Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

  • Time: 150 min
  • Genre: Action | Adventure | Fantasy
  • Director: Rian Johnson
  • Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill

Storyline:

Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order.

4 reviews

  • Last we were in the Star Wars cinematic universe, the force had awakened in orphaned scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley), leading her to seek out the self-exiled Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in the hopes of his teaching the Jedi . It was a literal cliff-hanger as the key figures of the franchise’s fit and future with one another for the first time.

    Star Wars: The Last Jedi , the eighth chapter of George Lucas’ iconic family saga / space opera, does not immediately follow through on Rey and Luke’s encounter, in the midst of the First Order’s retaliatory attack on the Resistance for destroying their Starkiller Base. Whilst the rebel army puts up a good fight under the gung-ho encouragement or hotshot pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), whose default inclination is to go and put it in harmony way both the admiration and dismay of General Leia Organa (the late Carrie Fisher), who is disheartened at the rebellion’s ever-dwindling numbers, the newfound realization that the first rebels can be found.

    Leia is not the only authority figure with regard to Poe shares differences of opinion. When Leia is temporally incapacitated as a result of the opening attack, lavender-haired Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern) Assumption of the First Order starships bothers Poe to the bone (not to mention her description or him as a “trigger-happy fly-boy”). When the recovered Finn (John Boyega) and ship’s engineer Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) come up with a plan to find a codebreaker to sneak aboard and disable the First Order’s tracker, Poe gives them the go-ahead without informing Holdo.

    Yet these two strands are satellites to the main narrative, which involves the complicated dynamics between Luke, Rey and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Rey is eager to persuade Luke to return with her and help the Resistance; Luke is more interested in convincing her to let the Jedi die off. He symbolizes the legacy of the Jedi, he tells her, and that legacy is one of failure, hypocrisy and hubris. Kylo Ren, with whom Rey shares an intriguing and mysterious psychic connection, is also a let go of the past and start anew; by doing so, he says to Rey, they can become the people they’re meant to be. Yet who exactly are they meant to be? The question of identity – or, more specifically, are the forces of good or evil – at the very heart of the film.

    This theme, or course, is nothing new to the franchise but there is something about the way writer-director Rian Johnson delineates it in this instalment. Johnson not only builds JJ Abrams in the Force Awakens , but it is something that feels fresh and pivotal. Much of this is attributable to Driver and Ridley, who effectively convey their characters’ internal wrestlings. Driver’s Kylo Ren has not progressed much since his adolescent tantrums in The Force AwakensBut that fear is better utilized to amplify his internal craze, ambition and, yes, even humanity. Ridley, meanwhile, brings forth the insecurity and vulnerability beneath Rey’s pluck and tough-mindedness. There’s a startling sequence about midway through the film where Rey comes upon a subterranean mirrored curtain, which reflects the infinity. Yet it is not quite a series of reflections as each In reality, but rather in sequence, Orson Welles’ famed The Lady from Shanghai sequence reimagined as a Busby Berkeley-choreographed moment of existentialism.

    Apart from the more layered characterization and sense of urgency to what is essentially a standing still situation, Johnson has delivered arguably the most visually stunning Star Wars movie. The cinematic master Akira Kurosawa has an integral influence on the Star Wars universe ( A New Hope was inspired by Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress), and Johnson’s crafts sequences here, that aspires to and often reach Kurosawa’s bold, dynamic and sweeping style. It’s in the way of the starships and into Supreme Commander Snoke’s throne room, its throbbing blood-red walls serving as a backdrop to one of the best lightsaber battles of all time. It’s in the showdown between the First and the skeleton rebel crew as they pilot barely functional “rest buckets,” the red salt of the planet’s land trailing behind them. (That same swirl of red unveils arguably one of the most badass moments in franchise history.) It’s even there in Johnson’s decision to shoot on film, which not only continues the current trilogy’s nod to nostalgia but adds depths and textures to Steve Yedlin’s compositions. .

    Not that Johnson overlooks the crowd-pleasing moments. From the ever-charming BB-8 and Chewbacca to the heart-meltingly adorable puffin-like porgs and crystal foxes to the multiple skirmishes and offbeat comic moments to John Williams’s eternally magnificent score, The Last Jedi is endlessly satisfying entertainment for both the head and heart.

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  • A One Mann’s Movies review.

    It’s Star Wars, but it’s inconsistent Star Wars.

    Rating: 7*

    Star Wars is a cinematic event. As one of the “main episodes”, with a two year wait, “The Last Jedi” is especially highly anticipated. After the inconsistent reception of “The Force Awakens” (which I greatly enjoyed) would this penultimate episode be any good? The answer is a very qualified “Yes”. Directed by Rian Johnson (who directed 2012’s novel and sometimes brutal Sci-Fi epic “Looper”), “The Last Jedi” picks up just before where “The Force Awakens” finished with a dramatic and action-packed recreation of a WW2 bombing mission, featuring Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac, “Ex Machina“, “Inside Llewyn Davis“) in fighter-pilot mode. With perhaps the exception of “Rogue One“‘s finale, never has the heroism and loss of the plucky rebel band been better portrayed.

