Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleason, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Benicio del Toro, Frank Oz, Billie Lourd, Joonas Suotamo, Amanda Lawrence, Jimmy Vee
PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence
Buy on DVD/Blu-ray
Forty years after George Lucas took us to a galaxy far, far away, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the eight chapter in a continuing saga, takes us back to the universe we fell in love with as children and young adults and still finds a way to explore new ground and take on new ideas with confidence.
When Return of the Jedi released in 1983, no one envisioned a return to the popular cinematic universe of George Lucas. Lucas was content with merchandising revenue and ancillary content. It wouldn’t be until 1999 that he felt the need (and the accompanying technology was there) to reboot the franchise and go back in time to explore what happened before Star Wars.
Three lightly appreciated prequels later, audiences were frustrated and uncertain they wanted more content. Then Disney bought Lucasfilms and 10 years after Episode III, Episode VII, a continuance of the original saga, was underway. This time, loving detail has infused everything made. Lucas has removed himself from the entire creative process while others carry on with his creation.
With The Last Jedi, director Rian Johnson steps away from his popular, though heavily flawed Looper and enters a universe that has far more at stake and a limitation on his creativity, if only a small one. Johnson wrote and directed this departure from the traditional middle-chapter, a sequel to The Force Awakens that almost feels like a stand alone film. All the elements audiences have grown to love are there: soaring music, plot twists, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), and Princess Leia (Carrie FIsher). Our heroes must skillfully navigate an Empire on the verge of annihilating the Resistance.
Daisy Ridley anchors the series with skill as Rey, a Force-capable scrapper who wants to find her parents in order to discover where she came from. Picking up where she left off the prior film, she attempts to get legendary Jedi master Luke Skywalker to train her how to be a Jedi, but he is reluctant to take on a new student, especially after his failed tutelage of sister Leia’s son with Han Solo (Harrison Ford): Kylo Ren (Adam Driver)
While those two hash out his involvement in the coming war, ex-storm trooper Finn (John Boyega) and Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) along with Poe’s droid BB-8 and ship mechanic Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) embark on a side journey to locate and destroy the tracking device the Empire has placed on the Resistance ship.
The main cast are all strong, playing characters they helped embody in the first film. Yet, newcomers Laura Dern as the resistance’s Vice Admiral Holdo and Benicio del Toro as professional thief DJ are the notable standouts.
As the franchise presses on, it’s clear that bringing in new blood is giving the series a boost of creative energy. While Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a pale imitation of the 1977 original, The Last Jedi is a fresh take on the series, building off of and into the mythos with skill and energy. Johnson’s love of the material helps him infuse it with passion and excitement, which will translate easily to a friendly audience. While it might have too much information incorporated that might confuse those unfamiliar with any of the prior films, it seems unlikely that there are that many who aren’t already familiar.
At this point, there are more fans of the franchise than there are non-fans. Those who watched the original films as kids are now taking their kids to see the continuation. Even those who aren’t tremendous fans of the Star Wars franchise can still sit down and enjoy this film alongside more devout audiences who take each moment and soak it in, relish it, and ultimately embrace it as a new part of the mythos that only grows in popularity and reverence with each passing year. This eighth episode is easily the best since the original trilogy and might even rank closer to the top thanks to its weighty issues, compassionate approach to humanity, and its ability to excite, thrill, and enrapture even when cutting a new path through the universe.
Guarantees: Visual Effects
Probables: Sound Mixing, Sound Editing
Potentials: Original Score, Production Design, Costume Design
Unlikelies: Picture, Film Editing, Cinematography
July 25, 2018