The Last Jedi: The Best Star Wars Film Since Empire
Review by Blake Haughton
Ever since the debut of A New Hope, the Star Wars franchise has built itself a comfortable formula that it’s two trilogies have used for success. With that in mind, it’s easy to anticipate that we’ll fall into the same pattern with the the latest trilogy, but that's not the case with The Last Jedi.
Rian Johnson deviates from the formula, almost inverting it entirely, truly taking us to a galaxy far, far away that feels much different from what we've seen previously. Not to say that the scope of things is dialed down — action is all over the movie — but Johnson makes some very bold statements on the universe, and they will change the way we look at things in the coming days. Honestly, the best description for the film is one that people have been using ever since the last trailer dropped: “This isn’t going to go the way you think.”
To loosely give a synopsis without hitting on spoilers it would be like this:
“While the rebels were able to fight and successfully defeat the First Order at Starkiller Base, their location is nonetheless known. As the Resistance begins their flight, they are hounded by the First Order, and backed into a corner. Meanwhile, Rey begins a journey of self-discovery.”
The Last Jedi brings the arcs, motivations, and choices of our characters (both new and old) into question. This provides really great insight into who these newly introduced characters are as individuals, as well as showing us new layers to our previously established figures. The challenges presented toward each and every one of them show the depth of their persona. Sometimes the choices they make are poor, and the film does a really great job of capturing the consequence of these actions, showing us the sacrifice and bittersweet feeling behind each Rebel victory.
The score, like all Star Wars scores, is sweeping, operatic, and almost always present; however, there are moments where the absence of sound is utilized to its fullest, building to some truly unforgettable moments. The film does get off to a bit of slow start, with more cringey jokes, but once it gets that out of it's system and finds it's footing, it takes you for an amazing ride — the best since Empire.
Johnson does just about everything right to heighten the tension, and the flow of the story is so seamless and organic that I was never disengaged by what I was hearing or what was happening on screen. The special effects and the set pieces are incredible, creating visuals that get you lost in the atmosphere Johnson and his team curate so well. The writing of this movie, however, is its most integral part.
While every aspect of the picture is good, the writing keeps the plot moving while remaining meaningful, still keeping things lighthearted at times of great darkness (and at times, TLJ is quite dark). There were some silly jokes, but it was dialed down more than with TFA, and I'd say that a majority of the humor in the film lands. TLJ is mostly action and drama based, shaking up the mythology we've previously come to know, and delivering massive pay offs along the way.
One thing that some might harp on is how the timing of events. Rey’s time on Ach Too would've been anywhere from 3-5 days; whereas the Resistance story arc plays out over a span of no more than 3 days. However, the juxtaposition meshes really nicely.
There is a lot going on in this film as well — four major story threads, some connected to each other — but I think that Johnson and editor Bob Ducsay (who also worked with Johnson on Looper) found a way to keep it all together. The post-climax wind down drags on a little, but it really needed to in order for there to be a proper setup for the next movie, which is really the exciting part. The way in which things end leaves so much potential for the future that even sunglasses can’t stop you from seeing how bright it is.
Rating: 4.5 porgs outta 5.
What you think this was one of the best Star Wars films ever made? Are you excited to see how Rian Johnson will conclude the saga? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments below, and as always remember to viddy well!