Star Wars: The Last Jedi ★½

Like the great Ian Malcolm said: “That is one big pile of shit.”

It is in a weird way impressive how these Star Wars movie just get worse and worse. What surprises me even more is their unpunished dupery. Like Charles Baudelaire once mused that “the finest trick of the devil is to persuade you that he does not exist” Disney manages the amazing feat to make people think The Last Jedi offers them something new when instead the studio is just rehashing the regular Star Wars formula. And the people are drinking the Kool-Aid thirstily as if they’ve just come out of the desert.

Like in The Empire Strikes Back here we have the young Jedi traveling to a distant planet to be trained by the last living Jedi master. Ultimately the young Jedi has to leave, called upon by more pressing matters. Like in The Empire Strikes Back the evil rulers of the galaxy – in The Last Jedi called First Order – manage to push back against the resistance after they blew up their doomsday device. Like in The Empire Strikes Back there has to be another mentor to the young Jedi to pass away, leaving the Jedi all alone. While also having a former mentor to return as a ghost to share some guidance. And like in The Empire Strikes Back there is a subplot in a new locale featuring a kind of sleazy character who is neither here nor there but simply tries to survive and benefit from the situation while betraying the heroes.

The Empire Strikes Back featured a twist with the revelation that Luke finds out his opponent is his father. Said opponent once was himself a student of Luke’s teacher until he was corrupted by the dark side. A fear that reverberates throughout the movie and propels Luke to not suffer the same fate. Therefore The Last Jedi also has the young Jedi struggle with the realization of parenthood while featuring a twist too – unfortunately one that does not pack any punches. Rian Johnson disregards questions (and characters) raised by J.J. Abrams in The Force Awakens to deliver an element of surprise – the surprise of dissatisfaction and/or lack of closure (just teasin').

All of this is mixed with some plot elements from Harry Potter and a lot of humor that seems oddly out of place considering the circumstances at stake here. No one acts as if they’re in the situation they’re in but more like characters fully aware of themselves in a blockbuster movie. Every couple of minutes there are space battles and lightsaber fights who get bigger and bigger while the rendering machine of the CGI effects is running wild. Allegedly these bombastic yet repetetive battles are what defines Star Wars. There is no real originality to these scenes but still they are applauded. There must be some sort of layer to be pulled back in these Star Wars/Marvel movies to reveal hidden “OBEY” messages as if we were living in a Carpenter-esque They Live! dystopia.

There is few to none plot in an overblown movie that feels and looks like you're binge-watching a ten hour Amazon sci-fi series. The acting is cringe-worthy, from the campy performance of Domhnall Gleeson to the puppet-like delivery of Carrie Fisher (there's an actual puppet in the film doing better acting than her) and Oscar Isaac and more. Sure, the terrible dialogue isn't the ensemble's friend either, when Jedi Masters are talking about scripture as if it were Fifty Shades of Grey or cranking out one-liners in the manner of "See you later, alligator". There's a bunch of critters everywhere, milked for humor while we also see Luke literally milk one of the critters, sexually assaulting a giant manatee to the shocked horror of his designated student Rey. For merchandise reasons Johnson repeatedly cuts back to the annoying Porgs while the new boring characters are stuck in irrelevant subplots and former important characters like Chewbacca and R2-D2 are essentially benchwarmers.

“Nobody panics when everything is going according to plan”, the Joker claimed in The Dark Knight. And with its schedule until 20-whatever already set, with sequels to prequels of sequels and whatnot, the general public seems content while being fed the same movie over and over again. The announced takeover of Fox by Disney is clearly part of this, striving towards a Ready Player One scenario where (not too distant) future audiences will see Luke Skywalker, Mickey Mouse and Captain America join forces to help the Na’vi defend Pandora in wave after wave of franchise fusions. We live in an age of “intensive livestock filming”, cinema is not slowly dying, it already flatlined. “What is dead may never die” some optimists may claim but I do not believe it. Michael Stipe was right: it’s the end of the world as we know it. Alas, I do not feel fine.

The Last Jedi moves/ends in a way that makes the path of the next episode very visible. In the end, the resistance around Poe et al. will prevail against the First Order. And in the end Rey will face Kylo Ren again, trying to redeem him. To return him to his former persona. Kylo Ren will most likely die, but die a hero he must, so Ben Solo can survive. The final shot will most likely feature Rey turning around to see the ghosts of Luke and Ben, just like Luke saw the ghosts of Yoda, Ben and Anakin at the end of The Return of the Jedi. There probably will be a heist scene happening at some point during the first act. You’ve seen it all before and yet Disney will make everyone believe, they’re being original. Episode IX will feature a happy ending, the First Order will be defeated, Rey can rebuild the Jedi Order. Until Episode X of course, when everything turns to shit again (for unexplained reasons) and the reboot machine starts up afresh.

Ignorance truly is bliss, I guess. May the force be with us.

Flo liked this review