‘The Last Jedi’ is a force to be reckoned with
Does "The Last Jedi" fulfill the huge expectations of fans who have been hyping it up since the nail-biting end of the previous installment?
In what is most likely this year’s most anticipated film, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” we see that the First Order is starting to close in more and more on the Resistance. With their numbers growing smaller and tension growing within the team, it is up to Poe and Finn to lead an infiltration of the First Order to find a way to keep them off their tails. At the same time, Rey is trying to discover more of her abilities, with the reluctant help of Luke Skywalker, and discover more about the notorious Kylo Ren that might help change the course of the war.
“The Last Jedi” does what any good sequel does and builds upon a lot of what worked in its predecessor. The highlight of “The Force Awakens” was its ability to blend its new cast perfectly with our old favorites from the franchise. In this installment, it does that as well but with even more to offer.
Every character from the previous film has entered new avenues that feel natural for their character, yet are still surprising in their own ways. Giving away any information about these arcs would spoil the experience, but it is interesting to note how much of the story seems to be there to serve these characters and strengthen their development.
As imagined, the cast here makes these characters’ arcs all the better with their stellar performances, in particular, Adam Driver as a more conflicted Kylo Ren, Mark Hamill as the most mature and best-acted Luke Skywalker yet, and Carrie Fisher in a heart-tugging final performance as General Leia Organa.
The direction of “The Last Jedi” feels refreshing in many ways. Much of the overall execution feels like something we’ve never seen before from the franchise, yet still feels familiar at the same time. The tone takes on a darker feeling reminiscent of “The Empire Strikes Back,” but combines a lot of it with a very appropriate wartime tone, especially during the final act. The editing and music also feel more present this time around and add to the intensity.
As with any good “Star Wars” film, “The Last Jedi” further explores the world and possibilities of the galaxy and its inhabitants. The Force, especially, is brought to some new and exciting places. The use of it, much like the rest of the story, allows for strengthening of the characters and their abilities. Similarly, the film is littered with details and creatively designed creatures and environments that add a lot to the liveliness of this world.
What may turn some people off, however, is that, with much of the story dedicated to its characters, much of the film feels very subplot-heavy. While other entries in the “Star Wars” franchise also have this flaw and while it’s not nearly as bad as many other blockbusters of today, some of these subplots can harm the film’s pacing.
In particular, Finn’s side story with newly-introduced character Rose feels like it came out of nowhere and leads to some fun, albeit uncreative, ideas that ultimately could have been cut out of the film or altered. Certain moments like this, especially during the second act, weigh down the film’s already lengthy two-and-a-half hour runtime. While never boring, they are still noticeable.
Regardless, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is one of the most enthralling and brilliant entries into this famed franchise and easily one of the best films of the year. With some excellent action, special effects, performances, world-building and strong character development, as well as some fun yet meaningful moments of fan service, “The Last Jedi” is the true definition of a memorable cinematic experience as well as being a fine film on its own. For fans of this galaxy far, far away, this is an entry that is sure to feel right at home.