Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Now that Rey (Daisy Ridley) has found Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), she is to bring him back to join the Resistance at the side of General Leia (Carrie Fisher). Luke is reluctant to get involved in the war and to train Rey after his failure with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). She vows to stay with him until he agrees to join her.

Meanwhile, Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) is leery of Kylo Ren’s commitment of fully turning to the dark side of the force. Snoke knows that as long as Luke is alive, there is hope in the galaxy, and that there is a threat to the First Order. Kylo Ren, desperate to prove himself to Snoke finds a way to prove his worth.

General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) has the last of the Resistance fleet on the run. His cruisers have cornered General Leia, Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega) and the rest of the Resistance aboard their transport ship. Unable to escape from the First Order, Poe and Finn devise a plan to get out of the clutches of Hux. Without Luke on their side, the fate of the Resistance, and the galaxy hangs in the balance.

The latest chapter in the Star Wars saga, The Last Jedi picks up directly where The Force Awakens left off. It takes us to new places that feel oddly familiar.

Bringing back most of the favorites from the last chapter (RIP Han Solo), the cast gives more depth to characters we have loved from the beginning while giving us more insight into those we have just met. The late Carrie Fisher is the central figure as General Leia. She is the only thing holding the Resistance together at this point. It is more than a little sad knowing this was her last role. Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd also feature prominently in the film, complete with Princess Leia buns. Joining the cast as one of the Resistance fighters, her presence serves as an homage to Fisher’s Princess Leia from the original trilogy.

Mark Hamill is given more to do in this film than The Force Awakens. Rather than serve as a silent set piece, Luke serves as the source of hope for beating the First Order. Daisy Ridley now serves as the student looking for a mentor, much as Luke did with Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back. The scenes between the two are reminiscent of Luke’s training in many ways. Oscar Isaac’s “throw caution to the wind” Poe Dameron also has a much larger role in The Last Jedi. After serving as little more than a passing character, Dameron is now helping to lead the charge against General Hux and Supreme Leader Snoke. Adam Driver loses some of his emo Darth Vader in favor of a more formidable foe, but I still have a hard time seeing him as the evil villain.

The Last Jedi is, obviously, heavily influenced by both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Some themes and story lines are direct corollaries to the predecessors. Some scenes are almost identical copies. One of the complaints of The Force Awakens is that it felt a little too similar to A New Hope. While this film repeats that to a point, it forces us to move on from the past while fondly remembering it.

The Last Jedi is like those episodes of your favorite tv shows that are heavy on story and lighter on the action. The sole purpose is to advance the narrative. That said, when the action starts, it is as good as you expect. The lightsaber fights are intense. The space battles are well-crafted. The landscapes are amazing. To quote George Lucas, The Last Jedi is beautifully shot. I would definitely recommend seeing it in 3D to really appreciate everything that is going on.

The Last Jedi is a must for Star Wars fans. It fills in act 2 of the trilogy with a dark, dire tone, much like The Empire Strikes Back. The film reels you in with nostalgia while weaning you from that same nostalgia at the same time. It is a solid film and a fitting tribute to Carrie Fisher. See it in the theater because it’s a Star Wars movie, and that is how it deserves to be seen.

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