Star Wars The Last Jedi was almost pre-ordained from the day George Lucas and Lucasfilm Ltd. announced he was stepping down and that Disney will be adding the fabled North California magic factory to its Magic Kingdom portfolio. The Angels, cried for Star Wars and Indiana Jones were the only two long term franchise movies series created by Lucas and both had exhausted their product lifecycle with global audiences years earlier. Making things worse, critics who now sing the well-practiced chorus “… the prequels were NOT so bad” saw fit back then to endlessly criticize Lucas’s creative efforts and in the process cornered the studio into a dead end – possibly scaring off investment dollars and financiers – in spite of the fact the second series of Star Wars sequels were doing exceedingly well at the box office, with practically two of the three flirting with the One Billion mark in sales ($848 Million and $1.03 B).
Not all business agendas in Hollywood benefit from a tell-all expose on 60 minutes. Some business deals are scrutinized by analysts and their conclusions remain business confidential while a more suitable version of events is merchandised for public goodwill. Unfortunately for the business world, Hollywood trolls and their groupies have hijacked and co-opted the term “whitewashing” for ethnic casting purposes when it typically means cleaning up dirty laundry and only making public the pretty and rosy clean sheets.
Whitewashing is a term used by public accountancy firms when a faction decides to cook a financial report or arbitrarily wipe out off balance sheet liabilities. It is also used when an engineering firm decides to overlook certain environmental or life safety issues when performing a feasibility study for review by a government agency or by a due diligence team. Whitewashing can be used by a manufacturing firm, for instance when the Ford Pinto design is hazardous to the consumer or the Morton-Thiokol seals are questionably brittle for the Space Program.
So it was completely understood that the new Disney Lucasfilm Star Wars would undergo an overhaul to revitalize an extremely popular brand and infuse it with new ideas and content that would make it rival Coke Cola in consumer popularity and durability.
As of the premiere weekend for The Last Jedi, the internet chatter of large blocks of fans has backfired into the face of the almost unanimous and glowing reviews secured by the studio from the biggest names in print and online media. Still the initial box office receipts results of the premiere event have seemingly validated the risk the movie studio has taken on the new sequel and its provocative continuation of the storylines it had started with The Force Awakens and successfully parlayed in Rogue One, a product extension series that explores territory cultivated by a series of novelizations and video games that have expanded the Star Wars universe for close-knit fandom communities.
The Last Jedi stars our new heroes with Daisy Ridley leading as Jedi heir apparent Rey flanked by Finn, former First Order stormtrooper (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), a dashing no holds barred X-Wing fighter, a Bruce Lee in the cockpit and a super hot head that recollects some of Han Solo’s and Luke Skywalker worst and brashest impulsive qualities. Our new heroes are also propped up by the original series General Leia (Carrie Fisher in her final role) and her brother Jedi Master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). The friends and allies of peace, harmony and civilized galactic democracy are pitched against the new and vile First Order with the one who sits on the throne of The Emperor (Snoke of The Sith played by Andy Sirkis) and his underlings Kylo Ren (Adam Driver as son of Han Solo and Leia and nephew of Luke) along with General Hux (Domnhall from Harry Potter) and Captain Phasma (Christine Gwendoline of Game of Thrones).
With Rian Johnson in the director’s chair it’s easy to see how Disney relied on an entirely new tone and spirit that would usher in new audiences and push off with a sharp almost vertical take off from The Force Awakens’ pace and tempo.
The Force Awakens was a commercial mega success crossing the $2 Billion mark and Disney was hoping to reproduce that magic bullet with both Rogue One and The Last Jedi, essentially recovering its investment in Lucasfilm within a span of four years with change to spare. In fact as of this editorial, Disney has already made financial headlines for its holidays shopping spree - with 21st Century Fox and the entire Fox network being eyed for an acquisition by the House of Mighty Mouse.
However the biggest pushback has been from fans criticizing it as nothing more than a rehash of the very first Star Wars (1977) with Rey as a female stand-in for Luke.
And behold, the viewer is certain to be surprised by new currents sweeping the First Order and the galaxy. We get to enjoy moments of sexting and “online” flirting, dating and perhaps romance between the unlikeliest of parties who use their connection with The Force to challenge each other in the privacy of their personal quarters – bringing to mind modern online adult matchmaking and dating sites with Skype and video cams allowing parties across town and across continents to chat in undies and throw dares at each other. Last Jedi plays up this parallel with online romance and dating that is both lampooned and quite effectively made part of the storyline only we’re not using AOL and You’ve Got Mail, it’s more you have ESP powers wi-fi linked to The Force. And lo and behold the plot thickens because we also have backdoor hacking and malware from The Sith.
We call it The Force Wi-Fi Semper Fi network. And Adam Driver as half naked Kylo bristles with sex appeal as his correspondent on the “Skype Force” asks him with uncharacteristic modesty to please put his shirt on as he is obviously stirring undesirable feelings. Kylo, like an absolute gentleman eager to please, obliges without even as much as a witty comeback.
We also have a lovable whimsical subplot where Chewie is about to chew on new critters (cuter than Ewoks if you can believe it), the new Porgs are straight from Star Trek lore yet heavily dipped into Chinese Fuwa and Japanese Kawaii styles. We were fortunate to intercept a Mark Hamill tweet to Bill Shatner slyly humoring him about Porgs. Yes you read me right and it's NOT from any new Star Trek movies or Star Trek the Next Generation series. The Porgs storyline and their presence all over the Jedi Temple island and the Falcon is straight out from the famed Tribbles episode of the 1960s Trek created by none other than .... drum roll please ... David Gerrold. Yay David!!!!! Being so famous on the sci-fi convention circuit has its rewards. And now David needs to ask Mickey nicely for a little royalty for Lucasfilm cleverly plagiarizing his idea about population explosion and the need to control those pesky "carbon units" that learn real fast - per Doctor Bones' (no cemetery or Halloween pun intended) comment from the 1979 big screen launch of Trek.
The Last Jedi offers many more surprises in story progression that are both exciting while lacking smoothness of presentation or narrative development. There are five main events in this chapter with one being so massive in implications to the entire series and the new trilogy it is rumored as the chief source of discontent currently raging amongst those initial wave of movie viewers that have returned a Rotten Tomatoes poll rating of 56%, well below the critics’ ratings of 93%. Put otherwise, unlike any other movie in the Star Wars series, the viewers are in sharp disagreement with the assessment of the film critics.
To delve into these elements would require we unveil some filmmaking insights to the reader. You will need to read our review at length in the Members’ area (request your free for lifetime account
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