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iReview | STAR WARS The Last Jedi

The continuing adventures of a galaxy far, far away are finally coming to a Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD – Star Wars: The Last Jedi proves the most complex chapter in the ongoing saga that is the Skywalker legacy.

With the Force now awakened, STAR WARS: The Last Jedi the next chapter in the new trilogy is perhaps the most controversial narrative in the continuing adventures. As the galaxy races against time a mounting Resistance emerges to prevent the tightening totalitarian grip of the evil First Order from suffocating all that is good and right! After Disney purchased the franchise from its creator George Lucas, filmmaker J. J. Abrams was given the daunting task of reigniting the continuing saga, and went to work immediately to expanded on the universe.

In The Force Awakens Abrams introduced a new generation of heroes, the original trilogy’s cast was there too, but as a new threat to the galaxy emerges, the First Order, the Rebellion that defeated the Empire and destroyed their tyranny with the destruction of the second Death Star, has been mounting a new Resistance to stop this evil from taking root. Lead by the legendary might of General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) her ragtag group strike from hidden bases, but the First Order is growing and use a new super-weapon to destroy the New Republic.

It becomes apparent to the Resistance that if they are to defeat The First Order they must seek out Jedi Master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who must once again inspire them with renewed hope. The search for Skywalker is only the beginning for a lonely young woman on a journey of discovery, Rey (Daisy Ridley) who along with her companion, First Order defector Finn (John Boyega) and the astromech droid BB-8 begin an adventure that reunites them with the ill-fated Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his trustee co-pilot Chewbacca.

Episode VII which sets in motion the events for this new trilogy, also introduced Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) who is the Force-wielding son of Leia and Han once known as Ben Solo. Luke Skywalker attempts to train his nephew, but loses him to the Dark Side. Rey is able to best Ren in combat as her own Force powers begin to surface, but she needs the self-exiled Luke Skywalker to help her. Once Kylo Ren mercilessly murders his own father, his path into the Dark Side becomes nearly complete, but Rey feels the conflict within him and is convinced she can save him.

After destroying Starkiller Base, The First Order’s weapon of mass destruction, the Resistance regroups, and Leia sends Rey to seek out Luke Skywalker with a map that will lead her right to him, but will Rey be able to bring the Jedi Master back into the fold, to rejoin the fight?

…in a galaxy far, far away.

Fans had waited nearly 40 years to see their favorite Rebel heroes back together! Although Abrams had sacrificed the rogue spacer Han Solo appropriately in the final act of his film; Harrison Ford had always expressed a desire to have his character meet a heroic end. Hoping to save the soul of his son, who is on the brink of complete corruption, Han exposes his vulnerability and pays the price. Abrams passed on directing the next installment and Kathleen Kennedy sought out Rian Johnson to both write and direct Star Wars: The Last Jedi the next chapter in the ongoing saga.

The filmmaker took a decidedly risky approach to expanding the universe, by elaborately deconstructing much of what Abrams had engineered to reestablish. The most obvious course for Johnson was to focus his attention on the new generation of characters specifically Rey and Kylo Ren whose fates appear intertwined. After Rey finds Luke Skywalker, the Jedi Master doesn’t live up to her expectations. Instead of a Rebel hero, she finds a cynical isolationist, who has lost the will to fight and is instead resigned to let the Jedi Order end.

Sensing the conflict within Kylo Ren, Rey uncovers secrets about the relationship between student and apprentice and the incident that leads to both their downfalls. Fearing that he’s failed his nephew as the evil influence of The First Order’s Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) Begins to take over the young Ben Solo, Luke feels he has no other alternative but to strike Ben down! The attempt delivers Ben Solo, now Kylo Ren right into the hands of Snoke, who sets his new apprentice on the path once traversed by his own grandfather Darth Vader.

For much of The Last Jedi the Resistance are at the relentless mercy of the seemingly unstoppable First Order and the advancing fleet that is slowly picking off each one of their vessels one by one. It seems foolhardy to say the least that the impressively powerful navy of the First Order doesn’t simply dispatch auxiliary ships to descend on the Resistance, giving the willful rebels an opportunity to strategize an action plan to make haste their escape. Dispatching Finn (Boyega) to the casino planet Canto Bight manufactures an opportunity to revisit a Star Wars trope indeed.

The film feels the most alien and not just because Johnson has created an entirely new world with Canto Bight, but introduced the idea of a corrupt capitalism and profiteering from war. The lines between who is good and who is bad are blurred, and even the question of whether the Jedi are necessary is questionable. These aren’t all-too new ideas within this universe, but it is the first time that they are so dynamically portrayed inside the narrative — and it is unexpected. As in The Empire Strikes Back, at the end of The Last Jedi there is a significant amount of loss.

The Resistance is decimated and ultimately make their escape aboard the Millennium Falcon; in effect all the remaining fighters fit within the smuggling ship’s seating area. Perhaps the most difficult pill to swallow is the uncharacteristic interpretation of Luke Skywalker; the actor himself, Mark Hamill had been very vocal about how disappointed he was with how the one-time Rebel hero and Jedi Knight was portrayed in what is obviously his last film. Johnson stood by his decision, even though Hamill protested. Whether it will ultimately serve the final act, has yet to be seen.

The most astounding aspect of the film is the complex relationship that is developing between Rey and Kylo Ren. How that is going to play out is still to be determined, and even now J. J. Abrams is figuring out what course to set with Episode IX, whether there is time to course correct will be determined by how much of Episode VIII, he intends to stick with; seeing as how much Johnson retconned to meet his own ends, will Star Wars Episode IX be something as obscure as The Last Jedi? Will The Force be with it?

The Blu-ray bonus features include several deleted scenes that fill out key action sequences, including pertinent dialogue that would have helped give Finn a little more bite not to mention a powerfully much more potent moment with First Order military Captain Phasma. The package also includes a specially produced documentary on the filmmaking process from Rian Johnson’s perspective that gives detailed insight to his process.

STAR WARS Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is directed by Rian Johnson and available now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.

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