Just got back from the new Star Wars and … wow, lots to unpack here. This feature is filled to the brim with everything from expectedly impressive sword choreography, to overtly hideous alien baddies, to non-nonsensical yet adorable space critters, primed and ready for Disney’s crack merchandising division to sink their teeth into this seasons local stuffed animal department. Paradoxically, I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy it, although I think that it’d be more accurate to say that I didn’t NOT enjoy it.
In spite of its lulls (and there are many) this latest installment undeniably did have a few things going for it. The seamless CGI (some of the best I’ve seen), the stunning set design, and a few well-placed series-traversing throwbacks did succeed in making me walk out of the theatre with the familiar dopey glow of just having seen a Star Wars film. I cannot deny that.
However, for all of its flash and aww, my biggest gripe remains that none of what I saw inside the Last Jedi’s highly polished walls felt very original. In fact, this is the cardinal sin lying at the heart of Disney’s failure to take on the series as a whole. It’s reached the mind-numbing point where it feels like the only element which pushes the plot forward is the next vital piece of enemy hardware, waiting patiently to be destroyed. Enter stage left, a small, yet intrepid band of selfless fighters is sent in to commence laser dodging. In this exchange, no less than 60% of the fighters will be blown to pieces, except of course for the films main heroes, who’ll somehow manage to pull off the impossible shot, and miraculously escape unscathed to repeat this whole psychotropic digital dance 10 minutes later.
Some of you may be saying, “But Ian! That’s what ‘Star Wars’ is! That’s what it always has been.” To which I would respond, no, no it isn’t. The prequel trilogy at least attempted to break some into some new thematic territory with the earnestly conceived, if a bit clunkily executed political intrigue regarding the Galactic Senate. You see, I’m not asking these films to be perfect, I just don’t think its unreasonable to ask for them to try something new.
Not to take too much of a bitter tangent, but I can practically smell the uneaten pastries left on the conference room table from when the film’s screenwriters decided to phone it in to the graphics department, and leave early that day. I sense with sharp distinction the abandoned sparks of creativity, the ditched alternative plots that were e-mailed to the producers by the thousands, from eager fan-writers, humbly suggesting, and desperate to see the series which first piqued their interest in sci-fi, turn in bold, new direction.
But this is Disney we’re talking about, king of the tried-and-true. So instead, they wired the CGI team a plastic castle full of money, and treated us to a highly market tested, finely polished film, sure to please the majority who sat before it. Seeing this movie felt like taking part in the largest financial transaction in history, an investment with guaranteed returns. I suspect that the producers of this film understood full-well the brand was so mighty, that no matter of lukewarm reviews, people would still flock to the theatres by the hundreds of millions, eager to take part in what has quickly transformed into one of the greatest pop culture tropes of all time, Star Wars.
All that being said, it is still worth watching… Just maybe try to avoid paying if possible.