21st-century-Disney-attempt to mimic the 'Mythic' elements of the original trilogy. In that sense, I'm not surprised at all the reaction's as divisive as it is, and am kind of even more curious as to where the new movies go from here.
(The SOLO film, on the other hand, I am not at all interested in)

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