Director Rian Johnson and Walt Disney Studios give moviegoers a holiday treat with the next chapter in the Star Wars saga. Star Wars: The Last Jedi continues the story of characters in a galaxy far away. Picking up moments after The Force Awakens' conclusion, Last Jedi opens up with an exciting aerial battle scene between the First Order & the Resistance.
During the opening scene, we get a feel for characters introduced in The Force Awakens, including the cocky but natural-born leader Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and two of his nemesis's General Hux (Domhall Gleeson) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Meanwhile, Rey (Daisy Ridley) is seeking out Luke Skywalker's help (Mark Hamill). At the same time, her best friend Finn (John Boyega) recovers from his last battle with Kylo Ren. With this being his fourth film, does the director live up to the HUGE undertaking, making a "Star Wars" film that isn't for the fans?
Johnson succeeds more than he fails with The Last Jedi. Johnson is a fan, as there are small little quirks that diehard fans will spot, particularly with John William's score. Johnson also doesn't try and recreate The Empire Strikes Back. The Last Jedi stands on its own and follows the story arc started in Episode VII and revisits plot points established in the previous trilogy.
Johnson also handles the action sequences, provides some quality one-liners from his cast, and generally gives everyone a chance in the cast to shine. One of the highlights was seeing Carrie Fisher portray Leia's role one last time and bringing the character's arc full circle. Now for the negative, for starters, the film is too long.
While I don't mind a long movie, the middle section drags and easily could have trimmed off fifteen to twenty minutes. There is an entire subplot in the middle of the film that wasn't needed and hurts the film. While the subplot does involve my favorite character Finn, it was a waste. The only highlight of the subplot was Benicio Del Toro's extended cameo, and I hope he returns in future films. Johnson's reveal of Rey's parents was also a bit weak. As was the little character development of Captain Phasma, and I'm still trying to figure out what point of the Porgs was. Star Wars is a massive undertaking for any filmmaker, and Johnson's writing could have been a bit stronger.
The big bad of the film Snoke is underwritten, in my opinion. Snoke has a natural menacing demeanor to him, and there are so many places his character could go. Instead, he's painted as an evil genius. This angle could all be intentional, though, as Kylo Ren & General Hux are a bit more developed. I initially had my reservations about Adam Driver's casting, but once again, he pulls it off.
While Star Wars: The Last Jedi Isn't as strong as The Force Awakens, there are still fun moments in the film. The Last Jedi may not stick with me as the other films did, but with enough action and a surprise cameo of a fan favorite, it's worth a trip to the theater.
Final Grade B-