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Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Movie Review

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Movie Review

Rating: A- (Great)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Walt Disney Studios

It’s hard to believe it has only been two years since J.J. Abrams brought us back to a galaxy far, far away with The Force Awakens. That was a triumphant return and while Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a slight step down, it still does a lot right in continuing the storyline. Director/writer Rian Johnson finds himself with a tricky juggling act as he brings in new characters and also attempts to shine a further light on Luke Skywalker and the personal troubles that haunt him. All of the pieces come together nicely and those worried that this new episode would merely offer a repeat of The Empire Strikes Back should be satisfied Johnson takes things in new directions.

The most developed and fascinating story-arc comes with Rey as she encounters Luke and it is wonderful to see him again. Mark Hamill is actually given lines this time and while this is definitely an older Luke, who has been changed by Kylo Ren’s actions, a bit of his old joyful personality still comes through. Rather than retreading the same master-learner relationship Luke had with Yoda, his time with Rey is a bit more somber. One can sense the inner conflicts going on in Luke’s head. The Last Jedi also explores what Rey is going through and the way the Force is affecting her. Daisy Ridley has already become comfortable in the role and shows a maturing aspiring Jedi trying to help those around her the best she can.

Elsewhere, the best new addition to The Last Jedi comes from Resistance maintenance worker Rose Tico. As wonderfully played by relative newcomer Kelly Marie Tran, Rose shows real determination and has a genuinely emotional back story. Her and John Boyega have excellent chemistry as they go on their own mission, providing one of the movie’s most fun side plots. In addition to being a fantastic character in the film, there is something touching about how plenty of young Asian girls will be seeing themselves on-screen via Rose and thus serve as an inspiration for so many. Rose’s subplot also involves one of a number of creative planets introduced in this Star Wars adventure, brilliantly production designed by Rick Heinrichs.

While the action is exceptionally well directed by Rian Johnson, there might be just a little too much of it. At two and a half hours, the longest length of any Star Wars movie to date, the relentless action can get quite exhausting. One wishes there were more character building moments in between the space battles and light saber duels. John Williams re-uses many of his previous themes with the rare new compositions not feeling nearly as instantly iconic as the music in the earlier films, including The Force Awakens. However, at a couple of pivotal moments, he knows precisely when to utilise the proper classic melody. One particularly emotional meeting is definitely heightened by the choice of music.

While The Last Jedi could use some tightening here and there, it still succeeds as an exciting new addition to the Star Wars saga. While there is a wish some action sequences could have been scarified to make way for extra scenes of genuine character interactions, the protagonists do grow. Rian Johnson does take a fair number of risks and there are even plenty of solid comedic moments that land. It’s nice to see old friends like Luke Skywalker and Chewbacca again, but it’s a credit to these sequels that the new characters leave the proper impact and we’re happy to join them on this journey. Johnson has definitely laid some strong groundwork with which J.J. Abrams can bring the latest Star Wars trilogy to a close in two years.

 

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE


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