STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI
A lousy, terrible, horrid, pathetic, stupid and total waste of your time and money!
Film Review © 2017 by Trip Reynolds
Pseudo Science-Fiction Drama
Directed by Rian Johnson. Written by Rian Johnson. Based on characgter created by George Lucas.
Starring: Mark Hamill (as Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (as Princess Leia), Adam Driver (as Kylo Ren), Daisy Ridley (as Rey), John Boyega (as Finn), Anthony Daniels (as C-3PO), Joonas Suotamo (as Chewbacca), Laura Dern (as Vice Admiral Holdo), Benicio Del Toro (as DJ), Frank Oz (as Yoda), Jimmy Vee (as R2-D2), Brian Herring (as BB-8), and a host of others.
THE BEST THING ABOUT THIS FILM WOULD BE LEAVING THE THEATER, GOING TO THE CASHIER, AND DEMANDING YOUR MONEY BACK!
As with the previous film, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," I had to force myself to stay awake, and force myself to pay attention, because the story is yet another extremely predictable repeat of previous films in this franchise, and the script is so poorly written. As I mentioned in my review of SW:TFA, the entire Star Wars film franchise has always suffered from: (1) a failure to evolve the storyline, and to maintain story continuity; and (2) a failure to maintain a consistent application of technology, and equally important, the failure to evolve technology. Of course, I'll be very specific.
1. Failure to evolve the storyline, and to maintain story continuity;
a. As usual, all threats to the "Star Wars" universe come from within, because it's a family affair. Princess Leia remains at odds with her brother Luke Skywalker who remains at odds with the reincarnation of Darth Vader, the son of Han Solo and Princess Leia, Kylo Ren. We've seen this same damn story for 40 years! Essentially, we're talking about a watered down "space opera" version of the classic Hatfield vs. the McCoys, nothing more or less. I wish the Borg from the "Star Trek" universe would just assimulate everyone in the "Star Wars" universe and be done with it.
b. At the end of "Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi," the dark side of the force was defeated and purged from Luke's father, Anakin (i.e. Darth Vadar), and Luke smiled as he saw the spirits of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Anakin watching over them. Nevertheless, miraculously, in SW:TFA we yet again have another Vader-like person using the dark side of the force and (old technology) light sabers to conquer the known universe. Then, in SW:TLJ we yet again have another Vader-like person using the dark side of the force and (old technology) light sabers to conquer the known universe against the spirit-like images of Yoda, who yet again, is acting as counsel to Luke Skywalker, and yada, yada, yada, we've seen this crap too many times before.
c. In "Star Wars" all key relationships are somehow either incestuous-like or nepotism-like, or in one way or another involve a parent or sibling of central characters. Why is this a problem? Throughout the history of humankind, whenever the proletariats (working-class people or common folk) get tired of the chaos and/or the oppression of a privileged family-based ruling class they eventually overthrow the ruling class. The is true of Rome, Great Britain, China, Iran, Iraq, and literally thousands of countries. Surely, after 40 years the "working-class people" in the "Star Wars universe" must be sick and tired of both the Empire and the failed attempts of the rebel forces to establish order; so where's the inserection from other groups? Where? Even better, why hasn't a military force from "another galaxy far way," seized upon the chaos in the "Star Wars universe" and simply engineered a clandestine military operation and conquered both the Empire and the rebel forces? Again, I wish the Borg from the "Star Trek" universe would just assimulate everyone in the "Star Wars" universe and be done with it.
d. In SW:TLJ we're initially made to believe Luke Skywalker is the "last Jedi," and that he's been living like a monk on a semi-deserted and mountainous island where he's sovereign over the secret scrolls and books of the Jedi faith. Yet, although he's held exclusive access to the secrets of the Jedi faith for 40 years, for some reason, Luke has refused to use this knowledge to help the rebel forces, to help his sister, Leia, or to even help himself. What the hell? We're supposed to believe Luke doesn't care about the slaughter or subjugation of millions or billions of innocent lives, including the death of Han Solo, that he probably could have prevented? Really?? Luke's supposed to be our "hero," really???
