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This is More of a War Movie Than the Previous Skywalker Films

At the press conference for the film, John Boyega made the claim that The Last Jedi is more of a war movie than the previous Star Wars installments and he wasn’t lying. Rian Johnson’s opening and closing action sequences feel so much like a classic war movie, just set in space.

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So Many Holy Shit Surprising Moments

Going into Star Wars: The Last Jedi, there were a number of huge things that I didn’t think would ever happen in this film, stuff that they might save for the final installment of this sequel trilogy or possibly later than that. There were so many moments that left me sitting on the edge of my seat left, breathless. Otherwise, you may have heard the words “holy shit” come out of my mouth. And these moments are expertly handled and thrilling. Mostly.

On the other hand, the canon-changing consequences of these moments are sometimes retconned moments later, which makes me wonder if they are more gimmicky than spectacular. I’ve only seen the film once at this point, and I imagine I’ll see it many more times over the next month, and I’m not sure how I feel about this. In the context of my first screening, it was a total blast, but the more I think about the big swerves and twists along this journey, the more I wonder if they work without the significant consequences to series canon.

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The Last Jedi is Emotional

The Force Awakens leaned on the legacy characters and nostalgia for emotion as it introduced a new batch of heroes and villains to this galaxy. The Last Jedi has the benefit of already having our investment in all of these characters going into the film and Johnson expertly plays with our expectations. I think “plays” is the best word for this, because I imagine Johnson is having fun toying with our emotions in this story.

By splitting up the team, Johnson has set each of the characters on their own journeys of self-realization. And because this story takes place seconds after the end of The Force Awakens, the film immediately grapples with a number of compelling questions. How will Luke Skywalker find out about Han Solo’s death? When or will Finn reunite with Rey? And then there are speculative questions like will Luke reunite with his sister Leia before the end of this film (AKA the last chance they have to share the screen together)?

And if it wasn’t already apparent, every moment with General Leia is way more emotional because of the real-life death of actress Carrie Fisher. And we can talk more about this once everyone has seen the movie, but I’m surprised they didn’t change this film after Fisher’s passing, as I can easily see two ways in which they could have sent her character off and dealt with the tragedy of her passing.

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The New Cast

I really fell in love with Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico and think she will be a great addition to this series. The way she makes Finn reflect upon himself is a great bit of writing. I only wish she was in a better storyline, as I wasn’t so much a fan of the Canto Bight sequence as a whole.

Benicio Del Toro’s character, DJ (a nickname that is not said in the film itself directly), felt like something out of a different movie. I love the idea of a character that plays to both sides, whoever pays him better, but I didn’t particularly love the way del Toro decided to portray the character and especially the inclusion of his stutter.

Oh, space Laura Dern is fantastic. That is all I will say about her character at this time.

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The Film is Unexpectedly One of the Funniest Star Wars Movies

The marketing has doubled down on the big dramatic nature of this sequel, but the film actually has a lot of humor. I’d even venture to say that my screening at the World Premiere in Hollywood had more and louder laughter than any of the Star Wars films to date.

While J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan’s script for The Force Awakens was trying to recapture the humor of the original trilogy, Rian Johnson is not afraid to insert his own sensibilities. I think some longtime Star Wars fans will feel some of this humor breaks the reality of this universe. The best example I can give you is this: remember that moment in The Force Awakens when Kylo Ren throws a fit and then we see a shot of stormtroopers reacting to it from a hallway? It was probably one of the biggest laughs in the movie, but some have felt that it felt too modern for the franchise’s classic sensibilities and almost felt like it was breaking the fourth wall in a way that SNL or a parody like Spaceballs might have. Well, be prepared for more like that.

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About the Author

Peter Sciretta is a film geek and popcultured fanboy living in Los Angeles. He created /Film in 2005.