Sunday, December 17, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Movie Name: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Year of Release: 2017
Director: Rian Johnson
Stars: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Laura Dern, Domhnall Gleeson, Benicio Del Toro, Kelly Marie Tran, John Boyega, Lupita Nyong'o, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Frank Oz
Genre: Adventure, Action, Fantasy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6
View Trailer

After the overwhelmingly positive response to J.J. Abrams' "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" in 2015, Lucasfilm obviously decided to continue this franchise, this time around giving the reins of the film to celebrated indie director Rian Johnson, responsible for the wonderful "Looper" and "Brick". The film picks up after the events of the previous installment: Rey has found Luke Skywalker and is trying desperately to lure him back to the ranks of the resistance. While this is occurring, Kylo Ren is trying to lure her to the dark side, under the tutelage of his master, the ominous Lord Snoke. The resistance, under the guidance of Leia, is trying to flee the persecution of the empire, as they are now hot on their trail, and slowly decimating their ranks. It's up to these valiant friends to unite their efforts and overcome the tyrannical efforts of the Empire.
Rian Johnson is one of the most interesting voices and directors to have emerged in the recent years. It's interesting to see how his point of view married this ongoing franchise, one that typically doesn't invite for a very personal directorial standpoint. This film in particular, manages yet again to dazzle for the sheer artistry that it displays, from the beautiful visual effects, to the production design, costumes, cinematography, all gears from an extremely competent production facility. Where the film does falter lies in its pacing, and definition of characters. While most characters in action films fall prey to under development, it's interesting to see how sometimes they can at least have some dimension to them (for instance, how Ellen Ripley in James Cameron's "Aliens" was a true dimensional person, with fears, resilience and intelligence). In this case, the film spends a considerable amount of time with Luke Skywalker, in order to give substance to his choice, making Rey more of a passive voice, and making her more of a reactive character. Most of the supporting characters, while illustrative and colorful, feel a bit cartoonish, something particularly visible in John Boyega's Finn, who is quite possibly one of the series most insufferable characters. The heart of the film ends up belonging with Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill, not because of their age or the mantle of their characters, but because they understand that through their eyes and anguish, they can transmit more emotion than what the entire digital panoply that surrounds them is trying to portray. This is a film that while unbalanced is still worth watching.