In A Galaxy Revisited
2017 has been a good cinematic year for geeks, nerds, and pop culture addicts. Logan, Wonder Woman, Alien: Covenant, Kong: Skull Island, Justice League, and Spider-Man: Homecoming are just a few of the films that graced the silver screen this year. Heck, even Netflix delivered with its most expensive film production to date, the Will Smith vehicle called Bright (which I highly recommend). But of all of these films that we’ve been offered this year, none of them were as highly anticipated as Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
When we last visited the Star Wars trilogy of trilogies, Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) set out to find Luke Skywalker, Han was murdered by that no good, tantrum throwing Kylo Ren, and the First Order lost their shiny new Starkiller Base. Finn was almost killed by, you guessed it, that bratty Kylo Ren, and Mark Hamill made more money with one stare than you or I will ever make in a lifetime.
Which leads us to The Last Jedi.
(Note: Spoilers are coming, but not before my general review.)
The film opens with the Resistance in shambles and the First Order hot on their trail. The Resistance has run out of almost everything and are hoping that Rey and Chewie return with Luke Skywalker, their “only hope” for victory. As the film rolls along at a much slower (but intentional) pace than every other film in the Star Wars universe, Finn and a new character, Rose, head out to find a code breaker to complete their subplot mission while General Leia tries to hold the rebellion together long enough for Luke’s return. Poe goes full wildcard on his friends in another subplot and Kylo Ren reaches out to Rey in the hopes to show her just how powerful she can be with him at her side while she attempts to get trained by Master Skywalker.
As I said before, the film moves at a very slow pace when compared to the other Star Wars films, and I can see where this might turn off some of the fans of the previous films. There are also some actions taken by certain characters (I’ll get into this more in the spoiler section) and by the director, Rian Johnson, that I can definitely see as things that would sour the opinion of loyal fans of the galaxy far, far away.
But with that said, there’s a whole lot to like about this film. For starters, when the action does get going, it rolls full throttle. There are three distinct sequences in the film that were simply amazing to watch. A fourth sequence brought out the detective in me as I tried to decipher what was really going on.
For old schoolers like myself, seeing Carrie Fisher on the screen and knowing that she’s gone meant that I held back tears almost every time she appeared on screen or said anything as did seeing her with Billie Lourd, her daughter. One scene in particular hit me very hard, and I thought that it would be the end of our princess in the film.
Speaking of death in the film, Rian Johnson did an excellent job of making myself and others seriously doubt the safety of a lot of characters. That’s one of the best parts of this film in my opinion, as I never truly knew who was safe and who would be pushing up galactic daisies by the end of the film.
I also really enjoyed the addition of Laura Dern and Kelly Marie Tran to this film. I had doubts about both of them before seeing the film, but Tran really surprised me and Dern gave what was possibly the best performance in the film.
The returning cast did solid jobs as well, but I felt that John Boyega’s Finn and Oscar Isaac’s Poe were kind of forced into the script, as the actions of their characters (at least in my opinion) didn’t really amount to anything when the credits rolled. That’s not to say that either actor did a bad job in the film, I just wish that they would have been given more substantial parts in the movie.
Overall, Star Wars: The Last Jedi just seemed to be off balance for most of its run time. There were extremely wonderful peaks and deep, divisive valleys throughout the film, and one character’s actions in particular seems to have ripped the veil in the religion that is Star Wars. What’s funny is that this particular piece of Star Wars controversy didn’t bother me that much, but I’ll get to that soon enough.
The Last Jedi is definitely worth watching, but check your preconceived notions of what shoulda/coulda/woulda happened at the door. A lot of people love the film and just as many hate it. The rest of us are in the middle wondering how the next film will resolve all of the open-ended bits and pieces of this film.
That’s my general review. Below this photo of General Hux, Kylo Ren, and Captain Phasma are my views on specific and very spoiler-infested aspects of the film. Keep reading if you’ve seen the film. STOP if you haven’t watched The Last Jedi yet!
Last Warning!!! Spoilers Ahead!!!
The Last Jedi was definitely interesting to watch. The ending, which gives us a very much alive General Leia Organa, makes me wonder how her role will be played out since Carrie Fisher can no longer play the role. Was Leia’s death scene already filmed for the next movie? Perhaps she was supposed to die in place of Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) but they decided to shelf her death for the beginning of the next film. If so, that’s going to be gut-wrenching for fans like myself that could barely hold back tears when Fisher was on the screen.
Speaking of holding back tears, in the moment where Holdo decides to pilot the Raddus into Snoke’s ship at hyperspeed and she and Leia stumble over “May the Force be with you,” I legitimately shed a couple of tears. To me, that is the point in the film where Carrie Fisher truly said goodbye to her fans. I kept waiting for her to turn around and tell Holdo that she should take her place, but that never happens. I had a similar feeling when the Resistance evacuated Crait. I assumed that Leia would walk out to talk with Kylo Ren in one last attempt to save him and/or her brother, Luke, but that never happened. This more than anything makes me hungry for the next film.
