Year Released: 2017
Directed by: Rian Johnson
Starring: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Mark Hamill, Oscar Issac, Carrie Fisher
(PG-13, 152 min.)
“The Rebellion is reborn today. The war is just the beginning. And I will not be the last Jedi.” Luke Skywalker
I should have seen it coming in their reboot 2 years ago. The tell tale beginnings of the slippery slope to nihilism. Maybe that’s why, in spite of critical acclaim, the movie going public is not too pleased with Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
We already knew from 2015’s Star Wars:The Force Awakens that the bright promise of Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi was not to be realized. As Different Drummer rationalized at the time,
And, breaking the spell of joy that ended Return of the Jedi, Leia and Han have not lived happily ever after.
But happily ever after is rather dull, after all, and it’s certainly no way to rebuild a franchise and sell all those new action figures now hitting the shelves just in time for Christmas. Things are not too rosy for Luke, either, who is living in exile. In fact, even R2-D2 has gone into a funk about it, powering himself down in a long-term robotic sulk.
But the new blood on the scene showed verve and possibilities. When Rey (Daisy Ridley), our resident scavenger tells a passing droid. “I’m nobody,” she threw the line away in such a way that we all knew it meant exactly the opposite. The force was very strong in that one and we anticipated a royal bloodline, if not to Luke and Leia, then perhaps to Obi Wan Kenobi.
Then the good looking hot shot pilot, Poe, the always amazing Oscar Isaac, turned up, and we saw a new Hans Solo, which was none too soon since his Hans’ wayward son disposes of him later in the film.
That Hans and Leia never lived the happily ever after was bad enough, but that they actually spawned a devil child, should have been ample warning.
It has lot of the glittering packaging that keeps you excited. The music thrills, the battles keep us on the edge of our seats, and the ambivalent Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) keeps us guessing.
And as Christopher Orr says,
The Last Jedi probably does the best job of any Star Wars film of capturing the allure of the Dark Side and the spiritual turmoil that would lead to—and also result from—its embrace.
And it is essentially critics like Orr who cheer on the deconstruction of Star Wars, wanting to rid it of any nostalgia for the franchise. He relishes it when Kylo’s Darth Vader helmet is smashed to bits, never to be seen again, not as a symbolic ending of evil, but as an end to the trappings of the franchise.
But I can’t help but hope that the next installment in the current trilogy—for which J.J. Abrams is slated to retake the reins—is willing to take still greater chances: to grasp more of the franchise’s storied past in its hands and fling it the way of Kylo’s helmet. –Christopher Orr
The film has strong feminist underpinnings, though, I am sure, not nearly enough to please that dyspeptic group. Which in itself is fine, but what sours is the price the male characters have to suffer for it.
Poe’s daring battle plans never result in success, as Han Solo’s flying-by-the-seat-of-his-pants improvisations did. He is shamed in the opening sequence when his bold action literally annihilates his squadron. Demoted by Princess Leia and then dismissed as “a trigger-happy flyboy” by Vice Admiral Holdo, Poe never really recovers.
And – I go out on a limb here – Carrie Fisher’s Leia is less than inspiring. Her gravelly voice and listless performance are such that I actually suspected they had used technology to bring the actress, who died in December 2016, back to the screen. As it turns out, this final performance was just shortly before Fisher died from heart failure, and her low energy here presages that end.
And finally, even the Last Jedi, Mark Hamill, disappoints, not so much in his performance, but in the way his part was written. In fact, as the thoroughly miserable Skywalker, with his sallow cheeks, wild hair and dour visage, he recalls Shakespeare’s Lear, though perhaps not quite so crazy.
“I came to this island to die,” Luke informs Rey early on. “The Jedi have to end.”
So, there you have it. The Last Jedi isn’t quite the bummer I describe here. Well, it is at its core, but the package is dandy, at any rate.
I close with a few paragraphs from another writer, not a professional critic, but one with a keen understanding of real people that often critics do not have:
The film kicks the original Star Wars in the face. By the end of this film, combined with the last one, Han Solo is killed by his own son, Leia bitterly divorced Han and was forced to suffer through his death, and Luke Skywalker died a lonely death on the "Ireland Island" planet after a life spent living alone in deep regret. What a terrible ending for the big three from the original films!
Contrast that with the ending of Return of the Jedi, where Han and Leia are in love, and Luke is a super-powerful Jedi, and they are celebrating with the local chapter of the Northern California Gay Ewok chorale. That was a happy ending. Skip ahead to this film, and you find out that they all lived terribly unhappy lives after that. That's unsettling for fans of the original film.
More than that, this film seems to reject the idea of the Jedi entirely. Luke has become a bitter old man who throws his lightsaber away dismissively and hates the Jedi ways. Luke even gets together with Yoda and burns the book of Jedi knowledge. It's that scene more than any other that screams out as if to say all the past movies featuring Jedi have been discredited. –Ed Straker
Or as Yoda might say of this film: “The force – it is not strong in this one.”
Apparently, Luke Skywalker gets much of his nourishment from milking a birdlike cow creature that perches on the rocky cliffs of his isolated island home. The creature is benign enough, allowing Skywalker to press her large utters like a ragged milk maiden gone awry. Unlike the cute bird/hamsterlike porgs, these mamas are actually kind of gross looking.
But their milk must be good, at least to our resident Jedi.
Here is a great cocktail in their honor.
The Jedi Mind Trick Cocktail
1/2 fluid ounce spiced rum
1/2 fluid ounce Irish cream liqueur
3/4 fluid ounce coffee flavored liqueur
3/4 fluid ounce amaretto liqueur
1/2 cup half-and-half or vanilla ice cream
Fill a large glass with ice. Pour in the spiced rum, Irish cream, coffee liqueur and amaretto. Fill the rest of the glass with half and half, or vanilla ice cream.