There are many ways to describe ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ without revealing too much of the story; it is humorous, well-choreographed with amazing direction by Rian Johnson, (‘Looper’) exciting, and fun as a ‘Star Wars’ movie should be. It could also be described is having way too much, or not enough to focus on; which could be a bad thing if you want the most epic movie-going experience; or way too long. (‘The Last Jedi’ clocks in at 2 hours and 34 minutes, making it the longest in the franchise by far) Thankfully, Johnson and the crew at the Walt Disney Studios know how to keep audiences invested, no matter how ridiculous or over-the-top things are, even if he does not match the awe and wonder of J. J. Abrams’ ‘The Force Awakens’, which felt more like fan service. I guess you could say that Disney has been on a role with Marvel Studios and LucasFilm in terms of comedy and action.
In ‘The Last Jedi’, the action sequences are a fast-paced thrill; an improvement over the original trilogy’s zoom-and-shoot style of pilot fighting or virtual-screen lightsaber battles, and maybe upping the prequel’s style of action at an all-time high; while there is more depth and meaning to what makes The Force within us all tick. What started off as a supernatural power well-known to the world and sparked conversations among ‘Star Wars’ fans alike ultimately becomes more than that. Characters we have come to know throughout the franchise are conflicted, but have grown. It has been 30 years since Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) became a major character in the franchise; in that span of time, he grew from being an apprentice to Obi-Wan Kenobi and (eventually) Yoda, to being a Jedi master; something that his father Anakin Skywalker could not get the rank of! (“Take a seat!”) All joking aside, he has secluded himself on an island after his former student Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) turned to the dark side under Supreme Leader Snoke’s (Andy Serkis in motion-capture yet again.) wing, which set off the mysterious plot of ‘The Force Awakens’.
I cannot say that ‘The Last Jedi’ is just as mysterious, but since it is ‘Star Wars’, there are bound to be surprises along the way. The second installment of the sequel trilogy in a jumbled franchise follows The Resistance, led by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher in her final role as the beloved former princess before her tragic passing.) is still in a battle with The First Order, led by Snoke; not just showcasing excitement and awe, but also a similarity to ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. On the other hand, it also picks up where ‘The Force Awakens’ left off when Rey (Daisy Ridley) was just about to give Luke his long-lost lightsaber after finally finding him; leading to her seeking his guidance on the ways of the Force. The buck does not stop there, however, as a third storyline involves Finn, (John Boyega) BB-8, (Brian Herring and Dave Chapman.) and newcomer to the franchise Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) going off on an adventure of their own. Of course I cannot go without mentioning characters of old and new. Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is still the wise-ass we have loved from his first quip in ‘The Force Awakens’ as he is shown butting heads with Vice Admiral Holdo; (Laura Dern) C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) is just as nervous as he always is; R2-D2 (Jimmy Vee, who replaced the late Kenny Baker in ‘The Force Awakens’) is still R2-D2; and Chewbacca (Now played by ‘The Force Awakens’ double Joonas Suotamo) is still Chewbacca, yet now has to deal with the merchandising that is the porgs; creatures that look like a mix between guinea pigs and birds. Also joining the cast is Benicio Del Toro, who plays DJ; a prisoner who accompanies Finn, BB-8, and Rose on their journey.
With so many characters and so much story, ‘The Last Jedi’ sounds crowded and jumbled. We love these characters and want a good story. Johnson does deliver in terms of mature themes and likable characters. In a way, it does not feel like his movie, it feels like Abrams had a hand in it. Of course, Abrams is reported to return for ‘Episode IX’ of ‘Star Wars’, which means the finale of the sequel trilogy should be epic. With the way ‘The Last Jedi’ turned out, we can only wait for that ‘New Hope’ to shine through.