Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

Director: Rian Johnson

Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Benicio Del Toro

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Continuing where The Force Awakens ends, Rey (Ridley) has found Luke Skywalker (Hamill) and seeks to have him train her to become a Jedi. The First Order is pursuing what is left of The Resistance, led by General/Princess Leia Organa (Fisher).

I finally had the opportunity to see this movie. Now that I’m a few hours removed from seeing it, I can understand and appreciate why this movie is so divisive with the fans. I was thoroughly entertained by The Last Jedi, but there were elements of this movie that I wasn’t all that crazy about.  My initial reaction is that this film is superior to the prequels, and for those who say it is by far the worst Star Wars movie need to go back and watch Attack of the Clones, and I’ll just leave it at that.

Following the prequels, The Force Awakens was a breath of fresh air.  When I saw The Force Awakens the first time, I walked out thinking “This was thoroughly entertaining and I’m interested in seeing where this story and these new characters go.”  I saw and understood more of the flaws of that film with additional viewings. I had a similar experience seeing The Last Jedi in the theater today.  There were more things that bothered me about this movie, but on the whole it was entertaining and I am interested in seeing where this story goes moving forward.

I get the sense that Disney and the powers that be want to move forward with this franchise.  It is a necessary part for a film franchise that has existed for this long. I grew up with the original trilogy, and I still watch them on a semi-regular basis to this day. I have and continue to keep an open mind with the direction of the franchise. They are still telling a very entertaining story, and I am ok with the fact that it’s not the same Star Wars I grew up with.

Connecting original series characters with this trilogies introductions can be tricky. I think Rian Johnson does a decent job with this. The scenes with Luke and Rey, and a lot that goes on at the island for that matter, were among my favorite. Leia’s scenes, especially knowing that Carrie is gone, were especially touching.  And yes, I got a little choked up when the tribute to Carrie showed during the credits.  She’s missed, and it will be interesting to see what happens moving forward without Carrie.

One of the things I didn’t like about The Last Jedi was all the additional characters and subplots. It dilutes what you can do with the main characters and the main storyline. There are a lot of parts to this story.  The fight between Resistance and First Order, Rey and Kylo Ren (Driver) figuring out their place in this universe, Luke and the future of the Jedi order, Finn (Boyega) and Rose (Tran) and their mission, Poe Dameron (Isaac) and his contributions, and on and on and on. I wasn’t crazy about Rose. Her story is compelling, and it was interesting to see how she came to be the person she is, but I feel like that back story is another side trail that distracts from the main story. Vice Admiral Holdo (Dern) was an ok addition to the cast, but it’s another character you have to commit some time to in developing for this story.

I also wasn’t crazy about how humor was used at times. There were a few good laughs, but some of the humor is what I expect from a Marvel movie.  At times I feel like humor was overt and overused. I enjoy Star Wars humor because it’s more subtle and less “hardy har har” humor.  I don’t need Tony Stark in this film.

The Porgs were a waste of time.

By comparison, in The Empire Strikes Back, the conflict between the Empire and Rebel Alliance is virtually non-existent after the Battle of Hoth, and that allows for the entire focus of the movie to be on character development.  The war wasn’t even in the backdrop for most of that movie. Also no porgs.

I don’t want to give very much away, but I will say that despite its flaws, I enjoyed The Last Jedi.  I may see this one again in the theaters, in part because I enjoy the Star Wars franchise.  I find it highly entertaining and an enjoyable escape from everyday life.

Is it perfect? Not even close.

Will I see it again? Absolutely.

Was it a waste of my time? Nope.

Do I recommend seeing it? Yes, and try going in with an open mind.  It’s a movie, it’s meant to entertain.

Another thing I enjoyed about this particular viewing:  I saw this in IMAX 3D on a Thursday afternoon and there were maybe 30 people in the theater.  As I was leaving, four guys probably late 50s to early 60s were speculating about certain characters and talking about the movie the same way my friends and I would.  Those kinds of things, to me, are what makes the Star Wars franchise great.  It can be enjoyed by people of all ages, and allows a nice escape with an entertaining story and interesting characters.

My Rating: after I watch it another time or two.

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