Members Only | Star Wars The Last Jedi

Star Wars The Last Jedi | From Disney Motion Pictures Studios and Lucasfilm Ltd.; Matk Hamill returns in the role that defined an industry of science fiction copycats, Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi, starring Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega and Isaac Jacobs along with a cameo from Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia and with androids C3PO, BB8 and R2D2 in tow. Luke Skywalker is joined by mysterious Rey (Ridley) who has an immeasurable connection with The Force whom she seeks for guidance and training while The First Order (Driver) is on the move to end The Republic (Fischer), The Rebel Alliance (Boyega, Jacobs), and The Last Jedi. A music editorial treatment and film review presented by West Coast Midnight Run with the music influence of M83, Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren, Gwen Stefani, and leading music notables.

Star Wars The Last Jedi was almost pre-ordained from the day George Lucas and Lucasfilm Ltd. announced he was stepping down and that Disney will be adding the fabled North California magic factory to its Magic Kingdom portfolio.  The Angels, cried for Star Wars and Indiana Jones were the only two long term franchise movies series created by Lucas and both had exhausted their product lifecycle with global audiences years earlier.  Making things worse, critics who now sing the well-practiced chorus “… the prequels were NOT so bad” saw fit back then to endlessly criticize Lucas’s creative efforts and in the process cornered the studio into a dead end – possibly scaring off investment dollars and financiers – in spite of the fact the second series of Star Wars sequels were doing exceedingly well at the box office, with practically two of the three flirting with the One Billion mark in sales ($848 Million and $1.03 B).
Not all business agendas in Hollywood benefit from a tell-all expose on 60 minutes.  Some business deals are scrutinized by analysts and their conclusions remain business confidential while a more suitable version of events is merchandised for public goodwill.  Unfortunately for the business world, Hollywood trolls and their groupies have hijacked and co-opted the term “whitewashing” for ethnic casting purposes when it typically means cleaning up dirty laundry and only making public the pretty and rosy clean sheets.
Whitewashing is a term used by public accountancy firms when a faction decides to cook a financial report or arbitrarily wipe out off balance sheet liabilities.  It is also used when an engineering firm decides to overlook certain environmental or life safety issues when performing a feasibility study for review by a government agency or by a due diligence team.  Whitewashing can be used by a manufacturing firm, for instance when the Ford Pinto design is hazardous to the consumer or the Morton-Thiokol seals are questionably brittle for the Space Program.
So it was completely understood that the new Disney Lucasfilm Star Wars would undergo an overhaul to revitalize an extremely popular brand and infuse it with new ideas and content that would make it rival Coke Cola in consumer popularity and durability.
As of the premiere weekend for The Last Jedi, the internet chatter of large blocks of fans has backfired into the face of the almost unanimous and glowing reviews secured by the studio from the biggest names in print and online media.  Still the initial box office receipts results of the premiere event have seemingly validated the risk the movie studio has taken on the new sequel and its provocative continuation of the storylines it had started with The Force Awakens and successfully parlayed in Rogue One, a product extension series that explores territory cultivated by a series of novelizations and video games that have expanded the Star Wars universe for close-knit fandom communities.
The Last Jedi stars our new heroes with Daisy Ridley leading as Jedi heir apparent Rey flanked by Finn, former First Order stormtrooper (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), a dashing no holds barred X-Wing fighter, a Bruce Lee in the cockpit and a super hot head that recollects some of Han Solo’s and Luke Skywalker worst and brashest impulsive qualities.  Our new heroes are also propped up by the original series General Leia (Carrie Fisher in her final role) and her brother Jedi Master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill).  The friends and allies of peace, harmony and civilized galactic democracy are pitched against the new and vile First Order with the one who sits on the throne of The Emperor (Snoke of The Sith played by Andy Sirkis) and his underlings Kylo Ren (Adam Driver as son of Han Solo and Leia and nephew of Luke) along with General Hux (Domnhall from Harry Potter) and Captain Phasma (Christine Gwendoline of Game of Thrones).
With Rian Johnson in the director’s chair it’s easy to see how Disney relied on an entirely new tone and spirit that would usher in new audiences and push off with a sharp almost vertical take off from The Force Awakens’ pace and tempo.
The Force Awakens was a commercial mega success crossing the $2 Billion mark and Disney was hoping to reproduce that magic bullet with both Rogue One and The Last Jedi, essentially recovering its investment in Lucasfilm within a span of four years with change to spare.  In fact as of this editorial, Disney has already made financial headlines for its holidays shopping spree - with 21st Century Fox and the entire Fox network being eyed for an acquisition by the House of Mighty Mouse.  
