The cast and crew of “The Last Jedi” deserve to be congratulated, they do something that hasn’t happened since “The Empire Strikes Back.”They made a movie that’s almost as rewarding, soul uplifting, and unique as the original Star Wars. I walked into the film expecting a “Empire Strikes Back” retread. Instead I was given a film that adds to the Star Wars universe, was thoughtful and touched on issues of war profiteering, economic inequality, and the treatment of animals, while never failing to visually dazzle through the whole film. This year has had some amazing films but “The Last Jedi” clearly stands above them all.
Rian Johnson as the director of “The Last Jedi” proves to be the equal of Irvin Kershner (director of Empire). Empire set the standard for a generation of what fans expect from the second film in a franchise trilogy. Johnson avoids duplicating Empire by avoiding the temptation for The Last Jedi to just be a film about how the heroes lose this time before their inevitable win in the next film in the trilogy. The Last Jedi is about growth and evolution. There are similarities and many a nod to Empire but these are two very different films. Ultimately the Last Jedi goes its own way and is as a consequence a much stronger film.
The cast proves itself equal to Johnson’s direction. Adam Driver truly turns Kylo Ren into a villain that is as complex and compelling as Vader. Daisy Ridley’s performance as Rey will silence any detractors who are open minded enough to accept the phenomenal performance she delivers. There is a passion and strength and a courage of conviction that wasn’t present in Luke in the original trilogy.
The central question for me coming out of The Force Awakens was whether John Boyega’s Finn was a Jedi or not. After his performance in Last Jedi I don’t know that it matters anymore. The film reveals Finn to be a real hero, who isn’t worried about being a “big deal” in the rebellion he just does big things. Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico is indispensable as soon as she is introduced. Laura Dern as Vice Admiral Holdo and Benicio Del Toro are scene stealers. Mark Hamill…..I won’t say, you need to see his performance for yourself.
The Last Jedi is once is a decade film. There are few if any flaws but it’s greatest achievement is the amount of hope it leaves a viewer with. And that makes a special film indeed
5 out of 5 Stars.