Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi
starring Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridely, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Laura Dern and Benicio del Toro
written and directed by Rian Johnson
Don’t waste your time with the newest Star Wars installment. In fact, don’t waste your time on Star Wars at all anymore.
I didn’t see this movie in the movie theatre because I’ve almost completely lost interest in the franchise. I promised myself that if I had the chance I would watch it on an airplane, and if not that then when it came out on DVD, which it recently did here.
The entire Star Wars franchise is now a stinking pile of repetitive dung. Lots of impressive CG effects, but poor writing, poor acting, and a rejection of basic story consistency. George Lucas sold the franchise, so he no longer has a direct hand in it. In interviews over the years Lucas repeatedly talked about his vision of the story - a story that owes its success to its manipulation of archetypes - and about how he modeled it after the old Saturday morning serials he watched as a boy, and about legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. Shut up George! I understand. Now talk about something else for a change.
Before he became famous as Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill appeared as a character actor in several American television shows. (I remember seeing him as Susan Dey’s love interest in an episode of The Partridge Family.) After the first three episodes (Episodes IV,V, and VI) he acted in a few other films, but his career since then has mostly been in voice acting and video games. What I’m leading up to is that there was a lot of anticipation seeing Hamill reprise the Skywalker role. After watching it, I didn’t see the point of it. Hamill’s character was isolated and didn’t interact with most other characters in the story, much as was the case in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980). Skywalker seemed peripheral to the story in this film. He’s become a hermit recluse, just as Alec Guinness’s Obiwan Kenobi was in Episode IV in 1975. But whereas Guinness’s Kenobi was drawn out of secluded retirement to rejoin the Rebellion, Mark Hamill’s Skywalker stubbornly refuses to do so. The story has not come full circle in that way - I mean in that Skywalker has become the new Kenobi. That’s probably what writer/director Rian Johnson had in mind, but I’m not accepting it. It’s too sloppy.
This was Carrie Fisher’s last role before her death in December 2016. I was shocked by her appearance, her body and her voice. I did not enjoy her performance. She looked and sounded like a walking corpse in rigor mortis.
For me, the biggest break with consistency in the franchise came in the 2015 film Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens. At the start of that film, during the destruction of a rebel village on the planet Jakku, Stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega), becomes conscience-stricken. He removes his helmet and we see that he is a black man. Hold on - stormtroopers are all supposed to be clones if the bounty hunter Jango Fett (played by New Zealand actor Temuera Morrison who is Maori, not black), father of Boba Fett (another bounty hunter like his father) - not a black man. A black stormtrooper is not only un-kosher, it’s unconvincing. John Boyega has to do a much better acting job to pull it off - and he doesn’t. Second, as programmed clones the notion of a conscience-stricken stormtrooper with a free will doesn’t pass no matter what his ethnicity is.
The whole operatic story is downhill and stupid from then on. In Episode VIII I was really annoyed that the famous robots R2D2 and C3P0 - who are no longer major characters in the story - now appear in the English subtitles as “Artoo” and “Threepio.” What idiots made that decision?!
I watched the entire length of the film - I did not stop or skip ahead. But I kept my eye on the time counter and kept wondering, “How long is this going to go on? Where is the story going from here to fill out another hour?”