This review is spoiler free!
Change can be good!
Once again the force has blessed us with another Star Wars film. But is it worthy of the franchise? The answer is yes, while it may prove to be polarizing for hardcore fans. A lot of that feeling may stem from this film's bravery in trying to venture out towards a direction that we have not seen in this series before.
Make no mistake though, this latest addition to the saga has plenty of nostalgia thrown into the mix. The opening sequence alone hearkens to Empire Strikes Back, but in the end, it does subvert many of the tropes we have come to expect.
Speaking of nostalgia, this film was a good proper send-off for the late Carrie Fisher. General Leia Organa was strong and steely and as a bonus, we finally get a bit of taste of the character's latent force abilities. In fact, this movie seems to show new powers that we have never seen before, so much so that the film seems to be veering closer to the fantasy aspect of the franchise.
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker finally gets much more screen time, and trust me, the reunion with his twin sister is worth the wait. I'm just a little sad that we never got to see the original trinity together. But still, I have to say without giving too much away that both Hamill and Fisher did that short scene justice, and it was also so beautifully shot that I kind of teared up a bit. Also look out for the return of another venerable Star Wars favorite, a major staple character will be making an appearance in a glorious way.
Star Wars' new trinity is just as amazing
As for the new trinity of Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Finn (Jon Boyega), and Rey (Daisy Ridley), the next generation are further proving themselves to be a worthy successor to Luke, Han, and Leia. I really love how they played with Poe's story arc this time, and yes, he too was able to receive much more screen time. He isn't just the stereotypical hot-headed, anti-authority pilot who swoops in and saves the day. It is worth noting how they tempered that trope and while yes, his antics may save the day sometimes, it does come at a cost and he isn't proven right all the time.
They also introduced a new major supporting character with Rose, played by Kelly Marie Tran who ends up being a vital and important part of The Resistance. She is a worthy addition to Star Wars and Tran delivered a fine performance to show her character's inner strength and vulnerability. She also played well with Jon Boyega's Finn. to whom she was paired up in their own adventure arc.
Laura Dern's Vice-Admiral Holdo was also a pleasant surprise. The audience was really set up to hate her, but they switched it in the end, I especially loved the interaction between her and Leia and her and Poe.
The Last Jedi's villain issue
But I have a problem with some the show's villains though. Gwendoline Christie's Captain Phasma felt like a throwaway character. I mean she didn't feel necessary and there was no tension in her scenes with Finn. Snoke, who is motion capture acted by Andy Srkis and who is supposed to be the new big bad, although menacing, seems to fall short and feels really one dimensional.
Adam Driver's Kylo Ren, though, is shaping up to be the most complex and interesting character in the entire series. He seems to be somewhere in between the bratty Anakin Skywalker in the prequel trilogies and a fully realized Darth Vader in the original series.
He is such an enigma, that we cannot guess what he will do next, or what arc he will take. Is he a hero or will he be a villain or something in between? He did a lot of good in this film actually, but he also balanced it out with his dark moments. And it is such a joy to watch his talks with Daisy Ridley's Rey; those two bounce off each other really well.
All in all it is a great movie, and yes, I do agree that sometimes it did not feel like a Star Wars film, but it is not a big departure and we cannot shackle the series to its past. The story needs to grow and evolve, and this latest addition was able to deliver that in a good way! If you ask me, Rian Johnson is a genius for setting things up towards a newer direction.