The Last Jedi (Spoiler Free)

Star Wars blasted into our theaters and will be pretty much the only thing anyone talks about for the nest few weeks, so brace yourselves.  I saw it last night, and here’s what I thought of it from a feminist perspective.  First, here’s a look at the trailer:

 

 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi looks to be on the verge of breaking records for opening nights.  But is it worth shelling out to go see in the theaters?  My answer:  absolutely.  I saw the movie Thursday night, before the spoilers came out, and with a fresh eye.  I’ve grown up watching Star Wars, and at film school, we study the original series as one of the best.  But putting that aside, I’m just a fan of what Star Wars represents:  That one person can change the world (or galaxy as it may be.)  The Last Jedi touches on that, but also on how you can change your destiny, no matter what your origins are.  For that alone, it’s worth watching.

The action is nonstop, from beginning to end.  It’s thrilling, and for the most part, serves a purpose.  There’s a lot more women in the movie (finally).  Women were in positions of power, beyond just Princess Leia.  There’s Vice Admiral Holdo, played by the beautiful Laura Dern, as well as Princess Leia, played by the late Carrie Fisher.  More women played supporting roles, including Rose, played by Kelly Marie Tran, and her sister who plays an important but small part in the opening sequences, Carrie Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd, plays LT. Connix, and Gwendoline Christie, (Lady Brienne, Game of Thrones) is back as Captain Phasma.  The fact that the women had more complex roles and weren’t perfect, I liked.  They made mistakes and owned it when they did.  All of the parts were important, except maybe for the cute, fluffy Porgs  image

that Disney’s going to market and make a fortune from especially with Christmas coming up.  The fight sequences were imaginative, using first person point of views and different angles than we’re used to seeing in fight sequences.  The fight scene between Rey (Daisy Ridley), Ren (Adam Driver), and Snoke (Andy Serkis) should go down as one of the greats since the original trilogy.

The relationship between Kylo Ren and Rey was more complex and enthralling than before.  Kylo Ren himself is more sympathetic, tortured, and conflicted than The Force Awakens.  Rey senses this in him, and tries to convince him to forsake the Dark Side and return to the Light, saying she’s willing to help him, after initially hating him for killing Han.  She tries to get him to forsake the darkness and power that’s corrupted him.  He seems willing to turn, and saves her at one point, only to turn from her and grab the power with both hands.  He pleads with her to join him and turn her back on humanity when he says “Let it burn.  Let it all burn to the ground and start over.  We can rule a new world together.”

Regarding Carrie Fisher’s performance as Princess Leia, as a lifelong Carrie Fisher fan, this film is bittersweet because I know it’s one of the last times I’ll be able to see Ms. Fisher in all her glory as Princess Leia, and she was glorious.  She’s dealing with the knowledge that her son just murdered the love of her life, and is still fighting for the survival of the Rebellion.  A true warrior to the end, regardless of her personal tragedies, has been the trademark of Leia as we’ve watched her lose everything but keep on fighting for the good in people.  That’s not saying the character is perfect.  She makes mistakes, and people pay the price for them.  Just the way Carrie Fisher’s able to portray these emotions through her face without any words is amazing to watch.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the next film and how they play out what happened with Carrie’s tragic death off screen.

Mark Hamill gave the best performance of Luke Skywalker as a troubled, regretful old Master who knows he’s screwed up and wants to be left alone with his pain.  We’ve seen Luke be regretful in the past, especially in Return of the Jedi, but Hamill’s performance in The Last Jedi is everything you’d want it to be and more.  In one of the opening shots, Rey hands him his old lightsaber and he tosses it over a cliff, a funny, yet poignant, image all in one.  By seemingly casting the past in the past, he’s trying to live in the now with no responsibilities and sure as hell doesn’t want to take on another apprentice, especially after what happened with Kylo Ren.  He senses a darkness in Rey that surpasses even Ren’s apparently.  Mark Hamill said himself this is his favorite performance as Luke Skywalker and he leaves everything out on the screen for us to bear witness to.  If his performance doesn’t rip your heart out, you need to check and see if it’s still beating at this point.

Every character, even those that don’t seem as important as Rey, Leia, Luke, or Kylo Ren,  have important parts to play out even if it wasn’t evident at the time.  There was subtext and information that will hopefully play out for the next film, laying the seeds for the future.  All of the characters have layers to them, especially Vice Admiral Holdo, and while you think she’s doing something for a horrible reason, you find out she’s doing something completely different and was part of the plan all along.  The characters aren’t perfect.  Poe gets demoted for being impulsive and not listening to direct orders, Finn and Rose trust the wrong people and almost get killed, and Leia doesn’t tell Poe a plan and he almost ruins it by being impulsive and following his own path.  In the end, everything is revealed and well, it’s Star Wars.  Sacrifices are made and characters are redeemed.

All in all, the acting is very well done.  Star Wars has never been known for being an acting powerhouse, but they put in some brilliant performances this time around.  Add that in with the great CGI, and action, you have a generally great and entertaining movie.  The only thing I would’ve changed is some of the timing, especially at the end.  It felt like it had several false endings instead of one big finale. Overall, I absolutely loved this film.  There was a lot more humor than normal, and the audience was laughing along with the jokes.  You felt what the characters were feeling, and were along for the ride.  Grab your friends, go by yourself, but do yourself a favor and definitely go to a galaxy near you and see this amazing film as soon as you can.

What are you looking forward to the most?  Who’s your favorite character?  Let me know in the comments.  What did you think of the movie if you’ve seen it?  Let’s discuss.

 

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