Star Wars: The Last Jedi

There seems to be a disparity of opinions between many Star Wars fans, and movie critics who unanimously admire the latest episode in the beloved fantasy saga Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the second film in the third trilogy. The reasons why many of the hardcore fans are complaining about The Last Jedi are the very same reasons the critics are praising it.

Yes it’s true, here as with The Force Awakens (2015), classic characters are being killed off to make way for new ones, which can be disappointing for older fans. But The Last Jedi still feels as epic and nostalgic as the previous films, integrating many familiar elements from both The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983) but giving them a fresh new vibrant look and feel. 

This film may not be the best in the series but it comes close. There are problems and some story elements did not quite work for me, but let’s not forget that Star Wars is an evolving franchise and all the films had their own unique problems that didn’t quite work for everyone. The Ewoks for example were loved by younger fans and hated by others.

What made the original films so compelling to generations of kids and adults was the human story and the rare pairing of the three lead cast members Mark Hamill (Luke), Carrie Fisher (Leia) and Harrison Ford (Han) who created such a strong chemistry between them that has never been matched since. This new sequel trilogy and the previous prequel trilogy inevitably suffer from the lack of anything approaching that kind of chemistry, and the older versions of the original characters are not given enough screen time together to rekindle that magic. 

But having said that, The Last Jedi does get enough things right; revisiting iconic lore while taking some big risks by introducing us to new characters and expanding our understanding of Jedi concepts and powers, to make it more than a worthy entry in the saga. As a sequel to The Force Awakens it does an excellent job of advancing the story into new directions. As the middle part of the sequel trilogy it leaves our heroes and the Resistance in a precarious and diminished state barely escaping annihilation at great cost.

Much like The Empire Strikes Back (1980), The Last Jedi is a bittersweet experience with startling revelations and a darker tone from the previous film. It starts with the hurried evacuation of the Resistance hidden base when they are discovered by the First Order. Rey (Daisy Ridley) has left the Resistance base to find Jedi master Luke Skywalker to learn more about the Force and it’s left up to Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and BB-8 to defend the Rebel fleet.

New characters are introduced in the form of Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), a Resistance technician and new love interest for Finn, DJ (Benicio Del Toro) a code breaker who will work for anyone who pays him, and enough new aliens to satisfy the most hardcore geeks.

The Last Jedi also leaves us with many unanswered questions as to the fate of the First Order and The Resistance, both sides having lost important leaders in their cause. It will be interesting to see what direction the story will take in the next and third part of the trilogy.

Visually writer/director Rian Johnson - Looper (2012) successfully captures the look and feel of the best of the original films being filmed in actual otherworldly location around the world; The Island of Skellig Michael, Ireland, Dubrovnik, Croatia and the salt flats of Bolivia.

One of the problems that some fans have pointed to in the film is that the film tries to do too much in an attempt to please everyone. The Last Jedi is a clever balancing act that takes dramatically heavy and sometimes sad moments and quickly downplays them with terse visual jokes, some would say to the detriment of the seriousness of the moment.

Overall though, The Last Jedi has great pacing and incredible visually stunning set pieces that will thrill and satisfy most viewers with excellent performances from Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver as well as the rest of the cast.


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