Star Wars: The Last Jedi (4/4 Hats)


Guest Hatter Chuck Says Hats Off:

First of all, I love Star Wars, so unless it was a reprisal of the prequels, I’m going to like it. Before we get to the heart of the review, I’d like to mention that the cinematography and special effects are impressive. Also, John Williams hits a homerun with the score.

I was ready for Rian Johnson to take the series in a new direction and take some risks. I didn’t want a film simply catered to me as a Star Wars fan. Those risks, however, create choices that not everyone is going to like. There’s one in particular I strongly dislike. I wanted this Star Wars to be something different, so I’ll accept it.

I’m actually surprised the critical consensus is so unified in its praise. I’m interested how it will be viewed after the release of Episode 9. Remember Episode VI was controversial when first released, but is now often regarded as the series’ best.

This film has enough in it for everyone to really parts and dislike others. Woven throughout the story are broader themes. There’s attacks on capitalism for the liberals to appreciate. Homage to Dwight D. Eisenhower’s warning against a military-industrial complex for the traditional conservatives. Populist overtones throughout to match the current political mood. And a quote from Kylo Ren about letting the past die (It’s not a spoiler since it’s in the preview) that is clearly an affront to myself and my fellow social studies educators. I jest, but I do appreciate how the last two Star Wars films have explored darker and more complex themes. Yet, there’s enough Star Wars there for kids to still love.

The film excels by revisiting past themes and then taking it in a new direction. That way the film can be unmistakably Star Wars and at the same time be something refreshing. I predict die-hard Star Wars fans will debate this film for some time to come. People who dislike Star Wars will not be turned to the light. And casual fans will enjoy the film, but probably feel the same way I do about Marvel movies — entertaining, but not much more. As for me, my criteria for a good Star Wars film is fairly simple:

Light sabers . . . check.
Exotic beasts . . . check.
Exotic locations . . . check.
Epic battle scenes . . . check.
No Jar Jar Binks . . . well, I did say no spoilers.

May the Force be with you.


Kelvin Says Hats Off:

Just saw “Star Wars: The Last Jedi – The Adventures of Hux, Finn.” Conclusion: 8/10. One of the main criticisms I had of Episode VII was how familiar and recycled much of the movie was. For me, The Last Jedi is its antithesis in almost every way.

My snap-reaction was one of amazement at the critical consensus. Make no mistake, this will be a divisive movie for fans. While J.J. Abrams gave us a formulaic, if not endearing, jump-start, Episode VII was an exercise in proving Star Wars could be good again. The Last Jedi only seeks to take that proof-of-concept and set fire to the earth. The risks Rian Johnson took were vast and numerous. It’s apparent from the get-go that things are going to be different.

Narratively, the movie is aggressively ambitious. Rian Johnson has a keen ability to maneuver outside the genre he’s working with to create something fresh. The Star Wars vision of morality has long been one of whites and blacks. Johnson firmly toes the line between the two and things often appear to be more grey. He’s hopelessly clever in doing it too. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say I never imagined I’d see a thoughtful breakdown between class struggle and the military-industrial complex in a Star Wars movie. That’s what a director like Johnson can do; he can build upon these universes with parallels from our own world. Deciding to take that risk is one thing but pulling it off is another.

That isn’t to say every risk he takes works. I’m confident in believing there will be plenty of bones that devout and casual fans will want to pick. Without being too specific, I think there’s some validity to that skepticism. When trying to take something known and build something new, there will be some aspects that seem to break with what we are comfortable with. Things can’t be look at as simply breaking with continuity, so to speak. Seeing something new and quipping “that’s not how the force (or whatever) works,” à la Han Solo, really misses the point. It’s important to consider the greater arc that Star Wars has built and consider how things that are new complement and enhance it. Not everything will, but it’s greatly important to not out-of-hand dismiss the risks and newness this movie brings.

Even in those moments that pay homage to the things we know and love about Star Wars, Johnson provides a basic nuance. Whereas in Rogue One, we were beaten over the head with callbacks and references, The Last Jedi is subtle. It’s refreshing for a director to trust his audience to pick out little things that ring familiar without having to constantly nudge them.

