Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Reviews Star Wars: The Last Jedi

4 reviews positive and negative for movie Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi released 15 December 2017. Actors: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley.

Watch the trailer here.

I was incredibly disappointed with Stars Wars: The Last Jedi (TLJ). I cannot believe some people are saying this is the best one since Empire, bcoz it's not even close. There are so many problems with the movie; the writing, the poor structure, the lack of innovation and focus.

But first, I'll start with the positives. I think Daisy Ridley and Mark Hamill gave a wonderful and committed performance to their roles, despite qualms I have about the material they've been given. Daisy in particular really shines throughout; she has great screen-presence and is very enigmatic. Secondly, I was surprised by the abundance of humor in the movie. I really enjoyed the comedy and found all the jokes really funny and organic to the story in a way that never feels out of place. Also, the Porgs were kinda cute. Lastly, I thought there were two great action set pieces that really elevated the film above TFA & RO. The opening space battle was quite amazing and well-done. The dogfights and ship battles were very thrilling and suspenseful. Then there's a lightsaber fight towards the end that was just spectacular and could rank as one of the best set pieces in a Star Wars movie. It was also one of the most beautifully shot scenes in the movie, with really impressive lighting, wide angles and long takes to really highlight the complex but excellent choreography.

Now the negatives. Overall, I found the movie to be incredibly messy and badly paced. The story is incredibly boring and feel like they're threading the same ground as the original. There were many plot lines that felt lifted whole cloth from Empire and Return of the Jedi, and when they happened I was like "Are we really doing this again?" It quickly becomes evident that these movies feel like The Hobbit to the Star Wars franchise - in that, there's not enough material to warrant a new trilogy. TLJ never feels like the 2nd book of a trilogy. It feels more like the 2nd act of an incomplete story. Like TFA, this movie will leave you incredibly dissatisfied. Entire subplots were invented for our main characters, only for the outcome to yield absolutely no results. There were also way too many new characters introduced in the movie, all of whom took significant screen time away from characters that we already know. A character is introduced and is given the kind of epic send-off that should have been given to an established character we know and love, but bcoz we don't know this new character, that send-off lacks any impact. Also, too much time was spent on the island with Rey and Luke and nothing was accomplished. Rey's talents also remains largely unexplained.

My biggest issue with the movie however is the depiction of Luke Skywalker. Prior to this, I had read that Mark Hamill was really unhappy with Rian Johnson's direction for his character, and it's true. The Luke Skywalker in this movie IS NOT THE LUKE SKYWALKER WE KNOW & LOVE. Many of Luke's actions seem very out-of-character and contradicts everything that George Lucas had established about him in the originals. There is one particularly egregious act that Luke commits that feels like an absolute betrayal to that character. It undermines all the goodwill of Luke's arc in the originals that Lucas worked so hard to build-up and complete. Also, they seemingly established Luke as the main character and give him the same hero's journey as ROTJ again, only for him to be missing for 45 mins in the movie. And boy, do they really abused the classic John Williams Luke theme in this. You won't go for 5 mins without hearing his theme over and over again.

So overall, I did not enjoy watching TLJ. You're probably going to watch it once bcoz it's a Star Wars movie but trust me, there won't be any repeat viewings on this one, bcoz it lacks substance. My theatre audience was silent for the entire movie, saved for a few laughs at jokes that were effective, but there were at least 3 fan service/ shocking moments that should have elicited a response from the crowd, but everyone was dead quiet. You know the movie is incredibly ineffective when even the things fans want to see lands like a thud.

So I'm giving it a 3 out of 10; two points for that amazing 3rd act lightsaber battle, and 1 point for both Mark and Daisy. For those who are seeking a true sci-fi action adventure experience, I recommend watching Luc Besson's Valerian (2017) instead. That movie is bursting with creativity and feels like it's blazing a new path for the sci-fi genre that these new Star Wars movies should be doing but aren't. Most importantly, that movie feels fresh and innovative, two things that TLJ were seriously lacking.

A beautiful, humorous and magical Star Wars movie! - by jonabyron - rating 8/10
I've been a Star Wars fan since I was 7 years old, and I even remember seeing Empire and Jedi on the big screen as a kid. Yeah, I'm old. But, I'm a little shocked at so many haters of this movie, many of you have given a 2! A 2???? Seriously?

