Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi ★★★★

The pacing is a little off, it runs long, and it's a little unfocused, but who am I kidding? The Last Jedi is not just the best entry in the new Star Wars revival, it's one of the best Star Wars films ever.

The Last Jedi manages to strike out into genuinely new territory, all while honoring what came before. It has tense and engaging battles as well as nice character development (with some of the best performances in the whole series) something the stand-alone movie Rogue One failed to do effectively. It has quirks and subverts plot expectations in ways that make it feel less like an homage or play on nostalgia--as The Force Awakens did--but rather a step into the future. Undoubtedly, this has made some long-time fans nervous or even angry. I found it to be invigorating.

The film is in many ways about the dangers of mythmaking. All of our heroic legends are upended in some way here, whether it's the rebellious, down to the wire plot that saves the ship (it doesn't this time), the joke-cracking smuggler with a heart of gold (strictly business this go around), or the ancient mystical Jedi knowledge (eh, let it burn). So many of the scenarios and archetypes we have known and grown comfortable with are shown to be false, or at least less trustworthy.

Indeed, Rian Johnson never fails to remind us that sometimes we need to kill off the past to move ahead. It's stated bluntly several times over, but it's a bit confounding that the villain is the one who most overtly says this, which leads to intriguing possibilities for Episode IX. Johnson is uninvolved in the final film, however, so it will be interesting to see whether JJ Abramson follows through with this ethos, or if we'll revert back to something more in the mold of The Force Awakens. In any event, I liked the direction this film took, even if it lacked the narrative precision the original trilogy had.

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