What Rian Johnson has done to pave new roads in a 40 year old franchise is the ballsiest move that anyone could have done to help the future of a galaxy far, far away. In that, he crafted the best film in the series since EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and my favorite Disney release of 2017.
Deconstructing previous beliefs is incredibly difficult and more so when the history of such is so embedded. We were always told the Jedi were on the side of right. And they are but maybe the way those beliefs have been executed were not the best path. Through 7 previous films we have seen the way of the Jedi lead to some horrible outcomes of evil rising, conquering and then falling only to rise to higher power the next time. It's all there in the films, even a share of hypocrisy. Remember when Obi-Wan told Anakin that "only a Sith deals in absolutes". That is an absolute statement itself. Palpatine was right next to them the entire time he built an Empire while corrupting the most powerful young Jedi in the galaxy. Yoda abandoned the fight after being disarmed. They were all taken surprise by Order 66 and mostly died because of it. Something there is wrong and Rian Johnson takes steps to assess the errors of the past and carve a new Jedi Order with Luke Skywalker being the spark to reignite not only the Jedi itself but the Rebellion as a whole.
At the center of this conflict are two young, powerful individuals still trying to find their own way and putting too much dependence of outside figures of authority. Kylo Ren and Rey are starting to become their own people and in it find a connection between themselves. The scenes where they communicate through the force as the films best. It's really all quite fascinating in a film following THE FORCE AWAKENS that was criticized for being "too safe" and doing nothing new.
Beyond all of that we have Poe learning to be a leader and not just a hero, Finn no longer running and becoming a Rebel, and General Leia guiding a new generation of leadership into what appears to be a situation with no good outcome. Johnson takes beats from John Ford's STAGECOACH in the long chase, and visual cues from Kurosawa's THE HIDDEN FORTRESS while Rey is practicing with a light saber while making the most visually arresting entry since EMPIRE. There are some off moments of humor but a few seconds of unaffecting humor does not make a dent that matters. Honestly, I can go on for a while about this film but will spare you my rambling. Suffice to say that THE LAST JEDI came and changed the game when it comes to STAR WARS. It tells us we need to move forward to keep growing and shows us a new hope that now exists. It is my favorite Disney release of 2017.
Here is hoping 2018 is even better.