‘Star Wars’ returns with one of its darkest tales yet

The Last Jedi. The moment that me and my fellow Star Wars fans have waited for over the last two years has finally arrived. The second act of the sequel trilogy debuted last weekend to rave critic reviews but a mixed response from fans. Going into the movie, I was so excited and my expectations for this larger than life franchise were blown out of the water.

The film is the first in the series to pick up immediately after its predecessor and the urgency of the story is known from the beginning. The remnants of the Resistance are on the run with The First Order tailing them, and Daisy Ridley’s Rey has arrived to deliver a lightsaber to its previous owner, Luke Skywalker. It’s a more unique story than The Force Awakens, which has very strong elements of the original Star Wars thrown in. This is a much darker tale.

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We have to talk about Kylo Ren. While I still believe Daisy Ridley to be the breakout actress in this new series, there is no doubt that that Kylo is the most interesting character here. He is seamlessly portrayed by Adam Driver as one of the series’ best villains. Driver brings a dark innocence to a character that is the epitome of this movie’s message: there is no good or evil. No light or dark; only the Force. He is wildly unpredictable and it becomes clear that this is his story just as much (if not more) than Rey’s.

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The cinematography is gorgeous. Director Rian Johnson does excellent work with a color palette of white, red, and black. It’s a visual masterpiece with beautiful new fauna and the salt planet Crait is one of the coolest locations that the series has ever let us see.

star-wars-portfolio-06-2017-ss10bI can’t go on without addressing Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill. Both of these original cast members do great work here. Hamill’s Luke Skywalker is a much darker person than we last saw and Fisher (in her final film role) is strong and graceful. We’ve seen her grow from a princess to a rebellion leader and now a general.

The question now is: where do we go from here? I genuinely have no idea where Star Wars goes moving forward. The Force Awakens made some plot points of The Last Jedi relatively easy to predict, but this movie turns your usual suspicions for the next film on its head. I’m so excited to see where the series goes.

I understand some fans being underwhelmed because it doesn’t follow the traditional second act structure, but this film takes the franchise in an odd, new direction. I feel as though The Last Jedi could have done some things differently (tweaking dialogue, some pacing), but overall, this is an absolutely exceptional film with a strong message, beautiful cinematography, and great acting from an ensemble cast. It was easily the series’ best installment since The Empire Strikes Back and will definitely land near the top of the list when I make my top ten movies of 2017.

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