Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi
There are few franchises as universally iconic as Star Wars. It’s incredibly hard to deal with such famed characters like Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, which is why J.J. Abrams chose to honor them in Star Wars: The Force Awakensinstead of taking them boldly forward. But director Rian Johnson took the courage and seized these characters and charted new and unique paths forward for them in the new Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
The Last Jedi picks off where Force Awakens left us, with the young rebel Rey (Daisy Ridley) finding Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in a secluded island. Rey proceeds to ask Luke to train her as a Jedi, but the veteran master has been hurt by the betrayal of his older apprentice Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), and is very reluctant. Meanwhile the First Order is hunting down the rebel ships; here our heroes Poe (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) must deviate a plan to keep their last Rebellion forces alive.
Credit must be given to Johnson, for completely deviating from a conventional Star Wars story structure; he charts his own course and this helps keep much suspense during the film. However, much of his choices don’t end up proving as fruitful as recycling the Star Wars formula might have.
The first problem was with the pacing in the story. Essentially the first two-thirds of the film are a very slow build-up with development for our characters. There is a certain tension between Ren and Rey that keeps the audience mildly intrigued, but the rest of the storylines never pull our interest as much as they should. And then there’s the last third, which is so action-packed you barely have time to register who’s fighting whom. These two paces juxtapose each other to a confusing degree, so that by the time the film ends, fans and regular viewers will be left extremely confused on what they felt about the film.
The film is also too packed with unnecessary space battles, unrealistic character decisions, and an embarrassingly catering to fans. Johnson simply tries to do too many things at once, while taking extreme liberty with the story. While I appreciate the boldness of the direction Johnson takes the story to, it nevertheless doesn’t prove as rewarding as what this franchise deserves.