Did “Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi” Live Up to Its Hype?

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. 2017 Rated PG-13

I am an admitted Star Wars nerd. Ever since the anticipated release date of 12/15/17, I have been combing the internet for leaked content, extended trailers, and Fandom theories. It has been an 18-month trek that actually ended at an 11:30 pm show Thursday 12/14. (Yes, I am one of those guys that has to see it first and no I did not dress up like a “Wookie” and wait for 12 hours to see it.) So after all of this anticipation, did the movie live up to all the hype? Before I give my thoughts let’s start where we left off.

Rey has found Luke Skywalker on Ahch-To. She extends her hand to reveal his lightsaber and hands it to him. From this moment on, the Star War universe went crazy with theories about who Rey’s parents were, questions about Supreme Leader Snoke’s identity, will Luke Skywalker train Rey in the ways of the force, and who will meet their demise.

As we heard and saw in the Episode VIII trailer, Luke says to Rey “This is not going to end the way you think.” A true foreshadowing, as no truer words have ever been spoken regarding this film. Director Rian Johnson has warned for months that this movie will push the limits regarding what we believe to be true in past Star Wars films. Let us not get confused at this point.

This film is a Good versus Evil classic Star Wars film. Kylo Ren is still the leader of the First Order. Supreme Leader Snoke is his master and seems to know about the origins of the force. Together they are trying to wipe out the entire Jedi order to rule the galaxy unopposed. General (Princess) Leia Organa is the leader of the rebels, with her Flyboy pilot Poe Dameron at her side.

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Chewbacca and Rey are still trying to convince Luke Skywalker to help the resistance against the First Order and Kylo Ren. Rey and Kylo Ren share some sort of connection, with (in classic Luke and Vader from Empire fashion) Rey believing that Kylo is conflicted and will turn back to the light. Finn and newcomer Rose are off on a mission to find an expert code breaker (DJ played by Benicio Del Toro) to help lower the shields of the First Order command ship in case the rebels plan an escape.

The resistance has taken heavy losses and are woefully outnumbered. Their fate lies in the hands of this Motley Crew and the Legendary Luke Skywalker. The interesting part of this film is how Luke Skywalker seems to be disinterested in the force and believes that it is time for the Jedi…..To End.

Director Rian Johnson uses this film to further define what the Force is and why we as an audience have assumed too much regarding who can weld it. Luke realizes how powerful Rey is in the ways of the force and reflects on his failure regarding Ben Solo, now turned Kylo Ren.

The movie continuously warns us that the sin of hubris leads to the downfall of anyone who exercises it. It also shows how (in the words of Master Yoda) “The greatest teacher….Failure is.” It are both these themes that pull the entire movie together and build up to a cacophonous crescendo ending with an epic battle scene between the legendary Luke Skywalker and the insidious Kylo Ren.

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So, does it live up to the hype? In a word…No. I believe that everything is up to your own interpretation, however I believe that this movie left us with some new questions and fell short on answering a couple of the old ones. Hopefully Episode IX (the final chapter of this trilogy) will give us all the answers we seek.

If you think that this movie will leave you satisfied with everything Star Wars, you are mistaken. The story itself was great. I believe that Rian Johnson had a great story to tell. Some of the new characters and actor casting made some of the scenes predictable and dull. There were a couple of uncharacteristic corny jokes that definitely missed the mark and kind of made the scene feel like something out of “Spaceballs” rather than Star Wars.

I am just going to say it…….I Just Don’t Think That Kylo Ren Is Dark Enough To Play The Ultimate Villain! When Vader came into the scene everybody knew something bad was about to happen. Kylo Ren comes off as a whiny brat whose quest for ultimate power blinds him and continuously makes him fail.

I thought that Luke Skywalker was great. He showed us a fallible side and showed us that you can continually learn and evolve even though you are a legend.

Failure as I mentioned before is a common theme in this movie. The characters success in overcoming this lesson makes you root for them moving forward. The battle scenes were cinematic magic making you hold onto your seat most of the time. The fight scene with Snoke’s Guardians was an absolute gem!

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It is not the best Star Wars film (Nothing will ever beat The Empire Strikes Back) but it does tie everything “almost” together before the final chapter, Episode IX. I will give it a 2.75 out of 4 stars. A good film to watch and debate with the entire family.

Until next time Young Padawans. May The Force Be With You……Always.

Jeff Stewart is, by all definitions, an avid movie enthusiast.

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