“This is not going to go the way you think,” Luke Skywalker says this to Rey about two thirds of the way through Star Wars: The Last Jedi. He probably should have said this closer to the beginning because it would have let its viewers know that it is different from any other Star Wars movie they’ve ever seen. But something being different and unexpected doesn’t immediately qualify it as bad, by any means.
A New Kind of Star Wars
The Last Jedi has almost a completely different tone and outlook on a galaxy far, far away than any other Star Wars movie. The tone throughout the movie is very comedic. This isn’t to say that no Star Wars movie has ever been funny, but this one seems different. Instead of taking itself too seriously in places that it might have in past episodes, Episode VII decides to fill much of its runtime with jokes and humorous situations.
Viewers are sent a new message about who is important in the Star Wars galaxy. It seems like we’ve always been told that the Skywalker family is important and powerful, but that doesn’t seem to be the case as much anymore. The idea that writer/director Rian Johnson tries to get across here is that anyone can be special. Luke teaches Rey that the Force is not just a power that Jedi have. It is instead “a balance that binds the whole universe together” and that anyone can learn how to connect with it. This is just one way Johnson brings in relevant themes from the world into his film.
Unfortunately, the other time Johnson tries to bring in modern themes is during the worst part of the movie. Returning character Finn and newcomer Rose are sent on a side mission to a casino planet to try to find a master code breaker that can help to stop the First Order from tracking the Resistance. But this whole tedious subplot could have been avoided if other characters had only communicated in a logical way.
At times, the humor can also take away from the overall story. There are some moments that have the potential to be strongly emotional scenes. Yet a gag is inserted into what is about to be a tense moment and the viewer loses that emotional moment. It in a way takes you out of the movie because it is unlike a Star Wars movie to do something like this. It’s good that the filmmakers are trying something new, but it just seems inconsistent compared to the other entries in the series.
Given all of this, there really is a whole lot to love about this movie. We get to learn more about Kylo Ren’s backstory, which just serves to make him an even better villain than he already was. He doesn’t just seem moody and angsty like he did in the previous movie. He’s now a villain who has legitimate conflict inside himself. And we as an audience are always left wondering which side is going to win out at any given moment.
But even though this movie seems too lighthearted at times, at the most important moments, it knows when to take itself seriously. Emotional moments are allowed to have their time when the stakes are at their highest. And at those times, we really have no idea what to expect, which is the positive of Johnson bringing such a new angle to the series.
The movie also has some of the most beautifully crafted visuals from any Star Wars movies. From establishing shots, to close-ups, to battle sequences, it is well done. Adding a great score from John Williams and great performances from Mark Hamill, Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley makes this movie incredibly gripping.
The Last Jedi really is a good movie. There is so much to love about it, whether you’re a big Star Wars fan or just a casual movie watcher. But it has some fatal flaws that hold it back from being truly great.
You can see The Last Jedi at Parmer Cinema on Friday May 4th at 6 and 9 p.m. and Saturday the 5th at 3, 6 and 9 p.m.