Reviewed by: Samuel A. Torcasio
Learn about The True Force
Courage / bravery / self-sacrifice
What is the Biblical perspective on war? Answer
War in the Bible
|Featuring:||Daisy Ridley … Rey
Tom Hardy … Stormtrooper
Adam Driver … Kylo Ren
Carrie Fisher … Leia
Laura Dern … Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo
Billie Lourd … Lieutenant Connix
Domhnall Gleeson … General Hux
Mark Hamill … Luke Skywalker
Andy Serkis … Supreme Leader Snoke
Joseph Gordon-Levitt … Actor (voice)
Gwendoline Christie … Captain Phasma
Oscar Isaac … Poe Dameron
Benicio Del Toro … DJ
Justin Theroux … Slicer
Lupita Nyong'o … Maz Kanata
John Boyega … Finn
Kelly Marie Tran … Rose Tico
Warwick Davis …
Peter Mayhew … Chewbacca
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|Director:||Rian Johnson—“Looper” (2012), “Brick” (2006), “The Brothers Bloom” (2008)|
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|Distributor:||Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures|
“The greatest teacher, failure is”
Episode 8 has arrived and both regular movie goers and Star Wars enthusiasts alike are already flocking to the theaters. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is the longest movie of the Star Wars saga. The previous record was held by “Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones,” with 142 minutes. Writer and director Rian Johnson has said that the film took inspiration from “Twelve O'Clock High,” “Letter Never Sent,” “The Bridge on the River Kwai” and “Three Outlaw Samurai.” John Williams returns with yet again incredible music. This is Carrie Fisher’s final film, due to her sudden death in December 2016. She had a beautiful performance, just as in the past, and she will be missed.
This film takes up right where its predecessor “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015) left off. It has a similar pace to “Force.” It starts with an exciting and impressive battle scene, and the movie just keeps going, almost never a dull moment, very much in the way of “The Empire Strikes Back” (which is still the best one, in my opinion). Where “Last Jedi” is more innovative than its predecessor, “Force” has its unique and original plot line. Whereas “Force” in many ways mirrored “A New Hope” (though it’s different enough), “Last Jedi” gives us a story structure we have not seen in Star Wars before, with many new and even surprising elements.
It does have similarities with other episodes for sure, but its format is very much an original one. And I don’t know if it was just me, or if it was only because it was the first time I watched this film, but even though I richly enjoyed it, I did, at times, have a hard time following it. I do think it was the director’s intention to keep us in suspense, and if you are busy looking for this or that answer, you may miss things. There were a few moments I was thinking, “What is going on?”. This is a film you may want to watch again to catch things you missed.
I don’t know if The Force was balanced in this movie (and that is talked about), but writer/director Rian Johnson created a very nice balance between comedy and drama. There are hilarious moments, while at the same time the story is intense and dark. You will likely laugh, and you may even cry, too.
The cast does a phenomenal job. Mark Hamill receives top billing in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” and he deserves it. I don’t want to spoil too much, but Luke Skywalker does not disappoint. After reading the script for the film, Mark Hamill told director Rian Johnson, “I pretty much fundamentally disagree with every choice you’ve made for this character [Luke Skywalker]. …Now, having said that, I have gotten it off my chest, and my job now is to take what you’ve created and do my best to realize your vision.”
Now, when I first read that I was a bit worried. I thought, oh please don’t make Luke Skywalker go off the deep end or turn to the dark side! I am not going to give away specific points, but what I can tell you is that Luke Skywalker has grown and matured, and made many mistakes (and that makes him genuine and serves a great purpose in this movie), but he is the Luke Skywalker we have all known and loved. I can assure you of that.
Mark Hamill is a terrific actor. And as I write this what comes to my mind is that we who are Christians need to pray for these actors we love so much. Of course, we don’t know them very well personally, but we need to pray that they come to know Jesus Christ and receive His forgiveness. Will you commit to praying for Mark and the other actors?
Both Daisy Ridley’s Rey and Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren go through major character developments and perform well. The two of them have an interesting yet complex connection. Fans will be kept on the edge of their seats.
