I went alone to see "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" movie in a small theater in Bennington, Vt..
The theater was jammed, and even thought it was two-and-a-half hours long and I am easily made restless, it went by quickly and entertainingly. I wasn't bored for a minute.
I liked the movie very much, a bit to my surprise. As I think about it, I think I actually loved it. I'm happy to recommend it.
I am no science or space nerd, but I remember being blown away by the first "Star Wars," and it is expecting too much to be blown away by each episode of a series that has gone on so long, and that still opens the exact same way the first one did.
I cried twice and felt like I was visiting an old and trustworthy friend with many powerful women, African-Americans and Asians, younger and older women, women with fancy gowns and Robin Hood woods gear.
Yes, there were some powerful men too, but they tended to be reckless, impetuous (and a little dumb) mostly screw-ups that needed some smacking down and saving from the women. The robots, like the women, are as brave as the women, but mostly are going for cute rather than strong.
It's kind of a game for me to figure out what the best-selling toys at Disney World Will be.
Disney is turning out to be a worthy keeper of this flame.
Some general observations:
This movie was more human and penetrating than some of the other episodes, despite the several million explosions and laser blasts across the galaxy.
More of the rebels died and suffered than before, there was more of an emphasis on bravery, sacrifice and faith in good.
I liked that and felt it.
I confess that I have given up trying to follow the tortured genealogy of the Star Wars story, other than that the series is beginning to look like the Clampetts or Bevery Hillbillies at times, everybody seems to be everybody else's mother, father, son, brother or sister.
I worry that there is a lot of inbreeding among the resistance.
As usual, the plot makes absolutely no sense, the evil empire – yet another mummified emperor with glowing eyes and bad teeth – has some of the most powerful weapons ever devised by human beings, but they all seem to have fatal flaws and weaknesses that intrepid rebels and their cute furry helpers and robots seem mostly able to penetrate with secret codes and code-breakers.
I've never seen a revolution in need of so much last-minute saving.
You have to just let all that slide by, and you'll be fine.
There was much online hang-writing among diehard fans about the new director, Rian Johnson, but he seemed to me to do a fine job of keeping the humanity in a mega-movie that could so easily have been overwhelmed by machines and computer gimmicks.
If you step back a bit, which I did, the movie is beautifully shot and the special effects are dazzling and sometimes breathtaking.
Good for Disney for putting all of those brave and strong female characters in this movie, Daisy Ridley is persuasive and like able as a wanna be Jedi, and this movie connects strongly with the past with appearances by Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia.
Mark Hamill Luke Skywalker), returned finally as the reluctant Jedi Knight being called back to save the universe one more (last?) time.
The spirit of Yoda even returns to mumble some profound and incomprehensible wisdom that only Luke can decipher. And this time, Yoda actually glows, perhaps to remind us that he is spiritual.
I'm not giving any plot away but I wouldn't bank on their being a Last Jedi, if I were you, or mourn the loss of this noble tribe of space knights.
This franchise is a multi-billion dollar gold mine, and Disney is building a real life Star Wars universe of its own in Disney World. The next Jedi is front and center in this episode. And the soon-to-be furry creatures on sale everywhere are unusually cute this time. They kind of reminded me of Gus.
The main premise of the movie is that Rey is feeling her Jedi-oats and goes to the grumpy and retired and reclusive Luke for guidance. Unnerved by her strength and courage, he tries to chase her away, but Jedi knights are not, of course, easily discouraged.
This time, the rebels really take a pounding, and that brought a welcome note of feeling and reality to the movie. It isn't all about the best laser gun.
The role of bad guy falls once more to Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, who is somewhat of a modern villain, much more tortured and feeling (sometimes) than one of the great villains of all time, Darth Vader.
Like is father, he has this funky habit of entering the heads of people at will and messing with their goodness. Being a Disney movie, we suspect he will not get as far as he wants to go.
I think girls and boys, men and women, will like the equally, and that is certainly something new. Ridley's performance is very genuine.
My only advice is forget about who is related to who, and just lean back and enjoy the fireworks, even though they rarely make any sense.
They are beside the point. The empire needs some new engineers – in every Star Wars there is always some hapless evil general looking through the windows of a giant ship and saying "Oh, My God! before being blown across the universe.
I found the driving message of the movie relevant.
Women are coming into their own in powerful and increasingly recognized ways, and do not ever lose hope when it comes to fighting for conscience and compassion. This is finally seeming natural and not contrived.
At a time when compassion and morality and forgiveness seems to be under fire, it was good to be reminded that they can be beautiful things, even in a made-up story. Perhaps that will inspire some people.
I liked those messages very much in this movie, and felt them, sometimes sharply.