Times are changing and so is Star Wars. The Last Jedi is apparently a polarizing film among fans of the sensational franchise that dates back to 1977. Director Rian Johnson has, for better or worse, crafted one of the most original and refreshing Star Wars films in recent memory. But not everyone is going to agree on his vision.
If you’re like me, you enjoyed The Force Awakens, but understood that it was a careful retread with the daunting task of reigniting and introducing Star Wars to an old and new audience. The Last Jedi is a welcomed departure that succeeds the most in its innovation and risk taking. There are a variety of unexpected moments in this film. My initial screening is where I found myself constantly guessing where the story was going to go, something I did not do during this film’s predecessor.
It’s no secret that Mark Hamill has returned as Luke Skywalker. He takes Rey under his wing while our other heroes, Poe and Finn, spread out around the galaxy whilst salvaging what remains of the Resistance. The newer cast is abundantly more comfortable in their roles this time around. Seeing Hamill return to form on screen was also incredibly delectable. He marvels once again, and you get a sense of his genuine appreciation for his character with this performance. The late Carrie Fisher is front and center in the story as well; She shines bright in her final on-screen appearance.
Now, The Last Jedi has the obvious handicap of being the middle child in this new trilogy. Second acts are commonly hard to nail, and there are certainly a handful of unnecessary and eyebrow raising elements to the film. Without question there will be characters’ decisions that will surely surprise, but also disappoint. Many fans have been quick to criticize the amount of humor present. The jokes are plentiful. But if you remember how much campy humor there was in A New Hope, this should feel like home. The satire ultimately doesn’t detract from an otherwise serious tone.
This new film in the Star Wars saga is very much about the pain of growing and letting things go. Doing so is always, difficult, whether it be in our own lives, or within one of the most iconic film franchises of all time. And for someone who grew up with Han, Leia, and Luke, The Last Jedi does have quite a few emotive moments.
Nevertheless, this latest Star Wars experience leaves me (A huge fan), wondering where the series goes next. Rian Johnson, who has shaken things loose thematically, contributes mightily to my evident eagerness.
Arguably the best Star Wars film since the original trilogy, The Last Jedi will surely divide some fans, but I truly believe it will endure and age gracefully. Thanks to the Internet, we are definitely in a time where crowd criticism and fan theorizing has reached a fever pitch. However, Rian Johnson has nudged Star Wars in a thrilling new direction…something these films desperately needed. And for that, I am extremely grateful.
By George Poor