by Hunter Johnson
In 2015, Star Wars was resurrected with the film, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” The film rejuvenated what is arguably the most beloved film franchise of all time. It returned Star Wars to its roots of being a simple story about good vs. evil set in a very rugged world filled with adventure, fun, and a returning cast of characters that people have loved for decades.
Now, the sequel to the third highest-grossing film of all time has been released. And it has possibly an even harder job than the first one: convincing the fans that this new trilogy is not just a fun retread of the original Star Wars films, but is a new and fresh story that will go down in history as something great.
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” directed and written by Rian Johnson, tells the story of the continuing adventures of the already beloved characters of Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), and Poe (Oscar Isaac) as they continue to fight the First Order and restore balance to the galaxy.
Let’s get something out of the way. “The Last Jedi” is barely an action film. It is not a crowd-pleaser. It does not follow any tropes or clichés found in normal sci-fi/adventure films. Instead, this film intends to be something much more. It desires to be seen as a completely original and emotional chapter in an ever-growing fantasy/sci-fi series. And it succeeds.
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is like nothing audiences have ever seen. It goes places that no Star Wars film has dared to go. It is dense, long, emotional, and filled with deep character arcs that go in very unexpected places.
On a technical standpoint, the film is gorgeous and has some of the most eye-popping visuals ever seen in a Star Wars film. The music is as amazing as it has ever been — John Williams has yet again created a score that will always be remembered.
The returning stars of Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, and Oscar Isaac as Poe all continue to deliver great performances. Daisy Ridley stands out, as she has evolved her already-beloved Rey into a three-dimensional and fleshed-out character.
Other stars include Adam Driver as Kylo Ren and Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa. Both of these actors have given fantastic performances with Adam Driver giving possibly the best performance of his career. Carrie Fisher, who passed away soon after completing the shooting of the film, gives a very meaningful final performance as the beloved Leia.
Finally, there’s Luke Skywalker, played by Mark Hamill. It’s hard to express the nature and complexity of Luke in this film without giving away spoilers, so let’s just say this: Mark Hamill has just given the best performance of his entire career. Luke in this film is complex, conflicted, and easily steals the entire show of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” In a word, Hamill is amazing.
Despite all the things in this film that are great, original, and surprising, this film will divide the Star Wars fandom … for now. Many people forget that when “The Empire Strikes Back” came out, there was a lot of division among the fans about the film. But eventually, it went down as one of the greatest films in all of history. “The Last Jedi” is a very different film than “The Empire Strikes Back,” but it is getting a very similar reaction. Critics are praising the film and fans are divided, some saying it’s ruining their childhood and some saying it’s the greatest thing they’ve ever seen.
In the end, it is very likely that “The Last Jedi” will go down as one of the greatest contributions to the Star Wars mythos. However, for now, some fans will continue to reject it because of its boldness and because it wasn’t made to please the fans of now. It was made to please the fans of the future as they look back on it.
Hunter Johnson is a freshman theatre major and an arts and entertainment writer for Cedars. He spends his time acting on stage, reading and watching Star Wars, and occasionally doing homework.