Greetings sentients! The moment has finally come! After two years of waiting, the newest addition to the Star Wars saga has been released! Despite being the second-highest critically rated movie in the Star Wars saga, “The Last Jedi” has proven to be potentially the most divisive movie among fans. As such, I am sure that my loyal readers are most interested to see what I have to say about this, the eighth episode of what is known as the Skywalker Saga. So this week, I am going to give my review of the movie and next week I will be addressing the major criticisms detractors of the film have brought up. For my review, I will break the movie into its pros and cons, and finish with my final review. Both this week and next week will have major “The Last Jedi” spoilers, so read at your own risk!
This movie (as the longest Star Wars movie to date) had a pretty large number of plot lines. Poe Dameron orchestrated a mutiny during the Resistance’s escape from First Order ships. Finn and new character Rose Tico left the Resistance fleet to a luxurious casino on Canto Bight to find a master codebreaker that could help prevent the First Order from tracking the Resistance. Rey tried to convince former Jedi Master Luke Skywalker to teach her the ways of the Force. Kylo Ren faced his own past as he tried to explain his turn to the dark side to Rey, and eventually took the first few steps toward severing all his bonds to become the Supreme Leader of the First Order and the ruler of the galaxy. However, despite all of these different story lines and some somewhat slow pacing in the beginning, I feel like Rian Johnson was able to bring them all together towards the to provide a satisfactory conclusion that resulted in some major character development seen throughout the entire character list.
This movie also felt like a great nod to the audience. The final scene shows a young boy who seemed to be enslaved by a cruel stable owner use the Force to grab a broom. Before the credits began rolling the child stepped out and looked up to the night sky with its infinite stars and held the broom out like a lightsaber. This seemed like a huge acknowledgement to those of us who grew up with Star Wars, pretending to be Luke Skywalker facing down the Empire. It also fit one of the major themes of this movie: that anyone can be a hero, and I think that in this day and age filled with injustice, cruelty, and just downright meanness that that is a theme we can all get behind.
Furthermore, this movie explained a lot about and added to canon in some pretty cool ways. From showing a solid example of how astromechs repair X-Wings from the astromech port, to a very moving description and explanation of the Force. This movie also (through Luke Skywalker) did a solid job of explaining the problems with and the failings of the Jedi Order, as well as beginning to explain what Luke Skywalker had been up to between “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens.”
Finally, upon entering the theater, I thought I had a pretty solid idea of what was going to happen. Clearly, Luke was going to train Rey after revealing that Rey was really the daughter of someone important. We were going to see Kylo Ren continue training under Snoke’s tutelage as we learned about Snoke’s past. The movie was going to culminate with a huge battle against some AT-M6 walkers that ended with the Resistance snagging a victory at the very last second. Funny thing about “The Last Jedi,” none of that happened. It has been a long time since I have seen a movie that surprised me as much as “The Last Jedi,” and I have never been happier. I watched as a weary, regretful Luke Skywalker insisted to an eager Rey that the galaxy did not need another Jedi, and it most certainly did not need Luke Skywalker. I watched as Kylo Ren killed Snoke with little hesitation, and worked with Rey, daughter of a couple of dirty scavengers, to defeat Snoke’s Praetorian Guards before Rey rejected an emotionally distraught Kylo Ren’s offer to join him at his side. I watched as the Resistance failed to stop the First Order at every turn, the movie ending with the entirety of the rebellious organization able to fit on the Millennium Falcon, surviving only due to the sacrifice and last action of Luke Skywalker, who had finally found a reason to join the fight. Similar to “The Empire Strikes Back,” “The Last Jedi” is a movie about failure. But the failures of all these characters ultimately made them more interesting. Luke Skywalker was not some all-powerful deity, but instead he was a Jedi whose momentary failure led to the birth of Kylo Ren. Poe Dameron, despite being the best Resistance pilot, had to learn that blowing stuff up in an X-Wing is not always the solution. Kylo Ren was not some terrifying, pure evil monster, but instead a conflicted boy whose previous master had seemingly betrayed him. This movie took every overplayed Star Wars trope, and flipped it around in the best way possible.
As a result of the large number of plot lines in this movie, there were some problems with the pacing, especially at the beginning. For example, one of the main plot points was that the Resistance had to keep flying in real space away from the First Order due to a lack of fuel for multiple hyperspace jumps and the First Order’s ability to track the Resistance fleet through hyperspace. What this ultimately led to was a seemingly slow-motion chase through space, which was not exactly the most thrilling thing to watch, and often the movie cut from high-tension moments to this slow-moving drama, which kind of brought me out of the moment while I was watching the movie.
There was also a large amount of humor in this movie. While a lot of it felt true to the characters and the saga as a whole, a fair amount of the humor seemed somewhat unnecessary, and often detracted from the meaningfulness of a scene, serving to bring the viewers out of the moment. This is something that I have noticed a lot in movies lately, especially the Marvel cinematic universe, and it’s something that I think needs to be stopped soon.
Finally, there was a VERY disturbing moment where Luke Skywalker milks an alien called a Thala-siren. It was pretty gross.
As you can probably tell by the differences in size between the two above sections, I loved “The Last Jedi.” The movie echoed “The Empire Strikes Back” in some pretty satisfactory ways, while still being a completely original movie. The characters were made more interesting because of, not in spite of, all the flaws that were shown. There were some extremely emotional moments leading to great cathartic outcomes. There was, by far, the best lightsaber battle of any Star Wars movie, and some classic starfighter action as well. The heroes were flawed, the villains were empathetic, and there was a good bit a gray shown between the black and the white. I understand that there are tons of dissenting opinions out there, but I will get to those next week. For now, I just want to say thank you Disney, Rian Johnson, and the entire cast for such a great movie!
“The Last Jedi” is currently sitting at a 91% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, making it the third-highest ranked Star Wars movie yet (first being “The Empire Strikes Back,” second being “The Force Awakens”). However, this movies has had some very negative fan reviews (currently sitting at 52%). I have heard and read a lot of complaints from fans about this movie so far, and I must say that I simply do not agree. Some detractors of this film have even developed petitions to have it struck from canon (which is absolutely absurd). These reviews have bothered me so much, that I will be dedicating next week to addressing a lot of these critiques in a post in title “A Response to the Haters.” As for this week, that’s all I have, so as always: thanks for reading, and may the Force be with you!