Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi Review (No Spoilers)
I'm not gonna spoil anything outside of anything you've seen in the trailers. I'll discuss the premise, character portrayals, settings, and whatnot in an effort to explain my opinion on whether or not you should see this film, or rather in the case of Star Wars, where your expectations should be when you do actually see it.
Well, this is awkward. I was disappointed. I guess that's the clearest way I can say it. The film is far from bad and it has all the proper trappings of a Star Wars film. It answers several questions presented by the last film while ignoring some others and not really proposing any new ones. It has a dragging middle but has impressive ship battles in space. Visually, it's as good as it has ever been. It's also funnier too, but there are some attempts to be funny that more often fall flat. It's a weird, mixed bag.
Granted, this is just my opinion. I didn't set myself up to high expectations except for information making the universe bigger, and it kinda did that, but there was more than enough bits that I shrugged my shoulders at or was genuinely confused by.
I'll definitely be posting a full spoiler-filled discussion about the film later on to better explain that, but for now I'll talk about the film more in general.
The Plot, Performance, and Writing
In a nutshell, there are three main plots involved in this film. The most obvious is Rey on Luke's planet where the Jedi Master has secluded himself. You have the core (or more accurately, what remains) of the Resistance having to deal with the First Order in space practically from the beginning to the ending of the film, and then we have Finn and new character Rose (had to look that one up) as they take on their own mission in order to help the Resistance. The plot is very parallel to that of The Empire Strikes Back which is not a bad thing.
Performance-wise, I don't have real complaints with in this film. Everyone plays their part wonderfully, displaying emotions clearly and there's never a moment where I feel an actor's portrayal is off. I was a little annoyed by Benicio Del Toro's character having a very abrupt stutter where I felt I was not understanding his lines on the level of Tom Hardy's ridiculous mask as Bane but I got over it.
It's the writing I think I have the biggest issues with. I feel like a lot of plot threads were set up well enough but their conclusions at best puzzled me and at worst bothered me. In the end, more than one plot line in the new trilogy turned out to be inconsequential. Characters would withhold information from other characters in order to cause friction and drama only for the truth to come out ten minutes later. Several of the twists revealed in the film seemed there only to shock the audience rather than improve the story. There was enough of this material that took me out of the film, wondering why the those responsible decided to steer the film in these directions.
They do handle somethings very well, however. Poe Dameron's character progression is a good one, great when considering he originally wasn't supposed to make it out of The Force Awakens alive. With his well done though slightly awkward presentation in the previous film, Kylo Ren really comes into his own and takes his place within the Star Wars mythos. In her final performance, Leia (Organa? Skywalker? Solo?) is a true force of nature and the reactions of other characters meshes together so well. I admit Luke Skywalker's character didn't meet my expectations (especially after Mark Hamill's work after Star Wars and the types of characters and wide ranges of emotions he's performed well), but he still serves the film very well.
Aesthetic and Sounds
I mean, it's Star Wars and this is always been one of its strengths. I'd argue even in the prequels and all the hate they received, the sights of Kimino, the Battle over Coruscant and Coruscant itself, the Jedi Temple were all inspired and unique places. And do I really need to talk up John Williams who's been involved with the sounds since the very beginning? It's all right there.
How has the Force 'Awakened?'
The last film's main focus was Rey discovering she had the ability to utilize the Force and we've already seen the Force used in new ways in that movie (most notably when Kylo Ren froze both Poe Dameron and his sniper blast in midair for a considerable amount of time). The Force is used in a couple of new ways this film although arguably not in the awe-inspiring way it was done previously. However, there are a handful of action scenes where a Force-user uses just enough to keep off the ground or to enable them to let an attack smoothly pass over them. It's hard to describe without potentially spoiling things, but it's a nice touch of a blink and you'll miss it quality that I appreciated.
The Rebellion vs The Resistance
I'm really annoyed by the obvious parallels of the Resistance as the new Rebellion, not in theme but in story roles. The First Order isn't the ruling body, but the remnants of the past ruling body (The Empire) who are trying to take things over. The Resistance were basically the military of the Republic but it hasn't been explained with the audience why the Republic 'secretly' funded them. The Empire and the Rebellion were clear cut in their roles of the universe, but the Republic, the First Order, and the Resistance are murky and don't make sense.
It's typical Star Wars fanfare. It's not much worse than Episode 1 when Darth Maul is cut in half. There's a close up on a face of a corpse and some children who are threatened by a whip-like instrument. Sexual content is pretty nil and language is on par with what you've seen before.
If I come across as if I'm ragging on this entry, I'm really trying not to as I enjoyed the experience of going to see it and seeing how the new content in the Star Wars is utilized. I'm bothered by the writing and how some of the resources have been treated. I guess it's enough for me to to suggesting you wait until it becomes available to rent if you're trying to decide. Sure, Star Wars fans like myself are gonna see it in theaters no matter what and that's that.
I've heard this film is actually really polarizing and I'd love to hear from those who have seen it. So if you've already seen it, tell me what you thought! If you read this and go see it, let me know what you thought afterwards!
- I found myself disappointed after watching it
- Deals with some of the unanswered questions from the last film, doesn't come up with many on its own
- Some plot threads are inconsequential
- Movie drags a little
- Wonderfully acted
- Visuals and musical score are as good as they've ever been
- IMO, The Force Awakens is the superior film