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Archive for August, 2018

Spoilers ahead: Do not read any further as crucial plot points will be discussed ….

 

Let me just say first that I really enjoyed the Last Jedi and thought it was better than its predecessor, The Force Awakens. That being said, the Last Jedi had some plot holes large enough to sling a bantha through which is mystifying given writer/director Rian Johnson’s otherwise solid workmanship. Were there not enough eyes on the script or too many? Hard to say at this distance.

Briefly, The Last Jedi takes place immediately after the events in The Force Awakens. The First Order has destroyed the capital of the Republic, but the Resistance has managed to destroy the new, improved Death Star, Starkiller Base. The Resistance forces are now on the run pursued by a First Order fleet that’s determined to wipe them out.

What I liked:

  • Excellent flow and pacing: The cuts between scenes were very well done, the switching between the storylines of different characters was seamless,  and the story clipped along quickly.
  • Central role of female characters: I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a Star Wars movie where the female characters (Leia, Holdo, Rose, Rey, Paige) played such crucial roles in the plot. The male characters are there certainly, but the women are linchpins of the story.
  • Improved costuming especially for Leia. The costume designer, Michael Kaplan, took his inspiration from Queen Elizabeth II and the result is much better clothes for Leia–more regal, more flattering. Especially noteworthy Leia’s striking cloak with a high collar.
  • Captain Kannady: The smart, no nonsense commander of the Imperial dreadnought. Kannady is one of the few competent officers that the First Order seems to have–which is probably why he lasts all of five minutes.
  • Sightings of British actors from Games of Thrones and other Brit TV shows: Apparently the First Order is very British in make up.
  • General Hux: Hux began as a one note baddie, but he actually begins to become somewhat sympathetic in this movie. The sibling rivalry between him and Kylo Ren as the competing, dysfunctional sons of the same abusive father (Snoke) was seeded in the first movie, but is now very much in evidence and can only become more pronounced in the upcoming third film.
  • Adam Driver as Kylo Ren: It’s a testimony to Driver’s skill and charisma as an actor that he invests Ren with so much interior conflict. This is the Darth Vader origin story that the prequels never delivered.
  • Best new character: Rose Tico played by Kelly Marie Tran. Introducing a new character into the Star Wars verse is always fraught with peril–think Jar Jar Binks–but Rose is very likeable and spunky. Also kudos to Veronica Ngo who plays her sister, Paige, early in the film. And I enjoyed Benicio Del Toro’s turn as D.J., the hacker. Del Toro’s character isn’t even given a name on screen, but he still delivers a nuanced performance.
  • The exquisite sets for the fight sequences especially the battle in the throne room and the final fight on Crait.

What I didn’t like:

  • One note villains: Is it really too much to expect that Star Wars antagonists be something other than mustache-twirling-style baddies? Apparently, the answer is yes to that. Snoke is dispatched before we learn anything about him, even how he got that massive scar. The only thing we learn is that he hates Luke Skywalker with a passion. Did Skywalker give him that scar? Was there a battle between them? We will never know. It’s a shame to see Snoke go because Andy Serkis does a great job with the character. Serkis simply exudes power and charisma even under all that CGI. Ditto for Phasma (Gwendolyn Christie) who is dispatched before we ever learn her back story.
  • Excellent actors whose characters aren’t developed: Laura Dern as Adm. Holdo has a wonderful chemistry with Leia (Carrie Fisher).
  • The entire “we must go a whole different planet in order to sabotage a flagship that is DIRECTLY behind us” plot. Don’t get me wrong–the casino planet visit was fun, but it should have come much earlier in the story.
  • Along those same lines, the “there is a suspected spy in the ranks” is also a plot line that is not played out well. It should have been introduced earlier which would have made Holdo’s secrecy and Poe’s mutiny much more credible.

And file this one under “Hmmm, Suspicious”:

  • In the extras, director Rian Johnson mentions at one point there was a rumor that General Hux was going to be killed off and he received a number of e-mails pleading for Hux’s life from Russian accounts. Just Russian Star Wars fans with an attachment to a fascist baddie as Johnson seems to think or another one of the Kremlin’s cyber warfare sallies?

 

 

 

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