Star Wars: The Last Jedi is an epic space opera released in Canada on December 15th, 2017. The film was written and directed by Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) and stars Carrie Fischer (@carrieffisher), Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself), Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) and Oscar Issac.
I’ve waited almost two years since Rey and Finn reignited my love of Star Wars in 2015’s The Force Awakens to continue their adventure across the galaxy. In those two years, I’ve poured over theories, critiques and speculations about the state of the galaxy to the point where I was so eager to see what’s next that there’s no way anything could’ve met my excitement. The Last Jedi didn’t answer all my questions, it didn’t fill all the Star Wars-sized holes in my heart but it was a satisfying, jaw-dropping and gut-wrenching chapter in the Star Wars Saga that begs another two years of anticipation for the conclusion.
New Order Strikes Back?
The most obvious criticism of The Force Awakens was that it was, beat for beat, a rehash of A New Hope. Many, myself included, were concerned that The Last Jedi would be a rehash of Empire Strikes Back. Rest assured, The Last Jedi forges a completely different path through the galaxy. A much more nuanced, much more subtle path. The state of The New Order and The Resistance is nowhere near as black and white as the Empire and Rebellion were when Han Solo was carted off in carbonite.
The lines between the dark and light side are blurred. There are moments where I was not sure who’s going to do what, whereas in previous Star Wars stories you knew the guy with the red lightsabre was going to do bad things and you assumed the moral high ground was with the guy holding the blue lightsabre. But that’s not always the case in The Last Jedi, and this uncertainty drives its tension throughout and makes its most poignant moments all the more powerful.
This isn’t to say that The Last Jedi doesn’t still feel like Star Wars because it absolutely does. From the campy screen swipe transitions to the scrolling text introduction, everything that needed to be in this film to keep it feeling like Star Wars was, and nothing more. Everything else, for the most part, only served to push the series forward to ensure that Star Wars fans, both old and new, could stay enraptured in the conflict between light and dark.
Rey of Hope
As expected, the performances of every cast member were amazing. Daisy Ridley and John Boyega don’t miss a beat from The Force Awakens, they continue to be two incredible, empowering characters in their own right. Rey as a Jedi and Finn as, well, as someone doing his best.
The most compelling relationship in The Last Jedi is hands down Rey’s interactions with Luke. They present a new take on a classic dynamic in the Star Wars universe. A Jedi master and a young, eager pupil have been seen again and again but Rey and Luke are unlike any pair before. Without giving anything away I think that their relationship and Luke as a teacher is the most compelling of any in the Star Wars universe to date, including Yoda and Luke, Obi-Wan and Anakin.
Rey’s story unfolds in unexpected ways. I thought for sure I had it figured out. I knew that it had to be a certain way, that she had to fit into the universe a certain way. But she didn’t, and I don’t think I could’ve ever imagined her origins any better and now I can’t imagine them any differently.
Subpar Subplots, Force(ibly) Funny
The majority of the film is spent with all the characters spread out, working on their own various missions. The overarching story of Rey learning from Master Luke carries out but the rest of the cast is doing some, let’s say less than interesting things in the name of the Resistance. These were the least engaging parts of the film and where the pacing was lost.
While all these stories led to a satisfying and amazing conclusion, the film definitely could’ve been shorter, and better, without the plodding escapades of a few key characters. These characters could’ve been better served either with less screen time or a plot that connected them all in a more interesting way, but I’ll leave that to you all to judge on your own.
There were also several scenes that felt uncharacteristically funny. Moments whose impact was undermined by a bit of slapstick humour or a joke that didn’t quite feel right. These moments were always shortlived but lived none the less, and the film as a whole suffers as a result.
A Woman’s Place is in the Rebellion
This is the last time we’ll ever get to see Carrie Fischer take on the iconic role of Leia. I like many others went into The Last Jedi scared about Leia’s fate. After Fischer’s death in 2016 Disney announced she wouldn’t be in Episode Nine, meaning this is the last time we’ll see Leia on the big screen. What would they do? Would they write her out? Would they give her the same fate Han Solo received?
I won’t say. All I’ll say is she’s still as badass as ever, and that every time she was onscreen everyone felt her presence. Leia leads the Resistance with the same fervour and passion she always has, and it felt so good to see her command a fleet like she was always meant to.
The Last Jedi tries to fit a lot more in its two and half hour runtime then it should’ve. Some subplots felt unnecessary and diluted its story. Whereas The Force Awakens delivered a focused experience we’d had before The Last Jedi takes the series in a new direction, maybe a couple new directions more then it should’ve at once. But I loved it all the same, and the moments that had me on the edge of my seat, the moments that had me cheer and the moments that brought me to tears are what cement this film as one of the best Star Wars films ever made.