Take a look at our review for ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ in theaters everywhere on Friday, Dec. 15…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
It’s easy to understand after watching ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ why Disney and Lucasfilm are entrusting writer/director Rian Johnson with a whole new series of films based in the ‘Star Wars’ universe, separate from the main canon in the trilogy films.
‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ really is a perfect blend of the past, present and future in the franchise that had to survive three fairly awful prequels before getting rebooted a couple of years ago under the watchful eye of Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and fellow writer/director J.J. Abrams.
Johnson, who was best known for his indie science fiction hit ‘Looper’ before landing this gig, not only picked up where ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ left off, but he managed to ultimately create a superior movie because he was able to take a few more risks, offer up a couple of eye-popping surprises while still dazzling us all with the kind of ‘Star Wars’ action we’ve all come to know and love.
For all the comparisons that ‘The Force Awakens’ got to ‘A New Hope’, there are some similar parallels between this movie and ‘Empire Strikes Back’ but plenty of differences that pay off from the start of the film until the final credits roll.
‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ is a wholly satisfying movie whether you’re a novice fan or a hardcore junkie with scores of memorabilia decorating your house and/or apartment (guilty as charged).
With that said, let’s get to our full review of ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’…
Following the events of ‘The Force Awakens’, The First Order has taken control of the galaxy with cruel force and blinding power but the Resistance fighters loyal to the Old Republic aren’t going down without a fight.
Unfortunately, the Resistance is low on fire power and running out of time as the First Order begins to catch up with them wherever they run and the sand in the hourglass is running out on whether or not they’ll survive this war.
Meanwhile, Rey has arrived on the desolate planet that serves as the temple for the Jedi order where she meets Master Luke Skywalker for the first time. Unfortunately, Luke came to this island for solitude and hopes that he would eventually expire here after failing to create the next generation of Jedi.
That means Rey is going to have to work overtime to bring Luke back around to the legend he once was while attempting to remind him that some things in life are always worth fighting for, no matter what has gone wrong before.
There have certainly been solid acting performances in previous ‘Star Wars’ films but rarely does anyone get mentioned for award categories when the Oscars come rolling around.
That might change this year because Mark Hamill is at his strongest in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’. For a character that started out whining about power converters, Hamill has transformed Luke Skywalker from a farm boy to a soldier to a Jedi Master and he changes the game once again with this performance.
This time around, Skywalker isn’t some brooding Jedi master, upset that his student turned out to be a Grade-A asshole like Kylo Ren. No, instead, Skywalker has all but given up, resigned to die on this desolate planet with no reason to give his time or attention to anybody, much less some strange girl who shows up in his friend’s ship.
Hamill takes Luke Skywalker on a journey in this movie — from his first appearance being handed that lightsaber as we saw in ‘The Force Awakens’ all the way to the very end of ‘The Last Jedi’ and his arc is painful, conflicted, funny and yet still powerful when it’s all said and done.
It’s also great to see Carrie Fisher on screen, albeit still somewhat somber while knowing this was her last film. Fisher is an icon, who was far bigger than just being known as Princess Leia, but she puts a lot on her shoulders with her performance in this movie and it all pays off.
Of course, Daisy Ridley and John Boyega both deserve praise for their individual performances. They were such a dynamic team in ‘The Force Awakens’ but it was nice to see them fan out and lead their own missions in ‘The Last Jedi’. Oscar Isaac also gets a much bigger spotlight in this film but his acting prowess should already be well regarded considering the numerous great performances he’s given during his career.
Directing and Writing
Here’s where we heap even more praise on Rian Johnson for his work on this movie but it really is a feat to step into a project as big as ‘Star Wars’ and not allow it to overwhelm you. Considering Johnson has never been a part of a major tentpole feature before, it’s even more impressive that he created such a well crafted story as ‘The Last Jedi’.
The film is action packed, follows three or perhaps four separate story arcs (depending on how you look at the movie) but everything gets equal time with no one being sacrificed on the cutting room floor.
‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ may also be the funniest installment in the franchise — far different than the mind numbingly bad jokes and characters in the prequels — and there were some genuine laughs throughout the theater during this movie.
It all adds up to a homerun for Johnson as he joins a very small fraternity of writers to helm a ‘Star Wars’ movie.
What’s Wrong with the Movie?
‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ is a phenomenal movie but there were a couple of flaws that could be discussed.
First off for all the character development we get with Rey — and for obvious reasons since she is the heir apparent in these movies — we do miss out on a little more backstory for some other key roles, especially when talking about the villains. Certainly, Kylo Ren has been a focal point but other characters like Supreme Leader Snoke seem worthy of a deeper dive into their history.
If there was one more let down — without giving away any spoilers — it would be digging into some of the secrets leftover from ‘The Force Awakens’. Nearly everybody who watched that film was waiting for a ‘I am your father’ moment in ‘The Last Jedi’ but it never really comes. Make no mistake there are some surprising parts to this movie — one in particular that will almost assuredly catch you completely off guard — but it felt like perhaps ‘The Last Jedi’ missed an opportunity to introduce a little more mythology to the ‘Star Wars’ canon.
‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ doesn’t just feel like another addition to the growing franchise. This feels like a true chapter in the Skywalker saga that began with ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’. Much like ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’, ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ is completely satisfying when only looking at the new additions to the story while simultaneously giving you everything you could want and more with the legacy characters. This is the epic sequel — in many ways superior to the original — that we all hoped we’d see.
‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ gets five out of five on the Skolnick Scale: