After two years, Rey’s arm is getting really tired and so, Luke finally takes that lightsaber and we begin the second chapter in this sequel trilogy.
You all remember my cheif complaint about The Force Awakens — heck, it was pretty much everyone’s complaint — that it was basically a retread of A New Hope dipped in a hardened shell of nostalgia. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved The Force Awakens and still do, but the parallels from the new Death Star to Jaku being Tatooine, to Han biting the big one like Obi-Wan did (spoiler alert), it was awfully annoying and I was really worried, seeing the Imperial Walkers on what looked like a snowscape, that The Last Jedi would become a retread of The Empire Strikes Back.
Thankfully, all of that dread — and pretty much every fan theory that has popped up on the net during the last two years — were burned away as The Last Jedi unfolds. This isn’t a retread and, in many ways, it feels like one of the freshest Star Wars movies ever made. It’s got a simple premise to build around — a slow and steady chase between the remnants of the Resistance fleet and a fleet of Star Destroyers — all interspersed with the continuation of Rey’s journey of self-discovery and Kylo Ren’s journey of whatever the heck he’s doing.
The Last Jedi is great. It tells an interesting and very high-stakes story where you can really feel the desperation in the air from the good guys while at the same time, tells a story of lost souls that seems so intimate and personal.
I’m going to be discussing spoilers now, so if you don’t want stuff ruined, skip past the spoiler tags below.
Let the past die. Burn it all away.
If I were to pick a central theme to The Last Jedi, it would be the theme of the past giving way to the future and The Last Jedi uses this theme to some very surprising ends to not only deliver some twists and turns to the story, but to also burn down every expectation that the fans had going into this movie.
For goodness sake, they kill Snoke and it’s… hilarious. Seriously, I have seen so many theories about who he is and where he comes from. I have seen people analyze his scars and dig up references to non-cannon characters and Star Wars was all like, “Nope, he’s not important at all!” and just killed him.
It’s the same thing with the big reveal of Rey’s parents… such an underwhelming and lackluster reveal that they were just a couple of nobodies that sold her into slavery for drink money and then died. What is WITH this movie?
But, you see… there’s a hidden genius with those twists and revelations and that is that they were never important in the first place. The Last Jedi is a movie that tells us almost from the beginning that you cannot go forward without burning down the past or, in simpler and less violent terms, just letting things go. You are not where you came from or who you came from, but you are so much more.
If my history with Star Trek is any indication, the long-time fans are going to hate this and this also fills me with glee.
End Spoiler Alert
The Last Jedi is a beautifully shot movie. Sure, most of the Star Wars movies are, but this one has scenes that you could just about take out and frame. Not only that, but there is this marvelous symmetry in the cinematography that juxtaposes, contrasts, and calls back. It’s not overdone and can be overlooked, but it’s there and it’s very nicely done.
While there are a few callbacks, the nostalgia isn’t as out of control as it was with the last movie. Sure, there is a surprising scene where we meet an old friend again, but it felt necessary to the plot this time and not just something we can point at and say, “Hey, I ‘memba!”
And finally, in case you were wondering, the porgs weren’t that bad.
I’m not saying that this is the perfect movie, truth be told, there is an entire sequence that takes place on some weird rich gambling world that Finn and a new character named Rose go to that I felt was completely out of place and dragged down a good half-hour of the movie. This is the part of the movie that introduces Benicio del Toro who, despite being a great actor, does not add very much to the movie. A lot of the stuff involving Finn and Rose didn’t really work for me at all.
The Last Jedi is an unexpectedly strong movie, bold and risk-taking, it carves its own path by deconstructing beloved character and spitting the bits back in our faces. The result is a movie that is smart, simple, and epic while being personal and warm.
The force is strong with this one and, just between you and me, roasted porg sounds delicious.