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Movie Breakdown: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

December 12, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

The teasers for The Last Jedi have been great, the early reviews have been very positive, and Disney supposedly liked it so much that they felt comfortable enough to give director Rian Johnson his own Star Wars trilogy.  I couldn’t be more excited to see this thing.

Post-Screening Ramble:

The Last Jedi is a tough one to review without dipping into spoilers, but I’ll do my best since it’s definitely a film that’s best seen with no knowledge of what’s coming.  Here’s the gist – Rey is on a mission to recruit Luke Skywalker to help fight the First Order, who are bearing down on the rebel army.  Now, here’s what I generally thought about The Last Jedi – I loved it.  The film picks up right where The Force Awakens ends, and then it plows through a ton of plot before gracefully throttling down and leaving you feeling spent.  I was honestly really surprised at how much ground the movie covers.  Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) are certainly at the center of it, but there’s also quite a bit that happens with Luke (Mark Hamill), Leia (Carrie Fisher), Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac), Snoke (Andy Serkis) and Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), plus more with newcomers Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), DJ (Benicio Del Toro) and Holdo (Laura Dern).  Seriously, there are a lot of storylines and characters, but thankfully writer/director Rian Johnson does well to keep The Last Jedi from ever feeling cluttered.  Speaking of Johnson, he also deserves kudos for the breezy pace that never falters over the film’s two and a half hour runtime, and for masterfully providing emotional heft to an oft-loud mix of action and humor.  Movies like The Last Jedi don’t often garner “best director” awards, but I really believe he should be in the running this year.

Go see The Last Jedi, as it’s one of the best Star Wars entries.

One Last Thought:

There’s definitely a variety of similar plot points in regards to The Force Awakens/A New Hope and The Last Jedi/The Empire Strikes Back, but I’ll say this, I have no idea what to expect from the impending third movie.  It definitely seems as though it could end up being the one entry in the new trilogy that’s fully unique.

One More Last Thought:

After watching The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, I now believe that clunky dialogue is just an overall Star Wars thing that can’t be solely blamed on George Lucas.  I mean, Laura Dern is an incredible actress in what’s one of the best movies in the franchise, and yet her character talks like one of those moms that can’t remember how to say the name of their child’s favorite band.

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Movie Breakdown: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Noah)

December 16, 2015

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The Impression:

Um, well, you know, it is the continuation of perhaps the greatest trilogy of all time. Let’s just say expectations are high.

The Reality:

J.J. Abrams has, by taking on the first film in a new trilogy of Star Wars’ films, challenged himself to do something almost entirely impossible. 38 years ago, people walked out of Star Wars: A New Hope in a euphoric daze, having entered for a brief two hours a fully realized science-fiction world unlike any they’d ever seen on screen. George Lucas didn’t just make a movie in 1977, he created fans, ardent supporters, normal folks so enamored with what he’d brought to their local cinemas that their love would be passed on to generation after generation. And now, almost four decades later, J.J. Abrams has tasked himself with doing it all over again. Because making the newest film in the recently shrunk Star Wars Universe, isn’t just about making a great, space-faring adventure story, it’s about the hordes of movie lovers who will stream out of theaters all over the world for weeks and months to come, and what feeling they’ll have emanating out of them. Will this introduce a new generation of Star Wars nerds to the world? Will kids learn to sing the Star Wars’ theme before they learn to talk? Honestly, I think so. J.J. Abrams hasn’t made a perfect movie – there’s some tone issues, and I think Abrams depended a little too much on previously accrued knowledge to drive some of the story – but he’s made a near perfect “Star Wars movie.” And I don’t just mean he’s paid lip-service to the Star Wars fans and I don’t mean because he’s captured the aesthetic of the first trilogy nearly perfectly or that he’s reintroduced the legends of Star Wars to a whole new audience, no, I mean Abrams has made a film that takes you, for a brief two hours, to a galaxy far, far away. I walked out of Star Wars yesterday overwhelmed by the emotion inherent in returning to the respectfully realized world of a film that I grew up loving. Abrams had an impossible task – make you feel like you were seeing Star Wars in 1977 – and though I was a glimmer in my pop’s eye in 1977, I can only imagine that he and I walked out of our respective theaters, 38 years apart, feeling pretty much the same way. And for that J.J. Abrams, I thank you.

The Lesson:

Clearly you noticed I avoided saying anything about the film in this review. I can’t, honestly, I won’t. This movie reminded me about how enjoyable a well-kept secret is, how much better it was when every film on Earth wasn’t ruined three months before it started. It made me want to stop obsessively watching trailers and going to movie sites and just let each film I see completely surprise me. Bitch all you want about Abrams Mystery Box methods, but wow, this film is so much better because of the bombshells it drops on unsuspecting viewers. See it soon, avoid spoilers, and hell, maybe the Force will be with you.

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