Immediately following the last episode, the new installment of Star Wars redefines the Force, reframes the central themes of the series, introduces the best new character and gives us Porgs. In what galaxy is this not entertaining? Here are five spoiler-free thoughts on The Last Jedi.
5) I think it’s super-neato-cool that you have spent the last two years talking about how you didn’t like The Force Awakens — and, thus, aren’t looking forward to The Last Jedi — because you thought it “ripped off” A New Hope. Using that logic, computers ripped off typewriters and the internet totally bogarted the encyclopedia’s jam. Building off things while improving on them is apparently only unnatural to creationists and OG Star Wars fans. Going into any installment of any series primed to hate it only makes an ass out of “u” and me. Or something. Like the storied, legendary oracles En Vogue once said, “Free your mind, and the rest will follow.”
4) The Last Jedi not only doesn’t care that we’ve spent the last two years agonizing over certain mysteries, backstories and destinies, it actively LOLs at us for doing so. The way Luke (Mark Hamill) reacts to Rey (Daisy Ridley) handing him his lightsaber is like a Rickroll from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far in your face. Writer/director Rian Johnson immediately establishes that he is the first director interested in using the most beloved franchise in film history to actually share a timely thematic message and say something. And what he says will shock you! You’ve got to see what’s number one below! Sorry, the impending loss of internet freedom after the FCC’s net neutrality vote has me feeling a little clickbaity.
3. The Last Jedi’s first half is clunky. Finn (John Boyega) gets paired with Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) — a kindly Rebel grunt who is easily my favorite new character in this new trilogy — to get a code or something to shut something off or something. The character dynamics work, but that subplot substantively does not. Poe (Oscar Isaac) is paired with Leia (Carrie Fisher) in a subplot about the future of the resistance, while Luke and Rey invert expectations about Jedi training and the very nature of the Force. If George Lucas shat upon the sanctity of the Force with the prequels, Johnson scrubs it clean and holy again. It all culminates in a breathtaking finale that blows every Death Star kaboom out the damn water.
2) Before we get to Johnson’s inspired, poignant message, let me say that Benecio del Toro needs to stop it. He needs to stop it right the hell now. Ever since The Usual Suspects, we have quietly enabled him to do goofy, dumb shit with his voice, pretending it was cool. It’s not cool, Benecio. It’s never been cool. You’re just bored, and it’s weird. I barely noticed the gaping plot hole your character created because you were so busy having tiny seizures or picking your teeth with your uvula or whatever that fake stuttering crap was you were doing.
1) The Last Jedi simultaneously condemns the notion of importance by virtue of birthright and elevates the power and responsibility inherent in the masses. In the span of one film, Johnson has deemphasized the central conceit of the first seven Star Wars movies — that a powerful, chosen few are key to our collective future — and replaced it with an emphasis on the “specialness of the unspecial.” The best climax in a Star Wars movie is followed by one of my favorite endings to a blockbuster film ever, which underscores this theme with bold strokes. It’s almost impossible to rank a film in this series after having only seen it once, but this is closer to the top than it is the bottom. Except for Benecio del Toro. Serously, man, knock it off.
This review previously appeared in The Reader of Omaha, Nebraska.