What a brilliant movie! Full of breathtaking, blow-you-away moments, unpredictable plot-twists, and unforgettable images and ideas!
I speak, of course, of the original 1977 Star Wars.
I love movies and adore sci-fi. The original Star Wars sent me into a drug-like high when I saw it in Dolby Sensurround at the Odeon Marble Arch in 1977. So did parts of the original Guardians of the Galaxy, not to mention the hilarious Galaxy Quest. I gave a strong review to the last Star Wars outing, The Force Awakens, despite initial misgivings.
So when someone takes a massive budget, an epic back story and the expectations of millions and turns out something which is 80% as dull as ditchwater, I feel personally betrayed. Here are 7 reasons why The Last Jedi is, by the standards of what could have been, an inter-galactic train-wreck:
(i) it is beyond boring. In fact, it is the first movie in which I have actually fallen asleep in the cinema, ever. The scenes of Rey and Luke discussing obscure stuff on an island go on and on and… dear God, please can something happen soon?
(ii) The Force plays no role. In particular, the allegedly awesome ability of goodie Rey and baddie Kylo Ren to channel The Force at no point has any impact on the plot – apart from an incident involving arch-baddie Snoke, whose daft name always made him hard to take seriously anyhow. When Kylo and Ren fight faceless henchpersons in Santa outfits (presumably designed with a Christmas release of the movie in mind), they do hand-to-hand combat. In fact, the only time The Force plays a role is when Rey literally lifts some rocks;
(iii) the humor, or humour, has vanished like a struck-down Obi Wan Kenobi. This is a cruel disappointment, since The Force Awakens – see my review at link – was crammed with laugh-out-loud jokes. The only laughs in The Last Jedi revolve around pointless creatures with big eyes looking dismayed;
(iv) the self-awareness has gone, too. In its place, the turgid self-importance of the fourth thru sixth movies – so-called episodes 1-3, “the movies about which Star Wars enthusiasts do not speak”;
(v) because nothing makes sense, the film contains no dramatic tension. For at least seven hours of the movie a fleet of gigantic First Order warships chases a pitiful shoal of rebel spacecraft, lobbing an occasional shell into their protective force-fields while waiting for them to run out of fuel (ice-cream, anyone? I might just nip out and check the weather). Each of the pursuing craft is at least a million times larger and more heavily-armed than the tiny craft they are chasing. But they can’t catch them, or even damage them. When the rebels flee in unprotected escape pods, the pursuing fleet has to pick them off one by one, at a lackadaisical pace (turns over and sets alarm). Do they only have one gun, or what?
(vi) what is it with this Empire/First Order gigantomania that they keep building huge, yet completely ineffective military technology? Maybe they have a single, tiny unit of shagged-out designers required to staff not only the infamous Death Star Reconstruction Committee; but also the Stormtrooper Body Armour Division; the Stormtrooper Sharpshooting Academy; the Empire Battle Tactics Seminary; and the TIE Fighters Modernisation Task Force;
(vii) The Last Jedi contains no surprises. No character makes a cunning intervention which changes the balance of the story, least of all the permanently catatonic, baffled-looking Luke Skywalker or the promising but woefully underwritten Rey. Because the story begins and ends with the rebels roughly in the same pickle, nothing that happens in-between seems to matter.
Please, let’s have an action-packed Episode 9 (suggested title: The Last Battle) full of new weapons, scary villains, heroes who make a difference, and outcomes that matter.
For: a few all-too-isolated minutes of nail-biting action. Good gender and ethnic balance amongst the rebels – although this seems not to apply to the First Order forces, perhaps another reason they are so ineffective.
Against: another cosmos-sized disappointment in the Star Wars canon.
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