Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi ★★★½

Having had the chance to see it twice now, that should be testament enough that The Last Jedi is worth a watch. Where The Force Awakens revitalized the Star Wars saga, Rogue One reminded us that, yes, this is still a dinky franchise designed to sell toys to children and nerds. With all of that established, The Last Jedi inhabits a space of the best and worst aspects of its predecessors while opening up the series for something heretofore unexplored. As some folks have mentioned, the humor really does fall flat this time around. I don't think I've ever witnessed this many people silently cringe from punchline to punchline as the two sold-out screenings I attended. I didn't laugh, but I nevertheless enjoyed that aspect of it. I thought it was campy, and that puts it firmly back into it's place among other b-movies this year (I'm looking at you Valerian). I would like to think that it reminded a few people that these movies aren't sacrosanct, and there's just as many bad movies in this series as there are good. Another common gripe many had was with the casino planet sequence. I couldn't agree more. Not only was this plot line essentially filler and unnecessary to the overall story, I was having flashbacks to the prequels, replete with the CG clutter, slapstick humor, and a goofy chase scene with a dumb looking animal that we haven't seen before nor will we probably see again. My biggest gripe, however, is the acting from most of the supporting characters. Hell, the damned movie opens with the most awful line reads from two unnamed characters. Seriously, Rian? You're really going with that performance for the first lines of dialogue in this billion dollar franchise entry? Most of these gripes can be forgiven if one remembers that this is a campy space show for kids, but it's hard to keep that in mind when the nostalgia kicks in, John William's score amps up, and you remember Carrie Fischer is dead. There's definitely some mixed emotions here, and I had to put this onto my "Single Tear" movie list. What I did enjoy from the movie (aside from Mark Hamill drinking titty milk from a dick pelican and, later, what is quite possibly the coolest space explosion sequence I've ever seen) was that there's this pervasive sense that it's time to let go of the past. The implied Christ allegory of Anakin/Luke Skywalker is over with, and we're entering a much more morally complicated paradigm emerging from the simplistic Sith/Jedi, First Order/Rebellion, Evil/Good duality. This opens up the franchise to some grander, or least more post-modern thematic explorations. I'm not holding my breath that it will work out that way in future episodes, but there's at least now the possibility that these movies will break out of the formulaic trappings of the past.

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