Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

Rian Johnson has created what is easily one of the most complete and well developed “Star Wars” cinematic installments since “Empire.” While it does have the occasional pitfall (Porgs), “The Last Jedi” is a masterstroke for the series so far. Johnson manages to skillfully build on this new universe while also answering a lot of the pressing questions that the fans had for “The Force Awakens.” This is the second film to usher in the new generation and ease out the originals, turning this in to a war where the underdogs are still the rebels and they’re filled with reverence for folks like Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa. Johnson focuses primarily on the “How,” and “Why” questions from “The Force Awakens,” allowing fans closure on a lot of the nagging questions that left them excited and or baffled.

All the while we get the sense that while this is a new generation, some things have changed for the better and others simply haven’t. Take for example Benicio Del Toro’s character that presents shades of Han Solo, but is by no means Han Solo. Johnson also does what other writers haven’t done in the movies yet, exploring the seductive realm of the dark side. What does it take to drift in to the dark side and why have some jedi masters and students decided to embrace it? “The Last Jedi” puts its focus on Rey potentially visiting the dark side and being lured in to it by a constant struggle between information on what happened the night Luke and Kylo Ren battled and destroyed all semblance of their relationship. Is Luke secretly a Sith hiding out? Is Kylo Ren merely manipulating Rey?

In either case, there’s much more emphases than ever with the efforts to stop the First Order. They’ve begun tracking the rebellion and their have cornered them at every turn, weakening their ranks every time. In an effort to stop them, Fin and new ally Rose venture out to track down a code breaker. Meanwhile after Leia is rendered in a coma after a vicious attack, Poe Dameron begins to butt heads with new leader Vica Admiral Holdo, who is so by the books, Poe begins to suspect she’s a spy. Meanwhile now that Rey has tracked down Luke, she seeks his tutelage as a Jedi to help stop the First Order, and gets more than she bargains for when she realizes she has a psychic connection with Ren, who seeks to give her an explanation as to why he became a Sith lord.

For a series seeking to extend the narrative, Johnson thankfully resolves some pressing storylines, as well as opening up potentially disastrous fall out from a myriad moments involving Poe, Rey, and Fin. “The Last Jedi” is a fantastic sequel through the end, in spite of its faults (Yes, the porgs and vultpex’s are very toyetic) it’s a swift and firmly paced follow up that introduces new characters (Rose is a doll) and thankfully doesn’t ape “The Empire Strikes Back.” It seeks its own path as a sequel to the third part in the Skywalker trilogy, while also expanding on the canonical Star Wars Universe.