After seeing every “Star Wars” theater release in my lifetime since “The Phantom Menace”, I had to wonder; could “The Last Jedi” do the first nine installments justice?
I still remember going with my dad to a packed theatre to see “The Attack of the Clones” and most likely enraging most of the movie goers by standing in the isle and pretending to lightsaber fight along with the characters on the screen. However, my dad saw I was having fun and let me do it whether anyone around us liked it or not. Though my pretend lightsaber fights are now done in private, the sense of wonder surrounding a galaxy far, far away has not faltered.
When a new trilogy was announced, I was surprised and skeptical like all fans. I was happy to hear of more Star Wars movies, but I did not want to see the movies that inspired me run into the ground. Like everyone else, I just had to wait.
In December 2015, the wait was over and I was blown away by J.J. Abrams’ first crack at the series, “The Force Awakens” and I was excited to see how Rian Johnson would interpret the series with the ninth cinematic installment, “The Last Jedi” (eighth if you don’t consider “Rogue One” to be part of the series).
I went into the theatre Friday with a nervous stomach and high hopes. On first view, I was highly disappointed. I felt confused, thinking that Johnson took the franchise away from George Lucas’ original vision and even took it away from Abrams’ episode seven. I wondered if others felt the way I did. The effects were stunning. Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher, and John Boyega gave great performances, and Mark Hamill gave the best performance of his life. However, so much was different.
I felt as though director Johnson had trivialized much of what made “Star Wars”. The attempts at humor, while not bad individually, seemed to overwhelm the plot’s seriousness and make whole characters seem like comedic relief instead of integral parts of the storyline. Characters and situations that were hyped up for two years did not seem to pan out at all, leaving uncertainty about the new trilogy’s future. Aspects of some characters changed dramatically, and it seemed the formula of “Star Wars” was being thrown away for a new and very different approach. However, the next day, I decided to give this movie another chance.
Now I was expecting the differences, and that helped a lot. I saw better Johnson’s vision for the franchise. His character development and other plot choices made more sense, and I was able to appreciate the movies in the context of a new directorial vision.
The cinematography idys brilliantly executed, the writing is solid, and the new characters in the the canon are likable and add new aspects to the Star Wars universe. This is also the most diversely cast Star Wars movie to date, giving more people the opportunity to see themselves in one of the most influential sagas in American cinema.
The lessons in this film strike home in current society and will impact modern culture for years. There is still much to be gained from the story about a galaxy far, far away and maybe more than there ever was before. I just had to get used to the idea that this is a new product that is just influenced by the old. While I still question some of Johnson’s choices, including the abundance of humor, many of those risks paid off and moved the narrative in an interesting and exciting way.
I am still unsure how this series will move on from this installment, as it shattered all of my expectations, but I can see the vision a little more clearly. I give this movie a 4/5 rating.