Don’t worry. I’m keeping this review very spoiler-free.
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is the third new “Star Wars” movie in as many years and the second in the trilogy started by “The Force Awakens.” But you already know that.
Let’s just cut to the chase. You just want to know if it’s good. Yes, it’s very good. It’s beautiful. It’s deep. And, it’s long. Really long. And, as a “Star Wars” fan, I loved just about every second of this two and a half-hour-long journey.
The last we saw these characters, Rey, the orphaned maybe-Jedi had just landed on a mysterious island to find the legendary Luke Skywalker and deliver his trusty lightsaber. “The Last Jedi” eventually gets back there, but this chapter starts with a bang.
Once the iconic opening-crawl faded into the darkness, we’re treated to a rousing space battle and a quick re-introduction to many of the characters we first met in “The Force Awakens.” In the first 10 minutes alone, you get a star-load of action, thrills, spaceships, droids, and laughs. A surprising amount of laughs.
The Rey-meets-Luke storyline also continues. In a way, it’s quite similar to Luke’s first meeting with Yoda in “The Empire Strikes Back.” Rey wants answers and Luke wants none of it. And, as you’ve seen in the trailers, Luke says it’s time for the Jedi to end. What does that mean?!
Mark Hamill embraces the gruff and grumbly old Jedi Skywalker with the same passion and heart that seems to mirror his real-life persona. He owns every second he’s on screen.
Carrie Fisher returns as General Leia Organa. She’s still heading up the Resistance and providing the grounded center for the other characters and for the entire film. It’s really great to see how much Leia is part of this story, especially since Carrie Fisher’s passing earlier this year. Ms. Fisher’s love of this iconic character is felt through the entire movie.
Daisy Ridley’s Rey is still as dynamic and exciting as her debut two years ago. The mystery that surrounds her story is notched-up even more; and, her importance in the saga becomes even more clear. Did I mention, she’s a complete badass? Because she is.
John Boyega’s charming Finn is back and still swashbuckling his way across the screen. And, of course, the menacing (and scarred) Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), is back to make everyone’s life a nightmare. Avoiding the spoiler-y stuff, I can’t say much plot-wise, but both actors still deliver fantastic performances.
The cast features a number of new faces, including Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), a charming mechanic and enthusiastic Finn fan. She’s basically a Star Wars fan inside a Star Wars movie. She’s wonderful shout-out to the audience and a valuable player in the storyline.
Other new faces include Laura Dern (Vice Admiral Holdo) and Benicio Del Toro (DJ). But, the less is said in this review about their roles, the better. These aren’t throw-away characters, either. I’m just going to stop there.
Almost every returning character gets time to add depth to their own lore. There’s more back-story, more motivation, and more complexity. Almost any development frustrations fans had with the shallowness of “The Force Awakens” (not me) are addressed in this episode. Rey, Finn, Poe (Oscar Isaac), Kylo Ren and Snoke (Andy Serkis) get satisfying amounts of screen-time.
The depth, complexity and sheer amount of content this Star Wars film encompass are due mostly to writer and director Rian Johnson’s mastery of this cinematic universe. He nails the action beats, the drama, the silliness and the emotion that make up the best of the “Star Wars” films.
And, yes, this is one of the best “Star Wars” movies. Really.
Johnson also does something I think no other “Star Wars” film has been able to adequately accomplish. He makes the size of the Resistance’s struggle against the villainous First Order feel realistically terrifying. More than ever, you can feel the odds at stake. The suspense of the situation is staggering. “The Last Jedi” is fantastic filmmaking. It makes me love this universe even more.
Oh, and we haven’t even gotten to the amazing special effects. And, the jaw-dropping sets! And, the practical creatures! It’s all so good. Just… giddy ridiculous greatness.
I’ve had a few days to process the enormity of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and I’m still can’t wait to see it again (and again).
Yes, there are a couple of tiny things I didn’t love and eventually, I’ll get over myself. I think there are instances like that in every “Star Wars’ chapter (some, more than others). Thankfully, there’s so much to love in “The Last Jedi.”
And, before I forget… have you heard of Porgs? Because you will. They are awesome.