If fans are looking for a lot of answers to the buzzing questions on the Internet, they may feel let down. In the hype leading up to the movie, it has been compared to having as big a reveal as “Empire.” I personally didn’t see that. The major reveal at the end of “Empire” is something you are not looking for, and it is such a shock that you may have left the theater (or living room in the case of many in my generation) feeling blown away. In this film, you are looking for the big reveal the whole time, and in my estimate, you don’t get one. It is kind of the opposite effect, and maybe that was intentional. You still leave with some of the same old questions, and possibly a few new ones. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is what it is.
And you do indeed have to take the movie for what it is, what its trying to accomplish, and where it fits in the broader frame of the Star Wars saga. I can’t give you my full take on that, as it would include many spoilers. But let’s just say there is a connection to the past and to some characters of old, while it also points forward.
Based on some of the preview discussions I read and heard about “Last Jedi,” I expected some startling new revelations about the Star Wars concept of The Force. There is some interesting dialog, but really nothing earth shattering. Any review of this movie’s concept of the Force would be so similar to the one posted in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015) review that I point you there for a more in-depth analysis of the religious elements of Star Wars. We have to exercise discernment ,because there are certainly false ideas present that we ought to be concerned with. We always have to interact with films through a biblical worldview, and be ready to help young people do the same.
Luke has not so much come up with a systematic and detailed argument for being so discouraged with himself and the Jedi Order before him; he’s just worn down. He’s been really let down by himself and by others. He still believes in the Jedi way, but he is struggling with certain aspects of how it has been taught and how he should live it out. In a word, he’s just being human. And that’s one of the things I love about this film—the humanness of the characters. Luke is not now some stoic or untouchable person.
A skeptic declares, “I would never be a Christian; they’re a bunch of hypocrites.” Answer
At one point in the film, Luke even calls the Jedi hypocrites. He reminds me, in many ways, of those who love Jesus Christ but have been disillusioned by Christians who have hurt them or with some of the wrong acts done in the name of God through history. The answer is not to give up on Christ or on His people. The truth is, we all fail, and we all need forgiveness. That’s the human condition (Romans 3:23). We must keep going and trusting in the goodness of God, and to try and make things right with others and to forgive.
In God’s sight, it is unacceptable for a Christian to refuse to forgive others.
Remember the parable of the master who forgave a guilty man who owed him an amount so enormous that he could never hope to pay it back? The master completely forgave him. But, afterward, that forgiven man roughly grabbed another who owed him a very small amount, and allowed him no time to repay—showed him no mercy—and threw him into prison. When the master heard of this, he was FURIOUS and his punishment was swift.
In that parable, the Master represents God. And the forgiven man represents you, IF you have similarly FAILED to forgive another, when Christ’s blood has paid your unpayable debt to God, and He has forgiven you for everything you have ever done wrong—and for your continuing failures to do everything that is truly right and good.
In real life this is a hard task, but Jesus showed His love for us sinners on the cross. How can we not show mercy to others? And He has promised to fill us with His Holy Spirit to give us the strength we need to love when it is hard (see Galatians 5:22-24 for a list of the fruits of the Holy Spirit).
The film seems to be making the point, which is a good one, that Luke or the Jedi should not be deified. They are good, and they have done great good for the galaxy, but they have all made major mistakes with huge consequences. Luke himself comments that he doesn’t match up to the legends about him. Don’t get me wrong, he is very powerful, but he is also flawed.
We can learn a lot from this. Sometimes we idolize our heroes, but they have flaws, too. Luke even admits his past pride and how it led to devastating consequences, and in doing so he demonstrates humility.
The villain Kylo Ren is very human, too. He is no longer trying to be Darth Vader behind the mask. He is real and raw, but in contrast to Luke he allows his human feelings of anger to consume him. He is one troubled man, and he leaves a wake of destruction in his path. He is the fool of Proverbs giving full vent to his anger (Proverbs 29:11). We can learn from this by not imitating it. Such a path can only lead to death (Proverbs 14:12).
A fool always loses his temper,
But a wise man holds it back. —Proverbs 29:11 NASB
There is a way which seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death. —Proverbs 14:12
One of the best lines of the movie is that failure is the greatest teacher. Luke had a moment where he failed to do the right thing, and sometimes one moment can have long lasting effects. Those that have idolized him (including Star Wars fans) may be disappointed about this. But, they shouldn’t be. This is a major driving point of this film and perhaps its most redeeming and powerful message. Luke has failed, but the battle is not over yet. He must press on!
