12:00 pm EST, December 12, 2017

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ movie review: A stellar sequel that forges its own path

Star Wars: The Last Jedi brings the Star Wars Universe to a new and exciting place. While still familiar as Star Wars, it makes some unexpected choices that are sure to rock the fandom. This review is spoiler-free.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi effectively learns from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, by righting its mistakes and strengthening its positives in a way that both fans and critics of The Force Awakens can enjoy.

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One of the greatest strengths of The Force Awakens was its characters, and for the most part, The Last Jedi is able to expand upon those new characters. The Last Jedi spends a lot of time juggling multiple storylines, so, unfortunately, there is not a lot of time dedicated to developing everyone.

Finn (John Boyega) and especially Poe (Oscar Isaac) have more to do in The Last Jedi, but while their roles are expanded, their characters are not deepened. However, they do still have their own shining moments while still leaving space for a few great BB-8 moments. But there are not too many creative choices done to develop character arcs. They are essentially just hitting the same notes that they do in The Force Awakens but in a bigger way.

Related: What you need to know from official Star Wars fiction preceding The Last Jedi

As the posters indicate, The Last Jedi is mostly focused on Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Through these characters, The Last Jedi gets the chance to explore the blurred lines of good and evil to an extent far greater than what Return of the Jedi hinted at. The movie feels like a strong step in a new direction because it finally gets a chance to emphasize that Rey and Kylo are their own characters and not rehashes of Luke and Darth Vader.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi review

Rey’s distinction from Luke (Mark Hamill) is most clear when they first interact with each other. Luke has turned into an almost unidentifiable character, but the sparks of how he was left in Return of the Jedi are still there. Their relationship really emphasizes the generational quality in the series, through how time and situation has shifted how a hero should act.

Thankfully, Leia (Carrie Fisher) has a greater role in this film. While her screentime is still minimal, each of Leia’s scenes carries an immense amount of significance, relating both to the character and the tone of the movie as a whole. Additionally, it is a delight to see her relationship with Poe, as the son she wished she had, and with Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern).

Holdo has an intriguing purpose in the film, both as a foil to Poe and to show the importance of Leia’s teachings. Her presence colors the state of the rebellion, allowing the rebellion as a whole to feel more dynamic and dimensional than it ever has been.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi review

Another fantastic addition to the film is the character Rose (Kelly Marie Tran). Rose shows another perspective into the paths people take to join the rebellion, much as Rey, Finn, and Poe do in The Force Awakens. This expands the scope of the Star Wars universe, to show the smaller stories of people fueled by hope and goodness.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi more than ever makes this universe feel like more than just Skywalkers. It emphasizes that an individual’s actions have impacts on others and that everyone has a role in the fate of the galaxy. One way it does so is by exploring different planets.

To be fair, a couple of the planets do not have much significance beyond adorable creatures, but one in particular hints at the political structure of this world. This planet is able to illustrate how the battle between the First Order and the Resistance affects those who are not fighting, in an interesting way.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi review

Admittedly, The Force Awakens bears similarities to A New Hope, which has been met by both extremely positive and negative responses, but The Last Jedi finds its own footing. There are a handful of plot elements that do follow Empire Strikes Back, but the movie brings them into a new direction.

Ultimately, The Last Jedi forges its own path, creating the opportunity for some visually fantastic battle sequences, both in space and in light saber combat. Although most of the space battles drag on too long. Additionally, the film is infused with a unique humor that effectively grounds the space opera. Unfortunately, this is occasionally balanced out with overly dramatic scenes, which tend to telegraph their next move.

The Last Jedi opens exciting new doors for the conclusion to this trilogy thanks its unexpected choices. If we had to issue one complaint? BB-9E is tragically wasted. Stay tuned for more Last Jedi thoughts and analysis this weekend on Hypable!

Grade: A-

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ opens in theaters December 15, 2017

Related: Where we left the characters at the end of The Force Awakens

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