Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017): Another Year, Another Star Wars Movie

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“Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi” is directed by Rian Johnson (Looper, Brick) and has a cast including Daisy Ridley (Only Yesterday, Murder on the Orient Express), Mark Hamill (Batman: The Animated Series, Kingsman: The Secret Service), John Boyega (The Circle, Detroit), Adam Driver (Logan Lucky, Girls), Domhnall Gleeson (American Made, Ex Machina), Carrie Fisher (Family Guy, The Blues Brothers), Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina, Drive), Gwendoline Christie (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, Game of Thrones), Laura Dern (The Founder, Jurassic Park), Billie Lourd (Scream Queens, American Horror Story), and Benicio Del Toro (Snatch, Sicario) and continues the journey of Rey, Finn, Poe, all of those people in the second installment of the “Star Wars” sequel trilogy.

Before we go any further, I’m just gonna give a little information towards the reality of this movie. The movie just came out, there are some films that maybe some people would care about that others wouldn’t, and there are also films that people just don’t care about at all. As far as I’m aware, a significant portion of the world’s population cares about “The Last Jedi.” So let me have everyone know, for the sake of the world’s population, this review is SPOILER-FREE for those who haven’t gotten a chance to see this film yet. If I spoil anything in the movie, perhaps regardless of whether I warn anyone or not, the Internet, and by that I mean pretty much the ENTIRE INTERNET will want to kill me.

This film is a follow-up to “The Force Awakens,” I love that movie, I saw it in the theater four times, I think it’s the best movie released in 2015 despite it being a rip-off the 1977 “Star Wars.” Although there is a positive to that, specifically that this may be the best “special edition” of “A New Hope.” In this brand new sequel, I was hoping for one thing. It’s no ripoff! I wouldn’t mind them tinkering around with certain ideas from “The Empire Strikes Back,” after all, this is the second installment in the sequel trilogy, much like how “Empire” is the second installment in the original trilogy. Does this movie take some ideas from “The Empire Strikes Back?” It does, but having seen this, I wouldn’t say it goes overboard. In fact, I’d even say it takes an idea from “Return of the Jedi.” Going back to “The Force Awakens,” I wouldn’t say it’s a complete ripoff of “A New Hope,” because it borrowed a trait shared by multiple characters from “The Empire Strikes Back.” In a way, you can say the two movies are similar that way.

Going into this film, I couldn’t help but think to myself “They better not freaking redo “Empire,” which as mentioned, didn’t happen. Walking out of it, it exceeded my expectations. This film continues to show why “Star Wars” is one of the greatest franchises ever. Is it as good as “The Force Awakens?” In my personal opinion, no. Some people will probably say it’s better given it’s less of a copy-paste type film, even though elements of that do exist here. However, there are those that will probably appreciate this film based on what it does with its characters. There are flaws, and I will touch upon them right now.

In the movie, there’s a subplot involving the character of Finn. There’s a point in the movie’s first act where Finn meets this girl named Rose, played by Kelly Marie Tran (Hot Girls on the Beach, Untouchable). There were a couple moments that I wasn’t really all that invested, and as far as the rest of the film goes, their relationship builds to a point where I thought their current status wasn’t exactly earned. It didn’t affect much of the movie, although it is a problem.

Next up we have Porgs. Say what you want about them. You think they’re cute, annoying, unneeded, whatever. My thoughts: They added NOTHING to the film! All they really are, to my lack of surprise, are a bunch of puny guinea pig-esque creatures that turned this movie into a toy commercial for a brief moment! On a positive note, it’s NOWHERE near as bad as what “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” did with Baby Groot! The Porgs weren’t even in the movie that much! It’s not like they’re the next Jar Jar Binks or something! Seriously though, as much as I’m surprisingly not annoyed by the Porgs, I am still unhappy they had no real use character-wise. But what do you expect? This is a Disney product after all…

Everything else in the movie however, was excellent. The progression of the characters was pretty much perfect! Seeing Luke again was a treat, and Mark Hamill didn’t fail to impress me at all! The visuals, whether they’re practical or not, as usual, are spectacular! The movie managed to convince me with its darkness, I’m so amazed that this came out as well as it did!

