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In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, we finally get the movie with both older Luke and Leia. Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher get to do what Harrison Ford did in The Force Awakens: They spend a little more time (in the case of Hamill, a lot more time) in their iconic roles.

Both stars shine as they play in the Star Wars sandbox 40 years after the original’s release. When this film focuses on the saga of Luke and Rey, it is nothing short of epic. When the camera is on the late Carrie Fisher—who gets more quality screen time than she did with her glorified cameo in Force Awakens—it’s heartwarming and, yes, sad. (The Leia stuff gets a little kooky at times, but I’m trying to make this a spoiler-free zone.)

When writer-director Rian Johnson takes the action to the characters of Poe (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega) and a new character named Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), the film falters. Poe, so engaging in Force Awakens, seems underdeveloped here. While the Resistance fights an oddly prolonged and bizarre space battle against the First Order, Poe just whines a lot—the point where you’re actually happy when Leia smacks him across the head.

The film picks up where The Force Awakens left off, more or less, with Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Luke in a stare-down: Rey is looking for tutelage, but Luke wants nothing to do with that Jedi stuff anymore, and desires to be left alone with his alien milk. While on the island, Rey starts having some sort of psychic Force conversations with Kylo Ren, aka Ben Solo (Adam Driver). Will Luke train Rey? Will Rey find out who her parents are? Will Adam Driver engage in his obligatory partial nudity in this film? I’m not telling.

What I will tell you is that there’s too much going on in The Last Jedi, and a lot of it feels like filler. Besides that stalled-out space battle, there’s a clunky sequence in a casino that goes on far too long; a lot of distracting cameos; and new characters inhabited by Laura Dern and Benicio Del Toro who bring little to the proceedings.

Am I overthinking this? Yeah, I am—but I’m a dude who has spent the last 40 years worshiping Star Wars. Anything you put onscreen that’s a Star Wars production is going to have me (admittedly, a loser) breaking down that shit. I’m saying that some of this movie seems a little half-baked, and also overstuffed. If there’s any movie I want to be more than 2 1/2 hours long, it’s a Star Wars movie—but at that length, it needs to be a really good Star Wars movie, not a so-so one. The Last Jedi is so-so.

I’m of two minds when it comes to The Last Jedi. It’s part Best Star Wars Ever (Luke, Leia, Rey, Ben Solo) and part Worst Star Wars Ever (Poe, Finn, the girl with the flip hair, and just about any time Domhnall Gleeson speaks). I’m recommending it for the Luke and Leia goodness, Daisy Ridley’s continued greatness as Rey, and inspired moments of fun and humor. But, man oh man, it nearly goes into “Jar Jar” territory a little too often for my tastes.

Johnson has been given a new Star Wars trilogy on which to work—a saga supposedly away from the Skywalkers. I’m hoping the guy gives us something a little more balanced. He’s made great movies (Brick, Looper) and crap movies (The Brothers Bloom) in the past. The Last Jedi falls somewhere in between.

So, as Yoda would say: A great Star Wars, this is not. Like it just fine, I did, but there is a tremor of over-indulgence in the Force. Be mindful of this for future times in edit bay, you must.”

One final note: Porgs are awesome.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is playing at theaters across the valley, in a variety of formats.

Published in Reviews

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What an amazing treat Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens has been. It provided a nice afterglow at the end of 2015, and now you have the pleasure of watching it at home in 2016.

The Blu-ray version and the digital download are both stunners, providing the best in video quality and sound—sure to stretch the limits of your home-entertainment system. It was a blast in theaters, and it’s equally fun on the home front.

Newcomer Daisy Ridley gave the best dramatic performance not only in this film, but in all of the Star Wars films thus far. She should’ve been an Oscar contender. It was no small feat to become the star of history’s biggest movie franchise—and she rocked it. For great acting, look no further than her interrogation scene with the evil Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).

She more than holds her own with Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, reprising their roles as Han Solo and Princess (now General) Leia. Other newbies include John Boyega as Finn, a disenchanted Stormtrooper, and Oscar Isaac as Poe, the best damn pilot in the galaxy. Domhnall Gleeson is the only newcomer who strikes an overbearing note as General Hux.

Ford is great as solo, but Ridley and Driver steal the show. It’s wonderful knowing that the next chapter in the Skywalker saga will arrive next year—and that we get another Star Wars movie this December with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Who cares about Marvel and DC? We are getting a whole bunch of Star Wars movies!

Special Features: There’s a nice four-part documentary on the making of the movie, along with numerous featurettes, including a look at the infamous table read. You also get some deleted scenes—which were clearly deleted for a reason. 

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing

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Published in Comics

On this week's Independent comics page, Roland and Cid ponder President Obama's Star Wars/Star Trek mashup gaffe; Red Meat gives some religious fundamentalists a thump in the face; The City gets an odd reaction to a chivalrous action; and Jen Sorenson previews SXSW by pondering what could become the next Twitter.

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