A Breath of Fresh Air: The Last Jedi

Arts  /  by Nico Ellis '19  /  January 12, 2018

Courtesy of denofgeek.com

On December 15, 2017, Disney and Lucasfilm released the eighth installment of the Star Wars Saga, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Despite the wild box office success and acclaim from critics that this film has received in the month since its release, many viewers have been dissatisfied with the direction in which new director Rian Johnson took The Last Jedi. Many hardcore fans following the series since the release of Star Wars: A New Hope in 1977 believe that Johnson strayed too far from previous movies and even ruined the series with this project. Other viewers see this film as a breath of fresh air to a series that had fallen into monotony.

Despite the dazzling visual effects and fun characters introduced in the previous film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, its similarities to A New Hope were so obvious that they led many viewers to expect a relapse of the original trilogy. Thankfully, Johnson moves the saga in a different direction, surprising audiences around the world. This abandonment of the old storyline occurs especially when the Supreme Leader Snoke, who is an exact replica of Emperor Palpatine from the original films, is killed. Additionally, antagonist Kylo Ren’s character trajectory does not fit the exact mold of Darth Vader’s, as many had feared. These and other surprises add mystery to future movies in the series.

A major thematic element of Star Wars and many other fictional adventure films, such as Marvel and DC films, is the idea of the good guys heroically defeating the bad guys. The Last Jedi, for example, is centered on the retreat of a dwindling rebellion fleet of ships from the all-powerful First Order, the film’s antagonist group, to avoid extinction and defeat. Branching off this central storyline are various subplots, such as Rey’s attempt to train with the famous Luke Skywalker in a remote corner of the galaxy and the mission of protagonist Finn and new character Rose to a casino planet. While some criticize that some of these subplots are insignificant and useless, the subplots add to the originality and versatility of this film. A few moments of the slow space chase, however, are admittedly boring and inconsequential to the storyline.

Even though this film adds many new ideas to the Star Wars universe, it does contain enough nostalgic and familiar aspects that make the movie feel like a Star Wars movie. Despite their differences from the original films, familiar characters like Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, and Chewbacca, along with little allusions to the original films throughout, give longtime fans enough familiarity to preserve that classic Star Wars feeling. Johnson is successful in giving odes to the old without sacrificing the new.

The least controversial aspect of this film is its outstanding visual effects. The computer generated imagery (CGI) is the best in the Star Wars saga yet, with outstanding scenes in outer space and the concluding fight between Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren. Overall, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a new take on the classics and a good way to spend the afternoon, especially for a more casual viewer who wishes to see a light-hearted, visually appealing film. For all the fans, you’ve probably already seen it.