MARCUS BLAKE

First, let me say that yes Star Wars The Last Jedi is a great movie. It’s not a perfect movie and it’s not Empire Strikes Back even though there are similarities. I don’t think anything will ever truly match Empire Strikes Back but the Last Jedi is probably the closest we’re ever going to come to it. Second, to really understand the Last Jedi and where the story is going you have to see it more than once. There are so many little things in this movie that you’ll miss the first time around that it takes a second viewing and I think that’s very much a characteristic of Rian Johnson as a director. I had to do that with brick and I had to do that with Looper to really appreciate how great those films are.

Initially, there were a lot of things that bothered me about this film and some things still do. I freely admit that I was expecting more of Rey’s training to be more like Luke’s training with Yoda and it wasn’t. I think one of the biggest issues is we don’t have any clear explanation on why my Rey is so powerful and can seem to master all of these Jedi skills without any real training. Maybe there are some deleted scenes that would have helped us that didn’t end up in the film and maybe they’ll explain it a lot more than novelization. But it seems like her time with Luke Skywalker is all but too brief and somehow she’s powerful enough to go off and defeat the bad guys. And even though she stumbles a little bit, which is very similar to Luke’s first encounter with Vader and Empire, she doesn’t completely lose and seems to know what she’s doing. Again, I need more of an explanation.

Also, Snoke dying in this movie pretty much waste him as a character and he doesn’t seem very menacing anymore, but I guess at this point he only serves as someone to tempt Kylo Ren to help him Ascend to the True Villain of this trilogy. But we still don’t know any true backstory of Snoke with having him die it doesn’t really matter which causes a lot more questions than answers which as I guess the point because it ensures that us as an audience is going to go see more Star Wars movies. Guess what, we’re fans,  we were going to see them anyway.

These are really my two main issues with the Last Jedi that don’t make the film perfect. I feel like everything else is great and even though it’s filled with a lot of action and there’s not as much of a Stillness to this film as there was with The Empire Strikes Back it’s one hell of a movie and gorgeously shot. The chemistry with Daisy Ridley and Mark Hamill is fantastic. Adam Driver’s intensity  as Kylo Ren makes him one “badass” villain that is believable and gets us away from having the whiny Anakin Skywalker tendencies that turns the audience off. I do feel like Kylo Ren and Rey have become the best characters because they’re complicated and it’s not strictly black and white especially with the force connection that they have. The Last Jedi truly is the one Star Wars film, but has so many shades of gray in the narrative that for one of the best written Star Wars stories to date

The other thing that makes this movie fantastic is obviously Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia and for a final performance, wow, she proves why she is truly our princess. She was strong, graceful, funny, and probably the most heartwarming scene is when she and Luke reunite.

Like I said I’m very much love this film and after processing it a second time looking at what they’re trying to do with the story and how everything with the force is going to change and we go beyond the Skywalker family then I can grade the film a little bit better. Because of the things that I was bothered by I wanted to give it a lower grade than I would normally give a Star Wars film, but after having watched it twice and really seen what they were trying to do I feel like this movie is definitely a 9 out of 10. It’s the fan boy me that wants all the questions answered now, but I also had to realize that if you saw The Empire Strikes Back For the First Time In 1980 it left quite a lot of questions unanswered. But it is true that the Star Wars franchise has changed and it is for the better. I think that’s part of what Luke Skywalker’s later story is is… bridging that gap between the old ways of the Jedi and seeing how it’s going to change for the new generation.

Let’s face it the force is ever-changing and it doesn’t rely on such a dogmatic view set up by the Jedi before they fell. That’s the beauty of this religion. I almost feel like after watching this movie that Luke Skywalker is truly the Martin Luther and has started his own Force Reformation. But probably the best part is his end. Even though he is one with the force and not truly dead the way he went out was beautiful, graceful, and truly the most perfect way Jedi Master can go. Yes, after the second time I’ve watched this film it is definitely a 9


 

BRENDAN SMITH

Having now watched The Last Jedi twice, I feel confident in calling this move a flawed but ultimately, thoroughly entertaining movie. If Rogue One, with its jungle fight scenes was Vietnam inspired, than Rian Johnson has certainly taken his inspiration from World War II. Rebel Bombers with their fighter escort against the onslaught of TIE fighters made me feel like I was watching Memphis Belle in space. For a moment, I almost thought I heard Harry Connick, Jr. singing “Danny Boy”

For me this movie will always be about shattered expectations. The first trailer for The Last Jedi, which had many fans up in arms, put it quite succinctly. Though, to a person, they all focused on the wrong line. As it turns out, the only line of the trailer that mattered was from Luke, “This is not going to go the way you think.” Yes, to be sure, this is a line from Luke to Rey, but more importantly, this is a line from Rian Johnson, telling the fans, all of your preconceptions are incorrect. I’ve heard that this would be carbon copy of Ep V, that Poe and Finn would be romantically linked, and that there would be no surprises. To quote Luke from the movie, “Impressive, everything you just said was wrong.”

