Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Movie Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Rian Johnson adds his own twist to this epic saga as the eighth installment expands the universe and tells a compelling tale of stunning science fiction and fantasy. As the opening crawl informs us, the Resistance is on the run from the First Order. The cocky pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) launches a brave attack on the giant Dreadnaught ship while also taunting General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson). After Poe destroys the Dreadnaught's weapons, the Resistance launches a bombing run that results in heavy casualties but destroys the giant ship. Rey (Daisy Ridley) has found Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) but he is reluctant to train another Jedi after his failure with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). The evil Ben Solo tracks down Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) aboard the fleeing Resistance ship but does not to commit to killing her. However, she is blown out the window when other fighters launch missiles and have to use the force to save herself. 

With Leia injured, the Resistance takes on a new leader Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern), much to Poe's chagrin. Finn (John Boyega) wakes up and is desperate to find Rey. He tries to evacuate from the Resistance ship but Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) shocks him before he can escape. Together they come up with a plan to stop the First Order from tracking the Resistance ship. With the help of Poe, they head off to a casino planet to find a master codebreaker. Rey pushes Luke to resume her training and somehow opens up a force telepathic connection with Kylo. They communicate and Rey slowly believes that Kylo could be turned back to the light side as he explains how Luke attacked him. Skywalker claims to have sensed Kylo's evil and taken matters into his own hands, though it all comes down to a huge misunderstanding and the influence of Supreme Leader Snoke. 

On the casino planet, BB-8, Finn, and Rose search for the master codebreaker (a cameo for Justin Theroux) and find him but they are hauled off by the authorities for crashing their ship on the beach. In the prison, they meet DJ (Benicio Del Toro) who has a way to get out. They make a daring escape on the backs of cute creatures and escape with the help of DJ and BB-8. Rey learns about the force but is unable to find out the truth about her parents. She grows frustrated with Luke and heads to Supreme Leader's giant ship to turn Kylo. The Resistance is running out of fuel and the ships are being destroyed. Holdo has a plan but Poe disagrees and tries to mutiny but Leia wakes up and puts an end to Poe's misbehavior. Rey is captured immediately and brought to Snoke's throne room. Finn's plan also fails as he is caught by Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie). 

Kylo Ren makes a crucial decision when he betrays Snoke slicing in him half by turning Rey's blue lightsaber into his waist with the force. Rey and Kylo fight off Snoke's troopers in my favorite scene while Finn and Rose are about to be executed by Phasma as they were betrayed by DJ. The Resistance evacuates their ship secretly and Holdo turns the ship around blasting it into lightspeed. Snoke's ship crumbles apart as Rey and Kylo confront each other. Finn destroys Captain Phasma and BB-8 causes a ton of chaos. The Resistance flees down to Crait, a salt planet where they try to hold out in an old Rebel stronghold. Kylo takes control with Hux and they land their giant walkers down in front of the stronghold. Poe, Finn, and Rose charge at the Deathstar laser, and Finn nearly dies until Rose saves him. Rey flies in with Chewbacca on the Millenium Falcon to fight them off. Luke arrives, speaks with Leia, and confront the First Order army. Kylo launches a huge attack but it does not affect Skywalker. Kylo goes down and confront Luke but is unable to kill him because Luke is only projecting his image to Crait while still back on the island planet meditating. The Resistance uses the distraction to escape as Luke dies from the effort. Rey finds her own strength with the force and the remaining Resistance members flee on the Millenium Falcon.

I'd like to see the film again but on my first viewing, it was an entertaining wild ride that further the legacy of Star Wars. The Last Jedi pushed the film into new territory while thoroughly handing over the franchise to the younger characters. While the casino storyline with Boyega and Tran felt superfluous, it allowed for the setup of young orphans harnessing the force and introduced a creative new world. One thing I found really enjoyable were all the cute new creatures like crystal foxes and porgs. I do want to see more lightsaber action and bigger battle but maybe the final installment of this third trilogy will deliver the ultimate battle. Once again, I do feel like I'm waiting for the film to follow through but there were plenty of shocking scenes to make this film a stunning piece of entertainment and great time at the theater. 

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