The Last Jedi, the eighth installment in the world-renowned Star Wars franchise, opens world wide on 15 December, 2017. I was able to see an early show, and can deliver some of my impressions on the film. And, like I said in the title, this is a spoiler-free review.
The film begins where Episode VII, The Force Awakens, left off, both physically and in spirit. The Rebel forces have been decimated, and The First Order is reveling in new found power. But, as always, the Rebellion fights.
This is no different from the last movies, since the Rebellion was founded. The eternal struggle of Light vs Dark. Rian Johnson takes what he loved about Star Wars growing up, and channels it into a new breath. He stays true to the spirit of Star Wars, loving it and honoring it as only a fan can. This love shines through in the care of the beloved characters, and in introducing us to new ones. In showing us new planets, new battles, and in reminding us that a Rebellion starts with a spark.
Visually, the film is stunning. From the portraits of characters, both old and new to the long wide eyed views of planets, there is always something to look at. But none of it is jarring, and none distracts from the visual feel of the movie. Even the barren landscape of Crait, where underneath the salt is earth of blood red, is treated with as much interest as Ahch-To, where Luke has resided these many years. And the visuals of space and the space battles are as reassuring as they were when Lucas first directed A New Hope these forty years ago. But they are re-imagined, and are even more stunning and spectacular than what Lucas could have ever captured on film.
Review: The Last Jedi
The costumes are treated with the same loving camera work as the landscapes, and are just as incredible. The shiny chrome of the armor of Captain Phasma to the battered jumpsuits of Rebel pilots, everything is carefully curated. And the details of each are just as carefully seen to. The fabrics chosen, the patterns, the styling. Everything is seamless, and looks effortless. The costumes look less like costumes, and more like the clothing that each character would wear daily.
The score, in typical John Williams fashion, is incredible. It ebbs and flows with every scene, building in tension and easing into peace. Some of the score is the comfortable music we’ve come to associate with Star Wars, but much of it is new, but the old moves uninterrupted into the new, and back again. The orchestration is brilliant, and only adds to the intensity of the film.
The writing is better than the work of Lucas alone. He may have been brilliant at writing a captivating space opera, but he’s rubbish at dialogue. With Rian Johnson adding his skill to that of Lucas, the dialogue is believable. The protaganists are familiar, but their drive is laid more bare. The characters are written at their barest essence, their every emotion evident in their faces and posture. Lucas nor Johnson could have accomplished this alone, and their teamwork builds upon each other.
My walk-away from the film? I’m still agog. The stunning visuals, the soaring orchestra, the beautiful costumes, the brilliant acting. Each layer just adds to the others, building a film that truly wears the Star Wars mantle proudly. I had to heavily weigh the rating I’m going to give, because I, too, grew up watching the original trilogy. It was my childhood, and one of my first film loves. Is this new episode truly as spectacular as the original three? Yes. It is. Is it as important as them? Yes. Could I totally suspend all belief for a full 2 1/2 hours? Yes again. Knowing all of this, I’ve made the only rating that I can. A full six Porgs out of six Porgs.
(And yes, I like the Porgs better than the Ewoks. Heresy, yes. But…Porgs.)
But seriously, this was a 10 star movie for me.
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And may the Force be with you always, Space Princess.