The Last Jedi Thoughts (No Spoilers)

December 18, 2017

lastjedi

So this is a rather polarizing film, isn’t it? I’m guessing the filmmakers are pleased about that in a way (so long as the box office is strong… which it is). They’ve shaken up the Star Wars universe and have people talking about it again beyond the superficial.

But what do I think about the film? (Let’s pretend for a minute that it matters to you!) It’s okay; a perfectly acceptable blockbuster. But it’s my least favorite Star Wars film.

I don’t mind that Rian Johnson is trying to do something different; the problem is he’s turned historic Star Wars strengths into weaknesses. Several of the reasons Star Wars has always been successful (and why fans like myself have always been able to count on the films to avoid the negative trends in the film industry) is the following:

  1. The films traditionally have had strong central through lines that don’t lose their focus.
  2. The stories have a strong sense of continuity.
  3. Each film has gamechanging revelations and consequences for the main characters that make the two hours invested seem worthwhile.
  4. While the writers may spinkle in some comedy, the plots maintain their serious tone, especially while building towards their climax.
  5. The films are very tightly edited from beginning to end.

Johnson’s script struggles with all of these, with an unfocused, meandering story that does all it can to ignore its prequel while telling us little new about the characters.

And yet all the same, The Last Jedi does have its strengths. The acting (which has not always been good for the franchise) is wonderful, with Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, and Adam Driver delivering powerful performances that help carry the film. The idea that not everyone has to be a Skywalker to be important is a welcome treat. (And let’s not take John Williams for granted. The 85 year old composer delivers another stunning score.)

But there are many other films with great actors and great music. I go to Star Wars to see something more. I want to see another part of an established mythos that avoids the faults of the traditional summer blockbuster and gives me food for thought.

The Force Awakens did that. The Last Jedi didn’t. But your mileage may very, and I have no problem with a Star Wars movie made for other people. It’s possible that these sort of films have simply passed me by.

Grey HR Line

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