The saga continues as Rian Johnson unleashes some intricate revelations along with bringing some fun comic humor in the mix.
The Resistance is still under threat from the First Order, led by Supreme Leader Snoke. When Alliance pilot Poe Dameron disobeys a direct order in order to cripple one of the First Order’s major ships, it comes at the price of losing many Resistance fighters. Even worse, in the First Order’s counterattack, General Leia Organa is seriously hurt and is replaced by Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo. On the upside, reformed Stormtrooper Finn has awaken and along with Poe, BB-8, and mechanic Rose Tico, whose sister died in the Resistance’s attack, decide to find a way to disable the First Order’s trackers.
Meanwhile, Rey has arrived in Ahch-To where he finds the long lost Jedi master Luke Skywalker. Learning what has happened, Luke decides the Jedi should end. However, he decides to teach Rey after being convinced by R2-D2. While training, Rey finds herself connection to Kylo Ren, who still falls to the dark side and Snoke. When the two slowly bond, Rey begins to learn some shocking revelations and while she can’t convince Luke to join the Resistance, after her training, she decides to return to the fight. In the ensuing chaos that follows, everyone involved will become affected in one way or another and a new war is set to begin.
It’s been two years since we saw the official saga’s last entry, The Force Awakens, and it is well worth the wait. With Rian Johnson at the helm, the writer-director took a smart approach at bringing a film that is high on the level scales as in this reviewer’s opinion, the second best installment of the Star Wars saga (Sorry, but the best one still remains The Empire Strikes Back, episode five). Johnson wisely injected some beats of humor while keeping the saga alive with more action, drama, and most importantly revelations ready to set up Star Wars Episode IX.
There are two important plot points to look at when seeing this film. The first is the continuation of the battle between the Resistance and the First Order. In what is her final performance, Carrie Fisher could not have done a better job as General Leia Organa. While for a good portion of the film her character is incapacitated and replaced by Laura Dern’s Amilyn Holdo, Fisher truly makes the most of her screen time and a resounding round of applause is much needed for Fisher as well as that of Mark Hamill as the returning Luke Skywalker.
In the second important plot point, Skywalker has gone from hero to a conflicted soul looking for peace. However, with the support of some old friends, finds a sense of redemption when he teaches Rey, played by an excellent Daisy Ridley, the ways of the Jedi after he has failed teaching Kylo Ren, played this time by Adam Driver not so much as a spoiled brat but someone who now realizes what he is made of and how to unleash his potential.
Oscar Isaac and John Boyega continue their bromance as ace pilot Poe Dameron and reformed Stormtrooper Finn as they can be seen in a Han Solo-Lando Calrissian type of relationship without the sense of betrayal. Poe has become somewhat of a danger to himself at times soon learning a lesson in the process while Boyega wants to remain loyal to the Resistance. Kelly Marie Tran makes a welcome addition to the team as Rose Tico, with Veronica Ngo making a cameo in the film’s opening battle as her sister. Joonas Suotamo takes over for Peter Mayhem (who serves as consultant) as Chewbacca, who now finds sort of new buddies in the little bird like Porgs of Ahch-To, which brings some of the aforementioned comic relief along with some wisecracks that all begin with Poe Dameron mocking the stern-faced General Hux, played again by Domhnall Gleeson. There are a few surprises here and there that help drive the film and while some may not like the comic relief or even something along the lines of The Empire Strikes Back, the film ultimately does a good job of both closing and opening the gaps for the next installment.
In the end, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the second best installment in this reviewer’s opinion and it becomes both a bittersweet and amazing finale that will set up the next film in 2019.
WFG RATING: A
A LucasFilm Ltd. Production. Director: Rian Johnson. Producers: Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman. Writer: Rian Johnson; based on the characters created by George Lucas. Cinematography: Steve Yedlin. Editing: Bob Ducsay.
Cast: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Domhnall Gleeson, Andy Serkie, Lupita Nyong’o, Anthony Daniels, Joonas Suotamo, Gwendolyn Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Benicio Del Toro, Billie Lourd, Amanda Lawrence.