Friday, December 15, 2017 marks the official theatrical release date of Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, the second in the new Star Wars sequel trilogy, and first to be written and directed by Rian Johnson. Nerd Nation Magazine was in attendance for the early press screening Monday, December 11, 2017 courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures, Allied Marketing, and Regal Cinemas.
Due to a media embargo, publication of this review has been delayed to comply with the studio’s requested wait until 12:00pm today.
Furthermore, please be advised that this review is 100% SPOILER FREE, so please feel free to enjoy it without any fear or worries! =)
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get right down to it!
Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens much like every other Star Wars film, with the signature scrolling text to set the scene and catch everyone up as to what’s going on. The First Order, led by Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis of The Lord of the RIngs Trilogy) and his apprentice Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) has risen to power, overtaking the Republic, and waging war against the remaining Resistance, led by General Leia (Carrie Fisher in her final performance, filmed just before her tragic death). Meanwhile, Rey (Daisy Ridley) develops her newly discovered Jedi abilities with the guidance of Jedi Master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) on the remote island of his own self-exile. Skywalker is unsettled by the raw strength of her power, and cautions her not to let it consume her, much in the way it did Ben Solo/Kylo Ren, and so many others, before her.
Also returning are Poe Dameron (Oscar Issac) and Finn (John Boyega) who continue to aid the Resistance, hatching a scheme to disable some of the First Order’s most deadly technology. Along the way, there are a couple familiar faces popping up, and a few new ones as well, but in the interest of remaining spoiler-free, I won’t say any more about who any of them are.
While J.J. Abrams hit an absolute grand slam with The Force Awakens (which you can read our review of here) setting the scene perfectly for this follow-up, sadly, Rian Johnson just doesn’t do anywhere near as well with this installment. The film goes on way too long, tends to bog down pretty heavily in the middle, and while there is plenty of action and outstanding special effects throughout, most of it just feels like they’re stretching out the story for the sake of more runtime.
Don’t get me wrong, Johnson definitely delivers a few legitimate surprises, and does give us answers to a lot of the questions fans have been debating, but despite that, it still proves a bit unsatisfying. I could explain further, but I won’t, given that anything beyond this might accidently slip into spoiler territory. If you’re reading this review, chances are you’re going to go see it anyway, so I’ll just let you all see for yourselves what I’m talking about.
Suffice to say, that inasmuch as The Force Awakens was basically “A New New Hope” in a lot of ways, but done very well in spite of that, The Last Jedi is basically “The Empire Strikes Back Again” in a lot of ways… but unfortunately, that strike is just a lot weaker and mostly misses. Look, there’s a lot to like about this film, there really is, but it just doesn’t quite measure up to the high standard set before it.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is… just fine. It’s not nearly as bad as the prequel trilogy, but it’s not nearly as good as the original trilogy, or even its predecessor. While it definitel contains some genuine surprises, and plenty of action for audiences to enjoy, it just seems to fall short on the grand scale. With J.J. Abrams set to reprise his role in Episode IX, he clearly has his work cut out for him to get Star Wars back on track, and ultimately, much as the saga has always taught us, all is not lost, and there’s always hope. That being said, this is still an enjoyable film that is absolutely worth seeing in theaters… just perhaps not one you’ll want to see multiple times, or at home. – 6.0/10
Editor/Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine