Monday, December 18, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi - Spoiler Free First Thoughts

The Movie: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The Director: Rian Johnson

The Cast: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Mark Hamill, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, Gwendoline Christie, Domhnall Gleeson, Andy Serkis, Laura Dern, Benicio Del Toro, Kelly Marie Tran, Lupita Nyong'o, Warwick Davis, Anthony Daniels, Joonas Suatamo, Veronica Ngo

The Story: Having taken her first steps into the Jedi world, Rey joins Luke Skywalker on an adventure with Leia, Finn and Poe that unlocks mysteries of the Force and secrets of the past.

To help people avoid spoilers, I am waiting to post my full review until after the movie has been out for a full week. Until then, here are a few thoughts you might be interested in reading whether you have seen the movie or not.

A friend asked me if I liked the movie. I simply said "Yes."

Do I have issues with the movie? Absolutely.

Is it entertaining? Definitely

Is the story any good? It's...entertaining.

Does the story fit with the rest of the series? Yes

Does the story telling style fit with the rest of the series? No.

What do you think of the Porgs? I like them, they're super cute.

Who are Rey's parents? Director Rian Johnson says this reveal is as big as Vader telling Luke he is his father. Do I agree? Ask me again after you've watched the movie.

My biggest takeaway from watching The Last Jedi is that Disney has created a formula for how they want their stories to be told and that formula, in an effort to maximize entertainment, includes adding lots of funny moments. Not natural humor like K2-SO's unmistakable sarcasm in Rogue One or Finn nervously asking Rey if she has a boyfriend in The Force Awakens.

No, this is more like taking moments that hold real weight and meaning and then adding a joke just for the sake of being funny. Early in the movie there's a moment that has had a lot of build up as something really important although the creative team uses it to say, "Hey audience, this movie is going to be funny so don't worry about danger, suspense, or real drama. Who needs all that stuff anyway, we're here to have fun!" I laughed at the joke but it was also a bit uncomfortable and felt out of place.

From that moment, this was no longer the Star Wars that I have known. It is something new and definitely different. While it is still entertaining, the end result feels more like cotton candy than a satisfying meal. The movie is basically built for the roster of characters to have moments instead of having them populate a well thought out story that has depth, diversity, history, and actually makes sense. The script is filled with inconsistencies, wacky decision making, and plot holes all over the place yet, for all its faults, it is definitely a Star Wars movie and comes complete with all of the flashes, bangs, bells, and whistles.

There are moments that deserve your applause, there are moments that will drop your jaw to the floor, there are moments that will make you laugh, and there are moments that will make your brain hurt.

Welcome to the new Star Wars. Brought to you by Disney executives.

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