This image released by Lucasfilm shows Daisy Ridley as Rey in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” (Lucasfilm via AP)

This image released by Lucasfilm shows Daisy Ridley as Rey in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” (Lucasfilm via AP)

Reeling it in: Lining up for ‘The Last Jedi’

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

2 hours, 32 minutes

I don’t know if you heard, but there is a new “Star Wars” movie in theaters. Who am I kidding? By this time, most of you will have seen it already, some of you twice.

“The Last Jedi” is an amazing, epic, and sometimes messy film that seems to have thrown some fans for a loop, even while it’s gotten near universal critical praise.

What did I think? Well, up until last year, I would have said it was impossible for me to be dissatisfied with a “Star Wars” movie, at least not within the first few weeks of its release. Going back to look at my reviews for the prequels, I’m embarrassed at how much I defended them, especially since I can’t make it through a one of them today.

But last year’s “Rogue One” was a bit of disappointment for me. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad movie or anything, but it certainly has its problems. Not that it has anything to do with “The Last Jedi,” beyond the fact that it helps me to believe that my genuine affection for this latest film is legit.

Where the last film ends with new Force-acolyte Rey handing off a well-worn lightsaber to Luke Skywalker, in exile on a remote planet, “Jedi” begins with the Resistance fleet and Commander Poe Dameron defending a heretofore hidden base from a recently arrived First Order armada.

The scene is pure “Star Wars.” Crazy space battle, completely illogical physics (could you really “drop” bombs on a Star Destroyer in space?) and beautifully timed emotional beats. This was a great way to draw us into the film. We get back to Rey and cranky Luke Skywalker soon enough, but director Rian Johnson is smart to focus on the fun character and everybody’s favorite new droid, BB8.

Back at the monastery/hideout with Luke, Rey is finding out that her hero may not want to run off and save the galaxy for old time’s sake after all. Luke is scarred from his experience with a young Kylo Ren, or as he knew him, Ben Solo. Ren ran off to rule the galaxy with his new hero Supreme Leader Snoke, and Luke went into exile. Try as she might, Rey will need a miracle to get him off his island.

In the meantime, Finn, our errant Stormtrooper, and a new friend, mechanic Rose Tico are off to a casino planet to find a shady burglar to help them sneak on to the First Order flagship in order to disable a … you know what? It’s too much. Just go see the movie.

But why? For one, the performances are spot on. Carrie Fisher, who died this year, has much more to do in this film and comes off far better than her brief scenes in “The Force Awakens.” Mark Hamill, who was kind of the joke of the original trilogy has turned into a really good actor over the years and makes the most of his well-earned growl and glare.

Of the new cast, Oscar Isaac is still doing the most to channel the fun of the original films, and Daisy Ridley is really carrying the emotional weight of her character well.

John Boyega has less to do in this film, but is still great and I really enjoyed the chemistry between him and newcomer Kelly Marie Tran, playing Rose Tico. One of the best things about Tran’s role is how unassuming she is. Unlike the small, though powerful part played by Laura Dern as a Resistance admiral, Rose Tico is awkward, plain, and despite her appearance, one of the most effective players in the film. She embodies one of the interesting things about this film, and one of the major departures it makes from other “Star Wars” films. Where every other film in the series is all about the ever expanding big picture and how each of the players will take their place in the pantheon of major players in that picture, “Jedi” is all about scaling back, resetting, rethinking, and refocusing on the small relationships that the characters have together on individual basis.

Even little silly moments, where Chewbacca befriends the penguin-like Porg, carry the throughline. Maybe it’s not all about the grand scheme and sacrificing yourself to save a planet or the galaxy. Maybe it’s about putting yourself in harm’s way to simply help your friend or your family.

