By John Liu
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
The first part of my review will have no spoilers, and I will give a warning before the spoilers start.
Episode 7: The Force Awakens was released in December 2015 and left us with a chaotic conclusion. Finn is seriously injured by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), but fortunately Rey (Daisy Ridley), an untrained Jedi, manages to defeat Ren. The map of Luke Skywalker’s location is completed with the help of R2D2, and Rey sets out to find him. Rey finds Skywalker (Mark Hamill) hiding on a secret island, apparently avoiding a troubled past.
Without spoiling The Last Jedi, the director, Rian Johnson, tries to appeal to mainstream audiences by going in a whole new direction. If you watched the last trailer, then you are probably familiar with a porg, a cute and loveable cross between a bird and bunny. I feel like they’re trying to go for a “kawaii” factor that Guardians of the Galaxy 2 established with Baby Groot. The porgs have a number of cute interactions with Chewbacca and the Millennium Falcon, but the number of cute scenes start overstaying their welcome.
Last year, Rogue One featured two Asian stars, Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) and Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen). The Last Jedi continues the trend with Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), who plays a critical role in the movie as a Resistance maintenance worker. I actually have never heard of Tran before The Last Jedi. I might have possibly seen her in some College Humor videos on YouTube. I was pleasantly surprised that Rose got a lot of screen time and doesn’t portray Asian stereotypes.
That’s as much as I can say without spoiling the movie. I did find The Last Jedi enjoyable and found the cinematography breathtaking. The Last Jedi has some more background on Rey and we find out why Skywalker disappeared. The storyline feels a little weak, and some scenes just seem pointless. Then there are the “What did I just watch?” moments.
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
The movie has some very odd moments. Princess Leia using the force to float back to the ship after being blown into outer space. Finn and Rose waste time in a casino just to find out the Resistance leader had kept her crew in the dark the whole time about her real plan. Luke is seen drinking milk from a random sea creature on the island. Then there is a perfect set up for his death, but then he dies in an unexpected way. I was expecting General Leia Organa would pass away at the same time as Luke. Given Carrie Fisher passed away this year, I felt it would have been appropriate if Leia was removed from the story, since that is what the audience is expecting. Surprisingly, Leia makes it all the way to the end of the movie. Just as everyone is getting to know Supreme Leader Snoke, he’s no longer in the picture. Finally, there was a kiss from Rose to Finn that seemed out of place given the situation.
Other than my minor criticism, I found the movie enjoyable. There is just something about the Star Wars culture that is very exciting, and sharing that experience with each other makes it all the better. I’m glad Rose survived and will be in Episode 9. The two-year wait begins now, but we will get Solo: A Star Wars Story in 2018 to tide our Star Wars withdrawal until the next episode.
The Last Jedi crushed the box office with the second biggest domestic opening weekend with $220 million (domestic gross) and is playing at practically every theater near you.
John can be reached at email@example.com.