Reel Shorts | Star Wars: The Last Jedi

by Monica Hayes

The eighth installment of the epic Star Wars saga is finally here! Get your popcorn, drink and stay glued to your seat and get set to travel to a galaxy far far away. The question is, will the Force be with Rian Johnson’s version of Star Wars: The Last Jedi or will its flaws turn it to the Darkside?

The Last Jedi picks up where The Force Awakens ends. The Rebellion, having just destroyed the Starkiller base, are evacuating their base on Takodana because the First Order is on their way for payback. But before they can leave, the First Order arrives and immediately starts to power up their new weapon, the Dreadnought, to destroy the Rebel Scum! Anticipating this move, the Rebellion’s best flyboy, Poe (Oscar Isaac) tries to buy time for everyone to evacuate by confronting the deadly weapon single-handedly. In doing so, he ignores General Leia Organa’s (Carrie Fisher) orders and launches his own counter-attack which proved to be successful, but at a heavy cost.

After the failure to annihilate the Rebels once and for all, Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) uses the Force to toss General Hux (Domhnlall Gleeson) around like a ragdoll. He then belittles Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and takes advantage of his insecurities to the point of no return. Snoke goes so far as to say “You are no Vader, you are just a child in a mask!” At this point, Kylo’s lack of confidence, humiliation, and anger begin to surface and in typical Kylo style, he throws a temper tantrum destroying his mask.

Meanwhile, Rey (Daisy Ridley) has found Luke (Mark Hamill) and is trying to convince him to return to the rebellion, but he has lost all interest in the Jedi religion and in the cause. As he stated, “I came to this island to die.” This statement did not dissuade Rey because she is lost herself and is struggling to understand what is going on inside her. What is this new feeling that has always been with her, but just decided to awaken? She doesn’t understand and needs someone to teach her the ways of the Force and who better than Master Jedi Luke Skywalker, right?

Now that the rebels have safely evacuated their base and have jumped to light speed to escape the First Order, they believe they are in the clear to search for a new base. Yea, they thought wrong. The First Order tracked them and knows that if they try to jump again, they would be sitting ducks. Stunned, the Rebels now need to find a way to knock out the tracking device but they need a code breaker to hack their ever-changing security codes. In order to find this code breaker, Finn (John Boyega) and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) set out on a mission to bring the codebreaker back to help disable the tracking device. Enter DJ (Benicio Del Toro) and the adventure begins.

The Good:

Director Rian Johnson had some big shoes to fill when taking on The Last Jedi and he does so very well. Unlike the previous Star Wars movies, this one was lighter and funnier than its predecessors and geared toward millennials than traditional fans. The opening sequence is both thrilling and hilarious. This is an approach that hasn’t been seen before.

Johnson’s continuation of the story that has spanned over 40 years doesn’t miss a beat. Let’s face it, from The Phantom Menace to the current installment (and beyond), Star Wars is centered around on family with exceptional powers, battling the forces of good and evil throughout generations. It started with Anakin Skywalker who passed his powers to Luke and Leia. Leia, in turn, passed it to her son, Ben who later became Kylo Ren. The only unknown is Rey. Her origin has yet to be revealed, but it can be assumed that she is some kin to Anakin. Perhaps granddaughter, but we will just have to wait and see.

There is no breakout performance in The Last Jedi. Driver’s portrayal of Kylo Ren has gotten better, but he still comes off as the spoiled insecure little kid whose obsession with Darth Vader has taken a toll on him. He is quick to throw a temper tantrum and is always trying to prove to himself and everyone else that he is worthy of his lineage to Vader, but he fails at every turn. Ridley was her normal wide-eyed “I want to find my parents and save the world” self. Boyega stayed true to his “we need to get as far away from the First Order as possible” but with one small twist toward the end.

The acting was pretty even, except for Leia. This was to be Leia’s movie where she would finally become the center and driving force of the movie. In her last on-screen appearance as Leia, Carrie Fisher’s performance was awe-inspiring and to know that she is no longer here to reprise her role will be hard to bear and will be felt for generations to come. However, she doesn’t go out quietly. There is one scene that will have a true Star Wars fan screaming “YESSSS!!!! That’s my girl! You Go Leia!!” R.I.P. Carrie Fisher.

The Bad:

While Johnson’s The Last Jedi, has taken this epic story to another level, it also has some drawbacks. As a Star Wars fan from early childhood, I couldn’t help but notice that the last two installments are updated carbon copies of Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Empire similarities: The destruction of the Starkiller base, and the battle at the new rebellion base situated on a planet that resembles Hoth, but instead of snow, there is salt. The role reversal of Luke and Rey is similar to Yoda and Luke. Jedi similarities: The entire dialogue between Kylo and Rey where she senses the “conflict” within him to the Vulcan mind meld between them which is similar to what Luke and Vader had to the “We can rule the galaxy together” speech. It would seem that the imagination and creativity of the writers have left the building and the stories are being recycled.

Overall, there is no need to mention that the special FX/CGI is off the chain, the action is excellent, the laughs and cheeky comments are refreshing, and the storytelling is on point, but could use some work. True fans will like The Last Jedi but will notice the flaws. Just know, this joint is 2 ½ hours long so go to the bathroom before and sip that drink slowly because you don’t want to miss a minute!

Grade B