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‘The Last Jedi’ polarizes fans, serves as fitting eighth installment

Photo Courtesy of Disney | Star Wars The Last Jedi was released December 15 and was the 8th installment of the franchise.
Photo Courtesy of Disney | Star Wars The Last Jedi was released December 15 and is the 8th installment of the franchise.

By Graham Armknecht ’18

7.5 out of 10


There is no other way to write this: spoilers ahead for The Last Jedi.

For a few, brief non-spoiler words: it’s a beautifully shot film, with many fulfilling moments. Furthermore, go see the movie, as it’s an important cultural milestone.

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is a follow-up to The Force Awakens. It takes place immediately after the first film, with Rey (Daisy Ridley) training under Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) on Ahch-To, an island planet far from the action. Meanwhile, the First Order relentlessly pursues the Resistance as they are outgunned and outmanned.

First, Hamill played Luke very well in this film. Portraying him as a cynic who treats himself as a failure, while it might be different from how the original trilogy portrays him, fits the aged actor rather well. Luke was the highlight in this movie, exemplifying the lesson that legends have failures.

Hamill and Ridley work very well together in portraying Rey’s training on the island. Rey is a gifted prodigy as she’s training on the island, passing all of Luke’s tests at an alarming rate, which Luke sees and steps away from, nervous after what happened with his nephew, Kylo Ren.

Speaking of Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), he worked very well in the film. In The Force Awakens, he was just portrayed as an angry, whiny kid who kills his dad to get closer to the Dark Side.

However, in this film, Kylo does a great job in displaying that he really isn’t a monster, instead Luke simply paints him that way. While he killed his dad, his humanity remains. Additionally, he and Rey have arguably one of the best lightsaber fights with Snoke’s guards. The way they fight together in the sequence fit well with the film. To end the sequence, the way that Kylo turns to show his true colors fits very well for his character.  

However, Finn and Rose have by far the worst story arc in the Star Wars franchise, including the prequels. This is especially frustrating since Finn had so much potential after The Force Awakens.

In summary, Finn and Rose flee a Resistance ship being cornered by the Empire on a side mission to save the fleet. Yet, despite all their efforts, the Resistance still escapes without their help.  I can tolerate pointless side plots. However, this side plot added something to The Last Jedi that I never want in a Star Wars movie: political messages.

It’s understood that Star Wars does address ideas of democracy and imperialism, as well as freedom and control. However, these issues are more philosophical in nature; a question on how absolute control might lead to peace through control, or how democracy is the ultimate expression of freedom.

They talk about animal abuse as well as war profiteering, which are both legitimate issues in our modern-day world. However, talking about it in a Star Wars movie is irrelevant, as it’s a galaxy far, far away being discussed, not our own.

While it’s understood that addressing animal abuse isn’t controversial itself, having a political leaning in a franchise that is meant to bring people together doesn’t work. Fans have been polarized, with The Last Jedi sitting at a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes  from critics and 49% from fans.

This isn’t to say that modern-day elements are out of place or bad for the movie. The opening scene between General Hux and Poe Dameron is just cellphone humor, after all.

In closing, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a fitting film  that I fully enjoyed. It’s a beautiful movie with some strong character progression, but also a lot of untapped potential. Because of the pointless side plot to make The Last Jedi the longest Star Wars film to date and how political messaging has been brought in, I give this movie a 7.5 out of 10.

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