Star Wars: The Last Jedi
By: Arlene Allen
Sit down and strap yourself in for one amazing movie and for a review that hopes to do justice to an amazing movie. I’m part of that lucky generation that has been able to see every Star Wars film in the theater as they’ve been released and I left the theater after seeing The Last Jedi feeling just like I did on that day in 1977 when I saw what is now known as A New Hope: like my whole world had changed. Yes, it’s that good. It’s as good as The Empire Strikes Back. I’m even willing to go out on a limb and say this is the best Star Wars film of them all (good luck to whoever is writing/directing Episode IX).
Will I answer all of your questions in this review? I hope not because I really want you to see this film. Does this film answer all of your questions? That’s a maybe. If you watched the trailers, just know you were played because they are all entirely out of context. If you didn’t watch the trailers you really got played because you get exactly as much out of the film as if you had watched them without the joy of seeing your favorite faces on screen. I’m going to give you one very small spoiler regarding Carrie Fisher and Princess Leia’s fate in the last sentence of this review, so you can skip it if you’d like, but that’s the only revelation you’re getting because you really, really need to see this film.
The movie puts us right into the adventure from the opening moments, when the rebel fleet is engaged with General Hux’s army. Poe (Oscar Isaac) is being a smart-mouthed hot-shot pilot, but his actions come at a cost (don’t they always). General Organa (Carrie Fisher) is trying her best to keep the spirits of the Resistance from flagging. Finn (John Boyega) is worried about Rey (Daisy Ridley). Rey, of course, is on a remote island and worried about Luke (Mark Hamill), who is refusing to teach her anything about the Force, refusing to help his sister or the Resistance and nattering on about how the Jedi must be destroyed. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is still being insulted, demeaned and kicked around like a dog by Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), but is also still strangely connected to Rey.
The rebels pool their resources and head for somewhere they think they’ll be safe for awhile. Rey persists on the island, shadowing Luke’s every move. It’s here we meet the porgs. Love them or hate them as you will, but they are cute. And unlike the Ewoks, they are organic to the planet and the storyline. They’re just little prey animals on the island, nothing more and nothing less. The relationship they build with Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) is riotous. Finn tries to do something reckless to help Rey, again, but he’s busted by the gutsy mechanic Rose (Kelly Marie Tran). When the rebels find out they’re being tracked by Snoke and Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), Finn and Rose set out to find a code breaker who can help them disable the tracking device (like that can’t possibly go wrong).
Finn and Rose end up on Canto Bight, a Monte Carlo type city with a cantina on crack (you will even hear the famous cantina song in the background). They are looking for the world’s best code breaker, but end up with DJ (Benicio Del Toro) who is…something. Yeah, he’s something alright. This is a great sequence and actually one of great significance later on. Rose is a great character, a wonderful addition to the next generation of Star Wars heroes.
Rey and Kylo. Luke and Rey. Finn and Rose. Poe, Leia and the rebels. Remember to breathe. Remember to bring a jar to put quarters in every time your jaw hits the ground. You’ll need them for the ER visit after. Also, remember to bring tissues. You will need them.
That’s a whole lot of action to follow, but writer/director Rian Johnson handles it well. You sit on the edge of your seat for the entire two hours and thirty minutes of the film (And still go wait, what? It can’t end here). You don’t want the sequence to end, but then when the next sequence starts you don’t want that one to end either.
The last few Star Wars films have been very dark (Rogue One was a complete gloomfest), but this has a whole bunch of lighter moments. Sure, it’s Star Wars and the jokes are corny, but it keeps the film bright and from not falling into darkness. In the end, Star Wars is and always has been about hope and Johnson reminds us of this.
Some people will say that Johnson has just remade episodes IV, V and VI. And while there are elements of all of those films in this movie, it is not a redundancy. It’s part homage — especially to The Empire Strikes Back — but it’s also a story that is coming full circle. As it was in the beginning, so it shall be in the end, as it were. You can tell that Johnson really loves Star Wars, has probably watched these films dozens and dozens of times and knows these characters as if they were his own family. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is his love song to the Skywalker Saga.
Of course, there will be haters and I’m sure on second and third viewings even I will start to pick things apart. There are indeed scenes sure to cause controversy and fan wars, but that is also part of the Star Wars magic. It speaks volumes saying this is a film you will want to see again and again, just to find things to pick apart and argue about! This film is the very definition of “gosh wow.”
The cinematography is, put bluntly, astounding. It exceeds expectations even for Lucasfilms and ILM. I can’t give you specific examples without giving you spoilers, but you will know those moments because I guarantee you will be wide eyed and muttering “Holy sh*t.” Yes, it’s that good. Star Wars has pretty much been snubbed by the Oscars for the last forty years and I don’t expect anything to change now, but I hope the cinematography and special effects gets a nod; it deserves it.
I highly recommend this film. If you’re a Star Wars film fan, it’s a must see. In my opinion, it’s the best of all of the Star Wars films to come out since Return of the Jedi.
As promised, here is your Carrie Fisher spoiler. Look away now if you don’t want to know…
Yes, Leia is alive at the end of the film. Yes, the film is dedicated to her. How could it not have been?
*Special Thanks to Sara Garcia for her assistance*