A Long Time Ago In a Theatre Far, Far Away…

Disclaimer: Star Wars is a pretty big deal and (understandably) this is one of those franchises when fans are especially careful to avoid spoilers.  Since the film has only been out for about a week I will respect the need to avoid spoilers so this blog will be set up a bit differently.  The first half of the blog will be as vague as possible and will contain only the non-spoilery things that I have to say about the film.  There will then be a warning followed by a few paragraphs that contain spoilers and it will be in italics and easily avoidable.  Also, if you’re really picky about spoilers then don’t read the tags at the bottom of this post – there’s nothing that’s too much of a spoiler but there’s a couple of tags that some people might find surprising.  If you have seen the film (or if you don’t care about spoilers) feel free to read until the end.  If you have yet to see the film – YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

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Originally, my boyfriend and I were going to wait until the Holidays to see the new Star Wars movie – just to make it a really special holiday season – but with spoilers lurking around every corner, that just wasn’t possible.  We had to act fast.

The Last Jedi has already been in theatres about a week now and all of the showings at the theatre I went to were either completely or almost sold out. The building was packed and I can imagine that for the films opening week, other theatres were experiencing the same level of congestion. Clearly, we were not the only ones who couldn’t wait.

And yet I was a little concerned. The reviews seem to be polarizing, and even the good reviews are still highly critical of the film. So although I was excited at the prospect of seeing a new Star Wars film, I was also apprehensive. I was one of those people who preferred Rogue One over The Force Awakens so I was definitely a little worried.

Was it the best Star Wars film? No.  But was it still a good/fun/enjoyable Star Wars film?  Absolutely.

First of all, I saw this film in DBox and if you think it’s a good idea to have your chair move around during lightsaber battles, and mimic the movements of the various space ships then you’re absolutely right.  And, of course, the chair pulls you right back for the opening intro and it just makes that moment so much more amazing.  Compared to other DBox experiences, it wasn’t exactly the most sophisticated or nuanced, but for a good part of the film I felt like I was on a space ship and that’s all that matters.  Add a John William’s soundtrack (I mean, who else is better suited to compose Star Wars music) and you’ve got yourself a great cinematic experience.

Probably my biggest critique was that the first half of the film was a little too silly.  Given the recent trend of marvel movies becoming more and more comedic (or at the very least, undermining more serious moments with unnecessary comedic moments), I was definitely concerned during the first half of The Last Jedi that Star Wars films were also going to follow this trend.  Since Star Wars and the MCU are both Disney owned properties, this was a genuine concern.  Luckily, as the film progressed the comedic moments appeared to flow more smoothly and they were better integrated into the story.  The film got less silly and the action began to get more intense.  I’d have to say that this subtle shift started to occur around the time Finn (John Boyega) and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) began their side quest.  By the time DJ (Benicio Del Torro) is introduced, even though his character is rather comedic, the comedy still fits with the character and situation and doesn’t feel forced or out of place.  I feel as if once the basic plot points and characters are all established, then the movie really starts to improve.

One of the best elements of the film was the editing.  There were some of those classic Star Wars side swipes between scene changes, but there were also some cuts and jump cuts that seemed really atypical for a Star Wars film, but they were so well done.  The bulk of the film deals with the concepts of duality and balance within the force, and I found that a lot of the editing and parallel editing really highlighted this well – especially in the scenes between Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren/Ben Solo (Adam Driver).

In just about any sci-fi film, I am always drawn to the robots but it has taken me a while to warm up to BB-8.  I really didn’t like him all that much in The Force Awakens and although he’s not bad, he is definitely my least favourite of the Star Wars droids.  In this film I was more than pleased to see C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 – I find it so adorable that R2 is so old and worn down that he only ever really appears for one scene in the newer Star Wars films – but I was really pleasantly surprised by BB-8.  I actually enjoyed him in this movie and I honestly don’t know why.  Perhaps his character was better suited to the action and comedy used in this particular film, or maybe he’s just inexplicably growing on me.

