“The Last Jedi” Was Fine


“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” was perfectly fine, which is a passive-aggressive way of saying I liked it but did not love it.

It was certainly no “The Force Awakens,” which in my book still ranks as the best of the bunch so far. (I’ve seen it nine times.)

Other the other hand, TLJ but did not sink to the depths of ickiness of the first two prequels. (For the record, I thought the third prequel was pretty good.)

So what is it about “The Last Jedi” that has me feeling like a stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder?

Let us count the ways:

* Princess Leia floating through space like Mary Poppins without an umbrella? What was that all about? I thought for a moment that she legitimately died early in the movie. A devastating loss? For sure, but one with a major dramatic impact.

But then they simply retrieve her body and bring her to sick bay. Um, what?

And speaking of near-death experiences, it looked like Finn was going to die a hero’s death and then he gets saved at the last minute. It made for a pent-up dramatic moment but felt a little like a cheap cop-out.

* The porgs? OK, yeah, cute. But did we really need crystal foxes, fathiers and caretakers that look oddly like nuns? Felt like Disney was making a merchandising grab here.

* “The Force Awakens” had some surprisingly well-timed comedic touches. They were spread out and clever enough not to wear out their welcome.

Somehow “TLJ” overdoes it with the jokes, especially given the dire circumstances facing the Resistance.

The oddly placed sight gags and asides feel almost disrespectful given the enormous stakes and death and destruction going on.

Luke taking the light saber from Rey and tossing it over his shoulder like a discarded banana peel? Hard for me to buy.

Finn walking around in a leaky medical get-up? Funny for the first three seconds but it felt like the sight gag lasted a few beats too long.

The standoff between General Hux and Poe in a “can you hear me now?” moment? Um…OK.

* Did we need to see Kylo Ren walking around shirtless? What the hell was that all about? As Rey asked: Shouldn’t he be wearing a towel or something?

* Gripping opening scene but the movie loses steam and could have done with a 15-minute trim. That whole casino scene? Overdone and drawn out.

* Really, we come all this way to find out nothing about Rey’s parents?

OK, sure, maybe Kylo is lying (he is, after all, a cold-blooded murderer so lying would be well within his skill sets) but it still felt like a letdown, especially after there are hints earlier in the movie that her lineage would be revealed.

* And Supreme Leader Snokes? Still no greater insight into who he was though was good to see him brought to life as a fleshed-out (albeit scarred) character.

* The palace chamber throwdown with the imperial guards and the light sabers? Gotta say, I thought that was the weakest light saber fight I’ve seen since Yoda took on Count Dooku in “Attack of the Clones.”

The choreography in TLJ just seemed too transparent, like I could hear the actors counting the beats until their next moves.

* Some of the visual effects and sets seemed less than what I expect from a “Star Wars” franchise movie. A couple of times, like during scenes with the X-Wing fighters in their hangar, I felt like, yep, I’m looking at a large Hollywood set.

* There is a hint that Luke and Kylo will duke it out in the end, mano a mano, and that does not really live up to its billing.

* On the plus side, some of the battle sequences are terrific; I loved the new character Rose (more of her please!) and I will never tire of hearing the opening strains of John Williams’s brilliant score.

Look, I have been a “Star Wars” fanboy for 40 years, always have been, always will be.

I guess my feeling is this movie was not quite ready to graduate from the Jedi Academy.