By Bradley Griffith
The highly-anticipated sequel to “The Force Awakens” has hit theaters and is the fourth movie in the history of the cinema to make over $200 million in its opening weekend. Moviegoers are flocking to the theater to see “The Last Jedi,” but the question remains: is the movie any good? The answer is somewhat disappointing: it’s good, but not great.
“The Force Awakens” concluded with Rey (Daisy Ridley) finding long-lost Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) on a remote island on a far-flung planet. The Resistance is on the run from the First Order and has pinned all its hopes on finding Skywalker. The Resistance needs Luke to spark hope throughout the galaxy and ignite the rebellion.
But Luke didn’t want to be found, and he sure doesn’t want to help lead any rebellion. He wants to live the rest of his life in peace away from war, Jedis, and the Force. Luke believes he failed when trying to train young Jedis before and wants no part of causing more loss and despair. He wants to be left alone, but Rey won’t accept Luke’s refusal.
At the same, across the galaxy the Resistance base is under attack by the First Order, led by the evil Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) manages to delay the First Order long enough for General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) to order all transport ships to ferry their soldiers to safety and escape at light speed. But the First Order is able to follow them through light speed and the Resistance ships are almost out of fuel.
With no other option, Finn (John Boyega) and mechanic Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) launch a last-ditch effort to save the Resistance. They need to get on board the First Order’s flagship and disable the tracker. To sneak on board the First Order ship they need a master codebreaker who is on another planet. As the movie unfolds the three separate storylines of Rey and Luke, Poe Dameron, and Finn and Rose are weaved together near the climax of the movie.
I wanted to be wowed by “The Last Jedi” in the same way that I was wowed by “The Force Awakens.” Unfortunately, it was not to be. “The Last Jedi” is a good movie, excellent in some scenes, but in comparison to “The Force Awakens” it doesn’t measure up. It’s probably an unfair comparison, but one that will be made regardless.
“The Last Jedi” is a classic middle movie of a series. The Star Wars saga was reignited with “The Force Awakens” and needed a continuation to future movies where the storyline may or may not be concluded. “The Last Jedi” is neither the beginning of the story nor the end. This puts the movie in a difficult position and results in a relatively slow pace for the first hour and a half of the movie.
One aspect where all Stars Wars films excel is making the viewer feel like you are part of the action, and “The Last Jedi” continues this tradition. As the movie unfolds you will feel like you are a part of the world of Rey, Finn, and Poe. For over two hours you will feel like a member of the resistance. It’s the ultimate in escaping to other places at the movies.
The final 45 minutes of “The Last Jedi” are fantastic. The action increases, the battles ramp up, mutinies occur, and we finally get some light saber fights. This last section of the movie is among the best in all the Star Wars pantheon of films. This section of the movie alone makes it worth the price of admission.
“The Last Jedi” is a very good movie. The climax is outstanding, and it sets up the next film in the franchise. While it can’t quite measure up to the unfair standard of “The Force Awakens,” it is still a force to be reckoned with at the box-office and a must-see movie.
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Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence.