If you’ve been reading this blog for longer than 6 months, you know I rarely go to the movies anymore, so prepare for some shocking news: I saw a movie on opening night. Ok, maybe after you pick your jaw up off the ground, you’ll realize it’s not so surprising since the movie that I went to see was the latest Star Wars movie, and I have a documented history of being a giant nerd in general, and for Star Wars in particular. There was no way we were going to miss out on seeing this movie. Also, we haven’t had the chance to be the ones who take the girls to see a Star Wars movie in theaters, so a couple months back we called dibs on taking them to this one. I ran around like a madwoman on Friday night trying to make sure I had done all the things that were necessary (standing in line at the Post Office to ship a box of Christmas gifts), and so I only really had time to scarf a quick dinner in the 15 minutes before we picked up the girls to get to the theater early to make sure we could sit together.
Spoiler alert: we were all able to sit together. Also spoiler alert: I’ll be talking spoilers for the movie below this adorable gif of a Porg! Short summary of my review – it’s a really thoughtful Star Wars movie that hearkens back to the original trilogy, and is really well done and manages to surprise you!
And before we get into it all, I have to say that I’m really proud of myself. I remained spoiler-free apart from what was shown in the trailers, and I feel like what was shown there wasn’t enough to ruin the content of the film. That’s the part that bugs the Boy the most – when you watch a trailer and feel like you just saw a mini-version of the film, including all the best bits. Fortunately, Star Wars is not that kind of film franchise – they make sure that while you get a taste of the cool stuff, and an inkling of what to expect, you will still be surprised, and all the shocking and really funny bits are saved for those who actually go to the movie.
I was amazed at how The Last Jedi picks up almost immediately after the events of The Force Awakens. There is little to no lag in time, especially for the story of Rey and Luke. In the future, I feel like running these movies back to back will be a very normal thing, since it essentially becomes two halves of the same story. I was also amazed to think that the length of time which passes over the entire course of the movie is no more than a week or so. Big, momentous occasions happen over that time, and it’s amazing to think that again, this all happens so fast with no lag in time. But perhaps that’s a big part of what writer-director Rian Johnson was going for – when events start happening, they tend to snowball.
There were so many surprising moments in the film. The paragraph I’m about to write could end up as the mother-lode of all spoilers, so if you’ve not seen the film and still managed to read this far – STOP. For your sake! But yeah – Leia being blasted out of the command deck into the vacuum of space early in the film; using the force to save herself and get her body back to safety (and SURVIVING!!!); Luke refusing to train Rey; Kylo Ren killing Snoke and teaming up with Rey (if only temporarily); Rey learning her parents were “nobodies”; a puppet-esque Force-ghost Yoda showing up on Luke’s island to scold him; Luke and Leia’s reunion; Luke having projected a Force-image of himself halfway across the galaxy to protect the Rebels and distract the First Order while the Rebels escaped; Luke going poof and his cloak blowing away when he was no longer needed; Leia surviving when Carrie Fisher did not. Phew. That’s a lot.
In any case, I was really impressed by how the film has handled the introduction of so many new characters. True, it felt occasionally like we only got a couple scenes with new characters, and once they had played their part, they were shuffled off the stage. But as the Boy and I discussed later, it’s kind of nice that there are so many interesting main and side characters now that have thoughts, feelings, and emotional arcs over the course of the movie. As he pointed out, there are many expanded universe books written about Wedge Antilles, and he as a character had a half-dozen lines in the original trilogy. The fan base for Boba Fett is large and unyielding, and Fett has few if any lines at all! So getting to see glimpses of new and interesting characters like Rose Tico is pretty great. It also helps that this universe feels more diverse and true to what the world is than the original films.
The movie also hearkened back to a lot of the themes that were important in Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. We get the striking down of a great Jedi master (Obi-Wan and Luke) only to get the idea that they will be more powerful now that they are one with the Force. We have training sequences and personal exploration of the dark side from the Jedi-in-training. There are the revelations about parentage that call to the worst fears of the character who learns them (Luke learning he is the son of a great and terrible man, Rey learning that she is in fact just a nobody from nowhere).
And over the course of the movie, we are show how hard and dangerous it really is to be a part of the rebellion. What starts out as a small escaping fleet is chased down by the First Order, and picked off piece by piece until the number of survivors fits on the Millennium Falcon. Being a rebel is a dangerous job. Thankfully all our main characters and new side characters make it through safely, but just barely, and at what cost? That really was most obvious to me in the last battle scene where 13 skimmer ships go out, and I started to count the ones who were shot down. If there were any other survivors beyond our three named pilots, it was probably just one, and we probably won’t find out who that was.
Basically, it’s an awesome movie. I loved how thoughtful it was, and how it made you think about and remember the original trilogy without being entirely too obvious about it. The movie managed to surprise me on many occasions and to make me curious how things will continue forward, always a good sign. It’s nice to see that the Star Wars franchise is continuing to tell its story in new and creative ways, and to not rest on its laurels, or insult the intelligence of its audience.
So – anyone else see Star Wars this weekend? I’m guessing yes, since they made about $220 million. What did you think? Which storyline surprised you most? Whose journey are you most excited to see going forward?