Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) Review

director: Rian Johnson

writer: Rian Johnson

starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill and Adam Driver

genre: Action | Adventure | Fantasy

released: 14 December 2017 (Australia, Germany, Greece), 15 December 2017 (USA), 

The no named character in the film 'DJ' states at one point to Finn that the machine goes on with or without them and hints that he shouldn't get involved in other people's games. As this will only lead to sorrow and loss after a certain point without any personal gain. Something that after seeing the film is a perfect summation of what we have lost by continuing to demand for more 'Star Wars' films and expecting Hollywood to get it right at some point.

story:

The resistance/rebels are still on the run with the First Order not the Empire, close on their tail. Poe, Finn and Leia are organizing the rebel movements and trying to outsmart them to the best of their abilities.

While at the same time, the First Order are one step ahead with Kylo Ren and Snoke having secret plans for them and also for the force sensitive Rey. Who on the Jedi island planet finds Luke Skywalker and hopes to make him join the fight against the First Order.

thoughts:

Lucasfilm, Disney and writer-director Rian Johnson threw a giant wrench not only into audience expectations of where this series was going, but also to the foundation's they built in the first place (The Force Awakens).

Everybody was wishing for different things or hoping at least the series would become a little more complex and at the same time spicy. As the trip down nostalgia lane was fine the first time around and the new characters introduced were decent to follow at least a second time. Although, the issue is that there is nothing complex about this new Star Wars trilogy and were already two films in. The spice that could have been added through unexpected twists and story developments never actually materialized and to a point there is still some nostalgia present, with old characters coming back and the film feeling like 'Empire Strikes Back' at times with the training scenes and the B plot of people on the run. SPOILERS While in other moments like 'Return of the Jedi' with the attempts of changing Kylo or Rey towards one side of the force to the other and in front a grand Sith Lord. SPOILERS Not to mention, the Obi Wan Kenobi arc Luke embarked on in the film with a similar fate.

Naturally, many of these things were unavoidable. Nonetheless, many of the issues of the first film in this new series are still present. One of which is why does the 'First Order' even exist? Is it a continuation of the Empire and how? Next, who is Snook and how were the Sith not defeated with Sidious? Also, what happened to the old Rebel Alliance and their victory of the second Death Star? Many of these questions will probably never get answered, either due to the production not caring or not knowing how to answer them as of yet. The question though that was finally answered and unexpectedly SPOILERS was that Rey's parents were nobodies. Yep, she is not a Skywalker, nor a Jinn or a Kenobi, but a nobody. This didn't bother me as much as others, as it still made sense that Rey's path could be individualistic, personal and separate to the Skywalker family. Kylo Ren is the one that covers that part for better or worse and Rey can be left to be her own person and not riddled by destiny or family mistakes. This development also helped in her own personal arc and odd connection to Kylo Ren which was one of the best elements of the film.

Of which, SPOILERS was not only the best part of the film, but also the weirdest. It does come out of nowhere and in the film is explained to a point, but despite of the reason they got to have this connection, it comes out to make a lot of sense and explores new territories of the force and their emotional & mental state. While also their purpose as individuals and the greater scheme of things with the battle of good and evil. Both coming from a similar situation of being conflicted on which path to take and possibly tantalized by what the other side of the force offers. They also weirdly want to understand and help one another and see their success through each other As if to prove a point or to find someone to fix/rule the galaxy with. SPOILERS Personally, this was the best part of the film and while I would have been surprised by a twist on one of the two changing sides, I still respect the decision to keep this status quo to a small degree. However, many were hoping (including myself) that the duality of light vs dark would change and a new status quo would emerge. No longer would it be the Jedi's vs. Sith, but the inclusion of a new class of force sensitive beings coming into play. Forgoing the Jedi books and master Lordships. This though would have made things more complicated and Lucasfilms/Disney were never prepared to go the extra mile. Additionally, this would have made the films more force based, instead of the more human non force style they now have.

Other great reasons to be annoyed by the film is the overreach of its humor as if it was 'Guardians of the Galaxy' or any other Marvel production. Lightening things up at points where a serious tone was needed to be struck and not slapstick or sight gag humor. This complaint is particular to Rey's Jedi training which was unenlightening and didn't mix with the more serious scenes in the rest of the film or with her deep connection with Kylo. Furthermore, having an iconic movie character come back after decades of absence to have him throw a lightsaber behind his back as if it was a silly trinket and milking a sea creature is not only disrespectful to fans, but dare I say worse possibly than Jar Jar Binks entire presence within the prequels. That and having Poe Dameron crack up 'Yo Mama' jokes while talking to General Hux was out of place and cringy.

