“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” continues the new story of the Skywalker Saga begun in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. That prior movie was a smash hit, and it set the table set for many options and story lines. So, now this next step in the story takes some very bold moves and it makes a solid impact on the Star Wars legacy. Rian Johnson has created a masterful addition to the line of ‘Star Wars’ movies, and he can be proud that his is among the best.
Based on the prior ‘Force Awakens’ movie, there are some old favorites and some new characters in the current movie. The Resistance is led by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). The secluded Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has been located by Rey (Daisy Ridley). Luke had been isolated on a remote planet by choice because he failed in training new Jedi students, including his nephew Ben Solo (Adam Driver). Ben has turned to the Dark Side of the Force, led by Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) a cruel master of the First Order. His group has taken over the galactic government and rules by military might. Ben Solo is now known as Kylo Ren, and he is responsible for death of his father. His mother is Leia and she is on the run from the First Order.
General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) is Snoke’s current henchman, and his troops are hunting down the Resistance. Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is a hot-shot Resistance pilot who leads a daring raid on Snoke’s star fleet. His new friend Finn (John Boyega) is ready for action. Finn is a former Stormtrooper, but he switched sides to join the Resistance. He meets up with Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), who has low-level job but will become a major asset to Finn.
Rose and Finn set out on a quest to find a person who can get them access into First Order Star Destroyer craft. Luke meets Rey on his isolation planet, but he is not moved to join up and help the Resistance. Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) is assisting Rey to convince Luke to come back. Chewy soon becomes friends with the little creatures on the island called Porgs. They are like mini penguin-type birds with huge expressive eyes.
Rey has a strong connection with the Force that is unexplained. Her power becomes big concern for Luke, because he had seen that before in Ben Solo. But when Ben turned to the Dark Side and became Kylo Ren, Luke knew he had failed. Rey had fought Kylo Ren (in the prior movie) and now they have some type of telepathic bond. They can communicate and they know that something big is about to happen.
Rose and Finn find a nameless thief (Benicio del Toro) on a distant planet called Canto Bight. This low-life thief says he is a master codebreaker who can get into the Star Destroyer and stop General Hux from catching Leia and the Resistance remnants. Leia suffers in an attack and is put into medical sick bay. The command passes to Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern), who stops Poe from attempting to attack Snoke’s star fleet. They have suffered too many losses.
Rey and Kylo Ren join up in a light saber battle in Supreme Leader Snoke’s headquarter office, with red-robed Guards protecting him. Thsis sequence is a magnificent production of fight choreography that just elevates the entire movie. Rose and Finn are caught and are threatened by Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie). Phasma was Finn’s old boss as the commander of the Stormtroopers. BB-8 is a personable little droid, who was saved in the prior movie by Rey, and now is very helpful to Rose and Finn.
Poe is working to undermine Vice Admiral Holdo’s command, but Leia comes back to be in control. There is a major sacrifice made to allow the remaining Resistance fighters to escape Hux and Kylo Ren. There is a final battle in an old Resistance base on a nearby planet. This allows for a major one-on-one battle between Kylo Ren and Luke Skywalker, which can be described as an ultimate ‘Jedi Mind Trick’.
The build-up for this movie has been huge, and Rian Johnson has delivered a major success. The story line fits in perfectly with the prior movie, and the original characters are well placed in the overall structure. There is a welcome amount of humor and lightness, along with the heavier aspects of life and death, sacrifice and treachery, and good versus evil.
There are strong characters and a good mix of people facing tough decisions, and then dealing with the consequences. The acting is top notch all around. Special kudos to Mark Hamill, who is coming back to a character he has not portrayed in decades. Plus, the visual shot selection and special effects are outstanding. Also, the wonderful John Williams is back doing the music that made him a legend back in the day…
Is it the most perfect movie? It is a bit over-long, and there are some extra moments that go on too long. The whole section with Finn and Rose going to Canto Bight and meeting up with the ‘thief’ breaks the rhythm of the overall movie. There dangerous villains that are disposed of too quickly. The plot point of Luke refusing to help out, but then changing his mind is a bit obvious. But beyond the nit-pick items, this is one damn fine movie. There are even little bits with R2-D2, and C-3PO, and with the Master Yoda’s ghost…
And the most important thing – no Porgs were injured during the filming of this movie!