Reviewing Star Wars: The Last Jedi and trying to come up with coherent thoughts seems like a daunting task for a girl who grew up on Star Wars, and one who, in general, probably possesses a lot more love for even the bad parts of the whole saga, than some people do. I love my original movies more than anything, yes, but I have a certain appreciation for the prequels (Except Episode II. You suck, episode II) and I loved both The Force Awakens and Rogue One.
Or maybe it’s not so daunting. Maybe I’m just in the right mindset to understand what this movie is trying to do. Even if what they’re trying to do is make a movie for those people who didn’t grow up with Star Wars, like me, and yet still give enough throwbacks that the hardcore fans will love it anyway.
(WARNING, some mild spoilers below, though I won’t describe anything with too much detail)
Truth is, when these movies were announced, I wanted them to be something else. I wanted them to still be about Han and Leia, about Luke and about the lives they lead after. I also wanted those lives to be happy. I wanted to believe that what we saw was the hard part, that they went on to fix things, or at least, make them better.
And they did – in my mind, that’s how I’ll always think of them, like in those Extended Universe books where things sucked for a time, but always got better. Reality, however, dictated that, after so many years, it was impossible to tell that story on screen. Star Wars had to aim to do something different, then. It had to give us another trio to root for. It had to become the beacon of hope for a new generation.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi does that effectively, in my opinion, because if The Force Awakens was an introduction that made us care for Rey, The Last Jedi makes Poe into a Han-like figure we can’t help but root for, even when he’s making stupid decisions, and turns Finn into a romantic hero while still maintaining his friendship with Rey.
Because this movie, above all things, succeeds not just because of nostalgia or because we’re all already invested in what happens on a galaxy far, far away, or even because of the strength of the individual performances, but because in a way Star Wars hasn’t really done in any other movie since the original trilogy, except maybe Rogue One, it brings it all back to friendship.
Rey and Finn are friends, above everything. There’s no romantic undertone to Finn trying to get off the ship so Rey doesn’t get killed, just as there’s no romantic undertone to Poe’s concern for Finn (SADLY). These people are just friends, and they care for each other, and that makes us look at them and relate, because we also have friends, even if we’re not saving the galaxy.
But, where’s the romance, you ask? The movie does a great job of introducing that, as well, but I greatly appreciated that they took the time to make Rose – well, Rose, a character we loved for who she was, not what she represented, before they made it all about her possible connection to Finn. Because there is a connection – make no mistake about it.
Just as I can’t be the only one to have seen the sparks between Poe and Rey, right? Right?
Ultimately, though, despite all I’ve said, this movie is not about all of that – this movie is about two things, or maybe about one thing and two ways of showing how that one thing manifests.
The idea that a small group of good people can make a difference, even when everything seems dim.
Even when the whole world is against you.
And the movie explores that idea with Luke first, and then with Kylo Ren, and his mysterious connection with Rey – ironically, my two least favorite things in this film.
Look, I love me some Luke, but this Luke was sour, bad-tempered, and basically abandoned his sister and the rebellion for twenty years because he made one mistake, instead of sticking around to try to fix it. Sure, he was the hero in the end, but he could have – and should have – been the hero much earlier.
And then there’s Kylo Ren, a compelling figure that Adam Driver makes even more compelling with an outstanding performance that underscores all the turmoil that he feels – and yet someone that I can never quite believe as the bad guy.
Though maybe that’s the point Star Wars is trying to send. It’s not about good or bad, it’s about balance. We all have both inside of, and we must all find a way to be the best we can be, despite that.
See, and here you thought there was no nuance to Star Wars movies.
Other things to note:
- What a nuanced, brilliant performance by Laura Dern, demonstrating, in many ways, how it is to be a woman in a position of power that’s never taken seriously by the men who think they know better.
- Gwendoline Christie, we hardly saw you. I love you anyway.
- I already love Rey, but if possible, I love her more after this movie.
- There are times when it feels like the Kylo/Hux fight belongs in a high school hallway.
- Was Oscar Isaac this hot last movie? I don’t remember it.
- Also, he was giving off very strong Han vibes. I can’t handle Han vibes.
- I LOVE YOU POE, OKAY? I LOVE YOU.
- CAN WE TALK ABOUT ROSE AND HOW SHE WAS THE BEST? CAN WE?
- BB-8 is the true hero of this movie. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
- For a dark and dreary movie, and this was dark, there were some definite moments of levity that felt very much Star Wars.
- Han’s dice were a nice callback, especially in the last scene between Carrie and Mark. And also, don’t tell me Kylo doesn’t have feelings after the way he looked at those dice.
- Also, was I the only one who cried at EVERY Carrie Fisher scene? No? Cool.
- Last, important takeaway from The Last Jedi: Listen to women. We know what we’re talking about.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens in the US today, December 15th.