I know, I know. I said I was going to write a review for Star Wars: The Last Jedi that is filled with spoilers and it has been a while… But, there was a lot I wanted to talk about and it took a bit to organize my thoughts on the movie because it is very dense. It has been a bit over a month and I still enjoy every minute of the movie like I said in my previous review. Just a heads up, this review is going to be filled with spoilers and if you want to read my spoiler-free review, you can find it here. If you wanted to be spoiled, then you’re in the right place!
Like what I stated in my spoiler-free review, the film starts almost immediately after Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Of course, there is a tiny time skip at the beginning to set up the story, but after that, the story is right where we left off. I really enjoy the character-driven plot for The Last Jedi because as viewers we got more time to watch the characters develop and see how they react to their different surroundings.
This movie really played on the fact that there are two sides of the story and not everything is black and white. This is seen in the flashback of Ben Solo’s fall to the dark side, and then later in the film where it is revealed that Vice Admiral Holdo had a plan when the viewers and Poe Dameron were led to believe she didn’t know what she was doing. It was a breath of fresh air compared to the previous Star Wars films where there is a clear division between black and white. But with The Last Jedi, the division is somewhat blurred which creates an intriguing story where a grey area is introduced.
The characters are the stars of the film. I thought it was interesting that The Last Jedi mainly focused on the development between Rey and Kylo Ren/Ben Solo and their personal bond. Of course, Finn, Rose, and Poe had their development as well but not as much as Rey and Kylo Ren.
Starting with Kylo Ren/Ben Solo, it’s very interesting that he receives almost as much focus in the movie as Rey especially since he is the villain. I personally like that Kylo is humanized in The Last Jedi because it gives him more depth as a character instead of being a one-dimensional villain. Also, I thought it was very interesting that viewers were introduced to Kylo in this film with Snoke telling him that he has too much of Han’s heart and he is just a child in a mask which many felt after watching The Force Awakens. I liked how Snoke voiced what viewers thought of Kylo in the previous movie. Plus, the conversation was what led him to destroy his mask and attempt to shoot the bridge Leia was on.
What really intrigues me about Kylo is that even though he was originally determined to let go of his past to the point of even killing it, he still cannot kill his mother – Leia. He had a clear shot of destroying the bridge and killing Leia, and yet, he didn’t take it. For someone who seems resolved to kill his past, it’s interesting that he hesitated and decided to not go through with it. It’s hypocritical and even more so when he tells Rey to kill the past, but he still can’t do it.
Rey’s development in The Last Jedi continues from her development in The Force Awakens. At the end of Episode VII, she is assigned a mission from Leia to find Luke and bring him back to the Resistance to help them fight the First Order. At the start of The Last Jedi, she repeats her mission to Luke as her explanation as to why she is on the island, but it is until Luke questions her that Rey reveals her motive for coming to Ahch-To. Not only that, but it is shown that once Rey determines that someone or a group will not abandon her that the viewer can see that Rey is persistent and determined to fulfill their request which harkens back to her character in The Force Awakens where she is determined to get BB-8 back to the Resistance.
Then there is how Rey usually wants to hear the other side of the story instead of simply accepting one side of the story. This was seen during The Force Awakens when Rey first meets Finn and then again in The Last Jedi when she confronted Luke about the possibility that he caused Ben to turn to Kylo. But the most interesting characteristic for Rey is how fearless she reacts to the darkness. When she went to explore the part of the island filled with darkness, she was calm while hoping the darkness would reveal her parents to her.
How Luke is handled in The Last Jedi was the most surprising, but I did like it. The film illustrated to us that he is just human even if he is seen as the legendary Jedi Master to the rest of the galaxy, and more importantly, to the fans. I think it’s natural for him to go into seclusion because of what happened, and he just couldn’t face his sister and best friend.
For Poe, I enjoyed watching how his character slowly developed in The Last Jedi. At the beginning, Poe is more than willing to take the big risks and following through with the plan even if it meant losing some of the Resistance’s units as long as the mission’s objective was accomplished. As the film progresses, he slowly realizes that sometimes, the mission does become too dangerous and the best option is to abort the mission and regroup. Although it seems like it was a slow process, I think the realization actually hits him when he’s talking to Leia as they’re escaping to Crait. I believe that conversation made him re-evaluate how he views the battlefield in Crait.
Finn’s development in the film felt almost like a natural step. When he is first introduced in the film, his main concern is about Rey and making sure she has a place to come back to after she convinces Luke to help the Resistance. It isn’t until his journey to Canto Bight with Rose that he has an eye-opening revelation about the profits of war that he commits himself to the Resistance’s cause and is willing to die for it as seen when he tries to destroy the miniaturized Star Destroyer tech.
The newest character to be added to the sequel trilogy is Rose Tico. I liked that she starts out as originally idolizing Finn, a hero, and then slowly becoming a hero herself by saving Finn. I also liked how she is used to explain how Canto Bight became wealthy. I just wished that there was a bit more to her character and I hope we will see her do more in Episode IX.
