Title: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Describe This Movie In One Simpsons Quote:
MRS. PRINCE: While my son's at fat camp, I cleaned out his room. How much will you give me for this?
COMIC BOOK GUY: Probably nothing, but let us see... Oh! A handwritten script for Star Wars by George Lucas? Princess Leia's anti-jiggle breast tape? Film reel labeled, "Alternate ending: Luke's father is Chewbacca"?! Oh! Oh! ...I'll give you five dollars for the box.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Annoying kid won't get off old man's lawn on Porg Island.
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Three-and-a-half Bishops from Aliens out of five.
Tagline: There isn’t one. Not that one catchy sentence would convince you one way or the other to see this.
Better Tagline: See above.
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Starkiller Base is no more, but the First Order has nevertheless brought the Resistance, led by Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) to the brink of extinction. Meanwhile Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and a newly revived Finn (John Boyega) have different ideas about how next to proceed. And over on [Googles] Ahch-To, Rey (Daisy Ridley) is finding Jedi legend Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) less than amenable to her pleas. Luckily(?) for her, she may have a new BFF: none other than dad murderer Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).
"Critical" Analysis: Not gonna lie: you will probably hear a lot of people crying during Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Hell, you may be one of them. The screening for the latest entry in the blockbuster space fantasy series yours truly attended was about half full, yet there were louder sobs than at The Notebook. Were they happy tears? Sad tears? Tears for Fears? You’ll just have to find out for yourself.
Like The Force Awakens before it, The Last Jedi leverages nostalgia mightily. This isn’t entirely a bad thing, and there’s enough of the new crew (Rey, Finn, and Poe are joined by Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, and Benicio Del Toro) to go with Fisher, Peter Mayhew/Joonas Suotamo (Chewie), and a wonderfully dyspeptic Mark Hamill as Luke. Indeed, the most surprising part of TLJ might be how great Hamill is here. He anchors the film, and his transformation from alien elephant seal-milking recluse (it’s weird, man) to Jedi Supremo is immensely satisfying.
The movie also finds Jedi heiress apparent Rey wavering in her loyalties. Her initial hero worship fades quickly when it becomes clear Luke is taking a distinctly Murtaugh-ian “too old for this shit” approach to the Resistance. And her unexpected connection with Kylo (they’re on a first name basis now) complicates matters, as does the Rashomon like retelling of what really went down at Luke’s doomed Jedi academy.
It’s also not surprising to say…there are surprises. One expected, one you thought you expected but then not so much, and a few legitimate Ted "Theodore" Logan-esque “Whoa” moments. The Last Jedi melds gripping action with moments of soaring emotion, and even if you haven’t seen it yet, you’re probably still aware of the overwhelmingly positive word of mouth surrounding the film. Reviews have been glowing, and many are comparing it favorably to The Empire Strikes Back, universally regarded as the best movie in the franchise.
The Last Jedi is certainly enjoyable, with great work on the part of the film’s myriad leads, confident – and often brash – direction by Johnston, and some of the most iconic imagery of the series (no spoilers, but several shots from the film’s final 20 minutes will stay with you for a while). “Episode VIII” continues Star Wars’ resurgence and in many ways improves on the promise of The Force Awakens. It also falls prey to some of the same pitfalls.
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For while TFA had yet another astromech carrying secret information on another desert planet to another Force-enabled orphan. TLJ has that same Force-enabled orphan traveling to get training from another crusty old Jedi on another remote planet with another Dark Side hole. That both of these movies work as well as they do is a credit to all involved, but by the time we get to knuckle-walking AT-ATs laying siege to a(nother) snow-covered base, you start thinking (or keep thinking, if you’ve been reading these reviews for a while): man, it’d sure be nice to explore some non-Skywalker storylines.
And rehashes aren’t the movie’s only problems. The movie-long chase scene (DID YOU KNOW: a star destroyer can be outrun almost indefinitely by a transport), which ends in both awesome and logically maddening fashion, serves primarily as a means to give Finn and Rose (Tran) something to do, but their jaunt to the casino planet of Canto Bight serves little purpose besides introducing Del Toro, updating the cantina scene, and offering up a tired CGI chase scene that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Attack of the Clones. Kudos (maybe) to Johnson for introducing income inequality to the Star Wars universe, but the entire sequence feels rushed and shoehorned into an already long movie.
Having said that, the payoff for that scene almost makes it worthwhile.
But the highs definitely outweigh the lows, and The Last Jedi is in the upper tier of films set in that far, far away galaxy. Let’s just hope there’s as much enthusiasm for new stories in a few years when the current trilogy wraps up.