Knee-jerk review: "Star Wars: The Last Jedi"

1. It's hard to objectively evaluate a new entry in a 40-year-old movie franchise that brings with it so much Generation X nostalgia and, courtesy the horrible prequels, disappointment.
2. Rey is a bad ass.
3. It's too long by 20 minutes, but these days you can say that about just about every tent-pole franchise studio movie. We're not sure what the motivation is for the trend of stringing together multiple endings and climaxes, each one bigger than the last, other than a general desire to give the audience as much bang for their buck as is possible. So, we suppose... thank you, Hollywood?
4. It's quite surprising to see the level of vitriol and anger in the comments sections of fan sites.  The last sequel - The Force Awakens - was pilloried as a remake of A New Hope and offering nothing new, but now the new sequel - The Last Jedi - is making everyone mad for being so different.  There really is no way to please some of these weirdos.  And it's not just that they didn't like it, but this sense that somehow the movie has personally insulted them or caused mental harm.
5. We think the filmmakers are way more impressed and infatuated with the Captain Phasma character than they have any right to be.
6. Some of the humor is cheesy, we know, but at least there's laughs.  Remember how the prequels were so incredibly dour and pretentious?
7. It's hard these days to really surprise us. We've seen too many movies, read too many scripts.  It's all variations on the same formulas.  And yet this films surprised us more than once.  Even better, once a movie convinces the viewer that there's no way to predict which way things are going to go, then it really creates genuine suspense and tension.  That's where magic can happen.
8. There's a certain ragtag "Battlestar Galactica" vibe in the exhausted hopelessness of the Resistance facing a relentless, impervious enemy.  We mean that as a compliment.  This group is way more hard-scrabble than the original trilogy's Rebellion ever seemed.
9. Benico Del Toro's character needed more screen time.
10. Writer-director Rian Johnson is a filmmaker in ways that the vastly overrated JJ Abrams (who directed The Force Awakens and is sadly set to direct the next sequel) just isn't.  Plenty of beautiful cinematic moments and shots.
11. We appreciate the way the film subverts expectations and undercuts the heroes.  Here, character choices that other movies would celebrate are instead questions and criticized.  One of the themes, in fact, is that true enlightenment can only come from failure.  Wow.  That said, it's a real problem when an entire subplot is rendered completely meaningless.
12. Learning what happened between Luke Skywalker and Ben Solo was pretty satisfying.  There are two sides to every story.
13. Adam Driver gives these new sequels a real energy and edge.  Kylo Ren is powerful yet conflicted and immature.  It's a great character.  And he shares a real chemistry with Daisy Ridley's Rey.  Their scenes together are the best in the movie.
14. We predict a Poe/Rey romance in the next movie.  You read it here first.
15. Laura Dern's character makes a huge decision that creates one of the more indelible, breathtaking visuals in the whole franchise.  We've never seen anything like it.
16. It's just impossible for big Hollywood movies to get away from explosions, isn't it?  Every ending has to be packed full of things on fire or about to be on fire.  Tiresome.
17. We're completely okay with the reveal of Rey's parents.  It works nicely.  We hope the next movie doesn't double-back and change it.
18. May the Force be with you.
19. The opening sequence has a very World War II vibe to it, what with the bombers and all.
20. Few moments in a movie theater can deliver the chills quite like that first trumpet blast as the yellow Star Wars logo appears on the starfield.  Just as effective as it was in 1977.
21. They split the lightsaber in two, people.  Get it?  Equally matched adversaries.
22. Yes, we liked it very much.  Is it perfect?  No.  Is it entertaining and exciting?  Absolutely.

Here's our updated power rankings of Star Wars films for those who are into that sort of thing:
1. The Empire Strikes Back, obviously
2. Star Wars
3. The strangely underrated Rogue One
4. The Last Jedi
5. Return of the Jedi
6. The Force Awakens
7. Revenge of the Sith
8. Attack of the Clones
9. The Phantom Menace, obviously

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