However the biggest pushback has been from fans criticizing it as nothing more than a rehash of the very first Star Wars (1977) with Rey as a female stand-in for Luke.
And behold, the viewer is certain to be surprised by new currents sweeping the First Order and the galaxy.  We get to enjoy moments of sexting and “online” flirting, dating and perhaps romance between the unlikeliest of parties who use their connection with The Force to challenge each other in the privacy of their personal quarters – bringing to mind modern online adult matchmaking and dating sites with Skype and video cams allowing parties across town and across continents to chat in undies and throw dares at each other.  Last Jedi plays up this parallel with online romance and dating that is both lampooned and quite effectively made part of the storyline only we’re not using AOL and You’ve Got Mail, it’s more you have ESP powers wi-fi linked to The Force.  And lo and behold the plot thickens because we also have backdoor hacking and malware from The Sith.
We call it The Force Wi-Fi Semper Fi network.  And Adam Driver as half naked Kylo bristles with sex appeal as his correspondent on the “Skype Force” asks him with uncharacteristic modesty to please put his shirt on as he is obviously stirring undesirable feelings.  Kylo, like an absolute gentleman eager to please, obliges without even as much as a witty comeback.
We also have a lovable whimsical subplot where Chewie is about to chew on new critters (cuter than Ewoks if you can believe it), the new Porgs are straight from Star Trek lore yet heavily dipped into Chinese Fuwa and Japanese Kawaii styles.  We were fortunate to intercept a Mark Hamill tweet to Bill Shatner slyly humoring him about Porgs.  Yes you read me right and it's NOT from any new Star Trek movies or Star Trek the Next Generation series.  The Porgs storyline and their presence all over the Jedi Temple island and the Falcon is straight out from the famed Tribbles episode of the 1960s Trek created by none other than .... drum roll please ... David Gerrold.  Yay David!!!!! Being so famous on the sci-fi convention circuit has its rewards.  And now David needs to ask Mickey nicely for a little royalty for Lucasfilm cleverly plagiarizing his idea about population explosion and the need to control those pesky "carbon units" that learn real fast - per Doctor Bones' (no cemetery or Halloween pun intended) comment from the 1979 big screen launch of Trek.
The Last Jedi offers many more surprises in story progression that are both exciting while lacking smoothness of presentation or narrative development.  There are five main events in this chapter with one being so massive in implications to the entire series and the new trilogy it is rumored as the chief source of discontent currently raging amongst those initial wave of movie viewers that have returned a Rotten Tomatoes poll rating of 56%, well below the critics’ ratings of 93%.  Put otherwise, unlike any other movie in the Star Wars series, the viewers are in sharp disagreement with the assessment of the film critics.
Yes it seems Disney’s ownership of Marvel and its collaboration on several Marvel projects brought with it tongue-in-cheek humor characteristic of Iron Man and Captain America repartees, Spider-Man gung-ho stunts and carelessness.  But for all the vaunted cameos sprawled through two movies from the new trilogy, be it his Royal Highness of Great Britain Prince Harry and Prince William as well as Craig Daniel (007) and Tom Hardy (Mad Max and Dark Knight), and the constant cameos of Stan Lee in each and every Marvel film, it strikes an odd note that Disney did not make it a contractual clause for George Lucas to make a cameo in each of the new Star Wars chapters given how much fans love the Stan Lee easter eggs.  Do Star Wars fans hate George Lucas so much so Disney failed to bring him for cameos in three new movies under their flag?
Star Wars The Last Jedi treats us to palpable moments of humor, remorse, romance and what director Johnson terms “callbacks” as in scenes that evoke moments from previous installments of Star Wars – for instance, troops stacking up in the trenches on salt covered planet Cait in an almost eerie reminder of the Battle of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back (ESB) as giant walkers roll across the landscape in preparation for a showdown in the final act of the film.
The movie follows two primary trajectories as Rey pursues her Jedi training ambitions with Luke in the hopes of unlocking the secrets of her past and the reason for her powers, while the Rebel fleet is shown dangerously mired in space combat on the heels of a failed command base evacuation that gets intercepted by The First Order military fleet.  The entire situation has callbacks to the old and more recent reincarnation of Star Wars’ TV competition, Battlestar Galactica.
The Last Jedi offers humor and action practically from the very first scene with Poe Dameron using sarcasm and prodding of a senior First Order commander on the deck to enrage him (and squeeze a few laughs) while his comrades scramble to align a defensive strategy.
