Reel Geek Review-Star Wars: The Last Jedi (spoilers)

The moment we’ve all been waiting two years for has finally happened.  We get to see what happens next in the ongoing story of Star Wars.   When last we left our heroes, they had just blown up Starkiller Base and Rey (Daisy Ridley-Murder On The Orient Express) had found Luke Skywalker (Mark Hammill) on the planet of Ach-To (or Space Ireland, as I called it before I found out the actual name).    She was preparing to hand him his father’s lightsaber when….Credits, and the movie was over.

Now, we pick things up not long after the movie ended, and The First Order, led by “Space Hitler” as I call him General Hux (Brendon Gleeson-Harry Potter franchise) are hot on the tail of the Resistance and are prepared to wipe them out once and for all.   Meanwhile, Rey is trying to get Luke to end his exile, help the Resistance and train her in the ways of The Force.    Finn also gets his own storyline  along with new character, Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), on a mission to get an elite Slicer (hacker, in Star Wars terms) that can save the resistance.   Meanwhile, the connection between Rey and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver)  has gotten stronger, and there’s a shakeup in the leadership of The Resistance and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac-Ex Machina) has to learn that there’s more than one way to be a hero.

There’s a lot going on with this movie, as such it’s the longest Star Wars movie,  at a run time of 152 minutes, it feels almost like I just binged the latest season of a TV show than I did just watching a movie.    Not every character gets to shine, Captain Phasma, I’m looking at you, but that’s where the other media come in to play.    First time Star Wars director, Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper)  has really made a phenomenal movie.  In fact it may be the best Star Wars movie in years, since The Empire Strikes Back level good.

In the article I wrote on that film I discuss the criteria for making a good sequel.  And that is, that it expands on the characters and events of the previous film, that it raises the stakes, and added value to the overall story.  This movie does all of the above and then some.

One of the things that I really loved about the movie was that in part it did away with some of the clichés of the saga.  It may have been a disappointment to some, but I liked the fact that Rey’s parents are really nobody of consequence.   All that speculation and she’s not a secret Skywalker, or a Kenobi, or Kylo’s sister at all.   Where she came from isn’t important, it’s what she’s doing now that make her a legend.

“This will not go the way you think” is more than just a line that Luke gives to a questioning Rey, it’s the way of the movie.   Twists and turns abound, especially in Kylo Ren’s story.  That really took me by surprise, his face/heel turn over the course of the movie was just breathtaking.   He’s come a long way since the petulant whiny brat throwing temper tantrums in the last film.   Adam Driver really makes for an iconic addition to the saga, and I can’t wait to see where things go with him in the concluding chapter of this trilogy year after next.

Along with Kylo Ren, we must talk about Snoke (Andy Serkis)  the Supreme Leader of The First Order.  We get to see him more, but  we don’t really get answers to who he is.  Far as it looks like to me (Emperor Palpatine theme being played during one of his monologues at one point not withstanding) that there is no mystery to him at all, he’s just an evil guy, the big bad of the universe, well at least he was.

I also enjoyed Kelly Marie Tran as Rose, her inclusion felt like a representation of the fans.  The background players, whom, to date have just been doing the day to day, background detail, but greatness is called upon her in this movie as she gets the chance to be a hero, and to show Finn what it means to be one as well.

I loved Mark Hammill in his role here,  he plays Luke as a cross between bitter old curmudgeon and Jedi Master, and it works so well here.  His return to playing the Jedi is a welcome one.   His overall sacrifice, over the course of the movie, is sad, but deserved, and it ends one line of the song while the overall song of Star Wars plays on

Speaking of lines ending, this movie marks Carrie Fisher’s last film before her passing last December, and it feels very much like a fitting tribute to the late, great actress.  She demonstrates some Force abilities that we’ve never seen her do onscreen before, and a new one for the saga overall, surviving in space temporarily after what looked like her death early on in the film.  That moment at first felt cheap, like a copout, but I’m glad to see her role was much larger in this movie than in the past.  It felt like a good note to go out on, her full, final role in the movie.     They dedicate the movie to her, in some text during the credits, but you felt the tribute more over the course of the movie than just in some text during the end credits.

Also, I loved the fact that the Porgs, the penguin mouse things that the internet has fallen in love with since the trailer, were merely pigeon rats than anything else.  Vermin on the planet of Ach To.  Cute vermin, but vermin nonetheless.  Presumably tasty vermin as well, as Chewie was all set to chow down on one he cooked up, were it not for the sad looks on their faces.

It’s the best Star Wars movie in years, and the most visually stunning movie in the saga as well.  So many great visuals that I want framed on my wall in this film.  The movie to me really felt like it was about the overall saga, being passed to the next generation.  It really goes to show you that Star Wars is and will be forever, as long as there is a generation of kids playing with toy lightsabers, there will be a Star Wars.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi  : A+

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