“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” serves up moments you’ll like, maybe even love, throughout its 151-minute running time.
And then there’s the rest of it.
The latest “Star Wars” entry is nowhere near the digitized debacle of the first two prequels. Still, coming off 2015’s effective reboot and the stellar “Rogue One” “The Last Jedi” is a disappointment.
There’s worse news for right-of-center movie fans. The film stops cold to sling some stale talking points against the rich. That’s something the franchise has avoided for decades — tapping a progressive meme instead of focusing on the elemental themes that made the saga so potent.
The moment doesn’t kill the movie. Not in the least. It’s still one of several signs writer/director Rian Johnson was the wrong man to steer the series.
Heroic Rey (Daisy Ridley, growing beautifully into the role) has finally found Luke Skywalker, but recruiting him to fight the First Order won’t be easy. He’s disillusioned with both The Force and his role in leading Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) to the Dark Side.
Rey’s resistance has more immediate problems.
The First Order knows the rebels’ location. A battalion of Star Destroyers is on their tail, and the ragtag fleet’s fuel is running out. Good thing Finn (John Boyega) and his new pal Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) have a plan to save the day. Only it’ll take plenty of screen time while dragging the franchise into the culture wars … where it most certainly doesn’t belong.
John Williams’ score punches the clock in the best of ways, although it’s too soon to know if any new arrangements will become iconic.
Johnson’s screenplay bounces between silly laugh lines and expository drivel. “Quick, we have to [fill in the blank] in order to [fill in another blank].” The formula gets tired after the first hour, and there’s still so much time left to reuse and recycle it. The story is essentially the rebellion hiding in one place, getting caught, and then finding another spot to hide.
We haven’t had this kind of compelling tale since “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
Johnson drops plenty of cutesy comic moments into the mix, some of which would make even George Lucas blush. What was passable in 1977 no longer flies as easily today. And a franchise as esteemed as this one deserves richer comic relief.
Consider Alan Tudyk’s stellar K-2SO from “Rogue One” as a prime example.
Johnson’s script has other issues. He occasionally withholds crucial information from the audience for a big reveal later. The technique will make you groan, not cheer. One such moment is such a staggering plot hole you could fill it with a hundred Death Stars.
Narrative arcs offering real meat wither with misuse. Rey and the Kylo Ren connect in intriguing ways, both thematically and visually. Their bond gets jettisoned for the noisy third act.
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The franchise’s new PC directives are front and center once more. Female leaders repeatedly dress down male heroes. Every other fighter pilot is a woman or person of color. It’s in your face …. and totally acceptable had the film soared like “The Force Awakens.”
You can see the PC mindset with Rose, an Asian heroine played by Kelly Marie Tran. She’s plucky… and that’s about as far as her character development goes. “Rogue One” offered a similarly diverse group of heroes, but many stood out thanks to the performances and script.
That’s not often the case here beyond a savvy Laura Dern as a Rebel commander. Meanwhile, both Rose and the villainous Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) leave little impression.
The less said about Benicio del Toro’s role, a walking, stuttering plot device, the better.
DID YOU KNOW: Rian Johnson spent six weeks in San Francisco meeting with Lucasfilm officials to prepare for his entry into the space franchise.
Rose’s character is front and center in the film’s weakest sequences. We’re diverted to a city where the worst of the worst frolic. No, not the usual hives of scum and villainy. It’s a casino where the very, very rich cavort.
The evil One Percenters!
If you’re not immediately yanked out of the story here you deserve a prize. The accompanying dialogue is equally clunky, as is the reason all these vapid souls gained their fortunes.
The “Star Wars” saga has always focused exclusively on good versus evil, a timeless template that helped forge its place in our lives. Not anymore.
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“The Last Jedi” offers up some old friends (no spoilers here) with mixed results. Other connections prove more fortuitous. Johnson shrewdly adopts director J.J. Abrams’ blend of CGI and old school effects from “The Force Awakens.” John Williams’ score punches the clock in the best of ways, although it’s too soon to know if any new arrangements will become iconic.
