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Sunday, January 28, 2018

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I'm late to this party, but I finally got around to seeing the lastest Star Wars episode, subtitled The Last Jedi, even though it is not the last film (one more to go). As these things go, it was okay, nothing transcendent, and not has good as The Force Awakens, which I think is my favorite Star Wars film.

This one was written and directed by Rian Johnson, and follows three main storylines: Rey (Daisy Ridley), tries to recruit Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to help the resistance cause; what is left of the resistance, led by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher, in her last role) tries to outrun the bad guys; and Finn (John Boyega) along with Rose Trico (Kelly Marie Tran) trying to infiltrate a First Order ship to shut down their tracker.

In addition, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), the Darth-Vader wannabe, is able to contact Ridley through the force. Each of them tries to pull the other over to their side.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi has a few more tricks up its sleeve, notably the appearance of Benicio Del Toro as a thief whose alliance lies with who's paying him, and Laura Dern as a mauve-haired admiral of the resistance, who battles with the hot-headed pilot Poe Dameron about strategy. An old friend also appears, in ghost form.

After appearing at the end of The Force Awakens, this is Mark Hamill's film, as he is given top-billing and dominates the scenes he's in. He has sequestered himself on a remote island (in reality an island off the coast of Ireland which can be visited, and I want to go there). The end of the film features an epic showdown between Skywalker and Ren, on a salt flat that when touched turns red. There are the requisite light saber battles, spaceship fights, and comic book humor (at one point Boyega, in a flight with Captain Phasma, calls her "chrome dome"). But somehow the script lacks the spark that has made this the most successful franchise in film history. Aside from a bit in the opening moments with Domnhall Gleason as the frustrated General Hux that may recall the "Can you hear me now?" commercials, I found the film to be too sober by half.

Also, the mystery surrounding Rey's parents is answered anticlimactically, or is it?) and there is some weirdness involving Organa after her apparent death.

Johnson's task was to set up the last film, which will be directed by J.J. Abrams, which will end the the last trilogy, although as we've seen there are also stand-alone Star Wars films that will probably outlast me.

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