The Last Jedi



George Lucas insists that he made the original STAR WARS in 1977 for 12 year olds.


Well the lengthy queues that snaked around city blocks at the time were composed of all ages and the billion dollar galactic empire since built on the STAR WARS world has not been created from the empty pockets of 12 year old fans.  Despite the overwhelming success of the Marvel Universe and any number of wildly sophisticated sci-fi / fantasy style films since 1977, the enduring love of fans for STAR WARS is a genuine modern phenomenon.  And this new addition shows no signs of that devotion slackening in the slightest.  As at Monday of this week, it has taken $495 million at the global box office and is just getting into its stride.


This new work titled STAR WARS : THE LAST JEDI picks up the story from where director J.J. Abrams ended THE FORCE AWAKENS.  One of the surprises here is that this is written and directed by wunderkind Rian Johnson, known for smaller indie style films such as LOOPER, THE BROTHERS BLOOM and BRICK.  But he slides into epic territory as if born to it. 


Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher in her final role) is now a general leading the resistance against the might of the evil First Order commanded by the reptilian Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis – the absolute king and master of motion capture).  Resistance fighter Rey (Daisy Ridley) has journeyed to the mystical and isolated island of AhCh-To where Jedi master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has been living a hermit-like existence removed from the troubles of the galaxy.


She must convince him to return to aid the desperate struggle and perhaps talk some sense into his bitter and conflicted nephew Kylo Ren aka Ben Solo (Adam Driver) who shocked fans in THE FORCE AWAKENS by killing his father Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and now seems intent on the death of his mother Princess Leia.


The plot is too layered and complex for easy scrutiny as just when you assume you know where this is going, Johnson pulls the proverbial rub from under you and leads the viewer down blind alleys and introduces some new characters along with classic favorites such as C-3PO, R2-D2, Yoda and Chewbacca.  Laura Dern, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Benicio Del Toro, Gwendoline Christie, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Justin Theroux and Adrian Edmondson join the already mentioned stars to pepper the cast with lots of familiar faces.


Is it flawless?  No, but we are in nitpicking territory when we examine any faults.  Overall it is a great success. P erhaps a mite too long (2hrs, 36 mins) and because there are four distinct plot lines and the action jumps between them while also introducing a host of characters and incidents, it may prove cumbersome for some viewers.  But I found that Johnson ably held this cinematic behemoth together and kept the narrative cogent, created some truly memorable set pieces that stun in 3D (oh my – those sparkling crystal ice creatures and a veritable menagerie of extra-terrestrial fauna ), interspersed the humor at just the right degree, and elicited some exceptionally strong performances from his cast, primarily Mark Hamill who really invested Luke (we the fans have aged along with Luke Skywalker over the last 40 years) with heart and soul.


STAR WARS is engineered to tap into our childlike wonder and its characters are becoming the modern mythology. T he essential story contained therein mirrors that of so many classic heroes from old literature and it is telling that in the current age, we seem to look for our heroes more in movie characters than among our leaders and power brokers. Odysseus becomes Frodo Baggins.  Siegfried is Harry Potter.  The Norsemen had their Sagas.  The Ancient Greeks had their Iliad.  Britons had Beowulf and Arthur.  The 21st Century has Star Wars.


May the force be with you.





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