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Review – Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

FILM REVIEWSTAR WARS EPISODE VIII: THE LAST JEDIWith Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher. Written and directed by Rian Johnson. Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence.. 152 minutes.

star-wars-the-last-jedi-japanese-movie-poster-in-englishThe “Star Wars” franchise turned 40 this year. It’s telling that George Lucas’s two greatest contributions to the series may have been, first, creating it, and then selling it off. Certainly the offerings since the 2015 reboot of the series with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has helped fans forget the dreadful “prequels” which have a place in the hearts of most fans only slightly higher in the canon than the “Star Wars Christmas Special.”

“The Force Awakens” had its plusses and minuses, but for the most part was a strong effort to move the story forward. While Disney – which now owns the franchise – is trying to turn out a “Star Wars” film every year, they are creatively offering films that branch off from the series rather than attempting to do a new chapter every year. Thus last year’s “Rogue One” was a true prequel, a story set just before the events of the original “Star Wars,” and a story focusing on Han Solo is due next year.

This year, though, brings us STAR WARS EPISODE VIII: THE LAST JEDI. In answer to the first question people have: yes, you need to see “The Force Awakens” before you see this. Picking up where that story left off, the film follows two storylines. In one, General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher, in her final role), is leading the remnants of the Resistance in escape after a devastating attack by the First Order, the successors to the bad guys of the original trilogy. Among her crew are Finn (John Boyega), a former Stormtrooper who defected from the Empire, and Poe (Oscar Isaac), a hotshot fighter pilot who doesn’t always follow orders.

Meanwhile, Rey (Daisy Ridley), has tracked down the long-missing Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), now a much older, much grumpier version of the callow youth of the original series, hoping to be trained as a Jedi Knight. All of them are working to the purpose of resisting and defeating Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), who follows the “dark side” of the Force (and happens to be the son of Leia and Han). Rey, who has a mysterious link to Kylo, believes he can be redeemed.

In terms of plot, that’s really all you need to know – and, perhaps, want to know – going in. The resulting film will more than satisfy fans in spite of, and maybe even because of, things we come to expect. Yes, there’s a variation of the cantina scene from the original “Star Wars,” but on a much grander scale than previously depicted. And when Finn and Rose (newcomer Kelly Marie Tran) have to deactivate a tracking device, it is through as convoluted a process as possible.

On the other hand, there are moments of great invention, and some surprising new cast members, some of whom one hopes will return for “Episode IX” (tentatively scheduled for release in December 2019). There’s also some welcome humor, often when least expected. What’s clear with “The Last Jedi” is that the people at the helm now have found their footing, and are taking their inheritance seriously but are not afraid to break new ground. That seems to have been Lucas’s problem with his prequels – digging in rather than thinking about what might happen next. If “The Last Jedi” has a main flaw it’s that it’s too long at just over two-and-a-half hours. When the film is cross-cutting between the escape of the Resistance and the showdown with Snoke, one might assume this was the climax of the film. In fact, there’s much more to come.

Time will tell how Disney will shepherd the “Star Wars” franchise into the future, but for now “The Last Jedi” represents a triumph for the series and will make you forget Jar Jar Binks ever existed.•••

North Shore Movies has given this film a score of 4 out of 5.Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books, including Jar Jar Binks Must Die. His latest novel is Time on My Hands: My Misadventures in Time Travel. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

About Daniel M. Kimmel

Film critic, author, lecturer.

8 responses »

  1. How the hell can all of you critics leave all these reviews praising this movie as if it was the best in all of star wars?! It makes me think all you were paying attention to was the visual effects and didnt consider all the holes the movie left in the franchise. Who was snoke? How powerful was he? How did he get into power? Well i guess we’ll never know because he got sliced in half before we got any information about him at all! Anyone who actually payed attention to this movie would have realized that they now know nothing more than they did after the force awakens, this movie added nearly nothing in the grand scheme of the star wars franchise and the fact you could’nt see that tells me you should not have a job as a critic.

    • Daniel M. Kimmel

      Anyone who was actually paying attention to Episode VII would realize this was taking place a number of years after the events of the original trilogy (Leia and Han have an adult son – hello?) and that a number of details about the interim were going to be glossed over or ignored. Actually we learn a number of things about what’s become of the Jedi, the Empire, and the Resistance. Next time you might focus on the story the filmmakers are telling rather than the one you wanted them to tell instead.

      • Or maybe not because the “story” they portayed was complete trash and any die hard star wars fan would agree this movie was a horrible testament to the skywalker legacy and the star wars franchise as a whole

    • “Well i guess we’ll never know because he got sliced in half before we got any information about him at all!”

      You are a turd… you are such a turd. You’re pissed because the new films aren’t following along with your childhood fantasy of what Star Wars should be… so you spoil a major point for those who haven’t seen the film yet. Way to go guy, way to go.

    • The original trilogy didn’t answer these types of questions at first either. Who was the Emperor? How powerful was he and how did he get into power? If you didn’t read the material around the movies, you didn’t know that at the time either.

      And I don’t see much of anyone calling The Last Jedi the best of all Star Wars. It’s very good, but The Empire Strikes Back is still the best,

  2. No, no one has to see The Force Awakens in order to appreciate or not appreciate Return of The Jedi. Except that the Disney Cognitive Dictatorship pretty much demands that you do. Laura Dern, IMO, put her considerable acting skills on display NOT in the movie but on The Tonight Show when claiming she was such a fan of the franchise she didn’t realize she was saying “pew pew”out loud on the set as blaster sound effects were going off. Pew pew seemed to be her way of saying STAY AWAY & whatever you do don’t stare at the droid-like zombie audience sitting in their seats looking at the screen as if in coma or machine shutdown. Return of The Jedi has me agreeing with such as Ross Douthat movie reviewer of the conservative Nat’l Review. Hey, it happens. No big deal it’s just a movie.

    • Daniel M. Kimmel

      No, it’s not required by law but in terms of plot continuity, it assumes you know what happened in the previous film.

  3. TLJ is the worst of all the Star Wars films. Gaping plot holes, illogical actions, nonsensical character ‘development’, idiotic dialogue, failed attempts at ‘humor’ and a lazy copy and paste of many elements / scenes from episodes 5 & 6. I miss George Lucas.


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