Luke’s right: this isn’t going to go the way you think, and that’s a good thing.
Picking up after The Force Awakens, General Leia (Carrie Fisher) is on the run with the Resistance after the super-weapon sneak attack by General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). While the First Order base was destroyed, it happened too late to prevent a shift in the balance of power. Leadership will be tested on both sides of the struggle, from the highest commander to the lowest mechanic. Meanwhile, Rey (Daisy Ridley) finally hands the galaxy’s most infamous light saber over to the island-bound Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in hopes of getting help for the Resistance and answers about the Force, specifically Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). But what’s with all the doe-eyed bleating penguin birds? Also: lots of things blow up.
Fans on social media are threatening any who reveal the hyperspace secrets of this new Star Wars film, and while that’s a bit extreme, it calls attention to the masses new and old who love this fantasy space opera conceived by George Lucas. Now firmly entrenched at the House of Mouse next to Marvel Ent. and the recent acquisition of 21st Century Fox, the latest film has last year’s Rogue One to live up to. Has the success and sacrifice of that film influenced Episode XIII in all the best ways that matter, or will this be a step down onto a backwater junk planet to live out the rest of our days scraping by?
Admit it: you’ve already decided whether you’ll see this or not. It’s true there are echoes of The Empire Strikes Back here in the same way The Force Awakens called back A New Hope. Overarching themes of growing up have been infused with those of growing old and passing the torch, seasoned with some strained humor but also what we want to see — hey, filmmakers can be fans, too. But the best news is they take risks in the storytelling, and not just to keep us guessing; they’re genuinely setting a new expectation going forward… and that’s the point. Events fans dreamed of happening unfold differently than imagined, and that bit of reality highlights what’s really going on here: Star Wars is pushing out of its comfort zone.
At two and a half hours, there are more than a few gaping plot holes you could drive a dreadnought through, mostly in terms of transition. Similar to the later seasons “Game of Thrones,” the time to get to anywhere in the galaxy has been reduced to a matter of will rather than parsecs, with heroes and villains where they need to be and when they need to be. Fortunately, there’s plenty of in-between banter, including more than few self-effacing moments. Viewers will be left to wonder if some things seen were done in pure silliness or a self-inflicted jab… or why not both?
If the main intent was to be epic, The Last Jedi delivers, with plenty of cheer-worthy moments and a few plot-driven spectacles of imagery that leaves Episode VII visually in the dust: light saber battles, ground combat, and actual strategy employed in starship combat. When the veil of secrecy lifts and enough folks decide this can be talked about openly, expect there to be divisive discussion in this new turn for a galaxy far, far away — discussions already well underway on hidden social media threads labeled “spoilers.”
And that’s the best reason to love Star Wars.
Four skull recommendation out of four