Star Wars: The Last Jedi,
may be the biggest box office draw of 2017. Claiming episode “8”, it is the second of the trilogy for a new generation. A mix of legacy and new, how will will we remember this latest entry of the Disney/Star Wars brand? In short, the review is complicated.
The trailers before the movie
Ready Player One, Black Panther, Wrinkle in Time, Avengers: Infinity War
The reaction to The Last Jedi is as conflicted as Kylo Ren’s emotions. The “light” side, with its paid critics, gives the Disney/Marvel/Star Wars machine glowing sympathetic reviews. Meanwhile, the dark side, we know as the paying audience, has no one to answer to. They split nearly 50/50.
The easy first. Is the film entertaining? Yes. It’s a high-quality spectacle that is above and beyond Justice League. It’s not just a movie but an event that has doubled the enthusiasm of every other movie this year, including Marvel’s. It continues a story that we invested in The Force Awakens with legacy characters such as Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and Chewbacca. It has drama, enough action, and unexpected twists.
The good is Rian Johnson tried new things. Even if they were controversial or just plain weird. The scenes with legacy characters nearly out shined every other. There were moments of brilliance capturing the Star Wars spirit. It doesn’t come with a McGuffin, a planet-killing countdown. It had a small finale with drama and personal tension. Something extremely rare to find these days. The bad starts with its run time including bloated scenes including a, long, yet insignificant one preaching about inequality. Its ill-timed humor fell flat in almost time and I cringed during the Poe Dameron’s opening phone call skit. The ending must be seen to be believed. It borders between epic and downright depressing.
I’m not the only who walked out unable to decide whether or not I liked The Last Jedi. Going over the plot points, it comes down to rivalry between the director of The Force Awakens, J. J. Abrams and the director of The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson. Many of The Force Awakens open questions were tersely answered in episode VIII. The speculations and fun fan filled theories made in the last two years landed with a disappointing thud. The Last Jedi doesn’t end with a cliffhanger or emotional overreach that made The Empire Strikes Back the classic it is. The only advantage Star Wars has for me coming back for episode IX isn’t the story but its brand. That and J. J. Abrams returning to reclaim the director chair and his own legacy.