Nearly forty years after the saga began with the original movie, The Last Jedi is arguably the darkest and most tragic addition to the Star Wars franchise yet. Both the story and the characters delve ever deeper into the darkness and tragedy, fighting to preserve that last spark of hope, and renew it for the next generation.
Some people have been loving it, some people have been hating it, some people are in between. I see the arguments on all sides, and I lean more towards loving it.
Normally, I’d have seen it opening weekend and you, my wonderful audience, would have seen this review right after same weekend. This time, however, my mother wanted to see it together when she visited, so I’ve kept you waiting while aggressively avoiding everything that even begins to remotely resemble spoilers for two whole, torturous weeks. Yes, I love my mother. 😉
And now the wait is over! Yay! 😀
Picking up right on the heels of the The Force Awakens, the plot of Last Jedi is thrilling, gripping, and filled with unexpected twists and turns. The framework of the story, that the evil empire is pursuing the last band of rebels and they need Luke Skywalker to come save them, it is very simple, but everything within that framework is not. It not such a simple, straightforward story. People are more complex than that, and the events they set in motion, everything that’s led up to this moment, are similarly complicated.
That complexity is the real meat of the movie. Others rely more on action and/or romance to drive the characters and the plot forward. This one relies on the everything about the characters themselves, the good and the bad, the light and the dark, to move things along. We see that heroes don’t always need to be hotheaded daredevils, and their desperate schemes don’t always work. We see that living legends can make terrible mistakes, with far-reaching effects. We see that turning against something dark is not the same as turning towards the light. Even the wisest of us still need guidance. And hope… hope isn’t just a thing that you have. It’s not just a word. It’s a perspective and a choice.
The movie certainly not a “perfect” tale, it must be admitted. There are various flaws one could pick apart. It does, in complete fairness, start to feel a little bit “long” towards the end. Some themes are treated with a feather’s touch, and others with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. They certainly aren’t subtle in their numerous references to old scenes from the original series. Rey is even more “Mary Sue” than she was in Force Awakens, as she pretty much becomes a Jedi Master almost literally overnight. The new characters were pretty much shoehorned in. And who really likes seeing how their childhood heroes have failed in the decades since their greatest victory?
And yet… I am reminded of a scene from Star Trek. (I know, mentioning Star Trek while talking about Star Wars? Gasp! What blasphemy is this?! LOL!) There’s an old Klingon warrior telling a tale about the exploits of himself as his closest friends, and someone comments on how it couldn’t possibly have actually happened that way, and someone else says something like, “Who cares?! He’s telling it great!”
Yes, there are flaws. I don’t care. 😉 It’s exciting, oddly compelling, and inspiring. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry, it makes you shiver in terror, and it makes you think. It is, in short, a Star Wars movie. And I like it! 🙂
Rating: 9 stars out of 10.
Grade: solid A.