‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Movie Review: Saga Continues In An Unexpected Way

Two years after we were reintroduced to the galaxy, far, far away, the “Star Wars” saga films are back, this time, with a darker and deeper material that need exploring. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is expected to cultivate what JJ Abrams’ “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” set-up. Rian Johnson did just that and more.

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ official ensemble poster
‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ official ensemble poster/Lucasfilm

*MINOR Spoilers Ahead*

No time jumps needed, “The Last Jedi” immediately picked up where “The Force Awakens” left off, but in a creative way that still allows the iconic scroll to keep fans up to speed with what is happening. Rey is off to Achc-To in search of the vanished, Luke Skywalker; the Resistance is on the run with the First Order hot on its tails while Finn is recuperating nicely on what looks like an improved version, albeit less cooler looking, Bacta tank. From there, the film dives deep into the story of conflicted characters looking to either find their rightful place in all other or trying to make their way back to reclaim their spot.

Daisy Ridley as Rey and Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’
Daisy Ridley as Rey and Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’/Lucasfilm

“The Last Jedi” is not your typical storytelling kind of film. If anything, it’s a highly intellectual project that left so much to everyone’s personal interpretation. Johnson cracks the lore wide open with brand new things that we have never seen before but builds it nicely on top of the existing elements of the saga. This is actually a good thing as it broadens the mythos in ways that Lucasfilm can continue branching out in other narratives to keep the franchise from being stagnant. Johnson’s bold choices, while some are still unclear, is a good indication that the saga is evolving.

What’s interesting about this film is, separately, some of its moving parts are questionable. The Canto Bight sequence, for instance, did not hold that much ground to merit a huge chunk of the film’s time. But piecing everything together, all these elements perfectly fit with each other. It’s the the most ironic movie from the famed series -- having brilliant moments that are signature Star Wars tropes and yet, it’s also arguably the most anti-Star Wars offering from the franchise -- treading down a path that has never been explored before. We can only wonder How Johnson pulled it off in terms of writing and directing (more so, how oldtimers like Lawrence Kasdan felt about it).

For diehards, there are a lot of callbacks and references that evoke certain kind of nostalgia. It perfectly wraps up certain storylines in a way that it’s difficult not to get a little bit emotional. Johnson served Luke’s story well, albeit in an unconventional way. This could prove to be divisive in the long run but Mark Hamill’s performance was a total success given how he is able to portray Luke's internal struggle given everything that he has been through. Cap that off with John Williams’ iconic score with Johnson’s aesthetics and it feels like it’s 1977 once again.

Given everything that “The Force Awakens” did in terms of roping us back into the lore, it had its failures. “The Last Jedi” succeeded in acknowledging some of those including the much-hammered rehash argument. Unfortunately, it can only do so much, leaving other problematic parts of Episode VII and actually also falling into the same contraption. One of which is its inability to service each of its character in a fitting way. Although, we do commend Johnson for trying to give a bit more for Gwendolyn Christie’s Captain Phasma, it’s a shame that with such a brilliant cast, some of them were underutilized -- a weird problem given that the film is already two and a half hours long.

Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, Daisy Ridley as Rey and John Boyega as Finn in ‘Star Wars'
Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, Daisy Ridley as Rey and John Boyega as Finn in ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’/Lucasfilm

The original trilogy worked well because the films have a good structure, usually a three-way adventure all happening simultaneously and told seamlessly. For some reasons, this felt a bit unorganized, with jarring jumps and cuts and an odd pacing especially around the second act -- which is kind of a waterloo, except for the character build-up that is essential to the story.

Johnson eventually pulled it together towards the end as all roads converge to one epic climax that has a mixture of heart, hope and a little bit of sass. “The Last Jedi” is a solid film worth seeing at the cinemas especially with how it sets up several characters and plot points that we hope gets addressed in Star Wars: Episode IX.

So while it is no “Empire Strikes Back” and even “A New Hope,” “The Last Jedi” bust through a closed door, enabling it with a richer lore, one that Lucasfilm can continue to cultivate in the years to come.

Watch official trailer here:

— ALD, The Summit Express

Previous Post Next Post