The Last Jedi Review: Conflict and Hope

The latest installment in the Star Wars franchise was, in summary, good. It wasn’t great. It wasn’t as shocking or instantly iconic as The Empire Strikes Back. There were some visual aspects that remained with me for the following weekend; stunning moments that had me staring in awe at the screen. But there were also jokes that fell flat and a frenzied style of editing that tried to include the classic Star Wars transitions – a technique that felt out of place among some more of the modern moments in the film. In several scenes, the music would stop and something would unfold in slow motion that was too stunning to comprehend. It was those moments that were unlike any Star Wars moments of the past. The scenery was the most impressive – it included new worlds and creatures that were totally spectacular. The score was also extremely memorable, as well as the visual effects for the lightsaber battles, which seemed to crackle and twitch at every touch.

The jokes, most of the time, were pretty bad. They came at inappropriate moments, dramatic moments, moments that seemed unfitting for them. At times, it felt as if the writers had been sitting together and had planned out the dramatic and theatrical points of the story, and the rest of the story was just a way to carry them to those moments. There were three main planets: Ach-To, Canto Bight, and Crait. Unlike the previous films, these planets were simply stopping points for the characters. All of the other movies revolve around planets such as Tatooine, Dagobah, Cloud City, and even the Death Star. This movie seemed to miss that. It was hard to feel apart of the movie when the characters didn’t seem too grounded either and had no central place to stop and recover. However, there were some new characters that seemed fitting, and some callbacks to previous movies that didn’t seem too contrived. In fact, they were just right.

The Last Jedi focuses on two themes: conflict and hope. Rey sees the conflict in Kylo Ren and his ability to turn to the light, and Leia pushes the classic theme of hope alongside Luke. There is also conflict among pilot Poe Dameron and a new character played by Laura Dern – the two can’t seem to agree on how they should retaliate against the evil First Order.

Leaving the theater, I also felt these two emotions. I was conflicted over whether or not the movie truly captured the essence of Star Wars, which I ultimately decided that it did. In terms of production, the movie conflicted itself. It had these moments of amazing and beautiful visuals and scenes that combined practical and special effects, but then it tried to include the cheesy swiping transitions from the earlier trilogy. The movie could not decide whether it would like to take Star Wars into the new age of cinema or continue pleasing die-hard fans with its campiness. Nevertheless, I’m hopeful for the next installment of the series, which is set to be directed by J.J. Abrams, who also directed The Force Awakens. The ending, which had a great lead-up, was somewhat lackluster, but it still installed a feeling of hope in me that Luke Skywalker will most definitely not be the last Jedi.

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