Wednesday, December 27, 2017
Stars Wars: The Last Jedi
It's almost incredible to realize that Star Wars started back in the second half of the 1970's, a post-Vietnam decade filled with new hope, and fueled by the Bicentennial craze. The past was very much alive in America in those days, so the prelude moniker of "a long time ago..." that so far has begun every installment of the franchise seemed more than apt in the summer of 1977. The country was ready to dream again and believe in something, even if the subject of its reverie was a space opera, adapted from Japanese films and World War II combat serials, and filled with mumbo-jumbo dialogue, populated by a bevy of new up-and-coming performers sharing the screen with British character actors royalty.
Mr. Driver's Kylo Ren started as a mask-wearing second generation Darth Vader, but soon enough director Abrams realize that keeping Mr. Driver's unusual angular features right out of a Modigliani painting, hidden was a mistake. In this new film he destroys his mask exposing the scar on his face that marks him with a Biblical sign of patricide. Thus far, Kylo Ren is the saga's most charismatic villain.
What I just described is the bare bones of the new film's arc. At a running time of 152 minutes (the franchise's longest film to date) writer director Johnson weaves a number of subplots and characters, some of whom are only seen momentarily (such as an interplanetary codebreaker named DJ played memorably by Benicio del Toro with a sly wink), but who are key to the film's plot, and who might take on greater importance in the upcoming films.
On a deeper level, the film is about the often troubled relationships between master and pupil, associations that run very deep in this mythic story, and which serve as character connections, some going as far back to the original established master/pupil attachment between Luke and legendary Jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness).
The Last Jedi is not to be missed. An excellent addition to cinema's most lucrative franchise. Who knows where we'll go from here, but the important thing for the filmmakers to remember is to stay true to the original concept that George Lucas set down decades ago. As long as future filmmakers do this, we will have plenty of Star Wars fun to last us for a very long time.