By Ian Dayang (London)

 

It’s What The Audience Deserves

Director: Rian Johnson (Contains Mild Spoilers)

I have never been a huge fan of any of the Star Wars episodes, but I have always appreciated how groundbreaking the first films of the franchise were back in the seventies and eighties. The consensus for the mid-2000’s revivals is that they were abysmal, but like most ‘western’ societies these days regarding opinions on certain matters, there seems to be a division about how great these latest Star Wars movies really are.

Most loved the nostalgic feeling that Force Awakens brings, whilst others, like myself, thought that nostalgia was a polite way of saying that the film didn’t bring anything new and just copied the same old ideas that came before, such as the underlining story of the Death Destroyer (ok it’s a lot bigger now, but so what?). There were interesting questions like, “Why did Finn turn good? Why is Rey so powerful? Who is Snoke?” Any exploration of these questions could have potentially elevated this average film to a great one. Instead, many audiences who found the film to be wonderful concentrated on the visual aspects rather than the storyline, script, and characterisations.

But this is a review about The Last Jedi, and the point I am making is that when audiences are grateful that a movie is better than what has come before, that does not mean that the movie is great, and when audiences say a movie is great when in fact it is nowhere near greatness, i.e. Force Awakens, then the film makers are going to say, “O.K. audiences don’t care about storyline, or themes, or character significance, they just want to see Star War visuals that remind them of the good old days.” This is obviously an exaggeration, but there is consequential truth to this when you watch the recent Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Firstly, there is no character development in this film whatsoever. Who is Snoke? Who is Rey really, and why is she so Powerful? Who are her parents? In conjunction, new characters felt pointless, particularly the forgettable Asian girl, Rose. As a British Asian, I am highly disappointed that her character is such a bore, as well as being totally unfunny and trivial.

Secondly, there are so many odd plot lines that make no sense. Why wasn’t Po (the pilot) told the evacuation plan? This would have saved the trouble of Po leading a rebel force against the leader with purple hair. Why did that lady with purple hair have to stay behind in the big ship? When she was left alone all she did was stand around and do nothing, plus, surely they could have made a droid push any buttons if needed. When they were evacuating, why didn’t the enemy spot them? You could argue they were too far away to be seen, but when they eventually fired at them, they seemed to hit a small ship every time.

Why did Finn and the forgettable Asian girl Rose go to that gambling planet? They didn’t achieve their mission, so that plot had no effect on the storyline whatsoever. Again, if they were told they would be evacuating to the nearby planet they wouldn’t have gone to that planet in the first place (and could have saved us thirty minutes of screen time, but more on that point slightly ahead). If Luke didn’t want to be found, why did he leave a map of his location in Force Awakens? Admiral Leila used the force to return to the ship from outer space, but why, when the door opened, no one was sucked out into space? If there is no gravity in space, how do space bombs drop? SO MANY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS!!!

To make things worse, this film is over two and a half hours long!!! And if you really think about what happens in the film, nothing really happens. The big ship is stuck in space because they ran out of fuel, Rey is stuck on an island, and the only thing that does happen (Finn and Rose sneaking off to a gambling planet) turns out to be completely irrelevant to the outcome of the story. Two and a half hours long!!!! This storyline would be suffice and entertaining for a 40 minute Star Trek T.V. episode, but for a full length film? I don’t think so.

It wouldn’t be fair not to say nice things about the movie. The visuals and cinematography were great. The interactions between Rey and Kylo Ren were dramatic and compelling. Daisy Ridley who plays Rey did a much better job (her mouth less-resembled Keira Knightley). But that was it for me.

So, if you are reading this, please, do not judge a film by its visuals alone. Do not let nostalgia become the reason why a film is a good film. If you tell film makers that their average film is a great one, then all that will lead to is a pile of mundane, soulless cinema. Expect more in your films. As a paying customer, you deserve it.

P.S. If you are a fan of Star Wars, I highly recommend the animated series Star Wars Rebels. It is full of interesting developing characters, a well thought out storyline, and music and visuals typically seen in the movies. See, I’m not a Star Wars hater really.

Rating: 2/5

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