    We then flip to that rocky (definitely not Irish!) island to see what happens when Rey (Daisy Ridley) gives the light sabre to Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). The answer may surprise you. Rey, haunted by her quest to understand her powers and her parental lineage, is there to persuade the hermit-like Skywalker to reclaim his hero-status and return to fight for the rebellion. But that help had better come soon, since the evil supreme leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and his henchman Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) are tracking and pursuing a rapidly dwindling number of rebel fighters, led by Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), in what could be the rebellion’s last stand.

    First and foremost, there’s a lot of good things to like in this film.

    For a genre that’s often eschewed strong female roles, here is a film where women use light sabres to smash through the Sci-Fi glass ceiling. Rey is an enormously strong role-model for young girls: intelligent, plucky and resourceful as well as being athletic, emotional and gorgeous. In the words of Whitney Houston, she IS every woman. But the XX chromosomes don’t stop there, with a new heroine in the form of the low-tech Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) breathing some fresh air into the younger-hero dynamic with Finn (John Boyega). And notably, the key leaders of the rebel alliance – Leia and newcomer Vice Admimal Holdo (Jurassic Park’s Laura Dern) are, as older women, both strong and unquestioned leaders of men.

    All the acting is above par, with Hamill in particular having enormous fun with his role and Serkis as Snoke oozing evil even through his Mo-Cap CGI. Benicio del Toro (“Sicario”) is also great value as a mercenary “darker Han Solo” character.

    And acting is required, for there is some significant dramatic content delivered through the story. The conflict and animosity between the connected Rey and Ren – a sort of telepathic Facetime – has to be worked through and, with Carrie Fisher’s untimely death, you might possibly predict that there will be at least one high-profile exit from this episode. There are some very funny one-liners and sight gags that enliven the action significantly without (I felt) ever going over the top into “Kingsman” territory: a brush of dirt off the shoulder by Hamill is a high-point to watch out for.

    Technically, the film excels. John Williams again delivers a rousing score, and at times has so many themes to play with from the eight main films that he hardly knows what to do with them all in the bars available! The film also delivers (from special effects coordinators Chris Corbould and Branko Repalust) some eye-widening CGI, with scenes set on “bloody salt flats” (there’s no other way to describe them) being particularly impressive. There are moments of sheer cinematic joy, with a dramatic and devestating jump to light speed being visually and aurally one of the most gasp-inducing bits of cinema I will see this year.

    Rather disappointingly though there seems to be little novelty shown in the editing department. Star Wars was always known for its clever scene transitions, but here we jump from location to location in a notably choppy and clunky manner.

    Where the wheels come off though is with the story, also by Rian Johnson. More on this in the spoiler section (since it’s difficult to make spoiler-free comments), but enough to say at this point that the film is (unnecessarily) over-long, has a very inconsistent pace, and (with retrospect) some key aspects of the story just don’t logically stand up to scrutiny. This leads to a bizarre situation where the film has (at the time of writing) an IMDB rating of 8.2 but a swathe of 1* reviews from “Star Wars fans” with comments filled with absolute bile sitting at the top of the “best” comments list.

    So, did I enjoy this film? Yes I did. But did it fully meet my (high) expectations? No it didn’t. And curiously, the more I have dwelt on the plot, the less satisfied I have become with it. Whereas I left the theatre with an 8* rating, with reflection this has dropped to 7*.

    (For the full graphical review, please visit bob-the-movie-man.com or One Mann’s Movies on Facebook).

  • An enraged Luke Skywalker, a ritzy Cantina revision, a few out of place comic bits, an occasional whipping camera movement from the guy who made Looper. That’s some of the things you’ll experience if you take in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (my latest review).

    Earlier this year, director Denis Villeneuve attempted to expand on the world of the original Blade Runner circa 1982. Now, we have Rian Johnson undertaking the role of expanding the Star Wars universe. Guess what, Johnson does it better and with more consistency via Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

    “Jedi”, with its showcasing of returning stars Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher (from the early installments) and its standout performance from Adam Driver (he’s incredibly charismatic as Kylo Ren), closely resembles 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. Hold up though, that’s where the slight comparisons end.

    Star Wars: The Last Jedi is unlike any film I’ve seen in the Star Wars canon. It doesn’t adhere to the swashbuckling residue of Episodes “IV”, “V”, and “VI” nor does it lolly in the CGI overkill possessed by the prequels from 10-15 years ago. “Jedi” shows that Johnson doesn’t want to be George Lucas, J.J. Abrams, or even the late Richard Marquand (he shot Return of the Jedi). He gives the Star Wars charter a blooming makeover and yeah, he’s all the better for it.

