Film Review: Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi
In 2017, Rian Johnson released Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, the second installment in the Star Wars sequel trilogy and the eighth film of the Star Wars franchise. Starring Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern and Benicio del Toro, the film has grossed $1.056 billion as of Monday, Jan. 1.
As the First Order seizes control of the galaxy, Resistance forces work to escape their military advance. At the same time, Rey attempts to convince Luke Skywalker to teach her in the ways of the Force and help her and the Resistance stop Kylo Ren and Supreme Leader Snoke.
Released two years after its predecessor, Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi is a great film. The follow up to a film that rehashed a number of plot points found in the first Star Wars film along with invalidating the successes the original trilogy had, this one succeeds in being its own thing and not trying to emulate a previous installment.
There’s a fair amount of fun to be had in watching the film, too. Whether it’s laughing at Poe’s methods of stalling the First Order to give time for the Resistance to ready their escape, seeing the long-awaited reaction Luke has upon being handed his old lightsaber or witnessing the showdown in the climax between Kylo and Luke, audiences going into the film looking for enjoyment and a good time won’t be disappointed.
The story is enjoyable as well, picking up soon after the previous installment left off. The Resistance finds itself having to escape the First Order which is shown to have the ability to track their destination and show up within a matter of seconds. It’s a problem producing a fair amount of tension, leading to a desperate last stand. As a whole, the tension coming from what’s happening is enough to keep viewers engrossed and wondering just how it’s all going to turn out. Simultaneously, Rey has brought Luke his lightsaber and is hounding him about training her in the ways of the Force. Though this plotline includes a range of emotions and revelations, they are all handled reasonably well. Here, Rey seeks training, but also allows herself to be tempted by the dark side of the force, even opening herself up to it. She finds herself in the middle, having to choose between dark and light. Both of these plotlines eventually converge to form a fantastic climax.
Likewise, the film utilizes its characters pretty well for the most part. In the film before, Luke was presented as a man who, despite his characterization in previous films, decided his failure was worth hiding in exile. Here, viewers are given a satisfactory reason as to why he did so. In fact, the way this film extends his character arc is solid, especially with a notable call back to the binary sunset on Tatooine, where his journey began. Furthermore, Kylo goes through the film giving more and more into the dark side of the force. The rage he presented in the previous film increases and upon his ascension to lead the First Order, he responds quite violently to disobedience. This is seen when he chokes General Hux with the Force for objecting to a command and later telekinetically throwing him into a wall for making a sarcastic comment.
Nevertheless, this film isn’t without its flaws. One of which is pacing. While the story as a whole provides good tension, a majority of the First Order chasing the Resistance as the latter runs out of fuel, feels like it goes on for too long. The plot branching from this, Finn and Rose searching for a master code breaker on Canto Bight also feels pointless. The effect it has on the overall story could have been done differently and better and the message it presents feels forced. Similarly, the character who is found in this scene is also proven to be completely pointless as his only action of any importance could have been performed by someone else. The film really could have been shortened by half an hour and been just as good, if not better.
Awards & Recognitions
bold indicates reception of award/recognition
Golden Trailer Awards
- Best Fantasy/Adventure Poster
Indiana Film Journalists Association, US Awards
- Best Picture
Indiewire Critics' Poll Awards
- Second Place - Most Anticipated of 2017
London Critics Circle Film - ALFS Awards
- Technical Achievement of the Year