My name is Maddie and I’ll be reviewing movies for you from now on – you may be familiar with me from the IndieComix podcast (check it out if you haven’t already!). I am a very passionate Geek, and I tend to get very excited about things and love them despite their flaws, so when I review films I’ll be giving them an “Overall Score” that will serve as your basic rating and then a “Maddie Rating” that is really just about how much I personally loved the movie, all objectiveness aside. The reviews will be spoiler free, other than your basic description of what happens in the movie or some general plot points, as any review will share, but following that there will occasionally be a short piece about the film that does contain spoilers. So in the article below, for example, there is a regular review followed by a little something I wrote called “The Cyclical Nature of Star Wars and why The Last Jedi was the beginning and the end” which I suggest you do not read unless you’ve seen the film (or just really don’t care about spoilers).
Also, please leave a comment with your thoughts at the bottom of the post! Did you agree with me? Do you think I’m totally nuts? Let me know! I would love to hear from you.
With that bit of housekeeping done, let’s get started with my first review for GGG on a little film called Star Wars: The Last Jedi…
Overall Score: 9/10 – The movie wasn’t perfect, it had some flaws as any film does, but it was cinematically brilliant, the characters were exceptionally well-developed and the story was compelling, inspiring and heartfelt.
Maddie Rating: 11/10 – Seeing my favorite childhood characters in a moving story on the big screen again was everything I ever could have asked for and it was done so incredibly well.
Even heroes need saving, sometimes. Every now and then, even a legend needs to be reminded why they’re a legend – not because of the grand act they committed that made them a legend, but because of the strength, bravery and hope it took for them to go out and perform that grand act.
The Last Jedi is a Star Wars movie through and through. I felt like a little kid again, watching my favorite heroes on the big screen – Leia just as noble and courageous as ever, and Luke just as stubborn and willful as ever. This film has everything you could ask for in epic space battles, lightsaber fights and scenery that will take your breath away, but, as always in great Star Wars films, that is just to draw you in and keep you on the edge of your seat. The true heart of this film, as with the original trilogy, is in the strength of its characters and the way they rise when thrust into even the most dire of situations.
This movie has charm, laughs and maybe some tears (there were a few nostalgic moments that made me cry – I grew up on Star Wars and to see the story of Luke and Leia and Han unfolding again and coming toward a close has definitely been an emotional experience for me). The Force Awakens introduced many new characters to the Star Wars universe, and The Last Jedi develops them and gives them deeper and more powerful storylines.
Rey goes on a journey to find out who she is and to “find [her] place in all this.” Poe discovers that there is more to fighting a war than being a hotshot pilot and is challenged to learn what it takes to be a leader. Finn finally starts believing in a cause outside of his own self-preservation, and fights for it. We are introduced to Rose, who has spunk and charm and, most importantly, a very strong story about hope in the face of loss. These new characters go on journeys that are compelling and honest and interesting, as they are led by the previous generation of characters who made us fall in love with Star Wars in the first place.
General Leia is faced with the end of the Resistance she has fought for her entire life, yet she is noble and dignified and strong despite the odds. Luke, who is consumed with his past, is confronted with his failures and challenged to make them right and restore hope to the galaxy. These characters have grown and developed in the many years between films, and seeing where they are now and who they have become is an enormous treat for any Star Wars fan.
If you love Star Wars – if the idea of Chewbacca, Luke, Leia, R2-D2, C-3PO, BB-8, Poe, Rey and Finn all in the same film sounds like an incredible story just waiting to happen, then this is the movie for you. I was on the edge of my seat for a great deal of the film – I gasped with the rest of the theater, I was delighted at some wonderful surprises and I left feeling like I had just watched The Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi for the first time. The Last Jedi has nostalgia and fan-service references without being overdone, it has reverence while creating something wholly new; The Force Awakens was about Rey, but The Last Jedi is truly about the Skywalkers, and to see Luke and Leia on the big screen again was absolutely everything to me. The story is cyclical the way all Star Wars stories are, and to see the young heroes of the original trilogy grow into themselves and be offered the familiar roles of Jedi Master and General is truly incredible and an honor to experience on the big screen.
