Last night, I saw Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, and I’m just gonna put it simply: it was awesome. What follows is an account of why I thought it was awesome. I’m not going to say this is a review, but I’m probably not going to get very critical or obejective. It’s more of a reaction, so I can use words like “cool” and talk about how much I love Laura Dern.
Real quick though, before we get into spoiler territory, a few things I want to say: this movie, seriously, is really good. It gets, experimental almost? Maybe that’s too extreme of a term to use, but it gets weird, especially for a Star Wars movie. Also, after watching this entire movie and then seeing “Written and Directed by Rian Johnson,” it’s very easy to see why they want him to make more movies.
Alright, that’s all. If you don’t want any of the movie spoiled, come on back later, will ya?
I love Rey. I’ve loved her ever since she put on that pilot’s helmet, just for fun, in The Force Awakens. I was worried that this movie was going to let me down, because at times it seemed like they were sacrificing her development for the sake of focusing on Luke and Kylo. But she got great scenes, great development, another little post-battle wind-down session with Leia, and another moment of being adorable (she takes a moment to enjoy the rain on the island. She’s from a giant desert! That’s so cute!).
Speaking of Kylo, he also got more interesting things to do in this movie. In Episode 7, he was mostly menace menace menace, I can be evil, look I killed my dad I’m evil for real. By the end it seemed like he was sold completely to the dark side, but in Ep. 8 that turns out to not be the case. We still get to see Kylo struggle, but not in a boring way that rehashes the last movie. Though he proved his loyalty and commitment to the dark side by killing Han, he still failed Snoke by losing to Rey in their battle at the end of Ep. 7, leaving him still with a need to prove himself. We also see he still struggles with his past, because although he killed Han with almost no qualms, he won’t take the shot from his ship to blow up the ship with Leia on board. This leaves us knowing that there may be some hope for Kylo as Rey begins trying to “turn” him. His relationship with Rey also got much more interesting as she went from a rival to a potential equal, someone whose power matched his, and eventually someone who might “burn down” the past and begin a new rule with him.
And then, as promised, there’s Laura Dern’s Vice Admiral Holdo. Dern has much less of a presence than I’d like to see, although I think adding more of her character would probably harm the story, as I can’t really figure out what else she would do. Because we didn’t have a lot of time to connect with her, I felt as though her final sacrifice didn’t have quite as much impact as it could have, but then she made her real final sacrifice, and like, yeah, it was amazing (we’ll get to it).
Now we can get to it. So, Laura Dern’s prepared to pilot the ship to distract the First Order from the rest of the fleeing Resistance. It turns out this isn’t enough, so Laura Dern instead distracts them by piloting the ship to face the First Order, put her ship into hyperdrive, and fly through the main First Order ship, slicing it in half. I mean, I can’t say anymore than that about it, that’s incredibly cool. It’s also more of an active sacrifice than her staying behind to be killed, so that probably helped? I’ll go with yes.
There was also some great planet design. The casino planet, though incredibly corrupt, was also incredibly “beautiful” as Finn described. The casino itself had a lavish interior complemented by the beach and grasslands surrounding it. The starry night made it a serene place for the alien horses to escape to.
Then at the end we’re given my favorite piece of design from this movie, the snow covered planet housing the Resistance base. So we see a little bit of this in the trailer, but I thought (and still thought for a confused second) that the rebel ships were just putting out red smoke? For some reason? Intimidation? But no, there’s a thin layer of snow covering up the bold red salt underneath. This allows for a lot of dynamic contrast as the battle here goes on, as more and more snow is uncovered, looking almost like smears of blood (appropriately). Rey also flies the Millennium Falcon into some crevices of the planet where we get to see large crystalline salt structures on the inside. It’s just cool.
Okay, as I mentioned earlier, this movie gets weird. It may not be the most accurate term, but it’s the best I have for the new and interesting things the movie does (okay “new” or “interesting” may be better terms but at least this feels more specific). So Rey goes into, like, the dark side…place? Which is already weird, what is that, tree roots? Anyway, and then she approaches this mirrored surface and then we’re like in a completely different dimension type place with like multiple Reys? You know what, I really don’t know what the heck was going on in this scene. Like I learned what I was supposed to, but I really can’t explain what actually happened. But I did like it, and as I said, it was very different and interesting, especially for Star Wars.
I also really like how they visually represented some of the things happening, like Rey coming back after her meditation, but specifically her mind meetings with Kylo. The way that it was shot and edited, with each character living out their actions in their real location but the audience seeing it as a conversation in one place was just, as I’ve said before, really cool, and probably the most effective way to have those scenes. For instance, if the shots had been wider, we would have been more like any random observer that stumbled upon them, seeing Rey and Kylo talking to themselves, and getting less of the conversation as a whole. Again, it’s just something I really felt worked, even though I may not be hitting on exactly why.
--Leia slaps Poe.
--Leia shoots Poe with a gun.
--Laura Dern shoots a gun.
--Something I tried to work in earlier: Kylo just kills Snoke? Everything about it works: it’s surprising, (it was cool), it gives Kylo new motivation afterward, it leads to a great fight seen with him and Rey.
--BB-8 was great again and I love how much Poe loves his droid.
--This movie was also really funny. Again, I don’t know how to talk about that critically or objectively, it just was.
That’s kinda it for what I liked about The Last Jedi. I’ve only seen it once so far, and I do have some problems with it, but I really, really enjoyed it.
I’m not sure if I should end this by saying may the force be with you, talking about porgs, or remembering that Yoda was in this movie for a hot second, so just let all of that simmer.
*EDIT: apparently the rebel base planet may be covered with salt, and not snow? I don’t know if the redness is also a salt formation or some other mineral. I dunno I’ve seen it once ¯\_(ツ)_/¯