Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi Review (Non Spoilers)
Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi is Rian Johnson’s take on a historically genius series that is loaded with romance, comedy, action and a host of other genres for which its fellow titles are known and loved. The second of a trilogy, it was a brilliant culmination of classic and contemporary, paying respects to the mammoth blockbusters before it, while giving it the flair and poignancy required to stand as its own individual work. From the very start you are sucked into its allure, and everything from the music, to the scenery, to the screenplay, gives you what you need to have your own adventure in a galaxy “far, far away”.
By all means, this film is a fine work of art. Rian Johnson has done well to string you along the ebbs and flows of familiar plot points, only to turn things on its head with surprises waiting around every corner. You never really knew what was going to happen next, and by my books that’s always an excellent thing. Carrie Fisher’s performance as Leia Organa was one of her greatest, and it is truly a shame that we will no longer see her grace the series ever again. It will be very interesting to see how this plays into the events of the final film, and what they will do to compensate for this major loss. She, along with the rest of the cast, synergized extremely well with one another and contributed to one of the best examples of cinematic storytelling for the year.
Another notable performance was Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker. It was quite interesting to see this reincarnation of the hero of legend in a form that is new to us, and his portrayal of the character was foundational in producing the theatrical weight to thrust the story forward in the direction to which Rian Johnson was aiming. The addition of Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico was also welcome, and her role added an interesting dynamic that I wasn’t expecting to see.
Every great work is not without flaws, and this is to be expected. There was a sensation of drag around the middle of the movie during the execution of the film’s many subplots, and while they were individually exceptional, it did take away from the flow of the piece somewhat. There were definitely some questions left unanswered from the film, and some that made the logic a bit questionable, but nothing so great as to sully the reception of the work. Hopefully, the final movie will be able to deliver on the closure that fans desire, and not resort to utilizing other elements within the franchise, as has been done before with previous films.
The Last Jedi offers a fair mix of overarching themes from which we can all take something away. A common theme shared across several other films in the franchise is found here in the form of family. Indeed, a great emphasis is placed on the family of Kylo Ren, as well as the lineage of Rey, in following from the foundations built in The Force Awakens. Nested within this, and pushed more strongly in this edition, is the tension between that of the old and the new. The constant battles waged between what is seen as traditional and progressive are quite evident in the character of Kylo Ren; even the way his lightsaber takes on a different form as to what is typical. Extrapolating a bit, the devices Rian Johnson uses in teasing familiar Star Wars tropes and taking his own spin on it also displays this.
Of course, there is also the age-old conflict between good and evil, and the ever-present hope in the midst of circumstance. I was reminded you are never so evil that there is no hope for good. Acknowledging your past is great, but it should never hold you back from what is in store for you. No matter how desperate a situation may be, there is always hope. Even when it seems impossible, there is always hope. To stop believing is to give up, and to give up is to lose. Given the culture we are faced with daily, it is definitely not the easiest thing to keep believing, but essentially, we must.
Even in the midst of this, while we may strive to do good and be good, there’s always that inner darkness that lurks and tries to get the better of us. We see others that do wrong and are quick to judge them, but when it comes down to it, like us, they make mistakes. To think that we are better than them is unjustified, for if we slip to the darkness inside of us, whether it be great or small, can we really call ourselves good?
All in all, The Last Jedi was a great showing and finds its place among the films before it as a wonderful, whimsical ride that takes your heart on a rollercoaster from the moment you see that all familiar text scroll across the screen. If you haven’t already seen it, I highly recommend that you rush over to a cinema near you and take the plunge, whether you are a fan of the franchise or not. You will not be disappointed. It has a little bit of everything, packaged neatly together in a tasteful way to serve a wide audience, while giving the fans their much-anticipated fix. Seriously though, get out there and watch it!
Rating : 4.5/5
Family Rating : Minor Violence.
Garrick Beckles (IVCF UWI President 2015 -2015)