Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order.

Contains some spoilers…

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the second film in Disney & Lucasfilm’s sequel trilogy of the Star Wars franchise. Since purchasing Lucasfilm for $4.06 billion in 2012, Disney has released The Force Awakens in 2015 and the standalone movie Rogue One in 2016. Taking place almost 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens introduced new characters such as Rey, Finn, Poe, Kylo Ren, General Hux, Captain Phasma, and Supreme Leader Snoke. As with many Star Wars movies, The Force Awakens ended with a cliffhanger (and as Mark Hamill would say, it’s a literal cliffhanger on an actual cliff!).

As many would suspect, The Last Jedi begins where we left off. Right off the bat, I believe this movie improved where many had issues in The Force Awakens. Plus, you’re already invested in these characters and the story’s pulled you in even more since last time. I’m convinced! So let’s see what you can look forward to.

Rey (played by Daisy Ridley) is a complex character. While some fans expressed frustration with her proficiency in “everything”, you’ll see the growth of her character all throughout The Last Jedi… it isn’t a walk in the park! Trained by Luke Skywalker (played by Mark Hamill), the two train and go deeper into the Force. Meanwhile at the First Order, Supreme Leader Snoke (played by Andy Serkis) is up to no good with his apprentice Kylo Ren (played by Adam Driver). The balance between these duos is an epic battle you won’t want to miss!

On the Resistance side, General Leia (Carrie Fisher), Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern), Poe (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) are all fighting the good fight. As debuting characters, Holdo and Rose bring something new to the table. And it’s refreshing to see the dynamic between Finn and Rose. We get to see new vehicles and new weapons – including a long awaited fight between Finn & Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie)!

As expected, The Last Jedi reveals some clues to the overall story of this sequel trilogy, but many mysteries are left in place to be (hopefully) solved by Episode IX (releasing in December 2019).

I really enjoyed watching Luke Skywalker’s return. Wait until you hear his first words!It’s a moment I’ve been waiting for since December 2015. And after hearing how director Rian Johnson threw off Mark Hamill with a couple character adjustments, I was pleasantly surprised. I think you will be too! And, of course, it wouldn’t be Star Wars without the droids. Every Episode (and even Rogue One) has shown C-3PO and R2-D2, and now the legacy continues with BB-8 and newbie BB-9E.

Everyone jumped on the bandwagon for some BB-8 lovin’ in 2015, without even knowing for sure what role he’d play. It didn’t seem to matter! Now to seal the deal we have an “evil” BB-8… BB-9E. While cool, I’m not sure it was completely necessary – but I totally understand why they added him. BB-8 may be Poe’s “one of a kind” droid, but surely the First Order had to have something cool of their own… Remember the mouse droids?

And the Porgs… Yes, the Porgs! They’re not 2017’s Ewoks. They’re definitely not Gungans/Jar Jar Binks. They are this year’s equivalent of the hyped BB-8, and justly so! These guys were the sprinkles on top of an already amazing movie. Yes, we have new destinations (Crait & Canto Bight) and other new creatures (Vulptex/Crystal Foxes), and they’re all unique and significant in their own ways… but Porgs! They’ll make you laugh and smile with joy!

SCORE

Story: 9 – Rian Johnson is not only responsible for the directing but also the writing in The Last Jedi (so yes, that means he’s also responsible for Porgs). There’s a lot of weight to carry for a middle Episode, but the story was really captivating, well-paced, and wasn’t a rehash of Empire.
Acting: 9 – Everybody’s performances were amazing. In terms of the legacy characters, I’d be surprised if Mark Hamill doesn’t walk away with some sort of nomination. Carrie Fisher’s last performance was heartfelt and so good. The sequel trilogy cast delivered some great acting as well. Specifically, the transformations that Rey and Kylo go through are epic.
Soundtrack: 10 – I’ll admit, it took me a while to get used to the score in The Force Awakens. It was John Williams but it took me a second to admit that there was new Star Wars music coming! But this time around, I was ready for it. My special edition soundtrack is nearly delivered and I can’t wait because John Williams does it again! After what I found to be lackluster music for Rogue One last year, The Last Jedi is a breath of fresh air! Be prepared for some great homages to his other compositions.
Production: 9 – The use of digital animation and practical effects on the big screen was great. ILM knocks it out of the park every time for Star Wars. There weren’t too many locations in The Force Awakens but we got to explore SO many places in The Last Jedi, which were all done so beautifully. And lightsabers… so many lightsabers…
X-Factor: 9.5 – X-Factor is always the aspect of the movie that stands out that normally wouldn’t. In this case, it’s the humor. There were several “haha” moments in The Force Awakens (which some die-hard fans hated, but I welcome with open arms) and even more in The Last Jedi. Comedy is always evolving and there are things you can laugh at in the Original Trilogy – so of course the style of jokes will change in the sequels. I still enjoyed them!

Overall: 9.3

Remember, there’s still a cloud covering everything (as Master Yoda would say). Not everything has resolved but you definitely feel the momentum in The Last Jedi. Rian Johnson did an amazing job with the story and directing, easily making this one of the best Star Wars films yet! It’ll take me a couple more viewings (starting with a 4D showing in a couple days) to determine how it rates with the rest of the saga, but it’s definitely worth watching over and over again in the theater! But now… it’s time for this review… to end.

P.S. I watched Episode VII seven times in theaters…

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is rated PG-13 with a running time of 152 minutes and hits theaters December 15, 2017.

Directed by Rian Johnson.

Starring Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, and Laura Dern.

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