‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Review: Rian Johnson Takes A Beloved Franchise Into Bold And New Territory

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source: Lucasfilm

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a blockbuster triumph

It’s no secret, even to longtime fans, that the Star Wars movies are formulaic films. They follow a certain path that leads to a certain victory. And not to say that the formula doesn’t work, because it indeed does and trying something new wasn’t always Star Wars‘ biggest success (yes, I mean the prequels). However, as Star Wars is being directed by auteur filmmakers, that comforting formula will be challenged. Star Wars: The Last Jedi manages to subvert expectations while delivering a worthy sequel that takes its place among the best of the franchise.

Picking up right after the events of The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi finds General Leia’s (Carrie Fisher) Resistance fighting Kylo Ren’s (Adam Driver) First Order. Meanwhile, Rey (Daisy Ridley) tries to convince Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to teach her the way of The Force.

This is only the beginning of another genuinely victorious Star Wars episode that finds fan favorites having plenty to do. The Last Jedi is no doubt Carrie Fisher’s last on-screen performance following her death last year. In her final moments, she delivers a worthy performance and is surprisingly given quite a lot to do. If this really is Fisher’s last hoorah, then it certainly is a memorable one. However, Fisher isn’t the only original to get plenty of screen time. Mark Hamill gets a satisfying return from the franchise’s leading Jedi. His charismatic and genuine performance makes it look like he never left.

However, The Last Jedi gives way to the new characters. Daisy Ridley is again a force to be reckoned with, while Adam Driver is given more screen time. Both are offered quite surprising and exciting character arks that even the Star Wars fanatic won’t see coming. Also, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac continue to be fun and lovable characters. Probably the most surprising is newcomer Kelly Marie Tran who merits her place within the Resistance as strong-willed Rose. Her presence among the new cast is warranted, and it makes for a hugely talented cast of individuals all of which are ready for the future of the franchise.

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The Last Jedi is one of the best looking Star Wars movie ever – source: Lucasfilm

And The Last Jedi is all about the future and the new. Rian Johnson takes a well-known franchise into a bold and fresh territory. Sure, it keeps plenty of the Star Wars signatures like the famous opening crawl screen and quirky scene transitions. But, if you were expecting a rehash of The Empire Strikes Back then you are greatly in mistaken. Not only isn’t even similar to Episode V but The Last Jedi is very much a Johnson film, and he isn’t afraid to make it his own.

With Johnson at the helm, the latest Star Wars film subverts many of the franchise’s long-standing tropes. It’s a franchise that has always been caught up in its dualistic approach from its simplicity of good versus evil. The franchise has never truly embraced the complexity of such concepts until now. Yes, The Last Jedi isn’t populated with entirely good or entirely evil characters but flawed and complex individuals fighting for what they think is right. And as Johnson complicates the mythos of a beloved franchise, it makes for better and more realistic characters and ultimately, a better film.

It’s easy to see how Johnson has approached The Last Jedi as an auteur rather than a crowd-pleasing director. His need to subvert and change the formula certainly won’t please all fans. But for cinephiles, there are flashes of Looper‘s brilliant cinematography and Brick‘s intelligent story-telling. In this latest Star Wars adventure, it’s unafraid to take time to discuss the philosophy of The Force and exactly how it works. On top of that, there are some of the most ambitious visuals ever in any Star Wars movie to date.

For all of the reasons above, The Last Jedi is one of Star Wars’ best film since The Empire Strikes Back. It takes plenty of risks, and it’s unafraid to subvert the franchise’s longest formulaic tropes. Unlike the prequels, Johnson’s risks and expertise have created a gripping and tense Star Wars adventure that stands among the best of the franchise. For the first time in a long time, a Star Wars film is a masterful artistic triumph.

GRADE: A

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in theatres now.

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