I went into the newest Star Wars movie with the excitement of a man who avoided every trailer and news articles about the film with determination, but in hindsight I think even if I hadn’t, the surprise would’ve been pleasantly inspiring anyway. Here’s my spoiler-free review. The Last Jedi wastes no time getting to the action, employing perhaps the most useful opening crawl I can remember in one of these films. As opposed to other entries in the saga, where we’re briefly reminded of the events in the previous adventure, Episode VIII surprised me with a setting that is basically the complete opposite of the outcome I expected after the ending in The Force Awakens.
From its opening moments I could see that this was clearly an entirely different outing from the norm. This story wanted to start with a bang. In it’s colossal two and a half hours we see the forces, both good and evil, at play in ways that we have never seen before, evolving our understanding of what the force is. Characters like Luke and Leia are mostly there to remind us of what previous films have already established about their world, but Rey and the rest of the new cast are the ones pushing that knowledge to new places, and that’s where the movie becomes the most exciting to watch.
The film was written and directed by Rian Johnson, who uses the cast’s previously understated ability for comedy to deliver the funniest Star Wars film yet. These moments of levity help alleviate the tension of the plot, which follows the footsteps of Rogue One in showing us villains that are both expert tacticians as well as truly vicious enemies, but in spite of having its sad moments, the film never feels heavy or somber.
What’s most refreshing about the The Last Jedi is that, unlike The Force Awakens, this film doesn’t have to deal with all the setup required for us to care about these characters. All the action and main story beats are carried well by the superb acting from the cast, and almost every scene pushes the plot forward while also letting the characters drive the film’s narrative. Not once did I get the feeling I was boringly being fed exposition or explained things. Instead, events began unfolding on screen and the ideas were presented so clearly that I could just go along for the ride, watching as my favorite characters began their transition from hapless pawns to active shotcallers in the game.
In spite of all the things it does good, the movie did suffer from a small instance where it felt it was dragging out for too long, specifically during Finn and Rose’s mission and the whole DJ (Benicio del Toro) situation, which frankly left me thinking the film could’ve done without DJ and figured out a much better way to get the two young rebels back into the main plot. That aside, Finn got the best lines in the film again and I really got fired up when an important character from his past came back to settle a score.
All in all I had a blast watching The Last Jedi. From beginning to end it had everything I’ve come to hope from these movies in both exciting new and homaging old ways. It had moments of tear-jerking nostalgia mixed in with truly spectacular action sequences, some of which I never thought would happen in the plot. As far as Star Wars movies go, it set a very high bar for what’s coming next and more importantly, it reminded us that this galaxy is still full of many surprises and new things to learn.