Mid-Week M.E.L.A.: Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been edited by Suraj Zala.
You know you are a Star Wars fan when you get excited listening to the Main title by John Williams and see the roll-up! I get goosebumps every time I hear it, even though it is my second favourite track from the OST. The first obviously being “The Imperial March.” (Duh!)
This track was on repeat the entire week leading up to the release of The Last Jedi.
(Major Spoilers if you have not seen Episode VII – The Force Awakens. Also, why haven’t you?)
With The Force Awakens, J. J. Abrams tried to bring the old audience back together. He found a fairly winning formula, respecting fans’ love for the original trilogy, which catapulted the franchise into the future. But that film wasn’t only about the good old days, It was also about introducing new characters. And oh, we loved them too. Be it Poe or Finn, Rey or Ben, they all won our hearts. But The Force Awakens was remarkably close to being a retelling of A New Hope, complete with new Empire and Rebellion analogues facing off, a new Death Star variant to destroy, a new Luke Skywalker equivalent trying to escape a desert planet, and so on. He brought the old band back together. Leia, Chewbacca, R2-D2, C-3P0, Admiral Ackbar, Han Solo and Luke. He hit us with the card he knew would work – nostalgia.
Cut to 2 years later, with the longest runtime in the series to date, Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi comes out. Continuing to test the trend and trying hard to remix The Empire Strikes Back as we know it. (Down to the dark tone and open end.) So in a galaxy far far away, where Han Solo is dead and the Rebels are fighting for their survival, Chewie gets a new co-pilot. With Rey in the cockpit, they cruise around in The Garbage, travelling the universe one parsec at a time. The movie kicks off immediately after the end of The Force Awakens, with Rey returning the legendary blue lightsaber to its owner on a god-knows-where island planet, and General Leia and Poe Dameron working on saving the last of The Resistance fleet from the mighty First Order.
The characters repeatedly talked about how they need to put the past aside, make their own choices, and rebuild the future that has been holding them back. And the series’ wisest characters embrace that process as a painful yet necessary rebirth. Luke and Leia taking the centre stage, one as a teacher for the young and hopeful and the other as the hope for The Resistance, was a treat to watch. And one can’t go without mentioning how good it was watching Carrie Fisher onscreen for one last time.
Now, getting to what was good and what was not.
The main problem that comes with remixing themes from the prequels is, if the remixing isn’t done right, the movie falls on its head. And though The Last Jedi isn’t completely guilty of this,a few parts leave the viewer in a little distaste. While The Empire Strikes Back was all about character development and storylines, the character development in The Last Jedi disappoints, in some ways. Some of the new characters aren’t really well-developed and echoing Johnson’s own admission, people may be disappointed by Snoke. Chewbacca was the perfect (space) Uber driver, with nearly no major role of his own. But I appreciate seeing Mark Hamill transform from innocent-farm-boy Luke to world-weary-but-sassy-old Master Skywalker.
Even with a 152-minute runtime, though, I believe Johnson didn’t do the plot justice. The Last Jedi was, at times, not very Star Wars-y, feeling more like a Marvel movie than I would’ve liked it to be. There were comedy scenes that nearly went flat and seemed forced, which ruined the movie a little for me. A plotline involving Finn and Rose seemed to be stretched a little too far. The premise takes the let it go theme quite a bit seriously, and fans who expected reminiscences from legacy were disappointed.
The performances, however, are great – particularly Adam Driver’s, whose scowling, antagonized Kylo Ren is as magnetic as ever.
Yeah, yeah, I remember the Porgs too. They are a fun addition to the series. Despite only serving as comic relief and cuteness dose, they did not wear out their welcome. You might also like Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico. Her character development is by far the best in the entire movie. It was similarly good to see Rey being as plucky and persistent as she is, and even better to see Kylo being a little less whiny. John Williams‘ score is perhaps the series’ best. Like all great scores, it makes its presence known when it needs to. There are some great nods to his original themes from the past movies, too.
The one fact about The Last Jedi that no one would deny is that it is a cinematic and visual masterpiece. What it lacks in plot and comedy, it makes up for with its grand cinematographic experience. Its beautiful use of colours as expressions and the wonderful use of the soundtrack and the lack of it was astounding. Cinematographer Steve Yedlin has certainly pushed the visuals of spaceship battles to new heights.
The Last Jedi had some excellent space battles and ground combat. It’s not a perfect movie by any means, but its faults are minor when compared to the parts that work. Johnson delivers the most electric and visually innovative Star Wars movie since George Lucas redefined blockbuster cinema with his 1977 original. So to you, dear reader and potential ticket buyer, I will only say, it is beautiful. Just see it, as soon as you can. While it occasionally is a little too goofy, it’s impossible to watch it and not have a good time. And, not to forget-
“May the force be with you, always.”
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