Hey you. I wrote this Review Just for You because I like you.I also like pizza.
To allay some fears, just because 2015’s The Force Awakens was a transparent nostalgia porn remake of A New Hope does not mean that The Last Jedi is a carbon(ite) copy of The Empire Strikes Back. Last Jedi sets the bar high enough that you just know, based on Return of the Jedi and Revenge of the Sith, that the 3rd chapter of this most recent Star Wars trilogy will be something of a letdown.
But let’s not focus on that right now. Let’s focus on the fact that The Last Jedi is the best Star Wars movie since Empire, and it doesn’t even come close since we all try our best to forget that the prequels exist, but we can’t forget completely since they’re like sand. I don't like sand. It's coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere.
Fun Fact: Since I started this review another 5 showings of The Last Jedi have sold out. Make that 6.
The Last Jedi begins 2 years after the events of The Force Awakens. Rey (Daisy Ridley) has been holding out the lightsaber to Luke Skywalker (“Oh Hi” Mark Hamill) on the Jedi getaway island for the past 24 months. Luke finally takes it and throws it over his shoulder because he’s done with being a Jedi.
Meanwhile, the Steve Bannon-led First Order has been hunting down the remnants of the resistance and now has what’s left of them in their sights. The resistance can’t really fight back so they must retreat. General Leia (Carrie Fisher- is that dust in my eyes?) knows that right now escape is paramount to the survival of the resistance but Commander Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is headstrong and attacks without considering the long-term consequences.
Poe’s actions lead to the destruction of a massive First Order ship, but many resistance fighters have been lost and now the resistance is in even weaker position. They escape using lightspeed, but it turns out the First Order can follow them in lightspeed and now all the Resistance ships have very little fuel left.
Oh yeah, and now Leia’s incapacitated…
Good thing Ex-Stormtrooper black sidekick Finn (John Boyega) has found an Asian sidekick Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) and have enough combined knowledge to possibly disable the First Order ships from following them so that they have time to regroup.
But since Leia’s out of commission they’re going to have to do it under the nose of the Resistance’s backup Leia Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern, playing someone named Holdo for the first time in her career).
The movie crosscuts efficiently over the next 2.5 hours between Rey dealing with her abandonment issues and trying to convince Luke to train her in the ways of the Force and Poe, Finn, and Holdo trying not to get blown up by the perpetually constipated General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) or cut up with a lightsaber by the perpetually whiny Kylo Ren/Ben Solo/Red Solo Cup (Adam Driver).
What Works With The Last StarJedi
- Performance-wise, Laura Dern quietly steals the movie as a rigid autocrat whose motivations seem muddled throughout her screentime. Holdo (unexpectedly) gets one of the loudest reactions in the movie. Everyone you know has seen it but you. Just ask them or see it for yourself.
- Porgs > Gungans.
- The 1st 30 minutes of TLJ has one of the best battles in the entire saga. Writer/director Rian “Not Ryan” Johnson stages the a rather complicated (in retrospect) sequence with a lot of moving parts but at no time is the audience unaware of what is happening. Johnson manages to work in a little pathos amidst the special effects, something that the prequels were inept at.
- Mark Hamill’s best work as Luke Skywalker. More depth and a better written character than he was ever allowed in the original trilogy. It’s good to see Luke angry and unsure of himself as Luke Skywalker the legend doesn’t quite match up to what Luke Skywalker has become.
- “They Hate that Ship”.
What Doesn’t Work With The Last Jedi.
- With Rogue One dropping last year and the young Han Solo movie coming out in ’18, it might be a little too much Star Wars in too short a period. I know a lot of this depends on the quality of the standalone movies, but one foresees in the too-near future a new Star Wars movie being as “exciting”/basic as your standard biweekly Marvel movie.
- Though Leia does have some poignant moments, you do wish there are more of them considering, well, you know. Then again, Carrie Fisher’s final line in the movie is kind of perfect, considering, well, you know.
She’s dead. There. I said it. I’m not crying, you’re crying.
- Just like in The Force Awakens, Gwendoline Christie’s Captain Phasma is completely wasted. You see the potential for the character, but you get the feeling the filmmakers don’t know what to do with her considering the 15 other characters they have to juggle. They should have just left her in the garbage.
It’s Star Wars. What the f*ck do you need a review to tell you that’ll make you decide if you’re going to see it or not?
It’s better than The Force Awakens, Better than Return of the Jedi, but nowhere near Empire.