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The Ups and Downs from Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star+Wars%3A+The+Last+Jedi+was+the+most+recent+addition+to+the+Star+Wars+saga.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi was the most recent addition to the Star Wars saga.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi was the most recent addition to the Star Wars saga.

Lindsey Bowers

Lindsey Bowers

Star Wars: The Last Jedi was the most recent addition to the Star Wars saga.

Grant Blumberg

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For the past three years, moviegoers were able to start off the holiday season right with a new Star Wars film. Star Wars: The Last Jedi was the most recent addition to the saga, and director Rian Johnson had a monumental task to follow up the story of the highly rated 2015 film, The Force Awakens. The hype in the weeks building up to the film’s release was incredible. The Force Awakens introduced an entirely new plot line into the Star Wars canon, and fans were eager to have some of their questions answered: Who are Rey’s parents? Who is Supreme Leader Snoke? There are dozens of fan theories that seek to explain these mysteries, and I know I was eager to see which theory proved correct. This review will take a look at the good, the bad and everything in between from Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Johnson did a good job of handling the opening text crawl, because it was always going to be difficult to start this film exactly where the last one left off. What would be the purpose of the crawl if there was no backstory to fill the audience in on? Starting with the Resistance base evacuation made the transition smooth and was a smart move on Johnson’s part. Oscar Isaac’s character, Poe Dameron, took center stage in the opening scene in his assault on the First Order Dreadnought ship, defending the notion that he was the best pilot in the Resistance. After the brilliant first battle scene, we transition to the same shot that The Force Awakens left us on: Rey reaching out to hand the lightsaber to Luke Skywalker. I was eager to see what Mark Hamill’s first words in a Star Wars film in almost 30 years would be, but the audience was left waiting after Skywalker’s first scene was without dialogue. Many fans were upset with Skywalker’s character in the film, but Johnson was left with little choice considering the plot of The Force Awakens. Like Luke says himself, why would he come to the most remote place in the galaxy if he was going to be so easily persuaded to return to his friends?

Most of what I took issue with in this film, however, was how much it changed what we knew about the force and the Star Wars universe in general. All of the sudden, the First Order has developed the technology to track ships through hyperspace. We knew Leia was force-sensitive, but the scene of her magically floating back to her ship after the bridge was blown up was cheesy, unnecessary and ruined a good opportunity for Leia to have a much deserved and needed death. Luke’s death, on the other hand, was peaceful and sacrificial. Johnson missed out on a chance to bring a deserved death to Carrie Fisher’s character, creating a bit of a “catch 22” for the next film: Leia will either have to be brought back through the use of Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI), which could be seen as disrespectful towards Carrie Fisher, or she will have to have an off screen death, which could be seen as disrespectful to the character of Princess Leia.

One act of the film that has been heavily criticized was the story arc of Finn and Rose travelling to Canto Bight, the casino world. The plot stalls, and Rose’s character is generally difficult to like. This arc could have easily been cut out to help the pacing of the movie and trim the two hour and 35 minute running time. However, it gives more depth to the Star Wars universe and is a callback to the cantina scene from A New Hope for the fans of the original trilogy.

Now for some more positives: There were a number of exceptional scenes that left the audience breathless. The scene where Rey and Kylo Ren squared off against Supreme Leader Snoke’s guards was thrilling and brilliantly choreographed, showing off their lightsaber skills. The complete silence when Admiral Holdo steers her ship into Snoke’s ship, The Supremacy, was an excellent addition to that scene. Luke’s sacrifice at the end of the film was a fitting way to handle his death, and the shot of his body disappearing in front of the dual sunset will not be soon forgotten.

The most redeeming quality of Star Wars: The Last Jedi is its memorability. While there are parts of the film where the plot stalls, the handful of thrilling battle scenes more than make up for them. How can one forget Kylo Ren’s betrayal of Snoke and the subsequent fight scene? Luke and Kylo squaring off on the surface of Crait? For such a highly anticipated film where every tiny detail is scrutinized, it is important that the actors deliver, and the plot fits into the Star Wars canon. The Last Jedi hit both of those marks head on, and as time goes on and Episode IX is released, viewers will truly appreciate the brilliance of Johnson’s film

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The Ups and Downs from Star Wars: The Last Jedi