Sunday, December 31, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi - reviewed.

There's a non-spoiler section here and a spoiler section. There's no way to properly review this movie without the spoilers.

First -- the NON-spoiler section:

I was eagerly anticipating this movie. I re-watched The Force Awakens to get prepped for it. I was even more excited after watching that just the other night.

What is going to happen with Luke Skywalker? Who are Rey's parents? What is going to happen to Princess Leia (now that Carrie Fisher passed away)? Who is Supreme Leader Snoke?

All questions that I was hoping to get answered.

I got some of those answers (I think). Still, there was a lot left unanswered.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure if that's because the writers are building to answers in the final installment of this latest trilogy or if it's because of absolutely awful writing in this movie.

The best scenes of the movie absolutely involved Luke Skywalker. You won't be disappointed in anything involving Luke. The rest of it? It's a mixed bag.

This movie was such a hot mess!

There were some very cool elements of the visual nature, a few good one-liners and a few great action scenes.

There were also some very cheesy lines (over-the-top cheesy), some seemingly unneeded storylines and confusing messages.

I was impressed with how each character had very individual storylines going for them. In a way, that's a good thing. In a way, maybe that was at the expense of the cohesiveness of the movie.

I gave this movie 3 out of 5 stars -- and 1/2 a star of that rating is probably due to nostalgia. Overall, fairly disappointed.

I'll watch the next installment, but if it doesn't pick up there, future Star Wars movies may become a Redbox rental for me.

If you want to know specifically why, continue on to the *SPOILER* section below:


Where do I start?

Let's start with Princess Leia. When the ship she was on was attacked and she was lost into space, I thought it was an appropriate ending to her character. She wasn't killed by her son. However, she did die.

In times of war, main characters don't always survive. That's one of the things I really liked about Rogue One. It was such a sacrifice story. It was very poetic and showed just how much they believed in what they were fighting for. The fact that they were willing to give their life for their fight (against evil and tyranny) brought such a real element to the movie.

It wasn't just a space fairy tale where the good guy gets the girl and everyone lives happily ever after. It was a realistic movie about heroism, sacrifice and the passionate belief in a cause.

This was not Rogue One, though. So Leia summoned whatever force she has and floated through space like some sort of angel (I guess?) to materialize herself and be recuperated back to life in the 2 hr. and 33 min. timespan of the movie.

As she's recovering, the purple-haired woman with the long neck (surely it was computer-enhanced, right?) takes control and seemingly is a bad leader.

 Later, it's revealed that she was actually putting everyone else's needs ahead of her own.

Problem is: because of her lack of communication about the plan (did she not trust her crew well enough to share the plan with them?), there was a coo that was thrown, lead by Poe.

 That could have been avoided entirely if she'd have just shared her plans (at least a little of them) with any of her crew members.

Because of her lack of looping anyone in on her master plan to get the escape pods (which aren't tracked by the First Order) to the sanctuary planet, that plan almost backfired when the ships crew / pilots held her at stun point (get it? they had stun guns drawn on her).

But after Poe is stunned into a nice, little nap, Leia and the purple-haired woman talk about how they like him because he has fight in him.

Was this some kind of leadership test? I mean, sure, that's Poe's journey in this movie, but it shouldn't have been such a seemingly set up test by these two women. That doesn't happen in real life -- not in these life or death situations.

Speaking of the First Order tracking the rebel ships -- where was that explanation? How did General Hux come up with this? How was it implemented? Did he come up with it or did someone else? None of that was explained (at least from my recollection).

It was just a convenient part of the story line.

How did General Hux even come into power at such a young age? He looks like he just graduated college. Yet, he's already the 2nd or 3rd in command of the most powerful group in the universe?

When it comes to the villains, General Hux is probably the most convincing in terms of his acting. But his character isn't the only one with issues.

What about Supreme Leader Snoke? I was wondering where he came from and how he came to be in power throughout The Force Awakens. The movie ended without sharing those answers, but I was alright with that because I figured we'd get some of that in The Last Jedi.

Nope -- not a bit. He was just there. He's the bad guy. Don't question it. He gets killed mid-movie as a character progress point for Kylo Ren. Seriously?! That's it?

The Emperor was built up as such (and Darth Vader's mentor) for 6 movies. 6 movies! Now, this trilogy's big bad gets killed halfway through the second movie without even a slight explanation as to where he came from, who he was trained by, etc. etc.?

I'd have settled for a one-line explanation in the scrolling text introduction - 'A new Sith Lord rose from the darkest recesses of space' or something like that. Instead, nothing.

I saw the situation with Ren killing Snoke from a mile away. I was a fan of it. He struck down his teacher the way Darth Sidious wanted Darth Vader to do to him. And the way Darth Sidious described doing to his mentor. The dialogue was reminiscent of Ren's conversation with Han Solo -- mentioning being torn, but knowing what he must do -- before Ren killed him.

