Last Jedi another Star Wars Triumph

Peter Ghaly, R2 Sports/News Editor


Moviegoers filed into the Rialto Theater in Westfield on the evening of Dec. 15 buzzing with anticipation and excitement. Adults and children alike were anxiously chatting and squirming in their seats throughout the packed theater during the trailers. Typically, one wouldn’t expect this kind of environment for the release of any given movie on a Friday night.

When the lights went dark and the screen bore a classic phrase in electric blue text, a unified silence fell through the small theater. It was a matter of seconds before two large words in bright yellow text blared onto the screen, accompanied by John Williams’ classic score and the theater burst into a thunderous applause. The moviegoers—or fans, rather—were there to see
Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

     The eighth installment in one of cinema’s golden franchises, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is easily one of the most anticipated films in recent history. Following the success of J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens in 2015 that returned Star Wars movies back to glory, fans patiently waited for nearly two years to witness the next chapter of the saga featuring their now-beloved characters.

     The wait certainly paid off, as The Last Jedi does not disappoint. It is an extraordinary film by Star Wars standards, blending nostalgia with an idiosyncratic story, and tradition with absolute surprise.

     The Last Jedi picks up mere minutes following the events of The Force Awakens, where we saw Rey (Daisy Ridley) finding an exiled Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) on the deserted planet Ahch-To. The Force Awakens was the first Star Wars film that concluded with a cliffhanger, making The Last Jedi instantaneously unique.

The film follows Rey, Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) in the aftermath of their triumphant victory against the reborn Empire of the original trilogy, the First Order, spearheaded by the mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and Darth Vader heir apparent Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).

The film essentially splits itself into two storylines: The First Order hunting down the Resistance, and Rey and Kylo Ren’s immersion into their own spectra of the Force. The plot manifests itself as a series of thrilling drama, well-timed humor, and shocking twists throughout both sides of the story.

Given that the second film of a
Star Wars trilogy is traditionally where the main characters endure trials that test their character, it is no surprise to see the mainstays of the saga tested by their ordeals. Director Rian Johnson parlays their character development quite well, as nearly all of the main characters gain more depth and personality by the end of the film.

Of course, the role of Luke Skywalker was highly discussed prior to the release of the film. How would his character change after being exiled for nearly 20 years? Has his allegiance to the Force changed, or has he abandoned the religion completely? Fans were certainly anxious to see what had become of the former poster boy of
Star Wars, and The Last Jedi portrays Skywalker in ways never before seen.

Unsurprisingly, the special and practical effects of the film are authentic and spectacular. John Williams’ eighth
Star Wars score is, as always, brilliant and nostalgic. The film balances the aura of Star Wars while also branching off from the previous trilogies, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats throughout the duration of the film.

None of this is to say that
The Last Jedi is without its flaws. Frequent ill-timed humor, a few empty scenes and maddening plot questions left unanswered from the previous film hinder an otherwise immersive plot.

The Last Jedi is a fine addition to the prestigious collection of Star Wars films. While it most certainly will not be remembered as the best of the saga, it certainly has the potential to be remembered as the most different, containing the most shock value and providing fans with a unique, exciting Star Wars experience. The Last Jedi leaves fans hungry for more, and they can only dream of what Episode IX holds in store from the galaxy far, far away.