Written and Directed by Rian Johnson
Cast includes Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega
Produced by Lucasfilm
After many criticisms of the Force Awakens claimed it was too much of a rehash of A New Hope, Director Rian Johnson puts new characters in similar situations to old ones, but those characters make different choices to keep things fresh, yet familiar, while also bringing us story beats that are completely new.
Picking up very shortly after the previous film, a Resistance hero, Poe Dameron faces down a First Order Dreadnaught, staging a smartass prank on General Hux to stall long enough for his allies to arrive. Unfortunately, Leia realizes the battle will be lost if they press on and orders them to fall back. Though Poe arrogantly disobeys her direct orders, managing to destroy the dreadnaught. Win, right? Leia disagrees. By disobeying her, Poe is responsible for the deaths of many resistance pilots and the loss their entire bombing fleet.
While the scene begins quippy and comedic, the action sequence is beautifully stunning, before becoming much more serious, ending on a somber note. All the emotions in this are blended so well. I never once felt a sense of mood whiplash. Poe’s impulsiveness is contrasted with General Leia’s cautious, more premeditated nature, bringing interesting drama between the General and the upcoming resistance leader.
After the Resistance jump to lightspeed, the First Order jump behind them moments later, revealing the Order can track them through hyperspace, long thought impossible. Poe is demoted for his earlier actions by Leia before Kylo Ren’s ship flies toward the bridge of her ship with his thumb on the weapon’s trigger, but he’s unable to bring himself to fire. Is there some light in him after all?
Though he couldn’t bring himself to do it, another TIE fighter follows through. This leaves Admiral Ackbar dead, and Leia floating in the vacuum of space. Until she reaches her hand toward the Resistance ship and pulls herself back inside, revealing she’s become quite skilled in the force, despite never becoming a Jedi. Though the act takes all she has, leaving her in a comatose state. The command goes to Admiral Holdo, a woman as stern as Leia, but less forgiving, much to Poe’s dismay.
Poe’s impulsiveness and inability to follow orders halt his progress as a leader as Leia tries to mentor him to become her replacement. And Kylo Ren’s possible redemption after it was made clear that killing his father brought him closer to the light than ever, so close that he couldn’t even kill his mother.
Finally, Rey hands the lightsaber of Anakin Skywalker that she fought so hard for in the previous film to Luke Skywalker, only for him to throw it over his shoulder, declaring it’s time for the Jedi to end. Many people found this jarring, but Luke was in the middle of nowhere. He never told anyone where he was going and Leia couldn’t even feel him within the force. It was made pretty clear in the Force Awakens Luke didn’t want to be found.
After a day of nagging, Luke gets fed up with Rey, agreeing to teach her a few lessons in the force. Though he doesn’t intend for her to become a Jedi. He wants to teach her the Force shouldn’t be used by anyone.
Rey begins sharing telepathic moments with Kylo Ren against both of their wills. She keeps this a secret from Luke as the two young force users slowly begin to understand one another and develop a bond. He recounts the events of his fall to the dark side, claiming Luke tried to kill him, fearing his power. Using the force to communicate like this has never happened in the films, the old expanded universe, or even the new canon, though it’s a welcome addition to the mythos, expanding the possibilities of the force.
Luke walks in on Rey talking to Ben Solo and destroys the building their in with the force of a surprised rage. Luke and Rey’s argument escalates until Luke reveals the truth of Ben’s fall.
Luke lost faith in Ben for a moment and contemplated executing his nephew mirroring Return to the Jedi when he does the same to his father, Vader. And just like before, he remembers who he is and chooses not to do it. tried to execute Ben. In retaliation, Ben took several of his students and destroyed the temple, murdering the other students, proving Luke was right.
The fact that Ben immediately recruited others meant he must’ve been planning it with them long before Luke attacked him. Was Luke right in contemplating the murder of his own nephew? Well, his mentor, Obi-Wan made the decision not to strike down Anakin on Mustafar. Going into hiding, he regretted it for decades to the point where he told Luke to kill Vader. He’s irredeemable. He’s past the point of no return.
