Wielder of the Force

By Jeff Ruffolo |December 14,2017 - 10:53 PM

This image released by Lucasfilm shows Daisy Ridley as Rey in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” in theaters on Dec. 15. (Lucasfilm via AP)

Skywalker returns—along with Princess Leia Organa, Chewbacca, and the androids C-3PO and R2D2—to fight the good fight against the forces
of galactic evil in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

And unless you have been living on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, you will have known (at least some) of the plot of this latest chapter of the
Skywalker saga that began in 1977 … a long time ago in a galaxy far far away.

In it, we are introduced to a very young Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), a farm boy who eventually becomes a Jedi Knight, defender of truth,
justice and virtue who defeats not only his villainous father—Darth Vader—but the evil Emperor, thus bringing peace to the galaxy once more.

Well … that’s the condensed version.

Since the end of the serialized Star Wars: Chapter Six, “The Return of the Jedi” in 1983, Skywalker has been pretty much hiding out on the remote island planet of Ahch-Toa on the far side of his galaxy, a worn out husk of a man.

Thirty years after the defeat of the Empire, his glory days are now far behind him after the betrayal at the hands of his nephew, Kylo Ren, who murdered the nacient Jedi warriors who were under Skywalker’s training.

Broken and bitter, Skywalker has now become a hermit, far removed from the ongoing battles between the Rebellion and the First Order—
the remaining evil forces of the old Empire—under under the command of Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis).

Enter a young woman known only as Rey (Daisy Ridley), who was orphaned on a desert planet—now with Skywalker’s training is quickly
becoming even more powerful than the Jedi Master Yoda.

Who? Never mind.

This image released by Lucasfilm shows John Boyega as Finn in a scene from, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (Lucasfilm via AP)

Here is the official synopsis:“Having taken her first steps into the Jedi world, Rey joins Luke Skywalker on an adventure with Leia, Finn and Poe that unlocks mysteries of the Force and secrets of the past”.

In this latest outing (written for the screen and directed by Rian Johnson), “The Last Jedi” has Ren and Chewbacca, aboard the Millennium Falcon, have tracked down Skywalker at the farthest reaches of their known galaxy.

Begging and pleading for his help, Skywalker reluctantly begins her training and thus starts her life journey into The Force as Luke Skywalker is truly ready to move past the world of the Jedi.

That is once the evil Lord Snoke is defeated.

Although the marketing of this film would have you believe that Luke has moved to the Dark Side, far from it. Although tortured by Lord Snoke in the film’s third reel, Rey likewise does not turn fully to the darkness but “morphs” into the grey—neither good nor evil. She becomes very powerful with The Force and actually uses Kylo Ren’s own three-pronged lightsaber against some very bad guys—in red armor.

Again from the synopsis, “Regarding Snoke, it’s said he has switched bodies before, is well liked around the galaxy and very wealthy.

Snoke’s story isn’t finished in this one as there is a cliffhanger following the Luke v. Snoke battle”. Oooo.

We are also introduced to the “official” residents of Ahch-Toa, the Porgs—think of little penguins on cocaine—cute but totally obnoxious.

We also are treated to a meditation scene with Like and Rey together, who at times seem to be ready to lightsaber each other to death, where she literally walks through a beam of light and she can control everything around her; changing shapes and warping time and space.

She can see the “light” and the “darkness” all around us.

Cool stuff indeed.

In a flashback, we also see the destruction of Luke’s training school by Kylo Ren—and this is where “The Last Jedi” descends into the freaky world of “Star Wars Mumbo Jumbo” when Luke tells Rey that he has been waiting for someone to find him who will also bring a balance to the Force (Rey) which is why he was in hiding for so many decades. We are told that “the Jedi were arrogant and the Dark Side cannot be the only future of the Galaxy—hence the emergence of the Grey Side of the Force”.

For the majority of the film, Kylo Ren is under the tutelage of Lord Snoke. Ren is trying to “channel” the spirit of Darth Vader (unsuccessfully) of which Lord Snoke doesn’t seem to care at all about.

Both the Rebellion and the First Order have taken some major body blows—the Resistance’s home planet was destroyed and the Starkiller Base of the First Order on a remote ice world was likewise wiped out.

We also have some very early space battles of which the Star Wars franchise is famed for (the first opening minutes seem to be taking place before “The Force Awakens”) and we know its “curtains” for Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), who passed away last Dec. 16.

The film’s director, Rian Johnson, and the Star Wars echelon had serious discussions about what to do with the character of Princess Leia.
The previous film (“The Force Awakens”) was centered on Han Solo (Harrison Ford) who was murdered in the previous Star Wars chapter (“The Force Awakens”) and this current outing (“The Last Jedi”) is completely focused on Luke Skywalker who is one awesome Jedi knight.

Hamill’s performance may also garner a “Best Actor” nod at next year’s Oscars.

However, the next, as yet untitled Star Wars chapter was to be concentrated on Princess Leia.

This image released by Lucasfilm shows Carrie Fisher as General Leia in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” in theaters on Dec. 15. (Lucasfilm via AP)

Clearly that won’t happen and instead of using a pure CGIcharacter, Ms. Fisher’s Princess Leia, who doesn’t have much to do in this film, is a bittersweet character that all Star wars’ fans will truly miss.

Some new characters are also introduced, including Laura Dern’s Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, a “divisive’ figure in the Resistance” according to Ms. Dern and Entertainment Weekly.

We are told, “Her presence goes against the usual style of wooing the audience to her side, and her agenda and motivations as the new de facto Resistance leader may be a bit complicated.

Holdo’s style is very different than Leia’s and her actions sound opposed to Leia’s; a deliberate choice to make the audience uneasy to trust her.

And then there’s her color. She’s purple, hair to feet, in garb. From the interview, Dern declares that this is a very deliberate move about defying a stereotype of female bosses. And Holdo’s look had a great deal of input beyond the costume designers. According to Dern, “From the director to the producers, everyone was painstaking about not only the look but even the exact color of hair, what it should be and trying different versions.”

There is no visits to Tattooine or Jakku or Coruscant or Kamino or Hoth … but John Boyega’s Finn and Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron are still around.

Finn, climbing out of a medi-pod he was placed into after losing a lightsaber dual against Kylo Ren, now collaborates with newcomer (and maintenance worker) Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) to once again infiltrate the First Order and create chaos … while Dameron,
at the film’s opening in a terrific (and long) action sequence, actually tries to take on a Star Destroyer, on his own, in a single space fighter.

Good luck on that! But whatever you do—DO NOT MISS the last 15 minutes of this film!

All in all—it is Star Wars and would be blasphemy for this film critic to be overly serious.

Just go!

Grab the kids, buy a box of popcorn and transport yourself back to 1977.

May the Force Be With You!

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Questions, comments or travel suggestions, write me at [email protected]

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