Michael's Review of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" (No spoilers)
#1
There is a lot to like about this movie. I should stop right there, you know. It's just so much more satisfying than "The Force Awakens". I don't want to sound like I am totally down on J.J. Abrams. I was not thrilled with that movie but he had to do a lot of setup and that weakened his freedom to settle into the story.

Some of the questions raised in "The Force Awakens" are answered in "The Last Jedi". Not all of them. Some questions will, I think, be left unanswered even after the third movie comes out.

We get to see a lot of action, including Force user fighting like you have never seen before. I thought we had seen some incredible Force fighting in "The Phantom Menace" and "Attack of the Clones", but Rian Johnson surpasses all that with his well-choreographed action sequences. And just when you think you have seen it all, he surprises you.

This whole movie is one stage-changing surprise after another. It feels that way even though there are probably only a handful of unexpected turns in the plot and character development.

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) turns out to be everything you hoped he would be, in a surprising way. His screen time starts out a little slow but the pace picks up. And it's a necessary slowness because he has to give Rey (Daisy Ridley) time to kind of grow up.

General Leia (Carrie Fisher) gets to be amazing in her own special way. I wondered how Carrie's passing would affect the trilogy, since she had not filmed any scenes for the third movie. Thankfully they can say good-bye to her in a graceful way. There is a kind of "out" available for the next movie.

Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Finn (John Boyega) light up the screen with brilliant performances. Isaac gets to take Dameron in a whole new direction. For a character that was supposed to be killed off early in the first movie, he packs a huge emotional punch throughout the story. Rian uses him to cleverly lead the audience through an intricate series of scenes. It's hard to describe what Dameron is up to without spoiling the movie. I think most people will be satisfied with how he progresses.

Adam Driver (Ben Solo / Kylo Ren) comes into his own. He is not as petulant as he was in the first movie. I don't know if it's Driver's acting, Rian's writing, or a mix of both but you can look back on a few scenes and think, "Hm..." This was the execution I was hoping for in "The Force Awakens". Ben is a flawed villain. The formulaic flawed villain never achieves anything. Ben Solo achieves things, but his work is not perfect. We're getting to see a villain grow in a way that George Lucas could not show us with Anakin Skywalker.

Andy Serkis steps out of the hologram and into the main action as Supreme Leader Snoke in this film. I think people will be very pleased with his performance as the ultimately evil creature whose command of the Dark Side of the Force makes even Darth Sideous look a bit weak. I think Snoke must have been snickering at the way the Sith squandered their opportunities.

Domnhall Gleeson (General Hux) rides the crest of the wave he started in the first movie. He's just the smarmy kind of villain you love to hate. You'll forget you're looking at Bill Weasley, to be sure.

Overall there is a good mix of humor and tension throughout the movie. The gags are perfectly set up and even though you should be expecting humor it's delivered in a smooth, comfortable way. It's like everyone was rehearsing the play for six months before opening night and they nailed their lines.

The plot is about as complicated as you can imagine. With a large ensemble cast everyone has to play a meaningful part or you start to ask why so-and-so is in the film. I never found myself asking that of any of these characters. Even the most minor characters all have meaningful parts. In fact, we get to enjoy some continuity with some minor characters you don't normally see in ensemble stories, except when they are used for "misery gags" (where bad things keep happening to the same background people).

You'll find action, interesting new worlds, and even some reflective time. The new characters all bring some depth to their parts of the story, which is no small feat given just how much ground Rian Johnson's screenplay has to cover. I know some people wonder why the movie is so long (2-1/2 hours) but it really needs all that screen time. I suspect the Director's Cut will run to about 3 hours if not longer.

I give this movie a STRONG RECOMMEND. It's the best "Star Wars" movie I have seen since "The Phantom Menace". It changes a few things around but we expected that when Disney announced they were leaving the Expanded Universe behind. I don't think people will be unhappy.

Ultimately, I think Rian Johnson is the right guy to develop another Star Wars trilogy. I am looking forward to Chapter IX and to the new trilogy as well.
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#2
Just sat through the movie.... Those of you of "my age", do a quick bathroom break just as they say put on your 3D glasses,. I didn't make it through the credits, as after sitting for the half hour before the movie, and then 2.5 hours, I had to rush out.

Due to some quirks at the theater (yes those were fire engines pulling away), I had purchased a reserved comfy seat for the 2D version, but attended the 3D version with comfy seat. (and got a free pass for another movie), and now I'm not sure if I need to see this again, or see one of the other current crop of movies. Since I was there in good time for the 9:40 showing, by 9:55, I was the only person in the theater. It would have been very weird, but about 5-6 others came in during the trailers & ads. If you are deciding between 2D and 3D, with the funky glasses & higher price. I think that only a few scenes would have merited 3D, then again, I was so riveted during the space battles, that I didn't remove the glasses to look.

This was really good. The only "extra" characters were the smart gopher birds. The latter were clearly intended as plush toys, and didn't contribute to the plot.... Except maybe don't eat the native birds, they may be sentient.

I loved Carrie Fisher. I wonder at her 'real' health, as she was mostly an invalid in the movie.

