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A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY — The wait is finally over to see what has likely been the most anticipated movie of 2017. "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" is predicted to make over $400 million in its first weekend and only go up from there.
Hype and boatloads of money aside, one question still remains: Is “The Last Jedi” any good? I’m here to emphatically tell you it is; it’s very good.
But let’s start this review off right. I appreciate the idea of avoiding spoilers as much as anyone. Few things are more satisfying than being truly surprised while watching a movie, and few things are more frustrating than a movie being ruined before you ever step into a theater.
With that said, this review is “spoiler free” by way of plot and what actually happens to characters and what characters do. Be aware, however, I will be giving my opinion on the film as a whole including things I liked in reference to characters and visual representations, as well as the things I didn’t like as much as I’d hoped.
So if you want zero information on “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” then maybe it’s best not to read the article until after you’ve seen the film.
Overall, I think “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is one of the best of the entire saga, and may rival “Empire Strikes Back.” Again that’s only my opinion, but I am thoroughly impressed with what writer and director Rian Johnson has done with “Episode VIII.” Now let it be known that not everything worked and there were moments of the movie that had me rolling my eyes, but not enough to ruin what I think is an epic addition to the "Star Wars" canon.
Let’s kick it off with some of the things that really stood out to me and made “The Last Jedi” a satisfying trip to the cinema.
Where the Force was strong
Many people know Rian Johnson’s film “Looper” or his first feature “Brick.” Both are expertly crafted films, but they are also quite serious. “Looper” has a few jokes here and there, but for the most part, it’s a drama. “Brick” on the other hand is as heavy as its namesake. With that, some people were curious if “The Last Jedi” was going to be too serious and dark, but thankfully Johnson also knows humor, as proved by his lesser-known film, “The Brothers Bloom.” Johnson was able to marry the serious tone of his more popular films to the light-hearted feel of “The Brother’s Bloom” in "The Last Jedi" and it made for a surprisingly funny movie.
I was laughing out loud at times in the theater, and the jokes were placed at just the right time to break tension and give us a breath of air before diving back into the madness.
Luke Skywalker is now interesting
I’m making a bold claim here and stating that Luke Skywalker is now the most interesting character in the "Star Wars" saga. Up until now, I always felt Luke was kind of a whiny kid with a rich backstory that was shallow on character development. Sure, he had daddy issues and a weird relationship with his sister, but at the end of the day, he wasn’t terribly interesting. That is all different now.
Thanks to “The Last Jedi,” Luke is now a complex and layered character with conflicting motivations, fractured loyalties and buried desires that are both guiding decisions and repressing them. Luke has become the character we’ve always longed for in the "Star Wars" story, and he’s very welcomed.
I want more Kylo Ren
Speaking of characters becoming interesting, I can say the same about Kylo Ren. Darth Vader’s grandson had some moments in “The Force Awakens,” but I never really felt he was the villain to take over for the one and only Vader. I have now changed my tune.
Kylo Ren’s character development in “The Last Jedi” is so rich and full that he has now become one of the main reasons I’m now invested in this trilogy. Expertly played by Adam Driver, Kylo Ren is now one of my favorite characters.
Some visuals will literally leave you breathless
I will not give anything away, but Johnson has a phenomenal eye and some moments in the film are exquisite. A battle hinted at in the trailer including a white landscape with some brilliant red mixed in is beautiful and mesmerizing. A memorable lightsaber battle will have you smiling from ear to ear as well.
There is also one scene that literally left everyone in the theater speechless. You could hear a pin drop in the auditorium as every eye was fixed upon the screen. It may be the most perfect use of silence I’ve ever seen in a film, and it will be remembered as an iconic moment in "Star Wars" history. I am honestly getting chills as I write this and think about it.
Where the Dark Side won
This should come as no surprise, but along with Jedis and aerial space dogfights, “The Last Jedi” has carried on another "Star Wars" tradition: bad dialogue.
While “The Last Jedi” may have better dialogue overall than most of the other films in the series, it’s still not immune to some truly eye-rolling moments. Some of the lines were so bad they actually took me out of the magic of what was going on for a minute or two. Overall, however, it wasn’t enough to ruin the film or even come close to doing so.
I’m not sure this is really a bad thing, but be warned that this is a long movie. At a run time of over 2 1/2 hours, this is the longest "Star Wars" movie to date. I don’t mind a long movie as long as it has a good reason to keep going and keeps me interested.
I feel “The Last Jedi” hit both of these requirements, but for those of you planning to take some younger viewers, be aware of the length. There is a moment where you think the film will end with an exciting climax only to realize you have another 30 minutes or so to go.
Characters make choices to move plot — not because it makes sense
I love strong character development and think it’s what often separates bad movies from good movies, and good movies from great ones. As I stated earlier, “The Last Jedi” makes some really fantastic strides when it comes to character development, but they made a mistake on at least two characters that was hard for me to swallow.
I won’t give away the character or the plot point, but one person, in particular, makes several decisions that do not coincide with his/her character’s personality and are rather made just in an effort to force the plot in a certain direction. This is nitpicking and I understand that, but it got to me. I’m sure most people that go to the film won’t care one bit and that’s just fine, but this often becomes one of my pet peeves.
Takeaway worth mentioning
We all know this is the last time Carrie Fisher will portray Princess Leia, considering she died last December. With that knowledge, her scenes in “The Last Jedi” became even more poignant and powerful somehow, and make for some special moments in the film.
As if you needed my take on the film to help you decide whether you were going to see “The Last Jedi,” I’m still here to tell you that Rian Johnson has set a new standard for "Star Wars" films and I can’t wait to get back into the theater for a second helping.
Make sure to check out Dave Clyde’s parent’s review on Friday to give you a heads up on what you can expect before you take your kids.