After the surprisingly awful return of the Star Wars franchise in “The Force Awakens”, Writer and Director of “The Last Jedi”, Rian Johnson, saves the new trilogy in the longest and most shocking Star Wars movie yet.

A brief summary of “The Force Awakens”

Episode 7 was an obvious Episode 4 remake only a lot worse. In Episode 7, we are introduced to a few new characters who don’t get any development while following a plot that is extremely similar to “Star Wars: A New Hope”. The new “big baddie” (Kylo Ren) is introduced as an edgy teen with emotional issues who kills off his father, Han Solo (the best Star Wars character ever). Episode 7’s ending battle is settled by Kylo Ren (a trainee of Luke Skywalker and Supreme Leader Snoke) getting destroyed by a young girl and scavenger (Rey) who has absolutely no training with the force or a lightsaber. To top all of this ridiculous nonsense off, Rey finds the long lost Luke Skywalker but he doesn’t speak a single word (one that is much deserved by fans who have waited so long just to see him again).

How Rian Johnson miraculously turned the new trilogy around

So what did Rian Johnson do when he was given the burden of trying to fix the trilogy which was started off by a movie that deserves a C at best? He fixed everything (except for the loss of Han Solo which wasn’t possible to fix). I will say that Rian Johnson took quite a few risks which resulted in a few flaws in the story, but he ultimately pushed Star Wars into the direction that it needed to go if LucasFilms is planning on making a lot more movies. Let’s go over each aspect that Rian needed to ace and grade each one.

Characters – A

Johnson did absolutely amazing work with the new and the old characters. Many fans were worried that there were too many additions to the cast list when the four new main characters introduced in Episode 7 hadn’t even been developed yet. With the additions of Rose,  Admiral Holdo, “DJ” (the code breaker), and new creatures such as the adorable little Porgs, it was seen as impossible to be able to introduce these new characters, develop these characters, and give them all story lines while developing the main characters and following their stories. Johnson managed to find the perfect balance of every single character and also making every single character a good fit to the Star Wars franchise.

Johnson also successfully developed Rey, Poe, Kylo Ren, and Finn through each of their story lines in “The Last Jedi” which we will dive into a little deeper in a bit. One of the smartest things Johnson did which really made the audience happy was the inclusion of “Force Ghost Yoda” in a little scene where Yoda shares more of his wisdom with Luke after Luke struggles with the thought of the Jedi ending. It is a very refreshing scene and one that really makes the movie feel like a Star Wars movie.

Plot – B

There are a few separate stories that all happen simultaneously in which the crappy characters from the Force Awakens become great characters and the new characters earn their place in the Star Wars franchise. These multiple story lines do have a few flaws here and there but overall, Rian Johnson brilliantly sets up Episode 9 (which JJ Abrams will direct) and the new trilogy following it (which Rian Johnson will direct). The story lines include:

  • Poe Dameron, General Leia, and Admiral Holdo fleeing from the First Order. They manage to hold off the First order long enough to take cover in a resistance base on the planet Crait.
  • Finn, Rose, DJ, and BB-8 attempting a “behind-enemy-lines” mission in which they try to take away the First Order’s ability to track the Resistance through light speed. The good guys fail as “DJ” betrays them. Finn, Rose, and BB-8 manage to escape and fly to the resistance hideout.
  • Rey training under Luke while trying to convince him to come out of exile and while Rey communicates with Kylo Ren about Luke and Snoke. Rey learns of why Kylo Ren turned evil (it’s because Luke almost killed him in his sleep over suspicions of him being evil).
  • Rey, hoping she can turn Kylo to the light side, goes to him and is taken to see Snoke. In this shocking scene, Snoke orders Kylo to “kill his greatest enemy” and so Kylo slices Snoke in half with Rey’s lightsaber. Rey and Kylo then kill all of Snoke’s guards in an awesome lightsaber battle. Kylo tells Rey to “let all of it die”, referring to the Jedi, Sith, Resistance, and First Order. Kylo invites Rey to “start over and create something new” with him. Rey says “don’t do this”, declining the offer and uses the force to bring her lighsaber to her. Kylo attempts to stop Rey from taking the lightsaber and it ends up splitting in two. Rey escapes Kylo and then Kylo orders an attack on Crait to destroy the Resistance.

All of these story lines succeed in making all of these characters a lot better. Poe, Admiral Holdo, and General Leia end up in heated arguments over Poe’s “trigger-happiness” that results in countless Resistance deaths which the Resistance really can’t afford. Admiral Holdo, after not being too much of a liked character for how she acts towards Poe, ends up sacrificing herself to destroy First Order ships and buy the Resistance much needed time.

Finn and Rose also both risk their lives to buy the Resistance more time but they both manage to live. Luke, Rey, and Kylo Ren all bring their best in this movie and Luke becomes even more of a legend. You can see how Rey and Kylo are becoming iconic characters. Rian Johnson successfully manages to build a close relationship between Rey and Kylo  and also drives them further apart at the same time. The plot is just an overall phenomenal job done by Rian Johnson and the actors who acted in the film. However, the Plot loses a letter grade because of the following flaws:

  • First Order TIE Fighters destroy the window to a room Leia is standing in during a space battle as the Resistance is attempting to flee. Leia is sucked into space and after about 30 seconds to a minute, uses the force to fly herself towards the door to her ship and gets in, ultimately living. This part of the movie was even far-fetched for a Star Wars movie. It was kind of stupid to have the TIE Fighters destroy the window in the first place if they were just going to have General Leia come back and survive.
  • During the Battle of Crait, Rey shows up in the Millenium Falcon and somehow distracts every single First Order TIE Fighter away from the battle. There is just no way that Kylo Ren (the new Supreme Leader) is stupid enough to order all of the TIE Fighters onto the Millenium Falcon.
  • Also during the Battle of Crait,  Finn is speeding towards the barrel of the First Orders big gun that would blow a hole in the giant door the Resistance was hiding behind. He is about to make the epic sacrifice to save the Resistance when Rose does something extremely stupid. She “T-bones” Finn’s speeder and both of the speeders crash to the ground right in front of the new Gorilla Walkers. Some how the two make it all the way back to the hideout, and escape with the rest of the Resistance. This isn’t at all believable. The Walkers would have shot them both.

Luke’s ending and the Battle of Crait – A

From Ach-To, Luke somehow uses the force to make a fake version of himself appear at the Battle of Crait. He walks on to the battle field and Kylo Ren orders all guns on Luke. They all fire for 30 seconds straight. The smoke clears and Luke remains standing and brushes off his shoulder. Kylo Ren tells the pilot to bring him down to Luke and the two exchange very powerful and emotional words while Kylo makes many attempts to his Luke with his lightsaber and misses. Luke assures Kylo Ren that he isn’t the last of the Jedi and turns off his lightsaber. Kylo charges at Luke and slices him in half but Luke still stands. He says his good bye and then disappears. Luke bought the Resistance quite a bit of time while the Resistance manages to escape on the Millenium Falcon with Rey. Then we see Luke on Ach-To staring into the sun(s) and then his body dissolves the same way Obi-Wan and Yoda did.

Conclusion and Verdict

The film ends on a little boy who was shown earlier in the film. The boy force pulls a broom to him and begins to sweep. He looks into the stars with a Resistance ring on and the credits roll.

“The Last Jedi”, the cast, and the crew get a much deserved A- on this movie. The characters all improve quite a bit, the story-line doesn’t disappoint, and the rest of the Star Wars franchise was actually set up in this movie unlike in The Force Awakens. “Solo” is set to hit theaters in May of 2018.

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Posted by Matt Andrews

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