Johnson, who you may know from such visually stylistic films as “Looper,” “Brick,” or “The Brothers Bloom,” is able to also bring some of his unique visual style to this film as well, giving us a movie that, for the first time, doesn’t feel like it’s deliberately aping George Lucas — at least not all the time. I love all the close-ups, the over exposed lighting, the odd angles and the sped up film-stock. It makes you feel like “Star Wars” really could grow into its own genre — spawning adventures and characters with little or no connection to the original story.

Though a small, disgruntled subset of fanboys are panning this film because it doesn’t answer questions they want answers to, and because it scraps a lot of their pet theories, most people are impressed — so much so that Johnson has just been given the task to create a new, adjacent but unrelated trilogy for Disney and Lucasfilm. I will line up for that. And to see this movie, again.

Grade: A

“The Last Jedi” is rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and a few scary senses.

Chris Jenness is an art teacher, freelance graphic designer, artist and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.

This image released by Lucasfilm shows Kelly Marie Tran as Rose and John Boyega as Finn, left, in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” (Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm via AP)

This image released by Lucasfilm shows Kelly Marie Tran as Rose and John Boyega as Finn, left, in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” (Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm via AP)

More in Life

Noa (voiced by Owen Teague) in 20th Century Studios’ “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.” (Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios)
On the Screen: New ‘Planet of the Apes’ expands, brings new ideas to franchise universe

“Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” tells a story that feels more rooted in fantasy than the post-apocalypse vibe of its predecessors

A mural depicting imagery and iconography of Kenai brightens the entryway of the Walmart in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Visible art raises people’s spirits’

Local artist’s mural introduced as part of Walmart renovations

Former North Kenai resident George Coe Dudley, seen here during the winter of 1950-51, was a hard-drinking man. His messy funeral in 1967 in Kenai echoed his lifestyle. (Photo courtesy of Al Hershberger)
This parting was not sweet sorrow — Part 1

“Dudley was an easy-going, laid-back sort of guy, always laughing and joking, as well as hard drinking.”

The Ladies of the Pacific lead a hula demonstration as part of Aloha Vibes at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Saturday. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Diamond Dance’s ‘Aloha Vibes’ brings together music, movement and celebration

The project’s all-company showcase was only one of several attractions filling the space as part of the group’s annual event

English muffins are surprisingly easy to make and so much better fresh. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Special breakfast for a special day

Eggs Benedict are made even more delicious with homemade English muffins

Happy Valley homesteader Wayne Jones looks through the telescope built by Rex Hanks, circa 1950. (Photo from “The Pioneers of Happy Valley, 1944-1964,” by Ella Mae McGann)
A Kind and Sensitive Man: The Rex Hanks Story — Part 4

Rex Hanks had a reputation as a forthright, hard-working, inventive and sensitive man

Will Morrow (courtesy)
It’s not always better to give

I was trying to come up with my own words of wisdom to share with my son

Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion
A copy of “Drawn from Deep Waters: True Stories from the Kenai Peninsula,” is held on Thursday in Kenai.
Off the Shelf: Congregation calling

The collection is written by patrons of Kalifonsky Christian Center

Trees burned in the 2019 Swan Lake Fire are pictured on the Sterling Highway, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. (Photo by Meredith Harber/courtesy)
Minister’s Message: Showing compassion beyond crisis mode

Crisis mode, while terrifying, brings out a collective care for one another that is beautiful to witness in the moment

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Joe Spady rehearses “Murder at the Renaissance Faire” at the Kenai Performers’ Theater in Soldotna on Wednesday.
Dysfunction and death at the ‘Faire’

Kenai Performers put on ‘absurd’ mystery against a backdrop of Shakespeare and corn dogs

This green goddess salad is full of fiber, protein, and nutrition, and when paired with some pita crackers or tortilla chips makes a complete and satisfying meal. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Greens to get through the day

This green goddess salad is full of fiber, protein and nutrition

Attendees gather to dance and to listen during a performance by Blackwater Railroad Company, part of the Levitt AMP Soldotna Music Series on Wednesday, June 7, 2023, at Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna Music Series lineup announced, opens June 5

The music series runs every Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.