Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Star Wars: The Last Jedi: A Fan's Opinion

Rey confronting the sorrowful shadow
of days gone by.
I finally got to watch Star Wars: The Last Jedi today, and I've got some conflicting feelings about it. To begin with, it's a departure from the original Star Wars story line, wherein the Dark Side/Galactic Empire is portrayed as a well-oiled and efficient death machine, run by a fearsome, mysterious warrior-dictator, while the Light side/Jedi are portrayed by freedom fighters struggling for justice and peace.

You really felt the presence of a dark insidious evil presence on the screen whenever Darth Vader appeared, especially when the scene is mated to the amazing orchestral marvel that is the now-famous "Imperial March" soundtrack by John Williams. You really felt the struggle in every action sequence, you would feel the emotions in every dramatic scene, you would feel the yearning in every love scene. 


Skywalker contemplating his fate
In this last iteration, I watched a sci-fi movie that just reminded me of great scenes, great punch-lines and sad endings in another movie....but not much memorable moments to speak of, aside from Luke Skywalker's unexpected transcendence (which proved to me to me that any future continuance of the story will definitely not include any of the major characters of the first movies). I just wanted to see how the story ends, I didn't care about the development of the new story line in this new generation of Star Wars characters, and the battle scenes - while well-choreographed - were bland, and almost predictable.

Darth Vader making a point
Even the characters were thin and unconvincing. I mean, Darth Vader was an imposing, fearsome gut-wrenching villain who had a mortally accurate control over the midi-chlorians within and around him, and it showed whenever he came on-screen.  Kylo Ren - by comparison is  just a spoil young brat with overflowing testosterone levels, constantly bursting into uncontrollable fits of rage whenever things didn't go his way. We didn't get to see much of his light-saber prowess, nor his ability at commanding armies of storm troopers that are as heavily armed as they are scared shitless, absolutely nothing like his grandfather.

Forrest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera
Star Wars: Rogue One, by comparison, was an amazing movie, in the sense that it builds up on an amazing story-line. It also had impressive characters that had less on-screen time than they deserved, but their presence and legacy lived on (Forest Whitaker's character, Saw Gerrera, for example, and the consequences of his actions on Jyn Erso, and hers - subsequently - on the rebel fighters' ability to destroy the Death Star in Star Wars: A New Hope. Galen Erso, the original father of the Death Star, was another imposing character whose both history and actions deserved more screen time than they were given, played by the underestimated Mads Mikkelsen. With this latest concoction of characters and thin backstories, I can almost predict what the next movie's going to talk about, and I'm not amused.

Mads Mikkelsen as Galen Erso
Good acting by Mark Hamil, as well as better-than-good performances by Daisy Ridley and John
Boo-hoo, nobody loves me!
Boyega, but neither can hold a candle against Harrison Ford's emotive facial express ions, even in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. and for the love of all that is holy, why did Master Yoda allow Luke to stay a hermit when - in the end - it was very easy for him to burn down the temple & the holy books? To me, that's just a fabricated excuse to introduce a character that's an emotional bond to life-long Star Wars fans. It's a cheap shot, but I suppose it worked for many. Personally, I would have liked to have seen Obi Wan, or even Anakin Skywalker appear instead, but I guess the writers decided that it would only be fitting that Yoda would be the one to burn down the temple. Still, a cheap shot.

DJ the Slicer

One more point, and to be fair, I loved that Benicio Del Toro was in this movie, but not the fact that his story leaves so much to be desired that I almost feel like not caring to find out! In fact, I'll go all the way to say that Boba Fett had a more interesting back-story than DJ the Slicer! And while we're on the subject of new villains, I would like to say that Darth Maul makes Captain Phasma look like a choir lady, and he only got to appear in ONE movie, while Phasma appeared in two so far, and I'm still not impressed!

Imposing & shiny, but not scary!

I also got the impression that it's been rushed somewhat, i feel that there's not much meat in the story's development. I was expecting, for example, some background info on Po Dameron's life, and how he ended up as a crack pilot, but I got a room full of so many alien species gambling and drinking that I get cross-eyed just thinking about them! In some areas it's a rush, and in others it's needless superficialities of emotion, seemingly designed to elicit affection from the audience, but instead turned out to be nothing more than a cheap attempt by the film's Director to shine some Thespianic light onto a couple of nobodys for Hollywood executives.

Darth Maul
Aside from the rebels trying to escape annihilation with the First Order tailing them for 6 hours (aka throughout the film's duration), we only to to see a Casino Planet, Skywalker's rock in the middle of a sea and hints of Hoth (see Empire Strikes Back if you don't know what I mean), not much in terms of substantial dialogue, aside from the Luke-Rey exchanges that were used rather exposedly to deliver the back-story of the film, 

In short, my first impressions with this 'highest grossing moving of 2017' is that of slight disappointment, maybe with a touch of 'meh' thrown in. Maybe it's because I felt so much affinity towards the original characters, maybe it's because I'm an older person, or maybe it's because I watched this movie using a pirated torrent unclear print. If anything, however, writing this blog post made me realize that I need to give it another chance some time later. Maybe the second time I'm exposed to the Force I won't be as critical.

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