Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi Review (2017)
SHOULD YOU WATCH IT?: YES
IMAX?: YES 3D?: UNNECESSARY MID-CREDITS?: NO POST-CREDITS?: NO
The Last Jedi picks up exactly where The Force Awakens ends: with Rey (Daisy Ridley) handing Luke (Mark Hamill) his lightsaber in the hopes that she can get something in return. The hope was to either get him to return with her to aid the resistance against The First Order or to gain a mentor to help her focus her budding Force powers. On the other side of that coin, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), a.k.a. Ben Solo, is still reeling from his decision to kill his father, Han Solo (Harrison Ford). We all know how emotion and the Force don't play particularly well together. The resistance is trying to evacuate their current situation because The First Order is hot on their trail, ready to destroy them in a single, decisive battle.
The entire movie takes place during this one battle but from 3 (an argument can be made for 4) different perspectives. The resistance can't escape The First Order but can buy time by staying just out of range of their weapons. That's one. Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac) and newcomer Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) hatch a plan to save the resistance by going to a near-ish by planet to retrieve a codebreaker. The codebreaker will enable them to hack what needs hacking and escape. That's 2. Rey and Luke are at odds over his views on the Jedi, himself and the current situation the galaxy finds itself in. That's 3. Cat and mouse is the name of the game here and it works for the most part, except the game gets a little long in the tooth. The final showdown is pretty amazing and gives a new level of cool to the Jedi. The 4th perspective you could argue for is Kylo's, but I won't get into that and spoil things for you.
With Disney's accelerated release schedule for Star Wars movies these days, The Last Jedi is the third movie to be released by the studio in as many years. I'm not complaining, because this universe is one of the most beloved in fandom. It's also one of the oldest in fandom, and as they say, "the times, they are a changin'". Episode VII was directed by JJ Abrams and Episode VIII is directed by Rian Johnson. Both of these gentlemen were tasked with continuing a story that was basically over with Episode VI. In my opinion, they succeeded. While most fans agree that Abrams' installment borrowed a bit too heavily on tropes from A New Hope, he still successfully continued the story while bringing in fresh blood to continue the adventures common to the Star Wars universe. Johnson, in Episode VIII not only wrapped up the old story nicely, but set the stage for a very different Star Wars experience going forward with Rey, Poe, Finn, Ben and the rest leading the charge.
If you're older than 35 and are an avid Star Wars fan, this movie may unsettle you, or even upset you. It is very different. The themes of hope, light, darkness and the struggle between them are there and very present but many things, such as humor, diversity, and even style are different. I've seen so many people enraged over this that it begs the question: What are they really upset over? Is it just change or is it something deeper? At any rate, there are many who loved it as well and I'm definitely one of them. Rather, I should say that the movie got me excited for the future of the franchise. I believe Rogue One was the best Star Wars movie, period. That's from an objective standpoint. I love all the rest just the same, but if I divorce myself from nostalgia et al, Rogue One is in the top spot. The Last Jedi gives me hope that the rest of the franchise could see that level of dopeness again without trading on nostalgia to fill seats.
Out with the old and in with new. Change can be disconcerting but give it a chance. Different doesn't necessarily mean worse.