Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Dir. by Rian Johnson
Released Dec. 15, 2017
“Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi,” the latest installment of the new “Star Wars” films, was released Dec. 14 of last year and has captured the attention of series fanatics and casual moviegoers alike.
When the much-anticipated sequel to “The Force Awakens” came out, many fans had an abundance of expectations and questions concerning the continuing storyline, the importance of the beloved original characters and the backstories of the new characters introduced.
Many viewer concerns, such as the revealing of the identity of Rey’s parents and the importance of Supreme Leader Snoke, had been whirling around the internet for two years in theories and impassioned debates among fans. It seemed, among fans, intentional that the plot of “The Last Jedi” had very little to do with what circling theories had been hyper-focused on since the “The Force Awakens” premiere.
“The Last Jedi” features the return of many beloved cast members from previous films as well as the introduction of new characters. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) return as well as Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). The film introduces two significant characters to the “Star Wars” universe: Commander Holdo (Laura Dern) and Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran).
“The Last Jedi,” in many respects, breaks wildly from “The Force Awakens,” and its parallels to the original trilogy. The newest installment brings forth a fresh, original story—a relief for many who criticized the obvious homages of the previous film.
Perhaps the most successful parts of the film revolved around Rey’s relationship with Kylo Ren and the development of Luke Skywalker’s character. Both of these aspects portray the Force and the struggle between good and evil in a new light that has not been revealed in past “Star Wars” films. Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver’s knockout performances in this film help to humanize both the hero and villain by showcasing their similarities rather than their differences.
Mark Hamill’s return as Luke Skywalker adds several layers of dimension to the heroic character. Skywalker’s struggle to rationalize the existence of the Jedi reveals that perhaps the Jedi Order was not as objectively good as he, and the “Star Wars” universe were led to believe. This film emphasizes that the Force is an entirely neutral entity that does not push people to be either good or evil, but rather seeks to create a balance.
Although the film certainly had many high points, there were some moments that fell flat. The plot-twist death of Supreme Leader Snoke at the hands of Kylo Ren during the film’s climax left many confused as to why the lofty antagonist was so heavily built up in the previous film only to be unceremoniously chopped in half in the next installment.
The highly anticipated reveal of the identity of Rey’s parents proved to be major disappointment for many viewers who were hoping that she was a Kenobi or Skywalker. Another low point was the antagonism between Poe Dameron and Vice Admiral Holdo, since neither character was developed enough to make their interactions register emotionally with the audience.
However, these low points were atoned for by the wonderful interactions between various coupled characters such as Finn and Rose, Kylo Ren and Rey, and, in the epic climax battle, Kylo Ren and Luke Skywalker. “The Last Jedi” has certainly left “Star Wars” fans on the edge of their seats for the final installment of the trilogy. The overwhelming feeling of hope for the Resistance as well as the beautiful ending credit tribute to the late Carrie Fisher made for the perfect conclusion to a remarkable film.