I went into my viewing of Star Wars: The Last Jedi with a hefty mixture of excitement for a new installment in the story, sadness that it would be Carrie Fisher‘s last turn as General/Princess Leia, and a bit of apprehension because I wasn’t a huge fan of The Force Awakens – it seemed to formulaic.
My spoiler-free review is that Star Wars: The Last Jedi exceeded my expectations. It did a wonderful job of balancing the dark – death and betrayal – with the light – hope and victory. Every character had a strong storyline and the film didn’t have any filler, even though it runs two and a half hours.
Two thumbs up and this is one you’ll definitely want to see on the big screen.
Now, if you keep scrolling, my semi-spoiler-filled review will follow this next photo….
A long time ago, in a galaxy not too far away (ok, right here on Planet Earth), the Star Wars movie franchise was born in 1977.
In the forty years since, we’ve had a great original trilogy, a not-so-great prequel trilogy, and a reboot of the franchise that yielded The Force Awakens, a continuation of the original trilogy, and Rogue One, which filled in the gaps leading up to the original trilogy.
So what direction would this eighth installment, The Last Jedi, take?
First of all, it expands on what exactly The Force is, and how it can be wielded, especially by Jedi and those strong with it.
Throughout the movie, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), General Leia (Carrie Fisher), Rey (Daisy Ridley), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), and Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) each show us things we didn’t know the Force was capable of, and it really drives a lot of major scenes.
Luke is reluctantly training Rey in the ways of the Jedi, but we learn she has a darkness in her. This frightens Luke as he saw the same thing in his former protege, Ben Solo.
There’s a saying that there are three sides to a story: one side, the other side, and the truth. The movie uses this to show the confrontation between Luke and a young Ben Solo that would turn him into Kylo Ren. We see it the scene through Luke’s eyes, then Ben’s, then we see the full scene and how it could’ve gone either way.
We also see how powerful both Kylo and Rey are in the Force, as they make a connection through it that allows them to talk to each other. Both think they can turn the other, and there’s a great action sequence as the two meet up and battle together against a room full of guards.
Meanwhile Finn (John Boyega) meets a Rebel engineer by the name of Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) who partners up with him on a mission to infiltrate a First Order ship to destroy a tracker beacon. They hook up with a shady codebreaker (Benicio del Toro) on a casino planet, where they also manage to plant tiny seeds of rebellion.
This storyline provides most of the humor of the film, as does a new character: The Porgs. I know there was a lot of backlash ahead of time for them being cute, but hey, all aliens can’t be ugly. And the Porgs kind of grow on you….as Chewie finds out.
And then there’s General Leia, leading the rebellion with a heart heavy with loss. She has to contend with an impulsive Poe, as well as a new character, Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern), who plays a pivotal, completely bad-ass role in wiping out a First Order Fleet to protect what is left of the rebels.
But while the title of the film is The Last Jedi, it’s not exactly the end the Jedi, but more the end of the Jedi as we knew them. Or as Luke utters more than once during the film, “This isn’t going to go the way you think.”
My best advice is to go into this film with no preconceived notions of character or storyline and let it work its magic. Director Rian Johnson has managed to make each of the stories exciting and actually mean something in the overall big picture.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is one of the best in the series, even if it doesn’t turn out the way you expected. Maybe especially because it doesn’t turn out the way you expected.
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Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Rating: 9 out of 10 stars
Director: Rian Johnson
Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Benicio del Toro, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie
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