A dramatic, tragic, exciting film taking all of Star Wars in a new direction.
If you’ve been anywhere on the internet during the past few days, you’ve probably realized that a lot of people really liked The Last Jedi, the most recent installment of the new Star Wars films, and some people really, really hated it. I went to see the film on Tuesday, expecting to be at least mildly entertained, and to probably not have any of the nostalgia-induced anger issues that a lot of older fans have been experiencing due to this movie. The Star Wars films were never a huge part of my childhood. In fact, Star Wars itself was only involved in my life through the Lego Star Wars video game that we had on our Wii. I never even saw any of the films until I was over the age of ten. I’m not super attached to the franchise, even now. Some of you may want to kill me when I say this, but I am honestly not a huge fan of the original trilogy. I went to see The Force Awakens simply because the rest of my family was going to see it, and I ended up actually really liking it, way more than I liked any of the previous films. It seemed more serious to me, more believable, deeper, more thought out, better made.
So maybe when I say that I really loved The Last Jedi, and its subversion of tropes and expected twists, the risky moves taken by the filmmakers and the new direction it seems to be taking the Star Wars franchise as a whole, its because I’m not looking at the film the same way as all the angry people.
I never grew up with Luke and Leia and Han. I don’t have any kind of nostalgia for the original films, or even for the unmentionable prequels (shudder). It doesn’t hurt me to see new filmmakers giving us new takes on old characters, or even destroying old characters to make way for the new. I loved having my expectations subverted, loved every twist and turn the film took. It didn’t make me long for the ‘good old days’ of Star Wars. It made me excited for what is to come.
If you’re upset about the film, I can understand where you’re coming from. I’ve had a few childhood favorites ruined for me as well by newer takes. But maybe we could just stop judging one another for how we feel about the film? It is a movie, after all.
But enough of that. This is supposed to be a review, so I should probably be talking about the actual movie.
If there’s one criticism I have about The Last Jedi, it’s that it feels very long. It is, in fact, just over two and a half hours, and at several points in the final act, I actually thought that the film was about to end on a cliffhanger or something. But it does a good job of telling a complete, if quite long story. Often, I find that long movies aren’t necessarily better; in fact they’re often not edited well and need to be cut down. The Last Jedi didn’t strike me that way, though. I didn’t think that there was any way it could have been cut down, unless you had moved the entire third act into the next movie and left the film on a terrible cliffhanger. The pacing feels slightly off, with the first two acts feeling like a complete film, and the final act also feeling like a complete, if much shorter, film, or even the beginning of a new movie. But the pacing within each act is very well done, especially considering the amount of characters who each have to have their screen time and story. At no point did I feel like getting up and walking out because I was bored. I wanted to find out what happened. It just sort of felt like I’d walked into one film and had an extra half of another movie tacked on to the end. Not in a bad way, if that makes sense, but it was still a bit of an odd feeling.
Another thing that felt a bit tacked on was the little political messages about weapons and war. In part of the story we encounter a bunch of rich weapons dealers, who have been selling to both sides in the war and getting wealthy off of the conflict. I don’t have a problem with the message or the issue that this seemed to be trying to expose, it was just presented in a kind of bizarre way in the film, and felt a little off for some reason. Maybe a little too political?
The story of the film, however, was quite well written and enjoyable, while also being slightly darker than most Star Wars films and material I’ve seen. The entire tone of the film seems to have shifted down a few notches, with dark or drab color palates, war worn clothing and environments, and a lot of heavy moments which honestly reminded me of the more recent Marvel films. There was, however, a fair amount of humor to lighten the mood, and while some of the jokes fell flat, it was a nice break from the seriousness of the rest of the movie. The acting was also phenomenal, especially that of John Boyega (who plays Finn) and Adam Driver (who plays Kylo Ren). Rose, a new character played by Kelly Marie Tran, was also very well played and written, and I loved her bright, chipper attitude. She seemed to be having fun in every scene she was in.
A lot of the angry fans seem to be mad about the fact that the film subverts a lot of the tropes we expect in a Star Wars film. While a large part of nostalgia is wanting new things to be mostly the same as the old, so that we can relive that old excitement and experience with a few attention holding changes, viewing the film as I do without that nostalgia, I was very excited about the subversion of tropes and unexpected twists. This film made me excited about Star Wars, something I haven’t really been, well, ever… It’s a new take for a new generation of fans and, personally, I really loved it.
Final rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
“I have never been a Star Wars fan. But I think I just became a Star Wars fan!”
Thank you for reading my review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi! I hope you enjoyed it. Have you seen the film? What do you think? Are you excited to see what happens next in the Star Wars universe? Let’s chat in the comments!