Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017)

★★

It’s Star Wars, probably everyone reading this is going to see it no matter what. This second installment of the sequel trilogy includes the highest of highs and the lowest of lows for the series. Rian Johnson made a decisive sequel to the near-universally loved J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens (2015) and decided the take a risk as far as how the story was handled. The audience score (as of right now) on Rotten Tomatoes sits at a surprisingly low 57% (making it tied for the lowest out of all the main-series Star Wars films). What a time to be alive.

Just a heads up, any paragraph below this one is crossing into spoiler territory.

Luke Skywalker is not playing Luke at all. Instead, it is just Mark Hamill playing Mark Hamill. Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) uses the force in the dumbest way possible. Puppet-Force-Ghost Yoda appears and it’s a surreal experience that also is kind of unintentionally funny. The Last Jedi is a movie that is inconsistent. It takes a bit for the film to get interesting but when it does, it can feel just like classic Star Wars. There are also some interesting, new world-building ideas as well as some not-so-interesting ones (like those freakin’ Porgs). Overall it is a mixed bag where the positives just narrowly outweigh the negatives.

Rey (Daisy Ridley) is still a character without flaw. Everything comes easy to Rey, she learns the force with little struggle and with pretty much no training from Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). The only interesting thing that could have been done with her character in The Last Jedi. Which, would have been teaming up with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and joining the dark side. Which is instead thrown away for a fight sequence after the rejection of Ren’s offer. Here’s to hoping that by the time Episode IX comes around in 2019, they will finally give Rey some character that consists of things other than being a prodigy at everything.

Why was Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) killed off? What was the purpose of that character? He was pretty much was given the “Darth Maul Treatment” and not just because they were both sliced in half. Both characters had very little time to do anything meaningful and ended up just looking, instead of being interesting. Also was a golden Gucci bathrobe the most threatening thing that Snoke could have been wearing before his death? Despite his detractors, I still firmly believe that Adam Driver’s portrayal of Kylo Ren is the best thing that the sequel trilogy has going for itself. Ren is what Anakin Skywalker should have been. A bratty, whiny, and childish accomplice to a dark lord that is also a loose cannon. But now, with no leader to follow, this could bring the story in many different, interesting directions.

The most popular criticism that I heard from people about The Force Awakens was that it was just a rehash of A New Hope (1977). Well, for all the people that were afraid that this one would just be a remake of The Empire Strikes Back (1980) it isn’t. However, that doesn’t immediately make one film better than the other. While The Force Awakens was immediately good, like a warm cookie straight from the oven. The Last Jedi may be like a bottle of Merlot, that in two years could be better than it is right now. Or, maybe I could just be in denial, and if I am, at least the space battles make it worth revisiting.  

 

 

 

 

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