Arts & Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi : re-envisioning the formula

By: Pranav Nair and Joshua Chait

Star Wars has created a legacy of greatness within the cinematic world.  With its first trilogy came something magical, its second brought widespread disappointment.  Now, the third installment works to pick up those broken pieces and put them back together again.  Instead of sticking to the same formula Star Wars has been known for, The Last Jedi chooses a new direction, deciding to take risks and reinvent itself, accomplishing rewarding yet questionable results.

During one specific part of the film, Luke Skywalker is asked to burn everything of the past and start anew; to forget the ancient traditions he believed in, so that he could instead believe in himself.  This scene embodies exactly what The Last Jedi is to the entire Star Wars franchisea revelation.  It took everything that Star Wars stood for, and turned it on its head. Wide eyes gazing at the natural and breathtaking settings, shoulders shuddering during melodramatic and unpredictable moments; the viewer is able to experience deep character interactions, and, most importantly, understand the unfamiliar overarching theme of the film.  Once a story of light versus dark, is now a journey of what it means to be good or evil, more specifically, the balance between the two.

Arguably the most defining characteristic of this movie was its aesthetic appeal.  From the gracefully lonely island in which Rey conducted her training to the location of the climax, the stunningly distorted red and white planet where the rebels took their last stand, each shot is beautifully constructed.  Each set piece was mesmerizing to look at. The audio was clean and crisp, complimenting the visuals and enhancing the film’s overall experience. These aspects, coupled with the movie’s numerous plot twists, brought emotion and unpredictability to the plot.  Whenever a scene tried to invoke excitement or suspense within the viewer, the beauty of the film’s settings would add to that feeling and expand upon it.

Instead of recycling the already retold narrative of trying to destroy the Death Star, the story deals more with the individual characters.  We are able to witness complexity through interaction, and observe how beloved characters like Luke and Rey are not perfect, each with many faults of their own.  Through individual focus, viewers witness the true terror of the dark side, and how it corrupts from the inside, a concept never-before explored in Star Wars. Now, the protagonists aren’t finding objects or destinations, they are finding themselves.  This recurring theme effects a number of the protagonists throughout the movie, and culminates to an intense final fighta battle more of clashing ideals than of swinging lightsabers.

With such a deep, necessary theme, the film would be expected to have a riveting plot, and it somewhat accomplishes that, managing to have its own unique plot; but therein lies the fault.  The plot was original, but, in many aspects, boring and distracting due to its change of focus. The first half of the film was slow and seemed to drag on with its lack of action and stretched out training sequences.  Humor was forced onto characters in moments of tension, which ended up completely ruining a number of scenes that could otherwise have been excellent. What acted as build-up was instead pointless fill in that could have instead been used to enhance the overall film quality.  However, its stellar second half, which was full of emotional action, thrilling plot twists, beautiful effects and deep character synergy, all made up for what The Last Jedi was lacking, and it’s paid back in spades.

Categories: Arts & Review

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