I want to start off and say I am sorry for anyone who came to the last Star Wars review only to find it ‘blocked’ by the internet provider. The intention was to get your attention to what is going on in the US with Net Neutrality and to take action. Sadly things didn’t work out as intended but the fight isn’t over.
So now, the real review. I am sure my contributor @abenglish84 will be doing one of his own and I am curious to see his take, but this is mine for better or worse.
As a fan of the Star Wars franchise since birth, I can honestly not remember a time before the Star Wars Universe existed. The franchise started in 1977 and I was born soon after, so when I say it has been a part of my life since birth, I really mean it. To me, it has been eternal and that is the case to many people my age and younger. Star Wars introduced me to my first Action Figures, my first obsession with collectibles. I had Star Wars Bed sheets, clothing, book & record sets, Star Wars was my life as a kid.
That being said, the fact that this franchise is still not only alive but thriving really speaks to the importance of the universe that George Lucas built. He has, in borrowing from other mythologies, created a mythology that is as much a part of our human culture as Robin Hood or The Arthurian Legends. It is something that everyone knows something about, even if they have never seen a single movie. (yes, there are those that still haven’t.)
So, when it was announced that the long awaited sequels were to come I was both excited and trepidatious. After our experience with the Prequels and a certain 4th Indiana Jones film, I wasn’t sure I wanted more movies from this universe. Okay, sure, I wanted more but just how much leeway was I willing to give for more films? Because of this, I was not one of the first in line to see Episode 7, nor was I concerned about spoilers. In fact I looked them up on purpose! (Yes I even learned about THAT death). You see, I wanted to know everything I could about that film before seeing so that I could watch it with full knowledge of what I was getting into. And although I did go in knowing nearly the entire story, I found myself pleasantly entertained and delighted. As I watched Han and Leia reunite, as I watched Rey and Finn travel across the galaxy, as I watched Kylo Ren throw a tantrum, as I watched the Millennium Falcon in action once more, I was a kid again. JJ Abrams had brought me back to my childhood and this was good. I wanted more.
For two years I waited and as soon as the credits rolled I was ready for Episode 8. I no longer wanted to be fully spoiled, I was a full fledged fan again. The memories of the prequels had been burned from my mind and I even found myself diving into The Clone Wars Animated Series and then on to Rebels (both of which are a delight). I enjoyed the heck out of Rogue One and so this brings us to now.
Star Wars Episode VII The Last Jedi.
I promise not to spoil too much for you here and I will not ruin any of the surprises that are to come (and there are quite a few). That being said, there may be a couple tiny minor spoilers but nothing that will ruin the surprises in store.
The Last Jedi picks up almost immediately where The Force Awakens ends, the New Rebellion is in tatters, Rey is still standing on Ach-to in front of Luke and Kylo is still a broody little bitch. Okay, that last one isn’t very fair, he does have some character development in this film but he also does throw another one of his famous tantrums in this film as well so take it how you want.
The first act of the film is solid, reminding the viewers where everyone is and really giving us a chance to get to know Poe Dameron, a character that was severely sidelined in the last film. We get to see just how dedicated the New Rebellion is in their fighting as well and, likely inspired by Rogue One, Rian Johnson shows he’s not afraid to show death in spades. We get to find out how Finn is doing after his encounter with Kylo in the last film and, of course, what Rey is up to on Ach-to with Luke. Then we get to meet Rose.
Rose is a solid, likeable character (with somewhat hamfisted origin story) and could really grow to be a more developed character in the future. She and Finn have an adventure of their own but, sadly, this side adventure comes at a cost. That cost is that most of the second act feels forced. It almost feels like it was dropped in specifically to give Finn something to do with his new friend Rose when they really didn’t need to do anything. I understand wanting to include Finn in the story as he was a great character in The Force Awakens but mostly their part of the film could have been removed without so much as losing a beat in the overall story.
That being said, the Finn/Rose adventure wasn’t entirely bad, it just really didn’t fit in the flow of the film. Had they used this story as a comic book or a novel about an adventure with them together it would have worked beautifully. Come to think of it, this may be a case of our writer/director Rian Johnson not following one of the key rules in storytelling, not every plot in a story is necessary for the overall work and, sometimes you have to kill your darlings. Had he followed this rule, the film would have been nearly flawless with a much smoother delivery as a whole. Sadly, Rian’s desire to provide a touch point for every character from The Force Awakens is obvious and really drags the middle of the film down.
Where the story shines is the narrative of Rey finding her place in the universe. Her desire to discover who she is and where she is from is intense, even seeking out a hermit by the name of Luke Skywalker to do it. Her interactions with Luke are fantastic and, when this part of the story comes to it’s conclusion it really makes you appreciate her even more. I would love to tell you more about this journey but if I did it would completely spoil the surprises in store and that wouldn’t be fair to you. I will tell you that, every time Leia arrives on screen you will likely get a little misty eyed there as well. While Leia is not central to the plot, Carrie Fisher’s death does cast a sombre shadow over the film and man do we miss her.
I wish I could tell you that this was, indeed, the perfect Star Wars film. That it met and exceeded every expectation that I had allowed myself to build up over the past two years but, sadly, I can’t do that. With some editing and tightening, it could have been, but like I said earlier, that is because someone wanted to give us more than needed. Overall, I had fun and that is really what matters. I went to be entertained and, I was, very much so. There are some genuinely joyful and shocking moments that will make you gasp, laugh and even get a little misty eyed. It is even one of the more humorous entries along the lines of Guardians of the Galaxy at times. Is the film good? sure, it is, but be sure to leave your expectations at the door and go to be entertained.
And there is nothing at the end of the credits but stick around till the mid point for a nice bit in honor of someone we lost, it’s worth it.
If you don’t mind spoilers check out Star Wars The Last Jedi: The Breakdown.
Late To The Game 12/15/2017
Thanks for reading, If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Wednesday and also a complete review of Star Trek Discovery. Be sure to check out our contributor Darkmovienight with the New Movie Reviews every Sunday.
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