In a galaxy not so far away and a time not so long ago, JJ Abrams decided to revive the monstrously popular Star Wars franchise and received blessings from the critics as well the series' old loyalists, those who blatantly rejected the spin-offs made in the early 2000s. Expectations were high with the eighth chapter and the title The Last Jedi just added to it. Star Wars: The Last Jedi deals with the cinematic universe's most respected characters, 'Jedi', and marks the end of the order with a 'ray of hope'. Enthralling and still nostalgic, the eighth chapter fulfills most of the fandom's appetite.
Second, in the rebooted trilogy, the film focuses on Rey and her training from Luke Skywalker himself, who is on a self-exile, in the most unfindable place in the galaxy, while the Resistance is spearheaded by Princess Leia, played by the late Carrie Fisher. There is a lot of Leia in The Last Jedi. In fact, in a franchise that has always been progressive about the representation of women, The Last Jedi is basically run by them in every way possible- from General Leia's leadership to Leia's second in command Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo's (Laura Dern) sacrifice and save-the-day sisters Paige (Veronica Ngo) and Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran)- who each get their moment to shine.
Meanwhile, Rey remains the character most likely to carry on the Jedi tradition, having piloted the Millennium Falcon to the remote island where Luke is hiding, although he proves a far more reluctant teacher than Yoda ever was. With the force by her side, trying to balance the energy, Rey has concerns about Kylo Ren and at parts, the man in question does resemble Darth Vader's torn-self.
Adam Driver is a gifted actor and his vulnerability as Ben Solo and Kylo Ren (the heir to Darth Vader himself) tears you up from inside. There's light in him, but the dark force is equally strong with him, splitting his image. While Rey has her clarity, Kylo is still finding his way in the dark and that is apparent at several moments. Nonetheless, Ren does make a shrewd but naive villain and he has a long way to go before he fills up his grandfather, Vader's, shoes.
Director Johnson provides real character details for the good guys, even for the minor ones and their losses, thereby etching every character with greater impact than in the previous movies.
The Last Jedi possesses the same reverence for the galaxy Lucas created, paying homage in all the right places (from the chills we get from John Williams’ iconic fanfare to the new-and-improved walkers that appear during the climactic siege).
Another aspect in which the force is strong with The Last Jedi is the VFX. The jaw-dropping action sequences keep you on the edge of your seat, and the mid-air thrill of 'will-they-won't-they' keeps you engaged throughout. There are various references to the past films, which were bound to happen, considering Hamil's return to the franchise. From him entering the Millennium Falcon, to meeting his old pal R2D2, and a brief glimpse of his own journey- the film has enough dose for the old and the new order of fans.
However, the Johnson's directorial does feel stale at key moments. It is predictable and feels as if the director was specifically asked not to tamper with the film's fundamentals. While this might appear a good thing, there's only so much you can ignore in the name of fandom and nostalgia. At a given point, the films have to steer on their own and as stated in the film, "the new rebellion has to rise as we have everything we need"- including a new hope to a new leader, new complex relationships and a new Supreme Commander.
While The Force Awakens was an out and out grand homage, The Last Jedi does provide a narrative, to begin with. The Force Awakens was essentially a heightened reboot of A New Hope, recycling many of the 1977 original thrills in fresh form with a mostly new cast. This latest chapter was positioned as the new trilogy’s The Empire Strikes Back— which is to say, a darker, more serious chapter that deepens the underlying mythology, shapes its emerging hero, sets up an epic cliff-hanger and introduces a few big twists into the equation.
Now it's all in the ninth chapter to carry it forward and deliver a fresh take on this classic series. Rest, spin-offs like Rogue One will keep the galaxy story-mongers satisfied (We hope...!)
Engaging, advancing and thrilling, The Last Jedi doesn't disappoint on major levels and we can thank the makers for not messing it up and for being true to the force. As Master Yoda would've said, "Watch One May. Enjoy One Must."