The fight scene with Ren and Rey teaming up was amazing. Lots of innovating uses of light sabers and teamwork.

Again, there was lack of storytelling there. Why did the guards fight these two? Their leader was dead. I guess they still had allegiance to him? We're supposed to assume that because they couldn't come up with good enough writing to actually explain that.

The other scene that was absolutely awesome in terms of light saber action was the Luke / Ren fight scene near the end of the movie.  Awesome!  The movements, the creativity -- it was all spot on!

I thought they were going to stop the movie when Luke walked out of the rebel base.  Then, I thought they were going to stop the movie just before Luke and Ren battled.

I was really surprised they went further than that, but I realized that the movie was basically the Luke Skywalker movie of this new trilogy.

Much like the previous Star Wars movies, they did a good job with the scenery on Crait, the new planet that was introduced as the escape / save haven for the rebel forces.

First -- the salt and the red dust was an amazing visual.  Second, the land speeders were equally amazing.  For a franchise that's spanned eight movies now, I'm sure it must be hard to come up with new concepts.  That's not including competing franchises like Star Trek, Marvel's cinematic universe, etc.

So I'll give them kudos for that, for sure. I loved the concept of the land speeders and I liked what Crait had to offer as a battlefield.

I liked the addition of Rose Tico.  She was a fun character, especially interacting with Finn.  The situation with her stopping Finn from driving into the blaster beam was just stupid though.  She's upset that Finn is running away (to find Rey) at the start of the movie because he's being selfish.  But then she stops him from making the ultimate sacrifice so that he could save his friends.  Why?  Because they have to hang onto what they love.  Yet the people they love are all about to die.

This explanation comes after Rose is knocked out but wakes up long enough to say this and deliver an awkward kiss and then collapse back into unconsciousness.  Alright, then.

Meanwhile there's apparently going to be a love triangle of sorts with Rey caring for Finn and Finn caring for Rey, but Finn also caring for Rose, who cares for Finn as well.

Not sure how that will end.  I'm not sure I care either.  I'd prefer more focus to be on the rebuilding of the Jedi.

Back to some of the more ridiculous aspects of the movie.  There were too many animals with human characteristics in this movie.

The porg -- absolutely worthless to the movie. It was probably purely a marketing gimmick -- something they could make stuffed animals out of. The only moment I half-way cared about that little creature was when it did the Chewbacca sound in the Millennium Falcon.

I loved how Chewie just brushed it away right after.

Besides the porg, there was the ice fox, which just happened to know to be afraid of the First Order and hide in the rebel base so it could conveniently show the rebels the way out of the mountain fortress.

Then there was the middle part of the movie that featured the Fathiers. They were like race horses, essentially. They were kind of cool, but again, they seemed to be able to know who was good and bad. It's all a little too convenient for me to ignore.

BB8, R2D2 and C3P0 were all there, but really didn't add much to this movie.  BB8 was OK.  The writers gave BB8 all the good droid material though.  R2D2 and C3P0 were kind of pointless.  I honestly wouldn't mind if C3P0 were killed off since he doesn't add anything to the movies anymore anyway other than a few seconds of cheap nostalgia.

Yoda made an appearance.  He was his offbeat self that fans of the original trilogy would recognize.  It was an OK appearance, but it felt like it should've been bigger than it was.  The first time Yoda has been in a Star Wars movie in several years and it felt like a footnote rather than a pivotal moment for Luke in the movie.

Then there was the big (lackluster) reveal regarding Rey's parents.  Was Luke her father?  Nope.  Her parents weren't anybody special.  She's just somehow in the force.  Anybody can be in the force apparently, as we saw at the end of the movie when the boy who was sweeping used it to move his broom towards him.

It's not a bad concept, I guess.  But the reveal about Rey's parents sure wasn't the big movie moment that it should've been.

Lastly, what about that island?  The force comes from the island?  The dark side is underneath the island?  Huh?  What kind of strange situation was that?

About 3/4 of the way through the movie I was legitimately wondering if the writers of the the TV show Lost wrote this movie.  It made about as much sense as Lost's season finale did.

This review has probably been all over the place, but after having seen the movie just once, I was a little surprised at how much I found to fault the movie with. I figured I'd enjoy the heck out of this movie, but instead I left feeling disappointed with it.

I think this was supposed to be a passing of the torch movie from the older cast to the younger cast.  Han Solo was killed off.  Luke Skywalker was killed off.  Leia can't be used any further since Carrie Fisher died.

I don't mind that they did this, but I don't think they executed it as well as they could have.  I don't think they can build as big of a legacy with this younger cast as they did with the previous characters.

Maybe, upon a second viewing once it's out on DVD, I'll have better things to say about it.

Related Content:
Justice League - reviewed.
Transformers: The Last Knight - reviewed.
Wonder Woman - reviewed.
Logan - reviewed.