SPOILER WARNING – Only read the article below if you’ve seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi! (Or you just really don’t care about spoilers!!)
The Cyclical Nature of Star Wars and why The Last Jedi was the beginning and the end
While The Force Awakens served as A New Hope and The Phantom Menace did to introduce a new hero on a “nowhere” desert planet and reveal their enemy, The Last Jedi felt like a stronger Star Wars film to me because it continued the story of the entire saga so faithfully and with so much heart.
Luke is now serving as Yoda – a Jedi Master, the last of his kind, in a self-imposed exile on a planet where no one would ever find him. He has gotten a little eccentric and strange, and absolutely refuses to train a new Jedi. The parallels are unmistakable, from the great reference of the X-Wing in the water on the island to the eventual appearance of Master Yoda himself, the obvious guide for Luke in this moment, despite his deeper connection with Old Ben (a similar mentor who trained a Jedi who turned to the Dark Side, and then hid in seclusion as a hermit). Yoda has to remind Luke that failure is the most important teacher – a lesson Yoda himself had to learn when Anakin became Darth Vader and killed the Younglings (and, eventually, almost all the Jedi), just as Kylo Ren killed Luke’s Padawans when he turned to the Dark Side. Luke, Yoda and Obi-Wan were all unable to stop their pupils from turning to the Dark Side, nor save anyone from the slaughter that followed and nearly wiped out all Jedi. They were the sole survivors, and the reluctant teachers of those who would restart the Jedi Order and save the galaxy. Only once they had reignited the spark of the Jedi Order in a new pupil who they were sure would go on to restore balance to the Force and bring light back to a galaxy filled with darkness could they finally find peace and become one with the Force, fading into the Force of their own will, rather than in defeat.
In this new installment, Kylo Ren fulfills his role as a Sith apprentice, killing his master and taking the Supreme Leader’s place, as all Sith do once they become powerful enough. In this film, he and Rey do, indeed, “let the past die” – both their masters fall away and they are left as the leaders of the Sith and the Jedi, respectively. But the symbolic tearing apart of Anakin’s lightsaber, which was passed to Luke and then to Rey, shows that this truly is the end of an era. Kylo Ren is not Darth Vader; there is, perhaps, no good left in him, and Rey is not Luke, and cannot turn Ben Solo back to the light. The New Order is not the Empire, and Rey’s version of the Jedi Order may be very different from what we have seen before. She has recovered the sacred texts, but the future is truly hers to decide. The lightsaber has been broken and the Skywalker era is ending, but something new is about to begin. As Leia says at the end of the film, surrounded by what is left of the Rebellion and the Resistance, all together in the Millennium Falcon, “we have everything we need.”
The Last Jedi brings up questions and stories we have seen before in the saga – should a young apprentice, strong in the Force but tempted by the Dark Side, be trained? What can be done when there is a massive army at your back and you have little more than hope to fight with? How do you rekindle that hope when it is almost out? Can someone be saved, even after they have done terrible things? Do our origins or our failures define us, or can we move on from the past? Does the past make us weaker or stronger? What does it mean to be a Jedi?
This film also gives us many lessons – of hope and grace and learning from our failures. That we will win “not by fighting what we hate, but by saving what we love.” That freedom is worth fighting for, and that hope and goodness and light will always win, no matter the odds. That “no one is ever truly gone.” Seeing Luke watch Leia’s original holographic message to Obi-Wan Kenobi, filmed 40 years ago, brought tears to my eyes, as did the moment Luke kissed Leia on the forehead. This is the next step forward, and one of the last, for our heroes, and those heroes have given us so many memories and so many wonderful lessons about life and love and hope. But as something dies, something else is born. Life, death, the Dark and the Light – they are all part of the Force. It surrounds us. It binds us. And it continues to teach us, even after all these years.