Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi ★★★½

The Year is 2017: Ranked and Reviewed

If Star Wars was resurrected with J.J. Abrams' more than space spectacle The Force Awakens in 2015, then perhaps, The Empire Strikes Back is up for resurrection, too, with Rian Johnson's explosive The Last Jedi. It's actually a stretch saying this, though—Johnson has crafted something distinct and unlike any other film in the franchise, especially when it comes to the mood and direction put into this one. In comparison, its predecessor felt more adventurous and even lighthearted, with expansive worlds, characters, and joyous set-pieces coming to play ever so often—the chemistry between Finn, Rey, and Han will sorely be missed—but, with the trilogy's next chapter, The Force Awakens almost feels like the opening presentation to a much bigger story. Which works for better and for worse.

After the cliffhanger that was left in The Force Awakens, a lot was riding on the two's encounter and what it would mean for the rest of the trilogy. Thankfully, The Last Jedi tackles it with the up most of importance, taking center stage for the opening hour or so, even with the interlaced story-lines between Poe Dameron and Finn thrown in the midst. Mark Hamill is fantastic and funny—in fact, the entire film is strapped with easy humor more than any other Star Wars feature. There are moments when it works, and there are times when it doesn't, particularly at the most sincere of moments, as if the filmmakers felt the need to end a heartfelt scene with a humorous gag, which it didn't need at all. The Force Awakens nevertheless carries the better lightheartedness when it comes to its humor, but that's not to say The Last Jedi isn't funny—because it is, however chocked it can get.

There are also arcs in this film that shouldn't be there—despite the fun that's acquired—and instead, it fails to broaden the universe, and distracts from the main guts of the story: Rey and Luke Skywalker. With that said, The Last Jedi involves a humane core to the relationship between the two; each character spends the film finding themselves, with each other's help, and it pays off towards the end. As the third act kicks into gear, Rian Johnson sends out a churn of energetic intensity, within its battles, on-ground and in-air; dazzling displays of lightsaber combat are filmed exquisitely and correctly, perhaps the best it's ever been captured in a Star Wars film. Without spoiling anything, Rey is the best she's ever been. 

The film isn't as dark as Empire and it shouldn't have to be; The Last Jedi is in its own playing field, prepared with some of the best action and laughs, and then some other casual tidbits that get in the way of it all. At 151 minutes, scenes could have been cut to save its disjointed at moments aura—but, with that said, it's very much all connected and worth a watch. There are more surprises than shocks, and perhaps it's better recognized on a second viewing, because this film needs one. Star Wars hasn't taken a tumble, but it has taken a swerve into both great and not so good territory.

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