Star Wars: The Last Jedi
I’ve never cried at a Star Wars film before, except a few bitter tears on meeting Jar Jar, but near the end of Last Jedi I was not the only one in the theater surreptitiously wiping my face. It had nothing to do with the plot or the acting or the politics and everything to do with losing a favorite actress.
When I say “first two movies”, you may assume I mean the ones that came out in 1977 and 1980. Take that as you will. I’ve seen all of the Star Wars movies on first run at the theater, and I’ve been thrilled and I’ve been horrified. This time I was thrilled like I haven’t been in forty years. It felt like that first time with simple concepts laid out with an attempt at a gee whiz attitude, even though they weren’t really so simple this time. Some of the cinematography and art work was gorgeous, especially the thinly covered red planet.
The Star Wars saga is about heroic struggle against entrenched evil, and Last Jedi carries on that tradition, with a newly diverse set of heroes to carry on. It’s all very Eagle Scout, nearly grim, except for the constant bursts of humor that have been sorely missed the last decade. There’s been some grumbling about the humor, but people seem to have forgotten that the first Star Wars was a very funny movie, with some punchlines that are still a bit in vogue. The acting has never been stellar, with earnestness the main emotion, but Star Wars has always been wonderfully kinetic in its cinematography and action sequences, and the music heroic and beautiful, if not totally original. There’s no change with Last Jedi.
I enjoyed watching Last Jedi, as did the person I watched it with, who says the movie is kinda slow and a little formulaic. I think that’s one of the reasons I liked it. Except for the expanded role of women and a much more diverse human cast, it follows the formula of the first couple of Star Wars. Trying to do new things with a story line that was old school in 1977 hasn’t worked with this franchise, so it’s good to see the old back on the big screen. Last Jedi did insert a modern political message into the story, and I think it was by far the weakest part of the movie. It gave the film a chance to pump up the action for a while, which the youngsters probably liked, but the whole sub-story could have been completely removed without affecting the quality.
Our political age has invaded the movie theater, where one likes a movie or does not based on which director you prefer or which movie empire you follow. I’ve seen a lot of commentary about Last Jedi based on the black hole evilness of Disney that doesn’t say much about the film beyond “it sucks” because Disney. There are others whining how much it sucks as they type with an “I ©JJ” sticker on their cpu. A movie should be judged on its merit, not on who makes it and how much you hate that person or studio, much as a political candidate should be judged on their merit and now how often people say you should hate them or not. If you really detest Disney or JJ Abrams that much, don’t see the movie, or give a better reason why “it sucks” beyond who made it.
One Last Jedi hating commenter says, “The writing was awful and felt contrived, and it was unbearably cheesy.” This confuses me. They’re succinctly paraphrasing original comments about the first two movies they claim to love so much. They hate the new movie because it’s just like the old ones they love? My head is spinning.
Major Spoiler Here:
The complaints go beyond it sucks because of who makes it to the movie sucks because we lose another major character in Luke Skywalker. This is the same movie where Yoda – who died forty years ago in the first film – is still a major character. They even went back to using a puppet instead of cgi, so he really looks like Yoda. So I say, so what Luke leaves in Last Jedi? He’s a JEDI, it’s not like the character is really dead. He can come back pretty easily just like Obi Wan and Darth Vader and Yoda have done over the years. In this age of cinema, any character can come back. I suspect Leia may set a record for being the first character to be digitally rendered twice, before and after the actor’s death.
End Major Spoilers
I enjoyed watching Last Jedi, and if I hadn’t gotten the flu I would have gone back to see it again. I would rank it near the top of the list of best in the franchise because it completely embraces the original spirit and emotions of the first Star Wars movies, way back when, that were the beginning of one of the largest and most beloved franchises of all time. Keep the gee whiz, though with forty years on it’s a little well-worn, keep the great music and the advanced film making techniques and the humor and the cheeziness, because that’s what makes it so lovable. Even the traditional plot holes (some of which are debatable in Last Jedi) are entertaining. Go see this movie and enjoy it for what it is.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi Trailer (Official)
CFR: In Addition: I love The Last Jedi. My review is here. I’m glad Mildred liked it too.