The Last Jedi (2017)

This review contains minor plot spoilers.

If it ain’t one thing, it’s another.

Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi picks up where the previous film (2015’s The Force Awakens) left off. The Resistance, led by Leia Organa, has been discovered (once again) by the First Order, and their attempt to flee is thwarted when it is discovered the First Order has developed the ability to follow ships through hyperspace. Due to simple logistics (big Star Destroyers have larger gas tanks than small rebellion ships), a ticking clock is introduced; if our heroes can’t evade or disable the First Order’s new tracking technology before the single space cruiser the entire Resistance is conveniently located on runs out of fuel, the First Order will blow them to smithereens.

While Finn, Poe Dameron, and newcomer Rose Tico attempt to evade imminent destruction, to ultimately defeat the First Order the Resistance will need help from Luke Skywalker, who, as we learned in the previous film, is living as a hermit on an island in the middle of nowhere. Old friends Chewbacca, R2-D2, and the Force-sensitive Rey have been dispatched to cajole Luke into helping the cause, but unfortunately for them, he don’t wanna.

Snoke, the mysterious and evil being we first saw in The Force Awakens is back, as is his young apprentice, Kylo “Ben Solo” Ren. After murdering his father in cold blood in the previous film, Kylo Ren is hell-bent on personally tracking down and killing Leia and Luke. Fortunately while he’s away, Snoke has a

More so than any previous installment, The Last Jedi is structured like a video game. To disable the tracking system, someone from the Resistance has to go “here.” Once there, they need to track down “him.” And then they need to get the “thing,” and take it to the “place.” Every twenty minutes, another mini-mission is introduced, and our pals in the Resistance have to hop in another ship, go to another location, and unlock another achievement.

To a large extent, the “old” characters — the ones I grew up with — don’t do a lot. Legendary Jedi Luke Skywalker has largely reverted to the whiny Luke we met 40 years ago in A New Hope. He doesn’t want to leave his island, doesn’t want to help his sister and save the Rebellion, and certainly doesn’t want to train Rey in the ways of the Jedi. Leia, for her part, can’t seem to hide the Rebellion (which again, fits on a single ship) from the First Order, despite having the ability to go literally anywhere in the galaxy. Chewbacca and R2 fail at their single task of returning with Luke. When the Rebellion is successful, it’s usually thanks to one of the new, younger characters. The reminder that this universe belongs to younger characters — and perhaps fans — is a little too on the nose at times. It’s possible BB-8 does more in this film to save our heroes’ hides than R2 and 3P0 did in the past seven movies combined.

Like The Empire Strikes Back, The Last Jedi serves as a bridge between two movies. By the end of this film, it is abundantly clear what stakes and conflicts are waiting to be resolved in the next episode. Older fans may spend the film’s 2 1/2 hour run time asking questions like, “why would Luke do that?” or “when did that become a Jedi power?” but younger fans, those who grew up with CGI Transformers bashing each other into a million pieces and thinking the Sharknado films “kind of made sense” probably won’t mind. If you’re more “how will they get out of this” than “why did they get themselves into this mess in the first place?” then you’ll love it.

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