Star Wars: The Last Jedi

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MStar Wars: The Last Jedi

Directed by: Rian Johnson

Written by: Rian Johnson

Based on Characters Created by: George Lucas

Music by: John Williams

Cinematography by: Steve Yedlin

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 Laurd, Joonas Suotamo, Amanda Lawrence, Jimmy Vee, Brian Herring and Dave Chapman.  

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was the best episode of Star Wars made to date…

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Episode VIII) is epic people!

This film has everything: fantasy, drama and conflict and betrayal and action with lightsaber fights that last just long enough…

And I was surprisingly emotional through-out the film with General (Princess) Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) filmed and thankfully not animated so she looked so real and so there.

It was such a pleasure to see Carrie Fisher up on the big screen for the final time… See what I mean about emotional?!Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Director and writer, Rian Johnson has spent a lot of time getting the detail of the story right.  There’s new characters mixed with old that keep the story interesting with the familiar and the excitement of seeing new critters adding to the lightness and wonder of this visual story.

Rian Johnson also wrote and directed, Looper (2012) and has brought that same attention to the script here, revealing layer upon layer of story to take the audience on a journey totally unexpected.

And I liked how the film was set both in space and on land – the effects of space fantastic on the big screen and the grounding of seeing the ocean crash into rocks and the salty sand of the desert kicking up red dust visually surprising.Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The island where the previous episode, The Force Awakens, leaves us with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is expanded upon, the thought put into the vastness of the landscape impressive with new sea creatures and those cute Porgs (that look like a cross between a penguin and a puffin) alongside old favourites like Chewbacca.

This episode sees the story unfold around the never ceasing Resistance as they fight The First Order led by Supreme Leader, Snoke (Andy Serkis) as he takes hold of the universe.  The final threads of the Resistance making that final last stand with Rey (Daisy Ridley) seeking the return of the equally resistant Luke Skywalker hiding on his island after losing all faith when his student and best friend and sister’s son, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) turns to the Dark Side.Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Adam Driver has really grown into his role as Kylo Ren (the highlight for me) – the film taking time to explore this new character, making him as deep and fascinating as Darth Vader.

But like life, there’s dark and there’s light.  There’s good and bad in everyone – the conflict of the Force in Luke and Rey and Kylo adding to an otherwise action and suspenseful film.

And, for me, the most suspenseful Star Wars so far.

The Last Jedi is a further exploration into the Dark Side giving this episode a sharper edge and depth – the fantasy element making the story more griping and thought-provoking than the usual Sci-Fi weight of the previous instalments.

And the timing of the story was perfect.  The twists in the tale, many.

Prepare for an epic experience: it’s a long one (2h 33m) but well worth the journey.

Logan Lucky

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MLogan Lucky

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh

Written by: Rebecca Blunt

Produced by: Gregory Jacobs, Mark Johnson, Channing Tatum, Reid Carolin

Starring: Farrah Mackenzie, Channing Tatum, Jim O’Heir, Riley Keough, Katie Holmes, Boden Johnston, Sutton Johnston, David Denman, Charles Halford, Adam Driver, Seth MacFarlane, Mark McCullough, Daniel Craig and Jack Quaid.

Logan Lucky is about the not-so-lucky Logan Brothers who put together a heist to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway during the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race – one brother, Clyde Logan (Adam Driver), with one arm, I mean, one hand missing after being blown off on the way to the airport in Iraq, about to come home after fighting in the war.  And the other brother, Jimmy (Channing Tatum) with a limp, just fired from his truck driving job because of said limp – not that the limp would’ve affected his driving.

The Logan brothers enlist the help of demolition expert, Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) (ha, ha, Joe Bang), currently incarcerated; sister and hairdresser, Mellie (Riley Keough) and Joe Bang’s younger brothers, Fish (Jack Quaid) and Sam (Brian Gleeson).  Add these characters together and you’ve got a motley crew of robbers attempting a complicated job: the release of a prisoner, accessing the cash at the raceway, extracting and removing the cash from the site and the re-insertion of an escaped convict.Logan Lucky

After the introduction of these slow talking, seemingly thick-headed hillbillies, the film just kinda fumbled its way through the motion of the heist while expressing all those white trash clichés like child beauty pageants, John Deer trucker caps, long painted nails, big hair, NASCAR and energy drinks.  Well, the energy drinks were a bit different, as was the poodle-haired, race-car owner, Max Chilblain (Seth MacFarland) who owned the stuff and was forever trying to promote the drink by forcing it down his driver’s throat.

So, you can see there’s a parody here, of the backward North Carolina culture – but there’s also a paradox with smarts here too, like a tasteful martini made with one hand; a bomb made from bleach and gummy bears on the other…

I admit the dry humour eventually got me tickled and once tickled it was easier to laugh.  But the humour didn’t always hit the mark.

The stand-out for me was the one-armed Adam Driver as Clyde Logan.  Maybe I find amputee humour ticklish?  But, yes, his quiet take on the world was the highlight for me.Logan Lucky

There were some sweet moments, particularly between Jimmy Logan and his daughter Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie) – passing the flat-head screwdriver or the wrench or singing a heart-felt country and western song.  And there was a coming around and twist here and there with the story but I was too far gone on the hillbilly nature of the characters.

I got bored with the clichéd and any twists in the story felt cheap, like an Ocean’s Eleven (2001) (of which Soderbergh also directed) re-make, but starring hillbillies… without action…

So, it was a weird mix of: intelligent plan with backward characters.

The film outsmarted itself by building the hillbilly nature of the characters at the loss of story, so Logan Lucky ended up being kinda funny and kinda smart.

I wanted to like the film more, but didn’t quite get there.

PS. What was the deal with the Hillary Swank FBI character, Sarah Grayson? Brought so late into the film the character felt tacked on, a little like this PS.