Star Wars The Last Jedi Movie Review: It’s time to look to the future!

I’ll sum up my review of STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI like this: It’s time to let go of the past and look to the future!

For the screening of “The Last Jedi,” I invited my 26 year-old son, Alex, to join me. He is a walking encyclopedia of information about all things Star Wars. The anticipation for this film was in overdrive as we sat in the theater. As soon as the LucasFilm logo appeared on the screen, the theater went quiet. Then, the recognizable John Williams theme started to play. The “galaxy far, far away” appeared on screen with the epic scrolling narrative against the familiar starry background, and we were instantly transported.

 In Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the Skywalker saga continues as the heroes of The Force Awakens join the galactic legends in an epic adventure that unlocks age-old mysteries of the Force and shocking revelations of the past.

The battle between the light and dark side of the force rages on in “The Last Jedi.” The backdrop for this film is pretty much the exact same atmosphere where the original Star Wars, “The Last Hope,” film took place. Same ships, similar universe background, along with the expected John Williams musical theme striking a chord at the precise moment when it’s needed (you can almost anticipate hearing the song in your head shortly before the heroes swoop in to save the day), and it never fails to indicate there’s hope ahead.

*Caution. Spoilers at the end of this post. Read at your own risk!*

“The Last Jedi” picks up right where “The Force Awakens” left off, and doesn’t stray far from the original story arch. In fact, Episode VIII joins the Star War’s stories seamlessly. Will good reign over evil? This struggle continues in this epic, two and half hour, never-ending string of battles to squash The First Order.

Movie Synopsis

In Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the Skywalker saga continues as the heroes of The Force Awakens join the galactic legends in an epic adventure that unlocks age-old mysteries of the Force and shocking revelations of the past.

The film stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern and Benicio Del Toro.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is written and directed by Rian Johnson and produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman. J.J. Abrams, Tom Karnowski and Jason McGatlin are the executive producers.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens in U.S. theaters on December 15, 2017.

In Episode VIII, Rey takes on the power-hungry Snoke who intends to dominate the galaxy with help from his apprentice, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), and apparent heir to Darth Vader. To do this, the evil Supreme Leader must destroy Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), the last remaining Jedi Master who’s on an un-findable island somewhere in the galaxy on self-imposed retirement. Rey struggles to convince Skywalker that he needs to return to help the Resistance, but he’s reluctant. She’s forced (pun!) to show him the innate powers of The Force within her. It’s this show of force, if you will, and in her battle sequences, that we learn about Rey’s likely future within the Star Wars saga.

There is another important thing that must be pointed out. In “The Last Jedi” girl power is in absolute control. From the wise and warm Princess Leia (the late Carrie Fisher who appears throughout the entire movie), to Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern), pilot Rose Trico (Kelly Marie Tran), and Rey (Daisy Ridley), the heroine we met in “The Force Awakens,” strong women are at the helm of fleets, fights, and the future of the galaxy.

What I found surprising about this is how normal things looked with women in these commanding positions. It’ll be great for young girls to see this!

Keeping with the central theme of the Star Wars franchise, we note a “Yin and Yang” depiction of the force. According to Alex, “we see the “balance” of light and dark through meditations, visions, and portrayals of the light and dark in multiple parts of this new chapter of the saga.” Alex added that his personal favorite “is the difference between seeing the life on the island and the light that illuminates it, versus the emptiness and darkness of the island’s uninhabited regions.” My Star Wars aficionado also noticed how both sides of the force recognize there’s a counterpart. Luke tells Rey that for a powerful light, there’s equally powerful dark. Evil Snoke also knows this and tells Kylo Ren, “As you’ve grown in power, an equally powerful light will rise to meet it.” Ominous statements from both sides of the force.

Besides the spectacular special effects, the sets in this latest installment are simply majestic, too. One of the most epic battle scenes takes place over a stark white salt flat that turns red when the top layer of salt is moved by a footprint, slide, or crash. In this fierce but bloodless clash, the use of this symbolic color makes this pivotal scene more dramatic.

There’s also a light side to this movie in the form of comedy relief, something that I took as an homage to Han Solo (Harrison Ford). The sarcasm and quick one-liners didn’t disappear when Solo was killed off in Episode VII. We also see new species within the saga: Ice Foxes or Vulptex, fish-like people who tidy up Skywalkers island, and a sort of giant cow that makes that blue milk Luke drank in the original Star Wars film. But the cutest of the new creatures are the Porgs. They’re lovable and also supply a few chuckles.

The jabs and quips come at just the right time, and lighten the mood when things are getting too action-heavy. Which leads me to tell you that the action sequences in this movie are relentless! They only let up briefly. Battle after battle scene make for an exhausting sit. Make sure to take a good, long bathroom break before you settle in to watch this movie.Between the epic battles and special effects, “The Last Jedi” will give viewers a renewed sense of hope for the franchise.

Now for a few mentions that you might consider spoilers. So, fair warning.

Do not read past this point if you don’t want to know anything more about The Last Jedi.

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You’re still reading? OK. You have been warned!

Yoda makes a timely appearance in this film and takes up his role as Luke Skywalker’s trainer. One thing that was noticeable in this part of the movie is that the filmmakers used the puppet, like the one seen in the original trilogy, instead of going with a CGI version. Star Wars purists will appreciate this.

However, the most shocking part of this movie, and perhaps the part I struggled with the most, was knowing it is time to let go of the old guard, and that includes the robots. R2-D2 barely makes it on screen, while BB-8 has taken his place in the back of the fighter jet. C3-PO’s artificial intelligence only comes on screen for a few minutes.

Nostalgia came over me as I watched the final scene of “The Last Jedi.” It indicated the finality of an era that has spanned my lifetime. And I’m not ready to let go yet.

“The Last Jedi” introduces us to the new crop of heroes and villains that will continue the fight of good versus evil in the Star Wars franchise for many, many years to come.

And as Yoda would say, accept the new characters, we must.

May the force be with you, always.

Star Wars VIII The Last Jedi

Rated PG-13

Runtime 2 hours 32 minutes

 

Comments

  1. Marissa says:

    Thanks for the review! I’m glad your son got to go.

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