Pictures: Lucasfilm Ltd.
DIANE DE BEER
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI
DIRECTOR: Rian Johnson
CAST: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Kelly Marie Tran
RUNNING TIME: 2 hrs 32 minutes
I am not your target audience for Star Wars, in fact, it even surprised me when I enjoyed the last one as much as I did. This time round, I was determined to see it in the best way possible and decided to opt for IMAX.
That’s a good move. If you’re not your average junkie, but interested in the franchise, pay the money and see it on that gigantic screen. It engulfs you and with this kind of running time, that’s what you need. It will cost you with 3D glasses, tickets and the obligatory popcorn and coke but it’s worth the money – on occasion.
Cinemas are losing their appeal as the best option to catch the latest Hollywood has to offer. Competing with everything that moves and expected to pull out the stops, that’s not always the case. There’s no accounting for audiences.
And those on cellphones who decide to catch up with all the news while watching a movie are always going to be around. As are kids in movies that aren’t going to hold their attention. Fortunately the overwhelming sound experience of the IMAX helps to obliterate some of the human irritation always around in crowds.
Right from the start as the predictable script starts running as if right in front of you as is the IMAX sensation, you know that director Johnson, a newbie, has safe hands and heart.
But what really drives the story is the cast: from Carrie Fisher’s appropriately grand final farewell in a movie that brought her worldwide fame and honoured her right to the last quite magnificently, to Mark Hamil’s prominent performance paying homage to the beginnings of the series to the young rebel crew with Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Kelly Marie Tran and Oscar Isaac bravely and buoyantly carrying the light sabers and manipulating those frisky air machines.
They are the ones who held my attention, especially Isaac, an actor who is perhaps much more comfy in his Hamlet persona than a gung-ho pilot who knows he can safeguard anything, but also Ridley and Boyega fulfill the promise engendered in the previous Star Wars episode.
Diversity, almost by-the-way as it should be, plays a huge role, with black, white, Chinese all strengthening the rebel force. If that’s what the new generation brings in our divided and fearful world, that’s a huge plus. I know it’s just a movie, but it is one that exerts huge influence and pulls diverse crowds – if it can do some social engineering among the audience along the way, that can only be a plus. Strength in numbers is always how to battle a world that refuses to see the obvious.
Star War fanatics are at odds about the humour introduced in this one with Minion-type creatures chirping their way throughout the story, slightly at odds with the rest of the film, but more worrying is the time they feel they need to fill to get this story across. It means repetitive fight scenes and diminishes the drama that is part of the franchise.
It’s just way too long – even with these kinds of special effects. and even on the big screen.
But was it a complete waste of time? Absolutely not. It’s the kind of movie I want to see on IMAX and it’s an end-of-year kind of film. You don’t want to be miserly and be too nasty. It’s not that kind of movie. It’s Star Wars after all and we know what to expect. This is a new director with a cast that delivers brilliantly. Yes the special effects and the many machines are magnificent, but the actors really save the franchise.
When I still want to go out to the movies – apart from the NT Live (theatre and art) and Opera series which is a no-brainer and will always have my patronage – this is the kind of spectacle which shimmers in this kind of setting.