“We are the spark, that will light the fire that’ll burn the First Order down.”
In a galaxy not far, far away … where sequels, prequels and reboots are more prevalent than original movies, I had reservations two years ago regarding Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But, with the brilliant direction of JJ Abrams, both the franchise and the force were back…until writer/director Rian Johnson felt the need to fanboy his way through crafting The Last Jedi.
Let me quote Luke, “This is not going to go the way you think…” The force may be back and bigger than ever, but it’s not necessarily better than ever.
Throughout the entire press tour for TLJ, it’s clear that Mark Hamill’s not entirely on-board with the massive facelift the franchise has undergone at the hands of Disney.
“I don’t want to be an old stick in the mud. There were the originals. There’s the prequels. But that’s all George. And now we have the next generation. And as far as I can see they are more popular than ever.” via Metro
Popular doesn’t necessarily mean better, but you can’t argue the numbers when it comes to Star Wars as Star Wars: The Force Awakens grossed $2.068 billion back in 2015 and then Rogue One took in $1.056 billion last year.
Already a blockbuster triumph, Kaela Napier predicts “The Last Jedi, is expected to rake in about $555 million on opening weekend alone and easily exceed $1 billion when it’s all said and done.”
But before I dive into why I found this installment to be duller than dull, I think it’s important to remember that when it comes to the Star Wars franchise, the positives and the negatives don’t necessarily matter. Audiences that love it are going to praise it while the fanboys may find it as a misstep. Then there’s the group of people, like myself, who go to appreciate a good movie. I saw this movie as a critic and not a fan. And from a critic’s perspective, it’s just not that great.
This episode follows Rey as she receives Jedi training from Luke Skywalker in hopes of turning the tide for the Resistance in the continued fight against Kylo Ren and the First Order.
Clocking in at an arduous 152 minutes, I didn’t know whether to give up on the fight of the Resistance or put my hands up in the air for the possible redemption of Ben Solo. I was so bored waiting for something victorious or damning to happen that by the time it finally did, I just didn’t care.
One of my biggest qualms with this epic is all the subplot juggling that I found myself keeping up with, and it became tedious. It’s not that I can’t mentally equip myself for a layered story, but it became flat out pointless and failed to uphold an ounce of my interest.
One of the worst is the Finn/Rose packaged subplot. Finn and Rose travel to Canto Bight and acquire the help of the hacker DJ, who says he is able to help them disable the tracking device on Snoke’s ship. You could have easily cut that from the movie, and it would have made no difference. And were those two supposed to have chemistry, because I didn’t feel it.
And, what about Snoke? I may not be a superfan, but isn’t he supposed to be stronger than Vader and the Emperor? His entire character was completely wasted in a lame battle leaving his fate all to predictible. Where did he come from, what were his motives? Who the hell knows, because his character was clumsily executed from the plot.
“The film doesn’t move the story one inch. Kylo is still emo. Rey is still the good protagonist. Rebels are still fighting. 150 minutes of this and all they accomplished was giving girls on tumblr cringe-worthy scenes to base their fan fiction on.” via Lady Sati
TLJ also introduces us to what seems like an endless amount of new characters leaving little room to further develop the old characters that we actually care about. “Even the extraordinary cast members have less room here than in The Force Awakens to let their personalities show; the movie’s cinematic fabric is cut too tight, the frame is too constraining, the story lines hold them stiff and still like so many guy wires.” via New Yorker
And, let’s not forget the gag-worthy forced comedic moments pouring throughout the entire movie (thanks, Disney). What the hell happened to that script? I found myself awkwardly laughing at scenes that didn’t need to be funny; this is a very dark universe, and it’s not supposed to be comedic.
“While The Force Awakens exploited nostalgia to get over with the audience, one expected TLJ to be a statement film, following in the tradition of history. As an audience, we desire a fuller experience — the familiar and unique warmth of a Star Wars film with a sense of progression. As with adaption, this new generation of filmmakers are struggling with capturing the spiritual essence while expanding an interpreting the world in a new and interesting, even transformative ways.” via PopMatters
Whatever I needed or wanted to get out of this didn’t happen. Maybe the force wasn’t strong with me for this installment, but all I can hope is that the next chapter packs more of a punch than this deflated mess.