Star Wars: The Last Jedi – A Disappointing Episode 8 [NON-SPOILER Review]

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI is an entertaining movie. It’s perhaps more entertaining than its predecessor, THE FORCE AWAKENS. But in terms of being a “Star Wars” movie, it definitely takes a divergent step from what fans are used to seeing in the series.

Explaining this point is going to be a bit difficult without giving away spoilers, but because I abhor spoilers (I try to not even watch trailers), I’ll do everything I can do to not spoil any of the plot of the film. Yes, there are lightsabers, X-Wings, Stormtroopers, the Millenium Falcon, and Star Destroyers. But those aren’t the only things that make up the “feel” of a Star Wars film.

THE LAST JEDI felt more like fan-fiction than a continuation in the series. And I’m completely fine with the idea of spin-off movies like Rogue One and a Han Solo film. I look forward to the new, completely unrelated trilogy which writer/director Rian Johnson is creating for Disney. But there are certain disappointing aspects to Episode VIII. I didn’t like how some of the characters were depicted, feeling significantly different than they had been in the other films in which they’ve appeared. In some cases I was disappointed by how little involvement certain important characters had, amounting to little more than cameos.

I’ll get into more of that when I write a spoileriffic review, so instead, I’ll write about some of the things I enjoyed about this movie, because it certainly wasn’t a wasted trip to the theater.

The first thing that comes to mind are the scenes where Poe Dameron shows just how amazing he is inside an X-Wing. Rian Johnson put together a great battle where Poe softened up a new bad guy battleship for a tactical assault.

The use and depiction of lightsabers is possibly more creative here than we’ve seen in other Episodes. There are better lightsaber battles in just about every other movie, including THE FORCE AWAKENS and A NEW HOPE, but when Rian Johnson has a lightsaber ignite, the lighting and sound and intensity are incredible. It’s certainly a credit to his direction that there are two or three extremely memorable moments from this film that each have the unique depiction and use of the lightsaber as an integral aspect. More of this during the spoileriffic review.

The overall cinematography of the film was really strong, far exceeding the prequels. Yet again, the lack of ANY spoilers keeps me from talking about the new environments they end up in, but the ones we’ve already seen from the trailer, including the island, the scene with the speedsters kicking up the red dust, and Snoke’s throne room are great examples.

There were some decent new characters who joined the action, and some great moments involving those characters. They also introduced at least four new types of creatures, none of which I recall the film giving a name to their species, which seemed a bit unlike Star Wars, when in the previous Episodes those are details they provide.

Everything added up to an enjoyable movie, but it didn’t feel like Star Wars despite the traditional Star Wars artifacts, vehicles and some legacy characters. If this weren’t a Star Wars movie, I’d be excited for a sequel. But I was a bit let down by THE LAST JEDI, and I won’t even pretend like I’ll pass on Episode IX, but I won’t worry about trying to see it the first weekend. I’m not sure I’ll even see THE LAST JEDI again in the theater.

My rating: 82 out of 100

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