That feeling of know that we’re getting a Star Wars movie every year feels like a reward to a lot of people, including myself. Now, after months of wondering what will happen to our favorite characters that we known to love, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the type of science-fiction happiness we all need at this moment. Just listening to John Williams’ iconic fanfare score while reading the opening crawl felt like an escape that’s warranted.
Rey (Daisy Ridley) develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order.
The Force Awakens was the perfect movie to bring fans back into this universe with new fresh characters and story to really grab on to, and it happened to be my favorite movie of 2015. That even felt like a huge cliffhanger that we’ve wanted to figure out. With The Last Jedi coming out, of course, this was going to be my most anticipated movie of 2017 because “Star Wars” is in the name and because I’m a huge fan (even though I don’t know much from canon). Who wouldn’t get excited about this? But as excited I was, it took a lot of urge out of me not to know anything about small plot details as I only watched the first trailer and the behind-the-scenes footage from D23. And while this wasn’t my favorite in the saga, I can’t deny that this was an amazing follow-up.
Hearing that writer-director Rian Johnson was going to helm the eighth installment, there was nothing to worry about because I absolutely love Looper, as it’s both underrated and one of the best Sci-Fi movies of the decade. When you watching everything shown here, you can see his unique style in his direction and see that he’s taking this film in a new direction that probably hasn’t been done before, which makes this unpredictable. This is also the most beautiful looking film in the saga with its sweeping cinematography and well-shot action scenes. Love hearing that this didn’t go through problems on set or the director wasn’t replaced after a couple weeks of pre-production. Everything was handled perfectly with flying colors.
This picks up right where The Force Awakens left off with the story about Rey wanting Luke to train her to learn the ways of the force is entertaining enough because you have to wonder what Luke said is true, is this the time for the Jedi to end? It seemed like it was going to be similar to The Empire Strikes Back much so like some people compared Force Awakens to A New Hope. There are certainly some beats that feel familiar to other films, but Johnson was able to put all the elements together nicely. For me personally, it didn’t quite get to that level, but there will be fans who will say different.
Seeing characters from the old and new are always the bright spot for anything really. The main focus is clearly on Rey, Luke, and Kylo Ren, respectively, and they’re built up to something incredible. Others characters like Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) gets a lot more screen time, which is a huge positive because he’s too rad of a fighter pilot; Fan favorites like Chewbacca, BB-8, and R2-D2 is nothing to complain about; Laura Dern as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo is the best new character in the film; And we got ourselves some new creatures into the universe, Porgs. Not too annoying, to be honest.
Hamill returning as Luke Skywalker is a glimpse of hope. He hasn’t played this role since Return of the Jedi. This is the best performances from this character as we truly see why he went into hiding for many years on this isolated island. He and Ridley worked well together and the scenes they have with each other is perfect. If I was a member of the Academy, I would easily put Hamill into consideration. Also, I still love Ridley as Rey being the awesome badass we all knew she was before.
Adam Driver, once again, is utterly captivating as Kylo Ren. He still proves why he’s one of the best onscreen villains in a long time. We learned from the last film that he’s still in training and isn’t a complete villain. Here, he’s given such great progression with so many scenes that actually made me feel for me and understand why he’s this complex man who’s under the fall of Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis in another unbelievable mo-capture performance) leaning his apprentice to the dark side.
Seeing Carrie Fisher back as General Leia still makes me choked up inside. When she died last year, that was one of those times where I was emotionally sad about a celebrity that I loved for a long time and it’s because of her iconic character. The scenes she’s in are perfect with a performance that will always be remembered forever.
All of the action scenes were spectacular and they were some of the best I’ve seen in any Star Wars film yet. Anything involving lightsabers or actual space battles, there’s nothing that falls short of expectations. For instance, the opening battle between the Resistance and the First Order was captivating to no end. Alongside that, the visual effects always amazed me when it’s never overused.
Other things like John Williams’ score is a little bit of an improvement over the last film. And the humor here worked for what it was.
If we have to go into the problems I had with it, there’s a side plot that focuses on Finn (John Boyega) and new character Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) going to this planet called Canto Bight. Any time it cuts to them, it felt like a different movie or something and it made the pace of the film slow with its 152-minute runtime (longest Star Wars ever). Some of the moments are entertaining, but it could’ve been written a little better. And it’s sad because it was disappointment with Finn’s arc.
As it reaches the third act, there was so much to love that doesn’t disappoint. Several moments in here were unexpected without spoiling anytime. I really want to check this out a second time so I can catch anything I missed and understand it more. If I had to choose between this and The Force Awakens, as of now, The Force Awakens is the better film.
In the end, Star Wars: The Last Jedi really went in a different direction with Johnson in front of the camera. This already has the possibility of pleasing fans even though flaws may occur with this one. With news that he will be a part of a new trilogy, he’s the perfect man to help us give more of this popular franchise. From all the action, the connected story, fantastic performances, and everything else that we’ve known to love about anything related to this series (minus the prequels), it’s just a blast. We have to wait two more years for Episode IX with J.J. Abrams coming back to finish this new trilogy. If this end perfectly, then may the force be with us.
Rankings: The Empire Strikes Back, A New Hope, The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, Return of the Jedi, Rogue One, Revenge of the Sith, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones
Star Wars: The Last Jedi strengthens the saga even more with it relying on its surprising storyline and the satisfying route of characters and memorable action sequences.