"A Review of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi” by Nathan H. Box
Director: Rian Johnson, Writers: Rian Johnson, George Lucas, Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill
Rating: 4 Stars, SHOWTIME
Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order.
If you look at “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” through the lenses of Buddhism and democracy, the whole saga begins to make sense. The universe is defined by a balance between all things; light vs. darkness, republic-democracy vs. tyrannical rule, self-sacrifice vs. violent ambivalence… The delicate tug-of-war between these concepts plays out in every episode of the franchise. Once this is understood, the movie-goer can begin to understand the bigger message here beyond just good versus evil. These films are more nuanced than that.
Where these movies often fail is in their ability to dig deeper into these bigger concepts. Now, of course, I realize one could make an argument about whether anyone would want to see that film. That’s an argument I would gladly have. Where I will give credit to this franchise is in their development of villains. Unlike almost all superhero movies, “Stars Wars” takes the time to develop those occupying the dark side. We understand their motivation and with each passing iteration, we learn more about their end goal. This is refreshing. This gives me something to root against.
From the beginning of this film, it is apparent the dark side is growing stronger. It begins violently and only intensifies as the resistance is pushed further back. As the last remaining fighters begin to fall, Rey played by Daisy Ridley seeks to understand her new abilities under the guise of Luke Skywalker once again played by Mark Hamill. Her education reveals and offers a better understanding of the balance between the light and darkness that consumes most of the universe.
Before our eyes, Rey grows stronger and develops a deeper understanding of her abilities. There is a moment in the film when we are presented with a Jedi warrior who we know is ready for battle. It is in this moment we feel the hope resting on her shoulders.
On the other end of the spectrum, we also see a Kylo Ren played by Adam Driver growing darker and more powerful. He is the ying to Rey’s yang. What I enjoy about Driver’s performance is his ability to give us a glimpse of the internal conflict bubbling up inside of him. He has killed his father, finds himself battling his mother, and feels betrayed by his uncle. Still, there is something pulling him toward the light. Yet, we know darkness will win the day.
Of course, this film ends in the most predictable way. It doesn’t answer all of its own questions and sets itself up for another iteration. As Episode 9 looms, we can only hope it properly closes a story almost four decades in the making. Until then, I recommend you see this film in a theatre. Without a doubt, it is a cultural event you can afford to miss.
Be good to each other,
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