Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (TLJ) picks up where “The Force Awakens” left off two years ago – with Rey (Daisy Ridley) tracking Luke (Mark Hamill) to a remote planet; Finn (John Boyega) critically injured; and Poe (Oscar Isaac) and Leia (Carrie Fisher) resisting the dread “First Order” (the Empire Lite) led by the likes of Leia’s son, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver.)

The synopsis is standard Star Wars fare: The good guys are scattered across the galaxy on separate missions “Empire Strikes Back” style, while Rey attends Force School with Luke. The Order wants to crush the rebellion which do their best to resist, with the outcome hinging on whether or not Ren turns good or Rey turns bad.

The good news is Luke finally wields the force in a big way, and Leia is prominently featured in the film, and even proves to be no slouch in the force-wielding department, herself. The light saber fights and battle sequences awesome (the rumored $250 million dollar budget shows), and there’s also some much-needed humor in the film without necessarily going the full “Thor: Ragarok” (never go the full “Thor”). We get screen time with some long-lost, beloved characters, and we’re introduced to brand new ones.

However, there’s an overwhelming amount of bad stuff in TLJ. It’s needlessly long, since we follow some threads for no reason other than to have another set piece that Disney sell in Lego form. Cutting back and forth between these multiple plotlines means TLJ is a bit of a mess. The dialog is still pedestrian and the acting wooden from unexpected sources. The Force is still its usual finicky self as the plot demands: incredibly powerful one moment and strangely lame the next. There’s also some doubling-down on the worst aspects of the star wars mythology (Midi-chlorians, anyone?), and some characters are either woefully underused or senselessly undermined.

There’s plenty of and fan-service moments and gee-whiz bang to keep people distracted from these issues, but as a whole, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is a lucrative misstep. It features lead characters saying and doing stupid things, massive plot holes and unnecessary plot lines, amazing coincidences, and any exploration of deeper subject matter is reduced to a few throwaway lines. This latest film is yet another rewrite of an earlier installment that they’ll be retconning in the next sequel.

But at least the saber duels were cool.
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2 hrs. 31 mins.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence.
Director: Rian Johnson
Writers: Rian Johnson, George Lucas (based on characters created by)
Stars: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Oscar

Richard Bonaduce
Richard Bonaduce
Rich Bonaduce was born and raised in Pennsylvania but has lived in Utah now for half his life. In addition to being a regular contributor as a Film Critic for Salt Lake Magazine, he is also the Film Critic and Entertainment reporter for FOX13’s weekly morning show Good Day Utah. He’s also a drummer in local band “Mojave Rose,” and is much shorter than he appears on television. You've been warned.

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