Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Disney, 12.15) is a tip-top thing in many respects, a nicely baked, smoothly assembled serving of corporate-brand entertainment that millions upon millions of Star Wars nerds and American families are going to lap up like starving puppy dogs. It’s not a bad film, fast and fleet and well-layered and handsome to boot.

I felt it was too long, for sure (152 minutes), and a little meandering, but I found it reasonably okay. I wasn’t irritated or annoyed. I was genuinely intrigued from time to time.

But Jedi is still (and this really can’t be said often enough) a corporate-stamped, carefully calibrated Disney entertainment, made for the pudgies and the schmudgies, the passives and the 13-year-olds and the obsessives and the fatties and the hordes of middle-aged, T-shirt-wearing, sneaker-wearing bulkies and their families. And aging Empire devotees like myself.

Did I emerge from last night’s Disney lot theatre in a state of squealing falsetto flutteration? No, I didn’t, but, as I said in this morning’s post, I at least appreciated Jedi‘s attempt to deliver a middle-chapterish, plot-thickening, Empire Strikes Back-like sense of tension and gloomy atmosphere, at least in terms of Steve Yedlin‘s richly shaded cinematography, which I described this morning as “a noir palette crossed with Vermeer, and very reminiscent of Empire‘s lighting scheme.”

Yes, they shot Jedi on film. All hail those deep inky blacks.

I’ve been dreaming of another Empire-like Star Wars film for the last 37 years, and that’s a long-ass time to be wishin’ and hopin’ without result.

I disagree with an assertion by Variety‘s Peter Debruge that despite it being entertaining, The Last Jedi may be “the longest and least essential chapter in the series,” that it “extends the franchise without changing anything fundamental,” and that nerds “could skip this installment and show up for Episode IX” — which J.J. Abrams is writing now — “without experiencing the slightest confusion as to what happened in the interim.”

Okay, I don’t strongly disagree with these statements, but Jedi at least makes Mark Hamill‘s grizzled Luke Skywalker seem like a fairly cool guy again. And it does introduce two or three new animal species (fucking porgs plus some galloping, racehorse-like, camel-coated, lion-like beasties plus…you don’t want to know). And it does introduce the idea of sending a substitute “presence” to fight a crucial battle when you’d rather not do it yourself. And it does introduce the concept of an entire planet devoted to Las Vegas-styled diversions for the wealthy.

Daisy Ridley may not have known who Cary Grant was two or three years ago (she must have an inkling by now), but she’s cool and resolute as the thoroughly force-attuned Rey. I was glad she was around, although the movie strands her on for well over an hour on Skellig Michael while she verbals and fiddles around with Mark Hamill‘s grumpy, silver-bearded Luke (“I failed,” “We need you,” etc.) Adam Driver is once again playing Kylo Ren/Ben Solo as a volatile, borderline unhinged wackjob with powerful “force” currents, etc. I’m just not that down with a guy who changes his mind and more particularly his allegiances every time he turns around. And it still bothers me that the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to either Harrison Ford or Carrie Fisher. Driver might as well be a Nigerian or Tibetan for all the resemblance.

When the late Carrie Fisher is on-screen all you can do is stare at her face for signs of ill health or drug abuse, knowing that she has a date with a fatal heart attack on a London-to-LAX flight once she finishes shooting. A melancholy feeling.

Oscar Isaac‘s Poe Dameron, the heroic X-wing fighter pilot, is still an excellent Han Solo stand-in and clearly a good guy on his own terms. Keep Oscar in the game, don’t kill him, etc.

Anthony Daniels‘ C-3PO is strictly window-dressing. He’s barely in this thing. He’s a holdover and he knows it, just hanging around and going “oh, dear!” and “oh…oh, no!”

Kelly Marie Tran is also cool as Rose Tico, a member of the Resistance who hooks up with John Boyega‘s Finn. She’s a good actress; I respected her moves.

Benicio del Toro isn’t half bad as a wily scurvy type who seems to know how to get out of scrapes and stay alive when the going gets tough.

I’m surprised to read that Yoda is a puppet this time and not a CG creation because — honestly? — he doesn’t look like the Yoda of The Empire Strikes Back. There’s something wrong with him. Too dark, too muddy green, less expressive…something. I was saying to myself, “Yeah, yeah but who is this guy really? Yoda’s cousin? Why doesn’t he look the same?”

100% agreement with this Debruge complaint: “Though the series has always been self-aware enough to crack jokes, it now gives in to the same winking self-parody that is poisoning other franchises of late, from the Marvel movies to Pirates of the Caribbean. If movies can’t take themselves seriously, why should audiences?”

I really don’t want to write any more about The Last Jedi. Leave me alone. It’s well-built and exciting but not interesting enough to dive into and explore from different angles. I don’t regard The Last Jedi as a criminal enterprise in any way, shape or form. It’s fine, good enough, etc. Yes, I said that also about The Force Awakens, I realize, but I didn’t mind that one either. I happened to have enjoyed The Last Jedi more, if that matters to anyone.

Never let go of the fact that Disney is the First Order and George Lucas did start out as Luke Skywalker before turning into Darth Vader. Rian Johnson is in no way my idea of a tainted artist at this stage. He’s a good director who knows what he’s doing. The Last Jedi is easily the best film he’s ever directed, hands down. That should suffice.