"Unexpected, yet right." These words said by Daisy Ridley (Rey) in the behind the scenes featurette properly capture the essence of watching Rian Johnson’s contribution to the Star Wars mythos. The same can be said concerning Luke Skywalker’s (Mark Hamill) famous line, “this is not going to go the way you think.”
From months in advance all the way to the final moment of sitting in the theater, my mind flooded with expectations. What I experienced was something far different than anything I imagined…at least a half-dozen times I was totally taken off guard and completely surprised. While many things I had hoped for did not come to pass (and will not), The Last Jedi went not only in a totally different direction, it also went above and beyond anything I could have anticipated.
Rian Johnson has created a character-driven film. If you have seen his previous work (Brick, Looper), you will have a glimpse of what to expect. Even the action scenes are about character development, allowing us to learn more about the people involved than just hoping they achieve their goals. Johnson also loves to write about how one's passions can become an addiction, resulting in self-sabotage (an element which in beginning to place Rian into the auteur category). As a result, Episode 8 contains a very dense story with massive arcs, running even deeper than what was offered in any previous Star Wars film (including Empire Strikes Back).
Without talking about story, plot points, etc., one of the biggest generic surprises of the film is the humor. Never have I laughed so hard and so often in a Star Wars movie. Yes, every episode (including Rogue One) contain humorous moments. Yet, Last Jedi has some truly comedic scenes…and lots of them. Johnson was not content with comic relief, he has a true story to tell, and humor is one of his narrators.
When watching the Last Jedi (and yes, it should be seen on the big screen, no 3D required), you will experience great battles, new creatures, new milk (yes, you read that right), new ships, new planets, lots of humor, a plethora of surprises, and a fantastic movie-going experience. I only had 1 complaint about the movie…but that will be saved for another day. 😉
MOVIE RATING: PG-13 violence and intensity (as dark as Episode 5, not as violent as episode 3), brief mild profanity.
REVIEW RATING: 4.5 out of 5 stars.
KID FRIENDLINESS: while the content is safe for kids under 10, the very nature of both the story and emphasis upon character arcs might make it difficult for kids under 10 to really appreciate the film without getting restless/lost.