The Almost Last Jedi

Christmas season is upon us, which among other things recently, means so are the new Stars Wars movies. The signs that the movie theaters think that this is the most colossal blockbuster that ever busted a block (with a light sabre of course) is that they started showing the film, not only at 8 of their theaters in one building here in Lexington, but starting at nine in the morning. On a week day! While the kids are still in school! You catch my drift. This approach gives the word ‘overkill’ a bad name. Abandon hope you other Christmas movies, Star Wars the Last Jedi just sucked all the oxygen out of the theater. And what a movie it is—- cruising in at low altitude and taking 2 hours and 22 minutes to land. We are in the alternate runway pattern of prequels and sequels, and this year we get episode 2 of the sequels to the original six movies, and so episode 8, but whose counting? The very last sequel of the current trilogy is scheduled for two years from this Christmas.

But what should we think of this year’s offering? Is it more like a big fat Christmas Turkey or Boar full of triptophane inducing sleep? Or is it like a Christmas ham, producing lots of laughs, but also fattening? Or finally, is it more like a really long lasting but delicious holiday treat, like a delicious marinated pork roast? On the whole it’s closer to the latter than the other two. There are plenty of whimsical moments, a few triumphant hurrah moments, some nice hommages to dearly departed Carrie Fisher who stars in this episode, along with Mark Hamill, and as usual— too many battle scenes for us to be excited about all of them. And of course— an expected and necessary cantina scene does not disappoint, nor do some of the new critters— like the crystal critters, who look like Christmas foxes with long ears and ice sickles hanging off them.

These movies have some depth of philosophy which frankly the Marvel and DC movies simply do not. This movie in particular explains better the relationship between the two sides of the Force, dark and light. The force is not a power a Jedi has, it is the energy or spark that drives everything in the universe. In this sense, the philosophy is panentheistic. It sounds a bit like ancient Stoicism. But darkness and light are given equal billing as part of the force, and simply seen as a normal part of reality, all reality. Nevertheless, the dark side of the force is seen as wicked, the opposite of the light side. However inherent or normal the force as a whole is, there is a moralizing going on about the force and how it can be used. At one juncture one of the rebels named Rose even says ‘we’re meant to save people with our love, not kill people out of hate’ or words to that effect. Clearly, had the producer been listening there would have been less battle scenes in this movie, and more love scenes. While the movie is not lacking pathos when we see a favorite character go the way of all flesh, nonetheless it is almost totally lacking in romance.

The cinematography is good, especially the scenes filmed on Irish islands. The acting is up to snuff as well— nice to see Laura Dern back in action, and Yoda too (clue— find Andy Serkis in this movie). Overall, this is a better episode than the last sequel episode from two years ago. It remains to be seen whether they can bring home the bacon with a rousing conclusion in two years. We live in hope, and as Princess Lea says ‘hope is sometimes all we have to keep us going’— I take it she meant going to the theater. Stay tuned.


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