Review: 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Boldly Pushes Forward with Non-Stop Fun

Simply put: Star Wars: The Last Jedi is what the franchise should be in a post-George Lucas world. Instead of following the expectations of fans who grew up with the saga, The Last Jedi forges new ground with head-spinning plot twists and endearing characters.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi starts with a literal bang and a space battle. From there, the latest in the saga is much more than what you might think is simply a rehash of The Empire Strikes Back -- based on everything you've probably heard.

It picks up where The Force Awakens left off, continuing the struggles of the Resistance as they attempt to withstand an ongoing assault from the First Order. Meanwhile, new Force-user Rey attempts to find her place in the galaxy. We don't get introductions so much as reminders with each main character offering a humorous nod to their current predicament.

Director Rian Johnson continues the non-stop momentum of the previous film, constantly raising the stakes and opening up possibilities. We're destined for an epic confrontation to close out the film.

Aesthetically, Johnson derives inspiration from The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, shying away from the muted natural settings in the previous film and returning to the roots of the franchise. Exotic locales are draped in drastically combative colors, such as the ornate and starkly bleak Canto Bight, or the vibrant yet desolate crimson flatlands of Crait. And the creature designs are top notch.

The sets and locations of The Last Jedi are almost as memorable as the characters. These new worlds leave a lasting impression in a vast galaxy of memorable settings, coming to life through deft animatronics and puppeteering.

It's clear from these major elements that Johnson knows how to make a fitting entry in the saga, but those are simply additions that help set the mood. The main tenet of the Star Wars saga has always been the struggle of good versus evil.

The new main cast continues to shine with each character given greater purpose. Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren and Poe all find a deeper meaning for their actions. The returning favorites have key moments reminding us why we loved them in the first place. They help push the plot without hijacking it. After all, this is the new Star Wars trilogy. While Luke and Leia will always be important to the saga, this story belongs to the kids.

Actors Carrie Fisher and Oscar Isaac own the screen with Laura Dern and Benicio del Toro. But Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Adam Driver providing a range of nuance and care. And it's one of Mark Hamill's best performances in the franchise.

That's not to say it is a perfect film or even a perfect Star Wars film. Some moments might suspend disbelief, even in a movie about laser swords and mind tricks and explosions making noise in the vacuum of space. Some of the more comedic lines also break the immersion simply because they shouldn't exist in a galaxy far, far away.

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The movie also starts positing that there are no true good guys in a war engulfing the entire galaxy. Profiteers benefit from both sides. Then it backtracks on this conceit by doubling down on the struggle between light and dark.

Despite being 150 minutes, there's never a dull moment in 
The Last Jedi, which embraces some of the best aspects of the past while pushing the narrative to intriguing new places.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a compelling entry in the Skywalker Saga, and I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

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