As much as I enjoyed The Last Jedi, it left me feeling strangely empty. From the get-go, the stakes are incredibly high, and we can feel the tension, the urgency of our heroes the whole way through; however, along the way I can’t help but notice the missteps. I don’t want this review to come off too negative because this really was easily the most daring Star Wars film ever, and it brings up some very worthy messages that could change the entire future of the franchise. It’s also gorgeous to look at, the battles are thrilling and unpredictable, and the emotion becomes weighty especially as it nears the end.
There seem to be two sides of reception for this movie, neither of which make much of any sense. There’s the crowd hailing it as the best film in the franchise in thirty-seven years, one that entirely re-invents the saga and pushes it forward with unpredictable surprises; and then there’s the crowd expressing a fierce backlash to a film that desecrated upon the mythology, the characters, and the entire world that the franchise created; while it could confidently be stated that there’s more merit in the argument of the former, neither of these two sides seem to have much tangible foundation. The Last Jedi is neither of the movies that I’d heard that it was beforehand, and continue to hear that it is after-the-fact.
Sure, Rian Johnson’s entry into the ‘Star Wars’ saga is perhaps the most unique of them all, but it’s hardly audacious or groundbreaking; it doesn’t replicate story beats left and right the same way that The Force Awakens did, but it also doesn’t do anything that one would not reasonably expect upon entering the theater spoiler-free. Most sequences follow the exact course of action that you think they will; even when the film hints at breaking into something bold and daring, it instead shies away from the risk rather than embracing it. It’s a bit frustrating to watch; and it ultimately left me with the feeling that this film — one that has seemingly overwhelmed all of America (scratch that: the world) with poignant emotions either positive or negative, is just a bit underwhelming.
That being said, there is *a lot* that Johnson does in The Last Jedi that I was a big fan of. While there isn’t anything too earth-shattering, Johnson decides to implant his originality into little details and understated moments, and it really holds the whole movie together from collapsing into mediocrity. It may not be instantly gratifying, but what he does is quietly impressive. Most of the problem lies within the fact that excitement was more often squelched than it did manifest into genuine catharsis.
The Last Jedi extends over two and a half hours to tell the story of Rey, the Resistance, Luke, Kylo Ren. The lengthy running time is not only welcomed but encouraged. This film introduces new elements to The Force, extending what the audience knows of its powers or what someone could do with it. It’s done naturally, however, so that the audience is also given time to accept what they’re seeing. What is not done as naturally is the introduction of Kelly Marie Tran’s character. Her character seemed trite and slightly underdeveloped. Tran herself, though, is just one part of a talented cast that never ceases to impress. With so many characters, sometimes it seems that there isn’t much to do with all of them, so the result is quite uneven. Still, the cast (old and new) is just great, with charisma and acting chops galore.
Considering all these mixed feelings, I cannot deny the emotional power of certain scenes that made me reflect on my own love for these films I’ve enjoyed since I was a kid. There will no doubt be people who find qualms in some new force powers on display, but I didn’t have an issue with that. My main issue comes at the end and the narrative bumps along the way. The Last Jedi truly deserves praise in its ambition for better and for worse. The story between Rey, Kylo Ren, and the future of all Force users is the most fascinating part of the story as we enter the next chapter, but I just wish we had more to be excited about.
‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ gets a 7.6/10
Shot on 35's Rating Sheet: 9.6 – 10.0: Excellent! 8.6 – 9.5: Fantastic, but with minor flaws 7.6 – 8.5: Great, but with issues 6.6 – 7.5: Okay, but with major issues 5.6 – 6.5: Had potential, but falls flat hard. 4.5 – 5.5: Disaster!
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