“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is the saga’s most unique entry yet

The force is strong with this one. Very strong, in fact. Rian Johnson has managed a delicate balance with Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Not only has he crafted a more than worthy sequel, he’s also differentiated himself with the most distinctive outing yet. This bodes very well for the next trilogy he’s begun developing. This week, the film opens across the globe and looks to be a massive hit. It could very well be as big as Star Wars: The Force Awakens was. At the very least, it should easily be 2017’s biggest movie. Luckily, it’s also one of the year’s very best.

This film, for those somehow not in the know about it, is the next installment in the main portion of the iconic Star Wars Saga. It picks up right after Rey (Daisy Ridley) encounters Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), now living in exile. She wants to be trained in the ways of the Jedi, something Luke resists, having failed Ben Solo/Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). At the same time,the Resistance, led by General Leia (Carrie Fisher) is in tatters, still fighting the First Order. The former has heroes like Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) taking part in the continued rebellion effort, while General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), Captain Phasma (Gwendolyn Christie), and company, under the rule of Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), attempt to dominate the Galaxy. War ensues, in the stars, no less. Johnson writes and directs this new episode, with other cast members including Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern, Warwick Davis, Billie Lourd, Lupita Nyong’o, Kelly Marie Tran, Veronica Ngo, Jimmy Vee, and many more. John Williams once again provides the score here, while Steve Yedlin will handle the cinematography.

In some ways, this is the best Star Wars has to offer. Johnson crafts something different, full of surprises, yet also chock full of homages. Nearly a half dozen moments at the press screening I attended last night resulted in cheers and/or standing ovations. That’s rare too, in case you were wondering. Without spoiling anything, this is also the best turn for Hamill as Luke Skywalker to date. One other thing I will mention is that the movie is dedicated to Fisher, and how they phrase that over the end credits will put a lump in your throat. The less said about what happens, the better, but just know that it’s great.

Awards wise, look for Star Wars: The Last Jedi to contend all over the technical categories. That being said, Disney will launching across the board efforts, focused on Best Picture, Best Director (for Johnson), Best Actor (for Hamill), Best Actress (for Ridley), Best Supporting Actor (for Boyega, del Toro, Driver, Gleeson, Isaac, and Serkis), Best Supporting Actress (for Christie, Dern, Fisher, and Tran), Best Adapted Screenplay (also for Johnson), Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup & Hairstyling, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Original Score, and Best Visual Effects. Above the line, it’s a long shot, though Picture and Adapted Screenplay for Johnson are outside possibilities if this really becomes a smash. Below the line though, look for it to do very well.

On Friday, Star Wars: The Last Jedi will open and become an immediate phenomenon. Box office records may very well fall. More importantly though, is that this is an excellent film. I’ll be ranking every Star Wars movie in a couple of days, so you’ll see then how it stacks up, but anyone worried that this wouldn’t be up to snuff can rest easy. As good as you think this one is, ladies and gentlemen, it’s better. Johnson has the franchise in very safe hands, especially as he takes it somewhere new going forward. Get in line now. It’s worth the wait…

Be sure to check out Star Wars: The Last Jedi, in theaters everywhere this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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