Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi ★★★★★

"Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to. That's the only way to become what you are meant to be."

***

Before having finally seen The Last Jedi with my own eyes, I had spent months steadfastly keeping myself from watching all of the trailers the Disney marketing department had released, in order to maintain some semblance of the element of surprise about the film's contents, as well as avoid seeing any imagery that could potentially be considered spoilerific (and having now retroactively watched the final trailer post-film-viewing, I'm so glad I skipped right past it).

This meant that every time I went to the cinema to see any film whatsoever, and any of the trailers popped up during the obligatory 25-to-30 minute pre-film advert reel, I literally closed my eyes to them every single time, so that all I wound up knowing about in advance was hearing a few contextless lines of dialogue, and some dramatic-sounding Star Wars-ian sound effects.

But on December 15th, 2017, the time came when I could mercifully put an end to this ridiculous pantomime, and just watch the whole damn film unencumbered, unbiased, and unabashedly unexpecting of whatever writer/director Rian Johnson had in store for me.

And... wow... what an absolute goddamn treasure he has presented to us - the unsuspecting public - with The Last Jedi.

Now, the biggest of the big reasons I went into the film cold - just like I did with The Force Awakens in 2015 - is because I didn't want the opinions of other people (especially fellow Star Wars geeks) to colour my own individual feelings about it.

Because, as the old funny-because-it's-true joke goes:

"Nobody hates Star Wars as much as Star Wars fans."

And in the weeks since The Last Jedi was released, that joke feels like it's never been more true than it is right now.

This film has polarizingly split audience reactions in twain in such a dramatic fashion that I've not seen since Batman v Superman.

It's been truly flabbergasting to behold.

And it's altogether made me overabundantly thankful that I searched my feelings, and knew them to be true within myself, before being exposed to the chaotic maelstrom of feverish Star Wars fanboy outrage.

To perfectly encapsulate the Kafkaesque zero-sum-game impossible-to-satisfy Sarlacc Pit of Doom that the die-hardiest of die hard Star Wars fanboys has created for themselves with their contradictory expectations, here's a genius little slice of satire I first heard read out on Kermode & Mayo's Film Review, sent in by a listener who found it somewhere online, likely from a now-deleted Reddit post I found through Google, but which I then re-found in the comments section of this Star Wars Wiki page:

"To help J.J. plan the next film, here's the perfect formula:
Make it the same as the original trilogy, but also make it different. But don't change anything.
Make sure to include surprises, but not surprises we don't want. In fact, avoid surprises. But don't rehash anything. Also don't try something new, because we won't like it.
Make sure to do justice to the cast, but we won't say how. Just make sure to get it right.
I want it to be exactly the way I want it. Just a bit different. And also the same.
Make sure we know the back story to all the characters, even the incidental ones (because we are all speculating, and you better be reading my mind), but leave it mysterious at the same time.
No CGI! Keep it practical. But make sure to expand the universe like the prequels did... you know, using CGI.
Also, don't do anything the prequels did. Or Force Awakens. Or the original trilogy. But make it like those films too.
Give it some humour, too. But don't make it too funny.
Show us some new force powers! But not ones we haven't seen before, because new powers are ridiculous.
Don't kill anyone! It betrays my childhood. But also make it unpredictable by killing off a few characters.
Clear? Good."

SWEET CHRISTMAS, BATMAN, I NEED SOME GODDAMN DEATHSTICKS!!

Anyway, this review is already long enough, and I've managed to avoid dipping into any spoilers myself (for the 3 people on Earth who haven't yet seen the film), so I'll just end this first review by saying:

I fucking love what Rian Johnson has done with The Last Jedi.

It's a massive, unwieldy, messy, epic, mythic, full-bloodedly heartfelt ode to the Star Wars that once was, the Star Wars we've come to know, and the infinite unexplored possibilities of the Star Wars of the future.

It's a sprawling, beautiful macro spectacle of gloriously majestic and entirely unrealistic space battles, and a thought-provoking micro exploration of the far-reaching consequences of the decisions of the past, a study of moralities and ideologies of characters old and new, and a subtle interrogation into what we expect and demand from stories that are made to continue and expand upon a fictional tale that seemingly ended decades before.

Yep - just like I said with Blade Runner 2049, and now like I'm saying with The Last Jedi (and which, I now realise, I should retroactively say about Logan as well), everything in 2017 links back to Twin Peaks: The Return, with the perpetually reoccurring themes of sequel deconstructionism/elaboration/extension, the impact of advancing age upon beloved characters, the consequences of past decisions upon the present and the future, the lingering spectre of death, and everything we think we know about life, the world, and our place in it, being subject to endless reevaluation, evolution, and subversion by the Forces of a larger, unknowable universe completely beyond our control.

And all this...

...FROM A STAR WARS MOVIE.

Godspeed to your valiant, genius efforts, Rian.

And in terms of following this up, and concluding the trilogy?
Best of luck to you, J.J.
(You're damn well gonna need it... again...)

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