There are surprises that even I didn’t see coming and while I’m still not certain these surprises will ultimately be good or bad for the franchise going forward, I applaud Rian Johnson for have the cajones to take a chance. It’s easy to see why Kathleen Kennedy has asked him to helm a new trilogy. He’s managed to craft a film which took risks, went in new directions from previous Star Wars films, yet felt decidedly appropriate and perfectly at home in the Star Wars Galaxy. To finish, I’d like to point out three things I liked and didn’t like from the film. A segment called, 3 Up and 3 Down.

 

3 Up:

Leia: Fair winds and following seas, my princess. Carrie Fisher gives a heartwarming performance in her swan song. Her interactions with Luke, Laura Dern’s Vice Admiral Holdo, and Poe Dameron provide the emotional wait of the movie. The single greatest tragedy of this trilogy is that life deprived us the privilege of seeing Leia in Episode IX.

Luke (second half): In the second half of the movie, after a visit from an old friend, Luke really begins to shine. The line, “See ya round, Kid” from Luke to Kylo Ren is one of my favorite moments of the movie. Luke is quoting his old friend, Han Solo to Han’s own son. One last twist of the knife to Kylo.

Rose: Of the new characters, Rose was my favorite. She reminded the heroes of the story (and the audience) that why we fight and what are we fighting for is just as important as the willingness to fight.

Honorable Mention: Kylo Ren. He breaks free of his bloodline on multiple levels. He cannot be turned back to the light and he stops being a whiny child and becomes a certified badass.

3 Down:

General Hux: I’m sorry Domhall Gleeson. You may have been in Harry Potter, and your dad may have been in Braveheart, but Hux is moron. He spends most of his time Force Choked, Force Pushed, or being befuddled by what amounts to a crank phone call.

Captain Phasma: Is the coolest looking Stormtrooper of all time, played by one of the best swordsmen in Game of Thrones, simply going to be a plot device for Finn to prove his worth? Seems like a waste of character to me. This generation’s Boba Fett. A cool set of armor, but ultimately an empty suit.

Luke (first half): I know Luke was a whiny kid in the Original Trilogy, but to spend 10 + years in exile loathing in self pity? Seriously? What the hell took Yoda so long to show up and give him a kick in the ass?

Dishonorable Mention: Nothing against Laura Dern, she’s a fine actress, but why couldn’t she simply tell Poe the plan to get to the planet? Why not tell everyone so they can be working on ways to ensure the plan worked? Again, a character who was just a plot device to create drama where frankly, the movie had enough naturally. And finally, how many transports had to get blown up before she finally decided on ramming speed? 5? 6? 7? After the first one, I would have been moving.

Final Grade: A flawed, but ultimately entertaining movie that I will see multiple times. It wasn’t Empire Strikes Back, or even A New Hope, but it was something new, which took risks, and in the end, that was enough. 8 out of 10.


 

CHLOE JAMES

I will start out by saying on a technical level this film was orgasmic. Everything took an entirely new level of otherworldly beauty, ugliness, stillness and chaos. But I hardly doubt anyone has complaints about the look of the film…

If people complained too much that The Force Awakens was too derivative and predictable, this film is a very sharp response to that. Disney knew what they were getting when they hired Rian Johnson to direct this one. Judging by Brick and Looper, He is anything but a happy-go-lucky director. The Last Jedi was dark, perhaps darker even than The Empire Strikes Back. But it wasn’t just the  high death count or the overarching themes that were dark.

The darkest thing of all is the lack of safety the audience now feels after watching this. In the words of Luke Skywalker: “This won’t go the way you think.” This generation of Star Wars fans have long grown accustomed to whatever shocking Star Wars style plot twist gets thrown their way. Everyone had predictions about this films. About who Rey’s parents were, about who Snoke is, about who is going to be shipped with who. When they walk out of the theater learning those predictions are trash, it’s quite unsettling to many of the fandom. (At this point its, almost scarier than being a Game of Thrones Fan!)

