Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi ★★★★½

There has never been a Star Wars like this. Rian Johnson's entry to the most popular movie franchise in the world is distinctive, able to stand its own ground against many predecessors. THE LAST JEDI is an explosive, emotional spectacle, replete with awe and the inspiring moments that kickstarted Luke Skywalker's adventure 40 years ago. This is a unique take on the epic space opera commanded by the likes of Rey (Daisy Ridley), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). Every single character gets their time to shine, even as we're introduced to fun new characters like Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) and Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern). Characters at the forefront and a strong, unpredictable storyline is Johnson's filmmaking signature, and he accomplishes his goal.

Johnson's script is entirely organic, weaving from plot point to another, creating new threads of subtext that fit the Star Wars mythos perfectly. THE LAST JEDI puts all of the weight on Rey's shoulder, picking up where THE FORCE AWAKENS left off. Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi alive, is tasked with training Rey and her force-sensitive gifts. Meanwhile, in the Resistance, General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) plans an escape from the First Order alongside Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Finn (John Boyega). The First Order's General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) directs the attack that will lead them to the mineral planet of Crait, all while reporting to a Sith Lord, the Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). Along the way, we discover new qualities of the Force, remarkable allies and enemies, and fancy planets that will ultimately make this Star Wars movie one of the most memorable.

There are many shocking and incredible moments in THE LAST JEDI. Without going into details, Kylo's training is finally completed, Rey's past is uncovered, Luke reencounters an old friend, and Leia gives us one of the most epic moments in Star Wars history. In this film, the light and dark sides of the Force are more intertwined than ever. The gray area is fully explored in most of the main characters and becomes the bigger theme of the movie itself as well as in some subplots. In the end, the line between "good guys" and "bad guys" will shift and transform as we discover the secrets that lie in the Skywalker universe. Rian Johnson frantically turns at every possible corner, pulling the rug out from under you, creating twists out of potential plot holes. His excellent writing excels in the world of Star Wars, bringing new elements as well as respectfully nodding at the original trilogy.

After THE FORCE AWAKENS blew our minds with its impeccable visual effects, THE LAST JEDI is here with yet more Oscar-worthy looking visuals. A good part of the film is spent on space battles, and the technical mastery achieved in many shots is nothing to scoff at. The lightsaber battles, while losing the prestige they had gained by having so few in the last film, are some of the most amazing in all of Star Wars, an enormous feat that will be unparalleled for years to come. Some of the CGI is affected negatively due to an unfortunate amount of humor that simply falls flat. Porgs are a prime example, who are not fully taken advantage of by reducing them to comedic props (for Chewbacca, most of the time). But the visuals are a big part of why THE LAST JEDI is so effective, and the soon-to-be-iconic Red Room scene is breathtakingly staggering. Considering what leads up to that particular scene, and how it is resolved, that stunning moment will live on in Star Wars forever.

Perhaps it is impossible to discuss or even try to open the Pandora's box of thematic richness that Rian Johnson lays on the eighth Star Wars film without spoiling the whole movie. There are many essential plot points that must be glossed over in order to not reveal critical information, but if and when it happens, the discourse that kicks off anticipation for J.J. Abrams's ninth Star Wars will be exhilarating, to say the least. For now, let us rejoice in the fact that the most unique epic space opera we've seen since 1980 is here to stay.

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