On the spur of the moment last night I decided to see Star Wars XIII: The Last Jedi, booked a ticket, and headed over.
I saw The Last Jedi at “Frank Theatres Montgomeryville” but when I first visited roughly 20 years ago it was called “United Artists Montgomeryville.” I remember that, because this theatre was where an older cousin Phil took me to see the original Star Wars trilogy when it was re-airing in a remastered edition in theaters in the 1990s. It was a great experience to binge on those movies in a single day, especially for a young boy, and I’ve been a fan of Star Wars since.
In many ways, The Last Jedi seems to have finished the stories begun with Luke Skywalker in 1977 with the first Star Wars, and opened up new territory for Star Wars to grow into the future. Somewhat bittersweet, but time. And reassuring to see that Disney’s ownership of Lucasfilm won’t mean that every Star Wars to come will be nostalgia-heavy and sentimentalist.
Jacob Hall’s review/reaction largely mirrors mine, but it speaks explicitly about the plot. I’ve avoided most spoilers in the excerpt below, but read with caution if you haven’t seen the movie yet and want to maintain your ignorance of it:
With Star Wars: The Force Awakens, director J.J. Abrams sought to prop up and revitalize the most popular film franchise in movie history, to preserve its qualities in amber for a new generation. The Force Awakens was very concerned about what you, the moviegoer and fan, thinks about Star Wars. It wants to please you. It wants to be comfort food. And it’s very, very good at that.
But with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, director Rian Johnson wants to burn Star Wars to the ground. Not because he harbors ill will toward it, but because he loves it. He loves it so much that he wants to cleanse the garden and allow something fresh and new to grow.
Luke knows that the Jedi must end, that they do not monopolize the Force, and that evil has flourished on their watch. But where Luke saw despair, Yoda sees a chance for renewal. Where J.J. Abrams saw a warm and comforting blanket that makes you feel really good, Rian Johnson sees that stagnation is the death of all things. Stagnation leads to Empires and First Orders. Hitting the reset button, breaking the machine, leads to revolutions. And after 40 years of circling similar ideas, Star Wars could use a revolution. …
The beauty of Star Wars, since its earliest days, has been the depiction of heroes coming from every corner and every walk of life. A farm boy. A princess. A smuggler. They have no business saving the galaxy, but damn it, they have to! Who else will?
And now we have an orphaned scavenger abandoned by her completely un-noteworthy parents, a conflicted deserter from a vicious military regime, and a skilled pilot with a lot to learn about leadership. The next generation of Star Warsheroes are born from disappointment, the disappointment of having to live in the shadow of heroes and the disappointment of having to fight the war that those heroes failed to actually win all those years ago. No one should have to do this. No young person should have to go to war. … They shouldn’t, but this is the hand that was dealt to them. And they’re going to fight because that’s what heroes do, no matter where they come from. …
The Last Jedi feels like a movie young George Lucas, passionate and bold, would have made. It feels like a proper Star Wars movie by refusing to feel like a Star Wars movie.