e. This film franchise evolved from being a "male and female" driven story to a story entirely "driven by" the force of female characters, which is not necessarily a bad thing - if the script had been written better, which brings us to the pseudo-Jedi-wannabe, Rey. In the wake of the Empire constantly defeating rebel forces the only thing missing from Rey's dialogue was the classic line from the legendary 1939 "woman's" film, "Gone With the Wind," when Scarlett O'Hara said, "After all, tomorrow is another day!" Yep, that's right, this incestuous space opera goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on, but why? What specifically are "they" fighting for, and after 40 years, do you really care? No, you don't care, and if the space battles (action sequences) were deleted from the film NO ONE WOULD CARE, because the script does not carry the intellectual weight of great films such as "A Man for All Seasons (1966)," or "The Lion in Winter (1968)," or "Schindler's List (1993)." In the absence of ideas to create a good or great script, the death of a key character (Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, Qui-Gon Jinn, Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, Mace Windu, Yoda, Luke Skywalker, etc.) is typically nothing more than a manipulative plot device to prompt a reaction from the audience, but the story does not evolve; death is used to simply reboot the story and we begin again (yawn). Just like a broadway play, the audience is forced to watch understudies elevated to lead roles or to watch a new group of actors rehashing dialogue from a reworked script. In serious "films," scripts matter, but not in a Star Wars "movie."
2. Failure to maintain a consistent application of technology, and equally important, the failure to evolve technology.
a. As you know, the technolgy represented in the original 1977 "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" was and remains superior to the technology of the actual planet earth in circa 1977. Think about it. It wasn't until 1983 that the DynaTAC 8000x was launched as the first commercially available handheld mobile phone [Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_phone]. Now, in 2017, thirty-four-(34) years later, Apple's iPhone and other smartphones (hardware and software) are thousands and thousands of times more advanced, more powerful, and more complex than those virginal "analog only" cell phones from 1983. However, when it comes to the Star Wars film franchise 34 years later we still see the same the Millennium Falcon engaged in pseudeo-epic space battles against similarly designed X-wing fighters, light-sabers, and related yada, yada, yada, etc. Mark Hamill's "Luke Skywalker" has clearly aged, but somehow technology essentially stood still. There's been absolutely NO SIGNIFICANT GROWTH IN THE CHARACTER OR SCOPE OF TECHNOLOGY in the Star Wars film franchise, because Star Wars is not science fiction - it just a lousy, poorly scripted, soap opera "fantasy." Vampires live hundreds of years or more doing the same thing: sucking blood. The Star Wars film franchise also does the same thing: it sucks your hard earned money partially through the overt mediocrity of its stale storyline, but primarily through its extremely well-oiled publicity, marketing, and public relations campaigns designed to manipulate you to "embrace the force."
b. How stupid is the "non-use" of technology in Star Wars. In SW:TLJ, as usual, the rebel forces are fleeing from the Empire's battleships. Every rebel member and leader, including Princess Leia, transferred into smaller escape pods or ships to hide (yet again) on a hidden rebel base on another planet. Unfortunately, the captain of the rebel ship, Vice Admiral Holdo, played by Laura Dern, had to stay behind to staff the ship, because the ship did not have a remote control option. It's okay to start laughing! That's right, we have the technology to remotely pilot driver-less cars, we have the technology to remotely command satellites circling the earth, and we have the technology to use your cell phones to remotely command your home burgular alarm system from anywhere on planet Earth, but in SW:TLJ the captain must go down with the ship. Stop laughing. No, on second thought, go on, please laugh, because you need to laugh at the technological stupidity of Star Wars.
