Continuing the core Star Wars story, The Last Jedi is a thrilling yet particularly disjointed entry in the franchise that redefines the classic archetypes and tropes we have come to expect. Director Rian Johnston continues to honor the past but clearly looks to the future with the most distinctly challenging Star Wars film to date.
Picking up directly from where The Force Awakens left off, the primary focus of The Last Jedi seems to be a passing on of the helm, a cathartic revisit to what made the original trilogy great but a clear progression in undercutting everything the audience expects and leaving us in an uncertain place for the conclusion of the trilogy. Johnston makes the interesting decision to split the main cast for a majority of the film, following the beats of Empire Strikes Back but with a modern spin to move away from the fairy tale world of the original. A lot of fans may be upset by the extensive changes but it feels welcome for the new trilogy to finally find its own identity: one of grit and rage that roots itself in realism but revels in fantasy. Visually the film features stunning cinematography and effects that continue to expand and flesh out this galaxy far, far away; while there is heavy use of noticeable CGI, it is complemented by strong practical effects that make droids like BB-8 so realistic.
However, while Rey begins her Jedi training with the near unrecognizable Luke Skywalker, the rest of the cast are left in meandering subplots that detracted from the overall film. Particularly Finn and weak new character Roses story on the casino planet of Canto Bight was a misstep, being inconsequential to the overall plot and interrupting the flow of an otherwise tight story. While the threads do come together in a thrilling final act, it can’t help feeling like they were juggling too many elements with the expansive cast and endless unanswered questions.
While an exciting step in the right direction, the flaws with Star Wars: The Last Jedi keep it from becoming the first true masterpiece in the saga to arrive this side of the century.