“The Last Jedi” Not the Last Movie


Ally Hill

On Friday, December 15, Star Wars: Episode VIII opened in theaters, and needless to say, fans were freaking out. Titled The Last Jedi, this film is the second in the third trilogy of the Skywalker saga, masterminded by George Lucas. The film is the first in the series to be written and directed by Rian Johnson. It had a lot to live up to, as it follows the incredibly successful seventh episode, The Force Awakens, which was directed by J. J. Abrams. Like most Star Wars movies, the newest continuation in the franchise picks up after the previous episode’s massive cliffhanger: present time on the planet Ahch-To, where Rey presents Luke with his old lightsaber.

The Last Jedi continues the adventures of the new heroes introduced in The Force Awakens: Finn, the renegade stormtrooper; Poe, the scrappy Resistance pilot; and Rey, the scavenger from the planet Jakku. The movie also features a final performance in the saga from Carrie Fisher, who played Leia and sadly passed away last December. In a USA Today interview, director Rian Johnson discussed the impact of Fisher’s role in the movie. “Having these scenes in the film recontextualize tragically with her not being here anymore. It’s incredibly emotional. For the next few months, seeing the fans … process the loss and celebrate her as Leia one last time, it’s going to be intense. I think it’s going to be really sad but really joyful, I hope.”

The  film takes place about thirty years after the collapse of the Galactic Empire as depicted in Return of the Jedi. Now a new, evil power called the First Order is terrorizing the galaxy, led by Kylo Ren (aka Ben Solo: son of Han and Leia and grandson of Darth Vader) and his sinister master, Supreme Leader Snoke. The force for good, the Resistance, is led by General Leia and has already succeeded in destroying the Order’s Starkiller Base, which was essentially a third Death Star. It is up to them to defeat the villainous regime and restore peace to the galaxy.

The trailers released by Disney have left fans with many questions, and inevitably, many complicated theories. Director Rian Johnson confirmed in a The New York Times interview that The Last Jedi refers to Luke Skywalker. But then why is Rey so strong with the Force? Is she Luke’s daughter? Obi Wan’s granddaughter? Or possibly Kylo Ren’s secret twin? The speculations are endless. The new trailers also imply that Rey, who is remarkably powerful in the Force, will be tempted to join Kylo in the Dark Side.

Early audiences saw the film five days before it opened in theaters, and the reviews have been incredible, with many fans calling it the best Star Wars movie of all time. Even more exciting is the large number of fans who say they were surprised by the events in The Last Jedi. As fans of the series know, even as some questions are answered in The Last Jedi, more will indubitably arise, leaving viewers eagerly anticipating the ultimate conclusion of the Star Wars epic saga. In its opening weekend alone, the movie garnered an estimated $220 million in North America and $450 million internationally, as reported by Disney.

First reviews of the movie confirm that the film has lived up to expectations. Earning a whopping 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, the eighth instalment of the Star Wars saga is as “fresh” as fans expected. Fans who were lucky enough to get opening weekend tickets voiced their enjoyment of the new characters and storylines, but also appreciated the moments Johnson added to allow a reflection of how far the series has come. Even so, there were some conflicting responses as to where the newest director chose to take the plot. Some viewers of the film stated their dislike of the film, saying that it seemed to take Star Wars in a completely new direction; but for every critic, there is a fan praising it for doing just that. After two years of anxious anticipation, The Last Jedi has finally arrived with guns — or in this case, blasters — blazing, bringing with it the next chapter in a galaxy loved by fans around the world.