“Return of the Jedi” caught heat for its cutesy supporting players. Clearly Team Disney didn’t learn that lesson or demanded a cuddly toy line for Christmases to come. The Porg creatures are amusing for all of five seconds. Those Ewoks deserve a cookie bouquet from cultural critics over the past 30-odd years of grief.
And then there’s Luke Skywalker. Mark Hamill is older, wiser and always compelling as the character that shaped his career. He’s not a hero but a bitter old man unwilling to leverage the Force as he once did. His arc is fascinating, and a fine use of a classic character bridging the chasm between the old and new films.
General Leia isn’t as helpful. Carrie Fisher can’t help but bring gravitas to the franchise, but a clumsy subplot bludgeons that impact.
“The Last Jedi” often looks gorgeous in a way that lapses the usual CGI wizardry. A battle sequence set on a salt-covered planet, where the heroes and villains leave a blood colored trail in the sand, is stunning.
Other sequences astound, like a sneak attack from a certain Jedi and a light saber fight with a nasty finale. For every shining moment comes a dud, and the ratio doesn’t flatter the film’s frantic third act.
The story itself? It’s intermittently beautiful, too. Too bad the blemishes come early and often enough to ding a precious part of our pop culture landscape.
HiT or Miss: No critical warning will stop fans from seeing “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” Just know the eight film in the saga isn’t what we hoped it could be.
Sorry that you didn’t like it, Snowflake.
adblock at its best.
Disney watered down the grit of Star Wars cannon, EA took a dump on Star Wars Gamer Fans and now SJW influence Star Wars plots…The Force is no longer with us
Grit? The first 3 were kids movies. The other 3 were even more kids movies. The 3rd one featured muppets.
SJW plot? You’re intentionally injecting your own political hang ups into the movie randomly. Like the author of this wildly contrarian “review” did. You’re seeing what you wan to see, this never actually happened.
Star Warz fanboy post of the month.
Huh? English please?
Actually I was talking more about Star Wars Clone Wars. If you never watched Clone Wars as compared to Rebels (where a lot of cannon is established or confirmed from the books) then you know not what I am talking about. Clone Wars did not have Disney controlling it and that is why it was so popular and more adult focused. Star War Rebels is okay, but way more aimed at the younger audience. Today’s Star Wars has about as much grit as Muppets. Do you need examples?
Today’s Starwars has as much as grit as the OT.
This article is about the films.
I confess I started watching “Rebels” before “Clone Wars” and the latter does have that Disney-family vibe wereas “Clone Wars” is darker and more graphic on-screen. Nevertheless, “Rebels” has some moments that could scare the kids (e.g. Kanan getting blinded by Maul) and in season 3 the stakes are higher when Grand Admiral Thrawn joins the show.
For a “family-friendly” show I have found some conservative themes in “Rebels” when it comes to family values and mentor-student relationships. You have individuals torn apart by war but coming together to create a surrogate family with Kanan as the father-figure and Hera as the mother. Sabine Wren starts off as a seemingly carefree graffiti-artist but instead of hating her biological family forever, she matures and faces them to correct past errors. Ezra Bridger wears his heart on his sleeve and wants to do the right thing but learns honorable intentions doesn’t always lead to positive results. He definitely needs a guiding hand as he’s tempted by the likes of Maul. Kanan Jarrus could wallow in pity about being blinded but he crawls out of his darkness and goes back to mentoring Ezra.
Oh yeah.. it’s all in our heads: https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/12/star-wars-last-jedi-laura-dern-admiral-holdo-listen-to-women.
Give me a break.
Or the laughable concept of arms dealers making both x-wings and tie fighters, which shits all over Star Wars lore just for the sake of making a progressive talking point.
as if George Lucas isn’t a massive liberal and as if he didn’t portray the Empire as right-wingers
The movie looks dull as dishwater but it’s always fun to watch a snowflake conservative triggered.
It actually doesn’t seem so bad. The director is good and it is 93% at RT at the moment.
But I’ll agree that it’s funny how much this is triggering the far right. It’s just a movie lol.
Nobody is triggered, moron.
