In its headlong rush to cater to its younger fans’ ravenous need to be constantly dazzled by spectacle, the second installment of the new “Star Wars” trilogy — subtitled “The Last Jedi” — is filled with epic space battles, plus healthy doses of family drama and intrigue. The film also features reminders of where all of this began with appearances by Leia Organa (the late Carrie Fisher), Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Chewbacca (played now by Joonas Suotamo), C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Jimmy Vee).
But, all of those well-known characters generally take a back seat to the younger adventurers in the script: Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron and, of course, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren. These folks zip around the galaxy escaping various predicaments while also trying to find out who they really are and why they’re connected with each other. No, that’s not a spoiler; this was pretty much outlined in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015).
Yet, even at 160-some minutes of its running time, writer-director Rian Johnson manages to leave some story threads unaddressed from the first movie and confusingly adds a long (but somewhat interesting) segment that seems more a writer’s tangent than something that is a meaty part of the plot. Apparently, this has added to a great deal of disappointment for die-hard fanboys. At least the score was done by the great John Williams.
In this movie, Leia is now a general leading a band of rebels while being pursued by battle cruisers of the First Order, the evil inheritors of the old Imperial military. The First Order is headed by a grotesque alien named Snoke (Andy Serkis), who possesses powers from the dark side of the Force and whose main henchman is Kylo Ren. Leading the attack force is General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson).
Just as the rebels are able to escape using a jump to light speed, they discover the First Order shows up soon after. That means, they must have a way to track them through light speed, a very bad development. As they try to figure out how to locate the tracker, Rey is off on a distant planet trying to convince Luke to join the resistance. But Luke flatly refuses, confusing Rey, mainly because she has come to know him as a virtually mythological hero. He is, as the title suggests, “the last Jedi.”
This movie flits back and forth across the galaxy as one group tries to further the First Order’s diabolical plans and another fights to survive against enormous odds. Interestingly, Johnson taps into several plot points used in the original trilogy from the 1970s, which makes much of the plot maybe a little too familiar. In any event, this movie is a well-made, action-packed placeholder that will serve until the epic third film comes out in a couple of years. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence.
It is showing daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.