This weekend, I was able to attend the world premiere of The Last Jedi in downtown Los Angeles. The atmosphere was electric and the entire experience was something I'll never forget.
This review will be spoiler-free, so don't worry about being spoiled before you head in. Trust me: you will want to go in with as little information as possible.
Overall, The Last Jedi was a wild ride. For two and a half hours, you are transported all over the emotion spectrum. There are moments where you laugh out loud. There are moments where you cry. There are moments where you worry. There are moments where you are filled with hope and triumph. And there are moments that are so shocking--you need to take a breath just to process it.
The first act moves very fast. Between the moment the crawl disappears to the moment where the first scene cuts feels like a matter of seconds. There is so much happening and the dialogue is a true throwback to George Lucas' "faster, more intense." There is a lot of humor in the first few scenes, and at first it was quite jarring. Once you settle in and realize what's happening, it is easy to realize that the humor is true to what we know about the characters, and you'll quickly understand that the humor is woven into this entire movie.
There is so much packed into the movie, that it feels more like 6 acts instead of 3. The movie has a lot of heart, and the character development is so good that there are few scenes where it feels like it is dragging on. There are also so many shocking moments--those alone keep you glued to the screen for 150 minutes.
The Luke and Rey scenes are the best parts of the movie. Mark Hamill delivers what I believe to be the best of his career in The Last Jedi. Luke's story takes such an unexpected turn. That choice alone will likely be divisive among fans, but Hamill's performance makes you believe that this is true development from the Luke we saw in Return Of The Jedi.
In The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams took baby steps forward with new characters, but in this one, Rian Johnson took the baton and ran full speed through his run. The new characters each get time to develop into full-fledged staples of this saga. Poe Dameron takes the biggest leap from what we saw in TFA, and his role something that has you questioning what we see in The Resistance. Finn and Rose have a heartwarming team up and help instill hope into an otherwise dark film.
Rey and Luke share so many moments that grow the lore and mythology of the saga. Johnson takes a lot of chances with what the force can do--but it feels natural. He does a great job of making us understand the force more while at the same time keeping it mysterious and at times confusing.
While Abrams was focused on bringing Star Wars "back" to many in the Original Trilogy generation, Johnson breaks a lot of saga rules and does things we've never seen in these movies before. If we can all agree that the Original Trilogy has its feel, the Prequel Trilogy has its own feel, then most fans will quickly realize that The Last Jedi gives the sequel trilogy its own unique feel. That excites me. If we keep repeating these movies for generations, then what's the point? Rian puts his own spin on it, while staying true to what the saga has done before.
The ending leaves you wanting more. I left feeling exhausted by the roller coaster I was just on. There are moments that will make you want to stand up and cheer, and ultimately this has more of those than any other Star Wars movie.
The Last Jedi is a fun, fresh take on the Galaxy Far, Far Away. Although many hardcore fans may disagree with some of the choices made in this film, I appreciated Rian Johnson's approach to going big and making you question everything you know about this saga. There's a line Kylo Ren says where he essentially calls for the end of everything we know about Star Wars. That to me was a direct message to the audience.
Of course, John Williams knocked it out of the park again. Rose's theme is easily the best of the new music.
I'll end it on this: if George Lucas and Dave Filoni took speed and made a Star Wars movie, you would get The Last Jedi.
It's time to unlearn what you have learned.