The richness of the Star Wars saga is one of the fullest in the history of cinema, and director Rian Johnson’s The Last Jediadds another fascinating and entertaining chapter to this beloved series. It’s filled with everything that anyone who loves these movies will enjoy, from thrilling space battles, exotic locations, and unexpected plot points.
But is it a perfect movie? No, in fact for all that The Last Jedi does very well still there remains elements lacking to ensure this would become a masterpiece. Mostly from a narrative/character perspective, these points don’t really hamper the film as a whole but it’s worthy to consider how Episode VIII could have been much, much better if there was just a little more refinement or fleshing out.
At the end of the day, there seemed still too many unanswered questions (though of course, that’s how audiences will be lured to the next film), vague explanations and questionable character motivations. Besides some key scenes/sequences, one may have to ask themselves, what we have actually discovered that is new?
Still, this movie entertains splendidly and when it’s good, it’s good. The visual effects that have highlighted the series since its inception in 1977 continue to be masterful, and this eighth installment is no different. In fact, for once it would seem that the VFX stood out more clearly this time around then the story itself.
In the past (for the most part) the story and the effects joined together amazingly to make the experience of watching the films exceptional. This is not saying that they aren’t married well in The Last Jedi, but that this time the visual prowess of the movie was stronger than the narrative one. Rating this movie on the visuals and design alone garners an absolute and deservingly perfect score. All the battles in space are greatly thrilling, while the highly imaginative vistas on the planet Canto Bight bring back all the glory and creativeness of the mold set by the Mos Eisley Cantina forty years ago.
Beautiful landscape shots of the island Skellig Michael off the coast of Ireland (used as the setting for Luke Skywalker’s place of reclusion) are stunning and effective and the wonderful art design of Snoke’s Throne Room is among the best seen in the entire series.
So where does The Last Jedi falter a bit? Surprisingly it appears at the expense of the storytelling. This is not true of the entire narrative by any means, in fact, some characters are actually quite well presented and compelling. Others, however, are not and it’s this inconsistency coupled with some questionable motivations that are the biggest disappointments.
Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren is by far the most interesting and sympathetic character in this film; he’s fascinating to watch and his story is expanded in an intriguing way. Daisy Ridley’s Rey, on the other hand, continues to remain an enigma and not one that’s particularly relatable. I was almost certain that major revelations would be made about her and her past, but still nothing. She is still a vague character and all we know about is her strong connections to the Force. It would seem obvious that by the next film we could find out more, but to have been left with nothing this time is a letdown.
Then there’s Supreme Leader Snoke who is arguably the greatest mystery of all and definitely remains that way. Sure there’s novels and other material in the Expanded Universe to explain origins and such, but to be left completely unexplained in the movie falls flat. As for Luke Skywalker, the situation he finds himself in is undoubtedly an interesting one, but the end of it all comes unexpectedly and not as epic as one might expect. A second viewing of this movie is most definitely in order to better understand some of this plot, and maybe it will make more sense then. But upon initial viewing, there’s definitely something to be desired by many of these characters.
Even certain situations and adventures seem like time fillers then necessary events that advance the story. Finn’s mission with the new character of Rose is visually stunning, but was it entirely necessary from a story point of view? The end result would have been the same regardless of their escapades.
As one of the millions of ardent Star Wars fans, feeling just a little bit cold in relation to the characters in this movie was an unexpected disappointment for me. Though there are numerous characters that leave an impact (Laura Dern’s Admiral Holdo and Kylo Ren most notably) there was still too much unfamiliarity with others and not well-explained reasonings.
It may be hard to fully explain this feeling with the written word, but inside I feel detached from the story and still hungering for answers. Luckily the visual splendor has left me satiated enough to still generally enjoy this movie.
The Last Jedi is a certifiable fun time at the movies and a good Star Wars film. Rian Johnson and his crew have crafted a thoroughly enjoyable outing that will be sure to please. In the tradition of past films the visual effects stun and are probably the greatest thing about this particular movie; there are thrilling views indeed in the dark skies of space. TIE Fighters and X wings galore this is a great visual feast.
Surprisingly it is the narrative that is the most obvious weak spot, with several characters left underdeveloped, motivations unexplained, and end results still puzzling. These flaws don’t make the movie a poor one but to reduce its quality. While the visual effects can satisfy us, Star Wars has always shown that its heart was one of the core reasons for success.
The Last Jedi has heart and story, it’s just not as striking as past versions. So see this movie but consider that among the ranks of this famed series, this may not necessarily be the film you’re looking for.
This may not be the film you are looking for but it is still a fun outing in a galaxy far far away