So I joined the hordes and masses this past weekend to watch the latest installment of the Star Wars franchise The Last Jedi.
Post-screening I tried to talk minimally about my reaction to the film for fear of taint in developing my assessment. That said, I am plugged in enough to be aware of the ‘buzz’ surrounding what is by and large seen as a mixed bag of responses.
It was something of a mixed bag for me too …
First to the things I did not particularly take to:
- Kylo Ren – I have no time for Emo Sith lords. He is a bit of an emotional mess, isn’t he? I get that is the point of (he’s conflicted!), but it often comes across as a bit bratty-boy for my liking.
- Snoke – Who Dis? I mean not to be TOO spoiler-y, but really? What was that all about?
- The shifting perspectives – there is a part of me which commends the writer/director (Rian Johnson) for being able juggle multiple stories and settings, but at times it was jarring to the point of unsettling and distracting. In the best instances of ensemble pieces that I have watched, there is usually a central focal point that ties everything together. At least in the immediate aftermath of watching, this is how I felt. But now, in hindsight and with a few days to process, one can see where they are going with it.
- The Mighty (Useless) Adventures of Finn – although it was fun to watch (mostly down to the performance of John Boyega), Finn’s storyline felt a bit aimless to me. It’s like the producers realized they had to make use of him and his character so they cobbled together some random, tangential journey for him that would eventually tie back to the main storyline, possibly.
Dang, as I write these words, they seem very harsh. I guess they are – to a point.
Because, with ALL that, I actually ended up enjoying the film, and here is why:
It is Star Wars – so of course you are going to get some pretty awesome space ‘plosions and various other special effects. Honestly, that is pretty good enough for me.
I mean there were some really exciting moments that left me with my mouth wide open and clapping for joy. And sure, maybe there were a twist too many, but the plot twists and shifts were mainly executed on point.
But I get it – especially if you are a fan who is wed tightly to canon and the established rules of the Star Wars universe.
This last statement got me thinking about a comparison to another box office busting Disney property (Marvel) and fans’ reaction to the cinematic interpretation. With the MCU, the creators seem to take several liberties with characterization, setting and plot points. And while some fans may not like every detail, there does not seem to be the same furor/outrage as I have seen in the reactions to The Last Jedi.
I have my own theory on that – and it goes all the way to the source, or at least my understanding of how each of the sources are managed. In the Star Wars universe (cinematic, televisual and literary) the rules are clearly outlined. In contrast, in the comic-based world of Marvel, there are various takes and incarnations on many of the characters we have to come to know and love. As a result, there is an artistic liberty that the filmmakers have here that they do not have in the galaxy far, far away. Just a hunch. Obviously this does not apply to all the folks that have been critical of the film, but for die-hards it is a distinct possibility.
I will leave you all with one more thing – at the conclusion of the film, I felt like a whole lot of story was resolved almost to the point of wondering what ground will be covered in Episode IX. I guess that is part of the mystery and surprise we have in store for us in a couple of years’ time.
So in summary, not the best in the series, but certainly not the worst. If you haven’t seen it already, I am sure you will enjoy it in some measure.
That’s all I have to say for now …
What did you think?