Star Wars: The Last Jedi written and directed by Rian Johnson (Walt Disney Pictures, Lucasfilm, Ram Bergman Productions, PG-12, 152 min)
Starring Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Gwendoline Christie, and Benicio Del Toro.
Workshopping as Strategy
In my old consulting gig, we would often find clients asking if our planned interview time would act as a brainstorming session for the company’s all-up mission, vision, and values.
Doesn’t it make sense on the surface to ask such a question? The employees know the company culture best. Shouldn’t they hold the power to cobble together a mission and vision one word at time?
Inevitably, when the conversation turns to this concept, we would need to help them course correct. Often, the weekend-getaway brainstorming of mission and vision creates statements that have lost all meaning. They feel cobbled together. The strongest mission and vision statements account for how everyone in the company feels, but represent a concise and strong voice when authored by a few rather than many.
Workshopping a Film
Blockbusters feel similar in my mind. What might be a compelling mission and vision for a narrative or character arc suffers from endless corporate workshops.
As a cash cow, Star Wars carries immense weight. A tent-pole franchise for Disney, you better believe executives monitor its development more closely than a CEO monitors the stock price.
And for this reason, a striking and compelling film on paper, suffers from the requirement that it must be all things to all people.
All Things for All People
The Last Jedi feels light, probably too light for some and not light enough for others.
The Last Jedi exhibits obvious dialogue, annoying to those hoping for “show don’t tell,” but welcome for global audiences.
The Last Jedi plows through fan fiction once assumed canon, much to the dismay of the uber-fans, but probably unknown to the rest of society.
These contradictions make The Last Jedi everything and nothing. Conceptually, the film pulls characters to each other and presents light and dark in equally compelling ways; it feels like Rey might be the villain of the story and Kylo Ren might have a redemptive arc.
There’s Something Here
The film plays with our expectations of mythologies. It focuses on a lengthy apprenticeship right next to a 24-hour standoff between the First Order and the Rebellion.
There’s enough in The Last Jedi for anyone to pull out themes that make the film a rewarding view, provided you don’t critique the holes too closely.
So, for me, The Last Jedi is an excellent addition to the Star Wars canon. But I won’t think too much about it.
Verdict: 3 out of 5