First of all, let me alleviate the concern that this film is a rehash of Empire Strikes Back by affirming that it is indeed not. The Last Jedi is by far the most original, surprising and exhilarating Star Wars film since the Disney-Lucasfilm acquisition in 2012. It’s also a high point in the Star Wars saga, and I have no doubt it will be remembered as one of the most consequential chapters in the Star Wars mythos in the years to come.
The Last Jedi opens right where The Force Awakens left off. The First Order remains hellbent on extinguishing the remnants of the Resistance, led by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). Attempts to evade the military forces commandeered by General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) cause friction among the rebels, as the charmingly impulsive Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) clashes with flinty war hero Vice-Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern). Meanwhile, Rey (Daisy Ridley) tries to drag the legendary Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) out of his self-imposed exile – but finds him broken and bitter following his failure to keep his nephew, Ben Solo a.k.a. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), from turning to the Dark Side.
In one of the many trailers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, we hear Luke Skywalker say, “This is not going to go the way you think.” That is a pretty fair description of the experience of watching The Last Jedi. Fans who think they know what to expect from this movie are going to have those expectations blown right out of the water when they get into The Last Jedi. The first 100 minutes are the strangest – and potentially most offputting – thing about The Last Jedi. For much of its first half, the film feels almost as if it’s been stitched together from a handful of very different movies. It may open on an exhilarating intergalactic space opera, but it also dives deep into the shifting moods of an existentialist drama (featuring a ‘hall-of-mirrors’ sequence straight out of a drug-drenched arthouse flick), before landing smack in the middle of an odd-couple road-trip comedy.
The cast continues to be the best part of this entire franchise. Mark Hamill absolutely kills it. Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver also perform their roles as Rey and Kylo Ren perfectly. The rest of the cast is sound. Any moment Carrie Fisher is on screen is just a reminder of what a wonderful actress and person we lost. It makes every one of her scenes that much more moving and heartbreaking.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is an emotional roller coaster of a movie. It fakes you out with what you think is going to happen, and then completely flips that on its head. Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters December 15th, watch the trailer below.