I put this review out on YouTube the day of release, but I haven’t been keeping up with dvspress except for fiction (lately, at least), so in case you missed it, here is my spoiler-free consumer-focused review of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.
Production total – 8.7/10
Aesthetics: 9/10 – Delivers the OT aesthetics in sharp detail, use of specific colors is effective.
Effects: 9/10 – Excellent CG and cinematic effects. The movie is comparable to the prequels fidelity if a bit less baroque and unconvincing with some of the cg characters.
Sound design (abstain) – The theater was not set up properly and the sound peaked constantly, but I think the sound design was likely a great improvement over the Force Awakens.
Cinematography – 8/10 – The cinematography was good, and generally shots were well-edited and showed the action clearly, though even at two-and-a-half hours the editing felt a little too tight. A descent iteration of contemporary editing strategies.
Story Total – 3/10
Characters/Acting: 4/10 – Andy Serkis and Mark Hamill deliver strong, convincing performances that take up too little screen time. Every other performance was bad, and was accentuated by terrible dialogue, missed humor (and indeed humor that was wildly out of place in a Star Wars film), and poor casting. None of the characters act in a normal, human way, and all the characters lack any sort of consistent moral beliefs. The female characters, in particular, were offensively incompetent and bitchy stereotypes, clearly made by a gamma male who doesn’t believe in the feminism he is trying to portray.
Plot: 2/10 – Nothing in the plot makes sense in the greater Star Wars universe, or especially with the setups of The Force Awakens. Nihilism is the main theme, probably unintentionally, as Rian Johnson is clearly incapable of understanding basic moral action, virtues, or common sense. A large portion of the movie (~45 minutes) is completely pointless, undermines the mcguffin of the movie (The First Order can track through lightspeed, and yet characters lightspeed away to have a jaunt in a casino planet). The entire plot would have been avoided had any character acted like a normal, well-adjusted human being.
General Effect – 2/10
Aside from a few “Star Wars” moments, the movie is a disaster and an insult to fans. Rian Johnson, with one single work, sweeps away decades of world-building in the Star Wars universe. The hero of the Original Trilogy, Luke Skywalker, is revealed to be a villainous, cowardly and pathetic human. The mystery boxes of Force Awakens are used to insult fans by making fun of them waiting for reveals that would make the nonsense of the previous movie make sense. In a break of the fourth wall, a character tells the audience to “let the past die, kill it if you have to,” essentially telling them off for being fans or being attached to older Star Wars movies. New Force powers are pulled out pockets at will as gotchas, with no prior vision of them in earlier movies and no explanation of how any character learned them.
Rey, the Mary Sue of the first movie, is at the end of the movie able to surpass Luke in every way, including beating him in a duel, having just learned about the force a week prior (as this movie takes place right after TFA).
The entire affair is deeply insulting and I believe will harm the long-term value of the franchise.
Final Score: 4.5/10
I recommend this movie for people who want a cinematic special effects experience with Star Wars aesthetics, but don’t care at all for a good story and generally don’t have an attachment to Star Wars in general.