I’ve taken 2017 off from writing movie reviews, but The Last Jedi was such an emotional experience that I find myself longing to write about it.
Don’t worry if you haven’t seen it (although you really should go now!) as I don’t do plot spoilers. Don’t listen to the crabby haters online who are moaning about how Episode VIII should be wiped from the Star Wars canon (thank you, internet criticism, for creating a group of angry “fans” who demand a creative product meet their specific demands like it’s SO simple and easy to make a successful blockbuster franchise movie). Go see it for yourself and decide.
The Last Jedi is truly a stunning achievement. It’s packed with all of the action true fans long for, plus a host of witty, silly quips and special moments that linger in your mind long after the final credits roll. But more than that, this instalment gives us even more women as leaders worthy of respect (hooray!) and some deep explorations of complicated and important subjects.
This movie does not shy away from topics like the devastating effects of our rabid fame culture, honest questions about identity and belonging, the punishing personal cost of war, corporate greed ravishing the environment and the ever-widening soul-crushing gap between the wealthy and the poor. I love it when I can sink my teeth into these relevant issues and engage my kids in a lengthy morality debate on the way home from the cinema.
Our world is a broken place. The Last Jedi mirrors much of this sorrow in a relatable yet still entertaining fashion. Luke Skywalker, always my favourite from the original trilogy, is back here but damaged, older and considerably more fearful than we’ve seen him before.
Rey, a hero I adored in The Force Awakens, found Skywalker at the end of Episode VII and is desperate to learn what she can from him. But Master Luke is an unwilling teacher, pushing Rey toward Ben Solo, the tortured son of Han and Leia who has turned to the dark side. This connection between “good” and “evil” moved me deeply, particularly the image of Rey trying to answer the nagging question of who she really is and where she comes from.
Each one of us has the power to write our own story. If we don’t like our past, we possess the ability to change our present so that our future becomes something different. Nothing special is required for this. Only bravery. That’s the central message of The Last Jedi, and it’s one we need desperately at this precarious moment of human history.
Go see this movie. Return to a time when you went to see a cinematic story unfold without a thousand other voices in your head telling you what’s wrong with it. Simply go and be entertained. For me, The Last Jedi is powerful, hopeful, beautiful, stirring, emotional, satisfying. We need peace, purpose and courage to light our path, now more than ever.
May the force be with us, always.