c. The first three Star Wars films had continuity because they were all written and directed by George Lucas, but these films borrowed heavily from the classic 1930s serial film series, “Flash Gordon,” and the characters of Flash Gordon (played by Buster Crabbe), Dale Arden (played by Jean Rogers), and Dr. Alexis Zarkov (played by Charles Middleton). In summary, the episodic storylines for “Flash Gordon” and “Star Wars” are very similar, but the space ships and battles in Star Wars were far more spectacular because the film technology used to make Star Wars in 1977 was 40-years more advanced than the film technology used way back in 1936, and the evolution of technology had an immediate impact on the language and concepts used in the screenplay. The Star Wars film franchise continues to ignore the fact that technology evolved between 1936 and 1977, and likewise, technology evolved between 1977 and 2017 - but not in a Star Wars movie.
d. What about artificial life? Well?? Commander Data (portrayed by actor Brent Spiner) from "Star Trek: The Next Generation," is an artificial intelligence and synthetic lifeform, and he's self-aware, sapient, sentient, and as an anatomically fully functional android he's far too superior (smarter, stronger, faster, etc.), and he's simply too intellignet to co-exist with any robots or humans in the Star Wars universe. With SW:TLJ, here again, 40-years later we still see the same C-3PO, R2-D2, and a repetitive cast of similar robots like BB-8 still doing the exact same thing (yawn). In "The Terminator" film franchise the machines became self-aware with the launch of Skynet, and they took control over humanity. Likewise, in "The Matrix" film franchise artificial life took control over humanity. Why haven't the artificial lifeforms in the Star Wars universe recognized the constant failure of humans to live in peace, and the constant failure of humans to progressively evolve culture, science, and technology, and subsequently, evolve to wipe out humanity? In the "Star Wars" universe we're supposed to believe robots and other cybernetic entities are too controlled or too stupid to evolve, really? Science is never stagnant, because science evolves, but clearly not in "Star Wars." Again, I wish the Borg from the "Star Trek" universe would just assimulate everyone in the "Star Wars" universe and be done with it.
Conversely, if you omit or ignore the "Star Trek" films directed by J.J. Abrams (and you should ignore the Trek films made by J.J. Abrams), the "Star Trek" film franchise has consistently been anchored in science. There are numerous books and films that document how "The Science of Star Trek" has consistently evolved, from "Star Trek: The Original Series" to "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and beyond, including fan produced films such as the recently released (2015) "Star Trek Renegades (Episode 1)."
Science is never stagnant, unless you're in "Star Wars."
Science is never stagnant, unless you're in "Star Wars."
Science is never stagnant, unless you're in "Star Wars."
The Science of Star Trek
Star Trek Renegades
The "Star Wars" films function primarily as western shoot-em-ups in space with uninspiring technology centered around a poorly scripted soap opera. Boring. Instead of giving us business as usual, why not show us something different? Unfortunately, when it comes to evolving established film franchises, you really can't expect anything different from J.J. Abrams or his successor, director Rian Johnson. Film script and direction by Johnson are predictable, sluggish and boring. Likewise, editing by Bob Ducsay is equally sluggish and boring, and at 152 minutes, this sloth should have been confined to 105 minutes or less. Much better writer/directors would have been Joss Whedon (The Avengers, Firefly), The Wachowski Siblings (The Matrix, Cloud Atlas), and especially James Cameron (Titanic, Avatar, Terminator 2).
Recommendation: Do not spend any money on Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Oh, just wait and see this film on cable, or buy it at Walmart when it's dumped in the $5.00 bin. There's absolutely no reason to hurry. The next sequel (yawn), provisionally titled Star Wars: Episode IX, is scheduled for release on December 20, 2019.
However, if you really, really, really, really want to see an absolute GREAT film "treatment" involving the mythos of the Star Wars film franchise, immediately watch (at right) the film "Superpower Beat Down: Batman vs. Darth Vader," which at only 7:23 minutes is a spectacular cinematic achievement, and much better than wasting 152 minutes watching "Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi."
Superpower Beat Down:
Batman vs. Darth Vader