Jason’s Jabs

by Jason Strangis


Bringing The Force full circle with latest ‘Star Wars’ movie

 

A long time ago in a movie theater far, far, away, I saw the final installment of the original “Star Wars” trilogy during a memorable summer showing in Minneapolis. The year was 1983. The movie was “Return of the Jedi.” As a big fan of science fiction and fantasy films, I was really looking forward to seeing the resolution of George Lucas’ epic trilogy. It had been three long years since “The Empire Strikes Back” thrilled audiences in 1980 with the startling ending when Darth Vader proclaims he is the father of Luke Skywalker.

In “Return of the Jedi” in 1983 fans were thrown for a loop once again when the villainous Vader turns against the evil Emperor and tosses him to his doom and destruction. One of the best “bad guys” in the universe had suddenly gone good. I’ll always remember the loud applause in the movie theater after Darth Vader destroyed the Emperor. I was seeing the movie with my younger sister and we both were surprised by the ending.

Who would have thought that nearly 35 years later, in 2017, my sister and I would be watching the eighth (or is it the ninth?) installment of the “Star Wars” franchise in a crowded movie theater in Los Angeles, California. Just like old times! And although I generally liked “The Last Jedi,” for some reason it seemed like that old magic was gone. I’m not sure why exactly. I suppose we all tend to remember the past with rose-colored glasses. POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT:

But the more I thought about it, the more I came to the conclusion that one of the things “The Last Jedi” was missing was a really great villain like Darth Vader. Kylo Ren and Supreme Leader Snoke just aren’t on Vader’s level.
On the positive side though I thought that Mark Hamill once again was very good as Luke Skywalker. It seems that Hamill hasn’t acted on the big screen in at least two decades yet the role of Luke has never really left him, even if he is showing the affects of age. Oh, well, we all get older – even our favorite heroes.

And while Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is gone, Princess Leia is still around in the latest “Star Wars” adventure even though actress Carrie Fisher passed away in 2016 shortly after filming her scenes. There are some genuinely touching moments in “The Last Jedi” accompanied by the soaring musical anthem by the incomparable John Williams.

New heroes mix with the old once again. Actress Daisy Ridley returns as the feisty heroine Rey, who wants to learn more about “The Force” from a reluctant Luke Skywalker. There are good supporting performances as well and it wouldn’t be a “Star Wars” movie without weird little aliens like the Porgs, cuddly creatures who are sure to sell a lot of merchandise in stores. Our favorite Droids are back including BB-8, R2-D2, and C-3PO, as well as other well-known characters from the past.

The movie seems to run a bit long at well over two hours but “Star Wars” fanatics probably won’t mind one bit. In fact, there were several times during the opening-day showing when audience members enthusiastically applauded, which is rare indeed these days. That’s because for so many of us who are old enough to remember George Lucas’ original trilogy, seeing “The Last Jedi” is like a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

Jwstrangis@gmail.com