Starring Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Benicio Del Toro, Domnhall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Andy Serkis, Gwendoline Christie, Laura Dern

Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the Billion-dollar film equivalent of a bail-bond; no risk. It stepped only where the original Star Wars films left footprints for it to safely navigate, and showed little to no creativity. As a result, the masses were reasonably satisfied. After the fan-infuriating prequel trilogy, Abrams had one mission, and it was to give the fans what they want. The problem though is that the truly great and iconic films  tend to catch their audiences off-guard; surprise them. Audiences go, “I loved that. I want another film just like it.” Then when another film copies it, or they make a sequel, it’s not as interesting. What audiences actually want is too be blown away again, and so, for me, if this new Star Wars trilogy was going to be worth it, the sequel, this second installment needed to veer off dramatically from the retread that was laid out in The Force Awakens. I was skeptical. I said Disney is only concerned with milking the original trilogy for all the money it can. Fortunately,  The Last Jedi comes like a kick in the head. It’s the best Star Wars film since the original trilogy.

In this Star Wars, the resistance is quickly losing what little ground they had, as the First Order sees their opportunity to go in for the kill. The rebels, basically reduced to refugees at this point, need to find a new home base, but can’t outrun the First Order. Finn and Poe Dameron, along with Rose Tico (a new character played by Kellie Marie Tran), hatch a scheme of their own to save the day, against the wishes of acting Officer in Charge, Vice Admiral Holdo (another new character played by Laura Dern). Meanwhile, Rey, who finds Luke Skywalker at the end of the previous installment, seeks to learn the ways of the Jedi, and bring Luke out of hiding to turn the tide of the war. Luke, older, weary, and haunted by an event that happened years earlier with his former pupil, Kylo Ren, resists. Not unlike previous installments, but, in my opinion, to a greater degree, The Last Jedi balances a  large number of characters and their individual quests. You have your classic characters. General Leia (Carrie Fisher in her final film), Luke Skywalker- more of an invisible presence throughout the first movie, but a major player in this one; in fact, Mark Hamill receives first billing-and then Chewie, C3P0, and R2D2. I felt the first film coasted too often on the appeal of old Star Wars movies. Specifically, I felt it faltered on the new generation of characters: Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo Ren. Rey (Ridley) was cool, but Finn was used too much for comic relief, Poe was underwritten, and Kylo Ren was like a teenage girl. The Last Jedi atones. Each actor is given their chance to shine, and they’re uniformly strong. Mark Hamill, apparently unhappy with the direction his character takes, nevertheless delivers an engrossing and moving return for the iconic Luke Skywalker. Finn is still a goofy hero, but it’s mostly endearing. Poe Dameron and Kylo Ren, played by Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver respectively, take the biggest leaps in The Last Jedi. Poe finally feels like a real, fleshed out character and Kylo Ren’s still present moodiness served a more interesting role in the story, even pushing it to some surprising places. Newcomers Benicio Del Toro and Laura Dern are award winning actors, and they go a long way to making this darker, weightier film successful.

Does The Last Jedi veer off expectations? I say so. It mainly took events that I expected and moved them ahead of schedule, making them surprising. The big reveals that The Force Awakens seemed to be setting up, fizzled in its sequel, but I was fine with that too. Fundamentalists, nitpickers, internet trolls, and people who love clichés will likely have bones to pick with this film. It took chances. It defied expectations. As a result, it’s a grand, bold, and exciting epic. You can complain about Luke’s evolution, scratch your head at his milking of a weird alien creature, but you can’t deny the awesomeness of Rey and Kylo’s duel in main antagonist Snoke’s sex-cult room (that’s what I’ve nicknamed it). I can’t wait for the finale.

-Walter Howard-

 

5 thoughts on “Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017, Directed by Rian Johnson) English 9

  1. This was a wonderful film. As a Star Wars fan, it’s interesting seeing other fans hate it. It defied expectations, which was perfect lol. Do you think you were left with more questions after the force awakens or this one?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My fault. Don’t know how I missed your comment. To answer your question, I think maybe I just care more. My questions after the Last Jedi were obviously mainly who are Rey’s parents? Will Kylo turn over to the good side? What has Luke been doing? With another entry and one that really shook up the direction I thought these films were going in, I feel like anything can happen now. And some of those original questions remain. I’m very excited.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for diagnosing so well the feelings I’m left with after movies. You have great insight and the ability to hone in on all the components of a film that contribute to its performance. Then you summarize with exactly the right words to bring clarity to us who are less skilled.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I will happily take on the role as a fundamentalist, nitpicker, internet troll, and person who loves clichés in this debate sir. So my dad and I saw this movie at Christmas and my feelings are that it was an enjoyable ride while I was watching it but the more I think about this film, the less I like it. I really don’t think the choices made here were the right ones. And I definitely don’t think it’s one of the best since the original. I think as both a film goer and a Star Wars fan there are numerous problems with this movie and I think Rian Johnson was the wrong choice to tackle this material. I don’t want to go into too much detail here. I need to write a review about this myself and get it off my chest and I’ll go into more of what I don’t like there. I will say I agree with you on the handling of the new characters from Force Awakens. The best material in this film is in the fleshing out or attempt thereof of Poe, Finn, Rey, and Kylo. Poe was probably my favorite character in the movie and I felt myself rooting for him more than anything else. Part of that might be just the fact that I felt like he didn’t get much to do in the Force Awakens. Mark Hamil was hands down the best performance in the film. Benicio and Laura Dern’s characters should have been shot out of an airlock. But I’ll get into more on that on my blog. Guess I’ve got to write a review now 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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