Moving on, the film also has issues when its comes to its structure and scene transitions. First and foremost, it doesn't take serious the events of the previous film or the dialogue and exposition the characters have to make. Getting the characters informed about events they weren't previously privy to, for example Han's death that Luke wasn't aware of. The film pretty much has Luke ask what happened, but then cuts somewhere else as if it was of no importance. While also the film cutting between scenes of the rebels and Luke's island as if it was a TV show where we meet the characters exactly where we left them, so we don't get confused. Which is odd as leaving some time to pass for actual scenes of drama to take place enhances the importance of the events and in specific Rey's training and the lives that were lost in space. Additionally, put this into comparison to how Luke's training was dealt with on Dagoba and you will understand what I mean. In regards, to the structure of the film, it comes down to the long length of it, the dual endings it has, in addition to the bad casino subplot, while also the Poe/Admiral subplot that was entirely pointless.

In a little more detail, the Casino subplot could have been cut out of the film and if you want to go even further the entire Finn/Rose subplot could have been also ditched. In the end, it turned out to be a giant waste of time. From the Maz Kanata cameo that was unnecessary and the character literally answering a Skype call in space while she was in a blaster fight, to the new character of DJ played by Benicio Del Toro who is kooky and plays no vital role to the greater plot. But, in regards to the main characters of this subplot, it seems as if the point of it all was merely to get Rose cosy with Finn in order to be a love interest and for them to spew rhetoric about war profiteering and class warfare. It's difficult not to notice all the political messages this new Star Wars is pushing and its disturbing that they thought this would sit well with fans. They even managed to put an animals rights message in it, where Rose literally has the dumbest line in the whole film by saying "now its worth it." So wasting time and possibly getting themselves killed was all worth it, because they saved a couple of space ostriches and trashed the Bourgeoisie hangout, great!

Lastly, its worth covering a bit on the themes at play in the film and some of the character arcs that went astray, but in concept weren't bad. As the problem is that some of the characters have their arcs stolen, repeated on them or made out to be entire fools. With the themes of the film also being a crucial part to those arcs.

The first of two themes chosen SPOILERS...SPOILERS was as master Yoda states "The greatest teacher, failure is." With first in line being Finn who had also the worst arc of them all. Within the film he gets the chance to be the ultimate hero SPOILERS with attempting to save everyone by sacrificing himself towards the end of the film. This would have been a honorable death and not to mention another game changer for the series. But, sadly it was stolen by the new character Rose with the dumbest explanation of her action with the line “That’s how we’re going to win. Not fighting what we hate. Saving what we love.” Which is hysterical when she just met the dude and he could have actually allowed for more of the rebels to be saved and actually been useful for once in the film. He would have also then been the true hero of the rebellion and not the hero everyone presumed based Rose's comments earlier in the film. In addition, proving to her that sacrificing yourself for the greater good is a great honor, as its to the benefit of others. Something that she selfishly can't accept as her sister made the same decision and Rose the wiser of the bunch thought to act on feelings and by the end of the film not comprehend what it means to be a hero. Which funny enough is allowed for the Green hair Admiral in the film SPOILERS to kamikaze her way through a Star Destroyer, but not for Finn or for that matter Leia. Also, side note: how come no one else ever realized that they could kamikaze light speed into other ships?

Final point is in regards to Poe's arc which was again to a point making the mistake of going his own way that led to other Rebel comrades deaths, but it was done twice in the film and we and him got it the first time. He learned the lesson once with the bomber run, but for some reason had to go through it again with the unnecessary Admiral subplot. Where the film made an Admiral lie to her Captain due to the plot demanding it and for him to go through the same lesson twice. So the film could be even more mysterious and for us to believe either that she is incompetent or a double agent only because they wanted to lengthen the already thin plot.

The second theme at play is the one Kylo Ren mentions during the film which is "Let The Past Die, Kill It!" Which I liked, but by watching the film you notice that they are at the same time killing everything you used to love about Star Wars. From our respect of Jedi's and the way of the force, to Yoda being turned into a drunk dead fool and the axing of every Star Wars character mainstay from the original trilogy. How intentional or unintentional this is we might never know, but its fairly obvious and many of us aren't happy with it.

verdict:

The magic is officially gone and the final nail in the coffin didn't come from George Lucas, but from Disney. The desire to take risks and get audiences talking about what 'Star Wars' means for the 21st century is lost and what we have instead is a simplistic narrative that doesn't go far enough in getting us connected with the new characters on screen, with story development prime time for tweens and subplots that you could literally not care any more about. At least the film does give you the chance to take a break and go to the bathroom. Because that's the kind of film 'The Last Jedi' is, a film where if you went to the bathroom mid-scene you wouldn't be missing much.

Personal Rating:

2.5 Stars.jpg

review by Paul Katsaros

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