‘Last Jedi’ turns Stars Wars upside side down

As the iconic blue “A long time ago in a galaxy far far away” fades onto the screen, and the iconic score bursts into the theater alongside the crawl of yellow words through the vast expanse of space just as it has seven times before, the audience feels the familiar Star Wars nostalgia. Adult viewers feel like kids again, excited for the possibilities to come, but although this looks and feels like the action and emotion-fueled space adventure many know and love, it takes what is known about Star Wars and flips it upside down.

The film leaves off immediately after the events of “The Force Awakens.” Naturally, the evil first order is still dominating the galaxy, trying to snuff out the undergunned and undermanned resistance. This, if anything, remains orthodox throughout the movie: the oppressed clinging to the slightest bit of home while fighting the powerful oppressors.

The rest will surprise and deceive anyone’s expectations. Kylo Ren and the evil disfigured supreme leader Snoke represent the dark side, and the noble Rey finds Luke Skywalker exiled on his island. This kicks off the stage for The Last Jedi.

Right off the bat, the first sequence is incredibly exciting, and the stakes are set high. A feast for the eyes, the film gets an engaging start, giving it momentum going forward into a slower middle act.

For two long years, people debated about what direction that they would take with the characters in the sequel to “The Force Awakens.” Theory upon theory was thrown out primarily about Supreme Leader Snoke, the lineage of Rey and what Luke had been doing on the island. A lot of these questions are answered in surprising and unexpected ways that virtually nobody saw coming. These will not be delved into due to the fact that this is a spoiler free review.

With only a sliver of screen time in the last movie, the face of the franchise, Luke Skywalker, is finally shown to the world in his 2017 form. Unlike the last time he was the focus of a movie in 1983, Luke is old, ornery and reluctant to help anyone, far from the cool headed hero seen in “Return of the Jedi.” Director Rian Johnson humanizes Luke, taking him off the pedestal that he has been put on for so long.

The untimely passing of Carrie Fisher, the actress who plays princess Leia, now general Leia, caused this to be the last role she ever appeared in. Leia is portrayed as a bold, level-headed leader of the dwindling resistance. She is wise and instills it onto the younger characters; a great send off for Fisher.

The new members of the cast return and establish themselves throughout the film. A big challenge for these new movies is trying to pull away from the past and establish a new cast of iconic characters.

In many respects, they do so. Rey and Kylo Ren in particular have great moments and interactions. Others seem pushed to the side or caught in uninteresting subplots.

Guillermo Del Toro’s character, DJ, is a wonderful addition to the movie. He has undeniable charisma, stealing the scenes he is in.

The other new character introduced called Rose falls very short, though; she is difficult to empathize with and creates dullness in the movie. Although “The Last Jedi” has massive peaks, there are some valleys.

It seems the film is divided into a First Order vs Resistance element and a Jedi Sith element, which will both eventually unite. The Jedi and Sith aspects of the film are much more compelling than the the Rebellion scenes and story arcs, which tend to drag, although there are good things to find in both.

The island where Rey finds Luke is a major plot point. The charisma and back in forth between them is near perfect, signifying the transition from old to new. Another example of the franchise being handed off is Leia’s dialogue with Poe. It is great to see the two generations of characters exist in such harmony.

The first act may lull just a bit, but it is completely compensated for in the later part of the movie. It is difficult to delve into what happens without spoiling anything, but jaws will drop, and fans will be divided. There are some unmistakably epic moments.

A good Star Wars movie, or science fiction movie for that matter, is not only known for its action, but for the alternate world it creates, a place for the audience to escape and immerse themselves into. This Star Wars does it arguably better than any of the series to date. Stunning scenes, creatures, vehicles and practical effects are paired with the booming iconic music to create something nobody has ever seen while maintaining the Star Wars feel that so many hold close. This is truly a high point and staple of the movie.

The unapologetically different and bold route that director Rian Johnson takes with the film is the cause for a lot of controversy. “The Last Jedi” is a definite double edged sword, and this is intentional. It challenges the world of Star Wars, but can create plot holes and disrupt the previous directors’ visions of the franchise.

For some, what he did can be looked at as new and refreshing. Junior Camden Dusenberry saw it this weekend, and had mostly great things to say about it. ¨Overall, ‘The Last Jedi’ was my favorite up to this point in the series. I was caught off guard by some anticlimactic surprises, due to my known nature of the previous films. Nonetheless, Star Wars, to me, was a triumphant, brilliant ´finale´ to one of my favorite boyhood series¨

For others, the complaint was that Johnson was too liberal in the changes he made, and his humor fell short. ¨I felt like they tried too hard, and the plot could have been better, like more focused,” junior Erik Walther said.

Critics and ravers of the movie aside, there were emotional moments, visuals and sequences that immersed audiences everywhere into something truly special, and “The Last Jedi” created anxious anticipation for the final movie of this new trilogy.

Johnson’s vision is embodied with a line from the now infamous Kylo Ren: “Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to. That’s the only way to become what you are meant to be.”

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