It’s a ‘Star Wars’ movie. Isn’t that enough?
….for director Rian Johnson – uh, yeah…pretty much, yep.
It isn’t that ‘Star Wars: The First Jedi’ doesn’t have its fair share of jaw-dropping moments; it does. And it’s not as if this sequel completely ignores the legion of faithful, light-sabre brandishing fans in its plan of attack; with a running time of 152 minutes and a gaggle of characters new and old, there’s a lot going on here.
The problem is, the bar has been raised SO high, and with the sentimentality wedged so far into overdrive during the last chapter in the series, the film – yes, even for something so ambitious – just seems a little tired. Not exhausted, mind you. But certainly wheezing a little on the home stretch.
Our latest visit to the galaxy far, far away finds the story picking up exactly where the aforementioned ‘Force Awakens’ left off. Rey (Daisy Ridley) has found the island hideaway of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), whom she needs to train her as a Jedi because the rebellion is up the galactic creek without a thruster. While Rey tries her best to nudge the stubborn Skywalker out of retirement, Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) lead General Leia Organa’s (Carrie Fisher) dwindling forces against the First Order’s Supreme Leader Snoke and his protege, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).
As the events play out, you can’t help but feel that we’ve danced this jig before – probably ’cause we HAVE – though most would prefer to deem the story recycling as an ‘homage’ to the original trilogy, and I’m okay with that. And really, it’s tough not to get caught up in it all when familiar faces like C3P0, R2D2 and Chewbacca are involved. Such an obvious fan of the series, Johnson’s mood is set to perma-wink as he unravels this thing.
Unfortunately, for every super-slick moment, ‘The Last Jedi’ isn’t terribly compelling – and that, arguably, is the secret ingredient of ‘Star Wars’. John Williams’ iconic score and opening crawl – always a piece of cinematic brilliance that never fails to blast the senses – can only take the ol’ enthusiasm so far. The context has to match that hype. And, with a bit of a cliffhanger attached to Johnson’s flick, we’ll see if there’s enough gas left in the Millenium Falcon to scoot us all across the finish line.