REVIEW: ‘The Last Jedi’ an intergalactic home run

The Art of Nerding Out

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Let’s get it out of the way right now: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is a first-rate addition to the “Star Wars” Saga, a movie that gives us everything we want from an adventure in that galaxy far, far away. It gives us the action and spectacle we expect from “Star Wars” while deepening the mythology and giving us a little bit to think about, too.

“The Last Jedi” finds our heroes in quite the interstellar bind. The First Order, led by Supreme Leader Snoke (voiced by Andy Serkis) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), have decimated the Resistance on the ropes. As General Leia (Carrie Fisher) and her troops flee, Rey (Daisy Ridley) badgers Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to return with her and help fight the First Order.

As part of a plan to help the Resistance troops escape, Finn (John Boyega) and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) are dispatched by Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) on a mission of their own. I’ve been threatened with my life if I divulge any spoilers, and I wanna be around for “Avengers: Infinity War”, so that’s all I’m gonna spill as far as plot summaries go.

Look, “Star Wars” has been part of my life for so long, that it’s become part of my identity, as stupid as that sounds. So, it’s hard for me not to gush about “Star Wars” when it’s done right. And this is the best “Star Wars” has been done since “Return of the Jedi”. So, let the gushing commence!

I loved that this film actually had depth, complexity and surprising emotional heft. While “The Force Awakens” is a fun watch, it’s also fairly simplistic and dabbles in shallow questions. “Last Jedi” gives us a little meat to chew on. It lets us ponder about what heroes are and how leaders become leaders without preaching or shoving a lot of didactic dialogue down our throats.

I loved that this movie broadened the mythology of the “Star Wars” universe, opening up new possibilities and new roads to explore. I’d say more, but again, spoilers. But as someone who really enjoys traveling on roads I’ve never been on before, the promise of new horizons to push towards makes me all sorts of excited.

I loved that this movie took some risks. Another thing I didn’t love about “The Force Awakens” is that it played things very safe, offering a heaping helping of fan service and retooling the plot structure from “A New Hope”. While it was probably the best way to re-introduce us to “Star Wars”, it didn’t really offer much in the way of tension or drama. While some of the risks in “The Last Jedi” don’t pay off, the film drips with tension and suspense that really grips you.

I loved Mark Hamill is this movie. He is belligerent, crotchety, and racked by guilt for his perceived failures. I loved Oscar Issac, and I loved that Poe Dameron had more to do in this movie, and that we see him grow.

I loved Kylo Ren, which I wasn’t at all expecting. But we get to see and understand more about the guy, and we come away able to empathize with his plight. I loved what they did with Leia and I loved new characters like Rose. I loved how General Hux (Domhnal Gleeson) has become this put-upon, angry little man who really has to hate his job.

I loved John Williams bombastic, magnificent musical score. He seamlessly blends favorite “Star Wars” motifs with new themes, but this score is more urgent and resonant than any “Star Wars” music we’ve heard in years, perhaps since “The Empire Strikes Back”. When this music soars, you soar with it.

Most of all, I love that writer/director Rian Johnson’s cinematic fingerprints are all over this film. He gives us a beautiful-looking film without distracting from the actors. His action scenes are brutal but exciting, and they really draw you in because they aren’t a bunch of shaky cam visual noise or slow-motion overkill that bores you. After “The Last Jedi”, I absolutely can’t wait to see what Johnson does with the “Star Wars” trilogy he’s got coming.

I’m leaving so much out, but I need to wrap this up.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” has flaws. Storylines that could have played out more elegantly. Characters that aren’t realized as well as they could be. I don’t care. “The Last Jedi” gave me everything I wanted from it and more. It played my emotions like an orchestra, and all I could say when it was all over was “I want more”.

5 Indy Fedoras out of 5

MPAA Rating: PG-13