“Don’t let anyone spoil this…” That’s the latest message the folks over at Walt Disney Pictures is broadcasting. Is this a genuine plea of benevolence or just a manipulative marketing tool? I’ll let readers answer that question for themselves after seeing Star Wars: The Last Jedi. As I am one of the fortunate individuals to have seen the eight episode Star saga, I feel obligated to tell you that you won’t read any spoilers in this post. I will give another vague and broad by design review to a movie that is best enjoyed while going in relatively blind. I respect the sanctity of what makes this franchise so special. Please have no hesitations in reading this review.
Episode VIII is the immediate continuation of events set forth in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). Finn (John Boyega) is still unconscious as a result the climactic combat scene involving Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Kylo Ren, under the direction of Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) is looking to extinguish the pesky Rebellion once and for all. If the side fighting for goodness and light is to stand a chance, Rey may be its most important piece as she aims to bring their greatest hope back into the fold. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is the key to everything and, this time around, he’ll be making more than just a 15 second cameo appearance. As the Empire pushes forward, the outmatched Rebellion lead by Leia (Carrie Fisher) will need to fight tooth and nail if they are to survive.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi follows a very similar blueprint to what its predecessors have done in the past. And just like those earlier films, some things work while other aspects wildly miss their intended targets. Writer/director Rian Johnson has been given a lot of latitude with this sequel, and considering the fact that has been awarded the opportunity to kickoff a new trilogy, one can assume that Disney is banking heavily on his success here. That means even higher expectations and subsequently even more pressure to succeed.
We’ve journeyed into uncharted waters with this franchise we’re moving further and further away from the security blanket of familiarity with the outcome. Han Solo’s (Harrison Ford) fate proved that nothing is guaranteed. With the safety net now ripped away, there’s no telling what direction Star Wars: The Last Jedi will go in regards to the health and well being of its more notable characters. Mystery, uncertainty and intrigue are all good things when it comes to plot speculation. Audiences should have a good time overthinking and second guessing their predictions.
Fans can expect to see a deeper dive into the characters’ stories as Rian Johnson tries to find new emotional connections so that casual audiences start to care about the fate of others. The story itself gets a bit unfocused in areas that may cause some mental drifting. And staying with negatives for another moment, Star Wars: The Last Jedi gets dangerously close to finding itself in a position to be compared to The Phantom Menace (1999). Thankfully there are no Jar Jar Binks (phew!) sightings but they do try to force quite a few CGI creatures down your throats.
On the plus side, fans are given some answers to “bigger picture questions” and there are a few moments of laughter. Star Wars: The Last Jedi should not be seen as a potential bust or flop but, with that being said, this latest chapter does little to ensure that it’ll be something that is not soon forgotten. With a runtime of 152 minutes I was hoping for more substance. Sadly with a few creative edits, twenty minutes could have been shaved off without losing much value. As I promised at the beginning of this article, there are no spoilers present. Some could even label this as a vague and unsatisfying review. Part of that is by design as to not tip off and big plot developments. More importantly, this was an intended strategy meant to make readers feel the feeling I experienced while watching this movie. You can check this incredibly average episode in theaters as early as Thursday evening, assuming you can find tickets of course.