Director: Rian Johnson
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Science-Fiction
Runtime: 152 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi will probably be best remembered as being the film that took the wind out of the sails of the Star Wars series. In this cinematic nut-tap, it feels like writer/director Rian Johnson is telling viewers to not care about Star Wars, to not speculate on its future, and to not emotionally invest yourself in the franchise. I’m getting ahead of myself. Okay, the plot is about the starfleet of the virtuous Resistance finding itself in a high-stakes space chase with the ships of the evil First Order. A movie like Avengers: Endgame (2019) feels like a love letter to the longtime fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while The Last Jedi sometimes feels like a big, ol’ middle finger.
The largest flaw with this flick is, of course, the character assassination against Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), something that actor Hamill was vocally opposed to. I’m not going to go into spoilers, but this is not the Luke of the original trilogy. This is a postmodern deconstruction and demythologization of a beloved series, and the critics disgracefully ate it up. The Last Jedi takes a bulldozer to the mythos of Star Wars, and professional film-viewers applauded every second of it.
Virtually all of the “mystery boxes” set up by Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015) are demolished or given intentionally unsatisfying answers. This is a picture that trolls, rather than challenges. “Subverting expectations” is the new “jumping the shark.” It just doesn’t line up with any of the other Star Wars films, not even its immediate predecessor, The Force Awakens. It’s too busy bending and breaking the rules of the universe it’s set in. This movie also feels problematically small in scale. Perhaps “Star Skirmishes” would be a more appropriate title (no, I didn’t come up with that one)? The humor here is often out-of-place and the dead-end ending deflates the trilogy that it’s the middle installment of. The idea of Star Wars going arthouse is exciting for a while, but it leaves a sour taste in one’s mouth.
The Last Jedi isn’t all bad, though. The action scenes are superb, John Williams’ musical score is very, very good, the midnight ride of the Fathiers is moving, and the visuals, while occasionally unStar-Warsian, are interesting. As a standalone movie, with no connection to the rest of the franchise, it’s actually very non-boring, albeit clumsy, incoherent in its messages, and overly long. It’s a Star Wars film for people who hate Star Wars films. I will give it a high score, simply because it’s easily watchable and entertaining if you divorce it from the rest of the saga.
My rating is 8 outta 10.