Dec-25-2017

Reel Snippet – Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Summary: Hot off the attack on the First Order’s Starkiller base, the Resistance must flee and quickly. Poe Dameron (Oscar Issac) strikes a massive blow to General Hux’s (Domhnall Gleeson) pursuing fleet, but at such great a cost that General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) promptly demotes him. But just as they make a hyperspace getaway, Hux tracks and pursues them while their fuel slowly depletes. Desperate to save the diminishing fleet, Poe sends former Stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega) and Resistance mechanic Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) on a secret mission to find some way of stopping the First Order from tracking them and stamping out the light of rebellion for good.

At the same time, Rey (Daisy Ridley) has found the legendary Jedi hero Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in hopes that he will come back to fight the First Order — particularly its mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and the dark Jedi terror (and Luke’s own nephew) Ben Solo, also known as Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). But Luke wants nothing to do with the fight, as he feels he has failed the galaxy and that the Jedi Order was a broken system best forgotten. So Rey must convince him to train her in the ways of the Force while trying to solve the mystery of why Skywalker became a hermit and who she herself really is.

Review: Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi was out of this world, if you’ll excuse the pun. There wasn’t a moment or character I didn’t love. Complex and rife with development, each character cements their place in the Star Wars franchise with memorable moments that I’m not going to forget for a while. The action and visuals are some of the best in the series, utilizing the technology of our time to create some truly stunning spectacles. If you want a movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat with your jaw dropped, this is it.

This is probably the most complex Star Wars film I’ve seen in a long time. This comes down to the main message, that being that things will not always go to plan. Often, the best laid plans of our heroes go south and they have to deal with the consequences and fallout. Of course, things go just as badly for our villains at times, leading to an leveling of the playing field through a comedy of errors. In prior Star Wars movies, things usually went according to plan – both Death Stars were blown up, the Millenium Falcon came out of the asteroid field intact, the heroes infiltrated and escaped from Jabba’s palace, and so on. This film’s twists and turns add a whole new flavor to the franchise and it is quite the shock to the taste buds.

Another amazing feat the film pulled off was making the Force inspire awe once more. The prequels, on the other hand made the Jedi “cool” by doing amazing feats without breaking a sweat, but it wasn’t as impressive because it felt like the characters’ god modes were turned on. Here, though, the simple act of moving rocks is breathtaking, Luke’s discussions on the Force and Jedi are truly gripping, and we even get an appearance from Yoda (Frank Oz) in his old puppet form which feels ten times more impressive than anything he did in the prequels (man, I am mean to those movies today). There’s a scene where Rey goes into a cave powerful with the Dark Side (similar to one Luke entered in The Empire Strikes Back) and even though it’s a quiet, almost simple, scene, the tension in it could be cut with a cleaver. Also, the older, wiser Luke gets to show us how much of a troll he can be and it’s absolutely hilarious.

But to talk about what I really loved, I need to go into spoiler territory. I don’t like to do this with good movies, but it’s kind of necessary in this case.

[ENTERING SPOILERSPACE!]

One of the biggest mysteries from The Force Awakens was Rey’s parentage, which spawned a flurry of fan speculation. Was she Luke’s daughter? Obi-Wan’s? Emperor Palpatine’s? Well, the fans got their answer and it wasn’t one anyone was expecting. In a confrontation with Kylo Ren, he tells her what he learned through the Force… her parents were nobodies. They were just a couple of vagabonds who sold Rey as a baby for some booze money. It’s possible he may have been lying, but there’s no evidence of that.

And to be honest, I really like the direction they went with this. A big hang up of the previous Star Wars is that their main characters had destiny to support their efforts, whether it was Anakin’s chosen one prophecy or Luke being [MORE SPOILERS… THAT EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW!] the villain’s own son. [SPOILERS CLEAR, BUT SERIOUSLY, HOW MANY DIDN’T ALREADY KNOW THIS?] But here, it’s shown that greatness and high potential can come from anywhere, a philosophy that shows through with most of the new cast. Rey is the daughter of two drunks, Rose was a refugee from a war torn world, and Finn was a stormtrooper who didn’t even have a name to call his own before he met Poe. This is what makes this group, as well as the Resistance as a whole, so compelling — they don’t have the backing of a chosen one or a legendary bloodline (Leia being the exception), but are a true ragtag group fighting impossible odds with the very real possibility they might lose. In short, true heroes.

[SPOILERS OFF! IT’S AWAY!]

There are gripes I have, to be sure. I wish they had done more with Supreme Leader Snoke, the movie seems to have four whole climaxes, there’s a romance subplot that feels truly jarring, and there’s a scene that, while it makes sense when you think about it, feels really silly when compared to everything else. But despite all of this, I would tie this with The Empire Strikes Back in terms of quality. Few movies have kept me laughing, shocked, and feeling for the characters as much as this has. It was so good that the higher ups granted director Rian Johnson a whole Star Wars trilogy to direct in the future. Just as well — the man’s a Jedi Master and hopefully not the last one.

Fun Tidbit #1: Apparently, life imitates art, as Daisy Ridley was able to learn lightsaber choreography that would normally take three days in one and a half hours. What can we say? A prodigy character deserves a prodigy actor.

Fun Tidbit #2: This is Carrie Fisher’s last movie, but while we expected a tribute in the credits, no one expected to be graced with a special member of her family. While her daughter Billie Lourd plays Lieutenant Connix in this and The Force Awakens, her dog Gary Fisher appears in the casino near a man in a black fez. May he have as good a life as his mom. Rest in Peace, General Princess Fisher.


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