Directed by: Rian Johnson (Looper)
Starring: Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Laura Dern, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Billie Lourd, Andy Serkis, Anthony Daniels, Lupita Nyong’o and Benicio Del Toro.
I am an unabashed Star Wars fan, I re-watched all of the films in anticipation for The Last Jedi, and even started watching the animated TV show The Clone Wars. The last few months I have subjected myself to a small media blackout in order to avoid spoilers. I only watched the first trailer that was released for The Last Jedi. I am a part of several Star Wars fan groups, I blocked those groups until yesterday, when I had finally seen the film.
I left the theatre with my own feelings on the film, like I always do, and let my experience marinate in my mind. Well I couldn’t sleep, partly out of sheer excitement in just having seen a new Star Wars movie. I unblocked the Star Wars groups and was I in for a surprise. Not only was there a large number of people bashing the film, I no longer wanted to be a part of one of the groups because of the sheer misogyny and prejudice from full grown men. Full … Grown … ADULT … MEN!
The misogyny aside, some in the group had huge issues with the films characters and the way they were portrayed, mainly Luke Skywalker. Most of these I just can’t get behind, a Films main goal shouldn’t be to service it’s fan base completely.
Now to depart from what others feel about TLJ, and on to what I feel about the film.
If you haven’t seen The Last Jedi I will most likely get into spoilers but I will warn when it is no longer safe to read on. Rey (Daisy Ridley) has arrived to the planet Anch-To, where Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) now resides. Luke has been in hiding for six years after Ben Solo (Adam Driver), son of Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Han (Harrison Ford), was drawn to the dark side, and Luke blames himself. Rey wants the legendary Jedi to train her in the ways of the force, and to come back and fight for The Resistance.
Meanwhile, General Leia Organa and the Resistance are evacuating their base on D’Qar as The First Order has begun an attack on the planet. Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) launches an attack while Leia, Finn (John Boyega), BB-8 and the rest of the Resistance try and escape.
The Last Jedi is the second film in this new trilogy, The Force Awakens being the first. While I enjoyed the first film, I gave it more of a pass than I probably should have, I was more or less excited to see the characters back on the screen. The Force Awakens introduced interesting new characters, but relied heavily on past films in its storytelling.
Writer and director Rian Johnson heard the criticism of the first film and created something vastly different; for better or for worse. Johnson’s film does leave some plot holes from the first film, that fanboys and myself have noticed, that I’ll delve into a bit later, but overall he’s created a fine addition to the Star Wars catalogue.
The film deals heavily with failure and the many different ways we deal with or how we handle our failures. Luke feels as if he failed Ben Solo/Kylo Ren, its revealed in this film that once Luke realized Ben was falling to the dark side he considered killing his nephew in order to prevent him going deeper towards the dark side. Unfortunately Luke’s momentarily lapse of judgement sent Ben over the edge, he murdered most of his fellow students where Luke was training others in the way of the force, and he became Kylo Ren, joining the evil Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). Many fans have made it known that Luke even having the notion to kill his nephew is unlike his character. It may be unlike the soft-hearted Luke we knew, but Luke had this thought for a reason, because of the things he’s seen in his past; to me it felt authentic.
Luke has dealt with his failures by running, hiding in a place no one would ever be able to find him. Now, the resistance needs him and R2-D2 has offered up the final piece of the map, the droid, Chewbacca and Rey are on the island but Luke, with his failures & his past make him unwilling to leave the island to help the resistance, or train Rey. To see our hero so beaten and broken is a different sight for fans of Luke Skywalker.
Eventually, with the help of an old friend, Luke learns from his failure. The film is ripe with lessons of failure and how different people handle failure. Poe is an example of someone just learning about failure, while Leia HAS learned from her failures and is trying to teach Poe some valuable lessons with what she has experienced in her lifetime.
but there is another message this wonderful film holds that speaks to fans. It’s a message that we are familiar with: Hope.
