Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi gets straight to the story from the first line of the three-paragraph scroll which opens the episode. The line shows that the story has moved on in leaps and bounds from the last episode, The Force Awakens.
It’s such a leap that I wondered how what happened got time to happen. The initial meeting of Rey and Luke Skywalker at the end of The Force Awakens is continued in The Last Jedi, but lots of significant things seems to have gotten on in the galaxy during it. It was an awfully long meeting I suppose.
Liberties are taken on continuity here and there, but we are set up in the best way possible. It’s a riveting backstory, an exciting episode, a tight story with parallel plot lines that verge, and a good sense of theme and subtleties.
Action-packed for the first ten minutes as The First Order makes a move on the Resistance base. The Resistance are the good guys in this. The First Order the behemoths.
The story goes in-between the Resistance evading the First Order, Rey and Luke on an island, and a couple of renegades on a mission to deactivate a First Order tracker that should allow the Resistance to escape an ambush.
A back story of Luke and Kylo Ren, the film’s version of Darth Vader, and quite an interesting delivered series of revelations on the island punctuate the middle with a mythical air. Not quite as revelatory as we’d expect though, it keeps in line with Star Wars lore quite comfortably when it comes down to it.
What keeps this exciting is tight storytelling and direction and is always well paced. We the viewers anticipate what’s next. There are surprises and disappoints, not disappointments in a lack of quality, but in the story detail. Dare I say.
It’s not as uplifting—but this is not the Return of the Jedi episode. Thematically I couldn’t—almost—fault it.
Luke and Leia are prominent, especially Luke, with the new characters feeling more developed. I think Mark Hamill delivers the best performance as a grumpy and world-weary Luke Skywalker.
Old characters Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C3-PO don’t come to the fore. BB-8 doesn’t seem to be his chirpy self, though he tries. A lot is going on in this episode that including every quirk and trait is beyond it, there are more important things to show, and it works.
As The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi is authentic in its own right, adding to the originals and bettering the prequels. A success.
[First published at Pete’s Movie Roundup]