Something else that grew on me were the Porgs.  I’ll admit, I was concerned that they would be useless filler/fluff in the film and that they would end up being nothing more than a form of over used comic relief.  I ended up really liking them.  This Star Wars film seemed to have more of a focus on animals, and all of these animals served a purpose one way or another – except the Porgs.  They really were only there for comic relief but their comedic moments worked really well when they were paired with Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and it was never over done.  The Porgs were present just enough to lighten up the story, but they were not so obnoxious that they detracted from the main action.

And of course, amidst all the new characters and creatures were the returning characters that we first saw in The Force Awakens.  We finally got to see more of Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and get to know his character a bit better; General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) also returned and I found his character a bit more memorable this time around.  We even got to see Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o) and Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) again.  And of course there was Snoke (Andy Serkis) – given how well known Andy Serkis is for playing CGI characters I really expected more out of Snoke’s look, but he just seems so artificial.  His face was so fake it bothered me.

But the return of all of these characters is nothing compared to seeing Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker and Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa.  I truly enjoyed seeing both of them in the film, although it was bitter sweet.  Both characters had their share of badass moments although I’d have to say that Luke was certainly the more impressive of the two siblings in this movie, especially by the end of the film.  Although my attention was mostly on Leia because I knew that this was Carrie Fisher’s last film.  I teared up a little when she first appeared on screen, and I found it really touching that she got to act alongside her daughter Billie Lourde, who played Lieutenant Connix.  May the force be with you, Carrie Fisher.  You will be missed.

**********THIS IS A SPOILER ALERT! ANYTHING PAST THIS POINT MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! **********

So this isn’t much of a spoiler but I was surprised to see it so I’d imagine I’m not the only one who didn’t see this coming.  Yoda (Frank Oz) came back!  Not only was this amazing because it’s Yoda, but he actually looked like Yoda!  Let me clarify.  You’ll notice how I like to complain about crappy CGI in my film reviews – the Yoda of the original trilogy was a puppet, but for the next 3 films he became CGI.  Guess which Yoda I prefer?  So the Yoda in The Last Jedi actually looked like puppet Yoda!  My boyfriend and I discussed this and I was certain they used a puppet and he was certain it was CGI made to look like the puppet.  Honestly it doesn’t even matter who’s right because Yoda looked good.  If Yoda was a puppet, that’s a bonus for me – if he was CGI he looked a hell of a lot better than Snoke and that made me happy.

So earlier I mentioned the editing and how it worked really well for the scenes between Rey and Kylo Ren.  Notice how during those scenes Kylo Ren is in cool, dark spaces whereas Rey is bathed in warmth and light – light vs. dark.  I got the feeling that visually, the whole film really plays with light and dark but it was the most predominant in the scenes where the audience was meant to think about who would switch sides: Rey or Kylo Ren.  Kylo had the potential to move to the light side during one of his psychic conversations with Rey; she reaches her hand out to him, but it is his hand that enters into her space – we see his hand (and body) appear in the light side.  But when Rey goes to visit Snoke, she is no longer wearing white – she is wearing grey which suggests that some of the darkness is creeping into her.

Speaking of Rey as a Jedi, I think it is really important that we learn about her parentage.  Kylo Ren points out that Rey’s parents were nobodies and I think this is significant for the fate of the Jedi.  This means that you don’t have to be somebody to be a Jedi.  If a nobody can be a Jedi, then anybody can be a Jedi.  And we see this again in the stable boy who uses a bit of the force to pull the broom towards him at the end of the film.  He too is a nobody, but he can use the force.  This shows that there is a future for the Jedi and there is hope for the rebellion.

Finally, the most amazing, badass, spectacular, mind blowing moment was the final act of Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern).  If you’ve seen the film you know how spectacular that moment is.  Not only is it cool to destroy a ship using lightspeed like that, it’s just a well constructed scene.  The flash of light, the absolute silence, the simple shots of what was happening to the ship, plus a very fitting movement from the DBox chair – that moment was perfect.  The whole audience was sitting there in awe.  It was beyond impressive.  I can’t even critique that moment, it was just too cool.

As always, Star Wars films are a ton of fun and I can’t wait until the next one.

May the force be with you.

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