Jan 14, 2018

'The Last Jedi' (if only it were so)

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Edited: Jan 15, 2018

Forgive me for this next liberty; but I have to start off with saying that I spent the duration of ‘The Last Jedi’ concerned for my cholesterol levels as this film is as cheesy as a comprehensive 10-cheese, cheese board. I was entertained but not convinced.

 

So. My main issue with the latest war of the stars was that many moments where poorly founded and I felt I was being asked to extend my disbelief further then it was willing to go. I’m not even referring to the moment when Luke Skywalker took a drink from a lactating alien walrus (I like a bold touch). There where many dramatic twists and turns of the plots which didn’t convince me and these moments where worsened still by a melodramatic set of verbal cliches. I’d usually, at this point, try and interweave a breakdown of the premise but I can't say anything more sophisticated then - the characters had to go collect a thing to enable a thing whilst Daisy Ridley does an undergraduate force-course at the school of Skellig Island and ends up having a series of Jedi-Skype sessions with the dark side. ‘Return of the Jedi’ has many technological strengths and the choreography during fight sequences was extremely skilful but this was all negated by the fact I found myself laughing during moments that weren’t supposed to be funny. Although there are some quotable lines; the script felt on the whole rather unconvincing - apart from when the words were being salvaged by the hearty acting skills of Adam driver and Domhnall Gleeson. Whilst on the topic of acting skills; It has to be mentioned that there was an unmissable bite and vigour in Hamils' performance as Luke which did impress. Despite the character undergoing a sharp arc from his last proper appearance in ‘Return of The Jedi’ I did ultimately believe I was watching the real Luke back on my screen which does in this case owe credit to the writing.

 

This may seem like a bizarre point to cite as an issue, but to me; many scenes in the ‘The Last Jedi’ felt all too shiny and glossy and It would appear that the entire film has been put through a laminator! With the space-based action there was something about the sharp shiny quality and the enormity of the scale which removed me emotionally from the story. I felt like I was watching a showcase of what modern CGI is able to achieve, and whilst it was an objectively impressive spectacle I just wasn't taken by it from a narrative point of view. This has to be because it failed to conjure up a sense of familiarity from the original three Starwars films. The thing I appreciated about the originals was that everything felt tangible. Obviously the special effects where more rudimentary and I’ll happily join in if you wanna chuckle at the 70s film technology but for me these films still tower over the sequels. The way that the characters interact with their surroundings made everything in the original Starwars universe feel naturalistic and almost touchable. The last Jedi on the other hand played to me as crisp quality fakery.

A lot of people have divided opinions when it comes to the structure of the film. No sticker for anyone who can guess my stance! I felt dissatisfied by the shape of the plot which started early on. The problem with the film opening during huge battle is that I wasn't in fear of the outcomes for either fighting side. It is always a risk to start off with a battle when the audience hasn't had time to root for the new characters or become reconnected with the returning ones. I ask those who enjoyed the sequencing of the various plots; could it be you have a penchant for clutter? For me the way the stories intermingled felt inelegant and underdeveloped and when we arrived at key moments we were asked to connect with characters deaths whom we barely became acquainted with.

Visually the films strongest moments where when the action took place on location. The scenes on ‘Skellig Island’, where Luke and Rey train have some cinematic majesty to them, even with the addition of what looks like island folk from Beatrix potter. Whilst I was generally underwhelmed, I did appreciate the effective use of the final setting as it was an artistic idea to create vast white planes that showered plumes of red dust into the air during the ending battle sequence.

Although I thought the film was pants, I did for many of the same reasons find it wildly entertaining and I was never once bored. (If I could pass a message onto production it would be - where did you get the jazzy red latex articles worn by Supreme Leader Snokes' bodyguards and where might I purchase a set?)

 

Reviewed by

 

Esther Cross

 

 

 

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It’s a female-centric film. In a scenario where the guys with the right stuff, you know, typically have been really daring and done kind of crazy and courageous things, and that’s what makes them fit to be astronauts. And a woman with the same kind of behavior might be called erratic or crazy, where the guys get high-fived for it. It’s a story in which a woman ends up doing things that ordinary people might look down on or judge her for. Because it’s very easy to root for people when they’re making good choices. It’s harder when they’re making bad choices. But that’s exactly the moment when they need empathy the most. The film takes this sort of feminist road, as it explores how gender stereotypes may have affected personnel relations and opportunities at 'NASA'. 'The New York Times' recently reported about the particular challenges female astronauts face at 'NASA' even today as the organization prepares for another moon landing in 2024.