Movie Review: The Last Jedi

I usually don’t write up movie reviews, though I watch so many that perhaps I should. I think most reviewers try to hard to find mistakes so they can be the most prolific basher of a film. I always factor in entertainment. I think there are “bad” movies out there that are highly entertaining. There are also “good” movies that bore me to tears. There are movies that I would never recommend for someone to watch that I find incredibly fun and have seen dozens of times. This film, is both “good” and entertaining.

I watched Star Wars: The Last Jedi over the weekend. I went into the film without reading or watching any reviews whatsoever. I avoided all trailers after the first one. I did not look up the cast on imdb, or watch any interviews with the cast. I took no part in any promotional material since October.

First of all, here are my general criteria for a film review: entertainment, acting, visual appeal, and storytelling. Since this is a Star Wars film, I will also include a contribution to the overall story arch.

  1. Entertainment: The Last Jedi is incredibly entertaining. It is a fun bit of escapism for 2 and a half hours.
  2. Acting: I thought the performances were all great, but Adam Driver as Kylo Ren once again dominates his time on the screen. I really felt the actors’ emotions throughout the film and it really drew me in.
  3. Visual appeal: This is a beautiful film full of rich scenery, top notch special effects, amazing CGI and motion capture. The directing is fantastic.
  4. Storytelling: Save for one idiotic twenty-minute span halfway through the film, I like the path that the story took. There were essentially three main plot threads, and two of the three were quite strong. There were a few character arcs that had great payoffs. There were others that seem like they will pay off in the next episode, which brings me to. . .
  5. Overall story arch: This film builds and expands greatly on the characters and story built in The Force Awakens. The relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren is fleshed out more, the First Order is still hunting the Resistance/Rebels, and we find out more about what happened between Luke and Kylo. There are aspects of the force that are drawn from the original trilogy, and some new facets are included. I also think this film did a great job in diverging from some of the tropes we have come to expect. This apparently angers some fans, but I think it’s a brilliant stroke.

Overall, I think it is a great entry into the franchise. The criticisms that I have seen are misunderstandings of narratives and fans with unrealistic expectations not having their theories validated. Furthermore, I think many of the criticisms are unfair. We never judged the original trilogy this way.

There were dozens of plot holes and lack of backstory in the original films. We just didn’t care. Episode IV is vastly overrated, as it has been saved by the other two films. Episode V is long and tedious, but we give it a pass because of one of the greatest endings and legendary film moments in movie history. Episode VI has its flaws, but it finishes the story in a satisfactory way, thus closing the loop. We still knew NOTHING of the Emperor, very little of Darth Vader, Han Solo, Leia, and Boba Fett. Yet all of these characters were endearing.

Compare that to a much more fleshed out villain in Kylo Ren, an equally compelling hero in Rey, and the development of Snoke and Phasma in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi are just as enigmatic as the Emperor and Boba Fett.

So get over it. I’ll wait for the epic finale to make any big decisions on “plot holes” (which, at the moment, are more lack of revelation than plot hole).

Immediately after viewing the film, I had it as my fifth favorite. Now that I’ve reflected for a day, I think it might be a top three Star Wars film. I like these first two entries of this trilogy more than the originals, and I understand that puts me in a minority. I take into consideration that the special effects are much better, and they are able to hire more seasoned actors. I also consider that nostalgia makes the original films seem better than they actually are. It is unfair to “compare” these movies to the originals. By capturing the spirit of the original films, they seem too much like them. By deviating from the original story, they seem too different. Either way appears to upset huge segments of the fanbase.

I, however, appreciate the new characters, story arcs, and bold choices in the deviation from what we expect, while also incorporating elements from the original story. The Last Jedi does not reinvent the franchise, but it does expand it.

It’s worth seeing in the theater. I’d suggest IMAX 3D if available in your area. The Last Jedi is an excellent film.

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