Sunday, December 17, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Fuel and force field running low, what remains of the Resistance attempt to flee, but find out soon enough that the First Order's fleet can track them even when they are travelling on light speed. After Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) is knocked out unconscious by a surprise attack, the rest of the crew surrender to their fate. Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and ex-Storm Trooper Finn (John Boyega) devise a last-ditched attempt for survival, the latter teaming up with maintenance crew member Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) to find someone who can help them on a nearby casino planet. Meanwhile, Rey (Daisy Ridley) focuses on convincing self-exiled Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to join their cause, all while trying to resist an unexpected psychic bond with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) that is interfering with her training. Will she be able to persuade the last Jedi master to save them before it's too late?

The run time is a little bit too long and the film is consequently dragging in some parts, particularly those where Luke Skywalker is playing hard-to-get. While you can't really complain because there is no shortage of gorgeous scenery on the island they're on, at the back of your head you're probably annoyed with him being such an insufferable primadonna. But then again, he is the galaxy's greatest living Jedi so he has probably earned it. What a diva. He eventually makes up for all of it, giving us a really good show before the curtain call. Fine, Luke Skywalker, we forgive you. It's also worth noting how he has developed a good sense of humor in the past few decades, but I guess we have Disney to thank for that.

There are several OH-NO-THEY-DID-NOT scenes that will make any fanboy jump for joy. A specific one comes to mind, but I'd like to avoid the death threats involved in giving out spoilers. That scene is a dream come true. Short-lived, but definitely one of the film's highlights. It also gives room for enough speculation and more hope for such an extended subplot, until you think about it and conclude that it will never happen. Otherwise, what's the point of having a part three, right? Storyline convenience!

The Last Jedi has this perverse ominous feel to it, some sort of looming uncertainty that gives you the creeps. It is perhaps because of this gloomy vibe that the twists become more effective, their impact leaving you in awe. Or maybe it's plain fan service? Whatever it is, it's a good counterbalance for the dragging parts that make you want to fall asleep halfway through the narrative.

We don't even have to talk about CGI anymore. This franchise was already way ahead of its time in that respect almost half a century ago. We can say that it still is up to this day. The shots are all breathtaking, regardless if you are staring at all the spacecraft cruising in the darkness of the galaxy or the massive white salt flats bleeding red. Star Wars has always been a visual masterpiece. This one is no exception.

For now it is already obvious that this film will be breaking box office records. Again. You don't earn USD100 million on your first day at the North American Box Office and not break records, you know. Suffice it to say that The Last Jedi will earn in three days what Justice League struggled to achieve in its entire run so far. What does this mean? It only goes to show how well-oiled Disney's marketing machinery is. If they want a film to be an event, it WILL be an event. There hasn't been a USD1 billion movie in North America yet. The Force Awakens came close after it dethroned Avatar with its USD930+ million run two years ago. The Last Jedi will probably not break that record, but two years from now Episode IX most likely will.

Given the strong brand recall that this franchise has achieved since it debuted in the 70's, it's exciting to think about the phenomenon that it will continue to become decades from now. Maybe I don't have to wait until I'm 70 for Episodes X to XII to come out. In a span of 100 years, Star Wars will have been a fixture in the history of contemporary cinema, and each generation will have witnessed their very own trilogy they can relate to. Isn't that amazing? It is. And when you think about that bigger picture, whatever loopholes The Last Jedi is being criticized for suddenly fade in the background. All hail the greatest movie franchise of all time? Bow.

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