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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Movie Poster for Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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Movie Poster for Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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Movie Poster for Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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In 2015, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens was released after years of anticipation and speculation. This film, directed by JJ Abrams, received mixed to positive reviews. Personally, I thought the movie looked great in terms of visual effects, and matched the aesthetic of the other six films, but as many fans have pointed out, the plot was all too familiar to that of the original 1977 classic. I remained optimistic that director Rian Johnson would take the franchise in a new direction for Episode 8, with his positive track record of original films like Looper (2012) and Brick (2005). In a way, he did just that. Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi was significantly different from the past films, and Rian Johnson has made his mark on the Star Wars saga and lore. But is a different film really all that matters?

The Last Jedi picks up fresh off the heels of The Force Awakens, with Rey (Daisy Ridley) on Ach-To asking for Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to help the resistance fight the First Order and train her to become a Jedi Knight. The First Order seems to be reeling from the loss of Starkiller Base, and characters Poe (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), and BB-8 are still fighting the good fight. Then, after establishing everything that is going on, the story and its characters split, forming three subplots. For the purpose of this review I’m going to state my opinion on each of these subplots individually, although they occur simultaneously in the film. First, the weakest and most uneventful story of the film is the adventure of Finn, BB-8, and newcomer Rose (Kelly Marie Tran). Finn was an interesting character in The Force Awakens, and I was looking forward to learning more about him, but, unfortunately, his task in this movie is incredibly dull. His story involves a long string of events required to disable a tracking device. It’s unnecessarily long and entirely uninteresting. The characters never seem like they’re in any actual trouble, and one specific action scene just felt ridiculous and childish. With a heavy-handed message about animal cruelty that doesn’t flow at all with the rest of the movie and new characters that don’t do anything to gain my interest, this roughly one-third of the movie just didn’t have to be there.

The second plot, which is slightly better than the last one I discussed, involves Poe’s struggle for respect from his superiors, General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and newcomer Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern). Carrie Fisher gives a powerful last performance having passed away this past summer, and it is a beautiful tribute to her character. I was much more engaged with this story than the others because of its bigger stakes and better characters. It still seemed to drag on with parts being very redundant and unnecessary, but Carrie Fisher really made these scenes shine. The final subplot involves Rey and Luke and is arguably the most anticipated part of the movie given the cliffhanger ending of The Force Awakens, and it delivers, for the most part. Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker is much different from the one we saw back in 1977, being an older and much more damaged character, and Hamill’s acting choices are phenomenal. Daisy Ridley also demonstrates incredible acting with Rey and her conflicts with Luke and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). All these scenes are so beautifully shot and well-acted that the rest of the movie seems to pale in comparison. With several plot twists and an unexpected appearance of a certain character, the scenes on Ach-To are just exhilarating.

By the time all these plots come to fruition in the final act, I was exhausted. At two hours and 35 minutes, The Last Jedi is the longest Star Wars film to date. Sometimes movies can make long run-times feel shorter by making every minute shine and keep you interested, but by the final scenes of the movie, I wasn’t too invested in the plot and was just waiting for the end. There were several scenes that could have been cut to make the ride feel more exciting, but in the end, The Last Jedi made me feel underwhelmed and very conflicted. The highest highs of the movie are bogged down by the lowest lows, and while it did have some of the best Star Wars scenes yet, it also had some of the worst. I wanted to love this movie, but it’s just too overstuffed with characters old and new and struggles to give each of them something meaningful to do, leading to a long runtime and a significant amount of filler scenes that tarnish the beautiful ones of the film.

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