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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The force fully awakens in the space adventure we deserve

© Walt Disney Pictures
     Former stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega: Detroit) wakes from his coma to finds things looking dire in a galaxy far, far away. 
     Better financed and armed, the evil First Order is crushing the rebellion led by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher, in her final role). The rebels’ last fighters flee across the universe with the First Order hot on their heels.
     Finn, a legend among the rebels for deserting the First Order to join them, has not discovered his place in his new world.
      The rebels’ best pilot, Poe (Oscar Isaac: Suburbicon), is struggling to adapt as a leader. The big picture eludes him, and his gung-ho approach is getting his pilots killed. 
     It seems that only the last Jedi, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill: Milo Murphy’s Law) can save the rebellion. But the erstwhile hero retreated to a remote planet when his last apprentice, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver: Logan Lucky), repudiated him for the First Order.
      Luke is shocked when Leia sends untrained Rey (Daisy Ridley: Murder on the Orient Express) to retrieve him. He sees both potential and danger in this would-be apprentice.
     2015’s The Force Awakens finally recaptured the spirit of the original series. Now, The Last Jedi revives the magic that made us invest in this space soap 40 years ago.
     In each of the Star Wars trilogies, the second film has been dark. The Last Jedi follows in this tradition, but it never falls into despair. Filled with humor, touching character moments and breathtaking action, this is the Star Wars movie fans have hoped for since the new trilogy was announced.
      Director Rian Johnson (Looper) follows all the familiar beats, breathing new life into them with clever staging. Two battles bookend the film, both visually stunning and nerve-wracking. Johnson has a sense of scale and spectacle, making battles eerily beautiful and emotionally resonate. He also has a sense of exactly what the audience needs, never letting the movie get too dark or jokey. 
      Johnson’s other directorial feat is reviving the character of Luke Skywalker.    Never the most dynamic of the original characters, Luke steals The Last Jedi in Hamill’s portrayal of a character bitter, sardonic and deeply in need of faith. 
     Though The Last Jedi is a joy to watch, it has some dark elements. The plot has a few holes, and at two and a half hours, the film is a commitment. But the cast barrels through the weaker plot elements with sheer force of charm. 
      Fans of the original trilogy should be pleased with Johnson, who has been contracted by Disney to write the next trilogy in the series, for bringing balance back to The Force. With wonderous creatures, hilarious banter and genuinely emotional moments, this is the space soap we deserve. 
Great Adventure • PG-13 • 152 mins.
New this Week
     Ferdinand (John Cena) stands out in a crowd. He’s a massive bull. Though intimidating to look at, he’s a gentle soul. He wants to smell flowers, make friends and live in peace. 
     When a bee sting sends Ferdinand barreling through town, he’s mistaken for a fighting bull and sent to spar with bullfighters. Ferdinand must find a way back to his quiet life. 
     Based on the beloved children’s book, Ferdinand is the movie studios release when they know they can’t compete with Star Wars.
Prospects: Dim • PG • 106 mins.