I've given The Last Jedi an 8. It's an epic and original Star Wars movie, with gorgeous cinematography and incredible music from the wonderful John Williams again. Rain Johnson has managed to expand the force mythology, inject some good ol' humour back into the saga, and throw in some wonderful surprises, that I believe, we all needed. It seems like many of you do not like change, or are not prepared to enjoy a Star Wars movie that takes risks. This movie takes huge risks; it dares to offer something fresh in a franchise that is over 40 years old. It also pays homage to the original trilogy in a beautiful and tasteful way. So, no, I do NOT understand the haters out there.

Nevertheless, it's not a perfect movie. There are some risks that Johnson takes, that will upset some fans, but some of those decisions have made me ponder the force in a new way. One of the main problems for me was the 'detour' from the main storyline with Finn and Rose. This storyline felt a bit sluggish, 'forced' and feels kind of shoehorned in there, and it also doesn't really serve the greater story-but then again, maybe it DOES. I will need to see it again to decide on this. There were also a handful of 'dumb' little moments, that I won't get into, and certainly at times I was reminded that Star Wars movies were originally made for children, and while we have our darker adult themes at work here (and even spiritual themes), there are also many magical moments for children. Maybe us 'grownups' need to stop taking it all so seriously and learn to be kids again?

For the most part, this is a solid, original and gorgeous Star Wars movie that I believe, makes The Force Awakens seem a little bland and unoriginal. Go and see it, it's the best Star Wars movie since Empire.

Entertaining, but ultimately confused and - by robby - rating 5/10

Very surprised that the critics gave this a thumbs up. It's possibly among the worst Star Wars movies (including the prequels). It's entertaining, for sure, but in the way David and Jerry Zucker films of the 80's were crowd pleasers. This isn't something you go home thinking about or affecting you when you go home, at least in a good way.

The problem as I see it is that it tried to tackle too much in one movie. Worst, it spent so much time on unimportant (and seemingly inconsequential) events and not enough time on the bigger questions that were left hanging from TFA. The story structure is a mess. The Finn/Rose subplot could've been totally removed, and the new characters introduced were a waste of time.

Characterizations were very inconsistent. Characters who had already grown in TFA (Finn, Poe) suddenly regressed for no reason. Major characters (Rey, Kylo, Luke) would make surprising moves without any basis or set-up, for the sake of surprise. In fact a lot of the movie can be said as favoring a "twist" happening at the expense of consistent character development. The prequel movies' treatment of Anakin's character development was a lot more satisfying, AND that's a generally panned. At least the prequel movies' story tried in earnest, TLJ did worst that just phoning it in.

As some movies have become acclaimed films over time after an initial bashing by the critics (e.g. Bladerunner), this one I believe will take the opposite direction.

Here's hoping JJ fixes everything with IX.

This is not Star Wars - by Fefnir - rating 3/10

After watching The Force Awakens and being utterly disappointed, I had little hope that this trilogy could recover. By watching Rogue One and being pleasantly surprised, there was "a new hope" in me that The Last Jedi might grow beyond TFA's flaws. And a attempt it did, there were moments in the movies, I thought had great potential, only to be ruined by lazy writing.

Without giving away any spoilers. The plot was lazily written; once again there were strong similarities to The Empire Strikes back, but in varying order; there were too many clichés, and Americanisms (which e.g. work well in Marvel movies, which are set to resemble the "real" world, but do not belong in Star Wars universe); the movie follows too many characters, and give almost no time to develop any; and unrealistic improbable moments, which ruin any suspense, as opposes to realistic improbably moments; feministic moments of no added value to the plot; and probably more I can't think of at the moment.

I give this 3 stars for the positive things I did like, which were: special effects, unique alien races and worlds, and Benicio Del Toro's acting which as a side character was the best.

I guess this is a coming of age moment for us all. The most crucial moments of this movie all serve as a metaphor that the Star Wars we used to know and love is gone. In its place is something incomprehensible, that may look like Star Wars, but doesn't feel like it.

In the end, Star Wars: The Last Jedi succeeded in making a plotless sci-fi action blockbuster, nothing more, nothing less.

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