Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The Saga Continues

20172 h 32 min

Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order.

Director Rian Johnson
Runtime 2 h 32 min
Release Date 13 December 2017
Movie Media Cinema
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Very good

Star Wars: The Last Jedi has received a lot of analysis in the short time since its release. Some have loved it, some have hated it, and a fair number are somewhere in-between. I put myself in the third category, though leaning more towards the “love it” side of things. For all the haters out there, let me say this right off the bat: Yes, the film did have issues. It was not a perfect cinematic masterpiece. But it was nowhere close to having the issues of the prequels. Everything you can complain about in The Last Jedi had an equivalent, yet dumber, scene in the prequels (comparisons will not be made in this review for the sake of avoiding spoilers).

Considering how much The Force Awakens mimicked A New Hope, many people expected The Last Jedi to be reminiscent of The Empire Strikes Back. While there are reused thematic elements, The Last Jedi is not a soft reboot like the previous film. You probably could successfully argue the point that it is, but that is not how it struck me.

The Last Jedi seemed to focus a lot more on character development than plot. As far as plot progression goes, there really is not too much here. But the character development is fantastic. You can feel the new generation of actors getting these roles set up for the next film. The Force Awakens told us who these people are. The Last Jedi shows us who they are going to be. Episode IX will likely take that to its conclusion as destiny is a fairly prevalent theme in Star Wars.

There does not really seem to be a general public consensus on what this film should be, or have been. Long-time fans of the old Expanded Universe (novels, comics, video games, etc.) want to see more of those elements implemented. Some people want more of the same from the original movies. Others do not seem to know what they want and are somehow still upset. But it feels like this film set out what it was meant to do; ushering out the older, Lucas-era concepts to bring us to the new age of Disney. Star Wars has never been this grand, perfect thing people seem to envision. Parts of the old Expanded Universe sucked and needed to go. The films have used newer, unknown actors. The plot tends to be full of holes. The Force is mysterious and largely unexplained (or at least works best that way; damn you midichlorians!). At the end of the day, these are campy sci-fi family films. Enjoy it for what it is, not what you think it should be.

December 31, 2017

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

A Rebellion Built on Hope

20162 h 14 min

Rogue One is a type of story previously confined to Expanded Universe novels taken to the big screen. This is not a story of great heroes capable of feats beyond normal people. These are the normal people. They are the soldiers, spies, and other rebels who spent years fighting the Empire. The original trilogy is certainly an epic story with Luke and co. being the center of many turning points for the Rebel Alliance. But it is important to remember that they did not act alone. Smaller acts previously confined to briefly mentioned exposition now get their own moment in the spotlight.

The opening crawl of A New Hope mentions that a secret Rebel fleet stole the plans to the Death Star. Likewise, the original movie mentions that the team who stole the plans died in the process. So it is not secret what this movie will be about or how it will end. Now the story does start out slow as the character introductions are made. The main characters may not be the A-team, but they are some of the best the Rebels have to offer. It is somewhat hard to judge the characters individually when they are, by and large, inconsequential. They are not the heroes of the story as a whole, just this one small piece.

Some people have said that this is the best Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back. While Rogue One is a good movie, it is not even close to that. If anything Rogue One did very well because it is unique. The other films are more epics, adventure stories, than anything else. Take the original movie, for example. A black knight captures a princess, who sends her servants to an old knight for help only to find aid in the unlikeliest of people, a farm boy and a scruffy looking scoundrel. From the big evil Empire to the storming of a fortress, the story had tons in common with old medieval type tales.

Rogue One, by contrast, is a war movie. The film shows a darker side of the Rebellion and a (comparatively) more human side of the Empire. These people are doing somewhat questionable things and sacrificing themselves for a cause they believe in. Are these characters on par with Luke, Han, and Leia? No. Are they supposed to be? Again, no. Rogue One is a back story; it is not meant to be at the forefront. And while the film in and of itself is somewhat lacking, fans who have read the books and seen other pieces of the Expanded Universe will know the “missing” pieces are out there.

December 25, 2016