It is December, and we have a new Star Wars, so the holiday season is in full swing, and it is a spectacular one. Episode 8, Star Wars: The Last Jedi opened on December 15th to millions of fans who have been eagerly awaiting the next chapter of the saga. The Last Jedi is the middle story of this latest trilogy, and it picks up where The Force Awakens left off. This is our spoiler-free review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, so I’ll touch on general points and themes without giving away too much of the plot.
I highly suggest you get to a movie theater as soon as possible to see The Last Jedi, but until then keep reading for our spoiler-free thoughts on Rian Johnson’s first stab at a Star Wars film.
As the movie poster suggests, we get to catch up with our favorite characters from previous films, plus a few new characters are on board. Leia, Luke Skywalker, Rey, Finn, Poe, and BB-8 are all back. However, Rian Johnson shows us that other characters can fit into the realm of Star Wars as well. Given that the film comes in at a hefty 151 minutes, which brings it to two and a half hours, there is a lot that he packed in.
Hope is a big theme, as is loss, something that we have seen in previous Star Wars films. However, unlike The Force Awakens, which some viewers think stayed too close to the script and prior films, Johnson was given creative control, and it makes for an unexpected movie. Throughout the 151 minutes, you are left with questions that do get answered, but they are not expected.
There are several arcs that characters are going on, and as a whole, the second movie brings in darker undertones. You get the main story which is about the Resistance and the First Order, picking up where the previous film left off. But The Last Jedi also builds out the main characters, which are Rey, Finn, and Poe, along with Luke Skywalker and General Leia Organa. These stories are told in sometimes emotional moments, other times action-filled, and surprisingly sometimes with humor, the latter of which might be hit or miss with the audience.
The epic battles that Star Wars is known for look, sound, and feel fantastic here. Cinematography-wise, Johnson and the team did an excellent job throughout the entirety of the film; it is clear that every shot serves a purpose. Moreover, I have to mention that John Williams provides an amazing score that makes the film flow and leaves the viewer wondering what will happen next.
Still, at 151 minutes, it is a long film, and it does take a bit to get going, but once it does, you will not want it to stop. The Last Jedi is different from any other Star Wars film. While The Force Awakens stuck to the mold and it worked, change is essential, and one would say necessary. Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi goes full throttle with change and makes for a fascinating film. I would argue that The Last Jedi might even reinvigorate the franchise when you look at it down the line, as it is said the in the trailers, sometimes the past needs to go away. And while The Last Jedi might shock and surprise you, it also pushes out hope. After all, isn’t hope what Star Wars has been, is, and will always be built on?
Ellen McAlpine our Executive Editor for Entertainment and Jason Claman a Contributing Editor contributed to this review.