I was also completely disappointed with Benicio del Toro’s role as DJ in the film. His character was completely useless in the film. Hopefully he’ll get a little more action in the next movie. The whole Canto Bight (casino planet) sequence where Finn and Rose meet DJ was not needed in my opinion. I understand that this little side adventure will most likely lead up to “a new hope” thanks to the young rebels inspired by Rose and Finn, but ultimately the only thing that this part of the film did was give Finn a reason to face off with Captain Phasma for (possibly) one last time. I really hope that this isn’t the last we see of Phasma (Gwendoline Christie), but I have my doubts about her ever returning.
In my opinion, Captain Phasma is the biggest waste in not only The Last Jedi, but in The Force Awakens as well. She towered over Finn in their battle but much like Boba Fett (and possibly intentionally like Boba Fett) did in Return of the Jedi, she went out like a chump. Gwendoline Christie deserved better in this trilogy, and I hope that she somehow managed to survive The Last Jedi.
I can’t say enough about Laura Dern’s performance in this film. I immediately assumed that she was either A) a plant for the First Order that was intentionally making bad decisions for the Resistance, or B) Supreme Leader Snoke. Seriously, there were multiple times in the film where Dern’s face made me question her true intentions. I was sad to see her die in the film, because her acting chops knocked everyone else out of the galaxy. I’ve also had a major crush on Laura Dern since I saw her in Jurassic Park, so my opinion might be a little biased. My goodness, how beautiful is that woman??????
Another high point of the film for me was Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico. Seeing her in all of the promotional material and in action figure form, I assumed that she would become what toy collector’s call a “peg warmer,” one of the characters that everyone tolerates but doesn’t really like and whose action figure will be found all alone on the peg long after the popular figures are gone.
Tran did such an excellent job with the role despite being included in a throwaway subplot with Boyega’s Finn and their escape sequence was one of my favorite in the entire film. Oh, and the two other sequences that I hinted at in my general review included the battle between Rey, Kylo Ren, and the Elite Praetorian Guard (the dudes in red around Snoke), and the “battle” that takes place between Ren and Luke Skywalker.
Speaking of that battle, when Kylo screams out for the First Order to hit Skywalker with everything and then Luke knocks a little dust off of his shoulder after the attack, I knew that something was definitely up. Sure, Luke was a powerful Jedi, but nothing like his father or even Obi-Wan Kenobi. Based on the films alone (and not on any of the old EU novels), Luke’s use of the Force extended to blowing up the first Death Star. Vader held back in the hopes that Luke would join him and ended up having to kill the Emperor himself when Luke refused to turn to the dark side. Also take into consideration that Luke had attempted to detach himself from the Force because of his screw ups, and I was left wondering if Luke was a Force ghost already or doing some high level astral projection stuff.
The battle with the Elite Praetorian Guard deserves to be right up there with some of the greatest cinematic lightsaber battles in Star Wars including Kenobi versus General Grievous, Kenobi versus Anakin Skywalker, and Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn versus Darth Maul.
Now, one thing that seems to bother a lot of people about this film is how Luke attempted to murder Kylo Ren before he could turn to the dark side. This particular plot point didn’t bother me that much. Yes, when Luke is telling the story, I got a bad feeling at first, but when he’s almost finished with the story and comes to his senses just a tad bit too late, I can absolutely believe that he’d doing something like that. Remember that Luke made a lot of quick decisions in the original trilogy, and other than his refusal to use his guidance system and rely on the Force to to destroy the Death Star, they often proved to be bad ones (investigating the Sand People, checking out a meteorite just before it’s quitting time on Hoth, leaving Yoda’s training to help his friends, flying along with the Rebellion to Endor, etc.).
I didn’t buy Kylo’s version of the story at all, nor did I buy his explanation of Rey’s parents being nobodies. Of all of the new characters introduced in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, though, Kylo Ren has become the most interesting. I absolutely believe that he wants to join forces with Rey, but he’s definitely not above lying to her to get what he wants. I also believe that he’s leaning more and more to the light and that Rey shows a little dark side potential.
I also think that Snoke might still be around. Remember that if Luke is powerful enough to project his image across the galaxy, Snoke might be able to as well. This could lead up to Kylo Ren and Rey joining forces to defeat him or Rey turning to the dark side and Kylo Ren turning into the hero I’d really like to see him become. Who knows? The Last Jedi was an imperfect mess, but it left myself and a lot of other people with some very intriguing questions.
As always, thank you for taking time out to read my post. Let me know how you felt about the film in the comments section or give me your own theories about what might happen next.
May the Force be with you!!!!