Title: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Release Date: December 14, 2017
Director: Rian Johnson
Release Format: Theatrical
After the success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rouge One, I began to wonder if Disney could continue to not miss the mark on great Star Wars films, or at least how long the trend upward would last. With all the similarities between A New Hope and The Force Awakens, would The Last Jedi just be a clone of The Empire Strikes Back? If you’re here to see if that’s the case, look no further. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is more than I ever expected it could be.
The newest film in the franchise and the renewed trilogy, Star Wars: The Last Jedi decides very early on to focus on two separate but important themes: the idea of neutrality instead of picking sides and living in the past versus the present. Each of our main heroes and villains is presented with these themes and has to wrestle them throughout the film. This is amplified by the addition of Luke Skywalker, the legendary Jedi Master, who plays a key role in the film. He is also presented with these themes and has his own inward struggle, making him just as much part of the inward conflict as the others.
Much like in Empire Strikes Back, this film shows the Rebellion in dire straits as they trying to escape the chase of the New Order who are quickly decimating much of their forces. With no real form of reinforcements coming to help them, they are dependent upon Rey, Finn, and Poe, as well as a few new characters, to find the answers that will hopefully save them in the nick of time. Rey is stuck trying to convince Skywalker to return and save them, as well as teach her how to channel the energies she has just become realized too. Finn and Poe team up with a passionate but nervous engineer named Rose to strike out and try to sabotage the envoy tailing the Rebel convoy.
All the while in the background, Kylo Ren is linked through the force to Rey and is attempting to build a connection between the two of them. The true reasoning behind this is discovered later in the film, but it does lead to a few major answers we were looking for after the previous film. One of those is that the mysterious figure Supreme Leader Snoke plays a much more intimate role in this film in his corruption of Kylo Ren. No longer simply visible as a giant head through a hologram, we see him in all his intimidating glory and power attempt to break the will of our heroes.
As you’d expect from a new age of Star Wars films, certain things continue to improve. The soundtrack is still phenomenal, mixing old familiar tropes for certain scenes with newer ones each time a character becomes more prominent. The set pieces are stunningly beautiful, from red salted sand worlds being blended with snowy landscapes that remind the audience distinctly of the old Rebel base on Hoth. New alien creatures and civilians are introduced in a humorous way, some even finding their way to a new home on the Millennium Falcon. And most importantly, a delving into the caches of our nostalgia for some unexpected twists and callbacks to the original trilogy.
I can honestly say that there were more moments in this film than the previous where I either had a stupid giddy grin on my face or my eyes started watering because of the unique callback choices made. None felt out of place or meaningless, and there were quite a few, “No Way!” moments that will likely catch you the same way they caught me. Rian Johnson somehow managed to find the perfect way to make these nostalgic trips not feel campy or like fan-service but truly play an integral role in our new heroes’ development.
One of the major things that returned from the last few Star Wars films that seem to have found a new home is the prevalence of humor. While the original and prequel trilogies had some chuckle moments, it seems to be a new intention to have an intentionally humorous air around the film to mix in as juxtaposition with the dark and serious landscape of good versus evil. It’s a strange thing to be able to pull off showing Carrie Fisher’s character Leia in a particularly traumatic event and then have her do something equally hilarious just a scene later. Very rarely in this film did I ever feel it was overdone or missed the mark.
The final thing this new Star Wars film does is give more questions. While it managed to answer a few from The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi gives us a plethora of new mysteries we hope are solved in the end. Instead of ending on the somber note that Empire Strikes Back does, it ends with a feeling of hope, the same we got from watching Rey hand the lightsaber towards Luke, and the same we got from Rogue One‘s flashback to the beginning of the very first Star Wars.
Verdict: This film is truly excellent. It veers from the original trilogy just the way we wanted it to and takes some serious unexpected turns along the way. The character growth and exposition in this film is palpable and well done. The set pieces and score are just as wonderful as you’d imagine they would be. Everything about this has me wanting more. Get ready to experience some truly excellent moments that deserve remembrance alongside so many others. Go see this film.
- Excellent and powerful character development
- Callbacks to the original trilogy play an important role
- Veers away from the trend of copying the original trilogy
- Some questions needing to be answered may now not be