The Last Jedi: a panel review

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REVIEW

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Stars: 3.5

Starring Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Benicio Del Toro, Frank Oz, Billie Lourd, Joonas Suotamo, Warwick Davis, Jimmy Vee, and Justin Theroux.

Written and directed by Rian Johnson

Rated: PG for violence and coarse language

Runtime: 152 minutes

Now playing at Scotiabank Theatre and Cineplex Odeon North Edmonton

The Star Wars movies: how does one even begin to discuss or dare review a new entry in the ever-expanding universe? These are exactly the kinds of movies that I consider to be ‘review proof’, which means that it doesn’t matter what any critic writes about them. Their galactic popularity is guaranteed.

And so, with this being the premiere weekend of Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi, it seemed far more appropriate to spread the discussion around with some carefully selected panelists. That’s where Chuck Mulholland and Allan Mulholland enter. The two brothers can be found every opening night with tickets in hand and Stormtrooper-fashioned glasses waiting for John Williams’ opening crescendo. They’re fans for certain but they offer two very different viewpoints on what’s good and what’s bad about films.

Chuck Mulholland is a local realtor who, despite his age of 56, comes across far more as the gleeful and childlike enthusiast with a bag of popcorn in hand. Allan Mulholland, 54, is the projectionist at Metro Cinema who is far more critical of things, probably from having watched so many great arthouse films over the years.

And I’m somewhere in the middle. I had a pretty good feeling about this, actually.

The following is an edited version of our roundtable discussion after the screening.

CM: Allan and I always view movies differently. He’s more cerebral and thoughtful. I’m always more about the experience. The anticipation for me is a big part. I was so disappointed when there wasn’t a marathon. What I noticed about the experience was this was way tamer than the marathon [the screening of all seven movies in sequence for the premiere of The Force Awakens in 2015]. It was insanity. It was like a rock concert.

SH: Is this still as much of an ‘event’ movie any more?

AM: I think that they are making a clear distinction. They wanted to start fresh. I got that feeling. They’re starting a whole new thing. Walt Disney’s in charge of it now.

SH: I think it’s pretty clear. That movie was halfway toward becoming Pirates of the Caribbean as far as I was concerned. There was so much exposition, I was wondering if it would ever end.

AM: It was an hour longer than it needed to be. I think that they have really captured the feel of the original series. It seems very much set in the real world as opposed to I, II and III. It was so sepia toned and Vaseline covered that it didn’t seem real. These ones do. For me, it’s almost like it’s run its course. How many endings are we going to have? It doesn’t seem to have any clear direction.

SH: Sad that Carrie Fisher died too. Her character was just getting good again. One of the things that bothered me after the original series was how she started off being a strong, take-charge leader and then ended up basically a love interest background figure. In this new series, she’s a general, a fighter, the figure of respect. Still, there are so many other strong female characters in this movie. I was impressed.

CM: I liked this movie. I’d give it a four out of five. Because it’s Star Wars, I’m going to go see it. It’s kinda formula, kinda the same beginning …

SH: But that works for you. That’s what you came for.

CM: Absolutely no way I’m not going to see this. For me, this wasn’t perfect but it was awesome.

SH: [A New Hope] was a really big deal when I was a kid.

CM: It didn’t change my life or anything.

AM: It changed mine, for sure.

SH: Do you still feel the same magic when you watched this movie?

AM: That’s what I think I found so disappointing in I, II and III. There was none of that. It seems strange to have a science fiction movie that’s so clearly a fantasy movie and yet it has to have that real life element to make it work. It’s nice to see that again. I get the same kind of thrill out of it. It just went on too long. I’d give it a solid 3. There were lots of good moments in it. It wasn’t all bad. I’ll be frank. I was pretty sleepy. I may have missed a couple of key elements.

CM: There were some great moments for me. I preferred this over The Force Awakens.

AM: I liked The Force Awakens more. The one thing this was missing was Harrison Ford.

CM: It feels like a passing of the torch, like they’re setting us up for the next one.

SH: I really appreciated that the sense of humour came back big time in this movie. At the same time, there were more CG elements here than in Force Awakens. It was a bit too long but I liked the characters.

AM: I thought those little things [Porgs] were cute. I’ll give them that. All the stuff with Mark Hamill. That was the part I enjoyed the most.

CM: I agree. He looks beat up.

SH: Like he had spent a while on an island by himself.

CM: It was a meaningful part.

 

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Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.