Editor’s note: We all love movies, but rather than ask a syndicated columnist who has never visited our beautiful High Desert, we commissioned our own local movie critic: Nolan P. Smith to review films and give us a local perspective. Enjoy!
By Nolan P. Smith
(Victor Valley)– The time has come. We have finally entered the next chapter in the modern Star Wars trilogy with The Last Jedi. With so much writing in this film, did it deliver? Spoilers abound if you keep reading. Did it recapture the magic we all know and love in the Star Wars franchise? Did we see a modern mythical story of Jedi Knights vanquishing evil and being a beacon of hope for the galaxy?
Well, no. No we didn’t. With director Rian Johnson’s entry into the franchise, we get a film that does not fire on all cylinders in my opinion. It has its bright spots, and when it shines, it shines like a supernova. But when it doesn’t, it clearly doesn’t. The story continues where Episode VII left off: Rey (Daisy Ridley) has found the famed hero Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) as the Resistance is left reeling from their losses. Will Luke return to help aide the Resistance against Supreme Leader Snoke and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver)? How is Rey connected to it all? Where does Kylo’s allegiance stand? Can General Leia overthrow an empire? Far too many questions to answer right now, but first: what works for the film?
The returning Jedi Master Luke Skywalker is easily one of the best parts of the film, though he isn’t the Luke we remember from Return of the Jedi. A shaken, defeated failure of a man is what we get, but what a riveting character he has evolved into. Another excellent part of the film has to be the evolution of Kylo Ren. From a spoiled, irrational character in the previous film to a dominant force, Kylo has risen to the occasion and is a formidable threat. The fight scenes were amazing, with the scene with Kylo and Rey stealing the show.
When it comes to the downfalls of the film, the main one has to be the Resistance. From the reduction of Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) to simple, one dimensional characters to the addition of Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), whom didn’t add much to the story. Actually, the storyline with her and Finn was almost pointless to me, save for the introduction of other force users. The Resistance parts of the film, which took up lots of the film, felt like a bad soap opera. It leads into one of the major downfalls of the film: I didn’t care about most of the characters. Save for Luke, Kylo, and Chewbacca, I didn’t care if a character lived or died, and that is a major problem for a franchise that is usually full of heart.
I left the film with mixed thoughts and emotions. I really wanted to like this film, and I did to a certain extent. But I didn’t love it, and I could easily name ten other films this year that, in my opinion, surpass The Last Jedi. I know the masses are divided on this film: some say it was amazing, some hate it with a passion. I am more middle of the field on this: I loved some parts and loathed others. All in all, I felt it fell short of the Star Wars legacy, but you should see it yourself to form your own opinion.