This review of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" will contain some spoilers, but if you want to hang out for a little bit we promise we'll give you a heads up before spoilers start to drop like F-bombs.
For those now leaving this page, head to this one to hear Jon preview the movie and wildly speculate on The Last Jedi like the good Crystal Critter he is.
"Star Wars: The Last Jedi," written and directed by Rian Johnson, has everything that a film from this franchise needs to succeed while carving its own unique path with its story. This uniqueness and the fixing of some old problems by clarifying some issues with The Force is exactly why Disney gave Johnson the keys to his own trilogy after this one wraps up.
While Episode VIII fails to answer a question or two but it's important to remember that this story is being told in the trilogy format before labeling this as plot holes. For those who can't get passed not knowing every answer at every moment, The Last Jedi has everything you need in the surprises, the suspense, a fantastic Lightsaber scene, gorgeous/smart cinematography choices and a handful of standout compelling performances from its cast.
There are some confusing moments where Johnson fails to allow The Last Jedi to breathe, which is even more confusing considering how long this film feels. When this happens, it takes away from the beautiful shots and choices this cinematography team made.
These issues are partially redeemed in the final act with a breathtaking battle on a planet's white surface with red underlying sand. It makes the fighting look even cooler, and leaves the impression of bloody footmarks on a battlefield.
We'll touch on some plot points and spoilers now, so please get out of here if you haven't seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi yet:
I was pleasantly surprised by not only how much screen time Mark Hamill had as Luke Skywalker, but the way he just honed in on this serious, off-the-grid, legendary Jedi Master. The Last Jedi does not portray the Luke Skywalker you know and love, he is something that has been twisted over time and forced to live with some serious mistakes.
While we're on the topic of Hamill, Carrie Fisher, unfortunately, had a pretty bland role without a chance to do much rather deliver a nostalgia line in Episode VIII. We are also left with an awkward, spoilery elephant in the room.
She is still alive at the end of this movie, so I have no idea what's going to happen with that. I do not envy J.J. Abrams, who will return to finish off this trilogy, for the choices he will have to make and the conversations he will have to have.
Fisher will obviously be missed not just in these movies, but in the real world. It was nice to see a touching message in the credits scene.
The way we get to hear two sides of the story from Kylo Ren and Luke before seeing the whole picture was a smart move by Johnson, as I felt it first gave the audience the answer it wanted to here and then another that let a little disbelief and confusing set in -- i.e. suspense.
Daisy Ridley turned in one hell of a performance. She killed it in a Saber scene, might be the best new cryer in the game and represents an important turning point in the Skywalker Trilogy.
SPOILER REY'S PARENTS/SNOKE BELOW
Finding out whose Rey's parents are is such a satisfying moment to me, as it eradicates some of George Lucas' mistakes from the prequels while opening up a whole new world of possibilities for not only for this trilogy, but this franchise.
Ridley takes it in with fear, disgust before turning her face to the realization that she has always truly known who her parents are. She's sweaty, beat up and exhausted as a single tear runs down her cheek. If you don't feel things in this moment, you're just a weird alien horse.
Johnson did a stellar job at teasing who Rey was and if there were any connection to Luke, Leia and Ben still lingering without an answer for a large portion of the film. Finding out that she comes from nothing, and "has no place in this story" somehow still surprised me as not just as a moviegoer, but a lover of Star Wars.
Not only does this make her more powerful, interesting and mysterious, but it makes Rey even more unique than she has been portrayed as being. This all getting dropped on us soon after we witness an insane Lightsaber scene between Ren, Rey and the Supreme Leader's main guards comes on the heels of watching Kyle Ren force kill Supreme Leader Snoke after throwing Rey around.
I went from being extremely annoyed at the early death of Snoke devoid of any backstory, explanation or anything into who or what he was to falling back in love with this trilogy's story. Whether Johnson metaphorically pooped on us and then handed us $20 five minutes later was intentional or not? Only he knows.
But, back to serious words, Snoke's early death truly did feel like a rib to fans and moviegoers. This was billed as our main villain dude, so watching him come and go with nothing more than some hologram and sitting action, was truly disappointing.
John Boyega's Finn had the good news, bad news situation of being put with some people he clearly had great chemistry with but unfortunately for some of the most drawn-out, yawn-worthy scenes. There are some alien horses and they look cool and represent a brief Rogue One-esque redemption feel to them for Rose and Finn, but it's a distraction from Luke/Rey/Kylo that went for a little too long.
Kelly Marie Tran was a welcome addition to the series as she is thrust into the Rey-Finn dynamic, has some funny, compelling and heartfelt scenes but gets stuck with Benicio Del Toro and Boyega in weird, weapon trader casino land for way too long. If Del Toro turns into a meaningful redemption character, you know the Lando greasy guy goes good, then this drawn-out sequence will feel like less of a blow.
All in all, The Last Jedi is a gorgeous blast filled with humor, suspense and that beloved intergalactic action. I feel that its high moments of Rey/Luke/Ren, fight scenes, the Throne Room scene, humor, cinematography and plot twists outweigh the low moments of choppy water pacing, head-scratching side-scenes and its plot holes that still have two years before they can be properly judged.
Go see it, don't ruin it for anyone else and make sure to listen to The Court of Nerds podcast next week for our full spoiler-filled take on Star Wars: The Last Jedi.