‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Blu-Ray Review: Subverts Expectations, But Meanders Often
Star Wars is a property that doesn’t need an introduction, having become one of the world’s most well-known multimedia franchises since its premiere back in 1977. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is its eighth mainline film, and it’s the second in the series’ sequel trilogy following 2015’s The Force Awakens. So, did director and writer Rian Johnson live up to the enormous expectations?
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI BLU-RAY REVIEW
Whereas The Force Awakens suffered from retreading story beats from the original Star Wars, The Last Jedi tries to forge ahead in a more bold direction while portraying a message about the past and whether it should be abandoned. Its utilization of the iconic Luke Skywalker, with Mark Hamill reprising his role, facilitates that. The Last Jedi picks up immediately from its predecessor, with Rey (Daisy Ridley) meeting Luke and discovering his newfound uncouth façade. As we learn over the course of the film, this is a consequence of Luke’s history with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), which is told over three flashbacks, each one gradually revealing more of the truth concerning how Luke let down his nephew.
The direction Luke was taken in is unquestionably a controversial one among longtime Star Wars fans. However, I found Luke‘s characterization to be the second most interesting facet to The Last Jedi; from seeing the veteran lament how he was unable to live up to his legend to his regained confidence during the film’s climax, Luke closes this episode once again as a symbol of hope. While he’s not depicted as a nigh invincible warrior as one might have wished for (and Luke himself laughs off this prospect early in the film), Luke nonetheless deploys the single most impressive use of the Force across the movies.
Rey, aside from dealing with Luke’s reclusive nature, has also become mentally linked to Kylo through the Force. After a troubled start, the two develop a better understanding of each other and try to convert the other to their side. The interactions between Rey and Kylo are, without question, the best scenes in the film, with both Ridley and especially Driver portraying their characters’ emotional fragilities wonderfully. Kylo, however, in his desire to bury the past, exposits the Last Jedi’s thesis a little too much.
Sadly, while Rey’s parts in the film are engaging, things tend to start dragging when she’s not on-screen. Poe, still portrayed by Oscar Isaac, is still the same reckless pilot we remember, and Finn (John Boyega) likewise remains the lovable traitor the First Order loathes. Finn makes a new friend in mechanic Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), and the pair embark upon their own side-quest through a requisite casino and the First Order’s base while Poe stays behind with the Resistance. Even if it results in some character development, their roles feel almost like a leech on the plot, with the trio accomplishing little of consequence.
Arguably the biggest disappointment with Last Jedi, however, is how it continues – and subsequently writes off – plot threads set up by Force Awakens. Snoke (Andy Serkis), the First Order’s supreme leader and assumed equivalent to Darth Sidious, is killed off halfway through, and the identity of Rey’s parents – which was one of the central questions in the prior film – was answered abruptly. While both of these moments are significant within Last Jedi’s narrative, it cannot be understated that if you were enthused by the mysteries set up in The Force Awakens, you will be displeased with how they have been discarded.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi’s special features are a treat. A commentary track from director Johnson can overlay the film, and a second disc hosting a plethora of goodies comes included in the package. The star of the show is the “The Director and the Jedi” documentary, which spends well over an hour showcasing Johnson writing, directing and filming his project with his cast. Several deleted scenes and features are available too, giving Star Wars aficionados plenty of bonus material to comb through before the ninth entry launches in 2019.