Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Mostly what you need to know is… Star Wars: The Last Jedi is awesome! Go see it as soon as possible!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Forty years ago, when the very first Star Wars film hit theaters, people who hadn’t seen the movie yet didn’t have a clue what you were talking about when you enthusiastically tried to describe the cool characters and wonderful worlds in a galaxy far, far away. Many would look at you like you were a raving lunatic.

Fast-forward to 2017 and this release of the eighth film in the franchise and people still think you’re talking nutty; only now it’s because you’ve spoiled some of the juicy details about the movie that everybody can’t wait to see. I’m going to try not to do that here (although many may still think I’m crazy).

Rian Johnson (Looper) wrote and directed this latest episode of the epic space-fantasy series and it picks up right where Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Episode VII) ends, but in a way that is mostly unexpected. In fact, there are quite a few unexpected turns in this story that you can look forward to debating with friends (and frenemies) for years to come.

That said, not everything new and unusual here is a good thing. My only real beef with The Last Jedi is that, at 152 minutes, it is 30 minutes too long, and that extra time could have easily been trimmed by cutting an entire subplot that is annoying, distracting and completely unnecessary. Let’s just say that Rian Johnson gambled that seeing an additional weird world would win the audience’s favor – but he lost that bet.

Although the story is not nearly as tight as it could have been, the movie is jam-packed with the kind of excitement, adventure and pulpy melodrama that Star Wars fans crave, plus more than one emotionally charged sequence that will leave hardcore fans sniffling in their seats. (Note: Stormtrooper helmets are great for hiding tears.)

As you most likely expect, The Last Jedi looks amazing, and its climactic battle on the mineral mining planet of Crait is the coolest thing you’ll see at the movies this year. The art direction and production design of this film are incredible, as are the special effects – as always.

Star Wars: The Last JediAdditionally, if new and unusual creatures and spacecraft are your thing, then you’re going to be mighty pleased with those aspects of the film as well. Do you like Star Wars toys? I can guess at what might be hot sellers this season, but, as promised, I’m not going to go there and give anything away.

Composer John Williams once again supplies a spectacular score – the one thing that was sorely missing from last year’s Rogue One – and the performances here are first-rate, with the standout being Adam Driver as the tortured soul of Kylo Ren. Mark Hamill also does a thrilling job reprising his role as Luke Skywalker, as does the late Carrie Fisher in her final performance as Leia Organa.

If you are not already primed to see The Last Jedi, then you’ve probably been hiding in a Dagobah swamp cave and have no interest in reading this far anyway … all others, you’re going to have a blast. Enjoy – over and over again. Grade: 8.5/10

Photos © 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd.

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About the author

Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.