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So much of life revolves around that ever shifting balance of power…
With the arrival of Star Wars: The Last Jedi now on Blu-Ray we have ourselves the chapter in this saga that we not only needed but truly wanted as there simply hasn’t been a chapter of this space opera that has been so satisfying since The Empire Strikes Back and much like we hear from Luke Skywalker himself in the trailers, “This is not going to go how you think”…and believe me when I tell you; that’s a very good thing.
Having tracked Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in his exile, Rey (Daisy Ridley) takes her first steps into the Jedi world with results that explain why Luke went into hiding so many years ago. Meanwhile the Resistance is on the run, working to elude the First Order at every turn as an inevitable showdown between the light and the darkness looms ever larger across the universe.
For the first time in quite some time, it really feels like there is artistry back into the Star Wars universe as The Last Jedi provides audiences with not only a genuine sense of emotional satisfaction in seeing these characters but also provides an incredibly natural evolution in the next phase of these iconic figures as they naturally pass the torch and continue the story inside this universe.
It’s no wonder that the powers that be have locked up Writer/Director Rian Johnson for yet another trilogy of adventures in this vein as The Last Jedi truly locks into the essence of the material, allowing for growth in the characters we already know and love as well as the ones we’re still learning about as they take up more and more of the screen time.
Johnson captures an irreverent, playful yet respectful tone throughout as we see the narrative effortlessly flow on from where we left it all last. He’s at home in this massive world, as the scale and scope that are necessary in these films are never betrayed as Johnson brings a sense of joy and camaraderie that he’s displayed in films like The Brothers Bloom. The effects are as expected, top notch but never at the sake of the story as we see the Resistance on the run and in dire straits from minute one in the film.
Nothing ever gets all that dark throughout the story but it’s a primer for us to embrace change, not only in preparation for what’s to come but also in fixing past wrongs. Without giving too much away, when you have a scene in the film that more or less apologizes and renders some of the silliness from the prequel trilogy obsolete; you know that these aren’t the droids we’re looking for and Johnson wants to wow us with that rare beast of a film that is both familiar and stunningly fresh at the same time.
His sense of details and the action sequences is exquisite and you sit in awe of the fact that perhaps for the very first time in this franchise there is genuine artistry in the filmmaking and not just the functionality of the previous films that we are so very used to. On the page and on the screen this is an unequivocally beautiful film, and everyone involved knows it.
Mark Hamill does get to finally speak and much like the advertising promises us, it isn’t what we expect…at least at first because the more the story unfolds, the more his character arc truly makes sense and we easily buy into where he is at in this moment in time. He stays true to the young farm boy from Tatooine that we met so many years ago.
Daisy Ridley meanwhile has truly managed to shape herself into a reluctant yet willing participant in all the madness that is unfolding around her and she carries herself on the screen with poise and strength that would make anyone proud. I doubt we’ll be seeing her in gold bikini anytime soon and she will be the role model for young girls for decades to come as her portrayal of Rey comes across as genuine & honest while never lacking in strength.
Both Oscar Isaac and John Boyega get room to come into their own while Adam Driver really gets to play in the morally ambiguous grey zones that are the tortured young Kylo Ren. As Gwendoline Christie & Domnhall Gleeson get to chew the scenery in some key moments; newcomers Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern and Benicio del Toro all get to add some extra layers to the fun.
Sure there are some deleted scenes and behind the scenes featurettes but with The Director and the Jedi; a feature length documentary tracking Rian Johnson and his creation of the film is truly something special. It puts us into the pressure and the uncertainty and the straight up anxiety that working in a world that so revered can really place on anyone involved in this kind of project and it is a necessary companion in order for us to truly appreciated how important this installment of Episode 8 truly is.
Ultimately, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is an honest to goodness masterstroke of a film. Quite simply because it doesn’t rely on what’s happened and the past and what we as an audience might expect in order to give us the Star Wars experience that has been decades in the making since George Lucas’ magnum opus hit screens and started us off on an adventure that would change the lives of audiences all across the world.