I am warning you before you read another sentence, I have drafted articles about Star Wars: The Last Jedi. All of them end up riddled with spoilers. This one is no different. You’ve been warned.
Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I managed to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Now, if you’ve read some of my other articles, you know I’m not a devout Star Wars fanboy. In fact, I’m quite a bit more critical of science fiction than I am of horror, but that’s only because I expect so much more of the genre and with Star Wars being the epic, generation-spanning saga it is, I expect the universe from it. While I loathe the prequel trilogy and often find many glaring moments of plagiarism and poor storytelling in the original trilogy, I’ve enjoyed the overall style of the latest installation in the ongoing epic of the Skywalker family.
Episode VIII begins in very much the same way as Episode V, with an evacuation and an epic space battle. To call it impressive would be an understatement. One of the things I love the most about Star Wars is the fact that you can always count on seeing some of the coolest starships engaged in epic combat. The First Order Star Destroyers, which are pretty much leftover Imperial Star Destroyers with extra ablative layers, are kind of cool. The First Order’s Dreadnought is even cooler. But none of them compare to the massive glory that is Snoke’s Star Destroyer. Imagine a fleet of Super Star Destroyers from Empire, all linked together in a flying wing. This moon-sized mega ship — again, there’s a lot of overcompensation in a galaxy far, far away — is super impressive, but super slow.
This leads to my first real problem with a critical plot point. The ship is incapable of chasing a single rebel cruiser fast enough to obliterate it. In fact, the entire First Order fleet can’t seem to get within effective weapons range of this cruiser, that is burning fuel like an oil fire in Texas. Keep in mind, this fleet was able to track and catch up to the rebels at faster than light speed, but no one thinks at any moment to spin up the hyper drive and jump a half a mile in front of this limping cruiser, in order to wipe out the rebellion once and for all. OK, sure, I’ll accept this as imperialist arrogance and allow the plot contrivance to continue.
Meanwhile, Rey’s trip to the Jedi temple is going as well as expected, as a reluctant and petulant Luke Skywalker spends half of his time moping about Emo Darth Vader… I mean, Kylo Ren, and the other half of his time being kind of a dick. Reluctantly, he agrees to a half-assed crash course in the ways of the Jedi, which abruptly ends when he senses that Rey, like Emo Darth, is substantially stronger in the Force than himself or any other Force user he’s ever encountered. Sending her away, she somehow magically learns a ton more about her abilities by the end of the movie, without any real training or guidance. The Force works in mysterious ways. Right?
This episode also promised to shed some light on two of the biggest mysteries from The Force Awakens: Who is Snoke and Who are Rey’s Parents? Well, don’t expect any resolution on either, especially Snoke. Star Wars doesn’t delve too deep into a character’s backstory post-mortem, unless it’s Boba Fett. We do, however, get another version of the Kylo Ren origin story that completely goes against the one we got in Episode VII, so you know, look forward to that.
All my complaints aside about unanswered questions and baffling plot contrivances, the new trilogy is fast becoming my favorite in terms of character development and actual storytelling. The people and their interactions aren’t forced or phony. While many of them do fit into familiar archetypes, they are flesh-and-blood characters with stories and personalities. There’s a sense of humor in this new trilogy that was completely lacking in Episodes I-III and an attempt at effective storytelling never before seen in Star Wars. Some of the scenes are shot so beautifully, in such grace and detail that it feels like art. Others, of course, are just blast ’em up, run of the mill sci-fi action sequences that are still pretty enjoyable.
The film also felt like a fitting and beautiful tribute to Carrie Fisher. Each scene with the late, iconic actress and author felt like a gift to the audience and, at times, a visceral reminder of her passing. As we approach the first anniversary of her passing, her role in The Last Jedi seems to be almost poetic, as she ushers in a new band of rebels to fight against the dark side.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is not without its faults and problems, namely writing. The visuals range from “meh” to absolutely stunning and, as a farewell to Carrie Fisher, it’s a fitting end. Die-hard fans and the casual sci-fi enthusiasts alike will definitely enjoy it and I know for my part, I’ll be going back to see it again. Until then, may the Force be with you. Look at that, went the whole review without mentioning porgs.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens in theaters today.