    You can tell early on, that Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the in-between movie or better yet, the 2nd act of a symphony. It plays just like what unfurled in “Empire”. It has been rumored that Rian Johnson won’t be directing “Episode IX”. That’s a shame because I wanted to know what the man had in store next. In 2019, I guess it’s back to J.J. Abrams and the meat and potatoes movie making he rallied for in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

    All in all, “Jedi” is happily rooted in complexities, cerebral nooks, sumptuous visuals, and some neat, kooky creatures (I loved the crystalline foxes and the Porgs). Johnson is a visionary filmmaker but he doesn’t quite go over the top (that’s a good thing). His flick lags a little bit in the middle until it goes full throttle in the last half. Watch for a mesmerizing, intergalactic battle in the Bolivian Salt Flats. Also, look out for some obligatory yet dazzling lightsaber battles that every Star Wars endeavor is contracted to have.

    Bottom line: Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, might be the first actual art film associated with the Star Wars franchise. It may seriously appeal more to adults than to the fanboys and kiddies. I could care less because I dug Johnson’s solidified groove anyway. Rating: 3 stars.

    Rating: 3 out of 4 stars

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  • (RATING: ☆☆☆½ out of 5 stars)

    GRADE: B-

    THIS FILM IS RECOMMENDED.

    IN BRIEF: A good-looking but convention re-mash from most of the series.

    SYNOPSIS: The Resistance fighters fight the First Order…once again and again.

    RUNNING TIME: 2 hrs., 32 mins.

    JIM’S REVIEW: There is really nothing any critic could say, let alone myself, to stop the phenomenon known as Star Wars. The force has been (and will be) with this film franchise for decades to come, making this latest chapter in the most profitable series in movie history all the more memorable. And yes, Star Wars:The Last Jedi is a worthy addition to this space age saga, just not a very creative or moving one.

    Rian Johnson (Looper) is a fine choice to serve as the film’s director. He has enough visual panache to wow his targeted audience, although he doesn’t stray to far from the tried-and-formula that sustains this franchise. (The use of blood red throughout the film gives it a stately look.) He delivers an action-packed thrill ride at warp speed, but loses the excitement and its characters in a middling story.

    The plot remains simplistic, a good vs. bad scenario, with enough sub-plots to perk up the interest if one story strand starts to meander, which it does. Our heroine and female power player, Rey (Daisy Ridley), is now under the tutelage of Luke Skywalker (a winning Mark Hamill) to learn the necessary skills to combat the most evil Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). While she is gaining that knowledge base, other Resistance fighters are in combat mode. This includes, from our last outing, Hans Solo substitute, fighter pilot Poe (Oscar Isaac) and rogue soldier Finn (John Botega). And of course, that former princess turned general, Leia (the late Carrie Fisher) is there, bringing the needed nostalgia and pathos to her final role.

    New additions to the cast include Laura Dern, Kelly Marie Tran, and Benicio Del Toro. A still less visible Gwendoline Christie, who was wasted as a mere footnote in the last chapter, has a memorable exchange toward this film’s climax, although she is well hidden in her mask and armor..so much for emoting and acting lessons. Domhall Gleeson as General Hux takes on that challenge effectively. We even have cute pogs taking the place of Ewoks for the younger crowd. And the great Andy Serkis is center stage as the powerful Snoke, a great CGI villain.

    Everyone is assembled to combat their personal conflicts and deal with their angst, ready to fight the fight most effectively…except it takes most of the film for these characters to finally come together. There is definitely a pay-off in the third act, but getting there is a challenge of sorts. Nothing seems to have been overlooked, well, except a real emotional drama. It’s all surface treatment, visually stunning and artfully crafted…a very good veneer to behold. But when one looks deeper, less is less.

    The basic problem is a screenplay (written by the director) that is essentially uninspired. The narrative is disjointed and not very creative, borrowing too closely from set pieces and similar characters from other chapters in this series for contemporary audiences (Mos Eisley Cantina vs. a casino on Canto Bight, both with jam-packed with delightful alien creatures / Rey is Luke / Poe resurrected to become the new Han Solo, etc.) Not very original but it’s safe, cozy, and familiar to its fan base. However, these established and endearing characters deserve better dialog and are in need of some real tension and drama, Luke, Leia, Daisy, Finn should not be mere props for battle. Also, the editing doesn’t allow flow of its chunky plot and undercuts the characters and their individual missions numerous times. Humor is apparently in short supply as the movie takes itself far too seriously.

    Still, Star Wars: The Last Jedi still entertains. There is plenty of fine CGI, nicely staged aerial battle sequences, and some nifty hand-to-hand lightsaber duels thrown in for good measure. Excitement and tension builds to many ultimate showdowns so that action fans won’t be disappointed.

    Let us hope that the filmmakers for the next installment go a bit rogue and resist the real evil: conventional storytelling. Staying safely within the lines does not make a great movie. With such a force of talented artisans behind them that can dazzle us with enough visual showmanship. Star Wars: The Last Jedi remains a feast for the eyes, but does little to move the soul.

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