Here at the L & D we put our top picks for 2017 on hold, eagerly awaiting the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. We needn’t have. Last Jedi is a film that is very much in love with itself. And honestly, how can you blame the producers, director or editor. Each shot, a technical marvel. Each set-up, costing the GDP of various small island nations. However, it’s exactly the job of the editor, the director and the producers to make the tough choices that keep a story moving along. If this 2 hour and 33 minute behemoth had been more tightly spun and less concerned with literally looking at itself in the mirror, it would have been a lot stronger. However, with no one there to stop John Williams, the band played on…and on. At one point Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) says to Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) that nothing really dies. The irony escaped no one that she actually was (RIP Carrie). Unless you are a totally enlightened monk, many things can die, including the attention span of the audience. Like so many action films, this one went on at least 20 minutes too long. You could feel it lumbering along, trying to establish relationships for the next episode and getting away from the filmmakers with every drawn-out, self-important gaze.
The biggest stars of the film are these Gremlins type creatures found on Luke’s island. It’s no coincidence Kathleen Kennedy also produced that film is 1984. And like Gremlins, a lot of the action, music and shot selection in Last Jedi feels like it’s directly out of the Spielberg playbook. Spielberg, another Gremlins producer. I almost expected space ships to fly in silhouette across a moon (or several moons since it is Star Wars) with ET perched on a bicycle basket.
All that said, the acting was great, including star Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver and Kelly Marie Tran, with a solid turn by Benicio del Toro. Though as D mentioned, Laura Dern picked the short stick when it came to cool Star Wars characters. The plot itself was strong and original taking some well deserved cracks at arms dealers and also at those who sit on the fence. The Cinematography and special effects were outstanding and I realized I could watch a feature length film of simply Star Wars landscape shots. If you are a fan of this franchise (and by the size of the audience this opening night, who isn’t) this is a must see installment. For everyone else, firing up the original aka A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back will give you the same thrills and chills.