Under Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi


Courtesy Photo

“The Last Jedi” stands as one of the best “Star Wars” films since “The Empire Strikes Back.”

Eli Maierson, Copy Editor

The original “Star Wars” was a landmark in cinematic history. It revolutionized special effects, and its score is perhaps the most recognizable of all time. It was the first true blockbuster and the first movie to gross over $300 million. As my father often tells me, “Every movie borrows something from ‘Star Wars.’”

It’s almost impossible for any modern film to live up to the lofty standards of greatness set by the original trilogy. Yet “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” does just that.

“The Last Jedi” is a celebration of all the things that make “Star Wars” great: wry humor, bizarre and cute creatures, incredible action sequences and stunning cinematography. But instead of feeling redundant, “The Last Jedi” takes all of these ideas a step further, culminating into the best “Star Wars” movie since 1980’s “The Empire Strikes Back”.

The humor is almost always entertaining, and is crucial in drawing the audience into the dialogue. While some jokes feel more forced and clunky than others, there’s nothing truly painful (I’m looking at you, Darth Vader pun in “Rogue One”).

“The Last Jedi” has an overload of interesting and lovable aliens. Crystal foxes, Caretakers, Fathiers and of course Porgs throw the audience deeper than ever into the galaxy far, far away. But action, as in all “Star Wars” films, takes center stage. Thrilling lightsaber battles and starship fights get better with each installment, as the drama builds and the special effects technology grows.

The film does an excellent job of developing beloved characters much further than previous installments in the franchise. Po, Finn and Rey are no longer just “the good guys”; they become real people with emotions and connections to each other. Even well-established heroes such as Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia reveal an extra layer of depth to their character. Perhaps Luke is not the legendary hero Rey (and the audience) envisions him to be.

Rose Tico, a mechanic who accompanies Finn on his adventure to disable an enemy ship’s tracking device, is a refreshing personality who adds levity and tragedy to the story. She presents a side of the Rebellion the audience hasn’t considered before: what it’s like to lose a family member in the fight against the dark side of the Force. I am generally hesitant of introducing new main characters late in a film series, but Rose’s naivete and devotion to her family balances well against the experienced, often stoic Finn.

Kylo Ren is the crown jewel of the film. With an excellent performance by Adam Driver, Kylo Ren proves to be the most emotionally complex villain in the “Star Wars” canon. He stands in stark contrast with the quieter, colder evildoers generally found throughout the series. As his relationship with Rey and Luke develops throughout the movie, he only becomes more captivating to watch.

However, not every character is given a proper story arc. Captain Phasma, who had what one would generously call a “role” in “The Force Awakens,” makes a return. Her scenes often feel underwhelming, and given the proper backstory and action scenes, she could have been fleshed out into a much more satisfying villain.

While I enjoyed “The Force Awakens,” the prior movie in the series, I realized that much of its appeal was derivative of the simplistic yet compelling plot of the original “Star Wars.” “Empire” is far too iconic and memorable to be remade in this fashion, and so I was wary that “The Last Jedi” might seek to remake “Empire”. Fortunately, “The Last Jedi” is a brand-new story, with consistently captivating scenes and very little reliance on the original trilogy. The plot twists and turns so often that much of the movie is completely unexpected, a refreshing feeling after the repetitive feel of “The Force Awakens.” Two separate scenes were so stunning that I had to look around at the audience to verify they were seeing what I was.

“The Last Jedi” shatters all expectations for a modern “Star Wars” installment. It was the perfect next step in the new trilogy, adding emotions and character development to previously established heroes and villains while continuing the series’ magnificent score, special effects and action sequences. “The Last Jedi” proves itself to be the strongest “Star Wars” movie of this decade and one of the most memorable experiences in the entire series.