Over the past hour, I have sat and contemplated where I even begin with the film I just saw. Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is without a doubt the most anticipated film of 2017 and will quite possibly be the most talked about of the year as well. Over the past two years, fans of Star Wars have been anticipating the direction of where their favorite characters were going. Thanks to writer and director Rian Johnson, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is one of the most original, unique, and best Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back.
Without delving into any spoilers, The Last Jedi picks up after the events of 2015’s The Force Awakens, after a successful assault on the Starkiller base. General Leia (Carrie Fisher) and the resistance must now evacuate their current hideout before the First Order arrives at their base to eliminate them. Meanwhile, the end of Force Awakens showed Rey (Daisy Ridley) having found Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) who had been in hiding since Kylo-Ren’s turn to the dark side. As seen in the trailers, Rey hopes that Luke will not only train her but also assist in helping her understand why she is so strong with the Force and that he will give her an insight into her abilities that will assist her in her path to either the dark side or the light.
The basis of the plot noted, The Last Jedi is a film that you must stop and think about after viewing it. A film that while the longest in the franchise’s history at 2 hours 32 minutes is quite possibly its fastest paced in its 40 years. From beginning to end, Rian Johnson lays out a plot that keeps fans at the edge of their seats. Usually, when glancing at my phone to look at the time, it’s because of the lack of entertainment value, however, this goes the other way around. This time, I glanced hoping there was still more time left in this magnificent film.
Outside of The Empire Strikes Back, The Last Jedi may be the best overall performances by the ensemble in its film history. From the latest editions to the franchise, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis and John Boyega, to legends of the franchise, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill, The Last Jedi’s cast’s performances consistently maneuver from good to great.
Is The Last Jedi a “remake” of The Empire Strikes Back?
As a big fan of The Force Awakens and I for one failed to join the club of those that felt it was a rehash of A New Hope. That being said, while there were some callbacks to New Hope in Force Awakens, The Last Jedi’s only call back to Empire was its darker tone. Other than that, The Last Jedi goes in directions no one expected, and I for one absolutely loved every second of it. Those who were bitching and moaning on social media about the lack of originality in The Force Awakens have already taken to social media about this film saying it’s “not a Star Wars movie” along with citing its “weirdness” and I find that quite adorable. It truly shows that no matter what, there will plenty of “fans” that will always find something to complain about.
A big bright spot for me was Lucasfilm and Disney having faith in Rian Johnson to not silence his vision. Directors tend to lose their voice in this big-budget franchise entries and instead of going the formulaic route, Johnson is given the keys the kingdom and while some find his vision, “weird and different,” my suggestion is to not be so close-minded and pick up Looper where Johnson’s brilliance is on full display. The future is bright for the Star Wars universe with Rian Johnson at the helm.
As with every Star Wars film, The Last Jedi is a technical beauty. From its battles in space to its finale on Crait, the entire film continues the franchise’s recent streak of beautifully looking films. Visual effects, sound mixing, and editing Oscar nominations should be in the film’s future. Speaking of an Oscar nomination, John Williams should be in line for yet another nomination as he has done it again with his score for The Last Jedi. It’s brilliant. Another notch to an already sparkling resume to the greatest film composer of all time.
In reading other critics reviews of this film, most are not fans of the side story between Finn and Rose. While considered filler, I did not find it as distracting as most. The Force Awakens had a similar “filler” scene with Han and Chewey and their smuggling adventures when first meeting Rey and Finn. However, Finn and Rose’s story had a purpose to the eventual end game of the film, therefore, it did not harm the film in my eyes.
Finally, we have come to the Porgs. I am happy to report that they are not the Jar Jar Binks of the new trilogy. Quite frankly, they are in just enough to stay adorable and become a fan favorite among the kids.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi was everything I hoped for and more. While rating it just a few hours after leaving the theater would be quite irresponsible on my part, the film is certainly the best in the franchise since The Empire Strikes Back and its twists and turns are quite frankly some of the best in the Star Wars lore.
Reel Talk gives Star Wars: VIII – The Last Jedi 4 Reels