Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi Review

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is a 2017 science fiction space opera adventure film directed by Rian Johnson, starring Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Kelly Marie Tran, Mark Hamill, and Oscar Isaac. Set as the eighth major film in the Star Wars film series, it follows Rey as she receives Jedi training from Luke Skywalker in hopes of turning the tide for the Resistance in the continued fight against Kylo Ren and the First Order.


Positives:

  • Great characters
  • Emotionally driven story
  • Awesome visuals
  • Awesome score
  • Great action sequences
  • Awesome performances
  • Great humor

Negatives:

  • Anti-climatic ending
  • Some editing could’ve been better

Plot:  The plot follows Rey as she receives Jedi training from Luke Skywalker in hopes of turning the tide for the Resistance in the continued fight against Kylo Ren and the First Order. The story just feels so emotionally enriched in all the right ways with most of the main cast experiencing strong developing arcs.  There is a lot of stuff going on but it’s easy to keep up with.  Most of the emotional weight of the story falls on Rey’s training and its effect on a haunted Luke Skywalker, Kylo overcoming his inner conflict after the death of his father, the First Order pursuing the Resistance who’re on their last leg, and Finn and Rose trying to infiltrate the First Order.  Not only is the story really good but it gives developing arcs for its main characters.  The story is big as the Resistance struggles against the might of the First Order but it is rifled with those small moments between the characters that help keep it intimate.  It’s a very engaging story and if you’re a fan of complexity the film does have it. (4 out of 5)

Characters: The main cast make a return and they’re just awesome, especially the developing arcs for each.  Rey (Ridley) is training with Luke Skywalker (Hamill) on the ways of the Force.  I totally appreciated how worn and haunted Luke is because of how he perceives his loss and Kylo’s fall to the dark side.  There is something reminiscent of Rey and Luke that reminds me of a young Luke and Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope. Kylo Ren (Driver) is straight up badass in this movie.  Yeah, the guy can be brooding and has his moments but there’s a measure of depth to the character that’s touched upon in The Force Awakens with Han Solo’s death.  It’s great seeing how Rey and Kylo mirror each other in terms of power and progression.  Rey is experiencing the call to the dark side as much as Kylo is being called to the light.  Finn (Boyega) comes back and definitely gets his own moments which are helped by a new character named Rose.  I like Rose (Tran) as she brings a unique perspective to the cast.  She’s likable, she’s hopeful, and develops a good relationship with Finn.  There are a lot of other great characters that help fill the ranks, one that actually surprised me was Amilyn Holdo (Dern), who showed a surprising amount of depth.  Poe Dameron (Isaac) develops a lot as a character and you can definitely see that he’s learning to be a leader and those lessons Leia is imparting on him. Hux is awesome but doesn’t get to be badass like in The Force Awakens.  Most of the time he’s getting yelled at and thrown around by Force users. Snoke is pretty damn badass and even though there is little to no information about the character every scene that he’s in he radiates the power of Palpatine but the menacing presence of Vader.  Fans will get angry because a couple of their favorites will buy the farm. (5 out of 5)

Cast: One of the things that is apparent is just how well cast and how good the performances are. Daisy Ridley does a fantastic job as Rey which is perfectly mirrored by Adam Driver’s performance as Kylo/Ben, and the two play off each other well enough.  Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill are just fantastic and the performances that pushed them to stardom is apparent in this movie.  The two have a helluva lot more screentime and it does a lot for the younger cast.  John Boyega and Oscar Isaac are good as Finn and Poe, and a new addition to the cast is Kelly Marie Tran as Rose who just delivers.  Andy Serkis does a great job as Snoke.  Serkis is just awesome with the motion capture and definitely makes the character that much more badass.  Other performances include Lupita Nyong’o (Maz Kanata), Domhnall Gleeson (Hux), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Gwendoline Christie (Phasma), Laura Dern (Holdo), Frank Oz (Yoda), Benicio del Toro (DJ), Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca), Veronica Ngo (Paige Tico), Jimmy Vee (R2-D2), Mark Lewis Jones (Canady), Adrian Edmondson (Peavey), Billie Lourd (Connix), Mike Quinn (Nien Nunb), and Timothy D. Rose (Ackbar).  Great performances all around. (5 out of 5)

Visuals:  The visuals are just amazing and audiences will be pleased at how well the movie conveys the action and effects. The action sequences are well shot and feel intense.  There is always a good sense of urgency that keeps the film suspenseful. Cinematography is great especially when it comes to the star fighter battles which captures that epic feeling of the previous films.  Everything from the lightsaber effects, to the creature designs, costume designs, to the spaceships which look fantastic.  They’re massive, look very intimidating.  The presentation of the Force abilities are the best that they’ve ever been.  One of the sequences that could’ve been done better is the Kylo/Rey connection where the two are talking to each other over great distances.  Most of these sequences are quick edits of the two talking but it would’ve been better to have seen the two pulled into each other’s worlds.  The web series Sense8 does a fantastic job of showing this. (5 out of 5)

Score:  John Williams does a great job with the soundtrack. For all of those Star Wars fans who’ve enjoyed the soundtrack of the previous films, guess what.  This is just as impressive with many of the original themes returning with some new ones too.  Loved the Kylo Ren theme, which has a very dark, brooding tone. (4 out of 5)

Writing: Rian Johnson does a pretty good job of directing this movie.  The storytelling and characterization are handled with care by some solid writing.  There are several elements that are extremely well-written that make this film feel unique.  For one thing, the writing focuses on several force powers that weren’t as prominent in the previous films.  Leia Force-shielding herself in space, Rey and Kylo are telepathically speaking with each other over great distances, Luke shows an impressive projection of himself, and Snoke’s use of the Force. The second shows that the First Order isn’t oppressive to everyone.  That like in our world, some people profit from the war and how they use it to oppress others which is the focus of Rose’s characterization.  Never in the series have we seen a character who’s actually been affected by the war get the spotlight.  There are some obvious plot holes and writing decisions that could’ve been ironed out better.  The question regarding Kylo’s fall from grace is addressed but does forget to address how Snoke even met Kylo or even show how Snoke’s influence even affected Kylo during his training.  Snoke, for as awesome a character as he was, is never really fleshed out nor his guards, which seem to have had as much screentime as Captain Phasma did in the first film.  The fight between Finn and Phasma is pretty intense however, it is incredibly short.  There is the obvious disappointing climax where the film does build up to an epic battle between Luke and Kylo, and despite how I can understand the direction the writing was taking this scene, it is still a great disappointment.  The writing and directing are pretty good and definitely take the series in a new direction. (4 out of 5)


The Verdict:  In the end, Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is probably one of the best Star Wars films out there, although for many fans, they’ll either love it or hate it.  Yeah, the film does have its share of problems which mainly pertain to the writing here and there, but the trade off is much better.  The film features an emotionally powerful story, great cast and performances, fantastic visuals, a great soundtrack with some original and familiars music, deep characters, great humor, and a lot of action. Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi gets 5 out of 5.

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