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Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a 2017 sci-fi adventure film following the efforts of a small rebellion desperate to hold against an empire, seeing hope lie in the return of powerful Jedi.

Perhaps the greatest achievement in Rian Johnson‘s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, aside from the spectacular visuals and set-pieces, is how superbly he establishes this next generation of heroes and villains, deftly keeping all that made the franchise in its early years so profoundly influential while firmly and passionately moving it forward. This is a movie that takes what its predecessor, The Force Awakens, introduced, and creates a brand new lore, an epic, stunning work of fantasy and enchantment that does the Star Wars name justice, but also keeps alive the continued hope of greatness for what’s to come. Much like what The Empire Strikes Back did, The Last Jedi delivers on a monumental level, putting characters first and offering fans and film lovers alike one of the best films of the year, and arguably, the best in this long cherished series.

It begins where the last left off with Rey (Daisy Ridley), the charismatic former scavenger who has discovered Force powers within, locating the long missing Master Jedi, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), handing him his old lightsaber. What he does with it, well, I’ll leave it for you to learn, however Rey commits herself to earning his trust and convincing him to join their fight, though he is haunted by a past that leaves him darkly burdened. Meanwhile, the rebels, led by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) are suffering terrific losses as they attempt to flee from the broad hand of the First Order, headed by Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), who tasks his top men, General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and apprentice Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) to defeat the last efforts of those who oppose, finally bringing the galaxy under his control. Leia has few resources left, traveling in a small convoy of ships, with Commander Poe (Oscar Isaac) and his faithful droid, BB-8 eager to fight. There’s also Finn (John Boyega), the former Stormtrooper, recovered from his injuries, struggling to make sure Rey can complete her mission, teaming up with spunky Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), a lower decks maintenance worker who has a very personal reason to stay in the fight. And of course, old standbys, Chewbacca, C-3PO and R2-D2 are all onboard.

Opening with a clever and genuinely moving battle that sees the rebel forces drastically cut, Johnson sets a fast pace straight away, though never overindulges, letting the complex sequence unfold with both excitement and investment, two traits that become signature to the whole experience. Touches of humor help, but this is not a ‘funny’ movie, even as it throws in some bits that get a few chuckles. If anything, The Last Jedi is a far darker film than what has ever come before, perhaps learning a few solid lessons from last year’s very good Rogue One. Themes of sacrifice and honor are felt with great impact, and the film embraces authenticity much more than in previous entries, with consequences right at the forefront. Johnson, who also wrote the screenplay, knows how to stage a smart action set-piece, but what’s more important about this is how well he makes us care about the people in it. Even while the film pushes forward with great bouts of momentum, he is careful to slow it down in key moments, allowing us to breath and delve into the plot, one that is layered by three crisscrossing paths that converge in a remarkable finale.

That is best seen in the dynamic relationship between Ren and Rey, two figures of great Force power that are on parallel tracks, even if their sides are opposite. Both are plagued by issues involving their parents (and yes, questions that lit up the internet after The Force Awakens are answered), we witness these two engage in surprising ways, a bond formed by what seems like their own expanding powers. What’s more, Rey is also at odds with Luke, and this pendulum generates the most emotion throughout. That’s not to say others lack punch, as Johnson manages to pack several significantly hard-hitting moments in this, including just about anytime Fisher is on screen.

This is not a kid’s movie, and I say that with some hope though that parents will still bring their children. It has a large body count, most unseen, and there are some strong moments of violence, but to Johnson’s credit, these are well earned, something many films tend to lack. There is, for instance, a light saber battle at the start of the third act that is going to be considered the best in the franchise, if not the most significant, a mesmerizing fight that again, is less about the action than the consequences of the players in it. It’s jaw-dropping.

Aside from all this, The Last Jedi is a stunning visual experience, with bold colors and breathtaking cinematography, Johnson taking things we’ve seen over and over in this series and doing something new. You will instantly recognize all the ships and droids and battle machines and what-nots but they all feel fresh. It doesn’t hurt to have that old familiar John Williams score swelling up in every corner of the theater. Sure, there are contrivances here, and moments born out of aesthetics rather than story, but they are far and few between, the movie a big, bold, sweeping adventure tale that most fans are going to savor. It might lack the joy and humor of past entries, but this is a movie that does better without it, its role more about evolution than playing into stroking nostalgia or fan service. But mostly, this is just great entertainment, a two and half hour cinematic wonder that won’t disappoint.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review

Movie description: Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a 2017 sci-fi adventure film following the efforts of a small rebellion desperate to hold against an empire, seeing the hope lie in the return of powerful Jedi.

Director(s): Rian Johnson

Actor(s): Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill

Genre: Sci-fi, Adventure

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One Response

  1. movierob December 15, 2017