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‘The Last Jedi’ is the most emotional 'Star Wars' installment yet

News Desk
News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Wed, December 13, 2017 | 06:09 pm

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is indeed a fun ride.

The new installment to the latest Star Wars trilogy picks up where the previous episode, The Force Awakens, left off.

Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) sends protégé Rey (Daisy Ridley) to search for her absent brother (and the last Jedi), Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who has retreated to an isolated island in an attempt to hide from the dark side. She leads the Resistance against the First Order — the successor of the dictatorial Empire — all the same.

The dream team from The Force Awakens — scavenger-turned-warrior Rey, First Order deserter Finn (John Boyega) and Resistance fighter pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) — spend most of their time apart in The Last Jedi, as the movie focuses on a number of plot lines, and these characters are given separate story threads.

Perhaps not all of the side adventures featured in the movie are warranted, but they do contribute to the larger narrative of a difficult, ongoing attempt to overthrow the First Order, which has grown to largely outnumber the Resistance.

The film invests heavily in the development of its young characters, in a way that Star Wars rarely has. Characters are cracked open and their psychologies examined, making their roles feel more fulfilled as the audience engages more deeply with each one of them.

For instance, the movie reveals a great deal about Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), the antagonist who modeled himself after his grandfather Darth Vader (David Prowse), such as where he is from, his wavering loyalties and how they inform his choices. Despite being among the villains of the story, he isn’t strong or imposing, evoking some sympathy from the audience for his apparent confusion.

Rey is also given a lot of screen time, as questions about her past and origins arise throughout the film. Additionally, the complicated rivalry between Rey and Kylo is further explored as Rey is (briefly) depicted as a means for his redemption. To quote Driver, writer-director Ryan Johnson “doesn’t shy away from just how unpredictable humanity can be.”

Read also: Princes William and Harry attend 'Star Wars' London premiere

For fans of the franchise, the movie serves as a tribute to Carrie Fisher, whose prominent and touchingly melancholic role reminds us of a real-world loss.

Moments before the world premiere of the film in Las Vegas last week, Johnson addressed the crowd from the stage saying: “I want to dedicate tonight to Carrie. I know she’s up there right now flipping me the bird, saying, ‘Damn it Ryan, how dare you bring the mood down and make this night a solemn tribute.’ So let’s all have a blast together for Carrie.” 

In retrospect, The Last Jedi is an interesting attempt to let go of the series’ old traditions —carefully and respectfully — and look toward what’s in store for the future.

While Star Wars enthusiasts are sure to relish the darkest and most emotional chapter in the saga yet, it would also appeal to other audiences who can relate to the universal themes that the movie is centered on. For instance, a lot of the film is about growing up, as Rey discovers how powerful she is, and Kylo wraps his head around his past decisions. 

Packed with action and humor, there is little doubt that this movie might top the box office this year, owing to not only its brand name but also its prodigious entertainment value. (afr/kes)