Movie Review - Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Written and directed by Rian Johnson (Looper and Brick), this movie picks up where Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) left off. Despite being highly entertaining and fun, The Force Awakens was criticized for basically being a beat-for-beat remake of the original Star Wars (1977). This movie suffers the same. The two sequels to that 1977 film were The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and The Return of the Jedi (1983). If The Force Awakens were a rip-off of the 1977 film, then this movie is a rip-off of both the 1980 and 1983 films combined. It's as if the first half of The Empire Strikes Back were attached to the ending of The Return of the Jedi in order to make this, and it's frustrating to see not many new ideas, story-wise, coming from these Disney-owned movies.
In the 1983 film, we were introduced to cute little animals that became instrumental in the fight. This movie introduces two types of cute little animals. The first is the porg, which seems like a type of bird. The second is the vultpex, a crystal fox of some sort. In the 1983 film, Luke Skywalker is taken by Darth Vader in handcuffs to the Evil Emperor where Luke is threatened to be turned to the dark side or be killed, while at the same time the rebel forces look as if they're about to be all killed. The 1983 film cuts back-and-forth between these two things until Vader ends up betraying the Emperor. Needless to say, the same thing happens here, except swap Darth Vader for Kylo Ren.
John Boyega (Attack the Block and Detroit) reprises his role of Finn, a former storm-trooper who now works for the rebel forces. Of all the characters that feel useless, Finn appears to be at the top of the list. Boyega is so good-looking and talented, but, there's a point when Finn could have died and I was a little okay with it. He's paired with a rebel fighter named Rose Tico, played by Kelly Marie Tran. The movie tries to inject a romance between the two that doesn't work. Rose is there to provide context and show what the rebels are fighting against, but Finn and Rose's side adventure feel like a distraction from the main action in a movie that drags on by the end.
Speaking of action, I wasn't that impressed with the action here. The first action sequence is energizing and a nice thrill ride, but everything else pales in comparison to the inventive sequences in The Force Awakens. Yes, The Force Awakens copied-and-pasted its final action sequence from the 1977 film, just as this one copied-and-pasted some of its sequences from the 1980 and 1983 films. Yet, The Force Awakens did manage to pull off some clever and exhilarating things like the Millennium Falcon flying through the husk of a crashed Star Destroyer and that wasn't the only trick up its sleeve or great character beats on hand.
This movie doesn't have that same exhilaration. There are a couple of tricks up its sleeve, but, at least one of them left me frustrated and with more questions than anything. Knowing these tricks would be considered spoilers, so be warned.
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence.
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 32 mins.