THE LAST JEDI Takes Its Place among the Best Films of the Star Wars Franchise

Film: Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi
USA Release Date: December 15, 2017
Written By: Rian Johnson
Music Composed By: John Williams
Produced By: Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman
Directed By: Rian Johnson
Running Time: 152 Minutes

Daisy Ridley is Rey and Mark Hamill is Luke in THE LAST JEDI (2017, Walt Disney)

Daisy Ridley is Rey and Mark Hamill is Luke in THE LAST JEDI (2017, Walt Disney)

Rapid Reviewpoints

Story: 10 (out of 10)
Performances: 10
Visual Style: 10
Effects: 10
Music: 10
Overall: 10
Verdict: Must See
Comments: I loved The Force Awakens, but The Last Jedi manages even to exceed that high-water mark for the last two decades of Star Wars movies. The intense film turns out to be better than I could have ever expected. The twists, turns, and character developments had me on the edge of my seat for the whole adventure. Mark Hamill (Luke), Carrie Fisher (Leia), and other cast members turn in excellent performances, but this trilogy belongs to Daisy Ridley (Rey).

December 17, 2017, Update: Additional thoughts on the movie below.

Spoilers are fair game beyond this point, including in the discussion/comments section.

Daisy Ridley is Rey in THE LAST JEDI (Walt Disney, 2017)

Before the preview trailers began during yesterday’s screening of The Last Jedi, I killed some time by typing out a few last-second theories and thoughts. More thoughts than theories, actually. Here are some of those, along with my follow-up comments now that I’ve seen the movie.

Theory: After “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” the familiar Star Wars title and music will not kick in as expected. Instead, The Last Jedi will begin with a “cold open” right where The Force Awakens ends, with Rey finding Luke and offering him the lightsaber. Once that business is resolved, the main title will kick in.

This was a blown theory. While a radical idea in terms of the episodic films, I would have loved this, just to go against tradition (think the pan up after the Attack of the Clones opening crawl).

Instead, the movie places the Rey and Luke scene within the context of other events not shown at the end of The Force Awakens, pushing that part of the narrative slightly more forward in time than we realized back then. This worked well.

Rey better not turn to the dark side.

This was more of a thought opposing a theory rather than a theory of my own. To the extent that I have paid attention to The Last Jedi spoilers and speculation over the last couple of years (I have tried to avoid them), I kept encountering fans who thought that Rey would turn to the dark side during this movie. Some even wanted this, as a kind of reversal of Luke’s heroic journey in the original trilogy.

I loved Rey in The Force Awakens and having her turn to the dark side after becoming invested in her as a character would have left me quite irritated to say the least. When she tells Luke, “Kylo failed you. I won’t,” I nearly cheered (and I’m not one of those who does that).

It was a relief this did not happen. I remember having the same sense of relief when a similar rumor for The Force Awakens that Luke had succumbed to the dark side turned out to be false as well. This rumor even resurfaced to an extent for The Last Jedi, but I never bought into it. The Rey one had me worried, though.

How will they memorialize Carrie Fisher?

The title card at the end, “In loving memory of our princess, Carrie Fisher” was perfect, with the piano playing Leia’s theme. There were a number of other moments within the film that could be viewed as tributes as well.

Fisher did a fantastic job reprising Leia in this movie. She seemed a little “off” in The Force Awakens, but not so here. We will never know what she would have done in Episode IX, which reportedly would have featured Leia even more so than The Last Jedi.

A few years ago, Dark Horse comics put out a limited series that told the tale of George Lucas’ original rough draft of Star Wars. I would love to see Marvel do something like that a few years down the road with a “Legends” story based on the original Episode IX script that was scrapped after Fisher passed away.

Should they have changed the ending of The Last Jedi? Perhaps Luke lives and Leia instead becomes one with the Force? I suppose not. Unlike Han, at least Luke can return, in a sense, as a Jedi spirit.

Speaking of Han, I did for a split second think he was going to appear briefly when Luke told Kylo that Han would always be with him. Admittedly, this would have been too much and a bad idea. It would, however, have been a way to see Luke and Han together one last time, even if just for a flash.

Will Luke still have his green saber from Return of the Jedi?

This is my favorite lightsaber of them all, so I was hoping for an appearance. It does show up in the film during flashbacks, though the one Luke uses in his “battle” against Kylo at the end is a new model.

I hope Luke feels like Luke, and that he survives this movie.

One out of two. I’ll take it, particularly since his death was handled so well.

Theory: Snoke will be about the size of Yoda, if he is even shown in this installment as more than a hologram.

I should post all of my Episode IX theories here in advance next time. That way, you will know exactly what will not happen in the movie. Snoke pretty much felt like Palpatine in this movie. I was shocked, and pleased, that they chose to kill him off now rather than waiting until the next movie. It will be interesting to see how the First Order fares with the unhinged Kylo Ren as Supreme Leader. He is going where Vader never had the opportunity to go.

Interesting that for all the “Who is Snoke?” speculation out there, the movie does not answer the question. I do not get into many of the supplemental canon materials beyond the films, but I suppose that question will ultimately be answered there.

Theory: At least Anakin and possibly even Obi-Wan will appear as Jedi spirits.

Nope. Yoda! Why didn’t I think of that? So perfect.

I’d love to see Kylo arguing with Anakin at some point, though.

Theory: Finn turns out to be Force-sensitive.

While Rey was obviously strong with the Force in the last movie, I also personally thought it implied Finn had some Force abilities as well. The problem is disconnecting the marketing deception campaign from back then that wanted everyone to think Finn was the Jedi-to-be rather than Rey.

As for The Last Jedi, I would say it does not really prove or disprove this theory. Force-sensitive or not, though, there is much character growth for Finn. I would say the odds of him being Force-sensitive are less now, but there is still a chance.

Will it be disappointing if Rey is not a Skywalker?

After The Force Awakens, I really wanted Rey to be Luke’s daughter. While I am slightly disappointed as a long-time Luke fan, I also like the concept that she is just someone from nowhere that can bring hope everywhere. I loved the nod to this at the end, with the Force-sensitive child, who reminded me very much of young Anakin, who presumably will become part of the next generation of Jedi.

6 thoughts on “THE LAST JEDI Takes Its Place among the Best Films of the Star Wars Franchise

  1. Great review! Sounds like we pretty much had the same reaction. :) I loved this movie; I thought it was bold, exciting and different, yet still felt like Star Wars. None of my theories really came true but I’m actually okay with that. I liked that they surprised me. Luke, Rey and Kylo were the highlights for me. Bring on Episode IX!

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    • I love your review, which goes into far more detail than mine. One item you mentioned that I completely missed is that Rose survived. Somehow I walked away thinking she had sacrificed herself for Finn. So much happening in that final act, I guess my brain couldn’t keep up.

      There was a brief instant where I thought they were actually going to kill Finn off in an otherwise successful attempt to stop the bombardment. This would have been gut-wrenching, yet a fitting and noble end for him. However, I am glad he will return, as I like the dynamics between him and Rey, and we didn’t get much of that in this movie due to the nature of the story.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you very much! I think my Last Jedi review has now taken over the record for my longest blog post, previously held by the Force Awakens. ;) ha ha I think Finn sacrificing himself would have been a poignant and powerful ending, but I too am glad he will return. I loved his scenes with Rey in Force Awakens and am looking forward to seeing them interact in the next one.

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