The Star Wars franchise is a piece of American Culture at this point. It has stood the test of time and is loved by many. Even as divisive as they are, the prequels are still respected as being part of the franchise. J.J. Abrams and Disney continued the story with The Force Awakens and now the franchise is as popular as ever. After time has passed, I don't think that film is as good as the money it made. I like some of the new characters, but it is pretty much a carbon copy of A New Hope.
In every one's defense, the hype around Star Wars is more than any director can truly overcome. Rian Johnson is now tasked with continuing the story in The Last Jedi. The trailers are intense and misleading. The look and tone appear very different and they are. It is the most anticipated film of the last two years and now we see if it lives up to the hype.
The film begins with General (Princess) Leia and her small group of Resistance on the run from the First Order. Hoping to draw others to her cause, she sends Rey to find her lost brother Luke. It is her hope that the last of the Jedi can restore balance to the galaxy and rally others to their cause. Rey is tasked with not only bringing Luke back, but also with training her to understand the power that has woken inside of her. In the meantime, Supreme Leader Snoke and Kylo Ren also have plans for her and Skywalker.
Those are the basics and I am still trying to come to grips with how I feel about the film. Carrie Fisher is great and there are some great emotional moments. There are so many questions that were asked in The Force Awakens. Rey's parentage and who Snoke really is being two of the biggest ones. There have been two years worth of fan theories floating around. All of them wrong and most of them better than what the film delivered. It feels different than your previous Star Wars films did. I need to see it again, but until then here we go....
Snoke does demonstrate his power, but his story doesn't go at all the way it is expected to. I expected so much more and this film does not carbon copy Empire Strikes Back in the way The Force Awakens copied A New Hope. Part of me wishes this film did.
We do get introduced to new characters. I like Rose, who becomes Finn's new companion. Her brief story has heart, but her and Finn's mission is a useless story point. It is through them that we meet DJ (Benecio Del Toro) on the casino planet. His character is useless and isn't tied to any characters in the past. At least the film doesn't lead us to believe that. Laura Dern has a solid role. The movie does a great job hiding her allegiance where Poe is concerned.
Kylo Ren comes across better in this movie than the last. His duel with Rey left him scarred more than just physically. He is still dealing with killing his father and it has certainly changed him in several ways. The conflict with him, Rey, and Snoke is good. I did like the dynamic between Kylo and the villains. He and Hux are both power mongers. Watching them play against each other is fun. Sadly, Captain Phasma is again wasted.
Luke Skywalker is the man! Mark Hamill is the star of this movie. He is Luke. He gives a great performance and we do get a very different Luke. He is clearly tortured, but there are moments of the farm boy that we remember. We are given a sense of his vulnerability and how powerful he actually is. While I loved seeing Luke, the movie toyed with me a lot where he is concerned. There is a great Leia moment. I like where they went with him, but then I am TRULY disappointed with the end arc of the character. We have some great Luke moments, but I feel liked they missed the mark with him.
I like the new characters. I like the fact that Star Wars is back on the big screen. I don't like that it feels like Disney is more concerned with profitability than doing justice to the characters that built the franchise. It has more humor than I expected. Most of it works, but there is some that becomes tedious. The over all story has some issues. I like the cast, but not the direction. I wish some of the spoilers and theories were real. I think some of them would have played better than the film that we got. People will love this I'm sure. It will make money, but to me this movie suffers in the story arc department. I am not crazy about the overall path, but I don't make those calls.
People who say it is the best Star Wars since Empire, need to take a hard look at that statement. I didn't hate it. I certainly didn't love it. I left disappointed, but I would recommend people see it and draw their own conclusions. The Force is strong with this one, but not nearly as strong as it should have been.