Star Wars: The Last Jedi is far, far more than your usual dose of galactic fun


Reprinted with permission from Lucasfilm Ltd.

I had my reservations when I walked in. My faith in Star Wars was rekindled when I walked out.

With the cult-ish fan base surrounding Star Wars, I was naturally skeptical of the hype surrounding The Last Jedi — the long-awaited Episode VIII. But director Rian Johnson takes us  on a wild ride through the galaxy, with emotional character development, breathtaking visuals and unending plot twists.

Having a new eye build on the series has certainly been a good move. Johnson’s creativity shines through in his powerful use of color scheme and compelling scenery. Blue shadows arc in scenes of the rebels and are most prominent in one peaceful moment between two reunited characters. Blood red and white are juxtaposed not only in Supreme Leader Snoke’s throne room but also in the scenery of the final battle — a beautiful contribution to the idea that perhaps the light and dark sides aren’t so different after all when  both are responsible for  tremendous bloodshed and destruction.

The diversity of Star Wars characters has long been called into question, and Johnson does not disappoint. With three separate storylines he showcases the population and scenery of new planets. At times Johnson seems to distract too much; for example, the porgs are cute but serve no real purpose, and we get stuck watching their interactions with Chewbacca. The humor never really derails the plot too far, though. We also get to see technological changes, such as the trick Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) does and variations on lightsabers. It’s impossible to dissect anything else without giving away important plot details, so I’ll save that for another day.

As many fans have predicted, the intriguing connection between Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) builds along with their power. We’ve never had a Sith apprentice so drawn to the light (Darth Vader doesn’t count because all we see is a last-minute redemption) or a Jedi protagonist so drawn to the dark (except perhaps Anakin Skywalker, but Rey doesn’t cave in). Captivating scenes in which Rey and Kylo communicate through the Force bond show the blurred boundaries between light and dark. In this movie, anyone can be conflicted, and both Jedi and Sith are capable of great good or great evil. Also, it may seem like a minor detail, but I enjoyed seeing Kylo and Rey have some difficulty fighting other characters — Jedi aren’t infallible for once! Star Wars can be nuanced!

My only complaint is that the plotline becomes too narrow in this movie, so much so that it begins to undermine the whole premise of intergalactic warfare and glosses over the character sacrifices (something Rogue One did too last year), but it’s understandable since there’s a lot of action to get through. It’s going to be great to see how Johnson intends to weave together unresolved plotlines in the next movie.

The Last Jedi is a must — not just for the nostalgic elements, but also for the new universe.