Okay I can’t keep it in anymore!!!
I have to speak about The Last Jedi!!!
The newest Star Wars entry is having its premiere tonight. This will be followed by tons of positive social media reaction since Disney will stipulate that you can only tweet if you loved the movie, with Patton Oswalt and Kevin Smith leading the charge.
The film will make 200 million opening weekend solely because it has “Star Wars” in the title.
But then what?
But then what indeed.
While I have my reservations about the film, I love that it’s given us no shortage of things to talk about.
For starters, what nobody’s discussing is that an entire new trilogy is resting on the fate of this film. Everyone’s acting like that trilogy is a foregone conclusion. But mark my words, it won’t be if this movie doesn’t hit 500 million domestic (half of what Force Awakens made).
The magic of Star Wars films has always been in their re-watchability. If a Star Wars movie delivers, nerds like myself will keep going back again and again, pushing that domestic number up higher and higher. If a Star Wars movie doesn’t deliver, someone who was planning on going eight times only goes one. Do the math.
Here are some reasons why this Star Wars may not deliver.
First of all, this is the only Star Wars movie so far that Kathleen Kennedy didn’t clash with the director on. She even clashed with JJ, for goodness’ sake, the nicest guy on the planet. From all accounts, her and Rian Johnson became best friends on The Last Jedi. That may be great for future Christmas Card lists. Not so for creating a good movie. Good movies tend to be born out of conflict. The battles between sides tend to result in the best ideas winning. When everyone’s copacetic, there’s no stimulation to push yourself. The original Star Wars was famous for these battles. I remember reading about a producer – I think the guy who produced The Bridge on the River Kwai – who so believed conflict produced greatness on productions, that if a production was going too smoothly, he would deliberately stir shit up.
Second, the casting on this movie isn’t just bad, it’s uninspired. The three new faces we got are… Laura Dern, Benicio del Toro, and someone named Kelly Marie-Tran. Is the casting of any of these actors getting you excited to see this film? Think about how exciting the casting was for Awakens, particularly Adam Driver, who was a nobody when he got the role. Del Toro is the most interesting of the bunch. But he was just in another space opera movie. Guardians of the Galaxy. Usually, uninspired casting leads to uninspired movies. Not a single sexy casting choice. That seriously worries me.
Third, the running time. We’ve been told that this will be the longest running time of all the Star Wars movies at 2 hours and 30 minutes, which shows a decided lack of understanding of what makes a good Star Wars movie. The best Star Wars movies have tight running times (Star Wars, Empire). The worst have long running times (Phantom Menace, Revenge of The Sith). Long running times usually indicate a writer-director who’s undecided about where he wants to take the movie, so instead of making the hard decisions to focus the story, they instead leave everything in and let the audience make sense of it. This attitude is what led to Matrix 2 and 3, all three prequels, and numerous other bad films.
Is there anything that gives me hope? One thing and one thing only. The trailers are so decidedly average that I’m hoping a decision was made at the studio level to hide all of Last Jedi’s best parts until the movie came out. I imagine a conversation that went something like, “Empire, another second film of a trilogy, became what it was because of its surprises. Let’s do the same thing here.” So I’m hoping I walk into that theater and 90% of what I see is stuff that wasn’t in the marketing campaign. If that’s the case, not only will I be ecstatic, but I’ll give Johnson and Disney major props for doing something that not a single studio has had the guts to do in two decades.
Oh, and I want to see Luke and Kylo have an awesome lightsaber battle.
And I want to see Luke and Snoke have some sort of trippy Force-showdown. That would be cool, too.
Oh, and I want to see this thing kill someone.
Okay, I’m done now.
And a Yoda sighting would be nice, too.