As I stated before, the resistance is under attack from the first order. The Resistance has begun to evacuate their base on D’Qar when The First Order attacks. The First Order causes some damage before The Resistance is able to jump into hyperspace, but when The Resistance think they’re safe, it’s revealed that the F.O. is able to track through hyperspace. For much of the remainder of the film, the Resistance is under attack and taking many losses. Finn, BB-8 and Newcomer Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) escape in order to find a master code breaker that can help them disable the hyperspace tracking device. The mission brings them to a Canto-bight casino on the planet Cantonica, there they find a “wretched hive of scum and villainy”, the rich & the famous. The city is full of children in slavery and creatures being brutalized, all for the pleasure of the elite.
It’s hard not to see this as an allegory to the world we are living in, I’d rather not get political here, but the Resistance being beaten down continuously as the First Order tries to obtain brutal dominance over the free galaxy. Finn & Rose mingle among the one per-centers who aren’t concerned with the plight of the world around them, only themselves…
The final moments of the movie offer us some hope, After losing Many characters (Holdo, Ackbar, and others) it’s hard not to feel it coursing through you as our beloved Luke Skywalker appears to help take on the First Order.
Hope as our very small handful of survivors make their way to the Millennium falcon, where they rejoice as they are able to escape the clutches of the first order.
Hope, as we see a small slave boy reach out with the force in order for a broom to land in his outstretched hand, revealing that Rey may not be the “Last Jedi”.
So, I loved the story, it was engrossing, fun, smart, and joyous. I’m (almost) thrilled that Rian Johnson will be helming a new trilogy in the Star Wars franchise, but he’s so talented I’d rather see him make more original works like Looper.
As I said earlier, I can’t get behind some of my fellow Star Wars fans issues with the film. People are focusing in on technical flaws in a science fiction Star Wars films. They have issues with the fact that the bomber at the beginning of the film could drop bombs in zero gravity, and issues with the fact that the First Order has figured out hyperspace tracking. While this could have been explained with a simple line of dialogue, it doesn’t need to be. End of story.
Fans are upset because they had theories, they wanted things to go a certain way and they didn’t. Snoke didn’t turn out to be Darth Sidious/Palpatine/etc. and Rey’s parents weren’t Solos, Kenobi’s or Skywalker’s.
Fans had questions from The Force Awakens that weren’t answered. How did Maz Kanata get Luke’s Lightsaber? Who is Snoke (if anyone)? Who (and Where) are the Knights of Ren? How did Kylo Ren have Darth Vaders helmet.
We should be happy that Rian Johnson and the people behind Star Wars allowed for good storytelling to happen, not just fan servicing. The “Backlash” over the film may push Disney towards more fan service, the re-hiring of J.J. Abrams leads me to believe that. I wouldn’t be surprised if we learn more about Snoke’s background and Rey’s parents turn out to be someone of note in Episode 9.
I have some issues with The Last Jedi, It would be an A+ If I didn’t, but the issues are minor. I found the humor to be a bit more childish, and some scenes meant for humor are unnecessarily included. I laughed twice, and I didn’t mind the Porgs, They were cute and harmless.
The subplot with Finn and Rose heading to the Canto-Bight Casino didn’t lead anywhere, and while it was entertaining and did introduce the force sensitive child, it didn’t help our heroes in the end. Benicio Del Toro’s new character DJ was interesting and played well but didn’t amount to anything of importance. I don’t find Finn to be an entirely intriguing character, and pairing her with newcomer Rose, another character who I wasn’t entirely invested in, wasn’t a smart option.
Who I did find intriguing was Admiral Holdo, played wonderfully by Laura Dern, her character was epic and intriguing. A mutiny was started on a resistance ship under her command, all she would have had to do was reveal her plan/end-goal to Poe and the mutiny wouldn’t have happened. It’s a minor flaw though, one that we can chalk up to her inexperience during her brief time as Admiral, or maybe Poe was being an arrogant, cocky boy and she didn’t feel the need to tell him.
The Last Jedi is easily the best Star Wars film since the original trilogy, and a terrific send off for our princess, our General, Carrie Fisher. I have hope for the finale in this trilogy, and for Rian Johnson’s future trilogy. May the Force be with you.
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