Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi ★★★★½

Star Wars hasn't really challenged me narratively since The Empire Strikes Back. I don't say that to be contrarian; I genuinely mean it. While I love Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens (and while I tolerate the prequels), none of them have ever really surprised me. I could always tells where their narratives were going, who was going to die, and (in general terms) where the next installment was going to go.

The Last Jedi is different, though. As Luke ominously says to Rey, "This isn't going to go the way you think." It has the balls to push boundaries, to try new things and -- most of all -- to force viewers to leave expectations at the door.

George Lucas once said that the Star Wars saga was like poetry in that it rhymed. While some (myself included) think this is a fancy way of him explaining away the repetition of his story, there is some validity to this idea. Light and dark, good and evil, these are themes that have permeated society ever since we figured out how to tell stories. It's only natural that they rhyme, that while old gives way to new there is still a kernel of the former in the latter. The Last Jedi isn't a carbon copy of Empire in this sense, but it does have the bravado, and the bold ambition, to push forward much in the same way that film did. It has the courage to present new ideas, even if those ideas don't perfectly work.

I also think this film does an incredible job of making the dark side palpable. Even in the prequel films, which are all about the descent from light to dark, you never really feel Anakin turn to the dark side. We can understand it narratively, but we don't feel that the dark side is a palpable entity. In The Last Jedi we do, in some surprising ways.

Go see the film for yourself. I can't reveal much more without spoiling it. But leave your expectations at the door, and don't be afraid to let yourself experience the film.

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