Star Wars has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. That’s a statement I think most everyone could relate to growing up in my generation and even the ones before mine. It’s crossed generations and cultures and inspired millions of filmmakers to pursue their passion for storytelling, and with The Last Jedi, I believe it carries echoes that inspiration and gives us a fresh, never before seen perspective of the Star Wars universe that is bold, powerful, and emotionally resonate.
All the credit for why this film lands so well for me is due to the director, Rian Johnson. It’s recently been revealed that when making the previous installment this new trilogy; The Force Awakens, that there wasn’t any treatment or outline for where the trilogy was heading. Johnson had begun writing The Last Jedi back during production of The Force Awakens, and for him to be able to not only have to tell the most important episode of this trilogy but also know these old and new characters well enough to tell the next story is a sight to behold. He has a specific style of storytelling and writing that worked so well with this saga, and take such bold and creative decisions, that this is easily my favorite Star Wars film, right next to The Empire Strikes Back.
With all of the new characters, they are taking a similar journey of self-discovery and finding their place in the galaxy. The film explores growing old, becoming a leader, and learning by making mistakes. The writing in it is very smart and engaging and showcases the actor’s abilities to draw you into a scene that’s really only dialogue driven. The timeline for what happens in the film really only spans a day or two, but because of how in depth the character work is, and the progression each character has it honestly feels much more like an independent film within a Star Wars backdrop.
All of the returning cast do a great job with the standouts being Kylo and Rey. I loved seeing their characters interwoven and more connected in this installment and they had amazing on-screen chemistry. With the original leads of Leia and Luke Skywalker, not only are both performances incredible, but I was genuinely moved and shaken by how honest and real their characters were. There are new characters as well, Rose, who is an engineer for The Resistance, and really just an average schmoe in the Star Wars universe, was a really well developed and spunky character that I’m happy was included in the mythos. The action sequences, lightsaber fighting, and special effects were all magnificent, and there are plenty of jaw-dropping moments that not only are some of the most beautiful shots put to film in a Star Wars movie but they are important and needed for the story, and never seem forced in.
Is it a perfect film? No movie is (sorry Lady Bird fans), though the performances by Finn and Rose are great, they’re mission feels completely separate from the main story. Because there is a separation of the main characters the pacing can be a little off sometimes, almost feeling like you’re watching two movies in one. Strangely, porgs were never an issue for me and in fact made for great tension breaking moments. There are some tonal inconsistencies when some of the jokes are added into serious moments, and for the life of me I don’t understand why Benicio Del Toro’s character even exists, of why he has specific quirks that I cannot get into, but he was possibly the worst part of the film for me.
The Last Jedi is everything I had hoped for after The Force Awakens. If you’ve spent the better part of the past two years speculating about how you think The Last Jedi is going to go, I can assure you that you’re wrong. What I can promise though is that you will leave the theater with more questions than you had coming into the film. I would caution anyone going in with the highest of expectations to try and be as open-minded as possible because it will be much more rewarding for you in the end. Highly recommended, go see this shit!