HOLLYWOOD—I thought “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was a phenomenal movie, and trust me this is coming from a person who isn’t a massive fan of the “Star Wars” franchise. To be honest, ‘The Force Awakens’ is the first flick in the franchise where I watched the ENTIRE MOVIE without missing a beat. And it took the franchise to new heights if you ask me with the introduction of the characters Rey (Daisy Ridley), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Finn (John Boyega). At the same time, we also saw the return of classic characters including Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill).
So where does “The Last Jedi” kick-off? The movie picks up right where its predecessor left off with Rey coming face-to-face with Luke in her quest to understand her Force like abilities. Luke has been MIA for years, but with Rey’s persistence he takes on the apprenticeship. He is conflicted on rather he should take on the task of fighting against the First Order, but after the Resistance is attacked by Kylo Ren, Luke kicks things into gear. I mean Kylo is a character who is merciless, I mean he killed his own father, Han Solo, but holds a soft spot for his mother, Leia.
It is during this battle that Poe (Oscar Isaac), Finn, BB-8 and Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) implementing their own mission to prevent the First Order for permanently putting an end to the Resistance. I will make the argument “The Last Jedi” did not have as much action as I expected it to have; it seems the film took a seat back, to nurture the narrative a bit more which really focuses heavily on the bond between Rey, Kylo Ren and Luke. Does the audience get answers to questions that were left lingering in the last installment? To some degree, yes, and to another degree, not quite, which I suspect may come to fruition in the next installment slated to arrive in 2019.
Driver brings a level of flair to his villainous role that makes him menacing, but he’ll never compare to the caliber of Darth Vader people. I will note one epic fight sequence transpires between Finn and Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) that is epic to watch. The special effects in this battle will make even the smallest “Star Wars” fan explode with glee to see such theatrics play out on the big screen. Leia does take a bit of a back seat to the action, whereas Luke plays a bigger role in the battle and has a worthy sendoff.
Writer and director Rian Johnson manages to deliver a compelling narrative that isn’t overly long, but maybe runs 20 or 30 minutes longer than needed, slowing the pacing of the film slightly in the middle. We see the introduction of several new characters including Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern) and DJ (Benicio Del Toro) who have meaty roles when it comes to the narrative unfolding. As a viewer you do get glimpses of “The Empire Strikes” back, but “The Last Jedi” does quite equate to the utter stunning reveal that movie delivered in addition to a bigger and bolder outing.
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” hits on just the right cylinders to make the audience feel the outing was worth the wait, but it won’t be heralded as the best in the franchise. However, as a viewer you get the sense that the mystery of Rey’s heritage is expected to come to a head in the final installment in the trilogy, which one can only hope is as satisfying as learning that Luke Skywalker was the son of Darth Vader!