Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi ★★★½

“Missed you, I have”

I mentioned in my last The Force Awakens-review how that film managed to bring back the classic fight for good in Star Wars and The Last Jedi takes that idea right from the bombastic opening, runs with it and in the meantime manages to bring more nuance about what’s good and evil than what the prequel trilogy managed to do in three films. There's such a powerful feeling of war here — more so in fact, than in Rogue One — and Rian Johnson manages to still keep the pulsating hope running throughout the film. It’s portrayed through spectacular setpieces, mixing this hope with some real weight and gorgeous space-action creating some of the most bombastic yet emotional battle-sequences in the entire series.

There's actually plenty of things in The Last Jedi that I would place among the absolute best of the entire Star Wars-series. Rivaling Rogue One in having the most beautiful visuals in the entire series, there's constantly a feast for the eyes served here, whether it's in the rich fauna or striking color-schemes. Furthermore, there's great room for characters here — both introducing new ones (like Laura Dern's great weight or Benicio del Toro's flat, unnecessary and unfortunate goof) as well as letting the familiar ones shine. Daisy Ridley is continuously strong as Rey, but the greatest aspect of The Last Jedi is the powerhouse performance of Adam Driver. His expressions fill the entire screen in its exposure of Kylo's entire ex- and internal battle and in the scenes connecting Rey and Kylo the film soars to enormous heights in its nuancing of the classic dichotomy of the light and dark side.

Yet, with all this — The Last Jedi is at times a disappointment and it's because of two interwoven aspects; the comedy and the editing. My issue isn't so much the comedy itself — I admittedly laughed continuously throughout the film — which is fairly grounded in characters, but rather the placement of it. There's a lot of it, so much so that the film ultimately feels a bit too unserious as it partially undermines the drama. Even worse, Johnson chops of potentially emotional moments with jokes, constantly. Rather than letting a scene with a subtle showcase of the gravitas in this film actually land, that mood is shoved aside in favor of some porg-fodder for laughter, at several moments. This is also present in the editing, in which the film fairly formulaically jumps between the different characters (Luke/Rey, Poe and the crew, and Finn's quest) with such eager lust to cut away that many of the actual scenes aren’t given enough momentum nor room to breathe before we're wiped away to the next sequence.

These are some fairly big issues for me and they're paired with some minor gripes — so I think it says a lot about the strong aspects of The Last Jedi that I still think this is a really good movie. Tonal issues aside, it's a bold, exciting and nuanced entry in the most important movie-series of my life and I can't wait to see where it will go next. Tremendous, beautiful space-opera and I'm eternally grateful for it.

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