As mentioned, I consider “The Last Jedi” to be an effective character movie. For example, you have the character of Rey. You may remember in “The Force Awakens” she has a strong connection with the force, and she went off to meet Luke Skywalker. This sequel continues right where the last film left off, the two talk and they seem to have different attitudes and mindsets. Daisy Ridley as an actress is absolutely impressive, I want to see more of her in other movies. I’d probably have to wait a bit to get that because “Star Wars Episode IX” is happening. I will also say, there’s one scene where she’s on the island, there are Reys in a line, just prepare yourself for that scene because it’s awesome.

Speaking of characters who make a return in this film, Adam Driver is back as the evil Kylo Ren. In the last movie, Adam played a very convincing villain, I loved his performance as Kylo, and his relationship to Han Solo made the movie better. Now he’s here in this movie and he’s just awesome. I will say though, I do have a minor complaint, and it’s a continuity error. At the beginning of the movie, we see Kylo with his mask on. If you remember Kylo in “The Force Awakens,” we last see him with his mask off. This is on Starkiller Base, where he takes his mask off in a different part of the planet-wide facility. Based on what this movie suggests, and you can say this is suggested in the last movie as well, Kylo made it off the planet just in time before it completely exploded. They never really showed Kylo going back for his mask. Maybe General Hux, who played a part of the First Order in the last film, got it as the planet was collapsing. Given Kylo’s condition, it’s unlikely he went back, so what happened in all actuality? Nevertheless, Kylo was an absolute beast and he continues to prove his effectiveness as a villain. One more thing before I move on, in “The Force Awakens,” Rey roasts Kylo with this line:

“You. You’re afraid. That you’ll never be as strong as Darth Vader.”

In that film, the line literally made Kylo at a loss not only for words, but for actions. The roast party isn’t over, because there’s another one in “The Last Jedi” that regardless of which one I technically like better, I thought had greater execution. Instead of making Kylo speechless, we got to see him rage out like a five year old who wants to run away from home. I won’t say who says the roast, but it’s amazing.

Speaking of characters on the Dark Side, let’s talk about Andy Serkis’s character of Supreme Leader Snoke. In “The Force Awakens,” we’ve only seen Snoke through a hologram. Since his first appearance, fans have developed theories about Snoke’s true identity, some of which I found interesting. Is he Jar Jar? Is he Mace Windu? Is he Boba Fett? And this last one that absolutely intrigues me, is he Darth Plagueis the Wise? Heck! There’s even a Ranker list called “12 Theories About The Identity of Supreme Leader Snoke In Star Wars.” All theories aside, Snoke was awesome! He was as evil as he needed to be and there’s one scene with him that’s a huge highlight of the film for me.

John Boyega also returns here as Finn and I mentioned how Finn meets a certain character whose relationship I couldn’t appreciate as much as I would have wanted, but there’s more to Finn in this movie than just meeting someone. For example, he has a more active role in the Resistance, he’s fighting more than he did in the last movie and comes off as more confident, and speaking of fights, he reunites with Captain Phasma, who is a character that has gained a fan following in the last movie, and the two have a duel.

Speaking of characters from the last movie, Poe Dameron returns here. I see Poe as the “new Han Solo.” I say this based on his hairstyle, his mannerisms, and his ability to pilot a ship. Granted it’s not a freighter and it’s a simple X-Wing, but he reminds me of Han Solo. I’ve seen many people on social media saying they love this character. I don’t think he’s terrible, but I also would say the reactions to the character happened to be a little overhyped. OK, yes, he did take out a bunch of fighters in one sick shot, but there’s not really much that made Poe stand out there compared to other characters. I’d say after watching this movie, I’d say Poe was better here than he was in “The Force Awakens.” He added more to the story, and seeing him struggle at a point in the film made him stick out. As you can see in the image above, Poe is running alongside BB-8, who was once again, charming. One of my favorite scenes in the film is actually when BB-8 is “disguised” as an MSE-6 droid. Don’t know what that is? It’s basically this tiny car that is often something that rolls around any floor that is the property of the Imperial forces. BB-8 is copying the sounds it makes and I love it!

I cannot explain Mark Hamill’s role as Luke in “The Force Awakens” better than the movie’s Honest Trailer did:

“THE EASIEST MONEY MARK HAMILL EVER MADE.”

