Break out the lightsabers and Chewbacca costumes! Star Wars is back in a big way on the big screen. The 9th entry in the ongoing space saga is everything that a fan or viewer would want in a film. The Last Jedi is a wonderful addition to the Star Wars universe, providing us with a good story, compelling characters and scenes, epic action, and a finale that has left many fans teary-eyed as they walked out of the theater.
The Last Jedi picks up the story where Force Awakens last left us. The evil First Order is closing in on Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and what is left of the resistance fighters, the last rebel hope against the shadows of the empire. Our Jedi hopeful-to-be, Rey (Daisy Ridley), has located Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and desperately seeks his counsel to turn the tide of the war.
Without spoiling anything, there is something to be said about Mark Hamill’s performance in this film, which I honestly feel is the best of the lot. His portrayal as the hurt, broken-hearted, and reluctant Jedi Master is the greatest performance of his career as this character. His interactions with Rey, and ultimately his scenes in the final act, are worth the price of admission alone.
Hamill isn’t the only one that shines. Carrie Fisher also steals many scenes with her wit and believability in this role. Knowing that she has passed away, you can’t help but feel something every time she is on screen, and you walk away smiling that her final role was done remarkably well. Bravo to the direction of Rian Johnson and staff for doing our older characters justice and giving them plenty of significance in this film.
But enough about the old per say, because this was not your grandfather’s Star Wars. There is a lot at hand here with character development and emotional resonance in this film. In my opinion, this new series of films has produced characters that are rounded and complex. Not enough can be said about Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) when it comes to character complexity. Seeing his struggles with both the light and the dark and how that effects his decision-making, is the kind of content that truly elevates this film to one of the best in the series. Rey and Finn (John Boyega) also grow tremendously in the film, and when it’s time to get emotional, it hits the right way because so much time was spent making sure you cared about who you were watching.
Because of character decisions and development as mentioned earlier, this movie takes a lot of risks with the story and how it progresses. Characters don’t just behave as expected, certain missions don’t magically go as planned, and not everything is resolved in a nice bow, which leaves us wanting more. The action sequences are excellent, showcasing innovative ways to fight with light sabers and space ships to boot. These sequences are sure to satisfy anyone who loves a good time at the movies.
However, for all of the narration risks that pay off in this movie, there are some flaws in the form of structural storytelling. The movie feels too long, as there was quite a bit of runtime given to Finn’s mission that could’ve been shorter (especially given the results of that mission and how it plays into the film). This scene takes a while to reach its conclusion and just feels very out-of-pace with everything else that is going on. The movie really loses its momentum with that scene, and then hits stride once that scene is over. This tonal and structural issue is, in my opinion, the biggest flaw of the film. With that being said, you do get some memorable moments out of it. So while it isn’t completely a waste, it is a flaw nonetheless, as it seems more like plot points to give characters busy work.
Overall, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, is a must-see film. It is one of the better films of the year, and one of the best films in the Star Wars series. It takes chances and innovates, develops its new characters while still caring about the older ones, delivers some great emotional scenes, and ends with you being excited for the future. It checks every box on what a movie like this should be. The force is indeed strong with this one!
92 Light saber activations through someone’s head out of 100! (92%)
While overall the film isn't bad, it wastes so much time and energy on a major plot point that wastes time. The entirety of the middle of the film could have been avoided if someone had just put their plan on a post-it note.
19 Royal Guard battles out of 25. (76%)