Eppler: "Last Jedi" is fun, flawed entry in "Star Wars" series

Eppler: "Last Jedi" is fun, flawed entry in "Star Wars" series

Note: This review of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" contains no plot details or specifics to preserve surprises for audiences. 

First, let me answer the question I have been getting most: "The Last Jedi" is better than "The Force Awakens," "not as good as "Rogue One," better than the prequel trilogy (of course), and not as good as the original trilogy. 

Got that?

As for the merits of "The Last Jedi" itself, director Rian Johnson deserves a lot credit for being bold enough to take this series in a fresh direction instead of rehashing stuff we saw decades ago and skating by on nostalgia like J.J. Abrams did with "The Force Awakens." The main problem is Johnson goes in too many directions. There are three main story lines in "The Last Jedi," and one of them involving John Boyega's Finn feels like pure filler that proves to be pretty inconsequential in the grand scheme of things with no payoff, and there are plot holes and gaps in logic big enough to fly a Star Destroyer through.

It also feels like Disney told Johnson to punch up the script with more humor and one-liners - probably because of another funny space series that's been successful with that formula ("Guardians of the Galaxy") - but that creates tone problems considering what else is happening in this film. 

Fortunately, the good outweighs the annoyances. Mark Hamill is fantastic reprising the role that make him a household name. And although he reportedly didn't like what Rian Johnson did with the character, he digs in and makes Luke Skywalker as compelling as ever. The late Carrie Fisher is also great in her signature role, providing layers to Leia we've never seen. Adam Driver's Kylo Ren is also far more interesting here than in "The Force Awakens" - less like a whiny emo brat with daddy issues. 

I like how the First Order is basically the Alt-Right version of the Empire, and I applaud these new "Star Wars" movies' emphasis on a diverse cast and especially Johnson's treatment of women in leadership roles and the insecure men threatened by them. That is all very well done. It's also a visually beautiful picture that feels lived-in, rather than computer generated. 

"The Last Jedi" is a fun, if flawed movie, and an enjoyable continuation of this series that is clearly in good hands.

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