Review: ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ is a stellar addition to the beloved saga

Hannah Ortega, Editor-in-Chief

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Star Wars’ winning streak continues with “The Last Jedi.”

In 2015, there was an awakening of the force inside Star Wars fans young and old as their favorite franchise blasted back into hyperspace. In 2016, fans went rogue for just one spinoff starring rugged and gritty rebels instead of Jedi. Now, in 2017, the Jedi are back, but is it really their last appearance? Is it really time for the Jedi to end?

With “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” the folks at Disney and Lucasfilm are continuing their galactic takeover of Hollywood. Outside the glitz and glamour of Tinseltown and the overwhelmingly positive reviews from its critics, however, “Last Jedi” is driving a wedge between Star Wars fans, and I am not ashamed to say that I stand with those who adored this latest installment. The character development and relationships, visuals, and action sequences are some of the best from the saga so far, and there are many gasp-worthy and high-intensity moments in rapid succession, barely giving the audience a chance to breathe–in the best way possible.

Without spoiling too much, the relationship between Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) is at the forefront of this movie, and every interaction between the two oozes emotion and conflict. Though they stand on different sides, they are more alike than they think–director Rian Johnson even told the The New York Times that “Rey and Kylo are almost two halves of our protagonist.” Also, the way they communicate is unlike anything we’ve seen thus far.

While Kylo and Rey are wonderful together, it’s Kylo Ren who truly steals the spotlight, though I’ve been a huge fan of his character since “The Force Awakens.” Driver’s performance as the fallen son of Han Solo is even better the second time around, and it’s easy to see he knows this character inside and out. Kylo keeps audiences guessing throughout the movie as he struggled with the conflict–the dark and the light–inside him. Some interpret this emotional battle as Kylo being weak or a cry baby or emo, like many joke, but it’s better to have a three-dimensional, flawed villain than a guy who runs around slicing people with a lightsaber just for the heck of it.

If you need more proof of how effective this type of back-and-forth villain is in cementing the quality of a movie and engaging an audience, just look at how popular Loki from the “Thor” movies is. In making Kylo Ren human, many fans find themselves doing what they maybe aren’t supposed to be doing– sympathizing with him and even begging him to just let the light in already so he won’t suffer anymore. It’s a new approach, and this movie is all about the new.

It’s this newness that has split fans practically down the middle in their opinions on this film, but Rian Johnson and his creative team should be applauded for stepping out and trying new things even if some parts didn’t quite work, like the continued underuse of Captain Phasma and a particular scene with Leia. Johnson constructed intriguing and adorable new creatures, like the ice fox vulptexes, space horse fathiers, and bird-like porgs, introduced wonderful new characters, like the lovable Rose (who has a fun, unique chase scene with Finn) and the headstrong Admiral Holdo, and greatly furthered the journeys of characters from “Force Awakens,” such as Poe, Kylo, and Rey. Even those who are new to or unsure of the Star Wars universe are sure to at least appreciate the heartfelt and action-packed scenes in this film as well as its relatable characters, for even though “Last Jedi” takes place in space, it’s very much grounded in the real struggles of identity, morality, justice, and sacrifice. Overall, “Last Jedi” is a visually stunning, emotional, sometimes humorous ride, and I am beyond excited for episode nine.

Oh, and a quick side note: BB-8 should be the leader of the resistance. Just saying.

My rating: A