Review by Brian Fisher
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” mirrors the original trilogies format yet again, but keeps you on your toes by mixing up the delivery. One of the chief complaints about “The Force Awakens” the rehashing of “A New Hope,” that just played off the nostalgia of the fans without giving us anything new.
While I very much enjoyed “The Force Awakens,” it was true that I could predict almost every event in the film. That being said, it was not true for “The Last Jedi.” It pulled themes from “The Empire Strikes Back” and even “Return of The Jedi” but I could never truly predict what would happen next. The story overall follows the First Order retaliating after the destruction of the Star Killer base, and they have the Alliance fleet on the ropes. Sound familiar?
But from there it’s different. Rey’s search for Luke leads her to broken Master Skywalker who refuses to train anyone else after his failings with Ben. He is not the same Luke from the original trilogy; this one is old and jaded. While Rey was sent to him to bring Luke back to fight the First Order, she really arrives to find out who she is, and ask the crucial question about who her parents are.
The climax of this movie was probably the most exciting and unexpected thing I have ever witnessed in the saga. The audience witnesses one of the most thrilling lightsaber battles in the history of “Star Wars.” The film is not so black and white instead it is filled with shades of grey. The conclusion to this film does mirror “Empire Strikes Back:” the good guys find themselves backed into a corner, yet they also found hope to cling onto. The movies main theme is of lineage, not just Rey’s but what it means to be a Skywalker for Ben and Luke. The movie also discusses the forgetting the teachings and success/failings of the past and forging a new way forward. “The Last Jedi” is a very appropriate title for this film.
Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker is living on an isolated island to repent and to ensure he does not repeat his failings with Ben. His perspectives on what the Jedi and Sith are have changed drastically and do not see things so clearly. But at his heart, he cannot simply throw away his loved ones. It is his best acting ever done as Luke. Daisy Ridley as Rey is yet again fantastic. Her quest to know the truth of her parents and drive to tame her force abilities has her in a constant conflict within herself to try and distinguish right from wrong. Speaking of inner conflict, Adam Driver’s Ben Solo/Kylo Ren is by far the most interesting character in this movie, having killed his father Han Solo in “The Force Awakens” he is torn inside on which side he should be on.
In many ways, his and Rey’s quests in this movie are very much the same. Ben Solo has given so much character development in this film that it humanizes him and his motives in two and a half hours far better than the prequels did in three movies with Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. He and Rey make this movie, every scene with either of those characters on screen made the film exciting. Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa was also fantastic, although close to 40 years later and having clearly aged, she still embodied who Leia is: a brilliant, courageous and witty leader. It is truly a shame that Fisher passed so suddenly.
I have only one complaint in terms of characters in this film, and that would be Rose Tico, played by Kelly Tran. Her character is about as forced and generic as they come. Her character is uninteresting and is only in the plot because she is an engineer, and they needed an engineer. There is nothing wrong with Kelly’s acting rather her reason for being in the film was pointless in the long run and her lines were so cliché and generic that I caught myself rolling my eyes. I also disliked the Porgs — those little penguin bird things that are clearly being used as marketing towards kids. They are meant to sell toys and are not subtle about. But if Rose and the Porgs are my only complaints about the film, I guess that’s a good thing. To end the tangent on a high, a character reappears in this film that had me grinning ear to ear in excitement.
The screen is constantly like a piece of art. The colors are so rich and beautiful that any screenshot would be able to find itself in a museum. The art direction for this movie is so fantastically done is the visually appealing “Star Wars” movie yet. The blacks and whites are so deep that even the stormtrooper uniforms are gorgeous.
There is one scene in particular that stands out, I cannot say much about it but you will know it when you see it. It is up there as possibly the most beautiful scenes I have ever seen in the film, let us just say, who knew collisions could be so beautiful. Lightsaber battles and choreography look fantastic and the battles keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time. Lastly, the use of practical effects again is apparent in this film, and as a “Star Wars” fan makes me very happy.
Despite the Porgs and one uninteresting character, The Last Jedi is probably my favorite Star Wars movie to date, Rian Johnson created a classic with this film, John Williams is the best composer ever and I cannot wait to see it again. I give it a 9/10, as it will be an instant classic.