The “Star Wars” franchise is about resistance.
The 400-Word Review - Star Wars: The Last Jedi
By Sean Collier
December 13, 2017
Armed resistance, on the surface of the story; when The Force Awakens rebranded the erstwhile Rebel Alliance as simply “the resistance,” presaging a broader adopting of that term in American culture, it was loudly and undeniably declared that this modern “Star Wars” trilogy would be about ragtag combat against an Imperial force, just as the original cycle was forty years ago.
More intimately, though, the series has always been about characters resisting one another: Han Solo resisting the urge to join the fight in A New Hope, Luke resisting the call of the dark side in Empire Strikes Back, Finn resisting his superiors in Force Awakens. The Last Jedi spells out a bit more of the Jedi religion, laying that struggle at the center: If the Force is the connective tissue between all things, then what is light will invariably have to resist a pull from the dark. (And vice-versa.)
That’s a very general way of talking about what happens in The Last Jedi; common decency dictates I will not go into much more detail than that. If you must have the broadest of plot summaries: the resistance is on the run from an enraged First Order, while Rey (Daisy Ridley) tries to convince Luke (Mark Hamill) to help out.
Speaking of light and dark, though, The Last Jedi is notable for pulling in two directions. The scenes on the planet Ahch-To are some of the series’ most emotionally grounded; Rey has her moment to match Luke’s dark night of the soul in Empire and three key characters grapple with profound, existential doubt. Meanwhile, a caper that begins on a fleeing resistance ship and diverts to the gaudy and dazzling casino planet Cantonica is unabashed, cinematic fun.
The Last Jedi does indeed try to be fun, with some missteps; there are moments that sound like they were written for Guardians of the Galaxy, not a core-series “Star Wars” film. But these are few in comparison to the great many scenes that broaden, expand and investigate the franchise’s universe — always the best reason to keep coming back to this series — with wonder and beauty.
And vitally, the torch is passed in The Last Jedi; Ridley, Adam Driver and John Boyega take center stage, ably carrying the film. As if anyone needed reminding: The state of the “Star Wars” universe is quite strong.
My Rating: 9/10
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark