Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi ★★★★

The Year is 2017: Ranked and Reviewed

It's funny how subjective film can really be. As I write this, The Last Jedi's audience score on Rotten Tomatoes sits at a 56%, with an average rating of 3.3/5, aligned right next to its critic score which is at an impressive 93%. If there was any Star Wars film that would be so controversial between critics and fans, no one would have guess it would be this one, but here we are. It's obvious that expectations have cursed it with some movie-goers; looking at the user reviews posted on IMDb, not a lot of folks are happy, especially when it comes to Luke Skywalker's portrayal. Even if it defied expectations—which is good—some viewers don't see that. Instead, reviews point out that "he's been completely gutted and turned into a sociopath." There's also the argument that the adventure is too small and not worth the massive run-time, which in a way is true. But, it's the way The Last Jedi turns its minimal adventure into one big event that's surely about to pave the way for some serious stuff.

This middle chapter is bold, unpredictable, and probably the most emotionally wrecking Star Wars yet. Carrie Fisher is greatly honored as the franchise's princess—in fact, twice I felt the tears and resonance from the audience in the cinema, including my own. It isn't forced or thinly executed, it just feels right—it feels human. Even the return of Luke Skywalker is genuine. Funny, unpredictable—Mark Hamill delivers. There's something wonderful about seeing a character return and do everything you least expected. Which can go for a good majority of this film.

Rian Johnson tackles The Last Jedi like his own sci-fi event, writing and directing an unanticipated middle chapter that goes head on in places and swerving to the left in others. It's simple. Forget expectations and think of The Last Jedi as Rian Johnson's funny, humane, and erratic take on the Star Wars franchise. Hell, Taika Waititi did it with Marvel, and audiences loved the heck out of that. But where Thor: Ragnarok was often hilarious, The Last Jedi cuts it down into sparse but satisfying moments—even when sincerity is interrupted with farce, it works and makes the whole thing an offbeat charge of a different kind of Star Wars entertainment. 

The action is incredible and the characters are even greater when placed in such danger; visual flares queue up like shoppers on black friday (but, perhaps not as crazy). The magic is exemplified in a stunning lightsaber sequence that ticks all of the right boxes for such a scene. Cinematography, too, is fantastic. With each meaningful scene, the force is truly recognized as an important factor, and so is the dark side—each point of view fighting to and fro in acts of realization and consequence. Kylo Ren is back and badder, with Rey on the opposite side as she tries to find herself with the aid of Luke Skywalker. These moments are carefully examined and more essential than anything in the trilogy. 

It's a wondrous feeling to come out of a cinema a second time and appreciate something incredibly more. It's soothing to think—especially with another movie on the way—that this middle chapter manages to compose an unpredictable set of events with a lot of satisfaction and incredible dips of craftship. Where The Force Awakens was fun and visually stunning, The Last Jedi feels like the first critical piece in a more than important Star Wars adventure. I came out sour the first viewing, and now, I'm feeling invigorated.


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