Back to Ben Solo. For a moment, Luke allowed himself to believe Obi-Wan was right. He believed yes. There is a point of no return. And his nephew had crossed it. But then he realizes. No. Vader was saved before the Sith Lords death. Luke himself is the one Jedi who knows, there is no point of no return. Everyone can be redeemed. So he doesn’t attack Ben. But it’s too late. Ben woke to find his uncle above him weapon drawn. His anger is justified. Anger at Luke for betraying him. Anger at his parents for sending him there, to begin with. In his mind. No one was there for him. He wants someone there for him. He needs it. But he doesn’t want to need it. Which is why he sets out to kill his parents and his uncle. They’re a safety net that makes him weak.
Rey loses trust in Luke, deciding to go to Ben to return him to the light to replace Luke. Luke disagrees but doesn’t stop her.
Rian Johnson sets Snoke, Rey, and Kylo Ren in place to mirror the Emperor, Luke, and Vader. As soon as those three are seen in the same room together, it’s obvious they’re not all going to live. In an amazingly tense sequence, Snoke demands belittle Ben as he demands the boy kill Rey. But had finally had enough. Ben chooses to save Rey by killing Snoke himself, slicing him in half.
Snoke’s death was so satisfying after everything he put Ben through. He was a supporting character in Kylo Ren’s story. Some people chose to believe he was going to become the main antagonist, but the story always focused on Kylo Ren, like it focused on Vader in the original trilogy. No Sith was ever member, the name Darth Sidious or Palpatine didn’t exist. He was simply the evil Emperor who pulled Vader and the Empire’s strings.
The two team up to take out the rest of praetorian guard in a glorious action scene. Excellent choreography following an emotional twist that gives either Rey or Ben the choice to turn to the other’s side. Ben decides Snoke had to die like his father, Han. The old needs to die to make way for the new. He wants to remake the world with himself as Supreme Leader and he wants Rey with him for it.
He reveals the truth of her parents. They were nobodies. They sold her off for drinking money. They were dead and they never planned to come back for her anyway. There’s a part of her that always knew, but she held on to hope for something better. Nothing from the Force Awakens hinted that she was the daughter of anyone important. We at Comic Watch actually predicted this in one of our videos, but it was devastating to see Rey’s tears. Daisey Ridley’s performance sells the scene perfectly.
Their romance comes to an end when she chooses to oppose him. We’ve gotten the rivalry of Obi-Wan versus Anakin. Brothers to the End. We’ve gotten Luke against Vader. Father and Son. Now, we’ve got Rey fighting Ben. Potential loves, turned enemies, one of them destined to kill the other.
Luke, an old Jedi Master, still has one lesson to learn. In a grand gesture, he goes to destroy the force tree he’d been living next to, as well as the sacred Jedi text. But he’s visited by an old friend. Yoda returns as a Force Ghost and destroys the tree. Luke realizes it’s not what he wanted after all. Yoda laughs at his protege. Decades ago, Luke begged Yoda to teach him the way of the Jedi, now Rey was begging him to become a Jedi again. With the final lesson from Yoda, Luke realizes the Jedi are worth saving.
The Grandmaster of the old Jedi Order’s appearance was more than a pleasant surprise, especially since they used the puppet from the original trilogy and stuck with his wise, but playful personality. And it’s only fitting that Yoda is the one to convince him to be a Jedi again. After Luke essentially begged Yoda to train him in the first place.
The final battle takes place on an old abandoned rebel base. The Resistance is pinned down in a bunker, while the First Order approaches. Luke reunites with Leia is a tearjerking scene. She seems to know why he’s returned. And it wasn’t to bring Ben back. She agrees with his decision to face her son with deep regret. The Jedi Master leaves the bunker to confront Ben and buy time for the Resistance to escape.
There’s no epic lightsaber on lightsaber battle. Only Ren lashes out at his uncle for betraying him as Luke agrees that he failed Ben. Though the Jedi Master could never attack his nephew. And eventually, Ren does strike Luke, revealing Luke was never even there to begin with. Back on Ach-too where he’d always been, Luke used Astral Projection to appear where they needed him. Likely an extension of the Force Ghost technique taught to Obi-Wan by Yoda and taught to Yoda by the Force Priestesses.
Luke’s final words to Ben. He claimed he’d be with him in the force. Always. Just like his father. On Ach-too, Luke stared at the twin suns of the planet with hope for the future as he passed away peacefully
The film is a dream come true for fans of the original trilogy. Luke’s character arc throughout his life is the main focal point and the most fulfilling I’ve seen in all of Star Wars. If the Force Awakens was the film that began to make things right, this is the film that does make them right! After years of subpar films, the Last Jedi follows it’s predecessor showing Star Wars is back for good.
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