IronWatcher’s review published on Letterboxd:
Rewatch-a-thon to Star Wars Episode 9
Step 10 of 10
Watched on 3D-Blu-Ray
As controversial as the film is in retrospect among many, one thing is undeniable: "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens" was THE movie event in 2015. There were many records broken, the hype was not from this world. No wonder. Even under normal circumstances a new part of the star saga would have meant a state of emergency. And here the circumstances were anything but normal, we were finally allowed to find out what had become of the heroes of the first hour. J.J. Abrams was also very skilled at appealing to the nostalgia in the older fans. Not only were we allowed to see Luke, Leia and Han again more than 30 years later, there were so many allusions and references as if they had dug up an old yearbook. That was a bit exaggerated in retrospect, after the initial euphoria the film now has the reputation of having been too careful, of having copied the old parts too much, first and foremost A New Hope.
Now then, "The Last Jedi". The hype was a bit weaker overall, but at least the fans were eagerly awaiting the middle part of the new trilogy. After all, Episode 7 had brought a lot of new things with all the repetitions - and with it open questions. What has Luke been up to all these years? Who are Rey's parents? What does the mysterious Snoke look like in real life? In fact, Rian Johnson provides an answer to all these questions. It's just not necessarily the answers that were expected or even hoped for. The great strength of the now eighth part is how much it plays with the expectations of the audience. One moment he fulfils them, the next he turns everything upside down.
That's great solved in the storyline around Luke and Rey. Of course, memories of "The Empire Strikes Back", in which the young protagonist also apprenticeships with an old master, come to life. The fact that the former pupil is now in charge here nicely completes the story. At the same time, however, this constellation in the successor clearly deviates from what happened on Dagobah in 1980.
In addition to the dark scenes, Johnson devotes himself to the psychological abysses. These are the most gripping moments in the film, not least because of the cast: Hamill is in top form here, the joint appearances of Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver are also exciting.
While there has been excellent work done at these points and the movie is euphorically received for it, this is only half the truth. Finally, "The Last Jedi" also had to tell what's going on with the other characters. And this is where the many weaknesses that plague the eighth Star Wars begin. To give Rey and Luke the chance to spend a little more time together and find each other, Johnson decided to just stop the second arc. The rise of the First Order, the collapse of the Republic, the decimation of resistance - all this is told in the iconic title scroll. Then follows idling. A very, very long idle. The film lasts two and a half hours, longer than any other part of the saga. And yet it has the least to tell. What happens here, for example, would have happened in Star Wars Rebels in a single episode. The already absurd situation is protracted in an awkward, unimaginative and unnecessary way.
Also "The Empire Strikes Back" told about a parallel escape. But at least you had the impression that it was really going on and that the characters were developing. As interesting as it is what Johnson does with Luke, Rey and Kylo, most of the rest is boring. For example, he didn't know what to do with Finn, Poe is degraded to a headless daredevil, BB-8 is only a comic relief, the new resistance member Rose Tico is only squeezed in with a lot of kitsch. But General Hux, who mutates from a fascistoid despot to a joke figure, has been particularly badly hit. Quite a waste who has seen the Irishman Domnhall Gleeson in other movies.
And there's more to the comedy of "The Last Jedi". Sure, there has always been humor in Star Wars. The original trilogy had funny moments. The prequels too - sometimes intentional, sometimes less. Also in "The Force Awakens" and in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" you could laugh. So the presence of jokes isn't wrong per se. In fact, they are often really funny. They just don't fit into the movie at all. The oneliner and slapstick moments are like from a Marvel movie and bite each other well with the rest. As if a foreign author had smuggled them into the script.
It's also annoying to try to sell some stuffed animals for Christmas with the help of small CGI figures. "But the Ewoks," some will object. That's not completely wrong. While the meter-sized teddy bears were certainly designed with economic interest in mind, they were at least strongly integrated into the story in "Return of the Jedi". The arbitrary creatures that appear here in the middle are completely different, without it becoming clear why. To make things even more difficult, they have the typical computer look, like so many things here.
In Episode 7 the complaints were already big that Maz Kanata was an uninspired little CGI creature. This time it's no different, even worse. The bizarre creatures, another highlight of the series under George Lucas, have become boring decals, as you can find them in no-name computer games. This is especially tragic with Snoke, whose artificial 08/15-look prevents him from even rudimentarily keeping up with the diabolical emperor. And that's a pity.
Too bad not only because the expectations of "The Last Jedi" were gigantic, now that all the characters were established and Lucasfilm could concentrate on the story. It's a shame, because there is so much excellent material here, excellent actors - among others Laura Dern joins the troupe as vice admiral - at every corner, this time there are finally new spaceships.
But just as everything has two sides in the movie, light and dark side can't do without each other, very strong elements meet very weak ones here. For fans, the movie is a must, of course, even if only to pay their respects to Carrie Fisher, who died nearly 3 years ago. However, the film didn't become the hoped-for masterpiece, but "only" a good science fiction fairy tale, which talks a lot about balance, but doesn't have the balance itself.