Cinematic Releases: Battle for the Porgs: The Last Jedi (2017) Reviewed

"This isn't going to go the way you think". Indeed. 

The Skywalker legacy continues with sharply executed style, excellent looking visuals,  some fleeting substance, and a return to the galaxy far, far away that relentlessly misses the mark but ultimately makes up for its shortcomings as the movie progresses into darker, more subversive territory. Does it ultimately deliver? Yes. But, The Last Jedi is flawed and nearly unremarkable in many ways. Much like the first in this new trilogy, there's a lot that's right and a whole lot that's wrong. Coming from a guy that experienced A New Hope in theaters back in '77 when it was just plain old Star Wars, there's just a certain spark that seems to be missing here. 

Rian Johnson directs his first entry in the Star Wars universe with The Last Jedi. Distinctly different than the repetitive nature of JJ Abrams The Force Awakens, this latest film is the most unfocused of the entire series that takes nearly an hour of middling slog to finally establish some focus and that old school Star Wars energy. Character development is lost at the cost of injecting as many new cuddly beings as audiences are sadly treated to politically charged side stories about a casino planet that's a hive of scum and villainy for weapons dealers. We had enough politics with the prequels. Here, it doesn't fit and should have been cut altogether. At a run time of two and a half hours, there is plenty that didn't need to be seen or added for padding the run length of the project. 

Luckily enough though, once it gets down to its real purpose, things find shape and a huge new expansion of the universe takes place. Where Abrams relied heavily on the nostalgia factor, Johnson's spin on the galaxy makes long strides to find some creative momentum in a saga that's extended for decades. Taking a look at this movie as a whole, Star Wars fans in general are going to rally behind the returning classic characters but will definitely find issue with Johnson's maligned vision in many areas of the final product. Please don't get me wrong, I liked The Last Jedi well enough but it plays like a long winded movie that would be part of The Expanded Universe that doesn't quite understand the heart of what made the classics so loved. 

I've been lonely on this island for
nearly thirty years with no lotion,
no chicks and no organic beard products.
Tell me again how you're so emo, Kylo. 

Perhaps the most interesting things about The Last Jedi are the new ways the Force is used, the kinetic connection between Rey and Kylo, the introduction of a new planet, and an old Luke Skywalker that's not so sure about where he belongs anymore. Even with all the good that seems to kick off somewhere around the middle of the second act, there are some definite miscalculated devices with side stories, misled plot devices, and way too many CGI based creatures. Much like Attack of the Clones, Johnson's feature debut in this franchise spends too much time focused on things that just don't need to be there. In the long run, I honestly feel that The Force Awakens is a stronger entry that delivers far more in the way of establishing this trilogy. 

If you're looking for mysteries to be solved with TLJ, go in knowing it doesn't happen. Many of the things we've discussed relentlessly on message boards, social media, and other communal places like Reddit are left with absolutely no answer. Unlike the moments in The Empire Strikes Back where we learned of Luke's familial line, Johnson gives us a large platter of nothing. The one real saving grace (as you probably guessed) of this movie is the return of Luke Skywalker. Mark Hamill is an absolute delight to see back on screen by giving us an older, more grizzled Jedi in hiding. With some other cool little cameos, Johnson does pull off some semblance of a Star Wars movie, but I truly think there was some serious studio toiling with the final cut. 

This is going to read like a laundry list of reasons to hate this movie. Please don't take it that way. I'm a huge fan of this universe and always will be. The Last Jedi will find its audience. It will have a large support system of megafans. I wanted to be that guy too. But I'm not. It's definitely worth a re-watch that might infuse more love in me. As of now, this critic is on the fence with this science fiction fantasy crossbreed. It was nice seeing Carrie Fisher gracing the screen one last time as Leia. And the small tributes to the original trilogy were a warm welcome. Maybe Abrams can get this back on even footing by the third and final outing. 

As we expected, the full trailer was all misdirection that luckily works to The Last Jedi's advantage. See this movie but know that you might not like some of what you see.