Ross is a student at the University of Maryland. He is planning on majoring in Film Studies and English.
A Bold Step in the Star Wars Saga That Takes the Franchise in an Entirely New Direction
Well, It's finally here. After two years of anticipation, we can finally see how the story continues after episode 7. Fans all around the world have been coming up with theories about the new characters and what will happen to them in future movies. What I can tell you is that most people's theories or predictions are probably going to be wrong. While some argued that episode 7 was too predictable or too similar to the first Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi delivers something very new and it may end up dividing some fans.
I'm going to try to explain the plot the best I can without spoiling anything. The film takes place immediately after episode 7 ends. Rey (Daisy Ridley) found Luke (Mark Hamill) on the island and hands him his lightsaber hoping that he will come back and help the resistance. Meanwhile, the resistance finds themselves on the run from the mighty First Order. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) are also on the hunt for Luke so that they can bring an end to the Jedi. There is a lot happening and it is really hard to capture the whole plot without spoiling details.
The performances across the board are fantastic in this movie. Daisy Ridley proves that she has fully realized the role of Rey. She does a great job at displaying the internal struggle that she has with the force in this film. Adam Driver is also a great villain in this movie. Kylo Ren is very unpredictable and Driver does a great job at portraying a character who is still trying to find his identity. John Boyega is also great again as Finn. I liked how his character develops in this movie. Oscar Isaac is given a lot more to do as Poe Dameron and he fully delivers. He's starting to become a rebellious, Han Solo type character and it makes him seem pretty cool.
The older faces from the original trilogy are also back and maybe better than ever. Honestly, I think this is the best Mark Hamill has ever been as Luke Skywalker. He has to show how certain events have affected Luke and Hamill does a great job at convincing the audience that Luke has changed. Carrie Fisher also delivers her best performance as Leia. Obviously, it is a tragedy that this will be the last time we will see her on screen, but Fisher goes out on a high note and her outstanding legacy will always be remembered by fans forever.
The new characters are pretty cool too, most noteworthy being Kelly Marie Tran as Rose and Laura Dern as Admiral Holdo. Both are really great characters. Tran has a lot of scenes with Boyega and they both have great chemistry. Dern has a powerful presence as the Admiral who commands the resistance.
I think the most underwhelming characters in this film are definitely Captain Phasma and Supreme Leader Snoke. They both didn't have much to do in The Force Awakens and they aren't given that much more time in this one. Gwendoline Christie and Serkis are both fantastic actors, but they have been very underutilized in this franchise.
Creatures & Robots
The creatures in this movie are once again very unique looking and have cool designs. They clearly had a lot of imagination put into them. The creatures are made from mostly practical effects and it really makes them look so much more authentic than if they were CGI.
The creature who steals the show, of course, is Chewbacca. He is just awesome. He has a lot of comedic moments and a lot of badass moments. He has a very funny relationship with the new creatures called porgs. These things are adorable. They're really amusing and they are not annoying or overused like the Ewoks. They clearly are in the movie so that Disney can sell toys, but the film handled them well.
Getting to the droids, BB-8 is given most of the screen time. Again, he is adorable, but is still a very intelligent and efficient droid. He is really funny and knows how to fight for himself. C-3PO and R2-D2 are in this film, but not for a lot of it. I wish that they were used a little bit more.
The narrative for this film is really outstanding. It is extremely bold and makes a lot of decisions that I did not think they were going to make. However, there are a lot of moments that will have fans jumping in their seats for joy. The film also squeezes a lot of easter eggs from Star Wars canon. The narrative jumps around between three different plot lines: The rebellion running from The First Order, the story involving Luke, Rey, and Kylo Ren, and the mission that Finn and Rose go on. For the most part, these plot lines are very captivating and have a lot of surprising moments. However, I was not a fan of the storyline with Finn and Rose.
The storyline with Finn and Rose isn't particular interesting. The mission that they go on is kind of stupid and it does not connect back to the main plot line at all. You could cut out this entire sequences and the movie wouldn't change. It seemed like the only reason it was in the movie was to set up further fights in the movie and give Finn and Rose an excuse to do something in the movie. It's not the worst thing in the world, it just drags the movie in the middle.
I cannot praise Rian Johnson enough for his direction in this movie. The action scenes in this film are incredible. They are suspenseful, exciting, and shot beautifully. The fight at the end of the movie is one of the most beautiful looking sequences I think I've ever seen in a movie. The cinematography was just outstanding. I also loved how he shot the lightsaber scenes. He incorporated the lightsabers in ways that were very imaginative. I also loved how he used practical effects when he could and only used CGI when he absolutely needed to.
I really respect the direction that he took with this movie. The choices he made are not going to please all fans. It took me some time when I got home to fully process everything that had just happened, which I prefer. I would rather watch a Star Wars movie that makes me think about how I feel about certain events instead of one that has a very easy story. To quote Darth Vader, this film will definitely make you "search your feelings."
John Williams conducts the score and surprisingly, it sucks. Ha! I'm just kidding. Of course it's amazing. It's John Williams. He delivers an amazing score every time he touches a film. He drops a bunch of musical easter eggs from the original trilogy that made me so happy to hear that music again. I found myself humming along to the music in my head because I was so familiar with it, which isn't a problem. Williams places it perfectly in the film. He does a great job at building suspense or drawing emotion from the audience.
Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi offered something completely new in the Star Wars franchise. Even though the film took a lot of chances, I loved most of everything that I saw. Really the only problem I had with this movie is the Finn and Rose storyline. It does bring the movie to a halt at certain points and just feels really random. The film is already dividing up Star Wars fans. Some people didn't like the choices, while some people respect the boldness of the movie. I consider myself to be part of the latter. It sets up episode 9 to be something that we have never seen before and I already want to buy my ticket.