Star Wars: The Last Jedi ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Wow I love this movie so much. I somehow enjoyed it even more the second time. I don’t think it’s reasonable to call this the best Star Wars movie when it depends so much on what came before it. I do think it’s my favorite Star Wars movie though.

I really liked The Force Awakens, but it felt held back by nostalgia. It spent too much time on nods to the past, which meant it never had time to really get anywhere new. To some extent I think that was necessary though, and The Last Jedi wouldn’t have been as good if the previous film hadn’t spent some time setting things up. I was excited to finally see the new characters in full focus but I never expected anything quite like this.

I’ve seen some comments that The Last Jedi just spits on everything Star Wars fans loved and I’ve seen comments that it’s full of red herrings and never really changes the status quo. I’ve seen comments that it wastes too much time on plot threads that don’t really go anywhere. I don’t think any of that is accurate. 

It doesn’t always take itself seriously and yes, it shows flaws in characters we might not have expected, but I don’t know how you can watch these lightsaber fights, or Poe Dameron piloting that X-Wing, and think this movie hates Star Wars fans. Yes there are red herrings and ultimately we still have one “Jedi” and one “Sith” at the end of the movie. Maybe it would have been interesting if Kylo and Rey teamed up. But it seems clear to me their relationship is still very different from what we’ve seen in the past. And yes, the plot absolutely meanders, but the main thread of the movie is taut—there’s nothing that doesn’t serve the story of failure and finally learning from it.

It’s a story about fucking up and learning who you are because of it. There are a few different angles on that theme, and sure they could have gotten away with fewer. But they each showed us something different and they all came together in the end.

I assume people found Finn’s the least important because plot-wise it didn’t tie in as much. But the Finn and Rose story gives us so much—it’s a more innocent side of failure. We see Finn fuck up and learn who he really is from that. We see him fail again and decide that sacrificing himself is worth it to save what he cares about—but Rose stops him and reminds him that destroying the enemy at any cost is not victory. Their story gives us hope. It shows us that failure isn’t just a chance to learn, but a chance to learn who we are, and show others who we are. The final shot of the movie can’t happen without their story—the Resistance dies without their story.

One thing I really liked in this movie is that for the first time we’re given the idea that the Jedi religion is fallible. We’ve always seen flawed people but we’re assured the Jedi teachings are correct. It’s interesting that we see Rey give in to the dark side without even hesitating but it never really tempts her to do evil. She’s not seeking power or acting out of anger or fear. She has fear but it doesn’t control her. Maybe the next movie will brush this all aside and get back to the status quo, but to me it suggests that perhaps the “dark side” may not be evil if it’s balanced by light—that truly bringing balance to the force might require tossing aside Jedi dogma and learning to accept the darkness in the world, and in all of us. To balance it with light instead of trying to shut out and destroy it.

Also I love porgs.