Let me say that after long thought, the greatest sin that this film has committed is being the second in a trilogy that has not been completed yet. There may be a lot of things that don’t make sense…for now. Breathe…just breathe. Let the story finish. If Disney know’s what they are doing, the third film will perfectly compliment this one. Everything will make sense and be less scary with time. From what I heard, (I wasn’t born yet to witness it,) The Empire Strikes Back also left the audience with a sense of unease and incompletion. It is only recently it has been vindicated and is now regarded as the best of the Star Wars films. Perhaps in this way, The Last Jedi can parallel to it. Only time will tell.


 

ALEX MOORE

The usual outline had ensued. We had our title cards and so forth, complete with the epic John Williams theme that has still not grown old after 40 plus years! Then there was the biggest flight fight of the film within the first half-hour of the movie. Say, who was that one person that died, sacrificing herself in order to win the battle? Well, an explanation also ensued. I found that this was a trick used several times within Episode VIII: giving us someone or something that does not quite add up, but back-dooring the reason for it to tie the loose ends.

I suppose that it worked. After all, the two biggest “who”or “how” thoughts I had were, in fact, answered. As a fan of the series of films, I, like almost anyone else, had my own theories as to what might happen in this movie. The first one that comes to mind is in the title of the film, itself, “The Last Jedi.” It could only refer to so many characters in the story, yet the seemingly most obvious reference did not strike me until it was right there in front of me on the big screen. Somehow, this let me down, as did other details. Certain people are to be considered as more expendable, even as a primary or secondary character, yet nothing was spent. There were only a handful of “close calls,” instead.

If I may interject my rather silly criticisms, there were some beautiful, touching moments, to be sure. Some of them were quite nostalgic and some were unique. The greatest of these showed me something that revealed a great depth to a specific person who has largely gone unnoticed, in terms of what she is truly capable of doing…

At the end of the day (or night), Episode VIII has a lot of variety. What I would consider to be some of the greatest elements of Episodes V and VI, were present in some form for this installment. However, it was a very lengthy tale and by the end of it, I wondered where the story could possibly go from here. I am not as excited or curious about what could be looming in Episode IX, but that is two full years away, right? I may have seen the most annoying character in the franchise since Jar-Jar, but I will wait and see if she survives through the next movie, first. Disney had a clear agenda to reach and they went for it, but I am not convinced that it was done successfully in this chapter. I really liked some of the moments in “The Last Jedi,” but I had my share of disappointments, too.


 

JOHN WINFREY

The second installment of the latest Star Wars Trilogy has arrived, and it’s loaded with action and lore for both casual and dedicated fans. I took the director’s word for it and avoided the trailer at all costs. It paid off well since I was able to go in completely blind to the new chapter. Overall, I was enthralled in an intense story that takes you through multiple journeys and keeps you on your toes.

The Last Jedi starts with an intense air battle from new age Han Solo/Rebel Luke hybrid Poe Dameron. Poe takes Finn along for most of the movie in a bi-linear storyline. Simultaneously, Rey gets up close and personal with the dark side through her strange connection with Kylo Ren. Adam Driver is a great villain. What really impressed me was Ren’s multidimensional character and how he still had so much of the light in him. I found myself more intrigued by his development than I have been with any other Sith Lord or Emperor. Without a full spoiler, Luke comes full circle and gives proper closure.

If you were wondering, Leia’s role is fully intact and wasn’t affected by Carrie Fisher’s unfortunate passing nearly a year ago. How about BB-8 coming through in the clutch every time someone needed their butt saved? That bot deserves an award. Perhaps the biggest shocker and spoiler I noticed was..wait..IS THAT BLOOD?! Yeah, perhaps the most violent death in the series is a sign of the times.

As a casual fan of the Star Wars franchise, I was pulled in from the beginning of the movie and it never let me go. I’d recommend this one to anyone willing to watch. As far as the few downfalls, the dialogue can get a tad corny and the jokes don’t hit as well as they want them to. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a solid 9. I could watch it back-to-back and still be as entertained as the first time I watched it. Do yourself a favor and watch this movie, even if you aren’t a huge fan of the franchise.


 

AVERAGE GRADE – 8.4

Rounded Down

Facebook Comments
Follow That Nerd Show
Please like & share: