If the title to this post wasn’t obvious enough, let me begin by saying the following review will contain some spoilers for the Last Jedi. We’re not going into a blow by blow here, but some of the information contained in the paragraphs below may not be “the droids you’re looking for” if you plan on seeing the film with ZERO clue as to what you’re walking into.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.
First off… Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a beautifully aesthetic piece of film making.
The space battles, new planets, and overall cinematography are the best we’ve seen in a Star Wars movie. If we’re considering ONLY the aesthetics here, director Rian Johnson has taken the franchise to a whole new level. The only installment that has even come close is last year’s Rogue One. But that may have more to do with ever evolving technology than it does the filmmakers themselves. Either way, you cannot walk away from this movie without being in awe of the overall look and feel.
It feels like Star Wars for sure. But these folks have taken the cold, dark throne room of Emperor Palpatine and replaced it with Snoke’s “technicolor dream” throne room. The grit of Mos Eisley has taken a back seat to the glimmer of Canto Bight. It’s still more believable than anything we saw in the prequel trilogy, but these sets were definitely built for the age of high saturation, hi-res media. That said, they are realistic enough to never overpower the characters or storyline.
Speaking of characters… I feel like this movie did a much better job at character development than The Force Awakens. And it’s leaps and bounds above anything we saw in the prequels.
One glaring exception is in Supreme Leader Snoke. We waited two years to discover if this guy was Darth Plagueis, some ancient sith lord, or one of the original Whills. SPOILER… We learn nothing of his back story. And he gets punked out with no resistance in one of the film’s biggest “let down” moments.
For all the hype that we’ve heard over the past 24 months (actor Andy Serkis said this cat was more powerful than Sidious or Vader) this “super villian” was a MAJOR let down. We never learn where he came from and we never see any insane demonstrations of his force abilities. My guess is that JJ Abrams loved this character while Rian Johnson just wanted to get him out of the way to make room, so that we could further explore the development of Kylo Ren as the trilogy’s chief antagonist. Either way, Snoke’s demise was one of the biggest plot holes in the movie.
The other glaring plot hole has to do with Rey’s parentage. For all the anticipation… is she a Skywalker? Maybe a reincarnation of Anakin? A descendant of Kenobi or Palpatine? According to Kylo Ren, her parents were drunken scavengers who sold her for a drink and then died on Jakku. I personally feel that we will learn more about this in episode IX, and that Kylo was just trying to break her spirit. But give only what we see in The Last Jedi, we have no more a clue about our heroine’s back story than we did two years ago.
Lastly, Captain Phasma was only ever intended to be a children’s toy. Her screen time is minimal and her demise is insignificant. Buy the action figure. It’s cooler than the character in this movie.
Luke dies (sort of) and Leia doesn’t. This should keep the creative team in charge of the next installment on their toes. After all, Carrie Fisher (who has played Leia since 1977) tragically passed away months before the release of The Last Jedi. Rumor has it that her character was supposed to be front and center in episode IX, though this entire movie seemed to be clearing the way for the next generation.
We see some really cool new force powers in this film. I won’t go into great detail here, but as a lifetime Star Wars fan, I can say that I was impressed. As a matter of fact, for a two and a half hour movie, this film was most impressive. I counted roughly three minutes overall that I found disappointing. One, when Leia floats through space like something out of a Harry Potter movie. Another when Finn and Rose ride some weird space horses (again reminiscentof Harry Potter).
Which brings me to my real takeaway from The Last Jedi. Once Disney bought the Star Wars franchise, we had to expect that they would gear these movies toward children. And they did. And some middle aged sci-fi fans out there are about to cry blasphemy. I get it. But truth be told, this was an enjoyable film. The hype leading up to The Last Jedi would be hard to meet. But Johnson and company came damned close to the mark. And I for one look forward to seeing what Disney does withthe next installment in this trilogy.
Like every other Star Wars movie before it, I expect to watch this film more than a hundred times before it’s all said and done. Maybe I will even write another review a year from now. In the meantime, go see it. This film is easily worth the $8 admission fee. And as you walk out, cursing this author, remember Jar Jar Binks… and medichlorians… and thank the maker that force Skype was the worst you had to deal with in an otherwise pretty solid flick.