Basically, it’s just him standing on an island, looking at Rey. Here in “The Last Jedi,” Mark Hamill does a lot more as the character of Luke. I don’t know how many people will agree with me when I say this, but this must be my all time favorite performance when it comes to Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker. As if the writing wasn’t great enough already, Hamill aced his character as an old hermit. Luke has become a regretful, anti-social, and broken person after a long period of time. The transition is extremely fluid and made me truly care for Luke. You know how in the teaser for the movie, it’s exposed that Luke wants the Jedi to end? That’s explained in this film, and the explanation just made me feel sorry for Luke in general.

On the topic of original trilogy characters, let’s move on to the saddest thing about the movie, Carrie Fisher. Her final “Star Wars” performance was a thing of beauty. Much like in the previous film, she didn’t have too much to do, but for what she had, it kept me interested. There’s one scene that’s actually kind of exposed in the trailers, and it’s one of the best parts of the entire film. The one where Kylo Ren is flying in his ship, Leia’s aboard another ship, and the two notice each through the power of the force. Also, much like the other “Star Wars” films, there’s no credit scenes, however, during the credits, right before the scrolling segment begins, there’s a text stating “In loving memory of CARRIE FISHER.”

Let’s take a look at two previous “Star Wars” installments, “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Attack of the Clones.” This film, like those, was advertised to be dark. “The Empire Strikes Back,” to me, was dark based on the conflicts going on and the upper hand which the Empire has during the film. “Attack of the Clones” tries to be dark but ends up failing by not making you believe in what’s going on and focusing on the romance between Anakin and Padme that just makes the movie feel like a fantasy novel of some kind. The darkness of this film was present and I felt it deeply. The Resistance is getting wiped out all over the place, Luke is broken, and the climax isn’t all that fortunate either. It gives a similar feeling to the climax of “Empire,” which ends on a cliffhanger. After seeing this movie, I’m just eager to see the ninth installment!

John Williams (right) returns in this film as the composer. He’s done all the main films in the saga, but he didn’t do last year’s spinoff, “Rogue One.” Out of all the scores I’ve heard from John Williams in the “Star Wars” saga, I didn’t really think this one impressed me as much as the others. I’ll probably have to either watch the movie again or listen to the soundtrack to be sure, but the soundtrack just sounded repetitive, there was nothing really new. At least that’s what I recall. Granted, there were times where the music was awesome, but it just felt like stuff I’ve heard before. Speaking of that, the opening song from “The Last Jedi” has a similarity to the opening song from “A New Hope.”

Staying on that topic, not to put the movie down or anything, but the opening felt, well, unexpectedly fast paced. I mean, none of the “Star Wars” openings ever felt “slow,” but the movie quickly got to dialogue which was unexpected.

I won’t really go on for too much longer, but another highlight from the film is the sound editing. Out of any “Star Wars” film I’ve seen, I have to say, this might be the best when it comes to sound. There were moments when the sound literally made me feel tense. It reminds me of “Interstellar” during the docking scene and the sound literally just goes out.

In the end, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is a terrific ride, I loved every minute. This was one of the most engaging movie experiences I’ve had all year, and after seeing this, I cannot wait for “Episode IX!” The characters continue to progress to points where I appreciate them more than ever, there are multiple scenes I want to go back and watch again, and again, I’ll mention, the sound work is unbelievable in this film, some of the best I’ve heard all year! I’m gonna give “Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi” a 9/10. This movie is not as good as “The Force Awakens” in my personal opinion, but it’s slightly better than “Rogue One.” Part of me just wants to time travel into the future, just so I can see “Episode IX,” but until then, I’ll just have to wait. I really enjoyed this movie, I think you guys will feel the same way, and I’m just glad this isn’t a total ripoff of another great “Star Wars” film. Thanks for reading this review, if you are interested in seeing “The Last Jedi,” there’s a good chance you can go see it anywhere, but I have a link below that will take you to a list of some of the best possible ways to view the movie. “The Last Jedi” is playing in eleven theaters that contain IMAX 70mm equipment. To find out which theaters are on the list, click the link below and read the post. Stay tuned for more reviews and other content! I want to know, did you see “The Last Jedi?” What are your thoughts? Are you going to see it? Also, where does this movie rank in the “Star Wars” universe for you? Let me know all of that down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is Getting the IMAX 70mm Treatment and a History of Star Wars in IMAX!: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2017/10/17/star-wars-episode-viii-the-last-jedi-is-getting-the-imax-70mm-treatment-and-a-history-of-star-wars-in-imax/

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