Except for our Lord Jesus Christ, how many biblical characters have failed? How many of our biblical heroes have messed up badly in the past? Moses. Samson. David. Jonah. Peter. Paul. The list goes on. We don’t idolize our heroes. We imitate their faith, and we learn from their failures. We also learn from our own.
Along with that there is also a theme of not giving up. Rey encourages Luke that there is still time to make things right. On a similar note, hope is a huge theme in this film. Snoke and The First Order are violent and destructive. They use fear, manipulation, and intimidation. Snoke states to Kylo, “Weakness properly manipulated can be a sharp tool.” The First Order wants to destroy all hope of the Jedi’s return, but hope will not be defeated. Luke represents that hope in this film, as he did in the original trilogy. Snoke says, “As long as Skywalker lives, hope lives.”
Many people are obsessed with the identity of Supreme Leader Snoke. They desperately want to know who this mastermind of evil is and where he came from. Maybe it’s because they want to know what drives him or how he can be defeated. Well, we can tell you who the mastermind of evil in the real world is, it’s the Devil. And the Bible gives us everything we need to know about his schemes and lies.
In the world we live in, we have a very real enemy named Satan who is behind all the evil in this world. He is, in fact, the master of manipulation, and he uses us to manipulate each other. He wants to either take away all our hope or give us a false hope that will disappoint us and ultimately never save us.
Jesus has defeated him through His death and resurrection, and Jesus offers real hope, in fact the only hope, to those who have trusted in Him. The Bible tells us that “through death he (Jesus) might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Hebrews 2:14-25). Jesus has risen from the dead. Satan doesn’t want mankind to know this, and his goal is to keep as many people from knowing the truth about Jesus Christ as possible.
But, Jesus lives now and forever, and as the Church we are commissioned with the amazing privilege and task of spreading the good news about Christ to the whole world. When you tell someone about Jesus, no matter how the person receives it, you are giving them hope. We are called to both show the love of Christ and to explain the message of God’s love in Christ to those who are without Him. It is the only way to defeat evil, and it is the only hope.
There is another noteworthy line in the movie where one character makes a comment that we should not be so focused on fighting what we hate, but saving what we love. We can glean from this comment, too. As Christians, we must be careful that we are not mainly known for what we oppose, but for the God we love, because He has so loved us (1 John 4:10, 19), and in how we express that love for one another (1 John 4:11-12).
We also must remember God has called us to share His message of love with the world (John 3:16). At the same time, though, to love truth is to hate error. To love good is to hate evil. So, trying to save what we love, also means we must oppose evil. When Jesus Christ died to save sinners, He also decisively opposed and defeated the Devil.
Language: Mild—“D*mn,” “d*mn it,” “what the h*ll,” “b*stard,” “bloody,” “Get your head out of your cockpit,” “big a** door,” “hate that ship” (clearly supposed to sound like “hate that sh*t”) as Luke tells R2-D2 to watch his language (implied swearing).
Violence: Lots of battles and fighting. Many lives lost. Guns and lightsabers as in past Star Wars movies. Snoke violently thrashes General Hux to the ground giving him a bloody nose.
Sex: Minor—There is a shirtless male, a brief kiss, and one character refers to another as being able to do everything—and it seems sexual innuendo is implied.
A few references, whether intentional or not, to the Christian faith you should be aware of. Son of Darkness (a term often used in reference to Lucifer/Satan), Snoke calls Kylo Ren “my good and faithful apprentice.” A Jedi referring to the Jedi religious books says, “Time for you to look past a pile of old books,” and he also refers to them as boring, this seems to be a knock on religious books in general, but this could be taken as dismissing the Bible.
One of the villains mocks one of the heroes saying, “Did you come back to say, ‘forgive me’ and to save my soul?”.
I don’t recall hearing God’s name being said in vain, but one of the characters wishes the others Godspeed in a positive and affirming way. Take it how you want, but it is interesting to note.
With all the above being considered, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is worth seeing. Compared to many modern films, the Star Wars saga remains one of the cleanest and least morally offensive. Like the other films this one is definitely a conversation starter. It is worthy of the name Star Wars, and it is a good film—period. I think there are various ways that the film could be interpreted, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Rian John intentionally left it ambiguous and open. Fans of the saga will have differing views and theories.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.