When I was a starry-eyed seven-year old, my grandfather sat me down in front of a boxy TV and put in a VHS tape that would lead me down the path of unabashed nerdiness…Star Wars. I can’t call myself the world’s number one fan of the series, but I certainly have a deep connection to the films. I get excited to show people the movies when they say they haven’t seen them, and love to talk about them with fellow fans.
While I loved 2015’s The Force Awakens when I first saw it, I soon began to see cracks in the story it told. Not long after, I realized that the plot was a retread of the first film and that the characters didn’t have much going for them when compared to the pop culture icons that the originals created. This lowered my enthusiasm for future Star Wars films; so going into The Last Jedi, I wasn’t expecting a movie anywhere near as good as the films that dominated my childhood.
My expectations couldn’t have been more wrong. You need to see this movie.
This is a Star Wars film like no other. Picking up the story right where it left off, director Rian Johnson takes characters that felt bland and one-note in The Force Awakens and makes them come into their own in this entry, becoming real people that feel and think, grow and change. The plot is refreshingly new—the story takes more twists and turns than a rollercoaster. The action, while somewhat restrained, feels crisp and exciting when it does happen. However, the most impressive thing about The Last Jedi is the art direction. The fantasy worlds Lucasfilm has come up with are truly stunning, and there are shots framed so well they look like art pieces.
The Last Jedi will also surprise viewers with its intense themes. Star Wars films usually have clear goals and heroes; Luke blows up the death star alone, the Jedi believe Anakin will save the galaxy alone, etc. Episode VIII takes a different approach—holding that sometimes, the best way to win is to take what one can and to try and live to fight another day. This takeaway can be found in every corner of The Last Jedi and catapults it from an entertaining movie into true quality cinema.
Some might not share my enthusiasm. One has to understand that the movie expects that the viewer has seen all the other episodes of the series before this one; this is no good for a “first Star Wars movie”. By the same token, this movie doesn’t cater to hardcore Star Wars superfans. The constant theorizing and fan concepts cooked up by the more kooky side of the fanbase are not given credence in this movie. To truly enjoy The Last Jedi, one should have love for the franchise, but they must realize that this movie doesn’t exist to confirm their expectations.
I’m not one for ranking things with an arbitrary number system, so I’ll say this instead: this is my third favorite Star Wars film, after The Empire Strikes Back and A New Hope. You shouldn’t have a bad feeling about this one.