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MOVIE REVIEW – “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

Posted on Thursday, December 14, 2017 at 11:00 am

Star Wars: The Last Jedi..Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill)..Photo: John Wilson..©2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

The force is stronger with this one

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

****/****

By Jason Wiese

NOTE: This review contains ZERO SPOILERS

For years, I never prided myself for being a Star Wars fan. In fact, it would have been sacrilegious to call me a true fan at all. Not that I had anything against the iconic franchise, which began with George Lucas’ 1977 sci-fi epic, but, like Han Solo did at first, I never really bought into the power of the Force. That was until, in 2015, when the Force awakened.

I walked into The Force Awakens, director J.J. Abrams’ long awaited new chapter in the saga, not with the mindset of “Oh boy! Oh boy! OH BOY! STAR WARS!” But, instead, with the mindset of “I’m going to watch a movie. Let’s see how I dig it.” It became the first Star Wars film that I, without any crucial reservations or forced loyalty to the franchise, most definitely dug. As I walked into The Last Jedi, writer and director Rian Johnson’s follow-up, I walked in with the mindset of “I’m going to watch a movie by the director of Looper that also happens to be a Star Wars movie.” It turned out to be more than that to me.

It is the Star Wars sequel that I was looking for.

Picking up where The Force Awakens left, The Last Jedi sees Rey (Daisy Ridley), who recently discovered her Jedi abilities, seeking the guidance of the legendary Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and his aid in the Rebellion’s continuing efforts against The First Order. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), as well as sinister Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and wannabe dictator General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), are still hell bent on ruling the galaxy. But General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher, in her final starring role before her death in late 2016), as well as Commander Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), former Stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega) and even a few non-human fan favorite characters are not having it. Thus, the ultimate battle for freedom in the galaxy ensues.

Firstly, I would like to dispel any assumptions anyone may have had that, given the narrative parallels between The Force Awakens and the 1977 original film (which, I will admit, did not bother me like it did some die-hards), The Last Jedi would be a basic remake of 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. Well, without giving much away, I believe you will be happy to learn that this chapter follows the beat of its own drum. Johnson’s screenplay starts by picking up bread crumbs left by Abrams before veering off in a direction filled with amusing twists that escalate into a darker, more thrilling adventure that never slows down from lightspeed.

What really brings this film to light is the cast. The new cast members, having had to follow just one movie so far, have really fit into their roles. They make it easy to love these characters just as much as the ones we have grown to understand in the last 40 years. Of course, Fisher has not lost her spark, still playing Leia as a noble leader of the rebellion. But Hamill reprises Luke Skywalker with a vengeance, firing off on all cylinders with no sign of stopping. It reminds us why we fell in love with the character in the first place. Aside from his work as the Joker on Batman: The Animated Series, this is my favorite performance by the actor to date.

There is not much more that I am at liberty to say. What I can say is that this is a great Star Wars movie by a great director and performed by a wonderful cast that I am looking forward to seeing again soon. As a dedicated follower of these films might say, for me, The Last Jedi is the Empire Strikes Back of the new Star Wars saga… but, again, I do not mean that it is the same as Empire. It is not. Just, please, trust me.