REVIEW: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is a Shocking Entry in the Saga
When The Force Awakens first came out, there were complaints from some that the film was more of a remake of A New Hope instead of something totally new and original. A new Jedi is found on a desert planet, a new masked villain emerges, and a new Death Star like panet is destroying planets that are loyal to The Republic. Even though I saw some similarities with A New Hope, I always felt that The Force Awakens stood on its own as a wonderful film in the Star Wars Saga. There were many fans that felt disenchanted with the release of The Prequels and Lucasfilm and Disney had to find a way to bring those fans back. They did so by reintroducing some familiar themes and characters that we all loved. To me The Force Awakens was more of a homage to A New Hope and it was a very welcome return of Star Wars to our world.
Is The Last Jedi a remake of The Empire Strikes Back? Well, again, there are some similarities. A Jedi is trained by an old reluctant Jedi Master. There is a battle that includes AT-AT Imperial Walkers, that looks like it takes place on a snow covered planet, although this time it takes place on a mineral planet, and it’s salt, not snow. The heroes are being perused by the villains in space, and I will be honest, there is a big scene that is very similar to what we had seen in Return Of The Jedi. Good news though, there is no Death Star this time.
Regardless of the similarities of any previous Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi is a fantastic movie and only time will tell if it becomes another classic like The Empire Strikes Back. Director Rian Johnson really introduces bold new concepts and storylines into the Star War Saga and in no way does he play it safe. The last act contains so many shocking revelations, it will take a while for it to fully sink in. Trust me, you will be both shocked and surprised during this film and, in my opinion, that is the best kind of film.
The film takes place right after The Force Awakens. When Rey (Daisy Ridley) finds Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), things don’t go the way she had hoped. Although The First Order received a major blow with the destruction of Starkiller Base, they are even more driven to destroy the Resistance. In a subplot, Finn (John Boyega) and his new alley Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) are on a secret mission to help the Resistance escape from the constant pursuit of The First Order. Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is also struggling with the repercussions of his actions and also the decisions made by some of the high ranking officers of The Resistance. Those are the main story-lines that jump back and forth with each other, eventually leading to the final battle on the planet Crait between the Resistance and The First Order. There is one other confrontation that I will leave for spoilers.
I absolutely loved the film for taking such risks that most fans never expected we would ever see, especially with Disney now owning the Star Wars franchise. I am still amazed that Disney signed off on some of the things that happened in this movie. Star Wars fans will be talking about these events for years to come. I have seen it twice and I can not wait until I see it again and probably will still be shocked at some scenes.
The Last Jedi is not perfect. I felt we could have done without Finn and Rose’s adventure on Canto Bight. To me, that part felt dangerously close to prequel territory. The planet looked nice and the Fathiers creatures were definitely cool looking, but I felt that whole part took us away from the action. If you need to take a bathroom break or refill your popcorn bucket, this is the time to go.
I love John Boyega as Finn and just felt his talents were wasted sending him on a basically useless mission that had no payoff. People’s biggest worry was the Porgs and whether they were going to be the new Ewoks. I’m glad to say that they actually add some comic relief to the movie, but in a good way. Surprisingly there was a lot of humor in the movie, but some jokes did not hit the mark for me. The last third of the movie definitely makes up for any (minor) issues, although I wish it would have ended 5 minutes sooner. Hopefully you will agree with me when you see the ending I am talking about.
Rian Johnson really delivers with this movie. His direction style is very different from what J.J. Abrams did in The Force Awakens and it is definitely appreciated. Without a doubt, Johnson was the right choice for directing this movie. The acting is just as good, if not better, as the first film. Without a doubt, the standouts in this movie were Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill and Adam Driver. And Carrie Fisher really does such a great job as General Leia and she will surely be missed. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed the character of Vice Admiral Holdo played by Laura Dern. The cinematography is absolutely beautiful and the imagery perfectly blends practical effects with CGI. The musical score by John Williams hints at the past and pulls in musical cues from both The Prequels and The Original Trilogy. Not Williams’ best but far from his worst, if there is such a thing.
The absolute most shocking thing for me is that Kylo Ren fooled us all. Well, he fooled me. In all of the footage that we had seen prior to the film, there was just a few scenes with Kylo Ren. One scene had him contemplating killing his mother, which most of us believed he would never do (and he didn’t). We also saw him reach his hand out to Rey in a sign of friendship. I personally thought that he realized the errors of his ways and was going to team up with Rey to defeat Snoke. And he did that, but his plan the whole time was to team up with Rey so that they could take down Snoke together and he would be the new leader of The First Order. He simply used Rey the whole time. I did not see that coming at all! Not only that, but he kind of kills Luke by draining him of his Force power!
After The Force Awakens, I always felt that Kylo Ren would redeem himself in this movie. He may have killed his father Han Solo, but he probably had deep regrets for doing it and there was just no way he could kill his mother. Now that Kylo Ren killed both Han Solo and Luke Skywalker, there is absolutely no chance of redemption for him in Episode IX. Even Leia has given up on him at the end, and I am totally OK with that because he is a such great villain. He is right up there with Darth Vader in my book.
Luke being a bit of a hermit/beatnik was kind of an odd choice. It’s just hard to imagine Luke giving up The Force and The Jedi way because he made a mistake, especially when his friends needed him. I’m sure it was not only a letdown to Rey but many fans of the franchise. But Luke did try to kill Ben Solo when he was under his care and that was another shocking revelation. Although I think they wimped out on that by having Luke say, he quickly changed his mind.
Leia being able to use The Force to save herself in the vacuum of space was a bit of a surprise and hinted that she may be much more powerful than we originally thought. I would not be surprised if the original idea was to have Leia confront her son in Episode IX, but after the passing of Carrie Fisher, we will never know. Luke’s use of his Force projection to be in two places at once is a new power of The Force we had never seen before. Will Luke return as a Force Ghost in Episode IX or was his Force Ghost destroyed? We don’t know. I am just blown away by most of these events and never saw them coming at all.
End Of SPOILERS
Is The Last Jedi the best Star Wars movie ever made? For me, that title still goes to The Empire Strikes Back, but damn, this movie does not pull any punches and I absolutely love that! I think that time will only be good to this movie and this will continue to get better upon repeat viewings. The Last Jedi is at times shocking, and goes places that you would never imagine. Just when you think you know what is going on, the movie takes a sharp left turn.
Go and see this movie and expect to not only be entertained, but also to be utterly astonished by some of the events that occur in this movie. Expect the unexpected!