Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi ★★★½

I say with confidence The Last Jedi can come across as an overlong, messy, and hokey middle chapter. However, it is also easily the most ambitious Star Wars film to date, with a wealth of incredible character moments and all new thrills and locations. The fact that this is one of the few studio films in our age that takes a gamble on giving forty years’ worth of franchise material to one creative voice alone is kind of awesome, if risky.

I love quite a bit of this movie yet can’t bring myself to say I love it, in a big picture sense. The biggest mistake is how separated everything feels on a narrative level; the many sub-plots of the film vary in quality depending on the scene alone. Although a few stick the landing, including a story of redemption for Luke, Rey accepting herself as an individual, and Kylo descending further into darkness, the stories for Finn and Poe are undercooked and feel like first draft versions of what could be interesting developments for both characters.

So, the script needs some tweaking, and the two-and-half hour runtime certainly doesn’t help, but there are still great things that hold it up quite well. Johnson’s visual eye candy and unique viewpoint of the saga is so interesting that, with a co-writer to balance everything out, I can see fully embracing. I like the big question the movie presents of “What does it mean to be a hero?”, that the film has multiple perspectives on the subject matter, and how it’s conclusion still sticks to the larger themes of the franchise. It’s the only thread that holds the somewhat disjointed story together and I’m glad it’s at least interesting to think about. 

I also really appreciate the way it continues the meta-commentary of the legacy of the franchise from The Force Awakens. Writer/director Rian Johnson has a real “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” mentality and that means certain plot decisions that aren’t ironed out, but the examination of what franchise has been and what it could be rings pretty powerful.

Perhaps Johnson himself can learn from his and previous artists’ mistakes within the franchise for whatever project he does next, Star Wars or otherwise. The Last Jedi may not be a film I can sing praises about all day long, but it’s certainly one I appreciate and fully understand both sides of the argument.

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