Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Phil sees STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI at the Cinelux Almaden Café & Lounge - Dec. 18, 2017

On December 23, 2015, I saw STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, which was a the first new STAR WARS film to be released since Disney bought LucasFilm from its creator George Lucas in October of 2012. The film became a huge blockbuster, thanks in large part to director J.J. Abrams. After viewing the movie, I thought to myself as to where the story would go in the next installment of this cherished sci-fi franchise. After all, writer/director Rian Johnson is an accomplished filmmaker, having title like BRICK, THE BROTHERS BLOOM and LOOPER in his resume, I knew that he would take these characters and make something revolutionary with them. Low and behold, I was right in my guess, having seen it with my own two eyes. Now, the long two year wait has ended and I finally saw STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI this past opening weekend.

The film's official synopsis: Rey (Daisy Ridley) develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance, lead by General Lea Organa (Carrie Fisher), prepares to do battle with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the First Order.

Also appearing in the film are John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux), Andy Serkis (Supreme Leader Snoke), Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma), Billie Lourd (Lieutenant Connix) along with newcomers like Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico), Laura Dern (Vice Admiral Holdo) and Benicio Del Toro (DJ), with special guest appearances from Lupita Nyong'o (Maz Kanata) and Frank Oz (Yoda).

Since there are still a number of you out there that haven't seen the movie yet, I will be making this a SPOILER-FREE REVIEW! So I will be mostly talking about my opinion of the film as a whole rather than dissecting it like I usually do. Basically, this will be kind of a generic review because I don't want to ruin the movie for any of you (which begs the question why are you reading this and not going out to see the movie?).

This was unlike any other STAR WARS film that has come before it. Johnson has deliberately taken the franchise into uncharted territory. The STAR WARS Universe, as a whole, has forever changed and whether you like it or not, the line in the sand has been drawn. This film marks the turning point in the franchise and will forever alter the course for all future chapters. And I, for one, am very excited to see where this will lead.

Johnson also does something unique with his film: he doesn't answer any of the questions that Abrams set up in the previous installment. We don't know how the First Order came to power, we don't know the origins of Supreme Leader Snoke, we never really learn who Rey's parents are, we basically never get any questions answered from THE FORCE AWAKENS! Instead, Johnson takes us on a personal journey for several of our characters and how their actions will affect the entire galaxy! The film's story is a dark one; born out of annihilation and darkness and ends in hope and light. I was completely blown away by the film's script as it took me on a very different path that I thought I was going to travel on, based on how the last film ended. Congratulations to Rian Johnson on helming one of the best STAR WARS film ever made!!

Because of the powerful screening the film had with the Disney executives, LucasFilm  announced on November 9, 2017 that Johnson had signed on to create an all-new STAR WARS trilogy. He will also be writing and directing the first film of the new trilogy. No word yet on what the series will be about but I cannot wait to see them!

But I can't end this review without mentioning the late, great Carrie Fisher, who passed away on December 27, 2016. This would be her last on-screen appearance as General/Princess Lea Organa. Words fail me to express how hard it was to watch her in the movie, knowing that this was her last role ever. While THE FORCE AWAKENS centered on Han Solo and THE LAST JEDI focused on Luke Skywalker, Episode IX was going to feature Lea as a key character, completing the original cast from the original trilogy. But with her passing, those plans fell apart. There was talk about using footage of Fisher left over from this film and even creating her digitally like they did in ROUGE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY. However, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy announced in January of this year that they would not digitally generate Fisher in the next movie, nor will she be in it at all. We can only wonder what her role might have been. And our hearts will forever mourn the loss of our beloved princess.

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI is, without question, my favorite film of the series since THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK!! The movie is just that damn incredible!! I am planning to see this movie over and over again in the theater before it comes out on Blu-Ray because there is so much happening in the movie, it needs to be seen on the big screen!! So stop whatever it is that you are doing and go see this film!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI is currently playing in 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D theaters nationwide, including at the Cinelux Theaters here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cineluxtheatres.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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