One of the things I enjoyed most was the care that Johnson took in continuing on the stories of these characters. We meet some new ones and all have attention paid to them. My chief complaint with Rogue One was how little that movie cared to examine and develop its characters. No one in this movie is a trope. The Kylo and Rey arc is done full justice and given room to breathe. In his probing of that fine line between good and evil, we see how those characters sometimes cross it. Poe, Finn, and a newcomer, Rose, are also cared for. The story does not demand that they move in a linear fashion and we get to see them react to changes and think on their feet. Those moments are where those characters shine and where we get a view into who these people are.

On an artistic level, Johnson matches his narrative ambition through beautiful cinematography and a scintillating score by John Williams. The visuals are outstanding and the fight scenes are shot beautifully. Nothing in this movie is handled flippantly and that’s apparent even technically.

It’s not going to please everyone, but The Last Jedi does not seek to. While The Force Awakens was inoffensively inviting us to jump back on the Star Wars bandwagon, it’s clear that Johnson did not want to make it a tranquil ride once we were back on. Some people are going to love the new adventures and directions the franchise is headed in and others are going to dislike seeing so much change. As Kylo Ren said, it’s time to let the past die. The Last Jedi doesn’t kill it, but it’s not going to keep itself shackled.

#KingdomOfTheCrystalSalt #ChromeWasntKilledInADay #ItLeftMeJarJarred #OhHaiMark #SnokesOnYou #PhasmaAttack #ThePorgsAwakens #CodeToJoy #TheHatefulBB8 #RianJohnsonDGAF #LeiaDownTheLaw #WorstOrder

Adam Says Hats Off:

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Kylo and Rey Do The Darkside Limbo

Rating as follows:
Total: 8.5/10 (Hats Off)
Cinematography (1.7): 1.6
Overall Acting (1.6): 1.4
Story Telling (1.5): 1.3
Cohesion of Story (1.2): 0.8
Score/Sound Mixing (1.1): 1.0
Best Category – Cinematography (1.0): 1.0
Depth of Plot (1.0): 0.8
Character Development (0.5): 0.4
Overall Message (0.4): 0.2

I’ll keep it simple (because a different reviewer got a bit long winded :-P). The best overall quality was the cinematography; it was absolutely gorgeous, with the final act being amazingly created. The visual effects on the final planet were off the charts. I loved that sequence of events. I really enjoyed the chances that Rian Johnson took, I think they’re really going to pay off in the next film. It was also very well acted. I actually really love Adam Driver, I think he’s awesome, sorry not sorry, he’s awesome. This was a great addition to the franchise and I’m excited for the next installment already. My only negatives were that some of the writing was a bit cheesy, and one scene in particular involving Leia (I won’t spoil it) was a real eye roll, but we can get past it. Go see it on the big screen; it’s well worth it.

#LiveAndLetJedi #OhHiMark #ChewysBBQChickenShackNowOpen #ReyOfHope #DontLaserSwordMeBro

Austinn Says Hats Off:

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’: Whose Turn Is It? Conclusion: 9/10. I guess I loved it. Let’s talk about some of the problems with this movie. Finn was great in Episode VII, but in this one, his character is pretty stupid. The entire portion of the movie that focuses on him and Rose feels out of place and their dialogue is very weak. Hux is worthless. There is a scene early on, involving Leia, which should have been handled any other way, but they chose to do something ridiculous. The humor in this movie only works when the characters aren’t being jokey and breaking character to get a cheap laugh. Whenever BB8 is on screen, the movie becomes less of an action movie, and more of a Wile E Coyote cartoon; everything BB8 does is silly and grossly unbelievable. Captain Phasma once again is a waste of time. The Porgs are fine I guess. So why did I love it? The acting from Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, and Adam Driver, is fantastic, and their characters have great chemistry and authentic emotion. The story, aside from a couple characters and scenes (mostly involving Finn and Rose), is interesting and emotional, in a way that captures what people love about Star Wars. This movie looks great and has maybe my favorite moment of cinematography from this year. Also the score is amazing, and probably the best of the year as well. Rian Johnson has taken Star Wars in a new direction with more intense storytelling, dynamic characters, and awesome battle sequences. #episodegr8 #theforceisstronginmyframily #secondhandSnoke #forcedconnection #FirstOrderofbusiness #parentsbegone #Reyisbae #theResistanceisfutile

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