A majority of the characters have a theme of failure involved in their arcs. It’s a unique theme for a movie to be centralized on but in a way, it is what humanizes the characters and makes them more sympathetic.
It’s interesting that the theme of failure was foreshadowed in The Force Awakens to explain why Luke went into exile and was expanded upon in The Last Jedi. It was already heavily alluded to that Kylo destroyed Luke’s academy, but I liked the reasoning behind why it happened. I liked that Luke had a fleeting moment of weakness after realizing how far Ben had fallen and how far he was possibly willing to protect his loved ones. The response revealed that even though Luke is a legend, he is still human with very human reactions and responses. I also liked how it was shown that Luke placed a great deal of burden on himself to rebuild the Jedi because he was the last Jedi Master and when his academy fell apart and he failed to protect some of his students, he shouldered the responsibility and felt the need to go into isolation.
For Kylo Ren, the theme is heavily explored although it was foreshadowed at the end of the previous film. He failed to pacify his internal conflict after he killed Han, and then his failure to shoot the bridge of the Raddus because he senses Leia. He was determined to kill his past after his meeting with Snoke, but when he had a choice to take out the entire command of the Resistance, he hesitated and failed to take the shot. Then lastly, there was his failure to realize that the Luke he was fighting with on Crait was a force projection. All these failures just led him to more consequences from being more conflicted to letting the Resistance flee while he was too absorbed in his anger once he saw Luke. Unlike the other characters who learn from their failures, he is the one who seems like he doesn’t learn from them and it is only causing more internal turmoil.
Then there is Rey who fails to understand how detrimental the darkness can be, how visions of the future aren’t exactly the most accurate, and the failure of bringing a piece of hope back to the Resistance when they needed it the most. When Luke is teaching her the first lesson on why the Jedi must die, she senses the darkness on the Ahch-To, and yet, she didn’t hesitate to fight the darkness that was calling to her. Rey kept reaching for the darkness not realizing how the darkness can manipulate her. Then when she leaves Ahch-To to bring Ben/Kylo back, she fails to realize she only saw one possibility of his future even though Luke warns her. She has a brief moment of realization that her vision was going exactly how she wanted when Ben killed Snoke… Only to realize her vision of Ben’s future wasn’t accurate and how she failed to bring hope back to the Resistance because Ben was not returning to the Light and the Resistance.
The theme is even explored with Poe when he realizes that Finn and Rose were unsuccessful with their mission to deactivate the hyperspace tracking because he decided to hinge the entire fate of the Resistance on the slim chance of success. After he realizes the mission was a failure, there’s a slight moment of panic because he didn’t have another plan. It isn’t until Leia explains to him why Vice Admiral Holdo the motives behind her actions that he has a moment of realization.
The music has really grown on me after I have listened to it for a while. My favorite track is the one titled “A New Alliance” because right as Kylo Ren kills Snoke, his theme is heard and then it immediately leads to the Force theme and causing the viewers to believe that he decided to return to the Light and help the Resistance. I also liked how the music featured in The Last Jedi complemented the scenes and enhanced what was happening on the screen.
There’s also quite a bit of symbolism in The Last Jedi too. I thought it was interesting that Kylo took off his gloves when Rey initiated and accepted the handshake (or hand touch? Well, however you would like to call that scene) in the final Force Bond scene on Ahch-To. Yet, after Kylo and Rey were finished fighting the Praetorian Guards that she rejected his hand that was gloved. It’s almost as if that she’s accepting him as Ben Solo instead of Kylo Ren. Then at the end of the film, I love the execution of Rey closing her’s and Kylo’s Force Connection by simply closing the Falcon’s door and seeing Kylo’s reaction. Then there is Luke’s death. I really liked that as Luke is dying, he is staring at the binary sunset as his journey is ending which is poetic. His journey began and ends with him staring at the binary sunset except so much has happened from the beginning until now. It’s almost a reflection of how much he has grown during his journey.
Of course, The Last Jedi does have its faults. The film is dense, and a lot of information is being thrown to the viewer. It may take more than one viewing which I know many are not a fan of. As for the story, it is a character-based story that focuses on the characters’ emotions, so the film will seem to progress slowly to illustrate the growth the character undergoes. I personally prefer the character-based story, but I can understand how many wouldn’t like it because the story progresses slowly. Then there is the issue with Snoke being killed without the viewers knowing his backstory. I’m slightly disappointed that we didn’t know too much about Snoke, but I can kind of understand why he was killed in Episode VIII. I guess we can see a bit of his backstory appear in the future Star Wars novel.
If you are a fan of character-driven stories, then I strongly recommend that you see The Last Jedi. I enjoyed seeing how the characters react to their failures and how they grow from it. Also, I loved the cinematography (Rey and Kylo vs. the Praetorian Guards anyone?) and how well the music enhanced the scenes. I’m excited to see how the sequel trilogy will end with Episode IX because The Last Jedi left the story open so the story can go either way.
If you finished reading this entire review and my thoughts, you made it and I’m so proud of you! Let me know your thoughts either in the comments or by tweeting at me on Twitter!