December 20, 2017
Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi (2017) --- "Luke Who's Back And Diary Of A Wimpy Sith."
Luke Skywalker's peaceful and solitary existence gets upended when he encounters Rey, a young woman who shows strong signs of the Force. Her desire to learn the ways of the Jedi forces Luke to make a decision that changes their lives forever. Meanwhile, Kylo Ren and General Hux lead the First Order in an all-out assault against Leia and the Resistance for supremacy of the galaxy. (1)
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Hello, Movie Buffs!
When Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015) came out many viewers complained about how unoriginal and safe it the film was. But now that introductions have been made and timelines have been set, we are given a sequel film that has an actual point of view and incredible style, unlike anything we have seen from the Star Wars series before. The Last Jedi is daring, fresh, original, and it makes The Force Awakens better by further exploring the story. The Star Wars franchise is one of the few that have remained loyal to its theme that good vs. evil is not always black and white because sometimes good guys come from the evil side and vice versa; the moral value of the films is always expanding.
Writer and director Rain Johnson (Looper, Brother’s Bloom) has managed to add some much-needed humor, throw in some wonderful surprises that we all needed, and expand the force mythology without revealing everything all at once. Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is an extensive 2hour film that is an incident and character-packed extravaganza that picks up at the end of Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015) and guides the series into unfamiliar territory. Without spoiling the film, The Last Jedi takes an unexpected path despite being comprised of things we’ve been experiencing both directly and indirectly through Star Wars-inspired entertainment since 1977. There are plot twists that don’t violate or disrupt the inner logic of the Star Wars universe that George Lucas invented but rather they help expand the mythology in a significant way. Surprisingly not many viewers were fond of this approach like they’ve never seen a Star Wars film take risks before, which is something this film does. The film takes a huge risk by offering something fresh to a beloved 40-year-old franchise, while still remaining true to its original trilogy.
The story has a number of lengthy consecutive climaxes that are comprised of tight and often hastily devised subplots that have a standard 50/50 chance of success without seeming like a mocking attempt to build the story. Of course, there are moments when it seems like the film miscalculated or made a bad choice but then you realize that everything was delivered and set up precisely which makes the experience much more mind-blowing. One has to give The Last Jedi credit for doing a much better job than most sequels by giving the audience what they want as well as what they didn’t even know they wanted. Early on it is clear that Johnson was determined to use every scene and shot to create a much wider gap between what is a surprise and what is just an inevitable part of Star Wars. By now we have seen countless scenes with Star Destroyers1, TIE fighters2, Imperial Walkers3, Lightsabers4, and discussions about The Force5 but Johnson has managed to present the same tech, visuals, and mythology in a way that makes it appear new or at least more improved/expanded.
In addition, it’s sentimental and a wakeup call; you can’t control every aspect of life nor the choices that people make. This film is preoccupied with grieving for the past and its need to rise above it while being populated by hounded and broken people who are coming to the end of their hope. This is mostly due to events that took place towards the end of The Force Awakens as well as in relation to the unexpected passing of Carrie Fisher (who received worthy screen time in this film). So when a character is allowed to cry or when a character offers some tough love to another, the final release following the final scene is refreshing. The Last Jedi is also cheeky by adding a much-needed dose of self-deprecating humor without seeming like a smart-alecky short story. The visuals are amazing; the attention to color and composition has not been done since The Empire Strikes Back (1980). Snoke’s (Andy Serkis, LOTR’s Sméagol) throne room with its red walls and red-armored guards is intense; not to mention the final battle set on a flat white surfaced salt planet whose plane gets disrupted to reveal crimson rock underneath. The action and adventure scenes are a sight, to behold, mostly due to the many passionate heroes and villains within the story. The opening space battle scene is emotionally powerful, only the No Man’s Land scene in Wonder Woman can compare, and at its center is a character we just met.
Johnson gives both the newly debuted characters from The Force Awakens – like Rey, Kylo Ren, Finn, BB-8, and Poe – and the beloved veterans characters – like Chewbacca, R2-D2, C3-PO, Luke, and Leia – enough screen time to showcase them at their best while also introducing some compelling new characters - heroic maintenance worker Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran, XOXO), Resistance leader Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern, Jurassic Park), and mysterious safecracker DJ (Benicio Del Toro, Sicaro). Andy Serkis’ portrayal of Supreme Leader Snoke is evil and frighteningly gruesome in appearance as he looks like a CGI-zombie version of Dario Argento. I found Kylo Ren (Adam Driver, Lucky Logan) to be a pretty interesting because he does not simply belong to either side; instead, he remains in what he calls a system by being either above or below one or both sides. Whether or not you noticed, Rey (Daisy Ridley, Murder on the Orient Express) and Kylo Ren are figuratively mirroring characters of each other due to what happened to them in the previous film. Not to mention, Johnson touches on something between these two powerful characters which offers so much potential for wry humor and expands on an ever-growing theory that you wonder why it has not been done before.
Overall, Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017) is an expansive film comprised of many subplots with different climaxes that at first, it seems to be many bad choices only for you to realize that everything was being set up for a much powerful ending. This is everything that a fan could want from a Star Wars film and then some. And while I find no cause or justice to the many low ratings for this film I can say that The Last Jedi is one of the best Star Wars films since Empire Strikes Back.
"Amazing. Every word of what you just said was wrong. The Rebellion is reborn today. The war is just beginning. And I will not be the last Jedi."
- Luke Skywalker
BEST ORDER TO WATCH THE SERIES:
Rogue One: A Star Wars Film (2016)
Star Wars Episode IV: New Hope (1977)
Star Wars Episode V: Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Star Wars Episode I: Phantom Menace (1999)
Star Wars Episode II: Clone Wars (2002)
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
Star Wars Episode IX (TBA)
Worth Seeing: 5 of 5 star
Worth Buying: 5 of 5 stars
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John Carter (2012)
Rogue One (2016)
Star Trek 1 (2009)
Star Trek 2: Into Darkness (2013)
Star Trek 3: Beyond (2016)
Star Wars I: Phantom Menace (1999)
Star Wars II: Attack of the Clone Wars (2002)
Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Star Wars IV: New Hope (1977)
Star Wars V: Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
at 6:00 AM