Except you, perhaps. After all, you are the sort that sob like the simpering babies you are whenever you lose an election.
You morons also get triggered every time Trump tweets.
1. I’m not a Democrat.
2. I’ve seen the far right get more triggered lately.
Meanwhile, in the real world, Donald Trump is President. Hillary Clinton is going to jail.
Hillary is going to jail? Link?
“Damn the rich. They’re such poopie heads.”
Facile message for facile viewers.
Since a large majority of the rich are Democrats, I say let’em become entres for illegal immigrants.
This will be the first Star Wars flick I will not bother to see. Thanks for the heads-up on the PC crap foisted on an impressionable viewership. Most won’t even notice. This has become a Hollywood infection that makes most of their output unwatchable for me and many others who just want to be entertained.
Seriously don’t go, never see it. Remember Star Wars for what it was. It just died in my arms at the cinema. HORRIBLE!
you’re not going to see it because this guy said it’s too PC? why not judge for yourself? the salt planet battle scene is quite epic. i’m glad the underdeveloped character roles were given to non caucasian actors. they would have been just as terribly written no matter who played them. but don’t you get tired of looking at only white people all the time? i don’t see this casting as a PC move; it is the reality of our world. black people exist. asian people exist. i see them everyday. don’t you think they want to see themselves too?
Going to the movies costs a whole lot of money. Why spend a bunch of money if you’re not sure you’re going to at least sorta enjoy the movie? A couple of bucks at Redbox seems much more reasonable for movies you might not like.
that’s a very sensible reply : ) you’re right, not everything is big screen worthy. at the theatre i saw the movie in, they were charging 24.99 for the Star Wars popcorn bucket. that put a bad taste in my mouth. but, the good scenes do look really nice on the big screen.
Quentin T. should direct anymore of these going forward.
Thank you for this review. I wager that the Disney Media Machine is hard at work to cover up this disaster. I cannot believe that it is 8.6 on IMDb and 92% on rotten tomatoes – impossible. What a horrible, disastrous, movie! Not even a light saber duel…
There are certainly fights involving light sabers. Light sabers get used in battle. They slice people and things apart. They look cool, they sound cool.
There’s plenty of light saber in TJL.
I think I’ll wait a few weeks.
I’m also troubled by your praise of the Rogue One script, Christian 🙂
What is it about showing spoiled, self-centered rich people acting like spoiled, self-centered rich people that immediately triggers a snowflake reaction? This wasn’t about the the 1%, these folks were clearly identified as war profiteers without any particular ideology other than to get rich by selling to whoever pays. News flash–people like that exist. I can’t wait for the review of “It’s a Wonderful Life” where you say liberal Hollywood is biased against good old Mr. Potter and his bank.
I am a conservative. Watched it tonight and liked it, despite the flaws. Yes, it’s annoyingly PC but I’ve endured worse.
See, no triggering here. SJWs always project, after all.
One thing I want to note – die hard Star Wars fans do not like this film, and it has nothing to do with the PC crap. Lots of complaints about story elements that don’t pay off, the butchering of Luke Skywalker’s character, and other stuff that would be too spoiler-ish. I hope the next installment gets a better writer. This one was a bladder buster.
The trash that passes for journalism these days is laughable. I sincerely hope they don’t pay you to vomit onto the page, Christian Toto.
What the Fuck have you been smoking? the movie was terrible but to pull PC liberal bullshit out of it is next level paranoia. I did’nt see anything evil about the casino. it was just a bunch of rich people gambling. it must suck to watch a movie and waiting to be offended. you have a sad little life.
This review does even better, I think, and the author is even harder on the SJW, really the utopian feminist worldview being presented.
If Chewie has just chomped the head right off that pullet and made all the kiddies squeal, I could have been dragged on one bleeding fingernail to like a tiny part of this thoroughly rotten and ethically contemptible movie shot through with Marxist cultural-warfare identity politics. (When Rose wakes up, she can choke on her quasi-Islamic crescent moon pendant. They try to disguise it by making it round on the bottom, but they’re not fooling me or anyone else paying attention to how Kathleen Kennedy’s Red Hollywood does things.)