Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review

Remember when I said my next review would be Pixar?

I lied.

I don’t feel like I have to introduce this film. You all know about Star Wars, the multi-billion dollar film franchise that holds both the most beloved and the most despised sci-fi films ever known to man. The original trilogy has been lauded as the best, the prequel trilogy as the worst, and this new trilogy has been somewhere in the middle. Obviously leaning away from the prequels, but that depends on who you ask. Before we get into The Last Jedi, I want to briefly go over The Force Awakens.

I liked The Force Awakens. It was a good return to form from the last few Star Wars films, it introduced a bunch of new, likable characters, and reminded everyone why we liked Star Wars to begin with, even if that was at the expense of feeling a bit like previous entries. J. J. Abrams did a very good job of reviving the franchise and giving future filmmakers a good base to work off of. So how does The Last Jedi build on the ever-expanding space opera that is Star Wars?

Well, as the film started, I thought I was in for a rough time. It leaned more towards slapstick rather than story, it wasn’t paced very well, and a couple things happened that I can only describe as ridiculous. It just didn’t feel like it was taking itself seriously enough. That seems to be a weird comment for a film series about religious space wizards with laser swords, but there’s always been a level of gravity in these space movies that grounds these films in some semblance of realism. Character interactions would usually feel human, they’d make mistakes, they’d have little insignificant squabbles, these are ways Star Wars has been able to avoid the silliness of old Star Trek. The beginning of this movie seemed to forget that. It forgot that so hard, in fact, I thought I was watching a fan film that was trying too hard to be witty and enjoyable. However…

As soon as we got to Rey on the island with Luke, the film picked up. It shot up, in fact, and I was absorbed in this movie. I couldn’t believe the direction they were taking the franchise in, and I was the most on board I could be.

Without giving anything away, there are three main plot points that carry the story. Rey and Luke on the island, Poe on the ship, and Finn and Rose on a casino planet (Rose is a new character, she sucks). These plots are good, except for the 20-30 minutes we spend on the casino planet. It gets better when they leave, but the time spent on the planet is sadly a lot higher than the time spent off it. The plot here is unfortunately boring, but I can’t say it’s inessential. Things happen on this planet that are crucial to the plot of the movie. The planet itself doesn’t even feel like a planet in a galaxy far, far away, it feels like a future Earth. There are exotic creatures here and there, but that doesn’t help to shake the Earth vibe this planet gives off. If that’s intentional (there are various reasons it might be), it wasn’t a good choice. It didn’t help that whenever we cut back to this story, the pacing halted and the tone changed so hard I got whiplash. In addition, it tries to throw in some social commentary? About animal abuse and the the evil of greed? That second one is quite ironic coming from the Multi-Billion-Dollar Mouse House, but whatever. This plot as a whole really took me out of the movie, but it’s comparatively short so it’s not really film-breaking. And I’m glad that’s the case.

The arc with Poe on the ship is pretty good, with its’ only problem being some plot elements I can’t get into here because of spoilers. Poe was kind of developmentally shafted in The Force Awakens, so I was glad to see he got a major boost here. His arc on the ship is focused almost exclusively on him, and it’s great. I don’t want to give much away, but he is exactly the cocky, rash pilot you would expect someone with the title of “best pilot in The Resistance” to be, and it’s quite entertaining. 

The stuff with Poe on the ship is all fine and dandy, but that’s not the best this movie has to offer. The movie is at its’ best when it’s focusing on the Force-users. All of the stuff involving Force-users is compelling, fascinating, involving, gripping, every word imaginable along these lines. The way they expand the lore, the characters involved, and especially the Force is incredible. Daisy Ridley gives another spectacular performance as Rey, Adam Driver is magnetic as Kylo, and Mark Hamill gives the best performance of his career as Luke. These three are the real stars of this movie, and they do an exceptional job of drawing you in and never letting you go.

I almost feel like writing a Star Wars review is one of the most difficult types of review to write. I have more issues with the movie than what I got into here, but they’re all spoilers. I cannot talk about a few of the biggest problems I have with this movie because they’re spoilers. I’m almost considering making a separate review that has no restriction on spoilers. We’ll see if that actually happens.

Barring some questionable, spoileriffic plot elements and the entirety of that casino planet, this movie was a lot of fun. Because of just how good the stuff with the Force-users was, I want to be able to call this movie great. Unfortunately, because of how inconsistent it was in quality for the first two acts, I have to just call it “very good.” I don’t think a 7/10 is exactly a scathing review, though.

7/10.

Up next: Tommy Wiseau’s Electric Boogaloo.

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