Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi: ****
2015’s “Episode VII: The Force Awakens” was a horrible movie.
To me, it was easily the worst Star Wars installment to date. I’ve watched all the other episodes dozens of times. I tried watching “The Force Awakens” a second time at home and I turned it off after fif-teen boring minutes.
When Disney bought the rights to Star Wars from George Lucas for $4 billion, I figured that there would be some greedy, uninspired Star Wars flicks. But, honestly, I never imagined that it was possible to make one as childishly bad as JJ Abrams’s Episode VII.
Star Wars is back. “Episode VIII: The Last Jedi” is a splendid adventure that is worthy of the Star Wars name.
“The Last Jedi” begins with the good guys in a bad spot. The Resistance is outnumbered and outgunned by the evil First Order. All the rebels want to do is retreat and regroup in order to fight another day. And it isn’t easy. The film is essentially “Dunkirk” in space.
Meanwhile, Rey – the new Resistance hero – has traveled to the far reaches of the galaxy to enlist Luke Skywalker in the fight. But Luke isn’t interested in fighting.
Luke isn’t just retired, he is cynical. In my favorite scene, Luke Skywalker rails against the Jedi for losing to the Emperor. He rightly observes that the Jedi failed as leaders due their lack of vision and their hubris. The Jedi were so certain that they were in the right that they waged a self-destructive war that ended the Republic.
“The Last Jedi” is everything “The Force Awakens” failed to be. “Force” was an action flick; “Jedi” is a philosophy-filled drama. “Force” was an improbable story of underdogs winning against all odds; “Jedi” is a story of underdogs failing again and again.
JJ Abrams’s Kylo Ren was the worst thing about “The Force Awakens” and the worst villain in Star Wars history.
Kylo Ren is reborn in “The Last Jedi” as an interesting character. You believe that he’s powerful. You believe that he’s conflicted. You see him harnessing the Dark Side of the Force to feed his mad ambition. I can’t wait to see what he does in Episode IX.
“The Last Jedi” is so darn solid that you could almost be fooled into thinking that “The Force Awakens” served a purpose. With his disgraceful stupidity, JJ Abrams showed Disney everything NOT to do when making a Star Wars film.
As Yoda explains: “The greatest teacher, failure is.”