The Last Jedi (2017)

WARNING – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

star_wars_the_last_jedi_poster

Some have seen symbolism of a wider view of The Force in this poster

This film was great. Audiences seem to have liked it too. It received a Cinemascore of “A,” exactly the same as The Force Awakens and Rogue One, and its average rating from moviegoers surveyed by Comscore was five out of five stars. In its opening weekend alone it grossed $220,009,584. Worldwide it has grossed $892,107,89 so far. I was surprised, therefore, at some of the hostile reactions to it online. What may lie behind that says more about our society than the film.

Dave Schilling points out at Birth Movies Death The Last Jedi can be seen as a metaphorical depiction of the baby boomer generation (a generation that featured a lot of white men — good and bad — in positions of power) handing off leadership roles to younger generations, particularly millennials, who tend to be more racially diverse and to advocate having more women in positions of power. The good guys are a young white woman, a black man, a woman of Asian descent, and a Latino man, while the bad guys are two white men.

Of course there are many other criticims relating to the plot itself. To give one example, Finn and Rose’s journey to the casino planet of Canto Bight is seen by some as an unnecessary diversion from the main plot. It’s certainly something you can make a case for although I take a different view. To me the corruption of Canto Bight (whose wealth is based on selling armanents to both The First Order and The Resistance) is clearly intended to provide the moral core – the contrast between the Jedi and everyone else (including the Rebels, to a degree). Perhaps that needs restating because of the suggestion that Skywalker wants to create something new embracing both the light and the dark (embracing “a larger view of the Force”). Some have even seen a symbolism of this in the first poster. Here it is depicted by Luke’s face (light side) on one side, Kylo Ren’s (dark side) on the other, with Rey in the middle separating the two and her lightsaber going from blue to red. Or so some say! So, I don’t see the visit to Canto Bight as a diversion but a small part of the film that helps you understand the rest.

This is a good movie which has a substance to it that makes you think. The action scenes are great, particularly the space battles between the bad guys and The Resistance. The fight scenes are also worthy of mention, particularly the Throne Room scene.

It was great to see Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) again, sadly in her last role and, of course, Mark Hamil (Luke Skywalker) as a sullen, bearded recluse who has lost faith in the Jedi. Both provoked suprisingly emotional reactions in me. Real sadness in the case of Leia and disappointment, at least at first, in Skywalker.

My major criticism of the film is that the Dark Side of the Force was just not Dark enough! That’s probably, partly, because the likes of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious are such tough acts to follow. It’s also because Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is just too clean-cut and boyish to convince as a villain. I guess I expect my villains to be more rugged!The most interesting thing about Kylo Ren is his ambivalence toward the Light and Dark, the Sith and Jedi. In both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi we see that. Is that fully milked as a theme. In The Last Jedi it seems that Rey could win him over but I don’t think the turmoil in Kylo was ever fully developed as a theme. There was just not enough tension.

Still, despite any flaws, this is a great film with and ensemble cast (special mention of Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Vice-Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern).

Reviewed by Pat Harrington

Cast and Crew

Director: Rian Johnson
Writer: Rian Johnson
Actors: Mark Hamill
Carrie Fisher
Adam Driver
Daisy Ridley
John Boyega
Oscar Isaac
Lupita Nyong’o
Andy Serkis
Domhnall Gleeson
Anthony Daniels
Laura Dern
Benicio Del Toro
Peter Mayhew
Producers: Kathleen Kennedy, Ram Bergman
Composer: John Williams

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