Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Film

Unforced: A Review of Star Wars – Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

We live in good times for a Star Wars fan. Two years ago we got Disney’s first take on the galaxy far, far away courtesy of JJ Abrams’s The Force Awakens which, while largely seen as a rewriting of the original Star Wars (1977 – A New Hope or Episode IV depending on which of Lucas’s retakes you’re most familiar with), was also full of fresh new faces and voices, recreating the mystique of the SW universe for a new generation, while keeping old stalwart fans happy. Then, last year, we were treated to the first non-Skywalker mainline Star Wars movie with Rogue One, Gareth Edwards’s foray into a spy and war film set somewhere just before A New Hope. For me and the majority of critics, this movie was another triumph, with a darkness that had largely been missing from the previous seven films.

And this brings us to December 2017, with the opening of the ninth Star Wars film, the eighth in the Skywalker Saga. Below, join me for a spoiler-free venture into my thoughts and feelings on the movie. In a nutshell: if you’re a fan, don’t hesitate to see it; if not, it’s still a lot of fun, but do try to watch The Force Awakens (at least – you’d be better off with watching Episodes IV-VII) prior to going.

[SPOILER ALERT: Click through below the jump to read my review of Star Wars – Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. Although I will do my best to remain spoiler-free, the nature of reviews is such that certain plot points may be hinted at or referred to obliquely, as well as mention made of previous titles in the series – click through and be warned!]

The Last Jedi opens right where The Force Awakens ends. This means that Rey and Chewie are off to speak with Luke, Finn is still recovering from his injuries at the hands of Kylo Renn, and the Resistance, while scoring a victory against The First Order, is terribly exposed.

The movie opens with a space sequence that, while not as overtly fast-paced as several we have seen before (especially the climactic battle in Return of the Jedi), is perhaps the most tense space battle we’ve yet seen. A tone is set from the very beginning – subtlety and subterfuge – that rings constant throughout the rest of the movie. At one point, a character is told point-blank that sometimes it takes more than blasters to win a fight, a nice antipode to Han’s old maxim to Luke regarding blasters and wizards. So while the action abounds (as it always does with Star Wars), this film actually provides for some thoughtful interludes that show a maturity that can only do the franchise good service, should this continue forward as a trend.

While we get all the old guard returning (Rey, Finn, Poe, Luke, Leia, Chewie, and all the assorted droids, along with Kylo, Snoke, and Hux on the First Order side of things), we also get some interesting new characters to add to the mix. There are some cameos, though none that ruin a shot or shout “look at me” loudly, which is certainly a good thing. The one standout new character is Rose Tico, a maintenance worker aboard the Resistance cruiser. She steals several scenes throughout the movie, and was a real joy to watch.

Overall, I highly recommend going to see the movie. There are twists and turns, and some new themes for the Star Wars franchise that may surprise – but it is truly Star Wars through and through.

Steve’s Rating: 9 out of 10 stars (9 / 10)
The Last Jedi delivers on all fronts, proving that Star Wars will be a “force” to be reckoned with for years to come.

Director: Rian Johnson
Writers: Rian Johnson, George Lucas (based on characters created by)
Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis
Release Date: December 15, 2017
Runtime: 2 hrs. 32 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG-13

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