Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi
You probably already have a working idea of what fanfiction is, but just in case, I’ll jog you. Fanfiction is what happens when people just can’t get enough of a certain fandom and decide to play around in it a bit, writing their own stories within the universe and, for lack of a better word, riffing.
In some ways, I feel as if the latest additions to the films in the Star Wars saga are fanfiction, simply because, as a friend of mine said recently; “it’s so refreshing to finally hear stories that aren’t singularly focused on the Skywalker legacy.” I agree. Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens brought us a whole slew of fresh, new characters, and, necessarily, actors to bring them to life. But in other ways – and I feel a right traitor saying this, as I grew up watching Episodes IV, V, and VI as some sort of religious activity – Episodes VII, VIII, and even Rogue One are critically and socially more responsible films than the original trilogy. And embarrassingly better than I, II, and III.
There were two reasons I was decidedly keen to see The Last Jedi. One was Daisy Ridley as Rey (Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, Murder on the Orient Express). The other was Carrie Fisher (Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi) as Leia. But I ended up loving this movie for reasons I never expected to. For one thing, I intensely appreciate the inclusion of so many women characters. They pop up as lieutenants, aides, fighters, admirals, commanders, villains, techs, you name it. And that’s so great. For another, I’m pleased to notice that recent Star Wars casts have grown increasingly racially diverse. I’d even suggest that The Last Jedi may be one of the films that is helping to usher in the #timesup movement in Hollywood, which stands firmly against abuse and discrimination.
Side note: speaking of #timesup, if you haven’t already, you may want to pop on over to Oprah Winfrey’s website and watch her recent speech at the Golden Globes. Also, if this cause is important to you, you also might want to donate to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund and financially support those who want to take legal action for harassment and discrimination.
Thank you for considering making our world better. #Sorrynotsorry for the tangent. Back to The Last Jedi…
This movie centers around young Rey’s petition to Mark Hamil’s Luke Skywalker (Star Wars: Episode - IV: A New Hope); will he return to help the alliance in their fight against Supreme Leader Snoke? And furthermore, will Luke agree to teach her what he knows about The Force?
It was such a pleasure to encounter our dear Princess Carrie again. I didn’t expect her to play such a powerful role in this film, but I’m certainly not complaining. Adam Driver (Girls, Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens) returns as the tortured Kylo Ren, son of Han Solo and now General Leia Organa. His zero-to-sixty fits of rage and general emotional availability are chilling. Kelly Marie Tran (About a Boy, Comedy Bang! Bang!) gives us a heartfelt performance as Rose Tico and creates faint echoes of what may become a love triangle between Rose, Finn, and Rey. John Boyega as Finn (Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, The Circle) is steady and endearing.
There’s impressive number of cameos in The Last Jedi, most of which I didn’t catch. Kate Dickie, famous for her role as Lysa Arryn in Game of Thrones – yep, the creepy breastfeeding queen – appears quite early on in the film. I also recognized Justin Theroux, model Lily Cole, and singer Ellie Goulding. And villain Snoke is sufficiently and evilly voiced by Andy Serkis (Little Dorrit, The Lord of the Rings Series). Also involved in production, albeit briefly, are Prince Charles and Prince Harry as random imperial troopers.
Finally, as a combat nerd, I was so relieved to see fight choreographers credited directly after the cast. C.C. Smith (Game of Thrones, Captain America: Civil War), as swordmaster and Liang Yang (Skyfall) as assistant fight coordinator do absolutely beautiful work. The fights in this film are incredible, and it’s always been a beef of mine that the fight choreography crews so often get mentioned only as afterthoughts. They deserve so much better.
I really wish we were done with exclusively CG characters – they could have costumed and made-up Andy Serkis himself and let ‘im rip, which I would have liked to see. Nerds are a-ragin’ about Snoke anyway – where did he come from? What exactly is his actual place in the canon? Why did we miss his rise to power?
Finn and Rose’s detour to the casino planet Canto Bight left me a little miffed because while it was very visually stunning, it seemed to do very little to move the actual plot along. There was also a narrative skip that bugged me a little; Rey is shown back onboard the Falcon without the audience’s observing how she got there. Apparently, there are clues embedded in the dialog, but I didn’t catch that. I don’t understand why Ridley, as the protagonist, is billed fourth in the film – after Adam Driver! And the only other thing I can think to complain of is the tease of accepting certain characters have died when they haven’t. But then, I’m so relieved to have them still with us! that it’s not really a complaint.
I must commend the script and direction by Rian Johnson. It’s tight, cohesive, and insightful. Also, he’s not J.J. Abrams. Which, for me, is just fine.The Last Jedi is also visually beautiful, and the pacing is fantastic, with delightful pops of legitimately funny humor.
If you enjoy well-written, directed and acted films, you should probably see this. If you’re a sci-fi fan or invested in the Star Wars universe, you should absolutely see this. Take it from a fellow geek.