Monday, December 18, 2017

[Review] Star Wars: The Last Jedi

"Breathe... Just Breathe..." Luke tells Rey as she sits upon a sacred rock, finding her inner self. The same could be said to us as an audience, considering all the hype, anticipation, excitement, and fan freak-outs that come with a new Star Wars release. The Last Jedi -- if you're counting -- is the 8th entry in the saga, and I'm pleased to say that director Rian Johnson delivers a thrilling adventure, as well as an intriguing extension to one of the world's most beloved and regarded franchises.

The film picks up shortly after the events of 2015's The Force Awakens, checking in with the spirited Resistance fighter Poe (Oscar Isaac), journeyman Finn (John Boyega), and General Leia (Carrie Fisher, R.I.P.) as they continue their battle against the conflicted baddie Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and his master, Snoke. Meanwhile, the series' new driving force Rey (Daisy Ridley) attempts to recruit the legendary Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) from his island retreat, and maybe just learn the ways of the Jedi.

This space opera grips hold and entertains from opening crawl to end, striking a solid balance of humor, heart, heaviness, and the beautifully shot action sequences that we come to expect. And while many of the plot missions and infiltrations remain familiar, the story explores new settings and introduces some great characters and spunky creatures along the way. Porgs -- the highly expressive, little puffin-like runts -- seemed to be a fan favorite before this film even hit theaters. And on the human front, there's the unlikely maintenance worker Rose (Kelly Marie Tran, a revelation) who's abruptly thrust into action, playing a significant part in this tale and operating as one of the film's most pleasant surprises. Speaking of surprises, this film is full of them. The narrative boasts twists and turns, pushes and pulls, challenging complexities, and emotionally stirring moments.

In fact, there's a lot going on at once here, and a couple odd choices are made (I can't go into detail), which is why the film serves well in a second viewing, especially after you've digested the initial and overwhelming awe. The Last Jedi is also the longest film in the series, clocking in at two and a half hours -- but if you're like me and immerse yourself into this world, you won't want it to end. It all results in a stellar culmination of climaxes, and it also makes us anxious for the next installment.

With themes of friendship and sacrifice, the film's strength truly lies in its characters, and it keeps a grasp on nostalgia as well as what the future may bring for these souls. Like many Star Wars films before it, we look to The Last Jedi for optimism and hope in all things good, even when everything can go awry. It's compelling to see such a diverse group of individuals unite for a common cause. The story is also about holding onto what's important. To quote a line that's indicative of the sentimentalism of Star Wars itself, as well as those who've passed on: "No one's ever really gone."

* 8.5/10 *

Be sure to Like Fade to Zach on Facebook!
And Follow me on Twitter: @Fade_to_Zach

No comments:

Post a Comment