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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Once the immensely popular and beloved THE FORCE AWAKENS and ROGUE ONE proved to fans that Disney was committed to producing spectacular, dynamic STAR WARS adventures, the specter of the ill-fated prequel trilogy was finally exorcised.  With thrilling action sequences, great story development, and solid performances by the entire cast, the latest chapter in the saga, THE LAST JEDI, is an example of blockbuster filmmaking at its finest.

Picking up immediately where THE FORCE AWAKENS left off, the First Order looks to squash the rebellion once and for all.  Attacking with a merciless fury under the direct orders of Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and General Hux (a hilariously over-the-top Domhnall Gleeson) look to systematically eliminate anyone who stands in their way.  Meanwhile, the rebels, lead by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) have entrusted the fate of their survival in the hands of Rey (Daisy Ridley) who has been given the monumental task of finding Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and bringing him to the battlefront.  As Rey immediately discovers, however, Skywalker is now a shell of his former self.  Living on a tiny, secluded island, he has abandoned the Force and everything associated with it.  He emphatically refuses to join the fight, believing that the era of the Jedi has come to an end. 

Despite his initial misgivings, Luke learns that Rey possesses the ability to tap into the Force, and reluctantly agrees to train her.  We learn that she is his first student since his former protégé, Ben Solo (now known as Kylo Ren) went to the dark side, and committed acts of unimaginable evil.  Skywalker blames himself for the ensuing intergalactic tragedies, and can’t shake the shame and guilt roiling inside. 

There are a number of other subplots that unfold within the 2-and-a-half hour running time of THE LAST JEDI, including an attempt by the daring Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) to keep the rebellion and everyone in it alive, and an exploration of the complex relationship shared between Ren and Rey.  This storyline is particularly engaging largely thanks to the performances of Ridley and Driver.  They both lead tortured existences, plagued by their past and troubled by the uncertainty of a cloudy future.  As it was in THE FORCE AWAKENS, Driver’s portrayal of Ren is marvelously magnetic.  Though it is impossible to usurp Darth Vadar in the category of iconic cinematic villains, he is a character that has far more depth than virtually anyone in the STAR WARS franchise. 

Director Rian Johnson had the difficult task of following in the footsteps of J.J. Abrams, but has delivered a film that is easily one of 2017’s most entertaining films.  His production had all of the high-flying, thrilling action sequences that one would expect in any STAR WARS adventure, but his successes go well beyond that.  The visuals in the THE LAST JEDI are nothing short of stunning.  While staying true to the films came before it, there are a number of awe-inspiring moments that allow this installment to stand alone on its own merit.  Sweeping landscapes, deep space battles, and desolate worlds fuse together to deliver a staggering number of beautiful scenes and sequences. 

To their credit, every cast member was superb.  It was wonderful to see Hamill embody the confounding and often frustrating Luke Skywalker once again, while John Boyega, newcomer Kelly Marie Tran, Gleeson, Serkis, Fisher, and Isaac all deliver phenomenal turns as well.  Perhaps more than any other STAR WARS film that preceded it, the execution by the cast of THE LAST JEDI help enhance the film in immeasurable ways.  Striking the right balance of drama and humor (which, with the exception of ROGUE ONE, is one of the most important aspects of any STAR WARS production) they lure the viewer deep into their fantasy world, allowing each audience member to be fully enveloped by what is unfolding on the screen.  It’s certainly been a while since a blockbuster such as this had me so utterly transfixed.   I’m certain there will be those who find the aforementioned running time far too long, but I’m here to tell you that, as a STAR WARS nerd at heart, I never wanted it to end.

A special thanks goes to Regal Cinemas at Destiny USA for allowing me to attend this month’s film.

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

RATED: PG-13

RUN TIME: 2h 35min

GENRE: Fantasy/Science Fiction

STARRING: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels

DIRECTORs: Rian Johnson

Writer: Rian Johnson

GRADE: A

Brian Miller
Film Critic
Based out of Central New York, Brian Miller is a film critic who works in television, radio, and print. Providing passionate and energetic takes on every movie he sees, he looks for the best in a movie, not the worst.