‘The Last Jedi’ refreshingly doesn’t care about your expectations


Andy Moser

Once the credits roll and John Williams’ “Finale” plays to signal the end of The Last Jedi, a myriad of things happen. Among them, you’re reoriented in dull reality. Your mind races to predict where the story will go on its final stop. You check to make sure you have your phone, wallet, keys, half-eaten popcorn bucket, etc.…and you attempt to locate your jaw, as it surely has broken off from your skull and fallen somewhere on the sticky, butter-stained floor.

Director Rian Johnson’s Episode VIII is a full-blown stunner.


If you’re like me, unrelenting questions about our characters have been searing your brain for two years now. You’ll go into the film with these questions. Some will be answered. You’ll leave with more.

The Last Jedi is undeniably bold. Of course, the burden of Star Wars mythology is heavy and difficult to break away from. There are a couple scenes that will look familiar. But for every one of those, Johnson subverts our expectations tenfold. His film is shocking, intimate, and narratively innovative.

It is not perfect, however. Without spoiling anything, there’s a subplot that feels unnecessary and takes precious time away from much more involving developments in the story. The handling of certain characters is deflating and disappointing. Some elements are a bit too much to keep the viewer fully immersed. And opportunities are missed to truly crush our hearts in a noble and justified way.


There’s a lot going on, and two and a half hours should be enough time to tend to it all. However, I can’t help but feel like some plot points deserved a greater portion of that running time, and others deserved much less or none at all.

Flaws noted, you’ll be happy to hear that substantially more good resides in this film than bad. Johnson gets stirring performances out of his talented cast. Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver are nothing short of spectacular, and Mark Hamill’s performance and exploration of Luke Skywalker easily exceeds any of his outings in the original trilogy. Carrie Fisher is memorable, as well.

Episode VIII is also surprisingly the funniest of the saga, save for maybe Empire. Not every joke lands, but most do, and it’s a delight every time it happens. Johnson skillfully balances these moments with more tender ones, and the characters’ vulnerability is rightfully taken seriously.

One thing that didn’t subvert my expectations was the fact that The Last Jedi is a visual wonder. The reds of Crait, the lavishness of Canto Bight, and the mystical island on Ahch-To are beautifully portrayed. The crystal foxes (Vulptexes) are strikingly imaginative. Also, I thought I was going to hate Porgs. I do not hate Porgs.


Though rocky at times, The Last Jedi is an exhilarating and unforeseen ride. I don’t doubt that fans will have some mixed reactions to the film, but it accomplishes the necessary shift that distances this trilogy from the original. Rian Johnson deserves praise for this refreshing story, and I’m aching to see where we go next. Proceed with the countdown. Only 735 days remain between us and Episode IX.

Sails: 4/5


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