Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Tonight I saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi, starring Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher.

The film picks up soon after The Force Awakens left off showing us Rey (Daisy Ridley), a cliffside compound and the legendary Luke Skywalker (Hamill). Instead of the badass we know him to be, Luke has retreated to a monk-like lifestyle, watching over the ancient Jedi texts as he reflects on his regrets regarding nephew, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). He has no desire to return to battle.

Meanwhile, the Resistance is facing more drama and they're in desperate need of some backup. After perhaps too many characters get a few moments in the spotlight, everything scatters into chaos. There are welcome additions, however, like the spritely Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) who meshes well with Finn (John Boyega).

I could have done with less of them, though—and Poe (Oscar Isaac) and Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern). Though they're all good characters portrayed by good actors, I'd just have preferred a shorter movie that had less going on the side. The core of the film is Luke and Leia (Fisher) and Ren and Rey. And they can hold their own.

That said, I still think this was a great movie. The original Star Wars was the first film I ever saw in a theater and I will always get goosebumps when that iconic score bursts into sound, no matter what installment of the story I'm watching. I haven't loved all of them, but this one to me felt like the classic in many ways, and for that I am grateful.

Yes, the characters tell us throughout that the torch is being passed. The title itself implies the Jedis are on their way out. A new generation is taking over, blah blah. But I'd argue that the real message here was that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Through all that transpires (and I won't spoil for those who have yet to see), it all goes back to Luke and Leia. C-3PO and R2-D2 pop in, along with Chewbacca and Yoda. In the traditional sense, some of those appearances are cameos, but they don't feel that way. Their presence (whether literal or metaphorical) is a comfort; something that's always been there and that will continue to be when all of us kids from the '70s—who were the first to freak out in this alternate reality—are long gone to enjoy it.

I liked the strong message about the future being female (listen closely to Carrie Fisher's last line), the nod to children and the younger characters emerging strong. But what I liked more was the sense of history and lineage that permeates the franchise and has never been more evident as it is now.

The Force will always be with us.


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