Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Cinescape Magazine is a look at film, tv, comics, video games, and 70's, 80's and 90's nostalgia from the perspective of two normal average joe's that just love movies, in whatever form they come in.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review
It's hard to say goodbye

"The Empire, your parents, the Resistance, the Sith, the Jedi... let the past die. Kill it, if you have to. That's the only way to become what you are meant to be."

***I don't normally do this, but I will be SPOILING the hell out of Star Wars: The Last Jedi in this review because if you haven't seen this one yet, you either don't really care, or you suck at finding babysitters for three hour engagements. So as you read ahead at your own discretion, know that you've been warned.***

My Impression of Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Predictability may seem to comfort oneself when watching a familiar franchise, however I'm here to tell you that it can get fairly boring when seeing that the makers haven't got the balls to change things up in fear of pissing off some of the fans. For the parts that matter the most, Star Wars: The Last Jedi shows very little of that fear in killing off its darlings and taking things into unfamiliar territory. It would've been safe and easy to have General Leia conveniently die since Carrie Fisher isn't around anymore to film the currently untitled Episode IX.

It would have been safe and easy to have Supreme Leader Snoke last all the way through to the end of this trilogy as a Palpatine substitute. It would've been safe and easy to have Luke Skywalker happily leave with Rey and Chewie to help with the fight. And it would have been safe to have Rey's parents revealed to be important characters from the past. Well safe and easy isn't how this entire saga started in the year I was born (1977), and thank the force gods for the Rian Johnson's (Looper) of the world who show that risky storytelling is still alive today. As an 80's kid I'm all for nostalgia, yet The Force Awakens already fed that personal yearning for familiarity back in 2015.

This time around, I knew that to keep this series going in the right direction would mean that the past would have to eventually be left there, so that the future could learn to breathe on its own. That's why Han Solo died. That's why Admiral Ackbar was so casually killed off. And that is why Luke Skywalker faded into the force. It needed to be done, regardless of how hard it may be for some of us to let them go. I also expect even more sacrifices to be made by the time this whole thing is over with.

Those deaths also show how important the use of time is with these newest movies, and most significantly with The Last Jedi. This film teeters on the rim of greatness, which is held back because of some questionable character choices and subplots. If you're going to be showing the fans the final moments of their beloved Luke Skywalker, wouldn't it be in everyone's best interests if he got the proper amount of send off time, instead of having thumb-twiddling side characters take up precious screen minutes while they ride horses through an alien version of the Monopoly Guy's VIP casino? Or having the pilot who was originally intended to die in the first film, squander his talents as he argues with a purple-haired stranger about proper evacuation tactics?

Ultimately that is the hardest question that this film asks of me and also many others; "Even though we're supposed to be moving on to the next generation, are these people worthwhile and confident enough to earn our attention and respect?" The difficult answer is, "not yet", which is a bit disheartening when you realize that there's only one film left to go. As harsh as my remarks may sound, they are lightened by the flipside of the critical coin, which is easily impressed by everything else that The Last Jedi has to offer. Remember how impressive the visuals looked when you first saw The Phantom Menace back in 1999? Well now they are rough sketches compared to the intricate brilliance that is shown here. John Williams' capability to add even more depth to the many scores in the Star Wars universe, is a treat for the eardrums and emotions. For the most part, the story is simple and excites with refreshing doses of humor and more than a few epic moments on the way to an emotionally powerful ending.

It's Star Wars, so you know that the cast is going to be huge. Many get a word in here and there, although it's the leads that get the focus of The Last Jedi. The tragedy of Luke Skywalker is passionately played by Mark Hamill in a return to form. He's so good in the role that I stopped seeing the actor, and only saw Luke before my eyes. Fisher's final role is bittersweet as I savored every moment that she was onscreen, not knowing at what point would be her last. Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver as Rey and Kylo "lil Ben" Ren, aren't bad in any way whatsoever.

Yet the level of character impact that they convey, pales in comparison to their predecessors even though they have some strong action scenes together and apart. John Boyega's Finn and Oscar Isaac's Poe are held back by weak subplots that try to bring them up as future leaders who have to learn things the hard way. I was going to complain about how many of the characters have little to no backstory, but then I remembered that Star Wars has always been that way with most of its personas, so why change it up now? I could go on and on about every single individual role from Chewie to Phasma to Yoda, but damn it man, who has the time?

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review3
You see what happens when you don't eat them for dinner?

What Works- Poe's phone call stall, who just tosses a lightsaber?, the Porgs guilt trip Chewie, Super Leia in space, Luke and R2 on the Falcon, "Master Yoda puppet, you survived!", so that's what happens when you don't calculate before going into lightspeed, Snoke's surprising early exit, Rey's a nobody who came from nobodies, brother and sister have a moment, and Luke never left that island.

What Doesn't- Once again, the chunky pilot dies early in a fiery explosion while crammed in his X-Wing. Where's the Fat Lives Matter people when you need them?! #fatlivesmatter

Final Thoughts

Star Wars: The Last Jedi answers many questions, yet nicely raises more in its wake. Despite some of the hate that's been generated by... the haters, I believe that this film will grow on many of those after they've put their bias against Disney by the wayside. Is it as close to Lucasfilm perfection like The Empire Strikes Back? The easy answer is no. Though at times it sure feels like it could have had a chance. As somebody who's seen it all since the start, I get what this one was trying to do here, even if there's still those that are unwilling to see it as well. I wonder if that makes saying goodbye to these sentimental characters even more difficult than it already is?
Rating- 7.5 out of 10

                                 Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review conceptStar Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (original title)
PG-13 | 2h 32min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy | 15 December 2017 (USA)

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.

Director: Rian Johnson
Writers: Rian Johnson, George Lucas (based on characters created by)
Stars: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill

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