It’s here! THE LAST JEDI is finally here!
Naturally, my family and I were in line for the first showing then I went to see it in 3D this morning. Yes, like a true Star Wars nut, I saw the movie twice before it had been out for 24 hours. Since everyone knows that Santa shits in the stockings of people who support spoilers, I’ll split this review into two parts: spoiler-free and spoiler-filled. The latter portion will have much more substance because it’ll be a challenge to write much about it without getting into specifics. There won’t be any spoiler pictures either in case someone accidentally scrolls too far. If you read beyond my warnings, then that’s on you.
Rian Johnson’s first entry into the Star Wars saga takes place immediately after the events of THE FORCE AWAKENS. Even though the two films are remarkably different, the connective tissue between them is undeniable. The bulk of characters are familiar with a few new additions. Introducing new characters into such a widely defined universe is a challenging feat. Shortchanging character development is difficult to avoid in this scenario, yet, I feel like THE LAST JEDI gave an appropriate amount of attention to everyone who needed it. Visuals in the movie are absolutely stunning. The bar for visual effects has always been high for Star Wars but this installment features breathtaking scenes from start to finish.
One refreshing factor throughout the film is a prevalence of laugh-out-loud moments that never felt forced or misplaced. Reviewer curmudgeons have predictably denounced the humor and certain “risks” taken by Johnson. I feel strongly that the aspects they’re speaking against are what make this the best of the Star Wars movies. That’s right, I said it…. My second viewing today cemented my opinion that THE LAST JEDI narrowly tops EMPIRE as the best Star Wars film. It has humor and ample heart. My stomach bubbled with anxiety for some characters while ‘the feels’ tugged at my tear ducts in other moments. No movie is perfect, but this lifelong Star Wars fan feels like THE LAST JEDI comes pretty darn close.
My final review of STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI is 9.89 out of 10.
HERE COME THE SPOILERS!
FINAL WARNING FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN THE LAST JEDI
I think I’ll break this into bullet points because if you’re reading this it means you’ve hopefully watched the film (if not then SHAME ON YOU). Assuming you have watched it, I don’t need to rehash the plot because it’s been circling your thoughts ever since you left the theater. So we’ll call these “review points” which are in no particular order other than how they pop into my brain as I try to remember to movie.
- The technology of the First Order is totally bad ass. Seeing the Dreadnought at the beginning really set the tone for how screwed the Resistance is. The Star Killer Base was cool and all Snoke’s gargantuan ship the Supremacy is fantastic. I loved seeing how it dwarfed everything else on screen. Kylo Ren’s Tie Silencer definitely deserved more screen time than it got. Hopefully we’ll see him use it in a full-fledged space battle later.
- Mark Hamill perfectly sold the current mindset we find Luke in. You could see the character we know and love beneath a tortured soul trying to hide from the world as much as he was hiding from himself.
- The Porgs were great! Their various interactions were cute without being overused.
- I’m glad they didn’t show a funeral for Han. His loss is still clearly felt (poor Chewie) while not being forced on us they way a funeral scene would.
- All the various inhabitants of Ahch-To were fun. The Caretakers especially were entertaining. I can only imagine the many interactions Luke had with them where they merely tolerated his presence.
- The bridging of Rey and Kylo Ren through the Force was interesting. At first I was resistant to the newer abilities we’re seeing from the Force (like Kylo’s mind reading and stopping a blaster bolt in TFA) but I’ve since warmed up to them. It’s especially interesting to think about once we learned that it was Snoke who connected the two. If he was that powerful, then what else could he do? On that note…
- Snoke…. I’m torn here (no pun intended). I wasn’t expecting him to die in this film. As much as I’d like to hear more about the origins such a mysterious character, I appreciate that the mystery adds to the inherent terror a creature of his power-level deserves. It’s entirely possible that we’ll learn more about him in Episode IX but I doubt it. With that said, Marvel would be remiss if they pass up the opportunity to expand on his history with their comics.
- I freakin’ love the Supreme Leader’s Praetorian guards. Everything from their red armor to their varied blade/energy weapons made them completely bad ass. I hope Kylo Ren hires a new batch for his time as Supreme Leader and invests in a generous workers comp program.