This scene and the entire scenario has Battlestar Galactica written all over it and could have been played with all the customary humor and military bunker beds wisecracks that is already familiar to fans of the TV show.  Alas the BG flavor doesn’t last much and the viewer finds themselves back into the familiar tone of Star Wars.  While Rey is prodding Luke into coming to their aid, a Master Jedi who has developed layers of reticence from years of effort and failures, her friends are fighting tooth and nail to stay ahead of a death trap as one fleet (the First Order) tries to decimate another.
It has been said by many sources in the media that the first installment of the new trilogy was also Ford’s and Fisher’s comeback/reunion moment and that the Last Jedi is obviously Hamill’s and Fisher’s.  But in hindsight it seems from all the plotlines and subplots coming to an end in The Last Jedi, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren may have snagged the meatiest piece of character evolution and exposition.  Kylo is parlayed more often than once as truly sitting on the fence, between serving Snoke blithely and between jumping back to the Rebel side.  Pushing further than The Force Awakens has allowed, Kylo’s is presented as either a coming-of-age teenage confusion/angst journey or as someone sufficiently mature who feels he has been betrayed at his very core and is seething for payback.  And the trigger that made Kylo from Han Solo’s hope and pride into the instrument of his murder?  It’s another plot twist from Johnson that has fans boiling in rage at the uncharacteristic pejoration of Star Wars values and established character norms.  In other words, the plot device is so out of character, it defiles what the entire series has preached and built over four decades and feels “very cheap” as legions of viewers have taken to video taping their own reviews of the film and posting them online.
Adam Driver gives us impeccable performances at times and average ones at others pointing the finger at Johnson’s directing skills as evidenced in more than one scene involving Daisy Ridley smiling when her expression should have been one of grief or pain – a facial expression completely at odds with events that just transpired for the audience.
The Last Jedi offers many more surprises in story progression that are both exciting while lacking smoothness of presentation or narrative development.  There are five main events in this chapter with one being so massive in implications to the entire series and the new trilogy it is rumored as the chief source of discontent currently raging amongst those initial wave of movie viewers that have returned a Rotten Tomatoes poll rating of 56%, well below the critics’ ratings of 93%.  Put otherwise, unlike any other movie in the Star Wars series, the viewers are in sharp disagreement with the assessment of the film critics.
The biggest story arc wraps itself around the final act of the film in which Luke Skywalker is pushed to the limit of the saga showing off both why Skywalker became a legend in this fictional galaxy as well as his ability to master The Force in ways that are undetectable by The Sith.  The confrontation with the Sith as treated by the writers and filmmakers is foreshadowed earlier in the film where Hamill as Luke sarcastically mocks Rey’s naivety while training her and “nitpicks” at her lack of insights into the big picture coupled with unrefined mental focus and overreliance on sheer physical Force strength.
“So you will face down the might of The First Order with a laser sword and come out on the winning end?”
It’s moments like these that were extremely substantive and offered new character maturity and definition but not abundantly to ward off moviegoers’ ire.  For many, the entire Star Wars series hangs on the story of a little-known farm boy that discovers his fate is to change the entire galaxy.  As many fans cried out, Luke Skywalker is Star Wars and the final act was insufficient to make this film the proper stepping stone for the final entry in the new trilogy or prep the scene for the upcoming trilogy in development beyond Chapter IX.
To many viewers, Rey as heir apparent is insufficient emotionally as the character bearing the Skywalker torch and the filmmakers did not create sufficient anchor nor depth of character to root for her.  The Force Awakens was not a complete break with the old Star Wars.  More crucial, film time devoted to the Han and Leia as well as Maz Kanata storylines were taken away from crafting a character and storyline to make us care for Rey, Finn and Poe the way we cared for Luke in the original trilogy.
By attempting to bring the old characters and continue their storylines, the filmmakers did so at the expense of the new heroes whose storylines are sketchy, bumpy and jumpy while the emotional connection to the viewer is feeble and scant.  A case in point is a large detour in the movie, just like the Maz Kantana episode in The Force Awakens, Last Jedi has a much-critiqued foray to a distant planet where a galactic venue for gamblers is also key to locating a rogue code breaker and the chance to run into a new Han Solo-type hero.  Instead much of the Last Jedi plays to cynical reality TV audiences and the rogue code player turns out to be a truly realistic character who has very little inspiring or moving qualities.  In retrospect, Reality TV has infused many of the new Star Wars chapters to the point they lack inspiration, emotional power or magical qualities that connects with the audience.  And a movie from the Magic Kingdom that lacks magic is where trouble begins for our heroes.
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