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Star Wars The Last Jedi Leaves You Underwhelmed: Movie Review



Starring: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

Directed  by: Rian Johnson

Rating: ** ½ (2 a half stars)

  The good news  about the latest instalment  in  the 40-year old franchise is that  it is far superior to the the last dreadful droll and disembodied film in the series The Force Awakens.

 One doesn’t know if the Force awakened. But the team of writers behind the iconic franchise certainly did. The writing  in  The Last  Jedi is far more coiled  and  compelling than the last film. But  still not invigorating  enough to justify the rapturous reviews which go into superlatives as though they were going out of fashion.

Much  of the contemporizing processes involved  in making The Last Jedi a face-saving triumph(which it  is)  is founded on principle  of  diminishing  returns. All the beloved characters are brought back but as relics of a fading civilization clinging to a reality bequeathed  by a fast-changing world of impatient audiences who are no more responsive to the conflicts that George Lucas in all his spaced-out wisdom,created four decades ago.

 The  Last Jedi is  curiously suspended between being a parable  of nostalgia and  a fable of our times. The ‘Force’ has now passed on to a  new generation of outerspace warriors represented by Rey, played with sustained energy and aloof intensity by Daisy Ridley.

At the  start we see Rey trying to convince the autumnal LukeSkywalker(Mark Hamill) to return to fight  with the Resistance.The guru-shishya equation  of these early scenes echo the pseudo-solemnity  of The Karate Kid,  with dollops  of the Shaolin  culture shining through the galactic battle ground.

Unmistakably, this instalment of the franchise derives its persuasive powers  from the conflict between Rey and her soul-sibling Kylo Renplayed with remarkable layering by Adam Driver.Their equation gives  a ferocious fillip to what would otherwise have been one more effort to infuse new life into a weather-worn series.I want to know where the Rey-Ren equation  goes after this  film. But I am not sure if I want to re-visit  all the  other characters who come with the territory.

Director Roan Johnson knows his Star Wars only too well. He picks out the juiciest most joyful elements  from  the  series and  milks them for emotional succour and  dramatic  sustenance.

The space  battles are  staged with enormous gusto. The  characters seem  to derive  a sense of measured pleasure in their lofty mission  . But there is that sinking sense  of the  game being stretched beyond its basic premise of  primeval  enjoyment, specially when the characters are projected into the  rites of  enforced tokenism.

So we  have  a Black Deserter of the ‘Cause’ played by John Boyegabeing befriended and  ‘adventurized’(to coin a Star War-ism)  by a space worker played by Kellie Marie Tran who is, incidentally, an actress of Vietnamese origin. Their  growing fondness culminates  in a love story of  near-epic  proportions. Maybe more  of that  next time? For  now, there is a plethora of engaging preoccupations on The Last Jedi brought into a rarefied and  vivacious range of perceptions  by  a narrative that is terse and tactile.

The  final battle between Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren are  the stuff yogic orgies are made  of.The narrative  virtually ODs on the flashing sabres and the combustive life-force.

 This segment  of  the Star Wars saga doesn’t break too many rules. It celebrates outer-space  heroism with a tug of  the heart and a shrug  of  the shoulder, projecting  an appealing  nonchalance in the way the characters battle  it out in the spatial splendor.

My favourite character and performance are  Poe played a Oscar Isaac , a rebel soldier whose unorthodox methods of warfare  drive Princess Leia up the wall . Does  Carrie Fisher’s character  go into a coma in protest against  Poe’s  insubordination? Poe’s  skirmish with his senior officer, coincidentally a woman played rather squeamishly by LauraDern, is  the closest the film gets to subverting the genre that  it other celebrates with undying reverence.

 The Last Jedi is  a large  lavish homage to  the fading charms of a  genre that outran  its serviceability many years ago. Why do people still love the Star Wars series?  It is more than nostalgia. It’s  a religion. You don’t question the raison d’etre  of the Jedi even  if The Force is no more the power that it once used to be.

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