Greg Eichelberger reviews 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'

Greg Eichelberger
Staff Writer

Those Sith villains always seem to let family problems get in the way of their work, allowing the Rebellion’s forces to escape time and time again and necessitating more and more sequels of the franchise that really did begin "a long, long time ago …"
Now, in the latest (the eighth, to be exact) installment of the series, "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," we're still trying to figure out the genetic connections of Kylo Ren (Adam Driver, "Silence") and Rey (Daisy Ridley, "Murder On the Orient Express").
I mean, are they siblings or cousins or distant relatives or what? Maybe they're just complete unknowns to one another, but have you ever seen a "Star Wars" film where there is absolutely NO relationship between two of the main characters?
Plus, not only can they telepathically communicate over thousands of parsecs, they can actually SEE one another while doing it.
Anyway, the plot takes over from the last picture, "The Force Awakens" in which the menacing evil Galactic Empire has been replaced by the not-really-so-evil-but-more-corporate-sounding First Order, led by the cuddly-sounding moniker of Lord Snoke (voice of Andy Serkis, "Battle For the Planet Of the Apes") and the aforementioned Ren, who continues to go into unintentionally hilarious trances to "talk" to Rey about just about any subject.
This continues while various beloved SW characters come and go, including Princess Leia Organa, the late Carrie Fisher, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"), Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill, "The Force Awakens"), Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo, a Finn who wasn't even born when the last of the original movies were made), Yoda (voice of Frank Oz), Admiral Ackbar (voice of Tom Kane) as well as the robotic Bobbsy Twins, R2D2 and C3PO (voice of Anthony Daniels).
We are also treated to those wonderful toys, light sabers, X-wing and tie fighters and Imperial Walkers, amongst other weaponry we've come to love from this franchise.
Unfortunately, we also have to endure some less-cared-about secondary roles which seem to take up precious screen time from the better actors.
These include the "hotshot" pilot, Poe (Oscar Isaacs, "Ex Machina"), the former Stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega, "Detroit"), D.J. (Benicio Del Toro, "Sicario"), BB-8 (R2's vastly inferior cousin) and Rose (a badly miscast Kelly Marie Tran, "Hot Girls On the Beach").
Only Del Toro, who plays a modern-day Boba Fett-like mercenary and schemer, shows ANY semblance of originality, the others being inserted seemingly to make the SF saga more politically-correct, but not bringing any more interest — and certainly no more fun — to the sequel.
Then the story kind of meanders between a rebels being chased all over the place, running out of fuel, being bombed and then making a few heroic stands while Kylo and Rey continue to have long-drawn out mental conversation about parentage and other topics.
Yes, and then there is Rey being taught the ways of the Jedi by Skywalker, who is supposed to be the final gallant knight, but even the dimmest bulb knows that Rey has enough of the Force with her to build more sequels upon.
The question, we suppose, will she turn to the Dark Side before Renn turns to the light.
Stay tuned, folks.
It also turns out that Luke tried to teach Kylo a thing or three, but sometimes you just cannot get through to kids — even your nephews.
For those who saw the first movie in the “Star Wars” saga in 1977, it was indeed a “long, long time ago.”
Still, this most successful of film franchises through the years has usually delivered the goods for the most part.
From generating billions of dollars at the box office (with merchandising earnings going even higher) to spawning sequels that range from superb (“Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back”) to decent (“Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith”) to disappointing (“Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi”) to downright horrible (“Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones”).
Written and directed by Rain Johnson (the imaginative "Looper"), we're given just enough enough homage to the series more interesting and nostalgic moments, some nifty dogfight sequences and clever land battles (along with a twist and turns here and there), but overall a disappointment.
And while "Last Jedi" gives us our SW fix and certainly is better than "Force Awakens," it nevertheless comes in below the anthology movie, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story."
Fanatics may love this installment, but for the casual remainder, it's sadly just "OK."
Also please ignore the ridiculous 93 percent rating given out by the notoriously inaccurate Rotten Tomatoes calculations, however, and just be happy with what this scribbler gives it.
May this Franchise be with us — for at least one more time, or until they get it right again.
Catch the film if interested in both Idaho Falls and/or Pocatello.
Grade: C