- Another topic I’m torn on is the Canto Bight sequences… Story wise, they probably could have done without it even though it broke up the doom and gloom situation of the Resistance fleet. At the same time, it provided a nice contrast to the grungy Star Wars world we normally see. It was also neat to see the variety of creatures that count themselves among the Galaxy’s elite.
- Holy shit, YODA! It was fantastic to have Frank Oz return as Yoda’s spunky Force ghost. His inclusion was a perfect surprise.
- My least favorite part of the movie was the sequence where Leia gets blown into space. I get that it shows how strong her connection with the Force is, but, didn’t we already have a sense of that? I’m actually surprised Rian Johnson didn’t use the scene as a way to put her character to rest (a requirement that I wish wasn’t ever necessary).
- I liked Admiral Holdo a lot. The character had a certain presence about her that was well suited to the unenviable task she was given. It helps that Laura Dern is a great actress (nice too because I met her!).
- Rose was sweet. Her chemistry with Finn was believable. I’m excited to see how things evolve between them in the next movie!
- The scene where Holdo jumps the Resistance cruiser to a kamikaze course through the First Order armada was breathtaking. Using silence and a different color scheme was a brilliant technique to show how unthinkably cataclysmic her heroic move ended up being. Fun fact – I’m guessing people bitched to theater management saying there was a problem with the audio because on my second viewing this morning I saw a sign outside the theater advising people that the movie contains a “creative silence” at some point. <insert eye roll>
- I’m fine with the reveal that Rey’s parents were essentially no one. Not everyone needs to be part of some huge lineage. Part of the magic of Star Wars is the thought that anyone can rise to be a hero with the ability to impact the entire galaxy. With that in mind, why would Rey need to have some predictable heritage?
- Crait is an amazing looking planet. I’ve never seen anything like the effect of red bursting from the white with every blaster strike. It was a proper homage to the Battle of Hoth while being beautifully unique at the same time.
- The “David and Goliath” feeling that came from the Battle of Crait was fantastic. There was a palpable dread that came from seeing the Ski Speeders heading to the fearsome wall of AT-M6 walkers and the surprisingly smaller AT-AT’s at their feet.
- “They really hate that ship!” Awesome moment.
- General Hux is such a little bitch. It was fun to see him get thrown around by Snoke and Kylo.
- Luke and Leia’s reunion was very sweet. It makes me sad that we’ll never get that again.
- I was a bit baffled by portions of Luke’s Force projection distraction at first. On the second go around I watched closer and saw that he truly never connected with Kylo in any way during their fight. It makes sense in hindsight but on the initial-totally-overwhelmed viewing I missed it.
- Did Luke HAVE to die? That was my one pre-viewing prediction that was correct. I understand why but mourn nonetheless… His ending was perfectly executed. It was meaningful, impactful, and above all, peaceful. Luke Skywalker deserved such an ending. He’d better be back later as a Force ghost!!
- The ancient Jedi texts were NOT lost. I noticed it the first time and watched for it the second – the books in the drawer in the final scene when Finn gets a blanket for Rose had the same spines as the ones we see in the old Force tree library.
- How great was that ending? It was hopeful with greater implications for the entire Star Wars universe. I’m excited to see what other Force-sensitive members of the downtrodden will rise to the spot light in the coming movies.
- Bonus thought – see it in 3D. I really believe that it’s worth the ticket price. You’re not missing anything seeing it in standard definition (as my first viewing was) but the 3D adds a deserving depth the the spectacle.
So there you have it. Those are just some of my thoughts. I’m sure I’ll have more after the next time I see it (and there will be a next time!). Rian Johnson has earned his place at the helm of a new trilogy. I have faith he’ll deliver because like us, he’s a die hard fan.
There will always be haters. In the process of writing this I came across a few posts from people voicing opposition. I think any outcry we hear from fans turning against it really went into the theater ready to hate it. If you’re like me, and went in eager to adore it, then you’ll come out thrilled. After all, it’s STAR WARS at its best and this is a wondrous time to be a fan of these stories from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.