There are a lot of commonalities in The Last Jedi’s reviews: It’s better, or at the very least more daring than The Force Awakens, the performances are great, it’s much funnier than the marketing would have you expect, the franchise has changed forever but who cares, the middle sags a little… But even the negative review(s?) still maintain that this is a fun one. (With or without a hefty dose of “best since Empire!” which become the cliche back when The Force Awakens was still racking up ticket sales.) So head under the cut for my favorites (unless you’re scared of even the tinest spoiler, in which case, move along. Yes, some of these do hint at plot points.)
As we’ve learned in the past few years, every new Star Wars movie is the best one when one sees it on premiere night. But the praise for The Last Jedi is particularly enthusiastic and even occasionally thoughtful. Will it hold? Too soon to say, but for now, this is what we’re getting… All that and the beefcake 411, under the cut.
The first review of E.K. Johnston’s Ahsoka has appeared on Kirkus. It’s short, but there do appear to be some minor spoilers. Still, they say it “a great treat for young—and not-so-young—Star Wars fans that provides a thrilling back story for a compelling character.” The book is due out October 11.
Bloodline has been out for nearly a week now, and we’ve had interviews with author Claudia Gray from Entertainment Weekly and StarWars.com (by our own James!) Questions answered include how she incorporated that one Leia meme, what part of ANH got retconed, and how you pronounce ‘Casterfo.’
Happy Star Wars Day! We’ve got a special episode of Unboxing Star Wars for May the 4th! First, Baby Jawa, Yowie and I check out the fun at “The Dome Awakens”, the Star Wars Day celebration at the downtown San Diego Public Library held on May 1, 2016. Then it’s time to review the recent C-3PO one shot comic by James Robinson and Tony Harris, and get excited for the new Star Wars novel, Bloodline, by Claudia Gray. We finish up with the results of our first try at making Star Wars Jell-o Jigglers, and then some Baby Jawa fun time!
→ C-3PO #1 – A fun (and long-awaited) tale that does indeed explain the origins of Threepio’s red arm. Read this comic then watch the LEGO Star Wars short “The Resistance Rises: Poe to the Rescue” for an interesting crossover of canon and LEGO Star Wars.
→ Bloodline – Strongly recommend! I had high expectations for this novel because of Gray’s first Star Wars novel, Lost Stars, and she surpassed them. I really enjoyed this tale – it’s a top-notch story with some great characters, and Gray nails Leia’s character.
→ Star Wars JELL-O Jigglers Mold Set – Comes with two 6-character mold trays and 4 boxes of Jello! All the characters look great, except Yoda, who is in some sort of action pose which doesn’t quite work right. Be sure to use the special mold instructions on the big box instead of the regular Jiggler instructions on the inside boxes of gelatin.
Time for another episode of Unboxing Star Wars with Baby Jawa, Yowie, and me! Yowie and I discuss the Star Wars Rebels episode ‘Shroud of Darkness’ and then review two recent books: The Force Awakens: Rey’s Story by Elizabeth Schaefer, from Disney-Lucasfilm Press, and Pablo Hidalgo’s The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary, from DK Publishing. Meanwhile, Baby Jawa does baby things.
→ The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary – An enjoyable must-have guide for all Star Wars fans!
→ The Force Awakens: Rey’s Story – A great retelling of TFA from Rey’s point of view. Intended for young readers, but can be enjoyed by any fan. Love that artwork by Brian Rood!
→ ‘Shroud of Darkness’ – Thumbs-up! Force visions reveal some interesting secrets for our characters, and provide for some cool scenes and the return of several legendary SW voices.
The Force Awakens reviews came off embargo very early this morning, and there are a lot of them (I did one!) They are also, for the most part, overwhelmingly positive, and as of Wednesday afternoon the film is 94% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
Here are a select few:
→ The prize for most innovative goes to Hannah Lodge at The Beat, which is helpfully divided to let you choose your own spoiler level. (It’s still not all that spoilery.)
→ io9’s Charlie Jane Anders has become one of my favorite reviewers, and her take on TFA is mostly positive – it passes her “grin test.”
→ I’m super jealous of Chris Taylor’s opening line at Mashable, if only because he said it better than I did. I could not pull off his Beatles references, though.
→ Our pal Bryan Young at Big Shiny Robot is a little more hesitant, particularly on the editing front.
→ Drew McWeeny at Hitfix praises how TFA grapples with the legacy both on and off screen.
→ The Guardian’s Jordan Hoffman is heavy on the detail – mainly of the Easter Egg variety, not so much the spoilers.
→ Devin Faraci of Birth. Movies. Death. calls The Force Awakens “the Star Wars movie for remix and remake culture,” a fair enough assessment. He’s cynical on a lot of things – that’s Faraci for you – but he’s also full of praise for the characters and the final saber battle.
→ Among a handful of not-so-positive reviews is Scott Mendelson at Forbes, who found the nostalgia a bit too overpowering, and the details not sketched in enough.
Let’s just cut to the chase: The Force Awakens is a pretty good Star Wars movie.
Some are saying great, but I’m not sure if a single viewing is enough. (And I don’t do rankings, because that’s tedious.) But the important thing, for our purposes, is that I enjoyed it.
Granted, I’m an easy mark for this one. I’ve been a Star Wars fan for both the special editions and the prequels – I waited in those lines. (Briefly.) But I never approached any of them with anything beyond idle curiosity. They were not a cornerstone of my personal fandom. The Force Awakens is the first brand-new Star Wars film that’s actually important to me. The first film where I was actually a little scared to watch, because what if I don’t like it?
In the theater, none of that mattered.
UPDATE: Please do not leave spoilers in the comments of the review. We have a special discussion post for that sort of thing!
Now that the million or so copies of Marvel’s Star Wars #1 have hit the comic books shops, let’s see what people are saying:
IGN: “There’s an emphatic “Give the people what they want!” feel to this issue, and the creative team certainly delivers.”
iDigitalTimes: “…the best character work is Princess Leia…” (spoilers)
/film:”Not only does Vader make a great dramatic entrance but theres a very cool tense sequence that feels ripped out of Homeland (this is a strong compliment) and Vader’s response is nothing short of bad ass.”
Nerdist: “Writer Jason Aaron perfectly captures the pacing, action, and humor of the original Star Wars in a way that a lot of the comics haven’t for a long time it seems.”
Jedi News: “The true test of any comic script is does it leave you longing for more, and I can’t imagine anyone reading this issue and not being absolutely compelled to pick up issue #2.”
Tosche Station: 4/5 – “At times, it was difficult to NOT hear the actors’ voices inside my head reading the lines.”
On sale today, A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller is the first novel that is part of the Lucasfilm Story Group approved timeline. Set in the dark times between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, and several years before the upcoming Rebels cartoon, it’s a tale of how two of the show’s main characters, Hera and Kanan, first encounter each other and eventually decide to team up. As someone excited by Rebels, I enjoyed the novel and found it interesting to see the characters before they united for a common cause.
Miller brings his skills in combining likable characters with clashing viewpoints, in a story setting that he has mastered before in Kenobi and Knight Errant: a Jedi alone in hostile territory. Only this time, the Jedi’s not interested in being a Jedi, or even be on the hero’s path at all – while someone else is sorting out what type of people are and aren’t needed for a rebellion to the Empire’s rule. And as with Knight Errant and Lost Tribe of the Sith series, where various Sith philosophies were being forged and tested against each other, the villain, Count Vidian, has his own philosophy being pushed to the extreme, and we witness it in practice.