Overall: 16/20 – A
Director: Rian Johnson
Cast: Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, John Boyega, Carrie Fisher
**Millenium Falcon sized spoilers ahead**
Okay, I’m going to admit it. I got lazy. That and the holidays are always an insane time with people coming and going and eating. So much eating. That being said, I’ve seen four movies that I haven’t written about and that makes me sad. So, I’m going to try to make up for this by retroactively writing them up. Forgive me if the Murder on the Orient Express is a little slim but that was the first one back in November and my brain has trouble remembering back that far.
But first… Star Wars.
I’m one of those people who will walk through a room, realize Star Wars is on, double back, and immediately start speaking with the characters in perfect harmony (never watch movies with me). That’s how well I know these movies. In fact, Return of the Jedi was one of the first movies I actually remember watching as a child. And yes, I’ve been to Disney World during Star Wars Weekend (much to my sister’s both amusement and horror – as she was dragged along with me). So believe me, I can be as critical as the next when it comes to Star Wars. These were my movies. My first obsessions. My first fanfics to write and my first chapter books to devour. I was writing fanfiction for it before my adolescent brain really knew what fanfic was.
I avoided all spoilers. I avoided Twitter like the plague (traditional plug: follow me at @honestmidwest, please and thank you). And it’s a good thing I did. Because I loved it. I laughed, I cried, I watched in amazement. I was happy with it. And then I got online and found out just how big of a wave it created. Imagine my surprise.
Characterization and storyline are perhaps the most controversial parts of this movie (at least according to Twitter). I personally love it. The story opens with the Rebels fleeing the First Order, which has apparently grown larger after Starkiller Base was destroyed in The Force Awakens (TFA). After a daring bombing, the Rebel Fleet jumps to hyperspace only to realize they have no hope of shaking off the First Order. Our fan favorite, John Boyega as Finn, goes on a semi-rescue mission to find a hacker to shut the First Order down while Oscar Isaac as Poe holds down the fort (read: cause as much chaos as possible). Tagging along with Finn is Star Wars Newbie Kelly Marie Tran, who plays Rose, the average, everyday person caught up in heroics she never expected. Meanwhile, Daisy Ridley continues as the go-getter Rey trying to convince a very grumpy Mark Hamill to return to the fight as the legendary Luke Skywalker. While trying to figure out her heritage and what the force really means, she finds herself inexplicably mindlinked to our favoritest emo kid on the block, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren. It all comes to head in what has become one of my favorite Mark Hamill moments of the entire series.
One of the main complaints that I saw while surfing the internet was that Mark Hamill was totally out of character. People wanted to know where their Luke Skywalker had gone. In some ways this was even confirmed by Mark Hamill. It was a different Luke then they’d seen in the past. The irony of it is that everywhere I look I see people clamoring for character development. That’s one of the biggest complaints about movies. “They didn’t change. There was no growth.” And then when Luke Skywalker changed, fanboys and girls started screaming. Return of the Jedi was released in 1983. In case people can’t math, that’s 34 years. I challenge anyone to look at the person they were 34 years ago, heck, even 10 years ago and say they haven’t changed. I’m certainly not the person I thought I would be. So don’t complain when a fictional character who we have literally grown up with is not the same person we knew when we were younger.
Another complaint was the Rose and Finn arc. Again, this boils down to what people were expecting versus what they got. People wanted Finn and Rey. What they got was Finn and Rose. I agree, you could have taken out the entire arc and it wouldn’t have made much of a difference to the story at this point. But let’s face it, a significant portion of people who made up the original movies are dead. Or can no longer work for one reason or another. If we want these movies to continue, new people, new planets, and new ideas have to come to life. We have no idea what’s in store for Rose. She may die between this episode and the next. She may become Finn’s girlfriend. She may find one of those funky animals she loves and go riding off into the sunset. Who cares? She was there. It happened. The point is, she was a heart-filled character that brought the war from generals and princesses down to the ordinary person. Back to where it started with a farmboy. And her message is one that can’t be ignored. Don’t fight what you hate. Save what you love.
The one thing we can all agree on is that they handled Carrie Fisher’s exit from the film with phenomenal aplomb. Her scenes were some of the most heartrending scenes in the entire movie. In a way, almost everyone got to say goodbye to her on screen as did the audience. And like her real life persona, Princess Leia always leaves you guessing what she’s going to do next.
Oh my goodness. The visuals in this movie are stunning. I felt like minus the entire Casino sequence, the amount of CGI was perfect. I’m pretty sure ½ of the audience left wanting a Porg and the other half wanted the crystal fox. Let me know in the comments which one you wanted! (The correct answer is crystal fox, obviously). The space battles were epic. I did hear minor, questioning chatter about how bombs could “fall” in space, but there’s nothing saying that the bombs weren’t actually being launched/shot straight down and once traveling in space, continued on their trajectory due to lack of friction. Just a thought. While I loved Luke’s island and the vast green found on it, the two visuals that stuck with me the most was the sight of that cruiser hyperdriving its way through the middle of the lead ship followed very closely by the battle on the salt planet, starting with the launch of the fighters, ending with a well timed “See ya around, kid.” (Which to me smacked of Han Solo, so that would be a fitting parting to Kylo Ren).
I have to admit, John Williams disappointed me with this one. In fact, all of the new ones have disappointed me with their music. Maybe it’s just because I’ve seen the others so many times, but if I hear that music, I automatically know where it takes place in the saga. These new films, I would be hard pressed to identify anything beyond Rey’s theme. The rest just sort of blends into the background. In fact, the most stunning part of the movie is when there is nothing but dead silence.
Overall: A solid addition to the Star Wars Universe, The Last Jedi had an intriguing plot, plenty of character development and some stunning visuals. Not to mention it was a fitting goodbye for our princess. RIP Carrie Fisher. The galaxy is a little brighter with your star in it.
Adults: If you aren’t a fanboy who has very definite ideas than you’ll probably love it as a good solid Star Wars film with lots of laughs and tears.
Children: Uh yeah. Adorable critters, jedi masters, and awesome space battles. What’s not to love?