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Non-Spoiler Review of Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi

There are some albums I buy that lift me off the floor the second I hear two or three songs, and compel daily repeat listens until I exhaust every ounce of interest I ever had in them. There are other albums I feel sort of meh about initially which grow on me over time until they become something indispensable.

What I'm trying to get at is there are some works of art that burn like incredibly bright fireworks only to vanish utterly and then there are works with enduring value. One side of ledger you have Offspring's "Smash" which I absolutely adored in 1994 and can safely say I've never listened to once since. On the other you have PJ Harvey's "To Bring You My Love" which I put on at least once every month. What's the difference?

I think there is a certain type of art that leans hard on the spectacle, the easy and cheap emotional high requiring little deep investment of emotion for a pay off. Another type of artist is willing to sacrifice a bit of immediacy for songs that reward repeated appreciation, that add meaning over time rather than lose it.

That is a long winded introduction to my basic reaction after watching Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi which I liked quite a bit even though there wasn’t a lot that had me out of my seat cheering. I do suspect, however, this is a movie I will still enjoy quite a bit next year, the year after that and on into the future.

In very loose terms (which I'll flesh out when I get a chance) the movie picks up almost immediately after the events of the first of the new trilogy of Star Wars. Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Finn (John Boyega) are attempting to flee the base of the Resistance, as the military might of the First Order closes in. Rey (Daisy Ridley), having found Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), waits impatiently for his reaction to her entreaty for assistance.

In ways both little and large, this movie never quite goes in the directions I expected, while hewing close to the outlines I assumed it would follow. It has an unusual structure for a Star Wars movie but not in terms of a WAR movie. It also feels very much like a story resting firmly on the innovations of the internet and smart phones as much as its predecessors do on WWII developments like the aircraft carrier and weapons of mass destruction. I enjoyed it last night and enjoy it more upon reflection. I look forward to seeing it again.

High points for me include the fine work Adam Driver does as the ever tortured Kylo Ren/Ben Solo, the intensity of Carrie Fisher's General Leia, and the feeling by the end of the movie of a franchise that is deliberately, firmly setting off in a new direction.


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