By Khaleel Herbert
The Rebellion is at the mercy of the First Order and their only hope is Rey and Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
After two years (and a trip to the pre-A New Hope world of Rogue One), The Last Jedi picks up where The Force Awakens left off–Rey and Luke on a giant island in the middle of the ocean.
But this is no ordinary island. This island holds Jedi secrets…a place Luke plans to retire and spend the rest of his days (a nicer spot than Yoda’s swamp land). Rey is confused and taken aback by Luke’s resistance.
Meanwhile, up in space, General Leia (Carrie Fisher), Poe (Oscar Isaac) and the rest of the Rebels are stuck in defense mode against Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), the non-holographic Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and the First Order fleet who managed to track them while going in hyper-speed. Finn (John Boyega) wakes up from his coma and turns to his old ways of dining and dashing, until Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) stops him for an autograph.
Luke reluctantly takes Rey under his wing to teach her the ways of the force, but both learn it’s not an easy road.
By watching the trailers, it’s obvious The Last Jedi wanted to mimic its predecessor, The Empire Strikes Back. Unfortunately, it’s not on that level but it nods at each film from George Lucas’ original iconic trilogy with little tidbits. Supreme Leader Snoke has Kylo Ren as his apprentice like Lord Sidious to Darth Vader. He even said Kylo wanted to be the new Darth Vader (which is highly unlikely). Luke training Rey is exactly how Yoda trained Luke in The Empire Strikes back. The Millennium Falcon’s sleek flying takes you back to the good ol’ days of Han Solo behind the wheel in all three films.
A scene where Rey thinks Kylo Ren is conflicted between good and evil mimics how Luke felt about Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi. If you’re a Star Wars nut, you’ll catch these and other references quickly.
When I caught the references, I wondered, what would this film be like if it didn’t use these? It’s like Director Rian Johnson wanted to use them as a crutch, as if his version of Star Wars wouldn’t stand up to George Lucas’ (wink, wink; uncontrolled laughter). The Last Jedi could remove some scenes with a scalpel and toss them into the deleted scenes pile for the DVD release in 2018, especially with Finn and Rose saving the horse-racing creatures. I do appreciate the comic relief throughout which balances nicely with the seriousness and urgency of the film.
Carrie Fisher likely gave her last performance as General Leia. Seeing her act in her authoritative and motherly role makes you forget, for a while, about her passing last December. Daisy Ridley is still superb as the spunky, heartfelt Rey who wishes to know her place in the force.
Although The Last Jedi is no The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars fans of all generations will have a ball.
Studio: Disney (2 hr. 32 min)
Cast: Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Lupita Nyong’o, Carrie Fisher, Frank Oz, Kelly Marie Tran, Oscar Isaac
Director: Rian Johnson
Story: With the First Order on the tail of the Rebellion, Rey must convince Luke Skywalker to return and bring hope once again to the galaxy.
Final Score: C+