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Dan's Review: Endless Possibilities Await in "Star Wars: The Last Jedi"

Dec 14, 2017 12:47AM ● Published by Dan Metcalf

Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: The Last Jedi - © 2017 Disney/Lucasfilm.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Disney/Lucasfilm)

Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence.

Starring Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Benicio del Toro, Frank Oz.

Written and Directed by Rian Johnson.

GRADE: A

REVIEW:

If there’s one film franchise responsible for my love of movies, it has to be Star Wars. I was a teenage lad full of wonder and awe of the Galaxy Far, Far Away when it was released back in 1977. Now, after decades of sequels, prequels, remastered releases and a litany of spinoff culture, the franchise came alive again with 2015’s launch of The Force Awakens. The second installment of the new trilogy blasts onto the screen as Star Wars: The Last Jedi this weekend.

When we left the heroes of the Resistance in The Force Awakens, Rey (Daisy Ridley) has located Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) on a secluded island, in hopes of learning the ways of the Force and her place in the Universe. Meanwhile, Luke’s sister Leia (Carrie Fisher) is leading an evacuation of the Resistance base as a fleet of First Order star destroyers descend from outer space to wipe them out. Leia’s team also includes hotshot pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and former First Order stormtrooper-turned-resistance fighter Finn (John Boyega). The First Order military operation is led by General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), under the direction of Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and his Sith apprentice Kylo Ren/Ben Solo (Adam Driver), who also happens to be the son of Leia and (the late) Han Solo. Kylo is also the former apprentice of his Uncle Luke Skywalker, having fallen to the Dark Side during his Jedi training, which prompted Luke’s self-imposed exile.

The story follows several paths through the galaxy, including Rey’s sojourn with Luke, trying to convince the former Jedi master to take up arms against the First Order as she communicates through some sort of Force “link” with Kylo. Finn makes a new friend in Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) and takes off on a quest to locate an enigmatic code breaker (Benicio del Toro) on a luxurious resort planet. Rey loses patience with Luke and heads back with Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) in the Millennium Falcon to face Snoke, hoping to turn Kylo back to the light. With the help of a deputy commander (Laura Dern), Leia tries to lead a last-ditch effort to transport what’s left of the Resistance to a nearby planet to make a final stand. All parties converge in a great battle, with a surprise visitor who shows up in time to deal with Kylo and Hux’s army.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is an incredible, fast-paced and enjoyable crowd-pleaser. One of the main criticisms (which I disagreed with) pointed at The Force Awakens was similarity between the 2015 installment and the original 1977 New Hope (Death Star, desert planet, etc.). There should be no such complaints in Last Jedi, as writer/director Rian Johnson has taken our heroes and their rivals into new territory and flipped the storyline into an unpredictable arc. Many of the traditional roles of Star Wars lore are left unoccupied, and it’s anyone’s guess as to how the trilogy will conclude. The conflict between light/dark is equally unpredictable, with all sorts of possibilities available in the next movie.

Rian Johnson’s script is full of deliberate verve, humor and real dialogue, unlike the plodding, faux Shakespearian discourses of George Lucas.

Which leads us to Carrie Fisher. Without giving away any spoilers, I can assure any reader that her performance is noteworthy and that Leia’s legacy is still in tact as the end credits roll (with a nice tribute to the late actress, who died of an overdose after finishing up her final scenes for The Last Jedi).  There’s a lot of emotion to be felt in The Last Jedi, but it feels like a setup for an even bigger finale. Suffice to say J.J. Abrams has his work cut out for him in the next movie.

As for Hamill, The Last Jedi is his film, and he rises to the occasion with great skill and passion, unlike any Luke Skywalker portrayal you’ve ever seen. He’s come a long way from the whiny kid we first met in 1977.  A fringe benefit of Hamill’s performance is the interaction between Luke and Rey, which keeps the Jedi flame alive for the future.

Go see The Last Jedi with your family and let Luke, Leia and all the new faces transport you to that Galaxy Far, Far Away. It’s a journey worth taking.


Star Wars: The Last Jedi Trailer

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