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By Jose Jara

“Episode 8 Stands as A Force Not to Be Overlooked!”
By: Daniel Guzman

Thirty-two hours have passed since the ending credits rolled out after my first viewing of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. First impressions count to me the most as far as reviewing a film is concerned.  I know posting my opinion on something I just watched shouldn’t feel like a daunting task, but it can feel like that at times, especially for a film as iconic and meaningful to the masses as Star Wars. I’ve been stalling to write this, chewing the cud, and letting my first impression slowly cook. Truth be told, I am not a Star Wars fanboy. Science fiction films are on the lower end of my favorite genres to watch. I’m sure I’ve lost most of my readers by this point, but please let me plead my case.

I wasn’t born in the era of Lucas Films. I wasn’t even a glimmer in my father’s eye back when the first Star Wars came out in 1977. My love for films was something I picked up thanks to a local Chicago neighborhood theater, the Logan Cinema. As a child, a $2 weekly allowance that my brothers and I each received from my father helped cover the charge for the weekend movie outing. My earliest recollection of films in that theater were Willow, Rambo 3, and Bloodsport. The year was 1988 and I was 6 years old. I set you up with this back story to let you know that I was at the mercy of my brothers’ taste in movies for years to come, and these were mostly comprised of the latest blockbusters and not the latest Oscar film contenders. Rarely would we go to the local video store to rent classics such as the Star Wars trilogy. My actual first encounter with any Star Wars movie was Star Wars Episodes 1-3, which left me saying to myself, “Nah, this isn’t for me.”

Then came Disney’s deep pockets to the rescue! I took my son to watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens shortly after Christmas Day 2015. I didn’t fall in love with it, but I simply just enjoyed it. Then I sensed the pleasure my son had for it, which made me enjoy it all the more. I could see his love for film growing, and our kinship that we had to something we delighted in together. The following year, we watched Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Please forgive me, Star Wars fans, for including Rogue One with this timeline. Consider me as blind as Chirrut Imwe, and as hopeful as he was about the Rebellion’s future. I watched Rogue One in theaters three times with my son, two of those times on a Disney Cruise boat. Both our expectations were catapulted even higher for Star Wars: The Last Jedi to surpass its predecessors after having seen what Disney did with The Force Awakens & Rogue One.

First off, this review is not geared for people to read before watching the film. If you are one of those who have yet to see it, I highly encourage you to do so and not fall victim to my spoilers. I treat this review as more of an opening conversation of what I took from this story, and wishing to see if you had a similar vibe of it, or came out with a different perspective. Let me say that this film focused more on the smaller players of the Rebel Alliance, such as the Kelly Marie Tran’s character Rose Tico, a mechanic from the Resistance ranks who pairs up with Finn (John Boyega), working side by side most of the movie. Following suit to Rogue One’s strategy on illustrating the sacrifices the smaller role of Rebel fighters had for the cause against the Galactic Empire makes the story more personal for every man and woman of this space soap opera, and not just for the elite Jedi. New roles such as Laura Dern’s character as Vice Admiral Holdo at first seem pointless. Perhaps she was placed as a road block for the story to stall the climactic scenes against other key character’s actions, that of Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). Holdo is made to look as a leader with no vision, seeming to flee and possibly lead the remaining Rebel fleet forces to annihilation, when in fact she had a plan that was far more strategic and under the cuff than Poe thought. These were unexpected treats that went against the traditional route these stories tend to go where the bravado of a character as Poe is expected to always be right and save the day, but instead was completely off the mark, and just waiting to be saved for once by Holdo whom he opposed.

This wasn’t the entire route the film went. Deliveries of key scenes that audiences were eager to see such as training interactions between Luke Skywalker and Rey were performed with depth and lightheartedness equally. Kylo Ren’s mentally connected conversations with Rey were the richer scenes that I was salivating to have more of. Actors Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley built up and transformed these moments from hatred against each other, to understanding of each other’s circumstances, until finally becoming equals fighting alongside against supreme leader Snoke.

The late Carrie Fisher was far better utilized in this movie than in the Force Awakens, giving the audience a special treat when discovering Princess Leia has a little force in her after all. Actor Mark Hamill’s climactic fight scene as Luke vs. Kylo Ren was the main event that had everyone in the audience including myself totally zoned in on this moment, waiting to figure out how truly powerful is Luke Skywalker with the force. Luke not only played Kylo Ren like a fiddle, but the entire audience with the whole force hologram. Nice touch! About the only thing I didn’t like with Luke Skywalker was his demise being kinda like Master Oogway’s farewell to his apprentice, Master Shifu, in Kung Fu Panda. Once he had enlightened his apprentice, he joined the rankings of all the rest of the masters to where the Chi eternally goes to rest, but in this instance, to where the force all derived from. I guess that isn’t the worst ending for the supposed Last Jedi. In the end, we are left with the comfort of knowing that there is force in all of us, not just those with a Sith Lord as their master, or with Skywalker as their last name. Even a little boy in a galaxy far away sweeping a floor has the force to change the future.

As for me, I will find myself once again taking this film’s force of attraction in by letting it drift me to a galaxy far away. The commute to this adventure won’t be at light speed though, but instead, a slow cruise in my Prius to where my force of film watching first began, the Logan Cinema.