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The Next Marathon will be held Presidents' Day Weekend 2018 at the Somerville Theater, Somerville Massachusetts.
It will be preceded by the Boston Science Fiction Film Festival at the same venue.

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STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI Harry Potter in Space! (Read 28 times)
Jan 5th, 2018 at 5:13pm

L.A. Connection   Offline
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STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI. Middle films in trilogies can bring some wonderful movies - GODFATHER II and EMPIRE STRIKES BACK are key examples. But, they can also be problematic - see IRON MAN II and ATTACK OF THE CLONES. Unfortunately, THE LAST JEDI falls closer to the latter than the former. Since everyone reading this has likely seen JEDI, no need for a summary. Suffice it to say that it picks up right after THE FORCE AWAKENS and ends up with a lot of open strands and questions.

What JEDI does right is the production design, tech elements and the photography (mainly on 35mm film). John Williams' music is decent, if uninspiring.  Daisy Ridley is a rising young actress, even if she is given precious little to do here (much the same can be said about John Boyega and Adam Driver). Kelly Marie Tran's Rose is a refreshing new character. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Vice Admiral Holdo. Laura Dern is a fine actress but she simply doesn't command here. She essentially gets rolled by Poe (Oscar Isaac) and then smiles and says, "I like him" (no wonder the resistance is in such trouble if treason is smiled upon). Unfortunately, Carrie Fisher clearly shows the signs of her failing health, and isn't able to be her usual vigorous presence. Still, the worst newcomer comes in the form of 'Benicio Del Han Solo'. DJ is such an obvious Han Solo/Lando Calrissian copy that even Del Toro seems bemused by the character. I half-expect DJ to be visited by the ghosts of Han and Lando in the next installment.

Most of those deficiencies wouldn't matter as much if the whole were more riveting. Unfortunately, Writer/Director Rian Johnson has so many subplots going on that none of the characters, including the supposed main ones, is ever given the screen time to breathe despite the 152 minute length. The battle scenes are numbingly bland - no more compelling than an average Star Trek TV episode. The Casino sequence is technically well-handled, but the more realistic setting feels out of place in the fantasy universe of Star Wars. It simply doesn't feel like anything else in the previous eight features.

The Force has, obviously, been a part of the series since the beginning. Still, it never felt as much a part of the sorcery and magic world as it does here. The Leia floating through space and the Rey/Snoke/Kylo mind-meld threatened to turn this into Harry Potter In Outer Space at times. Maybe Rey can just dispense with the Light Saber next film and just wield a wand.

I've saved my biggest critique for last: Luke. Unlike those who have ripped JEDI for abandoning the 'canon', I had no problem with the new perspective on the character. I'm not wedded to any particular interpretation of the character or the larger story. Unfortunately, the movie does a mediocre job of elucidating it's take. More directly, the part needed a better performance for this most critical of roles. I have always like Mark Hamill. I've enjoyed the times I have been in his presence at Comic-Con and other Cons. He seems like one of the good guys in the business. But, there is a reason why he never became an A-List star despite once being one of the most famous actors in the world. Hamill isn't bad, but he is underwhelming. With that void at the center, JEDI never can take flight. All of the other issues  of convoluted story and pacing are magnified.

JEDI isn't a bad film, simply a disappointing one. With the goodwill from FORCE AWAKENS more was expected. There IS a reason why so many fans have been dispirited by the picture (yes, there were some organized naysayers, but the volume of displeasure is so large that it can't be denied that it is much more than a pinpointed 'conspiracy'). Hopefully, the next entry will have a more cohesive tale to tell.
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