I am very aware that my writing a review for this movie may largely be a pointless exercise.
The good majority of you may not even make it to this sentence, whether for very worthwhile reasons of not wishing to come upon any spoilers (none here) or just already knowing that you’ll be seeing this movie anyway, so why bother with cluttering your head with someone else’s opinions ahead of time? The valiant film critic presses on in the hopes that providing primer thoughts will enhance your epic viewing experience.
Actually, here’s a spoiler: in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, there are these things called “porgs” which are these little land creatures with the biggest eyes you’ve ever seen and cutest caw you’ve ever heard. These porgs live on the island where we last saw new Jedi Rey (Daisy Ridley) locate the mythic Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in hopes of having the recluse train her in the ways of The Force at the end of this trilogy’s reboot, The Force Awakens. Seriously, these little things’ DNA seems to be “the most freaking adorable little things that exist in all of space,” – like if a penguin mated with Grumpy Cat (eat your heart out, BB-8).
But what are the porgs’ relevance to The Last Jedi, a mostly fan-servicing second act in the rebooted trilogy? Well, their inclusion to this story points to a line that Dark Side of The Force pledge Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) speaks in the movie (don’t worry people, it’s in the trailer too): “Let the past die.” While Kylo’s moody plea to get Rey to leave all previous allegiances to the Rebellion, the Jedi – whatever have you – and join him in a galactic takeover, it’s a sentiment that couldn’t be further from the commercially minded intentions that Emperor Disney has laid out in their new ownership of the Star Wars universe. While the porgs might be cute eye candy to add another level of new to this story, the story itself is nearly note-for-note exact to where George Lucas’ original trilogy tracked with The Empire Strikes Back, here remixed for a new generation. In this reboot in this galaxy of “far far away” land, we know where we’ve been and we know where we’re going.
As a lifelong Star Wars fan (who brought his light-sabers into the theaters when the prequels were released), I’m happy to report that The Last Jedi doesn’t not satisfy Star Wars fans.
Much like Empire, The Last Jedi also advances two different pieces across the chess board: the story of young Jedi-in-training Rey and the deterioration of the Rebellion fighters, here matched against General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Supreme Leader Snoke (a CGI Andy Serkis). However, the struggle is in the great balancing of all things in this universe from all moments in time: the balancing of the old and the new, of clunky duty and inspired new discovery. To this end, more characters are added to this fight: There’s the return of our old-old favorites – Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), sister General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher, in her final role with much to do); our new-old favorites – Jedi-in-training Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) who continue to lead The Resistance; and our new-new favorites – Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern), huckster DJ (Benicio Del Toro) and Resistance fighter Rose (Kelly Marie Tran). All characters continue to lock into the grid in neat configurations, but like a kid with their growing number of toys, when you go to pick up one set of action figures, the quicker you must also put them down to keep playing with the rest. And really, the table is only so big to fit everything to begin with.
It’s all a task that would make a service droid like R2-D2’s head spin. But Jedi Master Rian Johnson, who has announced that he will be writing and directing a new trilogy of Star Wars films after The Last Jedi (are new faces teased in this film?), shows he has enough directorial vision and force to take over piloting duties the J.J. Abrams got off the ground with The Force Awakens (interestingly enough, Abrams is set to return to land the ship with the conclusion of the final film). It’s only a bit of a let-down to feel how Disney-fied the Star Wars world now is (it’s a lot funnier then I thought it would be), really Johnson is beholden to keep this ship on its trajectory of another classic Joseph Campbell penned hero’s journey.
At the end of the day, I guess I’m not trying to say that The Last Jedi is not a fun space epic. As a lifelong Star Wars fan (who brought his light-sabers into the theaters when the prequels were released), I’m happy to report that The Last Jedi doesn’t not satisfy Star Wars fans. In fact, there are a good number of images and sequences that suck the air right from the room and are sure to make fans do back-flips in their chairs. While it feels so fully-stuffed that it all might just explode like any of the endless spaceships here do and whose remains must now float and litter the world above, The Last Jedi, like its porgs, adds enough new fun here to reach its end.
. ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence.