Review: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” fulfills audience expectations with elegance and humor

In “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Daisy Ridley returns as Rey, a fierce young Jedi who must find her place in the fight between evil and good.

Photo courtesy of IMDb.

In “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Daisy Ridley returns as Rey, a fierce young Jedi who must find her place in the fight between evil and good.

Vikram Achuthan, Staff Writer

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Entering the new year and bidding farewell to a tumultuous 2017, it is hard for people to agree upon anything; the past year has brought plenty of dispute and disagreement. However, there are few fan bases as large and explosive as the one that has backed the “Star Wars” franchise for the past 40 years. And just when it seemed as if 2017 would end in a muddled state, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” came to the rescue.  After two years of wait, the second installment of the latest Star Wars trilogy is here. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” hit movie theaters on December 15, 2017, and unleashed a storyline filled with more adventures.

Directed by Rian Johnson, the installment resumes right where the previous movie, “The Force Awakens”, left off. Perhaps the most intriguing part of the previous film was the final scene, showing the fearless Rey (Daisy Ridley) holding up a lightsaber to Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). This electrifying scene illustrates the beginning of a new Jedi era, and Johnson does an excellent job of carrying on with that moment. The effortless transition from “The Force Awakens” to “The Last Jedi” allowed the new film to have a more captivating plot.

The movie officially starts with an entertaining battle scene, in which Carrie Fisher, who passed away in 2016, portrays General Leia Organa commanding the rebel forces. Scenes of the power-hungry First Order led by Supreme Leader Snoke bring back memories of Emperor Palpatine, as he ruthlessly tried to destroy the rebel forces. “The Last Jedi” was successfully able to restore the sentiment that had been lacking in “The Force Awakens”. With this scene, Johnson was able to immediately capture the message that each installment in the “Star Wars” franchise attempts to relay; a message of hope and courage, even when the future sees bleak.  

Poe (Oscar Isaac) and his droid, BB-8, are back in the action to blow something up. We also see the return of the Finn (John Boyega), the valiant Resistance soldier, who teams up with a shy, but determined engineer named Rose (Kelly Marie Tran). While both Finn and Rose are characters with strong backstories that play an important role in the movie, Boyega and Tran underplay their respective roles, and their storyline turns out to be bleak compared to the rest of the movie. “The Last Jedi” introduces Vice Admiral Holdo, played by Laura Dern. A character who at first seems cowardly and unwilling to fight, Admiral Holdo eventually claims a spot in the “Star Wars Hall of Fame” as a beacon of bravery.

Mark Hamill returned to the Star Wars stage, giving a phenomenal performance as Luke Skywalker. Skywalker is skeptical about training Rey because he is fearful she will turn to the dark side. “I’ve seen this raw strength only once before in Ben Solo. It didn’t scare me enough then. It does now,” says Skywalker, when addressing Rey’s pleas to train her.

The most thrilling storyline in “The Last Jedi” is the relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). We learn more about Kylo Ren’s past, and how he turned to the dark side. For a moment in the film, it seems as if all will end well, but those hopes are quickly shattered. Driver underplays his character, which actually builds tension between Kylo Ren and Rey. While Driver is able to hold the audience’s attention and build suspense, Ridley is not as enthralling as she was in her performance in “The Force Awakens”. Perhaps she will be able to redeem herself in the next film, where most of our questions will be answered.

 

Accompanied with phenomenal visual effects and excellent sound design, “The Last Jedi” sustains the spirit and emotion of “The Star Wars” franchise. From the beginning to the very end, “The Last Jedi” conveys the importance of hope in a time of fear, and resilience in a time of crisis. May the Force be with you this new year.

 

 

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