And lastly ---- that general guy acted the part of Bill Weasley???!!! must have been the years, the haircut and lack of scar. I never noticed this as the same actor.
Irene
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#3
Saw it today. Surprisingly, I liked the "Jedi stuff," in other words the story elements concerning Luke, Rey, Kylo Ren, and Snoke. The rest of it was the worst sort of mcguffin, and
I think the film's 2.5 hour run time is totally unwarranted. In an unfortunate irony, for a film that tries so hard to put female characters on a pedestal, other than Rey, they all end
up looking like fools. For all their tut-tutting at their male counterparts, their plans are either completely irrational in context, or end up backfiring and having disastrous consequences. Not the best writing there.

There's also too many parallels to The Empire Strikes Back, although they aren't as bad as the New Hope parallels in The Force Awakens. Ultimately, I think this
is a better movie than TFA, but it's still a far cry from what they should be attaining with the kind of resources they're throwing at these things.
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#4
Drat, after 25+ years I don't remember the titles.
I liked the first trilogy movies 4,5 & 6. Couldn't stand some of the 'animated' characters in movies 1,2 & 3 (though I loved Natalie Portman, I never could watch movies 2 & 3 before hitting the next button on the VCR)

In this movie, I mostly found the "strong women" to be badly garbed. Fancy Flowing gown for an Admiral? Oh maybe she didn't have legs?. I liked Rose and her sister (Mary?Mari?), as well as Rey. I'm going to miss Leia and figure her costume might have been masking her non-ability to move (hiding a 'standing' wheel chair perhaps).

Oh and not all plans work. Sometimes people just hope that they work. I have heard that all plans fall apart once the battle has begun. I always hope that my plan B will work, even if that is mostly to wait and see what happens.

And my award for best use of old footage, R2-D2 playing the original Leia video.

I loved seeing (spoiler alert - hmmm maybe I shouldn't say) OK hearing Jedi of long ago, what is on that island, and now I'm interested in what a 9th movie will bring.
Irene
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#5
https://www.polygon.com/2017/12/19/16794...sh-twitter


I am so glad that Michael is so responsible, respectful, open minded, civil, and truthful. I still can't get over how cruel and horrible these people are to this director. It might not be his fault. The writers, Disney company and other things are involved in making movies. It is art. What happened to freedom to express your expression without being immature or barbaric? Constructive criticism is one thing being rude is another.
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#6
That's the beauty of the information/social media age - if you aren't on Twitter, and don't happen to see articles about things like that, then you have no idea that reaction has
been anything but 100% positive. Not that plenty of hard core fans aren't doing what we all do - i.e. "well I really liked this, but wasn't wild about that," or "well if I'd been the director I'd have done so-and-so..." - but
I know a ton of hardcore fans, and none of them thus far are flipping out.

I'm somehow reminded of the years after Phantom Menace - and plenty of my younger Gen-X friends all though Jar-Jar sucked, but that didn't stop them from seeing the film
a dozen or more times each, buying T-shirts, etc. But we all saw and heard about online "fans" flipping out over the character. I later mentioned this in passing to a fellow
baby boomer friend from high school. She and I were part of a group who met at her house the night the original film premiered here in town before heading to the theatre - she
and her boyfriend and some others were willing to wait in line for an hour once we got there, while I was with the other group who blew it off, and went somewhere to drink beer
where we knew we wouldn't get carded, and then saw the movie the following Sunday. At any rate, she has always had the potential and
ability to be a sci-fi geek, but never the time to fully embrace the fan aspect. So I was telling her - much to her surprise - that people were threatening to boycott Menace and future
sequels all because of Jar-Jar. And with perfect timing, she said "How Wude!" :jester:

Or in simpler yet more metaphysical terms - if someone threatens the director with an intangible Tweet that no one reads - did it even happen?
August  - Jack's Pack Fan # 1, Keeper of the List, 3-Time Speaker of the JoAT Fan Quote of the Week, and the only person ever to have Back 2 Back Jack and Cleo fan quotes !
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#7
How Wude! Awesome!

Anyway, I am pretty shocked by the negative reaction- I loved it, as did my 2 younger sons and a friend of mine. However, my oldest son and another friend had this 'Twitter' reaction, although certainly not as strong. I think it all comes down to expectations- not high or low in this case but 'did it follow the formula I expected' criteria, at least from what I have gleaned from those two.

If you like surprises in a movie, and things not going as you expect (as I do) then I think in general you loved it. If you believe that certain things had to be explained/treated/acted out a certain way based on what you believe a Star Wars movie should be, then you may have been dissapointed.

Interestingly enough this latter viewpoint was the problem I had with The Force Awakens, it was too much of a straight remake of Star Wars '77 (I am jumping on the bandwagon of not calling it the recon'ed New Hope). And this makes me pretty nervous about JJ taking over directing reigns again for Ep IX- I'm afraid the story line will be all too familiar. I am glad Rian is heading up the next Trilogy though, hope that sticks.
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#8
And yes, Michael is a very responsible, respectful, open minded, civil, and truthful person, which is why I have worked with him before. And he and I usually DON'T agree on movies, this one is a rarity! For instance, I am sure he was the only one on earth saying TPM was/is the best Star Wars movie. and IIRC he liked Battlefield Earth, Starship Troopers, etc.

That said, nice review MM.
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