The Last Jedi Reviewed
The Last Jedi finds The First Order in almost complete control of the Galaxy. They are now trying to stamp out the last of the Resistance led by General Leia Organa, who in turn is doing her best to keep her troops ahead of the enemy. Meanwhile, Rey is working to convince Luke Skywalker that the Resistance needs him, while simultaneously plying him to teach her the ways of the force.
The Last Jedi is a quiet movie. At first, I thought this meant it was boring. And maybe it is. But how action-packed is The Empire Strikes Back? A lot of that movie is Luke sitting in a swamp moving rocks while Han and Leia are hiding on a ship or in a city of clouds. Put that way, Empire doesn't sound like a great movie, but it’s usually considered the best in the Star Wars universe. Why? Because it’s in The Empire Strikes Back that we really come to understand our favorite characters. I believe that’s what Rian Johnson was going for as he tried to make his own Empire.
That is not to say that the movie doesn't have problems. The most notable, (besides the almost slapstick humor inserted into the movie) is the handling of Luke and Leia. There is a particularly egregious moment involving Leia early on that I'm sure had fans throwing up their hands. I mean, I guess that moment could make sense—but it feels like a cheap ploy just to get a rise from the audience. I also dislike the reasons given for Luke’s isolation. But this movie isn't about Luke and Leia anymore, and what these characters do must be in service to the new ones. It’s also nice that Luke isn't as whiny as I remember him being. I disagree with the direction of the character but I understand the rationale of the decision.
There are several ridiculous moments throughout the first half of The Last Jedi that don’t make sense to the universe as a whole, and focusing on them could ruin the movie for you. But for me, the sins of the first half are atoned for by the emotional efficacy of the second half. Rian Johnson slowly built a story that pays a loving tribute to the original sequel, one that will hopefully look and feel more complete once the final movie comes out in two years. B-