Somehow, Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi has turned into a somewhat controversial movie. Last week’s podcast saw Watson hating it, Ryan loving it, and Jenny somewhere in the middle.
I am none of those people, so here’s a SPOILER FREE review of it for my reader.
Well, I freakin’ loved it. While Force Awakens may have been a complete rehash of the original Star Wars in terms of plot and for the most part character, The Last Jedi only follows Empire Strikes Back on a thematic level. Writer/director Rian Johnson did something neither JJ Abrams nor Gareth Edwards on Rogue One managed to accomplish: he made a movie that is a Star Wars movie but that had a unique aesthetic that is distinctly its own.
This is a Star Wars movie that fills in some of the backstory on the fall of Ben Solo/Kylo Ren and sticks to a general plotting idea of George Lucas, namely that he liked to put different characters into similar situations to see what sorts of different choices they would make. That’s why certain bits of dialogue got repeated quite often. But here we saw some true creativity in some of the planetary locations that were absent from Force Awakens (is there any real difference between Jakku and Tatooine?), advances in technology for the characters, and a general passing of the torch to a younger generation as the older generation, in some cases played by new characters, proved they still had some wisdom to impart while providing some good twists. Even an extended lightsaber battle involving Rey and Kylo Ren has some nice twists to it, and Johnson sure knows how to toss off a good visual image once in a while.
True, the humor may seem a little weirder than usual this time, but this is the Star Wars film that gave its characters the most shades of gray in the entire series. That may be perfectly embodied by Benicio del Toro’s character, a sleazy hacker for hire. In the meantime, we catch up with Luke Skywalker, Rey learns more of the Force, Finn does some heroic things with a new sidekick, and Poe Dameron learns to do more than shoot first and maybe ask questions at some other time. And fitting in with Abrams’ stated goal of showing the development of a villain alongside a hero, Kylo Ren makes some definitive strides to live up to his grandfather’s imagined legacy.
While this is far from my favorite movie in the franchise, I think it will hold up as ultimately one of the better ones before Disney runs the whole thing into the ground with oversaturation. 9.5 Porg nests out of 10.