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“The Last Jedi” won’t disappoint fans on good vs. evil

Latest “Star Wars” installment wraps up previous installments

January 1, 2018

“The Last Jedi,” the latest entry in the “Star Wars” franchise, does not disappoint the fans who grew up watching the original trilogy with Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia. For the new fans, it delivers on the action and story line.

“The Last Jedi” picks up the story from where “The Force Awakens” left off, with Rey (Daisy Ridley) meeting Luke. We learn why Luke (Mark Hamill) lost faith in himself and Rey finds herself trying to change his mind in her quest to find answers and gain the skills she wants. She also carries the knowledge that the Resistance desperately needs the help of Luke and the knowledge of the Force to aid them in their battle against the First Order.

For many older fans, watching the return of Luke is surreal. The young man that we remember from “Return of the Jedi” has transformed into an old man. Hamill, at age 66, reluctantly takes on the role as Jedi master. The most spectacular visual effects in the film take place when Luke decides to use the Force to aid the Resistance who are on the verge of defeat at the hands of the First Order.

“The Last Jedi” also brings back some characters introduced in “The Force Awakens.” John Boyega returns as Finn, the former stormtrooper who switched sides to help the Resistance after finding his conscience. Oscar Isaac returns as Poe Dameron, a starfighter pilot in Leia Organa’s squadron. Even Chewbacca the Wookie has a return cameo in the film.

We also find out that the First Order has a new Supreme Leader, Snoke (played by Andy Serkis), who taunts Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) because he is a poor substitute for Darth Vader even when Kylo is wearing a Vader-like mask. Kylo spends the entire film trying to prove that he is just as evil as Darth Vader, but he can’t seem to succeed which fuels his determination to defeat the Resistance.

Director Rian Johnson manages to bridge the original “Star Wars’ movies along with the prequels into the story line introduced in “The Force Awakens.” He gives homage to the prior movies as glimpses of “The Empire Strikes Back” are seen, and dangling story threads are tied up. “The Last Jedi” balances the old cast with the new, giving each veteran character a spotlight that allows the baton to be passed flawlessly.

Johnson also balances humor that has become expected in the franchise. Early in the movie, a call is placed to a star destroyer and the “please hold” was inevitable. Finn carries on the verbal sparring that has become part of the story formula. Johnson’s ability to tell a story in unpredictable twists will keep fans guessing throughout the whole movie.

The most poignant scene in the film is the final appearance of the late Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa. Fisher completed the film shortly before her death. Her cameo scene makes the viewer wishing that Fisher’s role had been larger in the film.

It is a bit longer than a typical movie — at 2.5 hours — with some areas of the story lagging and scenes thrown in at random without any apparent connection.  Overall, “Episode VIII: The Last Jedi” in the “Star Wars” series, will entertain fans of the saga of good vs. evil set in a galaxy far, far away.

*****

"Star Wars: The Last Jedi"
4 out of 4 stars
Rated: PG-13
Cast: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong'o
Director: Rian Johnson
Running time: 2:35

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