A spoiler-free review by Jordan Simmons
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the long-awaited eighth film (ninth if you include the 2016 spin-off Rogue One) of the Star Wars saga, and despite all the concerns that have recently surrounded the new entry, and the franchise as a whole- from the ever-growing list of fired directors working on spin-off projects (four at the time of writing), to Carrie Fisher’s untimely death, it is safe to say that Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a more-than-worthy entry and a fantastic film overall.
The prequels relied on nostalgia, and backstories to familiar characters. Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One relied heavily on A New Hope, and overall banked on the format and plot-structure of the very first entry. The Last Jedi delivers us a genuine step-forward that is not only formula-breaking, but cements its place as the most original and exciting Star Wars tale since the Original Trilogy. Any fears that The Last Jedi would copy The Empire Strikes Back can be put to rest, because despite a few similarities in reference and tone The Last Jedi is very much its own self-contained story, and sets itself apart from the other sequels significantly.
As a Rian Johnson skeptic, I was worried immensely as to what he may bring to a saga I love — as I have not been a fan of his previous works. However, I am pleased to say that The Last Jedi is heart-pumping and emotional, as it is the most unpredictable entry since the Original Trilogy. Every twist and turn our characters take we feel ten-fold, and for an entry as shocking as this, that’s a lot of emotion.
Each character introduced in The Force Awakens is given their own story thread; Finn (John Boyega) teams up with a mechanic named Rose (played by the adorable newcomer Kelly Marie Tran) who are sent off-base to recruit a code breaker, Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) has to deal with the strong-willed Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern), and Rey (Daisy Ridley) finally meets the long-missing Luke Skywalker (Star Wars veteran, Mark Hamill). Through these threads we get a greater understanding of how different sections of the galaxy are functioning under the totalitarian rule of the First Order.
Each of the three quests are entertaining to watch but unfortunately the most anticipated one falls short as the least interesting; Rey’s arc with Luke Skywalker is driven almost entirely by dialogue and to make matters worse is that if you were a critic of Rey’s ability to do literally everything in The Force Awakens then you’ll probably be frustrated to know that that trend continues, as Rey gets more and more OP by the entry. I’m talking Starkiller-level OP.
In the case of the Original Trio, or duo (long live Han Solo), Carrie Fisher’s performance in The Last Jedi is a very fitting final performance, as we get to spend a good amount of time with her, and as she takes on a more significant role in comparison to The Force Awakens.
Mark Hamill makes a triumphant return as Luke Skywalker, and the time we spend with him brings back some heavy nostalgia- though his performance can become overly-shakespearean. Unfortunately, I found that Daisy Ridley bogged their scenes down. While Ridley is a decent actress, her line delivery is often flat at times and it feels like she’s reading from a big cue card just off-camera- to be fair though the scripts occasional flimsy dialogue may not have helped.
Poe Dameron takes on a significant role in contrast to the previous film but while Oscar Isaac’s beautifully styled haircut is distracting, Isaac himself never fully steals the scene as he is consistently paired up with both Carrie Fisher’s General/Princess Leia and Laura Dern’s Vice Admiral Holdo who both give powerhouse performances in tandem to Isaac’s. Overall as a trio in arms and conflict Poe, Holdo, and Leia stand out significantly in comparison to Luke and Rey.
Finn and Rose’s story is the only “A to B” adventure in the film but it is handled well and it does a good job at helping cement future relationships and plot lines.
And I’m sorry to say to all the StormPilot (Finn/Poe) shippers that you will be disappointed. They’ve largely been separated and when they are together their relationship, whether you think it’s bromance or romance, is tiptoed around and brushed aside. It is safe to say that while this sequel trilogy has done wonders for diversity it is yet to take a single step forward for the LGBTQ+ community.*
The Last Jedi displays some of the best cinematography and visual design of all the Star Wars movies, and you could expect to see a good portion of this film featured on the OnePerfectShot twitter page in the new year, as there are so many poster-worthy shots.
The Last Jedi also employs one of the better scores of the saga, again with John Williams as the driving-force. The Last Jedi score is absolutely fantastic and a huge step-up from The Force Awakens which I personally found to be an overall disappointment considering how much I admire Williams.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi may not answer all (if any) of your questions that had arisen when The Force Awakens came to us in 2015 but it should at least leave you satisfied for now and leave you looking forward to 2019’s ninth episode in the famous Skywalker Saga.
I give Star Wars: The Last Jedi a 9/10
Editor: Ricardo Biramontes
*Though they’re not really main characters, any fan wishing to see some LGBTQ+ representation in the Star Wars galaxy can turn to the Star Wars novels, as Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp, and the Star Wars: Aftermath Trilogy by Chuck Wendig both feature gay characters.