Star Wars: The Last Jedi was, on first viewing, altogether amazing, bewildering, inspiring, and surprising; all in ways very much not expected.
By now, in this, the ninth installment of Star Wars feature films, fans expect certain things: space battles between X-Wing and Tie-fighters, red vs. blue lightsaber duels, Sith and Jedi philosophical monologues on the meaning of the Force, among others. This movie has all of that. We also expect a bit of humor and the latest “breakout beastie,” this time being the irrepressibly cute and expressive Porgs of Ahch-To (gesundheit!) and the film certainly delivers in that sense. Disney marketing scores!
Chewie and Porg
But the heart of this film is dark and foreboding. For all the talk of what the Force really means to the Jedi (and, indeed to everyone), it does not elicit the nostalgic, feel-good sense of the Force Awakens (up to the surprise death scene in that earlier movie, anyway), and, while some of the questions raised in the Force Awakens are answered by this newer movie, several other big mysteries are not explained…or at least not explained as expected.
The big hurrahs for long-time fans of course, are the performances of both Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, and the late Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa. While not giving anything away, it can be said that both actors lived up to the extensive hype for their iconic characters.
There is a lot that can be said about this movie, and already, fans are arguing over how good or bad The Last Jedi turned out, but I think that the jury is still out. This is the eighth installment of a nine-part trilogy of trilogies (plus Rogue One). As such, I do not think that this movie can truly be judged until we see the finale of the Skywalker saga. Episode IX is due in December, 2019, and at that point we will truly see how the events of Last Jedi pan out.
Obviously, if you are a Star Wars fan, you have to see this movie, and you will probably want to see it again, as it is so full of complex ideas and subtexts, it will take more than one viewing to really figure it out. See it, you must!