Arts and Entertainment

Star Wars the Last Jedi Review: Character Over Plot

The Last Jedi theatrical poster

Star Wars the Last Jedi is the 10th film in the Star Wars franchise. (comicbook.com)

The following article contains spoilers
By JUN YUN

Staff Writer

In The Last Jedi, the Stars Wars franchise seemed to want to elevate its complexity. The Last Jedi succeeded in featuring far more intricate themes, including the mixed allegiance of antagonist Kylo Ren, the constant failures of the protagonists and the diversity of cinematic heroes. These complex ideas were handled well. Despite the more mature content, this franchise did not lose its creativity and friendly entertainment. There were certainly a handful of delightful and entertaining scenes, which significantly added to the complexity and culture of the franchise. However, there were also scenes that seemed misplaced and detracted from the originality of the traditional characters.

The presence of Luke Skywalker throughout the movie was widely contested. While many fans disagreed with the usage of the classic hero, I felt that his presence largely defined the tone of the film and the interactions between the other characters. Many argued that his actions were unheroic, yet Mark Hamill does a tremendous job portraying an aged character with depth. His character, despite living as a hermit, is given purposeful context and demonstrates a certain cunning that is entertaining to observe; Hamill’s performance may have been one of his best in a Star Wars movie.

Other fans have sharply criticized Luke Skywalker for being diminished into a passive role. This is a role that actually fits in perfectly to the story; Luke transforms into a didactic character, one who displays tremendous bravery in detaching himself from the past and utilizing his wisdom and wit to aid the other the cause of the other protagonists. Most importantly, Luke Skywalker resonates a strong sense of charm and humor that is absent from previous performances by Hamill.

One of the primary storylines was between Finn and Rose. This was a flawed relationship that lacked the development necessary to be a forceful story. In order words, Finn’s story was a sidequest to the major plot. Because this film featured a large quantity of characters, new and returning, this relationship seemed to fall apart rather quickly, without contributing much to the film’s plotline or emotional tangibility. On the other hand, the intimate dynamic between Kylo and Rey was incredibly well-written. This relationship was concise, clear and impactful. The way in which Kylo and Rey communicated with each other, learning and observing each other’s inner thoughts, allowed for Kylo and Rey to undergo similar paths of moral character development. They seemed to follow parallel storylines, eventually having their distinct characters merge together towards the film’s conclusion.

A majority of the film had excellent technical cinematography. Several of the lightsaber scenes were tremendously crafted. The throne room confrontation between Supreme Leader Snoke, Kylo and Rey was arguably the most entertaining and memorable scene of the movie. Other action scenes, including the final fight between The First Order and Resistance, were also satisfying. In fact, the best scenes may have been the space battles; Vice Admiral Hordo’s destruction of an entire First Order fleet was especially iconic. Overall, the action scenes were well-framed, which made them all incredibly captivating. Emotional quality is a key component of The Last Jedi and the final confrontation between Luke and Kylo was fantastically shot. The angles in which this scene truly captured and intensified this climax; all the history between Luke and Kylo is consumed in this precise moment and it is one of the most emotional and dramatic moments in Star Wars cinema.

The score in The Last Jedi improved in comparison to The Force Awakens. The songs in this movie better complemented the action battles and dialogue. While the score is worth noting, one unfortunate detail is the misuse of certain characters; Poe’s and Finn’s characters were not fully developed and Chewbacca was simply underused. Despite that, quirky new characters from other worlds were fine additions to the Star Wars universe.

Stars Wars: The Last Jedi has been massively successful in the box office. Unsurprisingly, the eighth Star Wars episode, which was predicted to garner around $200 million at the US box office, has surpassed those expectations. The film has made around $220 million domestically thus far, and around $450 million globally since its opening overseas on Wednesday.

Despite the box-office success, this film has received mixed reviews. There has been a notable difference between the professional reviews and the audience reactions. This is certainly one of the more divisive Stars Wars movies, but the tangibility and impact of The Last Jedi is still clear.

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