Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review
One of the most anticipated Sequels in the Star Wars Franchise finally graces the Big and Bigger (IMAX) Screens tomorrow, or for those of you lucky enough to attend tonight’s midnight screening. It should go without saying that this installment had/has a lot riding on it’s success in being able to deliver a balanced mixture of action, fantasy, plausibly acceptable lore, space battles and Lightsaber fights galore.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (aka Episode VIII) starts off very strong, with a very familiar scenario, shifting with one major difference, the focal tone does not get replaced with a different shade of atmospheric distraction, but instead it snowballs in momentum, building into an adrenalin fueled, frustrating and thrilling rodeo of futuristic proportions that without a doubt, will strike several nerves with the blurred lines between current day affairs and science-fiction application.
The Band Is Back Together
Just by looking at the Official Movie Poster, you can see who all make their appearance in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and if you had watched any of the teasers and trailers, you also would have seen and received a mental bookmark as to who you can expect to interact with in Episode VIII, which is pretty much every surviving character from the entire Star Wars Universe, and some, with varying screentime.
Many of the familiar characters stick true to their natural roles as per previous installments, however, others gain some additional backstory, confirmation or fresh revelation. One of the interesting characters that I enjoyed seeing confirmed by Han Solo’s descriptions in Star Wars: The Force Awakens was Maz, a former Pirate and Smuggler who’s Tavern we saw blown to rubble in Episode VII. You should remember that happening when Rey was “called” by Luke’s Lighsaber and then the First Order arrives to capture BB-8, but Rey ends up getting nabbed by Kylo Ren instead. Chewbacca still has a short fuse. Admiral Ackbar is still very weary of subterfuge. Poe Dameron is still the best Pilot in the Resistance blowing things up and gaining the movie “bad boy” role, and finally our new favorite orb shaped droid BB-8 is still a cheeky troublemaker. These are not spoilers, but are facts that were all set and cemented in place before the credits rolled at the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but I am mentioning it so you know you can expect things to stay the way you expect them to, with reference to the cast and their characters.
Spoiler Free Plot Summary
After the destruction of Starkiller Base, both the Resistance and the First Order have been thrown into full scale war, each with their own unique reason for wanting to emerge victorious. Star Wars: The Last Jedi takes place immediately after Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which is a franchise first, because Episode I to Episode VII all technically “skipped” a few years of events and then “filled in the blanks” within the opening sequence. With Rey gone, Finn unconscious, Kylo shamed and Snoke outraged, the tempo of The Last Jedi starts off really fast setting the premise in place early.
Rey, having just beaten Kylo Ren and “Awakening” her latent connection to The Force was tasked with finding Master Luke Skywalker, who the Resistance tracked down using a missing piece of the starmap that Episode VII owes much of it’s core to. Luke has been spending many years on the forgotten planet of Ahch-Toon, where The Jedi Order originally began. Luke exiled himself here since the events that led Ben Solo to becoming Kylo Ren, which was also explained to us in Episode VII.
This location is very symbolic to the development of the story, for obvious reasons similar to Master Joda settling on Dagobah, but also has a more in depth relation toward character development that will take you on it’s own mini emotional rollercoaster. In Episode VII we were given a quick summary of what happened to Luke’s Jedi Academy through Han Solo’s flashback dialogue, which will be explored in greater detail as Luke and Rey interact, but we also get to see how the birth of Kylo Ren truly affected Luke. Is this where we find out about Rey’s past and who her parents are?
Off world, the Resistance and the First Order are facing each other with “bleeding knuckles” as Supreme Leader Snoke enters the ring, because as the classic saying goes, “If you want something done…”. This Galactic Battle Royal takes us on a multi-location journey, each with their own emotionally extreme focus, whether it be for a quick suspense break (not something that happens often), some comedy relief or for shocking plot twists with moments that tug really hard at your heart-strings when it comes to the characters we have come to know and love. You sit on the edge of your seat from start to finish.With the two factions at each other’s throat, one does predominantly gain and hold the upper hand, leaving the other at their mercy or grace, depending on who you think it is. Needless to say, it becomes a race against time for survival of that entire faction, and you find yourself torn between who you actually want to see emerge as “rulers” of the Galaxy. The pace of Star Wars: The Last Jedi does not slow down, but intensifies in a way that has been masterfully crafted to resemble Episode V in reverse, which was referenced above as well in a different context. It all ends in a fantastic and inevitable face-off that will leave you in emotional limbo.
Does it all end where it began? Like the title of the movie insinuates, will this be the end of the Jedi Order? Even Luke says so in publicly available transcripts of the trailers. I cannot confirm or deny the seed of doubt I have just planted in your mind, but I can say you are in for something special, something that even the cast claimed caught them off-guard when they read the script.
As we travel across the galaxy, we meet a bunch of new characters, get exposed to glorious new spaceships and ground vehicles as well as funky new creatures, like the “soon to become a favorite”, Porgs (the funny bird/gremlin creature revealed in the trailers) and the stunning Vulptex (Crystal Foxes). Even Snoke’s Imperial Officers are finally given substance, you know, those guys in Red Armour Suits that protected Darth Sidious’ Throne Room in the Death Star 2.0 (Episode VI). Lieutenant Connix, played by Billie Lourd receives far more screen time after her brief appearance at the end of The Force Awakens, and just incase you did not know, Carrie Fisher is/was her mother. (Special right?)
Tributes Fit for a Princess
It is nearly a full year since the passing of Carrie Fisher, who embodied Princess Leia and who was also admittedly one of my childhood crush’. 27 December would mark the anniversary of her becoming “one with the force”, and each fan of her’s and the Star Wars franchise has their suspicions about how this will affect Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I cannot say much without confirming or denying the theories, but what I can say, is keep an eye open for the plethora of Tributes to Carrie, they are subtle, but if you spot them, you will bust a tear.
Does Leia also die in Star Wars: The Last Jedi? Again, something I cannot confirm or deny, but what I am allowed to say, is that she sticks to her guns, loaded with the same ammunition we have seen her take casualties with since her first appearance: Hope.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a classic Star Wars movie, the visuals are mind blowing, the soundtrack has full control over your “goosebump button” and the action is unrelenting. There was one part where I felt like Rian Johnson, the Director was off sick and someone else took over for a few minutes, but it was not annoying enough for me to say that it upset me, but I did notice a brief tone shift, and this is something that I will revisit after watching the movie again multiple times in IMAX this coming weekend, because this is a must see in IMAX, so I would strongly recommend you book your seats at your nearest IMAX if you have not already done so, because tickets are selling out at a ridiculously fast rate.
Even though Rian Johnson (Known for Directing Breaking Bad) took over from J.J. Abrams, who Directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens, who took over from George Lucas, who Directed Star Wars Episodes I, II and III, it still looks, feels and plays out like Star Wars does, but in a very unique, yet gloriously heroic way. I cannot imagine the pressure this man must have been under to take on this mantle and execute it in a way that I honestly cannot say could have been done better. The humour is exceptionally blatant and a word used often after the press screening was, “Tongue-in-cheek” but is balanced really well, and is needed because of the serious tone the entire 2 and a half hours of your life this movie will consume while watching. The movie releases tomorrow, 15 December 2017 and has been rated PG-13, as it does contain a lot of violence and simulated violence (lightsaber fights), but is not more than we have seen before in Star Wars. My children love Star Wars. I love Star Wars. When Star Wars: The Last Jedi comes out on BluRay, I will be sitting down with my boys (5 and 8), pop us up some popcorn and together, we will escape to a Galaxy Far Far Away.
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