The Last Jedi Raises the Bar
We take a short break from horror to watch Star Wars.
By M.T. Bates
Pure, raw, unrelenting emotion. Never have I watched a movie with more emotion. Star Wars fans are passionate and rabid, quite possibly the most passionate and rabid. This movie will not be for all of them but it is for me. I feel like this movie was made for me, but I have to put that aside and attempt to review this as neutral as possible.
This movie throws a lot at you with the many different stories going on all movie long, but they do all converge at the end like you would expect. You’ll laugh more than usual, but don’t let that dictate the movie. Once you are hit with the first emotional scene, they don’t stop. The stakes are high and no one feels safe.
The past is alive and present in the eighth entry in the main Star Wars saga, but it truly paves the way for the future. When you pick your emotions up off the ground, you begin to notice the future more and more. Rose, played Kelly Marie Tran, is truly endearing, warm, and downright adorable. Not porg levels of adorable, which I will get to in a bit, but you will immediately notice her. She comes off almost as a throw-away character at first, but the level at which she grows as a character is massive and is a testament to the masterful storytelling and misdirection this movie delivers.
The misdirection is what is going to (and apparently is) anger fans the most. They complained that The Force Awakens was just an Episode IV rehash, and now they are complaining that The Last Jedi is too different and doesn’t feel like a Star Wars movie. These are fans who will never be pleased no matter what they get. This movie had to be radically different so it could grow as a franchise, which is why the introduction of a character like Rose meant so much to this film. For anyone you talk to who says they liked nothing about this film, for them not to even mention Tran’s portrayal of Rose shows you how stuck in the past they are to be blind to one of the best on film portrayals of the year (in my opinion, of course).
Rose comes off as the standout character and performance, but a lot can be said about Mark Hamill. Ah, Luke Skywalker is back. Brash and rough, yet wise and scared. Much to learn old Skywalker still has. Mark is in perfect form all throughout and you continuously crave more. He hits every note on the emotion scale and then creates some new ones. It is hard to get a true read on Luke all movie and it worked for me, but it certainly won’t work for every fan.
Don’t go into The Last Jedi thinking you know what is going to happen. Don’t think you are going to learn everything you want to know. Oh, revelations are made, heart strings are pulled, cheers will be had, but all of it comes at a cost. The cost however will be different for every fan.
Carrie Fisher is bold and strong, like she always has been. You will swell up with emotions every time she is on screen. She remains calm and cool whenever she is on screen and shows why she will always be our Princess. This is truly a marvelous final role for Carrie, as she commands pride and respect from her rebels and fans alike. Sure, she has one particularly odd and slightly-confusing scene, but I sort of get it. You’ll know it immediately when you see it.
So what about the returning newbies in Rey, Poe, Finn, and Kylo? They are just as great as you remembered then. Rey however, does have some, odd and questionable lines and deliveries, but they are few and far between. Poe is reckless with his shoot first and then shoot some more attitude. Finn is inspired and ready to fight to the end, and Kylo continues his conflicted journey with gusto. They all share spunk and fire that won’t be extinguished.
The story is intense and all the characters have their own paths. The first act is quite interesting, but can also lose you as it prepares you for the equally-amazing second and third acts. The payoffs are worth the wait in this two and a half hour journey. To help you through the first act are the porgs. Thought I forgot about these furry little penguin like creatures with eyes that will melt your heart? These cute little buggers are persistent from the moment we meet them, but the cute factor they possess just grows and grows. They provide some wonderfully light laughs, especially when paired up with Chewy, who sadly serves as an extended cameo in this flick, and you will want one as a pet. All of the Star Wars movies have had some laughs, but I think this one was borrowing from the Marvel formula a bit more as it definitely delivers the most laughs in the series. Trust me when I say it isn’t a bad thing. You’ll crave some laughs during 150 minutes of sitting.
Everything about this movie is beautiful from the costumes and alien designs to the special effects and CGI, but this movie is noticeably darker than the others in more than one sense. Don’t let this deter you, as this movie is Star Wars to the core. This movie is light in some particular areas where fans want it heavy, but it was to make way for the future of the franchise by way of storytelling and world-building.
It is hard for me to continue to talk about The Last Jedi without getting into spoilers, but let me assure everyone that this movie is no rehash of Empire Strikes Back. This movie is truly original and will keep you on your toes.
The characters, both new and returning. Rose is my standout. Lots of surprises. LOTS. High stakes makes for compelling storytelling. We got the Luke Skywalker we waited so long for. Beautiful send off for Carrie Fisher.
It is long and you feel it. A few odd lines.
This movie changes the Star Wars landscape big-time but the future looks bright for Episode IX. Revelations and surprises are a-plenty and while not every fan is going to leave happy, they should leave satisfied in some areas. Expect the unexpected and if you haven’t spoiled the movie for yourself yet, then don’t. This fan left very happy.
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