Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Force Awakens was great, but the film played its story close to the chest with plot points and pacing similar to A New Hope. It’s not surprising that it would play things somewhat safe, given the fact that The Force Awakens was the film to usher in a new era of the Star Wars franchise, one that would be producing a new film set within its universe every year. If The Force Awakens was the A New Hope of the sequel trilogy, then that makes The Last Jedi The Empire Strikes Back. And while the two films do share a couple of similarities, The Last Jedi predominantly carves its own path between the light side and the dark side and delivers a stunning and enthralling space spectacle worthy of its namesake.


Following the events of The Force Awakens, the First Order has destroyed most of the Resistance with the exception of a small group of rebels led by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). As she struggles to keep what little hope remains alive, Rey (Daisy Ridley) is on a mission to find Jedi Master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and convince him to return from his self-imposed banishment and once again bring a balance to the Force.


There are three primary stories going on simultaneously in The Last Jedi. The main story centers around Luke and Rey as she attempts to show him that the Jedi are still needed and that he must return. While that is going on, Leia and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) are being pummeled by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), and their battalion of First Order ships. As a last resort, a newly healed Finn (John Boyega) and newcomer Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) travel to the casino planet of Canto Bight on a mission to find a person of interest who is vital to saving the Resistance ships. There’s a lot going on at once, and my biggest grip with the film is that it’s continually jumping from one storyline to another, disrupting the pace of the first half of the film. The action is intense, though, and every storyline has its fair share of great moments.


The Star Wars franchise has always been about two opposing sides; the light and the dark, and while The Last Jedi continues to highlight the ongoing battle between good and evil, it really shines when it explores the grey area in between. Many of the new characters introduced including Benicio del Toro’s criminal thief and Laura Dern’s Vice Admiral Holdo are never clear-cut in their intentions, and they’re constantly evolving throughout the film. It’s the same for some of the well-established characters as well, and keeps you guessing right up until the very moment something happens. The Last Jedi is about breaking down all the preconceived notions you have from the previous Star Wars films and building something new from its ashes.


The Force Awakens was a wonderful reintroduction to the franchise, but it’s The Last Jedi that feels like it’s moving the story forward in big ways. There are some truly magical moments in the film, and one involving Laura Dern that may just be my favorite scene from any Star Wars film ever. From the luxurious wealth of Canto Bight to the contrasting red and white minerals of Crait, both the visuals and the story are absolutely breathtaking. I can’t even count the number of times I found my mouth either agape in amazement or spread wide in a smile.


Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the centerpiece of this new trilogy, not only the connecting of its beginning and end but also a transition from the old to the new. From its iconic opening crawl until the end credits begin to roll, the film doesn’t stop building in intensity. It’s one of those films you simply don’t want to end.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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